Hasselblad SWC/M Super Wide Camera
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
The Hasselblad SWC (Super Wide Camera) family of cameras had a production life span from 1954-2009. From researching online my particular camera model, a Hasselblad SWC/M with CF lens attached and a spirit level built into both the camera body and the newer style view finder seems to be dated from around 1982-1988.
Hasselblad SWC – Intro
A Hasselblad SWC/M comes with a Zeiss Biogon 38mm f4.5 CF lens attached. Unlike the more common Hasselblad 500 series / V-series camera models the lens on the SWC cameras does not detach. The SWC is a camera designed and built around the very well-regarded Zeiss Biogon 38mm lens. It is not like a normal 500 series Hasselblad camera (as I think of them) as it has no mirror/ ground glass / waist level view finder setup you normally find at the heart of every Hasselblad. Instead it just has an external viewfinder to aid basic composition. To focus the SWC camera I need to use hyperfocal distance (like I would on a Leica rangefinder camera for street photography) and dial in a preferred focus distance on the Biogon lens (such as 2 meters) and then roughly gauge by eye this distance from the camera to the subject. As the camera is a wide-angle camera there is greater depth of field (DOF) than on say a long lens (especially once the SWC lens is stopped down). The 38mm Biogon lens is roughly equivalent to 21mm on a 35mm camera sensor so gives a pretty wide field of view compared to the standard 80mm Zeiss kit lens on a Hasselblad 500CM Classic which is equivalent to 50mm in 35mm camera terms.
Hasselblad SWC – First Thoughts
My first thoughts when collecting the Hasselblad SWC/M were small, compact and lightweight compared to the Hasselblad 500CM + telephoto lens(es) I had been using prior to picking up the camera. The SWC has a very solid and audible clunk when you release the shutter. Much more so than my 500CM and 501C and much for fluid movement but then it is a newer camera so perhaps to be expected. The SWC finder view is big and bright but also very distorted so it is difficult to retain a mind-set that the photos will not also look distorted. The spirit level built into the SWC finder is a very nice touch as you can see if an image horizon is level without taking your eye from the finder. Well done Hasselblad. The CF Zeiss Biogon 38mm lens looks very similar to all my other Zeiss CF lenses and is solid and seemingly well-built.
Hasselblad Wedding Photography
When I do Leica wedding photography with my digital Leica M240 camera one of my most used lenses is the Zeiss ZM Biogon 21mm f2.8 lens. I have a 28mm Leica Elmarit-M f2.8 lens but found the 28mm focal length not quite wide enough in situation with lots of people and/ or confined spaces. The 21mm ZM Biogon is great for bridal prep shots with multiple bridesmaids in a small room or during a wedding ceremony to capture the bride and groom and some of the guests in the background. For previous analogue film weddings I found the standard lenses on many of my medium format film cameras too narrow to capture everything. For a Hasselblad wedding I have the Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 which is the same as 28mm but nothing wider. Sometime it is just nice to have a super wide lens to photograph a whole room such as the inside of a church. A wider lens also has a great depth in focus so for moving people photos taken in a candid street photography / documentary wedding photography style it is easier to nail focus with a wider lens than with a telephoto lens (when using manual focus). This was one reason/ ‘excuse’ to buy a Hasselblad SWC/M.
Hasselblad SWC for Street Photography
Leica cameras are popular street photography cameras when focused using hyperfocal distance. As mentioned briefly above it means I set a desired distance and aperture on the lens and this gives me a certain range in focus (say everything between 1-3 meters). Once set it basically makes a Leica camera a full frame 35mm point at shoot camera (if you keep your subjects within the area in focus from the camera (Ie. if something is 4m away I need to walk closer before taking the photo or move the distance on the lens to further away before taking my shot). The same methodology can be applied to the Hasselblad SWC camera, setting an aperture and focus distance on the 38mm Biogon lens. As the 38mm is equivalent to 21mm in 35mm terms it gives quite a deep depth in focus. (Telephoto lenses have a much shorter distance in focus at any aperture). The SWC camera can them become a 6×6 medium format point and shoot camera for street photography, weddings or otherwise. The biggest restriction in the UK is sufficient light so the SWC is more suited to bright conditions or high ISO film stock than low light photography for this technique.
