Hasselblad vs Kiev 88

Hasselblad 501C vs. Kiev 88 / ARAX-CM

Matthew Osborne Photography
September 2015

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One of the first film cameras I bought was a 6×6 medium format rebadged Kiev 88 camera called an ‘ARAX-CM’. The Kiev 88 was a Soviet clone of the 1600 F Hasselblad model hence the nick name Hasselbladski. At the time I also had a more modern Contax 645 film camera but I didn’t like how automated it was despite the amazing and famous Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 lens. I would say the Contax 645 is the camera of choice for many pro wedding photographers that shoot film but somehow I preferred the old fashioned Kiev 88 experience.

For me the Kiev 88 is a real film camera. All mechanical, no batteries and manual everything. I also like how compact it is for a medium format camera when using the waist level viewfinder. My crazy plan at the time was to shoot weddings with two Kiev 88 cameras so I bought an original Kiev 88 camera and additional film backs for both the Kiev 88 and ARAX-CM camera bodies. I then bought extension tubes for macro and an array of lenses the fit the cameras. The ARAX-CM has a P6 (Pentacon 6) lens mount whereas Kiev 88 accepted screw mount lenses. With a small Chinese adapter from eBay I could use the screw mount lenses on the ARAX-CM which was my main camera body to use. I then had the second Kiev 88 camera as more of a film camera backup body. Lenses I had included Mir 26B 45mm f3.5, Mir 38B 65mm f3.5, ARAX 80mm f2.8, Vega 28B 120mm f2.8 and the mighty Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180mm f2.8 lens.

My ARAX-CM camera travelled with me everywhere in addition to a Nikon DSLR digital camera at the time. Because of the compact size of the Kiev 88 design I took it on trips to Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, and even India. My lens of choice was the Mir 65mm f3.5 that let me focus close to give a nice shallow DOF.

This was my film camera setup for maybe 12 months and then I added a 35mm Nikon FM SLR camera (from memory).

After this time my film photography stepped up a gear and I started buying more film cameras. I bought a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II 6×7 camera with 4 Mamiya Sekor lenses 65mm, 90mm 110mm and 180mm. The RZ67 waist level viewfinder is big and bright and so easy to focus with. The Mamiya Sekor lenses also brought a new level of film image sharpness that I had not yet seen. I bought 645, 6×6, 6×7 and Polaroid Mamiya RZ film backs and together the Mamiya kit put an end to me using my ARAX-CM and Kiev 88 cameras. The RZ67 was a bigger camera but I loved the Mamiya bellow lens focusing system to get in extra close without the need for extension tubes. I sold the Kiev 88 camera but kept my ARAX-CM. The ARAX has sat quietly on the shelf as my photography pushed forward. I moved from Nikon digital cameras to a Leica system and my appetite for perfection continued.

My latest purchase was a Hasselblad 501C camera so I decided to dust off the ARAX-CM to re-live the experience before the Hasselblad arrived. I love the fact that the Kiev 88 lenses can focus much closer than Hasselblad mount lenses and that the ARAX-CM has a build in hotshoe for strobist photography.

I used the ARAX-CM on a model shoot and I was amazed how difficult it was to focus the dim split screen centre spot with the WLF. I think got so used to the Mamiya RZ67 and later the Mamiya 645 Super WLF that I have been spoilt. I will now sell the ARAX-CM as the new Hasselblad will perform a similar role.

I didn’t have any expectations for my Hasselblad camera as I have never tried one before buying. I expected the 501C to be pretty similar to the Kiev 88 in many ways but I was so wrong! Yes the do look very similar and yes they are both 6×6 medium format film cameras but that is all. The Hasselblad accepts Zeiss lenses with built in leaf shutters that sync at 1/500 vs the focal plane shutter in the Kiev 88 camera body that syncs at 1/30. The build quality of the Hasselblad feels on par with Leica camera if not better and feels like a Swiss made watch. A true precision instrument. The Hasselblad film back is indeed similar to the Kiev 88 back but just feels better made. The ARAX-CM film back was a different design but looked similar from the outside. The Hasselblad Zeiss leaf shutter lenses add both weight and cost to the equation. Lens for the Kiev 88 can be picked up on eBay for as little as £75-£100 each. Zeiss lenses for the Hasselblad however are normally £350 and skywards.

I think if you are a photographer that only dabbles in film a few times a year then a Kiev 88 will provide the medium format film experience on a low budget. If however you need a precision tool to get the best possible images while enjoying every moment of the experience then I recommend getting a Hasselblad. I think the Hasselblad together with my Leica M3 film cameras are cameras for life.

