Leica – Hasselblad Wedding Photography Gear
(The Ultimate Partnership!)
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
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
Hasselblad 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 – 2 Bags!
Camera bag. My kit could be split into 2. The Hasselblad camera kit bag and the Leica M camera kit bag.
Hasselblad Wedding Photography Gear
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
Hasselblad Wedding 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.
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.
- 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).
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.
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.
4 thoughts on “Leica – Hasselblad Wedding Photography Gear”
Gotta love that Zeiss 80mm Planar and the square is classic. Matt, do think it’s feasible to shoot a wedding with two Leica M film cameras given the lack of light we get in the UK. I know that’s what people did before digital but this age of high ISO and stabilisation makes me wonder. I’m thinking Portra 400 and a 400 BW, although I’ve seen good results with Delta3200 🙂 cheers!
Hi Dave, yes for film weddings I would not hesitate to use 2 film Ms. Yes pick your film according to the light and use fast lenses (f1.4s) and you will be fine. Yep loving the 6×6 film images at the moment. I can certainly recommend a Hasselblad if you like Leica. They have a similar amazing build and feel to them. Cheers 😉
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