Hasselblad SWC for Travel Photography
One big selling point of the Hasselblad SWC for me is the compact size and relatively low weight. The Hassy SWC/M weighs under 1.4kg (with camera, finder and film back attached) and in comparison a Hasselblad 500CM camera + 80mm kit lens + film back weights closer to 1.6kg (but for the lenses I use the Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens alone weighs 1.1kg!) For my overseas model photography photoshoots I tend to take with me the smallest cameras that provide sufficiently high image quality (and are fun to use and reliable). It could be argued that my Mamiya 6 and Fuji GF670 are more suited as medium format travel cameras but I much prefer the rendering of Hasselblad lenses to the Mamiya glass and I find the GF670 fragile (currently awaits repair) and not exciting to use (even if it is a very capable camera).
Hasselblad Fashion Photography
Another reason to buy the Hasselblad SWC is for my Hasselblad fashion photography. I love the Hasselblad telephoto lenses such as the Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 lens and Zeiss Macro-Planar 120mm f4 lens for portraits but to photograph clothes full length a wider lens is often easier. The Hassy SWC 38mm Biogon lens could be deemed too wide but many fashion photographers have used wide lenses in the past to give their fashion photos a different look. I think I may use the SWC camera more for wedding photography but I hope I can also use it for some of my model photography to add some variety to my work. For environment portraits a wider lens is also very beneficial as it helps to capture both the model and their environment. I have shot many times in Budapest for example and taken headshot / half body portraits yet the surrounding location detail outside the field of view might have added additional interest to the images if included. I think of all the locations I have done model photography the city that screams “use a wide lens” the most is without doubt New York city. I need to go back soon! On a previous visit to NYC I used my 35mm Hasselblad XPan camera for a wider view but found I usually prefer 6×6 format to panoramic for my model/ fashion portraits. Using both the wide-angle Hasselblad SWC/M and a standard Hasselblad 501C /500CM body side by side gives me the best of both, with the option for wider environment portrait / wide angle fashion look photos and also shallow depth isolated headshots and portraits with a longer telephoto lens. When using two Hasselblad bodies I also have the advantage of the Hasselblad V system being modular. (See more below).
Hasselblad Modular Cameras (Specifically Film Backs)
One huge advantage of investing into the Hasselblad 500 series (V-series) cameras (including the SWC camera) is the cameras are modular in their design. This means I can unclip a standard Hasselblad A12 film back (or any other film back) from any Hasselblad 500 camera and use it on my new Hassy SWC/M. Having multiple film backs to use can be really valuable during a Hasselblad wedding for example. If I was using a Mamiya 6 camera for group photos and finished my roll of film mid-session I would need to halt proceedings, rewind the film and reload with fresh film to continue. When using a Hasselblad I carry multiple pre-loaded film backs and as soon as film finishes in one back I can quickly unclip and attach a second back with film loaded ready to go. Another advantage of multiple film backs is I can load one back with colour film and one back with black and white film. For Hasselblad fashion photography (or film weddings) or any client shoot I can shoot a mix of colour and black and white film and swap the backs between cameras. For example shoot a wide scene in B&W on the Hasselblad SWC then take the back from the Hasselblad 500CM (loaded with colour film) to capture a colourful confetti group photo straight after. The 500CM can then capture some B&W wedding portraits on a long lens and so on. I would travel with at least two film backs for model photography trips and if possible carry 2 Hasselblad bodies too, the SWC/M and a 500CM or 501C.