Could I tell the difference between a photo taken with a Hasselblad and a photo taken with Kiev 88? I think no. Both camera systems can capture sharp images and I think the choice of film used has an equal part to play in the final results. I don’t remember the Kiev 88 ever giving me soft images as such I but just notice that Hasselblad images can look almost forgivingly sharp when stopped down.

For me a camera can create the perfect photo but unless I enjoy the process of making it then it is of no real interest. An obvious example of the is the super sharp Fuji GF670 folding rangefinder camera. Great photos but no emotionally attachment. The Hasselblad somehow makes it fun to take photos of the most simple everyday objects to try to create ‘art’!

The Hasselblad 501C camera has secured itself a place in my wedding photography camera bag together with my Leica M3s and digital Leica M 240. It would be like leaving one of the children behind otherwise!

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Ukraine Models (II)

Ukraine Model Photography (II)

September 2015
Matthew Osborne Photography

Ukraine Model Photography

The Plan

After enjoying my trip to Ukraine in July I decided to fit in another visit before the weather got too cold and the days were too short. I knew the travel arrangements now and felt more comfortable in terms of what to expect. I wanted to learn from my last trip and do better photos this time around.

Disappointment

In July I struggled a bit. I took my digital Nikon D800 DSLR camera (as Leica M9 out of action) with manual focus lenses and found it difficult to focus accurately and quickly (despite doing it with ease a few years ago). Luckily I also had my Leica M3 film camera for my ‘key’ images so I thought not ideal but no problem. I scanned the M3 negatives once home and noticed that the majority of the images were out of focus. Gutted. I salvaged the best photos to share a few on Flickr but not that many. It was my first experience of a Leica M3 needing recalibration.

Packing

As per my previous model photography trips I wanted to travel light so only had 8kg hand luggage for 6 nights away. I was absolutely dying to pack my new beloved Hasselblad 501C with the Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 lens but my weight limit just couldn’t accommodate the 2kg camera weight when including the 45 degree prism view finder.  As such I would need to pack something smaller.

Film and Digital

I wanted to pack a digital camera body plus at least one film camera body to take to Ukraine. It took me more than a week trying to decide what cameras to pack, each with their own pros and cons. The cameras that missed out in the final stages were the Fuji GF670 and Fuji GA645 medium format film cameras. I knew the weather looked overcast at best so the f3.5 and f4 lenses respectively were probably not going to be fast enough especially indoor without flash. When you need to shoot by available light with wide open fast apertures and slow shutter speeds there is only one real option for me – Leica cameras!

Leica vs. Nikon

The fast Leica M mount lenses can capture beautiful images wide open and the rangefinder mirrorless camera system allows me to shoot at 1/15 shutter speed hand held if needed. My Nikon DSLR / SLR cameras need a faster shutter speed handheld because of the mirror slap and the fastest lenses are rarely sharp enough wide open for my taste (the Nikon mount Samyang 85mm f1.4 being an obvious exception from the lenses I own). If I stop my Nikon fast lenses down to f2/f2.8 and need a handheld shutter speed of say 1/50 straight away you can see the Leica camera system advantages for me in low light with a static subject.

*(I realize there are lists of facts that make my statement complete rubbish such as using Nikon mount vibration reduction (VR) lenses at slower shutter speeds handheld or perhaps some of the Nikon G Lenses that might be super sharp wide open. I know the Nikkor 35mm f1.4 G lens is bitingly sharp wide open as I used to own it but it is based on the Nikon lenses that I own now (quite a few still, maybe 20 lenses) and all are non-VR glass).

Camera Gear: (and the winners were!)

  • Billingham Hadley Digital bag
  • Leica M 240 digital camera
  • Leica M3 film camera (recalibrated)
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens (small, fast and wider than a 50mm)
  • Helios 35 85 135 auxiliary viewfinder (for 35mm lens)
  • Leica Elmar Collapsible 50mm f2.8 lens (compact and my favourite 50mm FL)
  • Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens (smaller than Summilux ASPH 50mm, quite fast and my favourite 50mm FL)
  • 5in1 reflector
  • Small Chinese Speedlight (x2)
  • LED cycle light
  • 35mm B&W film – Ilford Delta 100, Kodak T-Max 100, Kodak T-Max 400, Kodak Tri-X 400
  • 35mm Colour film – AGFA Vista 200 Plus, Cinestill 800T

Film Choice

The weather forecast looked pretty wet upsettingly so I packed mostly ISO 400 films; Kodak T-Max 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400, with a few 100 speed films; Kodak T-Max 100 as it can easily be pushed to ISO 800 if needed and a roll of Ilford Delta 100 just in case we got some sunshine. I planned to shoot mostly black and white film but also packed a few rolls of colour 35mm; CineStill 800T for low light (ISO 200-1250) and some budget AGFA Vista 200 Plus film. I got some beautiful results with AGFA Vista 200 recently so want to see if it was a one off or not.

