To those of you who have been readers of the blog during the past 10 years, it comes as no secret that back in 2018’ish I completely lost my photographic heart to the 65:24 format of photography. A collaboration by Fujifilm and Hasselblad back in the nineties ultimately led to the creation of the XPan / TX-1 line of cameras. I have written numerous blogposts about these cameras and the format itself, but in case you havn’t read them yet I’m linking them here
The TX-1 / XPan exposed two 35mm frames at once making the image area captured on film a whooping 65mm x 24mm. The standard lens on that system was a 45mm f/4 lens, but they also made a 90mm f/4 and a 30mm f/5.6. Albeit a very small range of lenses, they do cover almost all the practical instances that I could possibly think of shooting within the “image language” of shooting the wide screen panoramas.
But I always did wonder why they didn’t manufacture a focal length to sit in between the 45mm and the 90mm. I have always been thinking that a 60mm would’ve been perfect.
To support my reasoning behind this wish we need to talk a bit about how the focal lengths actually behave on the 65:24 cameras.
The lenses have to cover a 65mm image circle. (Pretty crazy, given their small size, since it’s basically the same image circle size as the 6×6 format used in, among others, the Hasselblad V series cameras!)
If you were to pick up a 35mm filmcamera or full frame digital sensor camera, you would need a lens significantly wider than the 45mm f/4 to achieve the same equivalent field of view, since the TX-1 / XPan format actually has a crop factor of 0.55 on its wide end. That means that to achieve a similar look on the 35mm sensor you would need a 45mm x 0.55 = 24,75mm lens.
When the 0,55 x crop factor is applied to all the focal lengths within the TX-1 ecosystem the 35mm equivalents would be as follow
- 30mm x 0,55 = 16,5 -> 16mm
- 45mm x 0,55 = 24,7 -> 24mm
- 90mm x 0,55 = 49,5 -> 50mm
As is suddenly really apparent, what I really want for the system is something right in between a 24mm and a 50mm lens.
Did someone say 35mm??
My all time favourite focal length in both APSC (23mm) and full frame! Lets do the reverse crop factor math to see what focal length would yield a similar field of view on the TX-1 / XPan as a 35mm lens on a 35mm film camera / Full frame sensor.
- 35mm x 1/0,55 = 63 -> 60mm
And there it is, no wonder that I’ve always thought that a 60mm lens for the XPan system would yield the perfect field of view for me.
Now, since the TX-1 / XPan system is longer longer being produced, obviously there will never be a 60mm option for it. Bummer! …… But wait! I actually just recently found a solution to this, albeit it’s not an analogue solution. It’s a digital solution.
Since its inception 2017 the Fujifilm GFX system has actually had the 65:24 panoramic mode available as a digital version. Fujifilm uses a panoramic crop mode on its 33x44mm sensor to yield a reduced megapixel output 65:24 format output. It works wonderfully. The jpegs are complete final crops, where as the corresponding raw files is “pre-cropped” but when imported into lightroom still retain all the info outside the cropped area. So as long as you shoot jpeg+RAW you’ll have the best of both worlds.
The now discontinued Fujifilm GFX50R (read here for my review) is built in a rangefinder brick shape as the only camera within the Fujifilm GFX ecosystem, so it’s the closest thing available on the market to the original rangefinder XPan / TX-1.
Besides trying to use Fujifilms rather large autofocus GF lenses, it seems like a no brainer to find an adapter to adapt the original TX-1 / XPan lenses.
I have had said adapter for many years, but it wasn’t until last week that I really started using it. Truth be told I had sold my GFX50R back in 2020 and replaced it with the GFX100S for all my product photography needs, but I have since regretted that move deeply. I have since sold off my GFX100S last year, and up until last week I had been “GFX-less”
But after sending a rather needy and sobbing mail to my good friends at Fujifilm Japan, they actually managed to get me a new in box GFX50R. I’m beyond grateful that they did that for me.
The minute I got the GFX50R in the house I mounted the Kipon GFX-XPAN adapter and my original Hasselblad / Fujinon 45mm f/4 lens. I have shot it almost constantly the past 10 days, and I have been loving every minute of it. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I really started wondering why I was so fond of this combo.
…And then it hit me. Obviously the 45mm f/4 is cropped on the GFX50R sensor, but how much was it actually cropped? And why did the frames that it produced fit my photographic eye so well?
The answer is obvious! The 45mm f/4 on the 33x44mm GFX sensor actually acts exactly like a 35mm on a full frame sensor, since the corresponding cropfactor is 0,79x – I did the math, and it completely checks out!
- 45mm x 0,79 = 35,5mm -> 35mm
So now I have my “Digital XPan / TX-1” – Complete with the “missing” 60mm focal length that I always wanted for the original system. I even sorta get the same shooting experience of the original TX-1 since I am using an original manual focus XPan lens. It really is the best of both worlds. For now I will continue to explore the options with this system, and luckily it won’t be as expensive in film costs as my real TX-1 😀
I know there are some of you out there thinking “why not just crop in post?” Well it goes without saying that actually composing your shot in the shooting situation will never be the same when you’re looking through a normal crop viewfinder, and then having to guesstimate what is within the 65:24 frame lines afterwards. You might get lucky from time to time, but you’ll never be able to explore the format and get consistently well-composed frames. This format requires a lot of practice if you want to produce good stringent compositions.
Now, I’m going to stress this yet again. Fujifilm NEEDS to put this format into their new high resolution 40mp generation of X-Series cameras. If the resolution of the GFX50R can handle it, so can the 40mp X-series. Could you imagine how cool it would be to be able to shoot this format with the massive range of Fujinon X-series lenses? I for one could.
All images in the post have been shot on the GFX50R with the Hasselblad / Fujinon 45mm f/4 lens and a Tiffen Black Pro Mist 1/4 filter. The product shots have been shot on various Fujifilm cameras.