Hasselblad 500C – Camera PinUp

Hasselblad 500C – Camera PinUp!

6×6 Medium Format Film Photography – Matthew Osborne Photography

hasselblad500c

I have just been on eBay weighing up whether to buy a Mamiya 645 1000S or a Hasselblad 500C (or 500CM).  The two cameras to me are like chalk and cheese.  The Hasselblad 500C with a silver Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 is quite possibly the sexiest camera on the planet bar none.  The end.

But after moping my drool I need to disengage my heart and engage my brain for a minute.  I read plenty of reviews and look at many sample images.  The photos are, well OK but they are far from wow if you compare them to images from a Contax 645, Mamiya 645 or Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens to name a few.  I was looking at all images but in particular portraits, bokeh and DOF.

Why was I even tempted to buy a Hasselblad, other than to polish it?

I have an ARAX-CM and Kiev 88 Soviet clone “Hasselbladski” camera.  Both are very much identical to a Hasselblad 500C at first glance.  I love my ARAX-CM 6×6 medium format film camera.  It is no frills photography at it’s best.  The shutter is loud and clunky and the waist level viewfinder is fun to use.  The thing I don’t like is the film back can sometimes let light in and also give different spaced gaps between photos.  I thought if I got the 500C it could join my Leica M3 and Leica M2 35mm film cameras as cameras for life with improved reliability and build quality over the Soviet copies.

I was almost tempted and then I noticed the Zeiss 80mm f2.8 T lens only focuses as close as 0.9m whereas my ARAX 80mm f2.8 lens can focus as close as 0.6m.  This is big in DOF terms, as closer is more shallow so better for my taste.  I then remembered I really want 645 format not 6×6 format for my taste (it seems)(changes daily!). You can get 645 backs for a 500C but then the DOF is impacted using a cropped film back (ie. bokeh not as nice as more in focus front to back).  I have a 645 film back for my Mamiya RZ67 but I haven’t used it as yet.

As a result I resisted the dangerously beautiful near Leica-quality engineered Hasselblad 500C and instead bought a less well made Mamiya 645 1000S with a fast portrait lens – the 80mm f1.9 lens.  I am excited for her arrival!

Here are a few sample images from my ARAX-CM that continues to deliver, albeit not always perfectly! 🙂

ARAX-CM (Kiev 88)

ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) 6x6 Film

Yuliya, UKraine with ARAX

ARAX in Poland

Elka with ARAX

Room with a View

ARAX in action, Poland

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Mamiya 645 1000S

Mamiya 645 1000S

Medium Format Film Photography – Matthew Osborne Photography

mamiya 645

My latest purchase, a 1976 Mamiya 645 1000S medium format film camera witha 6×4.5 format.  The reason for my purchase?  The Mamiya 80mm f1.9 lens and 6×4.5 format.

In the past I owned a Contax 645 + Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 T lens.  This camera lens combo made for beautiful portraits with a shallow depth of field however I didn’t enjoy using the camera so I sold it.  It was too much like a DSLR for me.  I own a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera but find the 6×7 format a bit too big for my needs / taste.  I then have the 6×6 ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) and another Kiev 88 and the more recent Fuji GF670.  I keep falling in and out of love with 6×6.  Lastly I have the Fujica GS645 and I like the 6×4.5 format and folding camera size but would love to have a faster lens for low light and a shallow DOF for portraits.  I remembered the Mamiya 80mm f1.9 lens from my Contax days so went on eBay and picked one up for a very reasonable price.  I am not madly in love with the camera itself, nor hate it either but the pictures it can produce start to get my medium format photos closer to my 35mm using the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens.  The Nocti really is a medium format film killer as there are not many lenses out there (without making an incomplete list) that can complete with the very shallow DOF it produces.  I find I am often disappointed with medium format film photos as feel in theory they should be ‘better’ than my 35mm work.

Coming soon and the hunt continues for my ultimate medium format camera…

Here are some 80mm 645 format film photos to give you an idea of what might be in the pipeline.  All shot with my old Contax 645 + Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 lens

Wedding Film Photography

Gina with Contax 645

Zsaklin with Contax 645

Screenshot of Contax 645 image

Elizabeth with Contax 645

VW Camper Wedding

Contax 645, Hungary

Rodinal Semi-Stand Development (2)

Rodinal Semi-Stand Development (Part 2 – Getting More Technical!)

Matthew Osborne Photography

Black and White Film Developing

Regular readers will know I develop my black and white film at home using the Rodinal (R09 One Shot) semi-stand development method using times less than one hour.  The more common approach is ‘Rodinal stand development‘ for a duration of one hour.  I have already written one post on stand developing (link below) but as I like to experiment I am starting to fine tune my method (and I will continue to do so).

