Oh Hasselblad, Wow, Hasselblad…where art thou, Hasselblad?

One of our colleagues had used that line when reviewing the OnePlus 9 earlier this year. And her point was simple: while the name of the legendary camera manufacturer (learn more about Hasselblad here) had been used extensively to market the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro, the phones themselves did not show too many signs of the association.

oneplus xpan mode

Yes, the camera shutter button was of a “Hasselblad orange” color. We were told that the color tuning on the phone’s cameras had been done in collaboration with the camera legend. All said and done, the cameras did a good job, but as my colleague wondered, we really wondered where the much-talked-about and hyped “Hasselblad” touch was. It also prompted many to dismiss the Hasselblad tie-up as merely a marketing gimmick.

Well, both the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro now can definitely claim to have a touch of Hasselblad about them. And a very distinct touch it is.

In the beginning was the XPan camera, then came XPan Mode

This is the XPan mode, which, as its name indicates, is inspired by the Hasselblad XPan camera of 1998, which added a whole new dimension to panorama image shooting on film. Well, the XPan Mode, which will be delivered to both the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro via an OTA update (rolling out even as this is being written), adds a new touch to wide-angle photography on both phones. It can be accessed from within the regular camera app. But it is what it does that really makes it special.

with xpan mode, oneplus finally gets hasselblad-y - img 20210917 181425

Opening the XPan Mode gives you a totally different perspective to your “regular view,” which has a 20:9 aspect ratio. In XPan Mode, you will see images in a 65:24 aspect ratio (the same as the XPan camera), making the images seen much wider than usual. The amazing thing is that this happens without any distortion. It is a very different perspective and one that is rather unique right now. As on the classic XPan camera, you get two focal length options – 45 mm, and if you want an even wider image, 30 mm.

In essence, you can now shoot wide-angle (panorama-like) snaps directly from the viewfinder in XPan Mode. And get very high-quality high-resolution snaps.

High resolution, stunning panoramas with a unique perspective

with xpan mode, oneplus finally gets hasselblad-y - img 20210920 140910

The XPan Mode uses the 48-megapixel and the 50-megapixel ultra-wide cameras on the two phones. However, unlike the default camera mode, which generates 12-megapixel snaps, it delivers large resolution snaps of over 20 megapixels – 7552 × 2798px on 30 mm, and 7872 × 2916px on 45 mm. In addition, you get the option to shoot in color and black and white and can adjust the brightness through a handy on-screen scroll bar on the side of the app. And well, in a lovely, classic camera touch, when you hit the shutter, the image is first presented in a film negative-like format before morphing into a properly “developed” shot.

The important thing is that the snaps look stunning. You do not get the stitching together artifacts of panorama shots or the “stretched and bending at the edges” ultrawide snaps but clear images with a wonderful sense of width. What’s more, although the XPan Mode works best for wide landscape shots, it can also put an interesting spin on close-up snaps, and well, you even get some very interesting portrait snaps, although they end up looking rather “tall.”

Hasselblad has arrived in the OnePlus building

with xpan mode, oneplus finally gets hasselblad-y - img 20210919 151825

There are shortcomings, though. You cannot tap to focus on an image. You cannot zoom in while taking a shot. There is no option to shoot video either. We also would have liked a way to save the negatives and maybe develop them differently (a sort of special RAW mode? Well, one can dream, cannot one?). And well, to be brutally honest, you cannot appreciate the level of detail you have captured on the phone’s display itself – seeing it on a bigger display just has a much bigger impact.

And well, that is actually what we expected when we had heard of the Hasselblad-OnePlus tie-up – not just better photographs (image quality was never that much of an issue), but a very unique perspective. As a result, OnePlus’ cameras have not just improved but have got a feature that is all their own.

With the XPan Mode, OnePlus cameras have finally got, our colleague would say, Hasselblad-y!

Click here for full resolution images plus additional samples.

with xpan mode, oneplus finally gets hasselblad-y - img 20210919 121640 01

Was this article helpful?