Ukraine Model Shoots

Day 1 – 3 Models

For my first day I got to meet three new faces, Angelina, Dana and Diana. It absolutely poured with rain so apart from a few quick photos under a tree all photos had to be taken inside the hotel. I was so glad I had packed some lights as the room was really dark with the rain outside. Surprisingly the resulting photos in my view were far stronger than those from the sunny days back in July. I certain work a lot smarter in low light and much prefer crafting my own lighting.

Day 2 – 1 Model + Ukrainian wedding

Rain all day again! I met model Alisa from my last trip early for a quick hotel photo session ahead of the wedding.

Ukrainian Wedding

Quick change and then I was off to a Ukrainian wedding for the rest of the day. I was invited by model friends who were also the official wedding planners. As I understood it the bride was also a local model and was quite possibly the most beautiful bride I had ever seen. The wedding dress looked amazing and even though I had little idea as to what was actually happening I had great appreciation for her beauty. The couple had their own photographer so I just got some extra photos without the pressure of having to do group pictures etc. It was my second Ukrainian wedding but both were very different so I am non the wiser as to order of events in the day.

Day 3 – 5 Models including Bridal session

No rain! Hooray! I met model Nadya (from previous visits) for another 8:00 start after my morning run along the river. We shot in the hotel as the light levels were still low outside and I mixed flash with available light for the look I wanted. Next was a new face, Anna. We split the photo shoot inside the hotel, outside and over coffee. I had been shooting black and white film inside with the Leica M3 so I loaded some colour AGFA Vista 200 Plus film for outside. I think it should work well with her bright clothes and amazing eyes.

Bridal Photo Session (My Dream Shoot!)

For the afternoon I met the wedding planner girls from yesterday and we all jumped in the car and headed out of the city. The car was full to the brim; people, wedding dresses, flowers from yesterday’s wedding and various wedding props. They spoke very little English and my Ukrainian is embarrassingly near non-existent so for the second day in a row I had no clue what was really happening or where we were heading! We arrived at a woodland clearing and the girls set to work making flowers for their hair, doing make up and getting into their wedding dress. Before I knew it I had my very own beautiful brides in a beautiful setting waiting to have photos and they were actually excited by the prospect (compared to a normal wedding where it seems more of a chore for people).  Amazing! I could finally take the posed bridal fashion photos that I always hope to take at every wedding (yet very rarely happen due to lack of interest and /or time).

As a wedding photographer but also model photographer I am not the priority on a wedding day so couples rarely take the opportunity to use me to my strengths. By this I would say creating a series of stylised and crafted posed wedding photos as I do for models.  Most couples that book me for their wedding photography request very natural looking documentary style wedding photos. I think the thought of ‘posed’ photos for most people is seen as unnecessary discomfort but I always offer and hope they accept! Stylised wedding photos can still look very natural but I can capture the couple looking their very best. Light alone makes a photo. If I can control the light or control the way light falls on a person it can make the difference between a potentially great photo and a make do capture.

It might sound very selfish but all I really hope for from a prospective wedding couple is the same level of excitment about there wedding photography as I have.  If we both have the same end goal the photos can be nothing but amazing.  The couples that put the most into their wedding photos on the day have always benefited the greatest and I think vice versa.

Day 4 – 4 Models

My last day came around far too quick for my liking! I arranged to meet some of the models again for a second photo shoot each. I met Evgenia and Olga again from the wedding and bridal shoot and we did a photo session in the hotel before I checked out.  I then met Diana again to do the outdoor photo shoot idea we had originally planned. Lastly I met Angelina for her second shoot, again shot outside as it was dry.