The standard stand development method is a good safe option but can produce ‘flat’ negatives.  By that I mean mostly mid greys and lacking contrast (highlights and shadows).  I generally develop my Kodak T-Max 100 film in Rodinal for 40-45 minutes with one or two turns (“agitations”) during that time.  What I noticed is when I have shot a roll of B&W film over a period of several days in varying light conditions the film negatives results will also vary dramatically.

Light Conditions

  • Photos taken in bright light/ direct sunlight/ contrastly light/ hard light such a direct flash / speedlights benefit from a shorter developing time (such as 40 minutes) and give high quality negatives with a broad dynamic range (highlight detail, range of mid grey detail and shadow detail).
  • Photos taken in the shade / even light / overcast day / inside without obvious directional light will develop as just mid greys lacking contrast and clarity when using the same developing time.  Luckily film retains a lot of detail so negatives can be pushed / pulled when scanned to boost contrast and if needed boost contrast further in PP.

Obvious?

I know that all sounds obvious.  It is not rocket science that contrasty light when taking a photo on film will give a more contrasty negative. But, the trick is when you want to create a contrasty negative from flat light.  If the photos were taken on an overcast day increase your developing time and also the number of agitation during film developing and this will help the highlights (or brighter mid greys) develop further to give a negative with more contrast.

Recap!

OK, to recap how stand development works, highlight areas develop faster than areas of shadow.  Developer around the highlights stops working after a certain time and then the remaining time lets the shadow detail develop further. If you don’t agitate the film and stand for one hour the highlight detail and shadow detail both have time to develop.  Highlight detail is not blown as the developer becomes exhausted around highlight detail sooner so stops.

Now, for semi-stand development you are basically refreshing the highlights areas with new developer each time you agitate the film so the highlights develop further and faster.  By stopping the time sooner the highlights are developed but some deeper shadow detail remains less developed thereby produce a negative with more contrast.

That shorter time works well if photo are taken in ‘good’ light (good light being with direction).  If however the light is flat then more agitations will refresh the highlights more to try to ‘over develop’ beyond the brightest seen when taking the photo and thereby giving a negative with more contrast.

But

The problem arises when you have a ‘mixed’ lighting conditions roll of film.  Some negatives will be near perfect already and some will be flat.  If you agitate the film more during developing then you will blow the highlights on the contrasty negatives.  If you agitate less the flat negatives will develop as just that, flat and grey.

Conclusion

So in conclusion, I will try to make a note of the lighting conditions I shot the film in if films are being stored before being developed.  For medium format film I will try to shoot an entire roll in similar light as you get less photos on a roll anyway (8-16 depending on 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, 6×9, with 645 format normally giving 16 negatives).  For 35mm film when you have 36 exposures it is not always possible to shoot all images in similar light so in this instance I might develop with less agitations for a longer duration and increase the contrast in post processing (“PP”).

I hope that made a little sense! The best way to learrn is to try what method works best for you.  Everyone is different but the above approach is how I currently develop my black and white film.

Examples images – Film Portraits (Leica M2)

  • Flat light – flat negative push when scanned (note more grain)

Leica M2 + Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 Portrait

  • Contrasty light – contrasty negative with fine grain

Leica M2 Fashion & Beauty

Related Post

https://mrleica.com/2013/08/02/rodinal-stand-development/

Yellow Filter Film Portraits

Yellow Filter Film Portraits

Matthew Osborne Photography

yellow filter

Now I am back to film photography it was time to stock up on the essentials.  For black and white film portraits this can include coloured filters.  I already had a 52mm yellow filter which I use on some of my lenses via step rings such as on the Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm 1.5.  That said for 39mm lenses such as my Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5, Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 and Leica Elmar 135mm f4 it seems a shame to stick a fat 52mm filter on the nice narrow E39 thread so I ordered myself a yellow 39mm filter.  This will live mostly on the Cron 50 on my M3.  That’s the plan.

The other lens that I wanted a yellow filter for was my Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 that is currently taking a break.  The Nocti has an E60 filter size so I bought a 60mm deep yellow filter for that lens too.  I am also looking forward to shooting some slow film with the Noctilux, ISO 25 and ISO 50 speed films such as Ilford Pan F.  That’s another project in the ever growing pipeline!

