When is an X-Pan not an X-Pan?
We have a great guest post for you. Jayden Guthrie shares with us his Hasselblad Pan. When is an X-Pan not and X-Pan? When it is a hacked ELX. Jayden told us about this during the last Instagram live and he has kindly agreed to share his story with us.
G’day from Karratha, North Western Australia. I’m Jayden, and I’d like to spin a bit of a yarn about something cool I picked up, and tell a story along the way.
Forget 35mm film adapters for your medium format camera, not being able to rewind them, and having to change everything in a dark bag. Forget the Fuji TX-1 with its ticking electronic death clock. Forget the X-Pan with it’s flaking (although attractive) paint. I don’t need them. I have a Hasselblad Pan.
Hang on, What?
The T-X1, the X-pan? The PAN? What are you on about? Stick with me. I have a Hasselblad, that shoots Panoramic images, utilizes a varied lens selection, has a light meter, and has motor drive functionality. That isn’t an X-Pan.
Alright, enough of the word games, I’ll come clean. What I have to show you today, is a modified Hasselblad V system magazine that shoots 2:1 ratio panoramic images.
Armed and dangerous
Now if you’ll allow, I’d like to take you on a bit of a tangent, to help explain how I ended up here in this wide aspect-ratioed rabbit hole. While I trawled through Gumtree (Australia’s version of Craigslist) a few days ago, I spied a particularly interesting bit of kit for sale.
A seller who I had bought from previously was advertising a modified Film magazine, that he said shot Pano. It had new lightseals, was film tested by the last owner, and came with a special acrylic viewfinder drop-in mask.
It seemed like a solution to all of my frustrations with shooting panorama on cameras not native to the format, ready to roll. I had to have it!
I have flirted with the panoramic format briefly over the last few years, from using 3D printed adapters in my Horseman 970 field camera (giving me 24×70mm images), to wrestling with a Soviet made Horisont (Horizon) swing lens camera. Neither option was well engineered, efficient, or particularly enjoyable to use. The three big E’s of how I run the show, in my little world of film shooting.
I am a gear-head through and through. I have tried to convince myself that less is more, that it’s “Not about the gear!” These sentiments are indeed true, and are words to live by. A good image is a good image; it doesn’t matter what kind of light tight box it was taken with.
HOWEVER, the enjoyment of using a well-engineered tool to complete the task it was designed for should not to be discounted. Trust me, we’ll get back to the good stuff soon! I just need to lay down some context for you, to better understand where I’m coming from.
I like quality tools. My tool chest is Kinchrome, my tools are Kinchrome. My go-to rangefinder is my 1988 Leica M6 classic with an Elmar M 50 2.8. My weapon of choice for Medium format is the Hasselblad 500CM system.
I like well-engineered, and quality built machines. I have my Cert III in workshop tinkering, which over the years has let me gain an understanding and admiration for the craftsmanship in a quality bit of gear.
What I have learned over the years is, that while not cheap initially, quality tools will last a lifetime if looked after properly. I have machine shop tools that belonged to my grandfather, that are still working as well as the day they were bought.
I bring this sentiment to my photography gear. If I’m going to use the sh*t out of it, I want it to take a few knocks along the way, maybe get a few well-earned battle scars, but still feel confident that it will keep ticking and capture memories.
At long last, that brings us neatly back to why I wanted this particular bit of gear. It was not a 3D printed add on, nor a one-off home built job. This modification was done to an original Hasselblad 6×6 Magazine, a piece of well- engineered equipment to begin with. It natively fits my V system cameras, and is flawlessly interchangeable.
This mod was done by (as far as I can gather) 10Art.cc design, a Chinese based design and Engineering firm. Their website (although entirely in Mandarin) shows off some of their other offerings, from machined tripod baseplates, Bubble level accessories, to a brand new Instax square instant film back in development for the Hasselblad V system.
But strangely enough, there is no mention of what I have in my hands today, not even a development log, like they do for the aforementioned Instax project. There is next to no info to be found online about it either. I’m sure something like this would have brought some attention to itself, with the sky-rocketing demand (and price) for X-Pan cameras.
Since the Mod serial number on mine is 058, I can only imagine that there are another 57 floating around out there somewhere.
I’d love to know who else out there has one. Also included, was a custom cut acrylic finder mask. Quality stuff, for something that seems so unheard of.
To my knowledge, they modified the gearing in the advance mechanism, limiting the distance each frame advances, and installing the film frame mask. Also added, was a darkslide holder/ film I.D holder.
All this combined, leaves me with a regular looking film magazine. Which is what I’m after.
I can just pick it up and slap it on, no hassle (blad), and fire away like any other film mag I use. While I am by no means “good” at panoramic compositions, with this acquisition I will be able to at least challenge myself to get better.
This Magazine will neatly fit in with the rest that I have in rotation, giving me access to multiple formats with one system. From the standard 6×6, to 6×4.5, and now 2:1 ratio, I’ll have all my needs covered.
If I decide to get particularly excited with the whole “Medium format X-Pan” idea, I could track down one of those gnarly looking Planar 80’s with the bolt-on lightmeter & auto aperture unit, that is powered by the ELX power socket. With that, I’d have a motor driven body, light meter, AND shutter priority auto exposure functionality. All that, for less than the price of a single lens for the X-Pan system. Not too shabby, right?
So in TLDR summary;
Modified Hasselblad magazine- Shoots X-Pan format. Mechanical camera means it won’t sh*t the bed due to electrical dramas one day. Wide variety of lenses to use, ability to have motor drive functionality with EL/ ELX models. Modular system, mix ‘n match to your hearts content.
Quality modification, with obvious attention to detail due to the individual serial number plaques. Well made component that will fall in line with my current setup. Made by a mysterious Chinese company that has little to no info available.
So if anyone out there has more information on this elusive company, let everyone know! I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love to have a crack with one of these.
Cheers to Bellamy for suggesting I spin a yarn about this interesting bit of gear, and cheers to you for the read.
Have a good one,
Cheers to Jayden for this cool little discovery. I have never seen one before and would love to know more. This is a remarkable mod. Do you have one? Share with us in the comments.