Summary – July vs September photo shoots

Without doubt September was a greater success on every level except for the fact that I didn’t get a sun tan and the rain was not needed. I was happier with my travel planning, with my hotel, my eating arrangements, my use of my available time, the camera choice (assuming that the Leica M3 photos are in focus this time!), the camera film selected (again assuming results OK) and in general the photos taken on the whole. I was pretty lucky with the weather really as it didn’t stop me doing anything I wanted to do so I can’t complain.

Nikon D800 vs Leica M 240

I can work so much faster with my Leica rangefinder M 240 camera. I struggled to see to focus the manual lenses when using the Nikon D800 in July. As such many images were not in focus if I tried to work at my normal pace. With the Leica M 240 I’ve not noticed any photos out of focus unless I got too close with the Summicron v5 lens (see previous calibration post). This is why I’m locked into the Leica M camera system. My eyes rely on the rangefinder focusing patch whether at f1.0 or f8, especially when the subject is more than a meter away. That is assuming the camera rangefinder is calibrated of course! I can’t think of any occasion during the trip where the Nikon D800 would have been preferable to the M 240.

Camera lenses

When I visit Ukraine again I think I will only take 50mm lenses as I only took the 35mm for the wedding. For model photography and most of my work I much prefer the 50mm focal length. The Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 is in my mind the best Leica 50mm in terms of speed, size, built in hood and close focus ability. The collapsible Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens is perhaps the smallest Leica M mount 50mm lens so is great if space limited. In an ideal world I would have a Summicron 50mm v5 lens on both the Leica M3 and the Leica M 240 body as I prefer to focus at less than 1m distance for many of my portrait photos.

See the light

Even though I believe that by adding flash to any photo I can enhance the existing light there is something nice about the simplicity of just shooting by available light. Once you train your eyes to see light it is easy to work fast and with minimal equipment to create the images. Strobist work is great and I do love it but sometimes your can lose the flow of a shoot if you stop every two minutes to adjust the lighting setup. This is especially important if time is limited either with a model or during a wedding. I think for a wedding it is even more important as both the flow and speed it critical to keep the interest of the couple that would much rather be with their wedding guests. In Ukraine communication with models was sometimes limited so daylight photography worked well for me as I could catch a pose of expression before they changed to the next. For the bridal shoot I was trying to keep up with the energetic and excitable brides so to do that with lights would have been near impossible! It was difficult enough as it was! I fired off a full roll of 35mm film without stopping or any digital images inbetween as I needed to capturer the magic before it was gone. I’m excited to see the resulting photos as we were on such a high during the shoot and the clothes, model, flowers, location, overcast light all just came together beautifully. (I hope!)

Film vs. Digital photography technique

For the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 I used it at f2-f4 mostly and the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 normally at f4-f5.6 where I could. With the modern digital camera sensors now I can pull so much sharpness from the original RAW file that it doesn’t matter so much if it is a softer focus lens. The 24MP Leica M 240 can pull more detail from a file than the 18MP Leica M9 camera and the 36MP Nikon D800 beats both Leica cameras in that respect. When it comes to shooting film however, especially 35mm film, I don’t like to over sharpen the film negative scans so I try to capture a sharp image in camera. As such, I often stop lenses down more when using film. The reason is 2-fold in a way. 35mm film negatives are small so are equivalent to an old digital camera with less megapixels. For medium format film the negatives are bigger but the depth of field is very shallow especially when working very close so I sometimes use say f4-f5.6 to get very sharp and soft.

As my photography ‘progresses’ I feel I seek ‘perfection’ more and more. Yes the dreamy images from a Contax 645 at f2 are hard to beat at a glance but for my taste I now like the subject to be sharper. It is a tough balance as the ideal scenario is super sharp and super soft combined in the same photo. For digital photography the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens can create this with the Leica M9 / Leica M 240, but less so when mounted on my Leica M3 / M2 film cameras. The medium format Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2 camera + Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 lens and Rolleiflex SL66E camera + Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 lens can both achieve this near ideal look for close up portraits using their focusing bellows. The Mamiya 645 Super + 80mm f1.9 lens gives the Contax softness more so than being sharp I think. The Hasselblad 501C as it came off the production line with the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 lens captures sharp images but lacks the soft shallow depth of field (for me). Put a longer lens on the Hasselblad camera like the Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 combined with an extension tube and we are making progress. That or just buy the Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 lens as I did which focuses closer so doesn’t need an extension tube. Now I have a Hasselblad with a nice sharp lens combined with the big 6×6 film negative format and to give the sharp yet soft look I desire.

