It all started last year when I began my dive into film photography: all those 35mm and 120 film cameras were so exciting… And then I stumbled on one camera that was special, not only in my beginner’s opinion, but for a lot of photography people out there – The Hasselblad Xpan.
Quick forum research showed that there are pretty big chances when buying this camera, that any time, it could become a rare, nice-looking brick, as repairing can be costly, if possible at all. Anyway, eBay research showed that Xpan prices are way, way more than my first film camera, a Canon FTB, and even my priciest film camera, a Bronica SQ-A. Too expensive, period.
My next research was dedicated to finding Xpan alternatives. There are some panoramic format alternatives out there, but this EMULSIVE article about making a TEXpan from a Fuji medium format rangefinder was the one that caught my mind. Long story short, after some time of eBay monitoring, a nice looking Fuji GSW690II (with its 65mm lens) took a trip overseas from Canada to Estonia to become my first rangefinder and first medium format rangefinder. Thanks to the article, converting the camera to use 35mm film was easy enough (but I had to apply two layers of tape, otherwise it didn’t wind).
Shooting Kodak EKTACHROME E100 was a bit of a challenge. I prefer light setups, so a tripod is not my favorite piece of gear for photo walks. ISO 100 film, a maximum aperture of f/5.6 and mostly not-so-much-light winter weather in Estonia made it a bit difficult to shoot handheld, so waiting for appropriate weather conditions took me a month to shoot a whole roll. And then — the perks of living in small country multiplied by Corona situation — my lab does not process slide film, so they had to send it to another country! The film was given to the lab at the end of December 2019 and I got it back at the beginning of April.
The results were partly good, partly not so… Correct exposure is crucial for slide film and I have to master it. But when it’s nailed the colors are extremely punchy and I like it.
Was it worth waiting? Of course. Will I shoot more E100? Definitely. Do I like my GSW690II? Well, mostly yes… But I’d like to try a “normal” GW690, as its 90mm lens may suit me more.
Thanks for reading.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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