XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please.....
I have just seen an XPAN on sales today. Mint++ and absolutely gorgeous. Price the same as a mint F5. Unfortunately the seller informed me that processing is very expensive
Luminous Landscape writes:
"…do your own scanning then just about any 35mm scanner that has a filmstrip holder will do the job. Just cut away one of the plastic frame dividers and scan the left and right halves of the image separately, using your imaging software to merge the two parts afterward."
a) Does anybody do that?
b) And perhaps even with a Minolta Dual Scan III scanner?
c) Any long terms issue to look into?
d) Other things that me dissuade me from getting it tomorrow?
e) Is the cable release standard threaded (like F80)?
All answers welcomed – and particularly from those who own this beauty
Thanks in advance - Karspoul
#1. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 0Paul_Fisher Charter MemberMon 10-Jan-05 08:41 PM
This is one superbly made camera, and the standard 45mm lens is so sharp it's scary. I'm told the black paint on the earlier Hasselblad version was fairly delicate, and brassed very easily. I have the Fuji which is unpainted titanium and still looks like the day I bought it.
Processing shouldn't be much more expensive than normal, but you can't get it done at your local 1 hour photo kiosk. Ask around at the professional labs, especially those that also do 120 film processing.
For general use I scan my transparencies on an Epson Photo 3200, which is a flatbed with film scanning facility. The film carrier doesn't have dividers, so it's a simple matter to scan the whole frame in one shot, using Silverfast. If I want a really good print made, I get the lab to print it on their big new Agfa machine. The trick to controlling costs is to only print your best stuff.
Long term issues - none except that if you buy a digital SLR all your film cameras (including the XPan) will get a lot more shelf time.
The cable release is a standard mechanical one like the F80. Note that the later model XPan II has an electric release which is apparently quite expensive.
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#3. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 2Tue 11-Jan-05 04:57 PM
For higher resolution scans, you can use Vuescan software with some film scanners to do extra long scanning passes. I don't know of any 35mm film scanners that offer software support for wider than normal scanning. If you're okay with somewhat lower resolution and clarity, Epson's professional flatbeds are a good option for scanning.
If you shoot slide film and use the kit lens, I'd suggest getting the expensive center gradient filter to compensate for light falloff. Use the bubble level whenever possible. I don't trust the Xpan's averaging meter so I check it via a handheld meter or another camera with similar ISO performance.
#4. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 3Tue 11-Jan-05 07:36 PM
Thanks for the help Paul and BJ. Initially I will try using my Minolta scanner moving the picture within the frame holder (later perhaps cut up the frame holder) between the two scans and then stich them together.
Currently I only hold the panorama tool I got with the CP4500 (Panorama maker 3.0) which is an okay tool and nothing more. Can you recommend a good stiching tool? I have not done a lot digital darkroom work yet.
I only shoot slides - alas finances dictate the center filter will have to wait a while as well as an alternative scanning solution. The filter did not come with the camera (nor the bubble level but that is cheap to get), but I did get some nice stickers to warn the lab I cannot wait getting a processed Velvia on the light box.
It really was a once in a life time opportunity. It was sold for what it goes for at ebay but from a local shop with 1 year full warranty. I guess the original owner either got bored with it or went digital and traded it in. I was a little worried about the paint (it has a few marks) but, Paul, I think you are right. The peeling effect is reported many places on the net. Inside it is so clean you could it from it.
It is my first rangefinder ever and I had promised myself never to get a non AF camera due to poor eyesight but the finder is so bright that even I can focus manually. There is no big hit from the mirror, it is so silent and everything operates so smoohly - a truly novel experience. I only wish they had added a warning in the viewfinder: REMOVE THE CAP. I just know I will forget it! EDITED: Think not - apparently the camera blinks in red in the viewfinder when the cap is not off
Well, if days were just a bit longer! Come weekend I will get out there - me and my beloved old fashioned cable release.