Hasselblad Focusing Screen Adapter 41025 SWC/M
An obvious disadvantage of the Hasselblad SWC/M is the fact that the viewfinder does not allow for critical focusing. Maybe it is because I have used Leica rangefinder cameras intensively for a prolonged period but for much of my photography I like to line up straight lines (horizontal and vertical) in a scene with my frame lines in the viewfinder. For example at a church wedding I would centre the viewfinder to the church aisle to capture equal detail on both sides and ensure it is aligned to the straight edges of the walls. With the Hasselblad SWC the finder view it is only a rough guide of composition. I would hate to have to crop every SWC photo after scanning to straighten and centre each picture. Luckily there is another option
Hasselblad and Leica Cameras
Hasselblad SWC – Specifications
As with many of the cameras I own and have talked about on this blog, Ken Rockwell has also reviewed the camera and kindly details all the specifics of the Hasselblad SWC on his site. Rather than me repeat the same camera facts please see a link below to Ken Rockwell’s SWC review
Hasselblad Resale Value
One good thing about investing in older Hasselblad film cameras is they seem to hold their value quite well (and even appear to increasing in value/cost over the last 12 months or so). If I find the Hasselblad SWC/M camera isn’t really for me at least I can say I tried it. I would never have discovered my love for Leica and Hasselblad cameras if I didn’t take the chance and move away from the camera(s) I used at the time. I never know, the SWC/M might become my new most used most loved film camera! Either way I will enjoy finding out!
Panasonic Lumix LX100 (Leica D-Lux Typ 109)
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Purchase Recap
If you read my “Budapest 2017(2) – Leica vs Lumix” blog post you will know that I just bought myself a new Panasonic Lumix LX100 digital compact camera.
If you didn’t read it as a very quick recap I misplaced my Leica M 240 battery charger when in Budapest on a model photography trip so bought myself a replacement / backup camera. Here is an extract from the aforementioned post –
.. “My mind then started to wander away from Leica cameras and onto other alternative camera options. I thought aha I could buy a small but capable camera to finish my model photography in Budapest and then use it as a vlog camera or camera to use for making Instagram videos / photos and also as a digital backup camera for travel. I wanted a camera with full manual controls, a hoteshoe and 4K video in a compact package. I will write a separate full review but I looked at a Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) camera and that lead me to buying a Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera with an equivalent 24-75mm f1.7-f2.8 fixed zoom lens”.
and as part of the summary at the end of the trip I wrote –
“Day 2 saw me using the new Panasonic Lumix LX100 camera. I was learning on the shoot so there were more blurry photos than when I use a Leica due to the auto focus and lag. That said the photos will look different to the Leica M 240 so I am excited to see and hope the photo quality is up to my needs. As I am used to Leica lenses and Leica sensors and also the 36MP Nikon D800 and my digital Hasselblad I guess my expectations and ‘needs’ are quite high in terms of image quality, resolution, sharpness and clarity. The little Panasonic Lumix LX100 has a lot to compete with. One fact that gives me some confidence is that the Lumix LX100 is pretty much identical to the Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (inside) and I know Leica will not put their name on a bad camera. That said the Lumix LX100 has a smaller 13MP micro four thirds CMOS sensor so it would be unfair to compare directly to my full frame digital camera sensors. I used the LX100 in manual mode for shutter, ISO and aperture but I didn’t discover how to manually focus until after the day’s photo shoots so the auto focus caused for a few miss shots. I also noticed my composition was much worse using the LX100 verses a Leica (so far)”.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – First Impressions
After using the Lumix LX100 for a day including model photography with agency models and freelance models here are my thoughts so far. I tried to summarise into two simple lists, pros and cons (for me and my taste only)*
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Pros
- Macro photography – amazing! Can focus at 3cm distance to give a very shallow DOF
- 1/2000 flash sync speed! – at f1.7-f2.8 and 1/4000 speed at f4-f16 (leaf shutter lens)
- Hotshoe – a must for my strobist work
- Small form factor – perfect travel camera
- EVF option – good to use in bright light conditions instead of LCD
- Aperture ring – great to see on a compact (makes it feel like a proper camera)
- Full manual controls – a must for me
- 4K video – same as the larger Lumix GH4 camera
- 24-75mm fixed zoom lens – 24mm is perfect for wider shots and 75mm for portraits
- f1.7-f2.8 lens aperture – f1.7 at 24mm to f2.8 for 75mm. f1.7 perfect in low light
- Wifi connectivity – great to transfer photos directly to my iPhone for Instagram
- ISO 100-25,600 – Impressive low light ability and good results at ISO1600
- 13MP micro four thirds CMOS sensor – Sufficient resolution for A4 prints (for me)
- Weight 393g – perfect lightweight camera to carry everywhere
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Cons
- EVF lag – a Leica OVF is much better than the EVF for me. EVF too slow