Ahead of the next trip

I tried to save a few grams by not taking my Sekonic light meter with me but I did miss it despite having a digital camera to meter the light. I will always pack a light meter in future. I didn’t miss not having my tablet for the internet and blogging as I just used my iPhone instead. I want to learn a few more key phrases in Ukrainian ahead of my next trip to make communication easier. I also want to try to take a medium format film camera instead of the M3 as I don’t need 100s of film photos, just a few really high quality ones from each model session. I warm models up on digital anyway so if I take too many film images they can often just result in duplicate photos which is a waste.

Big Thanks

Big thanks to everyone I met and worked with on the trip.  I can’t wait to do it all again soon! 🙂

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Leica M3 Calibration

Leica M3 Calibration

Matthew Osborne Photography

September 2015

Leica M3 Calibration

This is is photo from last weekend – me having coffee with my trusty Leica M3 Double stroke after it was recalibrated by the amazing guys at Aperture Photographic, London. I think that they are probably not the cheapest repair option but they do go the extra mile when it comes to customer service. I admire the in house technician and he’s a good guy, as are the other staff. For example there was a tiny part of the black leather ‘wrap’ missing when I bought the M3 yet when I got the camera back it was repaired and looked as good as new. They tested the M3 on their calibration machine (I forget the correct name) and checked the camera accuracy at infinity. I tend to shoot most my photos up close so I was hoping the camera would be accurate for my film portraits. I won’t know for sure until I shoot another roll of film. I took some photos with the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens and the images are still not as sharp as what the lens is capable of. The Summicron 50 DR seems fine when focusing using the close focus goggles at less than 1m distance but at 1m or more it looks soft (unless I just took a sequence of poor focus images!). I then tried the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens wide open at f1 for a self portrait in a mirror and it was sharp (as sharp as the Nocti can be when used wide open!) . I took the same photo with my Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens and the photo was also sharp (sharper being at f2) so I am hopeful that the camera is back to its former accuracy / glory. I need it to be.

Following on from my above statement about the Aperture Photographic service, they also looked at my Leics Summicron 50f2 v5 lens while I was in the store. I have not used my Summicron 50mm f2 v5 for a long time as I thought it was mis-calibrated. I say this as when the aperture was set at f2 for portraits the resulting images were too soft to accept. Such a shame as it is the perfect 50mm lens in terms of size/aperture ratio so I miss it. I asked the Aperture guys to to test it for me so the technician took it out in the street and returned with sharp photos at f2. Hmm. I tried again and soft! He thought it was my eyes until I explained that I normally use a Noctilux at f1. He looked how I took the photo and diagnosed that I have a tendency to focus as close as I can and at 0.68mm on this particular lens hence it was always soft. We tried at 0.8m and hey presto it is perfectly sharp. Soo happy!

I returned the Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm lens I recently re-bought for the M3 as that was too soft (compared to the previous version I owned) so now I will use the Cron 50 v5 instead of the Cron 50DR on the M3. I have the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 but it is just too long and upsets the handling of the camera (for me). My favourite lens on the M3 ergonomics wise is the tiny Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens but I often pick faster f1.4 lenses for my work.

I plan to pack the Leica M3 DS and Leica M240 cameras for my next overseas trip so fingers crossed it is sharp this time. On that note and slightly off topic I weighed my new Hasselblad 501C with 45 degree prism finder attached plus the new (and preferred lens of choice) Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens and it weighed 2kg! Not a camera for a week away when I only have 8kg hand luggage. 10kg hand luggage however and it is already packed!

New Leica M3 images coming soon!

Example test photo with Leica Noctilux –

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Fuji GA645 Portraits

Fuji GA645 Portraits

Matthew Osborne Photography

September 2015

Fujifilm GA645 Professional

Now that I have owned the Fuji GA645 Pro 645 medium format camera for a few months I thought it might be nice to share a few images.

