As much as I love digital cameras and the freedom and flexibility they offer, I sometimes miss film. While the hum of winding motors and the clapping of massive mirrors are certainly to be found consolation, I miss the creativity that arises from adversity, so to speak.
You see, filming is restrictive. You only get 36 shots per roll, reloading takes time and you won’t see your shots until days later. In filming, you learn to plan your shots in advance, to compose your shots better, and to be a better photographer out of necessity. There is no spray and pray here.
Powerful smartphone cameras make it easy to take great pictures, but the quality of your pictures depends on how much thought you put into composition and framing. For this reason, too, I am interested in the OnePlus-Hasselblad partnership and the introduction of an XPan emulation mode via an OTA for the OnePlus 9 series.
XPan, introduced by Hasselblad in 1998, was and is unique. At that time the pictures were mainly recorded on 35 mm film with the dimensions 36 x 24 mm (aspect ratio 3: 2).
Hasselblad went one step further by enlarging the frame to 65mm (65:24 or 2.7: 1), exposing a larger area of film, and producing an image very much in keeping with cinema’s ultra-wide anamorphic aspect ratio of 2.39: 1 was similar. but without the oval bokeh and lens flares.
With such a large work surface and much like the cinema, XPan quickly became a means of telling stories through still images. It’s not a format that you can easily adapt to, but it’s worth it once you do it.
It is interesting that OnePlus, with its Hasselblad partnership, tried to emulate not only the field of view, but also the experience of shooting black and white footage from that period. Switching to XPan mode in the OnePlus camera app crops the frame to an aspect ratio of 65:24, emulates an XPan viewfinder and replaces the normal shutter release with a Hasselblad-like orange one. Using the wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle camera, the app also tries to emulate the 65mm and 45mm focal lengths of the original XPan lenses.
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Pressing the orange shutter button takes the picture, but you get a color negative first, which quickly transforms into the final picture. To some, at a time when instant feedback is the norm, this may seem like a gimmick and unnecessary delay, but that delay can also be viewed as a means of forcing you to take a more measured approach to your photography.
You could just use XPan mode as a filter, but it can be more. As a medium to hone your storytelling skills and regain the charm and thrill of a bygone era, it is a step in the right direction.
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