- Startup lag – slow compared to a Leica but useable
- Battery capacity / life – said to take up to 350 photos per battery if using the LCD
- Position of the video record button – awkward (for me)
- No tilt and swivel LCD – so not great for selfies/ videoing handheld such as vlogging
- No external mic jack (input) for microphone such as a Rode Video Mic or Zoom H1
- Doesn’t use full size of micro four thirds sensor – crop options 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
- RAW files are affected by in camera settings such as crop selection and filters
Note. Panasonic Lumix LX100 vs. Leica D-Lux Typ 109
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is near identical to it’s Leica twin camera, the Leica D-Lux Typ 109. Inside the cameras are extremely similar but with the Leica D-Lux using Leica software. On the exterior the Leica D-Lux has a much cleaner more sophisticated high end typical Leica look than the Lumix but the Lumix has a more practical and user friendly hand grip. For a lower cost I was more than happy to not consider the Leica D-Lux yet have knowledge that the LX100 uses the same Leica Summilux lens.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – For Me
I have only covered a small percentage of the Lumix LX100 features that are important to me. There are many other settings the camera has which may interest you more such as frames per second rate or the details of the video setting options. The LX100 is not a new camera, released in 2014, so all of the above has already been documented many times before if you want more details after seeing this post. I just covered the basics of my experience and thoughts so far and with a Leica M camera background as a comparison.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Image Quality
After having time to review some of the Lumix LX100 photos from Budapest I can say that the photos were perhaps as good as can be expected. The LX100 image quality was sub-Leica M standard (because of the smaller sensor as an obvious reason) in terms of sharpness, resolution and clarity but the images are far from being offense to my eye. From the RAW images captured so far I would say as a sweeping statement, that the highlight detail is lost much easier, the images are rendered softer and the lens has more flare. The JPEG images look very good and have nice colour but the RAW files colours are less impressive when trying to recover in post. I took photos up to ISO 1600 so far and the results were useable/ good enough (even though there was less information to work with in post (without introducing too much grain).
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Ergonomics and Handling
I love the small form factor of the Lumix LX100 camera. The LX100 is smaller and lighter than a Leica M film camera and is more similar in size to my Olympus Pen-F half frame analogue camera. As a Leica photographer I find the LX100 camera has far more buttons than necessary and it feels a little cluttered but that said I was very thankful to see the aperture control ring and shutter dial. I think an ISO control dial instead of the exposure compensation dial would have suited me far better as a manual settings photographer. I really don’t like the position of the video record button and I found it very it extremely awkward but maybe I will get used to it in time. The camera is larger than a generic compact camera so wont fit into a small suit or trouser pocket but will easily pack into a larger jacket pocket or small camera bag.
As a rangefinder camera photographer I rely 100% on an optical viewfinder to focus and compose my photos. I have never been a big fan of an electronic viewfinder (“EVF”) so I was never tempted to get the Leica EVF for my Leica M240. The Panasonic Lumix LX100 EVF is better than a few I have had experience with but I struggled with the lag between photos. You really can’t appreciate how amazing an OVF is until you have used and EVF. With an OVF you can see everything all the time. I am reasonably particular when composing with a Leica camera but I noticed after seeing the Lumix photos on the computer that my composition (at the edges especially) was worse and less considered. I found with the LX100 that I started off using the EVF but later moved to using the LCD to focus instead. I guess I am now using the LCD to focus as if the camera was my iPhone rather than a ‘real’ camera. I found the LCD focusing approach more enjoyable than the EVF even if still a little foreign to me. It is early days with the LX100 camera so my preference may change.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Macro Photography
I used to love macro photography prior to specializing in portraiture and before I moved to Leica cameras. I miss macro work. Even my iPhone never lets me focus as close as I would like. The macro ability of the Lumix LX100 to me is perhaps it’s strongest feature focusing as close as 3cm at 24mm and giving beautifully shallow depth of field and bokeh that you might expect from a DSLR camera rather than a compact camera. Very impressed.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Flash Sync Speed
The LX100 camera with its leaf shutter lens boosts an amazing 1/2000 flash sync speed for apertures from f1.7 to f2.8 and 1/4000 flash sync speed for apertures f4-f16. I have yet to use this feature but it excites me a great deal. My Leica M 240 maximum flash sync speed is only 1/180 and even my digital Hasselblad is only 1/800. As a photographer that enjoys using off camera flash this is exciting stuff!