Lastly, my Fuji GF670 has a maximum shutter speed of 1/500 so I often have to stop down the lens losing potential nice bokeh.  To fix the issue I bought a 58mm-60mm step ring and will then use the Heliopan E60 ND filters I use with the Noctilux.  It is worth noting you cannot fold the GF 670 with a filter attached the the 58mm thread but I would only use it when needed and then keep it open for that portrait shoot session.

Here is a sample portrait of me trying a yellow filter on the digital Leica M9 a while ago

M9 + VC Nokton 40/1.4 + Yellow Filter

..I have even attached a 40.5mm yellow filter to my 41.5mm filter thread 1950s Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens with masking tape as 41.5mm filters are less easy to find and I already had the 40.5mm filter.  Sample images to come once I’ve used it!

Leica M9 Superseded

Leica M9 Superseded

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Leica M2 Fashion & Beauty

That time has come again as it does every few years when your latest digital camera is no longer the best available and you want the latest and greatest.

Nikon D800 – May 2012

I pre-ordered my Nikon D800 as soon as it was announced through Jessops.  For wedding photography back then I used my existing Nikon D700 and the new 36mp Nikon D800.  I always wanted to use the Nikon D800 for the money shots / majority of the images as I demeeded the D700 inferior.  The D700 became the backup camera.

Leica M9 – August 2013

I got my Leica M9 last summer and suddenly the Nikon D800 wasn’t good enough even though the D800 was actually a newer camera and with twice as many megapixels.  I soon started to use the Leica M9 for all of my photography and used just the single Leica M9 camera body for weddings rather than give clients subpar DSLR images (per my taste*).  The Nikon D800 started to collect dust and was only used for non-creative images such as an occasional family shoot in the studio or any other white background work which I am not a fan of.

Leica M240 – July 2014

I paid out for the then flagship digital Leica M type 240 body but the eBay auction didn’t exist so I lost my money/ savings to a fraudster.

1954 Leica M3  & FILM – September 2014

Missing out on the Leica M Typ 240 helped me re-focus and I started to use the film cameras I already owned.  Before the Leica M9 I started getting into film and used cameras such as a Contax 645 and Mamiya RZ 67.  The results from the medium format film cameras was amazing but the cameras themselves were big and not walkabout cameras.  I didn’t like the Contax 645 to operate as it was too much like a DSLR but the resulting portraits were possibly as good as it gets.  The Contax 645 was sold but I still use the Mamiya RZ 67.  When the Leica M9 arrived my film photography all but stopped as the M9 Kodak CCD sensor gives a nice filmic look to photos.

I bought a Leica M2 earlier this year and have enjoyed the minimal feel to the camera.  I then decided on holiday recently it would be nice to have a second analogue Leica M body so I could have one loaded with colour film and one with black and white film.  The Leica M3 double stroke arrived and suddenly the Leica M9 is not good enough.  As I wrote in a recent post the Leica M3 viewfinder is to die for and in a factual sense makes focusing easier and more accurate with a 50mm (or longer lens).  The M2 / M3 bodies are only slightly slimmer than the M9 but somehow they feel much smaller and uncluttered.

The ease of use of the analogue Leica M cameras makes me want to shoot more film photography.  This is turn prompts me starts to honing my film developing skills and looking more carefully at what film type I use, what developer, developing method, scanning technique, use of coloured filters on the lenses, what lenses are better suited to film, film type and lens combinations and suddenly it all starts to get quite exciting!

I am now finding that I want to shoot film for my wedding photography, or at least some film photography as I believe film still produces the best images.  I am also finding that if I want to do a photo walk to capture some creative street photography images I want to shoot film or nothing as I don’t value the digital images in the same way.  Everyone can take a photo of a man walking down a street on their iPhone.  A similar photo with my digital Leica M9 might not be hugely different so I would generally not take the time to share it or even take the photo.  When shooting film it feels somehow different.  The same photo captured on film feels like art just becuase of the film medium it was taken with.

B&W Film Dynamic Range

Film photography supercedes the Leica M9

It is therefore the film photography as a whole that has superceded my digital Leica M9.  Yes of course I will continue to use the M9 as my main workshorse camera as it is not practical to shoot 100% film all the time.  That said, my heart is now in film photography and I will shoot as much film as I can when I think it will produce a nicer image.  I enjoy using the big and slow Mamiya RZ67 and the more portable and less slow Fuji GF670 medium format film cameras (to name just a few) but my favourite film camera and now favourite any camera is the Leica M3.  The M3 is quick and easy to use, very portable and lets you focus on getting the image.

After Hours - Leica M2

Yes film costs money to shoot per click but the outlay is probably on a par to the depreciation on your latest DSLR camera.  You will probably want to replace your current digital camera in the next few years whereas the Leica M3 will still be going strong as it has done for the last 60 years.

