Wide angle living - Part 1: daily life

My new project is all about super wide angles, looking for panoramic views and making the mundane interesting. Welcome to my first post of 'Wide angle living'.

After I finished my 52 rolls of film project I took a bit of a break from the weekly planning of what theme and film to shoot. It also gave me time to reflect on the overall project, what I had learned, which films I had enjoyed shooting the most, and to think more broadly about what to do next. Not short of ideas, I still did not have a "next project", just a list of different blog posts I could eventually get to. 

That being said, browsing the internet and work of other photographers is always a great place to come up with new ideas. I had been playing with the idea of different perspectives and came across some really cool work taken with a Hasselblad Xpan, and this is where my new project: "wide angle living" came to mind. 

A bit more about the camera

The Hasselblad Xpan is a unique camera, both in the analog and digital world. It is a panoramic 35mm rangefinder, that provides a perspective unlike any I have seen before. It is the combination of a curious collaboration between Hasselblad and Fuji. It produces an image that is 24 x 65mm, by exposing two 35mm frames at once, giving you a very cinematic kind of look. My experience with wide angle lenses on a normal 35mm frame is that you get a very wide shot, but this is both on the horizontal and vertical axis. For example in shooting a landscape scene, whilst you get the whole mountain range left to right, you also get a lot of sky top to bottom. The Xpan is different in that it provides for a very long and thin perspective, similar to what you experience when watching a cinema movie. 

The 45mm lens I have with it is also wonderful, with a special filter to avoid vignetting (think light fall-off) at the sides of the frame due to it being so wide. What is fascinating about this camera / lens combination is that it retains the correct perspective throughout the frame, no distortion like that curved earth view you can get from a wide GoPro camera type shot. 


As each shot consists of 2 frames, you get roughly 20 photos per roll of standard 35mm film. The camera has fully manual and aperture priority mode. 

A bit more about the project

I really liked the photographs I saw coming out of the Xpan, and I figured there were all sorts of themes I could come up with to shoot new, interesting, and super wide images. This would also bring a really interesting perspective for street photography, as it produces such an all encompassing shot. With my working list of themes ready, I figured starting with a 'daily life' post would allow me to take some casual shots over a few days. 

I decided I would run a few test rolls through it to make sure it was all in order. I bought the camera off another photographer, so I was pretty confident it was fine, and judging by his excellent work, this camera is capable of some stunning shots. I shot the following rolls:

  1. Kodak 200 - available in a 3-pack in local shops in Germany for €7,95 (for the pack!) it is a steal for some decent consumer grade film.
  2. Ilford HP5 plus (ISO 400) - I actually decided to shoot this roll at ISO 1600. This is a concept called "pushing film", where you trick the camera into thinking it has a higher ISO film than it really does, allowing for handheld shots in darker situations. It also creates more grain and contrast in the final images. By shooting 2 stops over (think ISO 400 to 800 (1 stop) to 1600 (2 stops)), it requires longer processing time. There is a whole load of math and chemistry behind how this process works, if you are interested check it a great video here. 
  3. Fuji Superia 1600 - a wonderful high ISO colour film. Unfortunately Fuji are really cutting back on their traditional film emulsions and focusing more on the instant film photography market, so we may not see this high ISO film much longer - it is one of my favourite for sure. 
  4. Fuji Superia 400 - a very reliable consumer grade standard ISO 400 colour film.

The shots

I always say how my images are clickable, well if you double click these they will cover the entirety of your screen - talk about wide! I can't tell you how much better these are on a laptop or desktop screen. However, if you are reading this on a mobile device - turn it sideways to scroll through the photos!

These were test rolls shot over a weekend in various locations and lighting situations in and around Frankfurt.

Main station taxi rank, Ilford HP5 shot @1600.
Fuji Superia 1600 - busy Spanish restaurant. I love how this camera provides a wide frame, but if you are clever you can get 2 or even 3 different things going on in the same frame. 
Weekly food & beer market. Katharina and Mr. Alex Haardt. 
Sunset shot from my balcony. I can see this camera being very useful for nice sunrises and sunsets. 
The angle of view is so wide that this person entered my frame just as I was focusing on the bikes. This camera is a rangefinder, meaning your viewfinder has a frame within it, allowing you to see what is in or out of the final photo (unlike normal cameras that are through the lens and all you see is what is in your frame).
Managed to grab a quick shot during one of the sessions at Crossfit am Main. It came out dark as it was Ilford HP5 shot handheld @1600, but I literally got a quick snap in between the exercises! With a tripod this would've come out great. 
My mate Cameron, great shot and has a real cinematic feel to it!
This camera works really well for long lines and symmetrical views too. 
Typical Saturday market view.
Impressed this came out at all given it was shot handheld. 
Straight line through the chaos. I love how much detail is in this shot. 
I really like the transition between sunset and blue hour with a mix of oranges, blues and city lights. This is a really sharp lens!
I struggled to keep this one still as shooting handheld, but I like how it came out. Train stations are a great place for some wide angle photography. 
Frankfurt's main train station shot with Ilford HP5@1600.
The skyline peering over a packed Christmas market that is on the roof of a car park (literally!).
The lonely delivery bike. 
This camera works great for underground stations too, as it has such a wide reach.
I couldn't resist the great light in this shot, and yes those are my photos proudly hanging on the wall!

Overall observations

I really enjoyed shooting the first few rolls with the Hasselblad Xpan and I see loads of potential for landscapes, candid portraits, and street photography. There is definitely more to come in the 'wide angle living' space! 

I hope you enjoyed these shots as much as I did!

Thanks for stopping by,

Neil