Edited to add: BJ, by a strange coincidence the 1 January 2005 issue of Amateur Photographer actually suggests the same as you do on its page 27 and with a Minolta scanner like mine. Gotta give it a go.
#5. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 4Wed 12-Jan-05 02:33 PM
The benefit of using Vuescan, if the scanner's firmware doesn't allow scanning the full width in one pass, is that you can make two scanning passes without moving the film so that stitching is easy with perfect alignment. You may need to remove a vertical bar from the film holder and then use Vuescan's offset control to create some overlap between the two scan halves.
Mine is a Hasselblad with the painted titanium. Paint doesn't like to stick to titanium, so it is more delicate and prone to scratching than any camera finish I've experienced. Fuji had the better idea of leaving the metal finish exposed.
#6. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 5Wed 12-Jan-05 03:07 PM
Sorry, BJ, I am a little confused. If I remove one bar from the film holder - will I still have to make two scans? If Vuescan allows extra width, is one scan not enough then? When I get my first film back I will try it!
Minolta answered very fast but their firmware cannot be amended or anything. They conveniently ignore commenting on Vuescan though. instead they recommend the DiMAGE ScanMulti PRO but I have not had heart to look up the price of that beast yet. It could be an ultimate solution to gain extra resolution in the scans. EDITED TO ADD: Just checked the local price 4500 usd... Slightly cheaper than the Coolscan 9000
On the positive side Hasselblad has recommended a lab in next door Sweden that apparently makes 10x27 (cm not inches) copies for less than two usd. That makes it much more interesting than the first prices mentioned around here ranging from 12 to 35 usd a piece.
I thought you had sold yours? I seem to remember you mentioning something about considering putting it up for sale - but I guess not. Do you use it at all?
#7. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 6Wed 12-Jan-05 07:07 PM
I doubt that any 35mm scanner maker will be interested in adding direct XPan scanning support.
What Ed Hamrick does with Vuescan is extend the capabilities within the limitation of what the scanner's commands will support. With some scanners, Vuescan can make the scanner go the entire length of the Xpan frame in one pass (not sure which scanners, however). With my Canon FS4000, Vuescan can only offset a regular 36mm pass so that it will overlap your second scan of the other end of the image. This is still good because the film doesn't have to be moved manually - alignment of the two scans is precise and easy to stitch with Photoshop layers. My Canon film holder has three double-wide openings rather than six, so I didn't have to modify mine to do Xpan scanning. I don't know what the Minolta's strip film holder is like.
Vuescan can also do multipass scans, but these have the same kind of limitation depending on the device commands. Some scanners can read each pixel step several times as one pass is made. My Canon has to go through a full scanning motion for each pass - not as precise for pixel alignment.
A medium format scanner that can handle the image in a single pass would be great, but they are more expensive and hard to justify unless you're scanning a lot of medium format film. Epson flatbeds are getting very good, but they're still a little short of what a dedicated film scanner can do. They're certainly a viable option and would be easier to use than using Vuescan's "hacking" to get more out of a 35mm scanner.
I still have my Xpan, although I really don't use it after my digital conversion.
#9. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 7Thu 13-Jan-05 07:13 PM
Well, it won't be my current scanner as I got this response today:
>>>Unfortunately, the stepper motor screw is only 36 mm long.
>>>You might try one of the newer Epson or Canon flatbeds.
Impressing thing he has done with Vuescan.
#8. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 0
Congratulations on the camera - it's a nice one. I've owned mine for several years and have used several different methods for scanning.
My original film scanner for 35mm was an HP S20. It was a 2400ppi model with no means for dust and dirt removal and a fairly low Dmax. Unusually, this scanner (available very inexpensively on eBay) can scan an entire XPan image, either slide film or negative film. Results were okay and much better than using my Epson 2450 flatbed scanner. Results from the 2450 were very mushy and lacking in both highlight and shadow detail.
When I replaced the HP S20 with a Nikon Coolscan 4000, I switched to the suggested approach of cutting out one divider from the film holder and scanning in two parts (using Vuescan). That produced better results than the HP scanner, but was time consuming. I found myself not doing as many scans as I would like (one reason that you won't find any XPan images on my website).