All the following photos were taken with the Fujifilm GA645 Pro

Laura – 120 Ilford FP4+ film

Fuji GA645 Pro Portrait

Fuji GA645 Model Photography

Fuji GA645 + 120 Ilford FP4+

Fuji GA645 Model Photography

Iris – 120 Kodak Ektar 100 film

Fuji GA645 Pro Fashion

Fuji GA645

Fuji GA645 Fashion

Holly – 120 Kodak T-Max 100 film

Fuji GA645

Fujifilm GA645

Fuji GA645 + T-Max 100

Fuji GA645

Emily – Expired 120 Ilford Delta 100 film

Fujifilm GA645 Pro

Fuji GA 645 - Testing

Fuji GA645 + T-Max 100

Fuji GA645 Starburst

Fuji GA645 in Auto

Thoughts so far

The Fuji GA645 is I think my smallest lighter and noisiest medium format film camera. It is super sharp wide open at f4 and can create a pleasing soft OOF background. I enjoy the portrait orientation 645 frame (vs the horizontal 645 frame of the Mamiya 645). I tend to use the camera on manual mode with autofocus. The light meter seems pretty accurate but I tend to meter myself and dial in the settings. It is the perfect camera to pack to travel when you want medium format resolution yet can’t pack a more bulky Mamiya RZ67 or perhaps Hasselblad camera. The Mamiya 645 Super as actually quite small and light. The Fuji GF670 is slightly larger and heavier than the GA645 but it does offer 6×6 and 6×7 formats.

Fun Factor

In my eyes it is not a ‘proper’ camera as such so there is no real emotional attachment for me. It doesn’t excit like the Hasselblad 501C, or Mamiya RZ67 / 645 Super or even the Leica M3s. The slow and noisy autofocus is not for every situation but it does focus accurately and get the subject in focus.

I think the Fuji GA645 is a keeper but more for when I cannot carry my other larger medium format cameras and where I want more resolution than 35mm film can capture

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Hasselblad Love

Hasselblad Love – First impressions of the 501C

Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica
September 2015

Hasselblad Love !

My Hasselblad journey so far..

After getting my first Hasselblad camera a few weeks ago it has been a bit of roller coaster ride.  I had the usual pre-arrival excitment and research phase, then the eagerly awaited arrival and just sheer appreciation of the form, feel and build quality.  What followed was real disappointment.  I tried to take some test photos using the Hasselblad 501C kit WLF (waist level viewfinder) and found that I really struggled to see to focus using the nice and bright acute-matte cross hair focus screen. I thought perhaps I was going mad so compared to my Mamiya RZ67 WLF and I could focus fine on the RZ. Hmm perhaps my Hasselblad love affair was going to be short lived.

Panic..

With a wedding fast approaching and where the client wanted me to photograph some images with a Hasselblad I was already starting to consider alternative film camera options for the day.  I thought perhaps my Fuji GF670 rangefinder camera to capture equally sharp 6×6 images on film. I then started researching the various Hasselblad focus screens options and reached out to forums for help.  I looked at the focus screens with the central split image spot but that is as far as I got before wedding day.

Relief..

I took both the Fui GF670 and the Hasselblad 501C to the wedding as the groom said I could try his 45 degree PM prism viewfinder. I tried the prism finder and hey presto, I could see!   So happy and relieved all mixed into one! Since then I have never looked back and am loving my Hasselblad.   It has quckly become one of my favourite cameras (together with my all time favourite, the Leica M3 (s))

What do I like about the Hasselblad V series cameras?

  • Build quality seems up there with Leica. Everything just feels exact and precise.  The Hasselblad really is a joy to use and at the opposite end of the spectrum from the equally sharp Fuji GF670 which to me lacks the fun factor and emotion that makes you want to use a camera.
  • Loving the 6×6 square format. I think Leica should make an M3 square crop camera! I have tried to like square format in the past and struggled but this time I have Instagram instilled in me so square format composition seems to come easier.
  • I like the almost 3D pop from the out of focus background yet sharp subject.  Without doubt the Mamiya 645 Super can create dreamier images more akin to the famous Contax 645 look but with dreamy comes softer focus.  The Hasselblad images are less dreamy (even ar wide open apertures) but appear much sharper.
  • The Zeiss lenses for the Hasselblad V series do indeed all seem super sharp. The Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 and Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 that I have used so far are both among some of the sharpest lenses I have used. That said the Mamiya RZ67 can create perhaps equally sharp yet more dreamy images from the results I have obtained so far with the backdrop melting away behind the subject.  I would compare the Hasselblad to the Leica Summilux ASPh 50mm f1.4 lens.  They are clinically sharp.  The Mamiya 645 Super can look more like the Leica Noctilux lens with a softer dreamy look.  I think the Mamiya RZ sits mid way between.  **Please note this is only based on the very few photos taken so far to date so I will update my conclusion if and when I see different.
  • Interchangeable film backs on the Hasselblad as also found on my Mamiya RZ67,  Mamiya 645 Super and Rolleiflex SL66E are great for weddings where I can pre load 2+ film backs or if I want to shoot a mix of colour and black and white film side by side.   For 35mm film cameras I need two bodies to cover this approach hence I use two Leica M3s for weddings.
  • The size of the Hasselblad “rig” with lens, lens hood, prism viewfinder and on a monopod is no discrete Leica M3 camera yet somehow it is purposeful and also get only positive remarks when out on the street.  It is a real head turner (and conversastion starter!).  I think people really appreciate seeing the older film cameras in action.

