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  1. #1
    Colin Corneau's Avatar
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    Xpan,Fotoman, etc. -- differences?

    I currently own a Widelux F7, and have been interested in breaking out of the usual boundaries of a photograph (4x5 or 35mm formats)

    I noticed the Hasselblad Xpan, and am interested in the perspective it offers. But, there are other similar cameras to this and my question is:

    Are there are any signifigant differences (apart from minor aspect ratios, I don't care too much if the image is 6x17 or 6x12, etc.) between these types of cameras?
    I'd like to know as I look around and certainly before I buy anything.

    Many thanks

  2. #2
    david b's Avatar
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    The Xpan is a wonderful camera. If you like working with 35mm film, then it is great. You can see some of my work with it here.
    If you want to stay with medium format film, why not get a 6x9 and crop it?

  3. #3

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    There is a huge difference between the wide field and panoramic cameras. The Xpan is technically a wide field camera and the Noblex is a true panoramic. The Noblex' swing lens (similar for your Widelux) has a much wider field of view. If you go to the Noblex website http://www.kamera-werk-dresden.de/index_eng.htm you will see a numberof pictures that clearly show the difference.

    Also the following fro the Widelux website:

    There are two camps in the world of panoramics. The more common cameras use a stationary wide-angle lens and simply ignore the upper and lower edges of the coverage area with a mask. This type of camera is good for architecture, as the lens is rectalinear and all straight lines appear straight.

    The Widelux uses a swinging lens in a turret, and a vertical slit which moves accross the film and lays down the image with a moving swipe. This camera can usually cover a wider field than fixed-lens types. Because the moving lens is only sampling a small sliver of the image at any one time, small objects appear with natural aspect ratios, but large straight spans are often not straight.

    With a stationary wide-angle lens, objects near the edges will become visibly distorted. Faces in the corners are a big no-no!

    On the other hand, the Widelux swinging lens treats objects with equal proportion, taking each one as it comes into view during the scan. So all human faces will appear with natural roundness from the center of the image to the sides. This is great for group portraits. Architecture is treated differently though, and a long wall becomes a blimp, with a fat center (head-on angle) and dwindling side wings (oblique angle, distant subject).

    Sharing the Widelux camp, the Russian Horizon 202 & Horizont and the German Noblex all use a swing-lens turret.

  4. #4
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Don't let the Noblex Imorters get you Ted, I think they might immortalise you

    The swing lens systems have their own distortion, a 6x17 is a nice compromise and Fotoman and particularly Gaoersi are very good value for money.

    Ian

  5. #5
    Colin Corneau's Avatar
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    I've used and loved the Widelux, and am familiar with its look and how it works.

    But I guess I want the option of a slightly less distorted look - there are differences with how the Xpan functions and I find its images very appealing.

    David, very cool work. Do you have the 45mm lens with your Xpan?

  6. #6
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    It's an obvious thing, but I'll point it out anyway. The Fotoman and the Xpan are completely different kinds of cameras. The Fotman relative to the Xpan is big, and heavy, and wears a large format lens in a shutter on a helical, and makes 7 inch wide negatives. The Xpan compares as small and light, and behaves in a much more conventional fashion, and makes much smaller negatives. Their respective strengths and weaknesses are practically opposites. A careful consideration of what and how you are shooting, and what your final intention is, will reveal the proper system for your work.

  7. #7

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    LOL Ian,

    Totally agree. You can eliminate all/most of the distortion but only by being very careful with camera placement and swing lens/swing body cameras are very specialized tools. The importers would probably be horrified if they saw my 150F as it has been well used. That said, it is the only camera I have ever owned that paid for itself with one job.

  8. #8
    david b's Avatar
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    The Xpan shots on my site are all done with the 45mm lens.

    It's a great lens that does not need the center filter, in my opinion.

    I've owned the 30mm on several occasions and never really liked it.

    To me, the xpan works best when hand held.

  9. #9

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    I own a bunch of Fotoman 6x12 cameras. I use it with lenses ranging from 65mm Grandagon to 360mm tele nikkor. I carry 3 bodies routinely, I keep a 180mm Sironar and 270 Tele Nikkor on dedicated bodies as they have large cones and are somewhat inconvenient to remove in the field. I also carry a body with a 120mm symmar-L and will remove that lens and swap it with an 80mm Super Symmar-XL. That same body also has the Fotoman shift adapter attached as wider lenses tend to prefer rise/fall of the lens rather than tilting of the camera.

    I have a 360mm Nikkor tele also on a dedicated body. This puppy has a really long cone and gets carried in a shoulder bag. There's a cone available for the 400mm fuji tele. The Fotoman's advantage is in it's simplicity. It has very few moving parts and no bells and whistles. The film advance is primitive but offers excellent film flatness because you can counter rotate the two film knobs and tighten up the film just prior to exposure.

    A GG is available and I advise getting it. I use the Linhof Universal viewfinder with 612 mask, in lieu of the Fotoman viewfinders. If you are working with wides to wide normal lenses you can use this camera hand held, also assuming reasonably fast film and light.

  10. #10

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    Camera's such as the Noblex hold the film in a curved film plane. With this type of camera straight lines parrallel to the film plane are curved, where as camera's such as the X-pan, Fotoman, etc., hold the film in a flat film plane and therefore straight lines parrallel to the film plane are straight.

    I use a Noblex 135UC which uses 35mm film and gives an angle of view on the diagonal of 135*. Being fairly compact and quick to use I use it almost exclusively for street photography. I enjoy its wider narrative.

    On occasion I also use a Linhof 6x12cm roll film back on a 4x5 camera, mainly with lenses from 35 - 110mm.

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