FauX-Pan Body

FauX-Pan Body

The advantage of an X-Pan/TX-1 film camera back in the day was the compact nature of the rig vs the large alternatives that Linhof, Fujifilm, and other specialist makers cobbled up for pano work. These behemoths were wonderful, taking very large negatives on roll or sheet film, but they were monsters to haul out to remote places. Every venture to take panoramas for commercial purposes was a complete campaign.

The X-Pan/ TX-1, on the other hand was a hand camera using 35mm film – and no larger than a regular rangefinder. It had automatic film advance and sophisticated exposure measuring. It was very nearly as automated as a digital camera – albeit one that threw an image some 23mm x 65 mm on the transparency or negative.

Well I propose to throw an image some 23.6 x 7.8 mm on the sensor and trust that modern pixellage will be good enough to cope with it. But I want the historical ease of use.

Two choices present themselves for this – the X-Pro1 and the X-E2. I own each of these bodies and they, of course, will both mount the 16mm Fujinon lens. Both shoot 16 Mpxl, the X-E2 on an EVF and the X-Pro1 with a combined EVF and optical finder. For the first experiment I have opted for the E2 – it is smaller and lighter. In both cases the cameras are suspended from a wrist strap rather than a neck one – I’ve gotten used to this.

The choice of settings is pretty much what I always use – RAW plus medium 16 x 9 jpeg. I did change to Velvia film simulation as I want to pretend to be a real landscape shooter instead of an escaped studio worker…Bright spring day and ISO 400 and all. Several things of note:

a. They are always digging up the roads between my house and wherever I want to go. Even if I change my mind at the last moment, the Main Roads Department has a secret spy network that divines my intention and sends a flying squad of workers, diggers, and cone-men to intercept me.

b. The sun here is so bright that trying to use the LCD screen at the back of the camera for sighting is useless. The EVF has to be turned up to max setting to make any impression. Even then you are trusting to luck many times.

c. The green horizon line and the AF beep are invaluable.

d. Get it level and pointed in the right direction and it all works very well. The lens is superb.

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e. The EVF or LCD chews up power – this would definitely be three-battery days if you were making panorama landscapes all the time.

f. The in-built alternative – the panorama sweep mechanism – is actually pretty cool, but limited. You must have a scene that recedes from you in the centre of the frame to compensate for the fact that the pano mechanism will make it bulge. Get the right combo and you’ll never know it’s a sweep.

You also have the problem of things moving whilst you sweep – the FauX–Pan approach is a one-shot affair and you’ll capture the whole 1:3 image in one exposure. It is the only chance you’d have for sports or surf rolling in.

g. More experiments will be made with the FauX-Pan technique using the X-Pro1 camera as the body. This may mean that the optical finder is better to see out of in bright Western Australian light.

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