Several months back I added a Nikon Coolscan 9000 for medium format work. Not only is the scanner wonderful for my 645 images, but it also works great for XPan shots. It wasn't cheap, however. You should now see some XPan images on my website over the next few months.
A good alternative might be the recent Epson 4870 flatbed. Test results seem to be generally good, but not quite up to level of a dedicated film scanner. You might experiment with your Minolta first and see if it will be satisfactory for you. If you decide that you want the convenience of a single pass scan, trying the Epson might be worthwhile. I would make sure you could return the Epson if it was unsatisfactory, however; I had seen "very good" test reports on my 2450 as well, and I don't think it was satisfactory.
A couple of other things about the camera:
- Mine is the black Hasselblad version, and I haven't had problems with the finish wearing: it still looks almost new. I've heard some people say that the earlier ones were more prone to wear problems - it's possible the finish changed.
- The 90mm lens is surprisingly useful. I use mine about as often as I use the 45mm lens.
- The graduated density center filter is essential if you need to shoot at apertures wider than f/8 or f/11 with the 45mm lens. If you shoot at smaller apertures for greater depth of field, remove it as it will lower the shutter speed unnecessarily.
- The bubble level is absolutely critical. I thought I could do a decent job lining up the horizon visually, but apparently I'm not as good at that as I thought. It's best to religiously use a tripod and a bubble level.
- Using slide film and having the processor return uncut rolls works the best for me. Slide film is easy to examine without scanning or printing. There are very few processors that will print XPan negatives and produce machine prints. Others will do it, but the cost is very high.
- The revised format definitely stirs my creative juices and that makes photographing with it enjoyable. While it's possible to stitch several digital captures together, that's not always feasible if parts of the subject are moving. The XPan still fulfills a need for me, and for that reason I'm not contemplating selling it.
#10. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 8Thu 13-Jan-05 07:29 PM
Thanks for the info, Rick.
Slightly off topic I know but since I started the thread I guess I can hijack it as well
I just visited your website. If your Xpan pictures are of the same quality I cannot wait seeing them. I particularly like the series from Ruby Beach, Grand Teton and Yellowstone as well as Colorado Springs and California Desert. My two favourites are from elsewhere however: I like the concept of the the last one from the San Juan Mountains. Very nice framing. But the first picture from Mount Evans is the best. I honestly feel your output is second to none of the Nikonians I have visited (and I can only think of one or two at the same level). Ever thought of making a calendar or a book?
#11. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 10Thu 13-Jan-05 09:09 PM
Thanks - I really appreciate that! I can think of many Nikonians who produce work that I admire very much, so your comment means a lot. I don't have any current plans to do anything more structured than my website, which was really created just to show some friends some shots from trips. Since photography is just a fun diversion and not how I support my family, it will probably need to stay that way.
#12. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 8
>>>The 90mm lens is surprisingly useful. I use mine about
>>>as often as I use the 45mm lens.
I can see what you mean. Framing must be a considered approach with the 45mm. Much can be accomplished with the extra 45mm. I shot my first two rolls today in cool but clear weather. The first roll was outside photographing a brick wall (checking for inconsistencies in metering or errors in the lens) but I soon put the tripod away and went motif hunting.
Raised on AF since I got my first SLR in 1987 it was a novel experience focusing with the Xpan. So much easier than with a TLR. Slower than AF, of course, but absolutely workable. The most difficult part was actually getting my camera strap through one of the openings!
The Xpan does not respond kindly to wearing gloves. I lost count of the number times I inadvertently changed the focusing when changing aperture.
It has already been a huge experience and I cannot wait till I get the trannies back.
Soon I will revert to print film though as the Swedish lab has responded with a very competitive price - only 1 usd per 10x27 (cm) print.
One question remains to be answered when I get the film back. How much of what one sees in the viewfinder is actually reflected in the final print?
