Hasselblad Xpan the digital way – unique composition possibility


Few days ago I discovered the Hasselblad Xpan. It takes “panoramic” photos but it’s not the same as what modern panorama means.

Modern panorama are either done by image stitching or “pan panorama mode” by successive photo taking or video, and it can be as wide as 360 degree horizontal, or even spherical panorama. That means resulting image are born from multiple focal plane by a nodal pan. The image will always be a “wrapped” perspective. That’s not what this post is talking about.

On the contrary, panorama in Xpan (lets call it the “wide-angle-panorama”) means it’s technically a dual-frame wide image aspect ratio that use a wide 24mm (135 eqv.) focal length. and the film area is 68mm x 24mm (normal 135 format is 36mm x 24mm) Meaning everything is in the same focal plane as in normal photography, and perspective is no difference from a normal wide angle lens. and you got double film resolution due to a near double film length exposed. Exciting feature.


I haven’t been a big fan of wide angles (<30mm), for one i don’t photo architecture nor landscape a lot; for two, Most of my street photography I prefer a subject in it. If you put the subject too close, it’s very distorted. If you put it at normal distance it looks insignificant in contrast to the whole picture. Look at my photos here and imagine extending upper and lower borders: its what you will get normally in wide angles with a subject: on top a big sky or some buildings probably, and at bottom a huge area of ground. Can be great photos of course but the subject will always becomes less important. 

Now probably you already understand what kind of unique images can be obtained. This “wide-angle-panorama” offers me a new composition possibility. When seeing the photos taken, they are really unique:

It’s wide, but when you place a subject in the frame, its height can still fill the frame easily without looking too small and insignificant like you usually do in wide angle lens.

The other way of thinking of it is, you are still framing your subject like a normal 35-50mm lens, but with extended “peripheral vision” on the two sides.

The above points is illustrated by the following comparison shots below.

Instant loving this unique result and googling a bit shows no similar dual frame camera nor digital version. I’m pulling out my ebay, tempted to bid one… But, it’s not a cheap camera at all (in ebay range from $1500 -$2000 USD, and > $3,000 for Xpan 2).

Having second thought to save some money, an idea to mimic it digitally comes to my mind, and it works 😀 how?

Xpan_illustrateIf you are familiar with camera technicals, you probably already know you can get “identical” pictures by cropping photos taken with a 24mm lens. (of course if you do it digitally you don’t have the same handling feel and character of film, and if you crop a photo by film, you have a lesser resolution compared to a double resolution dual-frame)  But Excluding these, I’m meaning that you can get exactly the same perspective by cropping. This sounds trivial if you know this technical fact you can just go take some photos as usual and do crops afterwards to get these same pictures. Trivial? no.

The big difference here is your mentality in framing. And yes its HUGE.

When you frame a camera using a wider angle, and “imagine” you will crop it properly later – you won’t. Your framing will be inaccurate, probably completely different.

You will need a proper image aspect mode or frame lines hints to assist your proper framing. If you have a 68:24 guide on your digital camera, then problem solved but there are none of such long aspect ratio mode I know of for any camera. My solution is this simple “frame board”.

I’m sure anyone can do it and basically it works on any wide angle camera. In my case, it’s the Canon G1x mk2, which offers a 24mm on the wide side, and other decent features as a camera.

(Photos of the simple “setup” to be uploaded soon.)

See the following photos, better click for full width to feel the power of such wide format. 🙂 Happy shooting!

Hasselblad Xpan the digital way – unique composition possibilityIMG_0444_resize IMG_0424_resize IMG_0415_resize Hasselblad Xpan the digital way – unique composition possibility





One Comment on “Hasselblad Xpan the digital way – unique composition possibility

  1. Hello,

    This is a good idea. I was researching Xpan and found this post. What is the frame board solution? How much do I crop photo?


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