Leica Film Fashion, London

Kodak Ektar vs Kodak Portra Film: Portraits

Kodak Ektar 100 vs Kodak Portra 160/400: Film Portraits

Matthew Osborne Photography

Black and white film

My love for film photography is growing day by day after recently buying a 35mm Leica M3 and Fuji GF670 Pro to add to my collection.  To date I have shot perhaps 85% black and white film vs. only 15% colour film.  I like black and white as depending on how you develop the film you can make some nice high contrast images with a broad dynamic range.  High contrast can give increased apparent image sharpenss so B&W photos tend to look sharper than those in colour.  B&W tones tend to be more flattering for portrait photos and I also develop the negatives at home myself so it’s both economical and easy.  I tend to shoot mostly Kodak T-Max 100 B&W film and push it to ISO 200/400/800 if needed without issue.

Colour film

For 35mm film I use Kodak Portra 160 and for medium format film normally Kodak Portra 400 and more recently Fuji Pro 400H again.  Kodak Portra is said to produce the best skin tones and I did agree but now I am starting to prefer the pinky-green tones of Fuji Pro 400H vs yellow-orange tones of Portra.  35mm Kodak Portra 160 is much cheaper than 135 Fuji Pro 400 and sadly Fuji Pro 160NS is only available in 120 format (not 35mm).

Film Portraits – Wedding Portraits

Medium format 120 ISO 400 film such as Portra is plenty sharp enough for wedding portraits when shot with a lens wide open.  This is especially apparent when using sharp camera lenses such as the Contax 645 + Zeiss 80mm f2 or Fuji GF670 Pro.  135 Portra 160 however to me is almost too soft at wide apertures even when using sharp lenses such as a Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 on my Leica M2 or Carl Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 on my Nikon FM.

Film Portraits – Fashion Photography

120 Kodak Ektar 100 film is very  sharp when used with good cameras/ lenses.  It is almost unflatterringly sharp for female portraits for anything other than perfect model skin.  However if you look deeper you can pull positives from this situation.  To date I have only shot Kodak Ektar 120 film with sharp lenses stopped down.  I try to use sharp lenses for film photography as images tend to be softer than when shooting digital.  If 120 Ektar is almost too sharp for medium format portraits then it will also give me sharper 35mm portraits.  If I find 35mm Ektar is great for sharp fashion portraits using modern ASPH and APO lenses but not very flattering for wedding portraits then I can just use older Leica lenses such as the Noctilux 50mm f1, Summarit 50mm f1.5 or Summaron 35mm f3.5 for a softer photo.

Kodak Ektar vs Kodak Portra Skin Tones and Saturation

Kodak Portra is often the benchmark to aspire to for both film and digital cameras when it comes to natural skin tones.  I have raved about it in the past and wrote a post on it.  The less saturated Portra colours can really suit wedding photography hence it’s popularity (along with Fuji Pro 400H).  When I shoot digital I only shoot in colour if I think colour adds to an image (or it is requested by a paying client such as a wedding).  Portra colours are subtle so perhaps don’t do a colourful scene justice.  Kodak Ektar however is a more saturated colourful film that can be too much for some portrait images taken in a coloured light such as next to a tungsten lamp.  That said if the colours are considered and used as a creative element in the photo you then have a set of fine grain vibrant images to give a splash of colour against the B&W photos.  If the Ektar skin tones are too much in some photos I can simply reduce the saturation a little when scanning the negatives.  I much rather capture more detail with a finer grain film and desaturate (if needed) than try to sharpen softer negatives scans and increase saturation (if desired).

Film Ordered

As a result of my thinking I have ordered a pack of 135 Kodak Ektar 100 film to try in my Leica M3 for model photography / fashion portraits initially.  If I like the results then I might load some Kodak Ektar for my next wedding.  I will share the results and my thoughts once I have some sample images.  For now below are some samples using some of the film types I have talked about.