#13. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 12Sat 15-Jan-05 02:39 PM
>One question remains to be answered when I get the film
>back. How much of what one sees in the viewfinder is
>actually reflected in the final print?
The XPan is pretty typical for a rangefinder camera in that the viewfinder frames show a smaller area than is captured on film. The specs published by Hasselblad indicate that the viewfinder shows about 85% of the horizontal and vertical dimensions or about 73% of the area. That's similar to a Leica in performance. I haven't noticed it being a problem in practice.
#14. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 13Sun 16-Jan-05 05:58 AM
Thanks - two additionals questions:
1) After having obtained the manual I found the feature of push AEB and turn on the camera. But I am a little uncertain if I get it correctly. If my camera then writes 0109 - does that mean it has only been fired approximately 1090 times including 200 testing shots and about the same with me? That would leave about 32 films shot (or the equivalent blanks fired). No wonder it looks like new.
2) Does anybody use a Cokin like filter with this camera? I am asking, because I need to order the filter ring via mailorder and will not if it is totally useless. I was primarily thinking about Grey-Grads (Cokin P) for lancscapes. If somebody is using another similar filter system that works I will really appreciate knowing about it.
Thanks in advance, Karspoul
#15. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 14Sun 16-Jan-05 11:34 AM
>Thanks - two additionals questions:
>1) After having obtained the manual I found the feature of
>push AEB and turn on the camera. But I am a little uncertain
>if I get it correctly. If my camera then writes 0109 - does
>that mean it has only been fired approximately 1090 times
>including 200 testing shots and about the same with me? That
>would leave about 32 films shot (or the equivalent blanks
>fired). No wonder it looks like new.
I don't have my instruction book handy, but that's the way I remember it.
>2) Does anybody use a Cokin like filter with this camera? I
>am asking, because I need to order the filter ring via
>mailorder and will not if it is totally useless. I was
>primarily thinking about Grey-Grads (Cokin P) for
>lancscapes. If somebody is using another similar filter
>system that works I will really appreciate knowing about it.
I've used grad filters (Singh-Rays) on occasion with the camera, but it's not an easy thing to do. The soft-edged ones are the probably the best choices because they are less sensitive to positioning errors. I also usually do a bit of "bracketing" when I use these and take several frames with the filter in slightly different positions.
>Thanks in advance, Karspoul
#16. "RE: XPAN (or Fuji) help !!! Fast, please....." | In response to Reply # 15Sun 30-Oct-05 12:43 AM
Since this post of mine was suddenly in the top I would like to add a little information. I no longer have this camera in my possession. I traded it in for a 24-120 VR + a Pelican case with the same dealer I bought it from.
Why? With no cash to spare and a D70 acquired and very unsteady hands I needed the 24-120 VR to get useable results. Also, the cost of developing and printing was not low. Still, I obtained very reasonable results scanning the slides with a simple Minolta Dual Scan III scanner (in two runs turning the slide). And I liked the output and the format very much. It is still in the shop window at 20 per cent more than I paid and whenever I pass it I drool, a lot.
Recently, and surprisingly, I was awarded a money gift that could have made it possible for me to bring it home. It was not an easy decision to face. In the end I decided not to (opting for a Sigma 12-24, Sigma 135-400 and Sekonic 608 instead). Had the Xpan been digital and the lens attached a 90mm, I would have re-acquired that instead.
I lost a little money in the trade-in. Do I regret having owned the Xpan? Not at all. If money was not an option I would buy an Xpan II with all the lenses. Like a previous ownership of a (not so mint) Rolleiflex TLR having owned the Xpan and the TLR have been very educational.
In the future I (think) I will stick with 35mm and AF. I doubt I will ever buy a film camera again (although there is a very reasonably prices AE-1 I lust after….) but if I do buy one it will probably be this Xpan (or its newer version) once again. I cannot help feeling impressed looking at the quality of the output technically – the lenses, camera and format make a very convincing combo.