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XPan II update and inuse results


Active Member
I've been using as many opportunities as I can find to take the XPan II kit our for a "play" before I head off to do some very serious shooting. My objective has been to get much more familiar with its capabilities and limitations so that I can do it justice and get the most out of it.

So, below I've attached a few images that may be less likely use of a panorama camera - more creation of opportunities to use it and apply the panoramic format in "different" ways.

Some further observations about this wonderful instrument.

1. Qualtiy - the more I use it the more I am convinced that it is both a top quality piece of engineering as well as a top quality finished product. Great to hold, comfortable, solid with a desireable amount of weight that makes it easier to hold well.

2. the shutter mechanism is superbly quiet, responsive and smooth..... smooth as silk and although electronic and with motorised film advance, very comparable with my Leica M7.

3. the rear LCD control panel is easy to use and very convenient - a very worthwhile component.

4. The superb 45mm lens definitely needs the ND centre grad filter - no buts about it. Hassy should just bite the bullet, accept its vignetting in panorama mode and include the filter with the lens and bumb up the price a bit.

My advice to buyers is don't fuss about, just get the filter with the lens and accept that the whole lens costs that bit more - still a competitive lens cost anyway.

5. The soft leather ever ready case is really worth having if you plan on using the camera hand held - just makes it more comfortable. The only thing that lets this lovely case down is the "cheap and nasty" plastic tripod mount screw fitting that attaches the bottom half to the body - why not a metal one?

6. This is not a "hand held" low light camera (obviously with f4 lenses), but even with some of the excellent 1600ASA films about today - the exposure range of the in-camera meter is just not wide enough, requiring a hand-held meter and on-tripod shooting for very low light. That's fine for me because that's how I'd shoot early morning and late afternoon / night scenes. Other 35mm rangefinders like Leicas remain the optimal tool for hand-held low light shooting. But, that's not what the Xpan's about.

7. with an average steady hand , sharp exposures of 1/15sec are quite achievable since the camera is so nicely balanced.

I remain very pleased with this superb instrument. But, I do want to get to use the 90mm in panorama mode more.



Ooops, sorry The first shot is with the 45mm, the second with the 90mm and the third with the 45mm. Both 45mm shots are with the centre grad filter on (it never comes off). I was impressed by the lack of distortion produced by the 45mm (effective 25mm AOV in panorama mode) even when severley angled up to the ceiling! The bridge image illustrates good fine details to the edges and very low distortion - very flate field of view. The digi images here don't highlight the superfine detail very well, but the negs do.

Finally, every shot taken indicates about 1/2 to 1 stop underexposure (corrected in PS Elements) - this is to do with the panorama AOV and the simple centre weighted in-camera metering.

I guess that in 135 format mode the metering will be closer to spot on (very hard for 1 meter to be perfectly accurate in both modes - so some care needs to be taken). But I'm not bothering to test that since I have no desire to use this camera as a 135 format rangefinder.
Hi Simon,
thanks for those comments and pictures. I like the middle one especially; is that you and your son?
I just wondered how you scan your Xpan pictures. I have some non Xpan panoramas I want to scan and was thinking of adapting the film adapters on my flat bed to scan them but would love to be able to use my Dimage Scan Elite 5400 film scanner.
Simon: get a Kirk L-bracket for your Xpan. ( It will solve the tripod mount problem and also neatly facilite great vertical shots. I'm in love with My Xpan II. I'm learning to use the 30mm lens,which is incredible.
Hi Timothy, thanks for the link. I wasn't aware of a tripod mount problem since my Xpan came with its Hasselblad plate which perfectly fits the Hasselblad quickrelease...?! ;-) Looking more closely at the Kirk L plate - the extra tripod thread provided in landscape mode doesn't look like it was dead center below the lens mount - can you confirm? That would be quite non-sensicle, IMHO...? Cheers.
Hi, Lutz. I use my plates with the quick release function on my tripod heads (Kirk & Really Right Stuff) but the landscape thread is precisely below the lens mount. Kirk makes very finely-machined and engineered heads and plates and brackets. If I could only talk them into making an L-bracket for my beloved Fuji GX617!
Thanks for your comments. Actually the left hand side tripod mount does not bother me, especially since I use the Hassy quick release plate supplied with the camera. Sensibly it enables the XPan to slide onto the Hassy quick release unit centering the weight nicely (slides in sideways rather than "head on"). It's convenient for me since I use Hassy V series gear too.

The RRS bracket looks brilliant and I will grab one for vertical shooting.

John, that's my youngest brother (am one of 8) and his youngest son. The 90mm seems just as great as the 45mm.

For scanning, you can just scan in your 35mm film scanner and stitch the image together. But it's too much messing about. So I will get a 4800dpi flatbed for all my MF and 4x5 scanning.

Currently my Fuji Frontier lab does them when they process the negs (only AU$9.95 extra) - uses a 6x7 mask and has cut a matt black cardboard piece to frame the XPan neg into that mask. It works fine, but is limited in 2 ways: 1. it is hard for the operator to keep the neg perfectly lined up to the cut out mask so sometimes I have to crop about 1 or 2mm from the final scan. 2. FF MF scanning is limited in resolution as their machines are set up for a x c inch @ 300dpi sized scans so I end up with something like an 11MB file (JPG) after you crop the masking area out of a total 6x7 scam of 25MB file size.

These print beautiful 11x30 inch colour prints. If I need exhibition quality then I'd get a drum scan made.

You have to wonder why Fuji does not supply its labs with a special XPan mask - since they make the XPan gear!!

Timothy, I wish you didn't mention the 30mm lens - I have an itch for one, but must stop spending money on photo gear!! Oh well, you only live once.
Thanks for your reply. Sorry it took me a while to respond. We have had visitors staying.
I'll give scanning in my 35mm scanner a go and see what happens.
Re the comment about underexposure. This week I did some tests on density using the 40mm. It is exactly one stop off from what the meter says it should do. I tested it for film base (fog) plus 1.0 for zone I to get the one I density I want. When I do the tests on my Leica M it is spot on (ie, the camera f stop is one more open, or the speed is one stop faster). At least with the 40mm it needs to have (on XPAN II) an exposure increase adjustment of 1.0 EV to actually be consistent with the film speed you think you are getting otherwise the negative is too thin.

I was using no filter.

I have not tried it on the 30mm or 90 mm but will. I suspect the meter is just that way.
I agree David. I think it is just about how the average metering works. I think it is less so underexposed with the 90mm. I have never used the 30mm. I typically dial in 1/2 stop because the way I meter with the camera body probably accounts for another 1/2 stop.