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Fills the Void
As I have quite a few cameras already, all of which are arguably ‘better’ and higher spec’d than the little Lumix LX100 how will it fit in. The Leica M240 is my main camera for everything, whether portrait sessions, fashion photography or Leica wedding photography. My other digital cameras are used from time to time, the Leica M8 at Leica weddings for example, the digital Hasselblad on bright days using strobes when size and weight is no issue and the Nikon D800 as a general backup camera. With a love for film cameras rather than digital I tend to use the Leica M240 to do a test shot and then often take the important photos with a film camera.
So the LX100. What can it bring to the table. Surprisingly a great deal for my needs. It might be clearer to list the uses I have in mind for my new Lumix.
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Uses for Me
More specifically detail photos of cameras and equipment for blogging and Instagram
Can take better photos than an iPhone and upload to social media without a computer
Test photos before shooting film
The LX100 is better than a light meter and smaller and lighter than a digital Leica
Behind the scenes photos/ videos
I can operate the LX100 camera with my iPhone to capture BTS footage
I enjoy teaching photography so will use the camera to capture more short videos
Whether of a model or otherwise it adds an extra dimension to my work
Small size so carry everywhere
I am more likely to carry this camera with me than any other because of the size
Great for my overseas trips where size and weight matters
Perfect for spontaneous and fun family photos that can be shared via Wifi
I will now use this as a digital backup camera for overseas model photography trips
A Leica camera is a serious piece of equipment whereas the Lumix is more a fun camera
The LX100 photos are to me good enough to use for my model photography shoots
The LX100 camera will now join me for wedding photography assignments too
Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Summary
As you can see I am quite impressed with the Panasonic Lumix LX100. Yes it is not Leica M quality but then it is not Leica M cost either. Every camera has their strengths and weaknesses and I look forward to using the Lumix LX100 for when the Leica M camera is less suited. I will write a follow up review once I have spent more time with the LX100 camera but exciting times ahead and I think new and different work coming soon to my Instagram feed (@MrLeicaCom).
Non-model Test Photos (Lightroom Exports)
Film vs. Digital
Using the micro four thirds sensor Lumix LX100 camera really lets me appreciate my film cameras. The resolution of even a classic grain film stock such as Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 still exceeds the resolution of the digital camera sensor at this level (from my own personal experience*). Don’t underestimate film if you have never used it! 🙂
Lumix – Full Circle
My first serious camera was the interchangeable lens Panasonic Lumix G1. I taught myself the basics of photography using the Lumix G1. I later bought a used Lumix G3 to try for a short period. Now onto the Lumix LX100!
Leica M8 – 10th Anniversary & A Decade Long Love Affair
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
You may have already seen it on Steve Huff’s blog today but below is a post to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Leica M8 – the first digital Leica M camera!
Co-written by Elie Bescont, Prosophos, Johannes Huwe, Olivier Morgand and I, we try to explain why the Leica M8 is still going strong 10 years on –
More Leica M8 images
Related Leica M8 Posts
1 Camera (M240) + 1 Slow Lens
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
Broken Leica M240
Last December I was shooting with my Leica M240 in Poland only to find it was misfocusing and needed recalibrating. The weeks past but I always had a need for my main workhorse camera, the Leica M240 so couldn’t part with it. I found if I used a 35mm lens and shot it at f4 I had sufficient depth to focus and get my subject sharp. As such the tiny Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 pancake lens became my do everything lens, every model photography trip and every Leica wedding photography shoot.
