Leica vs Hasselblad vs Mamiya – Tenerife Photoshoot!
August 2018 (from May 2018)
My first model photography trip to Tenerife was in September 2017 which was just me and model Lindsay. I then went again in January 2018 in a small group. After the first two trips I felt the photos were generally better when I worked 1-2-1 with one model and when we were both solely focused on making good pictures without other distractions.
This Tenerife photoshoot would again be 1-2-1 and this time with Polish model Aneta. We are both very results driven and hard working so I expected non-stop photos for the full 3 days. Writing this blog on the flight home this was an understatement ha. Aneta’s wish list and supply of clothes was endless and even using almost every hour of daylight each day we still probably needed at least 1-2 more days to do all we wanted to do.
Rather than split it into three days and say what we did each day I will just talk more about the cameras (as the days blurred together).
- Digital Leica M240 camera body
- Leica M3 35mm film camera body
- Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm f4 lens
- Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens
- Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
- Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
- Leica Macro-Elmer-M 90mm f4 lens
- LUMIX Lx100 / Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (backup)
- Hasselblad 500CM 6×6 film camera + WLF
- Hasselblad Acute Matte D Split prism focus screen
- Hasselblad Acute Matte cross hair focus screen
- Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
- Zeiss Planar 60mm f3.5 CF lens
- Hasselblad SWC-M 6×6 film camera (fixed Zeiss Biogon 38mm f4.5 CF lens)
- Hasselblad A12 film back (6×6)
- Hasselblad A16 film back (645)
- Mamiya 6 6×6 film camera
- 35mm Kodak Vision 3 50D
- 35mm Kodak Vision 3 500T
- 120 Fomapan 100
- 120 Ilford HP5 400
- 120 Fuji Neopan Acros 100
- 120 Kodak Portra 160
- 120 Kodak Ektar 100
Medium format cameras
As you may have spotted from my camera bag list I brought a lot (and that was after weeks of trying to decide what to take). For this trip I will wanted to focus more on medium format film and just have one 35mm camera for fun photos (or fast snaps or as a colour alternative if the 6×6 cameras were shooting black and white film.
I expected to use the Mamiya 6 camera the most and Hasselblad SWC-M the least. The opposite was in fact true and I used the SWC-M the most. The Hasselblad 500CM was somewhere in between. I’m not sure the results will be any good using the SWC-M but I got a great workflow going and just loved the size of the camera and point and shoot (almost) approach. My method was to measure the distance with a Leica camera rangefinder then read the distance off the Leica lens then dial it in on the SWC-M lens, copy the exposure setting, compose and click. I took the Mamiya 6 rangefinder camera to work quickly with on location and to capture more environmental portraits. I took the Hasselblad 500CM mostly to work in close to the model (using the cross hair focus screen) but also a few shots from a distance with the split prism focus screen. I find neither screen works as well for both situations (for the mentioned styles of photography, for me). Ie. split prism screen up close I struggle with and cross hair screen from distance I can’t see to focus accurately.
I took the Hasselblad SWC-M instead of a 4×5 film camera believe it or not but it didn’t pan out like that. I planned to shoot carefully composed images on a tripod but it was 99% handheld rushed photos, trying to catch a nice pose before Aneta moved. I found my eyes were naturally seeing wider scenes than the Mamiya 6 75mm lens or Hasselblad 500CM 60mm lens could capture. I don’t think the wide lens necessary suited every image I shot but I’m super excited to see the results. The fixed 38mm f4.5 Zeiss Biogon lens (35mm 21mm equivalent) is extremely well regarded yet I’ve not used the camera as much as I had hoped. Maybe I will going forward now I’ve got my own method of using the camera. Fingers crossed!
The 4×5 Camera Effect
One thing I really noticed in Tenerife this time but also at home is after buying the Intrepid 4×5 camera and viewing a lot of 4×5 film images on Instagram, I find I want to shoot nice light on pretty much any subject. Most often buildings. Aneta was getting changed and I found myself photographing the hotel corridor, the outside of the hotel, off the balcony and even a half cooked approached at long exposure night photography. The Hasselblad SWC-M and a 4×5 view camera are obviously very different beasts but the SWC-M feels like my new pocket 4×5 camera somehow (you would need a big pocket but vs. a 4×5 camera and tripod the SWC handheld is quick and easy and portable and yet hopefully still captures quite nice photos for those landscape or building shots.
I will certainly pack the SWC-M as my first medium format camera for future overseas photoshoots and next time I will try to make time to take more non-model photos with it. (Taking a few location shots this trip was better than I normally do and also it provides a nice visual memory of the location I was at rather than a sequence of model faces that could have been shot anywhere (sometimes the case for me)). So I guess the bad news for people that follow me for the “nice” girls photos is more non-girls photos to come this year but for anyone that appreciates general photography hopefully I will capture a few photogenic scenes.
Hasselblad A16 (645) Film back
What caught me out the most in Tenerife this time was juggling a 6×6 standard Hasselblad A12 film back with the crop 645 Hasselblad A16 back between the Hasselblad 500CM and SWC-M cameras. So many times I forgot I was using the 645 crop back and composed for the 6×6 square view I saw on the focus screen. I think I will lose a few shots sadly with chopped off head and feet but hopefully not to many. (My fault for trying working fast with 3-4 cameras at once).
The 645 back also gave problems where I wanted to shoot vertical crops so had the Hasselblad 500CM on it’s side using the WLF ‘cack-handed’ (feeling upside down and back to front while trying to compose). I was using one Hasselblad back with 120 B&W film and the other film back with 120 colour film to start with but at one stage both backs were shooting black and white.
