|Hasselblad XPan camera with 30mm, 45mm, and 90mm lenses|
|XPan with 30mm ƒ/5.6 lens and special viewfinder|
|Center filter on 30mm ƒ/5.6 lens|
The amazing hardware
For me, the wide frame was a revelation. Through the viewfinder, I could see topics that I might have skipped with a normal camera or would have found boring without the wide frame to show the context of the scene. The wide frame provides a narrative to the main topic. I will post a series of XPan articles in the next few months.
A recent guest author on Casual Photophile also wrote about how the wide view gave him a new way of viewing his world. An author on 35MMC found his XPan to be his favorite travel camera. But Hamish Gill of 35MMC found that the XPan just did not suit his type of photography enough to keep the valuable camera. It is a specialist tool to be sure.
However, this camera's wide frames require different handling than normal 35mm negatives. I did not see much on the internet about how people process or scan this unusual 24×65 mm frame. This article will describe my procedure.*
|XPan negatives (converted to positive). Oh, oh, what to do with the odd shape?|
Years ago, some commercial labs developed XPan negatives and printed 4×12 inch machine prints. Nice. I have some albums with pages just for this size.
|4×12 inch prints in plastic album. Lake Union, Seattle, Washington|
- Use a digital camera with macro lens and a copy stand to take a picture of the negative, and then reverse with software. My friend who owns the XPan uses this technique.
- Scan the negatives on a medium format scanner. My Minolta Scan Multi will fit the 65mm length, but I would need to cut a 24×65 mm mask. Minolta may have once sold a frame and mask in this size, but I doubt I could ever find one. Nikon's medium format scanners could be used for Xpan negatives. They used to sell a glass negative carrier that came with a mask for the Xpan format. It worked but was clumsy and very slow.
- Scan left and right frames of 24×36 mm in a regular 35mm film scanner and then combine them with software. I used this method with my Plustek 7600i scanner and then merge the two pieces with Photoshop CS6 (details below).
- Commercial scanning. Some laboratories may offer this service via the Imacon Flextight scanner (alas, no longer available new and staggeringly expensive)
Digital camera scanning
|Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona. © Bill Stripling|
|Acueducto de Segovia, Segovia, Spain. © Bill Stripling|
|French Pyrenees. © Bill Stripling|
Merging 24×36 mm scans
|Plustek 7600i scanner with 35mm negative holder. Note how one XPan frame overlaps into the second opening.|
- Preview the left or right section in a 24×36 mm frame (i.e., the full size for this scanner).
- Adjust color, gain, and contrast as needed.
- Make a final scan at 3600 dpi and save as a 16-bit (full color) TIFF file.
- Remove the film holder, pull the XPan frame so that the other side is in the 24×36 opening.
- Reinsert the holder in the scanner but leave gain and color unchanged. This means I cannot preview this second piece.
- Make a final TIFF scan of this second section.
- If needed, clean scratches and chemical blobs with the heal tool in Photoshop.
Below is an example from the rail line south of the Amtrak Station in Jackson, Mississippi and one from a junk yard in Edwards.
|Pascagoula Street overpass left frame|
|Pascagoula Street overpass right frame|
|Final panorama from Pascagoula Street overpass (Kodak Portra 160 film)|
|I-20 junk yard left frame|
|Junk yard right frame|
|Final panorama, I-20 North Frontage Road, Edwards (Portra 160 film, 45mm ƒ/4 lens at ƒ/5.6½)|
Despite the work, this Xpan is a lot of fun and an amazing creative tool. Standby for more examples. Thank you, Bill, for letting me use your camera.
* I am not going to use the term "workflow." That is a cliche on photography web pages, especially the infamous DPreview. "I returned from my weekend in Paris and did my special workflow to my 15,000 shots." Bleech.