If you have seen my previous photography you may have noticed I love fast lenses, from my early Nikon days using lenses like the Samyang 85mm f1.4, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-S and Nikkor 200mm f2 Ai-S to some of my Leica-M mount lenses such as the Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5, Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH and of course the mighty Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. All those lenses shot wide open kind of dissolve the background to leave just the subject to catch the eye in the photo. You can pretty much shoot anything anywhere with a fast lens and it looks good and the look can’t be replicated with an iPhone.
To go from that way of shooting to suddenly having to shoot at f4 on a 35mm lens with most things in the photo in focus was a bit of a shock. I had to make ‘cool’ photos with everything in the photo in focus (or at least visible). Hmm!
Learning to shoot without shallow DOF
I found shooting with most things in focus helped me concentrate on trying to use better or more interesting light, stronger or different compositions and alternative camera angles in addition to working more closely with the models to try to fine tune their pose, look or expression. I am certainly far more picky now and often assist with applying makeup or styling suggestions to help try to make a stronger final image in camera. For a time I used the M240 for test shots then either shot the final image on film with say the Leica M6 or Hasselblad 501C or more recently warmed the model up with the Leica M240 then switched to the digital Hasselblad H3D-31.
Leica Germany Repair
I managed to finally send my Leica M240 off to the Leica Germany engineers for recalibration at the end of July 2016 and the camera was back with me in August looking literally brand new. I’m 99% sure it received more than just a recalibration and all under the Leica warranty scheme. I cannot speak highly enough of the Leica customer service and you certainly get what you pay for with Leica (in my experience).
What did I Learn?
I now have the novelty factor of being able to shoot fast lenses again on the Leica M240. I can also shoot a range of longer focal lengths again, 50mm, 75mm, 90mm and so on. Before the period of shooting with just a 35mm lens I regarded myself as a 50mm man. Coming out the other side I would say I’m probably equally 35mm or 50mm biased and do find 75mm and 90mm quite limiting with their tighter crop for regular use. Equally during my Leica Noctilux phase I shot everything at f1 regardless as to whether it was a flat brick wall or something against a distant backdrop. Shooting this week with the Noctilux I am shooting perhaps ‘smarter’ in that if a model is against a wall I might stop the lens down to f2 to improve the sharpness or if a subject is further away I might shoot at f1.4 to get a slightly crisper photo than just everything very soft. It is a battle of styles as I love super sharp such as the Hasselblad Zeiss 120mm Macro-Planar CF lens or the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO but also love pleasing bokeh and the painterly feel of say the Noctilux or Pre-ASPH Leica Summicron 90mm f2 shot wide open. It’s a balance and depends on the subject too.
It not ideal to have a semi-function main workhorse camera (or any camera to that matter!) but I don’t think it did me any harm overall. That said it is nice to be able to use all my Leica M mount lenses again. 🙂
Here are a few recent example images with the Leica M240 and Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 Color Skopar in Hamburg, Germany
Many more example images in my last Leica M240 post
Other Related Posts
Lomography.com – Petzval 85 Art
Matthew Osborne Photography/ @MrLeicaCom
Petzval 85 Art Lens – Nikon F Mount
The lovely people at Lomography.com kindly got in touch and lent me their Nikon mount brass Petzval 85 Art lens to try. Below is a link describing how I got on and here are some example images with Sophie and Charlotte (also included in link). All photos taken with my old Nikon D800.
..I have to say, the Petzval 85 Art makes Nikon D800 photos interesting so it’s good! (I say that as I struggled to get excited with my Nikon D800 photos on the whole hence my move to film and Leicas).
Petzval 85 Art
Lomography.com Magazine – MrLeica.com
Petzval 85 vs. Other Nikon Mount Fast Lenses
When using the Petzval 85 lens it reminded me of the overly soft photos captured from my Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens when shooting at f1.2. Here are a few examples as a comparison. I think the Petzval 85 is sharper wide open at f2.2 and has ‘better’ bokeh (meaning more character).
Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s
I then thought perhaps the Samyang 85mm f1.4 would be more comparable so here are a few samples. The Samyang 85 is pretty sharp wide open at f1.4 and a great lens but I think again the Petzval 85 lens bokeh has more character.
Samyang 85mm f1.4
Petzval 85 vs. Leica M Fast Lenses
Finally, as a Leica photographer it seems only right to include a few example photos with fast Leica lenses that are also soft(ish) focus shot wide open. The obvious lenses that spring to mind that I own are the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 and Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5.
Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2
Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Digital Hasselblad H3D-31 !!
Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom
Digital Hasselblad – Intro
As was the case with buying my first digital Leica M9 camera, I never ever thought I’d see the day that I bought a digital Hasselblad. I didn’t even lust after one after as I knew they cost like $40,000 for a new one (when released).
I was looking at some Hasselblad assesories for my Hasselblad V Series 501C film camera when I saw an unpriced second hand digital Hasselblad. I enquired to the store but it so happened that the camera was no longer for sale. That one sighting spiralled into 2-3 days of intense reading and research. I think I have watched every Hasselblad related video ever posted to YouTube! It certainly felt like that. I looked at the Hasselblad CFV-50C digital back for the older Hasselblad V System cameras and also the more recent Hasselblad H Series digital cameras. To cut an ever longer story short I found a few reasonably priced older digital Hasselblad cameras on eBay and put in a low bid only to have it accepted to my surprise!
Hasselblad H3D-31 Digital Camera
I am the very proud and excited new owner of a digital Hasselblad H3D-31 camera with 80mm f2.8 H series kit lens. The camera bundle I purchased also included a Hasselblad H series film back and a spare battery grip. This means for the first time I can shoot both digital and film on the same camera body / lens combo! My dream camera surely!
Hasselblad H3D-31 Camera Spec
As a brief overview I will summarise some of what I absorbed during my reading. The H Series Hasselblad camera system like the V Series camera system is completely modular. As with my analogue Hasselblad 501C camera the H3D-31 camera consists of the lens which is interchangeable, the viewfinder or prism, the camera body and the camera back. H3D relates to the camera body model. There was the H1D released in 2002, followed by a H2D, the H3D I have, then H3DII, H4D, H5D and the current model is a H6D. The Hasselblad digital back is where the technology has advanced the most and the numbers ’31’ in H3D-31 name relates to the digital back. 31 means 31 megapixels. There is a 39MP model ( H3D-39) which I considered and then newer digital backs such as the 40MP, 50MP, 60MP..
Why do I need a Digital Hasselblad?
Good question! I guess the honest answer is I don’t ‘need’ it so why did I buy one if I already have the digital Leica M 240 camera? As the months pass I am getting more and more obsessed with light and in particular adding artificial light to my model photography images using strobes. I always wish the Leica M 240 had a faster flash sync speed of greater than 1/180 but it doesn’t. I am spoilt by my Hasselblad 501C film camera that can sync with flash at 1/500. If you are not a strobist, what this basically equates to is I can dim daylight to a greater extend (such as on a bright day) then light the model with strobes. The Hasselblad H3D-31 lenses can sync at 1/800 so it will be like living the dream (and the newer Hasselblad ‘orange dot’ HC lenses sync at 1/1000 on my H3D and at 1/2000 on the latest H6D camera body).
The Hasselblad H3D-31 is certainly not the perfect camera so here are some pros and cons compared to my Leica M240.
Hasselblad H3D-31 vs. Leica M240 – Pros
- Larger digital sensor – giving a look more similar to medium format film than 35mm. More detail captured, more colour depth, texture and dynamic range (more steps of grey between absolute black and absolute white).
- Fast flash sync speed – 1/800+ on all lenses for my strobist work
- Shooting teathered – I can use a FireWire to connect the H3D-31 to a laptop to display images straight to a computer screen. This is great when shooting for clients and has become almost expected in the fashion industry. I plan to use the Hasselblad on location as much as possible and unteathered but at least I now have the option to connect to a laptop if requested.
