Hasselblad 500C – Camera PinUp!
6×6 Medium Format Film Photography – Matthew Osborne Photography
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! 🙂