5 Frames… From the Poundland XPan (35mm / EI 200-ish / Halina Panorama & Truprint 200) – by Tom Rayfield

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There are already other reviews of the Halina Panorama (also goes by the names of Ansco Pix Panorama, Revue Panorama, Hanimex Panorama, Arico Panorama CL-168 and Suntone MM350) online. Essentially, it is a focus-free, 35mm point and shoot camera with a fixed mask that makes “panoramic” images that are 13x36mm, rather than the conventional 24x36mm. The advantage of this is that unlike actual panoramic cameras, such as the Hasselblad XPan, this one allows you to get more images to a roll, whilst still obtaining the cinematic look that can be had with the aspect ratio.

Not much information about the camera exists online, and without any settings listed in the documentation, I can only guess that the aperture is somewhere around f/11, and that the shutter speed is around 1/100. There were times when motion blur is possible in photos, but not whilst taking casual snaps. The plastic lens is somewhere around 28mm, which is my go-to focal length when shooting. The masked viewfinder takes some getting used to when framing shots, as it is slightly off from the final image the camera produces; however, after a couple of rolls through the camera, you soon learn to adjust. Other than that, this is as basic as it gets, which is something I really enjoy about the camera – all you have to worry about is the composition of your shots.

The Halina Panorama - Poundland XPan, Tom Rayfield
The Halina Panorama – Poundland XPan, Tom Rayfield

I must admit that when I first bought the camera I expected very little. The camera was sold in Poundland in the UK, and there is nothing about the build quality of the camera that screams “quality item”. That being said, the thumb rest on the back of the camera is ridiculously comfortable considering there is a lack of a grip at the front of the camera. I didn’t once feel the need to use the supplied wrist strap when holding the camera.

For these 5 Frames, I decided to go with some expired Truprint 200 film (allegedly a rebranded Ferrania film from back in the day). For those not in the know, Truprint was a UK based postal film developing company who were quite popular in the 1980s and 90s. I have fond childhood memories of getting photos back from Truprint and vividly remember family members using their film in their various cameras over the years. Having picked up a few rolls on eBay I thought I would give it a go in the Halina. I love the aesthetic of expired film. Whilst not as unpredictable and vivid as cross-processing film, I love the unexpected nature of it, not knowing how the images are going to look.

Given that the Halina Panorama has no ability to determine the ISO of the film, I shoved the roll in and went for a walk around my town. There was little need to think about anything other than the composition of my images, which felt somewhat liberating, knowing that it was the only concern I needed to have. The film was lab processed and scanned, with it being developed at box speed (despite being 25 years out of date).

I really love the tones that the film has produced. The rendition of colour was just as I remembered it on the day, albeit slightly nostalgic in its appearance. Being a big fan of cinematography (and teaching film studies) I enjoyed shooting the “panoramic” format, and really like the results that this camera has produced. Whilst I know that panoramic masks are controversial to some, I actually enjoyed the process of taking these photos. The simplicity of the camera, combined with my extremely low expectations of the results it could produce have ended up giving me far more “keepers” from the roll than I had expected. If anything, I could say that the camera over-delivered and then some.

There were a few shots on the roll that didn’t turn out as planned (either the viewfinder forced me to mis-frame the image, or I wasn’t far enough away from my subject for the minimum focusing distance of the camera – about 2 metres is needed, not the 1.5m the camera documentation claims) however, I think with practise I could eliminate these from future rolls. That being said I’d definitely recommend picking up a Halina Panorama (or one of the other variants) if you find one online.

For the £7 (including postage) I paid for a “brand new” model, I’ve got a camera that is now a permanent fixture in my camera bag. As for the Truprint film, I’m a big fan of the results it produced. Whilst not often seen online, it’s also well worth picking up a roll if you manage to find any.

~ Tom

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6 thoughts on “5 Frames… From the Poundland XPan (35mm / EI 200-ish / Halina Panorama & Truprint 200) – by Tom Rayfield”

  1. Tom, I understand, that you wanted to test this camera, but is it worth more than one film?
    I did not find any info about the focal length?
    The results look more like the ‘sharpness’ of a pinhole, very poor for my taste. Besides that you just use only about 50% of the film and have no control of the exposure.
    Why not using a small camera with a good lens (like the Rollei 35) and crop the panorama later?

    • Yes I have put more rolls through it since writing the article Dierk. There are some more examples on my Instagram page. I couldn’t find any details on the focal length but I would estimate that it is somewhere between 24-28mm equivalent, based on the results I was getting.

      The images look poor due to the compression used for web viewing. If you click the images to enlarge them you’ll see a better quality image.

      I do still panorama crop on my other cameras, so I know what you are saying. For me, I enjoyed the fact that this camera has the panoramic crop lines in the viewfinder, which makes composition easier when considering a “panoramic” image.

  2. Tom, I think your ONDU pics are as sharp 😉
    Anyway a fine article and I’m aware that sharpness is a bourgeois concept.

    • Thanks Martin. Unfortunately the compression used on the images has produced that effect. If you click the images they appear almost as sharp as the actual negatives.

  3. Truprint, BonusPrint, Max Spielman (and others I can’t immediately recall), ah, those were the days. In their heyday they could be found on every High Street, and via mail order. Competition brought down the price of colour prints to ridiculously low levels, and you got a “free” film with your order, too. Looking back, now, the free film promo wasn’t such a good idea as it only encouraged me to use it. They were fine for the usual 6×4 or 51/2×4 holidays print, but now when I’m going over all my negs to scan some, the shortcoming of the emulsion is all too obvious.

    The good news is all three are still in business offering a variety of photographic services. Truprint became Snapfish towards the end of April last, and BonusPrint and Max Spieman can still be found online.

    I found the review of the camera very interesting, to say the least. Needless to say, going by the results, and having no wish to hurt your feelings, I have to say that I shalln’t be buying one.😊

    • No feelings hurt Terry. I appreciate it isn’t for everyone, but I’m glad the article brought you some nostalgia of the good old days.


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