- Retouching for magazine submissions and clients – the larger sensor captures more detail so I have more information to work with if retouching an image for a magazine spread. I would say medium format has become the industrial standard for fashion and beauty images over the last five years.
- Interchangeable digital back and film back – being able to shoot both film and digital on the same camera body is one less camera to carry around. I love black and white film but if I’m honest I think for colour images I get better results with digital. I always favour my Hasselblad 501C over my Leica M 240 for the special / key photos with models but the processing time to develop film on mass is quite a time burden when I have clients waiting. The digital Hasselblad H3D-31 will speed up my workflow and capture high quality images.
- Modular Hasselblad system – being Mr Leica some people may ask why I didn’t buy a Leica S2 for the superior image quality verses the Leica M 240? I like the Hasseblad H System because it is modular. As technology continues to advance at the rapid pace looking ahead I can use the same lenses, prism and camera body and just upgrade the digital back. This was a big plus for me as I didn’t want to invest in a camera that would become worthless in a few years.
Hasselblad H3D-31 vs. Leica M240 – Cons
- Expensive camera system – most things associated to Hasselblad (like Leica) are expensive but for digital Hasselblad even more so. Whether a spare battery, a lens or a digital back, it is crazy expensive.
- Useable ISO – I’m told by owners of H3D-31 cameras that they rarely go above ISO 100/200 but 400 is possible. In contrast, the Leica M 240 is happy at ISO 3200.
- Big and heavy – I’ve done the maths and I calculate that the digital Hasselblad H3D-31 weighs the same as my current Hasselblad 501C setup with prism and both cameras with the 80mm kit lens. It is certainly not a pocket camera but I can still carry it in 8kg hand luggage overseas.
- Close focus – the original plan was to buy a H3D-31 (or H3D-39) camera body (only) and then buy the amazing Hasselblad Makro-Planar 120mm f4 lens for close focus and overall good sharpness/ contrast. As I got a good deal with the smaller lighter 80mm kit lens I will start with this setup and look to get a good deal on a 120mm lens going forward. The inability to focus closer easily with the Leica M240 always bugs me.
- Bigger file size – will fill memory cards and computer hard drives faster but I think I will shoot less and use my film photography mentality when shooting. I don’t mean under shoot but think more before pressing the shutter. That can only continue to be a good approach and the polar opposite to the machine gun approach of some DSLR shooters.
To sum up the Hasselblad H3D-31 purchase, I bought it to continue my progression towards the world of fashion photography and to take me and my photography to where I want to be. I continue to aim to make the best possible images and I think the detail captured can only benefit me. I understand a good photographer can use any camera to make a great images, even an iPhone, but the fast sync speed and different look of the image gained are specific to my own needs and will give a look I cannot achive at the moment.
I bought the Hasselblad H3D-31 camera ahead of a model photography trip to Budapest, Hungary. I have just returned from a long weekend away so I will write a follow up post soon to give my first thoughts of the Hasselblad and also some sample images!
Hasselblad H3D-31 User’s Manual
Amateur Photographer Magazine – Vintage Legacy – 23 April 2016
Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom
Amateur Photographer Magazine
Vintage lenses on modern cameras
I wrote a six page article for the UK Amateur Photographer Magazine (23 April 2016 issue) on using old “legacy” lenses on modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras. (*This does not include rangefinder cameras without Live View such as the Leica M8 and Leica M9).
Rather than repeat myself I have linked the full article below.
The images used for the article are quite old as they date back to my pre-Leica days when I was using a Nikon D800 DSLR, 2012-2013 mostly I think.
Here is a more recent photo using the same equipment with Stacey
The article also describes a photography technique which was my norm before I moved to Leica cameras and that was “Freelensing”. I have written an article on this in the past so I have linked it below for perhaps better image examples.
Old habits die hard
Shortly after the article was published I was explaining to model Elle how freelensing works. As a result here is freelensing image from a few weeks ago before I went to Poland.
Freelensing on film
Finally, here are a few freelensing photos closer to my heart. They are all shot on film cameras with model Tegan. (My apologies for the grain! It was expired film).