Index Thing


Wide View/Panoramic

Well - here we are in the digital age and I do miss the wide/panoramic view from the Hasselblad Xpan film camera.
The Xpan was a great camera for taking moderately wide shots in 35mm format - to do it digitally would require an expensive Hasselblad X1D using Xpan Mode however it is possible to bodge a similar result using normal digital cameras and/or stitching apps.

Some digital cameras use the traditional sensor cropping technique to achieve in-camera panoramas but to get a 35mm size would require a full-frame camera and use of stitching software.

This is a similar route to what I use - in my case I just use the Leica XVario and Panorama Stitcher.

The XVario of course is an APS-C sensor but I find that the quality is as good as the old 5D full sensor so to achieve a panoramic format I simply take multiple exposures and stitch. I tend to use the widest setting of the XV which is 28mm (18.7 in real APS-C terms). The Xpan equivalent in 35mm format was c. 25mm.

Lightroom 6 will do photo merging (stitching) quite well but a quick no fuss method is to use Panorama Stitcher (available on MAS for a very reasonable price).

Panorama Stitcher requires the exposures to have a 20-30% overlap to work well (it needs to find a good amount of common image data in matching exposures). Most data loss occurs along the sides not being stitched so it is often advantageous to take more exposures in vertical format if the desired format is horizontal. If I am taking a particularly good panorama that I don't want to fail then I make the overlap at least 1/3 of the frame (using vertical format this may require quite a number of frames depending on width of panorama).

By the way if you want to invest more money then AutoPano Pro appears to be the business (stoppress: no longer available for sale, Kolor gone belly up) - I found the trial version seemed to lose less data at the non-stitched edges than other apps so less detail lost when cropped.

In theory to get an xpan format should only require 2 snaps but that would require precise positioning to meet the minimum 20% overlap so 3 would be safer (using vertical format probably need about 5 or so).

Naturally the multi-exposure technique works better if there is no subject movement in the frame - with movement the results will vary, some movement may be so quick that there is no effect conversely very slow movement may also be OK. Some subject movement types will of course mean multiple appearances in the final shot - the answer is get a mortgage and a X1D!

Some folk would argue that using a stitcher is not a 'real' photo and I would agree to the point that it is not a photo of a particular point in time but more a short capture of a movie in one photo - I don't wanna become too anal about it.


    35mm Frame - 24 x 36 with 2x3 aspect ratio (1.5)

    Xpan Frame - 24 x 65 with 2 x 5.4 aspect ratio (2.7)

    Double 35mm Frame - 24 x 72 with 2 x 6 aspect ratio (3)

Xpan Framing


Normal 35mm Frame:
24 x 36

Normal 35mm Frame


XPan Frame:
24 x 65

Xpan Frame


Normal/Xpan Frame:

Comparison Frame


Xpan Frame/Double 35mm:
65mm Xpan/72mm (2 x 36) - 65mm/7mm

Double Frame


Normal/Xpan Frame Overlap:

Overlap Frame



The overlap is 7mm which is 36/7 = 5 roughly so 20% or a fifth of a normal 35mm frame approx.

Panorama Stitcher Example

Using Panorama Stitcher: (Mac only)
    Open the PS app and drag required exposures onto app - it will start processing them straight away. It will tell you if not enough common data is found but should be OK if sufficient overlap is done and camera focal length is the same for each frame.

The two shots below highlight the typical data loss top and bottom and this would be the reason to use vertical format to improve the headroom. PS allows both Spherical and Planar alignments where spherical is used for a rotating camera (usual method) and planar could be used for multiple camera shots taken on a fixed line from the subject.

All in all quite a procedure to get digital xpan format but cheaper than an X1D ...




3 35mm Frames:

3x35 Frames


Xpan Frame Crop:

Overlap Frame


Final Panorama:

Full Pano


Click image to enlarge - note the dog and people at end of lane (a snapshot of a movie!).

Click for larger snap

Scanning XPan Negs

I find that scanning XPan negs these days isn't so bad - basically I just use an Epson V700 Photo scanner along with Vuescan software. I used to use a Canon FS4000 Film Scanner but it was very slow and the V700 gives a comparable quality with a faster result.

The Epson doesn't really have a specific filmholder for XPan film so I use a normal 35mm strip holder suitably modified.
The strip I use is a standard ABC style 6 neg holder with some dividers removed which allows an XPan neg to be placed and also avoid the film curl issue which can be a problem - to get the neg absolutely flat you would have to use an expensive glass plate method but I find the modified holders acceptable (using the end frames may improve the flatness I guess). With the normal Epson 35mm holders little adjuster lugs are used to get the correct focus distance for the scanner but the ABC holders seem to have a thickness which works OK if they are placed directly on the scanning surface.

Modified holder
Normal holder

Careful placing on the scanner surface will improve the chances of being 'squared' for setting the scan region in the software

Click for larger snap