Curiousity questions about the Xpan

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by graham_martin|2, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. I currently own a 500 c/m and intend to keep it. However, I really enjoy landscape photography and just started thinking about getting an Xpan. Here are a few questions:
    1. Why are there so few used Xpan cameras around for sale?
    2. Is there a reason why they don't seem to be very popular?
    3. I wouldn't be able to afford the XPanII, and so I would be looking at the original. Any common operational/repair issues that I should be aware of?
    4. I am in my mid sixties and my eyes aren't what they used to be, and I'd like to know about any diffciulty in focusing. I have never used a rangefinder before.
    5. What about the Horizon 202? I see they are cheap. Are they any good or would it be a waste of my money?
  2. #1 because people who have Xpans like and use them.
    #2 See #1
    #3 Can't do as long a shutter speed and Infrared film is fogged by the original Xpan. Information in viewfinder of Xpan II. But original Xpan uses regular cable release instead of electronic one.
    #4 Can't answer that because I'm not you. I find focusing almost as easy as my Leica MP, but that is still a rangefinder issue.
    #5 Cheap, fun, but known to not be a long lasting camera. Totally different look than Xpan.
  3. Answering about the Horizon 202: There's a fundamental difference between it and the Xpan, in that the film plane is curved in the Horizon and flat in the Xpan.
    So, if there is a flat horizontal line or plane, it will be curved on the Horizon negative. Buildings look like they're bent on a curve. It takes some getting used to and is not always desirable.
    It also has a fixed 28mm swiveling lens. The Xpan has interchangeable lenses.
    On the plus side, there is not the "wide angle distortion" on the Horizon, in that things at the ends of the negative don't get fattened up.
    This is why the two cameras differ so much in the look of their photos.
    If you google "Horizon 202" or "Horizont 202" you can check out images. Same with the Xpan I'm sure.
  4. Hi Graham. I totally agree with what John has said. XPans are one-of-a-kind type of camera and people who own it tend not to give it up so easily. I have an xPan II and it goes with me everywhere when I travel. Focusing I have not found to be that big of an issue mainly because I shoot at f8 or 11 so depth of field usually takes care of any mal-focus. The viewfinder screen is quite bright too so I havne't encountered any problems there.
  5. Thanks for the responses so far. They are all very helpful. I do like the idea of being able to use 35mm film due to its greater availability.
  6. The Xpan series was only in production from 1998-2005, I think. That is probably a factor in how many used cameras will be on the market, together with the fact that it was always somewhat of a niche product - expensive to buy, specialty use, often required special negative handling/processing, almost always require tripod and bubble level when using in panorama mode, available lenses are rather slow (but of excellent quality).

    Also I think the decision to make a special lens mount incompatible with the Leica bayonet mount was a mistake which may have also contriubted to Xpans limited success.

    For some people the relatively short (9 minute limit on the Xpan II) maximum bulb setting was an annoying limitation.

    I have found my Xpan II frame lines to be less visible than those of my old Leica M3 and focusing is also not quite as clear as the M3. I don't know if this is a general flaw of the Xpan series or just an issue with mine and it is certainly not crippling but it is noticeable under certain conditions.
  7. I think the decision to make a special lens mount incompatible with the Leica bayonet mount was a mistake which may have also contriubted to Xpans limited success.​
    An M-mount lens won't cover much more than the diagonal of a 24x36mm frame and thus even if they fit they couldn't be used in a panoramic camera like the Xpan (well, they could be used, but only to make 35mm-sized pictures).
    Of course, if the Xpan had an M-mount its lenses could be used the other way (Xpan lenses on standard 35mm cameras) but with so many great M lenses available for less -- lenses optimized for covering 24x36mm -- that wouldn't have saved the system.
    The Xpan is a neat camera. I think there just weren't enough customers interested in the format.
  8. <p>The production of the XPAN was stopped following EU legislation banning the use of lead and other toxic metals in electronics manufacturing. The PCBs and soldering on the XPAN was all done using old fashioned lead solder; I believe a significant amount of work would have to have been done to get the XPAN compatible with EU legislation and it wasn't worth it commercially (although the XPAN sold pretty well for a MF camera).<br>
  9. I'm aware of M-mount incompatibilities with the panoramic format. Nevertheless there are many times I simply use the Xpan as a
    garden variety 35mm rangefinder.

