Anirudh Residencystudio18September 28, 2021 18:57:52 IST
As much as I love digital cameras, and they love the freedom and flexibility they have, I miss film sometimes. While there’s certainly comfort in the swirl of rotating motors and the slap of massive mirrors, it’s the creativity born out of adversity, so to speak, that I miss.
Look, the shooting of the film is banned. You only get 36 shots per roll, a reload takes time, and you won’t see your shots until days later. Shooting film teaches you to plan your shots ahead of time, prepare your shots better, be a better photographer than necessary. No spray and pray here.
Powerful smartphone cameras make it easy to capture great images, but the quality of your images depends on how much thought you put into the composition and framing. This is partly the reason why I am concerned with the OnePlus-Hasselblad partnership and the introduction of an Xpan emulation mode via an OTA for the OnePlus 9 series.
The Xpan introduced by Hasselblad in 1998 was unique and still is. Images at the time were primarily captured on 35 mm film measuring 36 x 24 mm (a 3:2 aspect ratio).
Hasselblad achieved this by widening the frame to 65 mm (65:24 or 2.7:1), exposing a larger area of the film, and creating an image that resembled cinema’s ultra-wide anamorphic aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Took a step forward. But without the oval bokeh and lens flares.
With such a wide canvas to work with, and much like cinema, XPan quickly became a means of telling stories through stills. It’s not a format that’s easy to adopt, but it’s a rewarding one when you do.
Curiously, OnePlus with its Hasselblad partnership has tried to emulate not only the field of view, but also the experience of shooting on black and white film stock from that era. Switching to expand mode in the OnePlus camera app crops the frame to a 65:24 aspect ratio, emulates the expand viewfinder, and replaces the regular shutter button with a Hasselblad-esque orange one. The app also attempts to emulate the 65mm and 45mm focal lengths of the original Xpan lens, whether using a wide or ultra-wide camera.
Pressing the orange shutter button captures the image, but you are first presented with a negative that quickly turns into the final image. To some, this may seem like a gimmick and an unnecessary delay, in times where immediate response is the norm, but as a means of forcing you to consider a more measured approach to your photography can also be considered.
You can only use XPan Mode as a filter, but it can be much more than that. As a medium to hone your skills as a storyteller and to recapture the charm and thrill of a bygone era, it is a step in the right direction.