I use my XPan quite a bit, but admittedly there is some competition depending on what you are after in the camera, and the specifics of how/what you are shooting.
For panoramic/wide views I think of the XPan and the 903/905 SWC cameras. I have both. I like both. Which one I prefer to use at a given instant depends on the specific circumstances of the shot. Consider the following specifics.....
The XPan gives you some automation options [bracketing, auto exposure, meter], and a wider range of films (virtually EVERYTHING is available in 35mm). The XPan is easier to carry around, and has a flash hotshoe. Focusing can also be a bit easier due to the rangefinder. If you opt for the 30mm lens, you have a surreal horizontal coverage (94 deg). These are all very convenient/useful/desirable features.
At the same time, the SWC has a larger diagonal view angle (90 deg) than the XPan's 45mm (74 deg), and almost as much as the 30mm (98 deg). Negs are 6x6 (or 6x4.5) on the SWC which can use 120, 220, or Polaroid (or 70mm for that matter). If you already have a relatively recent 500 series Hassy (Bay60), most all your filters, hoods, etc are usable , as are film backs. Hence no duplication required there. The SWC also has a greater DOF at F22 ( starting around 2.25 ft to infinity) while the XPan goes from around 5 ft to infinity at the same setting. The SWC also focuses down to 12 inches while the XPan goes down to about 24 inches at their closest settings w/out add-on optics.
I develop the negs in the bathroom sink. For printing, I scan either neg size with a Coolscan 8000ED, and print out on an Epson 2200. The results are great, and I don't have to worry about the custom printing for either.
Think about how you plan to use the camera, and the subject matter you are intending to use it with. Then let that guide you as to whether the XPan or another camera will meet your needs.
>Noel, the XPAN is great for travel, documentary, street. It is versatile because of its two formats. (It would even replace my Leica IF there was just one FAST lens for it.) If you have ever experienced the benefits of a sturdy, quality RF camera you will love it. As for the cost of custom prints I found this a quite convenient solution: Usually labs offer an interesting discount on larger format prints. Provided you have a decent scanner and PS you can create a file consisting of two or three panoramas above each other in either landscape (2) or portrait (3) orientation. Then you upload the file via internet to a print lab. Three days later you'll receive prints which you'll just have to split with a sharpie. BTW, I was surprised by what I could get out of an Epson 1640 flatbed scanner with a recent driver update. Cheers.
Hi to everybody!
Here is my story: I live in downtown Toronto, Canada. When Xpan was introduced, I knew right away that there would be a lot of issues with printong/ scanning 35 panoramas here in the city. Well, I ignored that first feeling and got the camera. I had A LOT OF GRIEF with so called "pro" labs. Issues with negative carriers for various printing machines or enlargers, problems with scanning this type of negative/chrome in standard scanning device environment (35mm/medium format/large format)... On top of everything, I was paying a lot of money for "custom" services for this type of (panorama) format. Beside that, a special mounts for chromes I was sending to my stock agency.
And then, last winter I bit the bulltet and bought Nikon 8000 scanner with extra glass holder (with panoramic mask). I was in heaven! In first few months of scanning (X pan only material) I saved in various lab fees to cover the cost of the entire investment. Not to mention, that volume of the xpan images submitted to my stock agency (as digital files) went up 400%...
As per usage of this camera: I use it every day. I have 2 bodies (xpan and TX-2) 45 and 90 lenses and it all goes in the smallest Lowe Pro bag. This bag goes with me on the every day assignments (together with other MF or 35mm gear) or just for a drive in a car... Since getting a scanner, I use Fuji negative only. See my home page for s&les including panoramas with Xpan and follow the link (in my "about" section) to my images on Superstock Inc. page. You can also see my work in Photo Gallery on this site. Thanks.