To us film enthusiasts, the Mamiya 7, the Leica M6 and the Hasselblad Xpan are the holy grail when it comes to cameras. After the Mamiya, I chose an M6 over the Xpan out of the fear of electronics. Recently, I was fortunately lent a Hasselblad Xpan and I wonder if I made a mistake for having gone Leica.
Holding the XPan in my hands made me smile, a combination of seeing a legend in person and a dream come true for the opportunity to shoot with one. It is weighty and has a sturdy build but not overbearing being hung around the neck for an entire day.
Ease of use
720 grams (Body)
235 grams ( 45mm Lens)
From 5000 AUD
It has got a decently bright viewfinder with a lot to look at. I had the 45mm f/4 lens on and the best way in my opinion to shoot this panorama effect is to include a foreground subject otherwise things will look a little ordinary. It was a lot to think about when it comes to filling its generous frame and having not shot street photography in a long while did not help.
I took my time, waited for the subjects to come into the frame to make my composition more interesting but the people of Melbourne are too nice so they stopped to apologise for walking into my picture. Another person waited for me to finish so that he could express his adoration for the Hasselblad XPan which explains its cult status.
The ring is smooth to turn and focus is easy to nail while the aperture ring has a tactile feeling. I left the camera on auto exposure for all my shots as the Xpan is known to have a seriously good metering system. The colour films being fed are both over exposed by two thirds while the Ektachrome was shot at box speed. It is good to be able to shoot in the usual 3:2 ratio and Xpan’s 65:24 but I stuck to the latter throughout my time with this Hasselblad.
As I got used to the Xpan’s aspect ratio and shooting street again, I remember how much I enjoyed the thrill and anxiety of photographing busy places. This feeling is truly one of the joys of being alive and having shot three rolls of film, I felt positive and very much looking forward to what has been taken.
Having reviewed my photos, the Hasselblad XPan lives up to everything I thought it would be and more. It challenges the user to compose differently and when done right, the results speak for themself. The user experience with this machine cannot be found in any other cameras.
I do not have any complaints but if I must, it would be great if the shutter speed is shown in the viewfinder instead of only the back LCD screen on the back of the camera. That feature was added for the Xpan 2 alongside a double exposure feature.
That aside, its entire range of lenses would benefit from having larger aperture. I would just feed it with 800 speed films or push when it comes to processings since the images that it produces are so sharp. Also the peeling paint is annoying so in that case just get a Fujifilm TX-1 which is the same thing without black being painted on.
So if one could turn back time, I would have chosen the Xpan over the M6. I would live with the stress that it may just decide to not work one day. Furthermore, a Leica M6 paints 2:3 so does many 35mm cameras and that would not stimulate as much creativity as a different format does. That being said, some may still prefer to do things manually themselves much like the owner of this camera so I’m hoping to swap my M6 TTL for his Xpan after some coffee.
Shot on Hasselblad XPan paired to a 45mm f/4