Hasselblad negative scans (all with Ilford HP5 plus film)

  • Here are some sample images from the first roll of film testing the Hasselblad

Hasselblad Selfie!

Hasselblad Macro Photography

Hasselblad Film Art

Hasselblad, 80mm + 21mm extension tube

Hasselblad 501C Test Photo

  • Here is a photo taken at the wedding

The Bentley Hotel - Hasselblad Wedding

  • Lastly here are a few images from a model photography workshop the day after the wedding

London Photography Workshop

Hasselblad Model Photography

Hasselblad / Sonnar Portrait

Conclusion

My wishes before the Hasselblad arrived were, I quote (my previous post)..

“The Hasselblad 501CM is by no means the perfect system but I want to try it as part of my quest for the ‘perfect’ camera.  I hope I can love it as much as my Leicas.  My biggest wish is reliability and sharp images and that alone will make me use the camera more than some of my existing ones.”

It is very very early days but I think the Hasselblad ticks all my boxes and is a keeper! 🙂

Coming soon..

More new Hasselblad images coming to Flickr (and here) soon.  I was shooting in London today with a male model in the morning and with an array of exciting (and new) Hasselblad lenses in the afternoon. 🙂

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Kodachrome Film – Gutted I missed it! 😦

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kodachrome film

September 2015

The more I learn about photography and specifically film photography, the more I am upset that I didn’t start my photography in the ‘good old days’ and before digital came along.  I had disposable film cameras and remember having an APS film camera but it was only to take friends and family snaps.  Our family used to send our film to TruPrint if I remember correctly and Dad had an Olympus Trip MD when we were kids (later years).

Kodachrome

As I start to appreciate film photography and study both theory and images in my spare time I came across the discontinued film Kodachrome.  Before a few weeks ago I can put my hand up and hang my head in shame and say I didn’t know quite how special Eastman Kodachrome film was.  When I started to review the images and compare to the films we have now I am gutted I missed out on shooting with Kodachrome.  The Kodachrome colours are just amazing and to my eyes nothing currently on the market in 2015 can match it?

Kodak Portra or Fuji Pro 400H

I shoot mostly black and white film as you may have seen but if am going to shoot colour I want the colour to add something to the image.  Kodak Portra and Fuji Pro 400H give nice skin tones and all that but nothing really pops with these images.  Velvia 50 can produce amazing colours for landscapes but I have seen very few usable portraits using Velvia film.  Kodachrome film on the other hand captured the colours in portraits that just made the photo come alive.  Vivid blues and reds that just makes me wish a joint venture could salvage the old machines and get it back into production.  I guess similar to what the Impossible Project did with the Polaroid factory machines.

Question –

For those of you that used to shoot Kodachrome film (when it was still available and could be developed), can you tell me what film available today gives the nearest look and colours?

Agfa Vista or Ektar Film

Kodak Ektar is the only fine grain saturated film that can be used for portraits that springs to my mind?   I shot some family portraits recently on Agfa Vista 200 Plus and I was extremely impressed with the results and rich colours.  I would not hesitate to use Agfa Vista film again for none paying clients.

AGFA Vista 200 Plus

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks

Matt

Leica – Hasselblad Wedding

Leica – Hasselblad Wedding

(The Ultimate Partnership!)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica.com

September 2015

Intro

Yesterday I had a special wedding to photograph in London. Every wedding is special but for the camera geeks among us this was special on a different level. I was chosen by a fellow Leica M 240 photographer’s wife to cover their wedding as I use a camera they both know and trust. In the lead up to the wedding I was looking to buy a Hasselblad medium format film camera so asked them if they would be happy for me to use it on their wedding day. It turned out the Leica shooter was actually a previous Hasselblad nut and had all the best equipment, bodies, lenses, finders and even a digital back! Not only that but he was selling it all to concentrate on Leicas. To cut an even longer story short, we agreed that the wedding payment could made in a currency I know well… Cameras!!

