The CubePan Advanced is an updated version of the original CubePan, which was originally launched in 2022.
The new version of the camera features three different formats, including half frame, full frame and Xpan-style panoramic shots.
Chroma Camera founder Steve Lloyd has been teasing images of the new camera as it has been taking shape, and recently showed images of the prototype camera mounted with a Holga 6×6 lens, which he intended to shoot with on Holga Week.
Lloyd gave an exclusive interview to Kosmo Foto about the new camera.
How does the new version differ?
“The new CubePan Advanced has both external and internal changes over the current CubePan. Internally, the camera now offers traditional half frame (18x24mm), full frame (24x36mm) and Xpan (24x65mm) formats. The original CubePan offered a square 24×24 frame, along with a slightly wider 24×48 frame and panoramic. I made this change after speaking to a few friends of mine who run photography labs and suggested that the traditional half-frame/full-frame formats are better suited to minilab equipment.
“The new frame formats also called for a new frame indicator wheel on the back of the camera, used to create accurate frame spacing, regardless of the format being used. This new wheel has a flat black face, as well as two white indicators. When shooting half frame, you simply wind on to the next white indicator for each frame (72 images per 36 frame roll). To shoot full frame, you wind on a single full rotation of the wheel (black to black). To shoot a panoramic frame you would wind on a full rotation two times. As well as the updated frame guide wheel, there are also matching slot-in frame inserts that are fitted before loading the film.
“The second change to the camera is in the film advance mechanism, as it now uses an internally ratcheted wind-on lever, with a rewind release button integrated into the base of the camera. I’ve been working on a traditional ratchet wind system for quite a long time, trying to balance the feel and strength of the setup with ease of use, and have settled on a design that covers those. As well as the ratcheted wind-on, for very accurate advancing to allow for multiple formats, there is also an integrated return spring for the lever, giving a solid feel to the mechanism, like a traditional SLR/rangefinder.
‘The third major change to the camera is the new rangefinder style angled top plate, with integrated frame number reminder wheel and slot-in frame finders. The new design, as well as adding an extra 18mm to the height of the camera, creates a more traditional style silhouette, whilst also allowing for frame finders to match the lens mounted to be fitted.”
How long have you been working on it?
“Overall, I’ve bene working on the new CubePan Advanced for the past month, having built five or six beta versions before settling on the finalised design here. However, I’ve been working on some of the individual components, like the ratchet winder and spring return, for the last six to eight months, on and off.”
Was the redesign prompted by customer feedback?
“The change in frame formats was definitely the result of minilab feedback, as well as some customer requests, but the overall design was something I wanted to develop myself.”
How is the new version improved?
“The larger body will improve handling for people with larger hands, or when using larger lenses, and the new wind-on mechanism gives a more traditional handling set-up.”
You can shoot 65mm Xpan style panoramics on the Advanced?
“Yep, with almost any large format/Press lens from 47mm to 180mm, as well as a custom 0.2mm pinhole and my new Holga 80mm lens set-up.”
Which lenses have you tested?
‘I’ve been using my own CubePan (original) for the last two years, since before I released it, and love using both my Schneider 47mm f/5.6 (non XL) and Mamiya Press 65mm lenses. As it’s a zone focus camera, I’ve always personally preferred using wider lenses, but I’ve built setups for other photographers with a range of lenses, up to and including 180mm. As with all of my cameras, the same basic technical requirements to mount a lens to a CubePan are that they have to have a shutter (eg large format or Mamiya Press), and have a rear element that is smaller that 60mm diameter.”
How did your test of the camera during Holga Week go?
“Well… the Holga gods were not smiling me! Using a beta camera, with a new lens setup, is always a mix of excitement and nerves, and I discovered that the Holga donor lens I was using had a shutter that was catching on a small piece of plastic inside, causing some pretty painful overexposures! I’ve now identified the plastic in the shutter, and resolved the issue, so I’ll be running another roll through it for beta test two. It’s not an entirely unexpected result of beta testing a completely unique setup, but still a little frustrating!”
Lloyd will be launching the CubePan Advanced at the Analogue Spotlight event in Nottingham, and will have a demonstration model for closer inspection. The CubePan Advanced costs £350 including a lens cone/helicoid, matching lens board and drop-in ground glass, which he said can be used to set up preferred zone focusing distances on the helicoid before loading film.
Lloyd said the cameras will be built to order, with each taking approximately three to four weeks to build.