Available Light

It is worth noting that ISO 100 speed Ektar requires more ambient light hence Portra 400 and Fuji Pro 400H films are more popular for weddings photography.  Portra and 400H also have greater lattitude so cope better for under/ over exposure vs Ektar.  For my model photography and also some wedding photography this is not a problem if I am using off camera speedlights to boost light levels.  It can actually be a benefit on a bright day if I want to shoot at wide apertures like f1.0, f1.2 or f1.2 as film cameras tend to have a slower maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 (Leica M2/ M3), 1/400 (Mamiya RZ 67), 1/500 (Fuji GF670) vs digital 1/4000 (M9), 1/8000 (Nikon D800)

Example Images – Colour Film Photography

135 Kodak Portra 160

Leica M2 Portrait

Leica M2 Photography

Zeiss 80mm f1.8 Pancolar

Leica M2 Wedding

120 Kodak Portra 400

Mamiya RZ Wedding Photography

Fuji GF670 + Portra Portrait

Contax 645 Wedding Portrait

Contax 645 Wedding Portrait

120 Fuji Pro 400H

Fuji GS645 Portrait

Fuji GS645 Wedding Portrait

Devon with Contax 645

Hiding in the Forest

120 Kodak Ektar 100

Kodak Ektar RZ Portrait

Ektar Colours - Mamiya Engagement

Mamiya RZ Fashion

Mamiya RZ Fashion

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Leica M3 – The Ultimate Rangefinder!?

Leica M3 – The Ultimate Rangefinder!?

Matthew Osborne Photography

Fuji GF670 vs Leica M3

As a follower of this blog you will know I am a Leica M9 35mm digital rangefinder shooter.  I recently decided to search for a camera one step closer to ‘perfection’ in terms of rangefinder cameras so invested in a Fuji GF670 Pro medium format film rangefinder (6×6 / 6×7 format).  A folding camera with a medium format size sensor and a super sharp lens. It produces beautifully big 6×6 negatives with tonnes of detail when scanned.  It is portable and i can use it will off camera strobes with a leaf shutter sync speed of 1/500.  I thought it was pretty cool.

I then bought a 1950s Leica M3 35mm film rangefinder with a 0.91x viewfinder.  It looks near identical to my Leica M2 and for the most part all the benefits are the same for the M2 and the M3.  The biggest plus of the M3 is the viewfinder. I have a lot of cameras and it is without doubt my favourite on any camera.  Big clear and bright with easy to see 50mm framelines and nothing else cluttering the viewfinder.  I paired the M3 with a Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens with a E39 filter thread.

Film Photography Wedding – the M3 vs GF 670 Head-to-head!

This weekend I had a Leica wedding here in the UK and offered the couple the option of some film photography in addition to digital Leica M9 images.  They were interested and purchased the film photography wedding package option so I took the Fuji GF670 loaded with colour 120  Fuji Pro 400H film and then the Leica M3 loaded with black and white 35mm film, Kodak T-Max 100.  I didn’t let the three cameras (M9 + M3 + GF670) distract me from the wedding photography task so waited and brought them out for the wedding portrait images (plus a few bridal prep shots).  I then had to chose when to shoot colour and when B&W film, and when 6×6 format and when 6×4 format.  What I noticed straight away was the little Leica M3 fitted my hand like it was made to go there.  Using the M3 was intuitive and felt natural (possible because I have used the M9 so much!).  I was using natural light with the M3 but off camera speedlight for some of the GF670 shots.  It made me realise that sometimes you don’t need all the fancy lights, big lenses, and larger camera sensors, I just needed the little M3, the 50mm Cron and some available light.  It is fast and is kind of an extension from your arm / eyes.  No fuss, no electronics, just beautifully pure photography.  By keeping it simple the photos flowed, the wedding couple forgot the camera and the natural poses and relaxed smiles followed.

A ‘cute’ elegant vintage film camera is far less scary than a big DLSR with a 70-200mm lens stuck on the front.  The little M3 actually became a talking point and was a welcomed sight for a number of the wedding guests.

All the above applies to the Leica M2 if I used a 35mm lens with the 35mm viewfinder.  I have used the Leica M2 this year for various model shoots.

I wasn’t expecting the Leica M3 to have such an impact but it is letting me appreciate photography in the simplest form.  I can transfer this mentality into the rest of my photography such as using the M9 with one small lens.  It has also let me evaluate how I shoot and how I will approach future weddings when shooting film.

Despite my raving on I guess the prove will be in the resulting wedding images.  The colour film will be lab developed and the black and white film developed at home by me using the film developer Rodinal.  Once all developed and scanned I will share some samples and a follow up post.

Model photography sample images

  • GF670 6×6 medium format film

#FilmIsNotDead

FUJI GF670 Analogue Rangefinder

GF670 Kodak Moment

  • 35mm Leica film – Leica M2

Leica M2 Film Portrait

35mm B&W Film Portrait - Leica M2

Leica M2 Film - unedited

..Don’t get me wrong.  The Fuji GF670 can produce stunning negatives but you just don’t get the same flow you get with the Leica M3 when operating the camera.

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