My new Hasselblad camera kit

  • Hasselblad 501C body (mint / boxed) + WLF + A12 film back + Hood
  • Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens
  • Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF lens
  • Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF lens
  • Hasselblad PM 45 degree prism viewfinder

Meet the gang! My new Hasselblad trio - 50mm, 80mm, 150mm. Fresh back from yesterday's wedding in London! #hasselblad #hasselblad501c #zeiss #distagon #planar #sonnar #prism #filmcamera #filmwedding #film #mediumformat #6x6 #cameraporn #ilovefilm #ishootf

I knew the wedding venue was going to be a low light affair as I had visited in advance to meet the couple. ISO 800-3200 using available light. I was glad I had upgraded my Leica M body from the M9 to the M 240 with its higher usable ISO. That said I was worried that there would not be sufficient light to handhold the Hasselblad camera without motion blur.  With that in mind I treated my new Hasselblad rig to a lightweight monopod and head.  I already have an aluminium Manfrotto monopod but find it too heavy to lug around with ease so it tends not to get used. I read various monopod reviews and the clear winner to me was the Sirui.  As such I bought –

  • Sirui P-326 carbon monopod
  • Manfrotto 234RC quick release tilt head

Wedding macro photos

Leica cameras are not ideal for macro photography so when I take more than one camera to a wedding I like to have the option to shoot close up with the second camera.  As such before my Hasselblad arrived I bought a 21mm Hasselblad extension tube.  Used on the 80mm Zeiss Planar it lets me get very close to my subject and on the 150mm Sonnar something inbetween the Planar with the macro extension tube and the lens without.  I fitted the 21mm extension tube to the 80mm for a few wedding detail photos during the day so it was money well spent.

Cameras for the wedding

Camera bag. My kit could be split into 2. The Hasselblad camera kit bag and the Leica M camera kit bag.

Hasselblad camera kit

The Hasselblad kit consisted of the items listed above but with the addition of a loan lens for the day, the amazing Zeiss Distagon 40mm f4 lens for the wide angle shots. I used this instead of my new 50mm Distagon as I needed the extra width indoors.

Leica M camera kit

  • Leica M240 digital body (mine)
  • Leica M240 body (loan from groom as backup camera)
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 v2
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH
  • Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8
  • Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8 (not used)
  • Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5

Film choice

I knew I needed a film that I could push up to ISO 1600 and maybe even ISO 3200. My first plan was to buy Ilford Delta 3200 film but then I noticed on Flickr that people push Ilford HP5 400 film +2 stops to ISO 1600 with ease and even +3 stops up to ISO 3200.  Delta 3200 film can be quite grainy even in 120 format and is more pricey than HP5.  HP5 400 film looks like it can be pushed +2 stops to ISO 1600 and still get reasonably clean (low grain) negatives. As such I bought a supply a 120 Ilford HP5 film for the wedding. Luckily we had some sun outide so I was able to expose the HP5 at ISO 800. I used a shutter speed of 1/60 where possible and 1/30 where insufficient light. When there was even less light in the evening I added strobe light to boost light levels.  I used all lenses at their widest apertures with the Hasselblad on the new monopod and with a shutter cable release.  I also used the 45 degre PM prism for all photos as find it much easier to focus.

Tonight testing the new #hasselblad ! 😊 #hasselblad501c #mediumformat #film #ilford #hp5 #120film #6x6 #ilovefilm #filmisnotdead www.MrLeica.com

Reality check

At times like this it really makes me appreciate my little Leica M3 rangefinder cameras. With a f1.4 lens I could have shot at the equivalent of ISO 200 (vs Zeiss Planar 80f2.8)(2 stops brighter) and handheld the camera for still photos at 1/15 (vs 1/60 with Hasselblad) giving me the equivalent of a useable ISO of 50 on the M3 vs ISO 800 on the Hasselblad.

The Wedding

  • Digital Leica M 240 – provided the practical, quick response, portable, non-imposing camera setup for when the wedding was moving at a faster pace.
  • Hasselblad 501C – brought the fun and excitement when the pace was slower and I had the time to carefully craft my images.
  • Leica M3 film camera (or perhaps the Nikon F4 SLR) –  offer the perfect middle ground being both fast and film. Win win (but not present on the day).

The Results

I’m looking forward to reviewing the digital images from the wedding but I absolutely can’t wait to develop the Hasselblad film negatives to see how I got on.

Special Photos

It is nice to think that the Hasselblad 501C camera that the groom had bought new over 19 years ago (and that the bride remembers him using while she waited!) was used to photograph part of their wedding day.