    I would love to be able to use a much faster Leica or Voigtlander lenses in those situations - for
    example, my f/2 28mm Voigltander would be much more useful in many situations than the f/5.6 30mm Hasselblad Xpan lens.
  10. I have the Fuji version of this camera. It is an excellent camera. Its biggest limitation is the limited number of lenses available to it--only the 45/4, 90/4 and impossible to find 30/5.6. Service can be a problem. I did have the mount give out on my early on. As much as I like this camera I would not recommend getting one unless you know of some who can service it and get ahold of spare parts. The current Mamiya 7 comes with a panoramic option and I would recommend that.
  11. There is no problem getting the XPAN or XPAN II serviced. There IS an issue with the FUJI versions. Be aware of that.
    I just sent my XPAN in for a rangefinder adjustment. The vertical was out just a bit - which doesn't effect focus, but it was driving me mad.
    The XPAN is an incredibly wonderful camera to use. I have the 45mm and 90mm lenses. I also have a diopter correction lens I use since my eyes aren't what they use to be. I think it's the +.5. Focusing is not as nice as my Leica M's -- but it's not a problem at all. You'll be amazed by the sharpness of all the XPAN lenses -- crazy good.
  12. I just used the heck out of my XPan in NYC over New Years, awesome camera. I had Hassy fix the infrared problem with mine since it is a XPan-I when they did a CLA. They will service them fine and prices seemed to have dropped a bit on ebay from what I can tell. I got my kit in 2004 with all three lenses and a host of filters for less than $3,500.
    I highly recommend this camera.
  13. Thanks Dan for the positive comments. A couple of Xpan originals with the 45mm lens were just on eBay. One sold for $1,200 (apparently had some minor problem with the Rangefinder focusing), and another was bid up to $1,500 but did not sell since it was lower than the seller's reserve.
  14. XPan must be used with a tripod in pano mode? Surely you jest :)?
    See my book here:
    Mostly XPan photos, all handheld
    // richard
  15. I've had my Xpan for about ten years, and I still love it. The biggest roadblock to the Xpan is processing and printing. Outside of a local lab where they worked with me to get color machine prints, getting processing and printing was exceptionally hard. You could take the film anywhere for processing, but if they don't pay attention, all your frames will be cut in two.
    It's easy to use. It gets fantastic photos. It in no way requires a tripod. I have used it a lot as a travel camera. I love it.
    Bill Pearce
  16. Thanks Bill. I was in my local photo lab today and they made a similar comment to you although it was more along the lines of difficulty in finding a lab that had the right holders to scan the negatives.
  17. I use and love my xPan. As it's gotten older it does seem to be a BIT harder to focus...of course I'm 66 so perhaps it's me that's the problem. I regularly zone focus the camera and have almost no troubles. If you are interested in landscape you'll be focusing at infinity most of the time I would imagine anyway. You do want to get a bubble level, B&H and Adorama sell them, they're worth the money.
    I have the original xPan (not the II) and it seems to work quite well for me.
    The images are wonderful and when used as a 35mm camera (vs panoramic) the images are quite remarkable.
    I can have a roll of Ektar developed by Costco for under $2.00 in an hour, they know not to cut the film, and I scan at home. I also occasionally send the film to a lab in California where they develop and scan, returning images which are about 28 megapixels in size for about $15.00. Substantially less than a 28megapixel digital camera and lens, no matter how many rolls I develop.
    Repairs for this camera are available through Hasselblad in NJ. You have to understand that this is a WELL MADE camera.
  18. it


    Yes, last year I sold off all my film stuff. 3 x 35mm SLRs, a 645N package, 4x5 package. Gone.
    Except my Xpan, I will never part with it!
  19. - i'll never ever sell my XPAN
    - there is an adapter LeicaR to XPAN (to be honest: own one & never used it - why should i use a telelens on XPAN?). It seems charming to mout an Nikkor PC (24mm or shorter) as image circle should be large enough ...
  20. Hi, bumping this up...

    I have just gotten an XPan 1 body from one store and a beautiful 90mm f4 lens from another, I have loaded it and it just looks lovely. I can't wait to try it out, tomorrow I hope. My question is, is it very hard at this point to find the 45mm lens separately? I see a few on Ebay but they are far out numbered by the 90s and the expensive (!) 30mm. I want to be sure it's in good condition so I guess I can wait but are they few and far between?

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