I was using two different B&W film stocks so again I got myself confused and metered the wrong exposure for some photos. I shot all the colour 120 film I took and a lot of black and white too so hopefully I will get some nice ones even after all the errors I know about. I shot 8 rolls of 120 film in total which is good for recent times (and 4 rolls of 35mm film). It was great to have a good model I enjoy shooting with to ‘invest’ in shooting 120 film with. I’m getting picky in my old age so it needs to be deemed portfolio worthy in my eyes to shoot 120 film. It is too expensive and time consuming to develop to shoot photos that I will never use.
Ilford HP5 Pushed to 1600
I accidentally found results on Flickr of Ilford HP5 being pushed to ISO 3200 and with fantastic results. I bought some HP5 to take to Tenerife solely to use to be pushed. Sadly as it was so bright in the daytime I only pushed the HP5 to 1600. I will see the results and then try pushing to 3200 next time if the 1600 look is very useable.
Leica M3 Film
Originally I planned to take two film Leica bodies but then realized I only have two pairs of hands so didn’t need to take even more cameras. I wanted to shoot mostly 120 film and I only shoot film when I think a digital photo looks worthy of shooting on film. (This can result in very few film images or it can result in lots of film photos like on this trip. It depends on the model and the available light).
As I shot most of the colour 120 film quite early into the trip I was glad to have 35mm colour film as a backup. The Leica M3 was without doubt the fastest film camera to operate and is always a joy to use. For fast pace model photography it is just perfect. It has 50mm framelines but I shot a lot with wider lenses too (35mm mostly) and used an external viewfinder to focus (or just guessed). Hopefully even if I screwed up a few 120 film shots I got others on 35mm film.
Leica M240 Camera
The digital Leica M240 was my main camera for Tenerife. I packed a few different Leica M lenses as they are all relatively small and gave me options for different styles of photos. The most used lens was the 35mm Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 I think so I must of being seeing the world as a wider scene. I did use the 90mm Macro-Elmer more on the last day too.
No Flash / Available Light Only
For once I packing no additional lighting at all. Not even a single speedlight. I didn’t even use a reflector (not once). (That is probably why I had the extra luggage capacity to take so many cameras!). The weather was not blue sky sunshine much of the time and we even had a little rain one day but I enjoyed working just with available light and it was bright most of the time. I think these Tenerife model photography photos may have a slightly different look to my norm as I normally use a lot of lights in my photography. I enjoyed the simplicity and speed of working with daylight and I think it makes you work a location harder when using exiting light rather than just making artificial light wherever you want it. Both lighting scenarios have there pros and cons of course but for me different is interesting and fun.
I have worked with Aneta a few times now after she first approached me via email. We work well together and she knows how I operate and I know she is there to get the results she needs. Aneta did an amazing job bringing lots of nice clothes after weeks of me email her suggestions and photo ideas (plus her finding her own ideas too). Aneta always looks good to me but she put in the additional physical training ahead of our shoot to look at her best for Tenerife. That meant that pretty much every item of clothing looked good, very good or just made your eyeballs pop out on stalks! I was so happy I made the choice to shoot higher resolution 120 medium format film as some images I think I will look back on forever. Hopefully timeless classics and where only a few models I know could produce the same image.
Aneta is very body confident and for some photos I need that confidence combined with the amazing physical form. Helmet Newton came to mind when I was shooting some of the photos. I’m not one of these photographers that lies naked girls on a car bonnet or sit them on a motorbike (not my thing) but like Helmut Newton, sometimes some nudity can look amazing and I think it celebrates the female form. I hope Aneta can look back on some of the photos when she is old and enjoy seeing herself at her physical peak. Equally I never saw myself shooting nudes or mostly nude photos a few years ago! I just seem numb to it now so that might be why some of my Flickr or Instagram model photography photos are racier than they once were. Hopefully still tasteful though.
Aneta and I did well in trying to use as many different backdrops as possible during the 3 days. A polar opposite to some of my past model photography shoots in Poland where many girls were shot against a white hotel wall (often due to rain outside and limited daylight). Hopefully that will add to the interest and variety in the photos even with the same model. My brain is a bit fried after 3 busy days but I think from memory the balcony shots might be the ones I am most likely to print. I want to start printing more of my work so I hope I got the results I needed. Coming soon.
Next Time – What would I do differently
If I think positive and the photos are as good as I saw through the film cameras, next time I won’t change my setup too much. I will leave the Mamiya 6 camera behind and the Zeiss 60mm lens and use the Two Hasselblad cameras both with A12 6×6 film backs. I would take the Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 for the Leica M3 as I rarely shot the Summilux wide open at f1.4. The Summarit is a smaller lens and balances much nicer on a film Leica camera body. Lastly I would take more colour film as I enjoyed shooting some colour for a change (I shoot mostly black and white film on grey days in the UK and in the studio).
Whatever the film photo results, thanks Aneta, I think we both gave it our all and some of the digital photos we’ve taken looked amazing on the Leica M240 LCD. Aneta pushed me by giving me scenarios she wanted me to photograph (that I may not have thought of) so I think I come away a stronger photographer (and I never stop learning using my various film cameras).
As it takes me time to develop and process film photos I will start to post the “blog diary” type post first, as here, with a few digital sample photos, and then share follow up posts containing the film photos at a later date. As it is a few months now since this trip to Tenerife I have included a few teaser film photos too which I will share again in the film specific blog posts to come. (I have yet to develop the 35mm colour film so have that to look forward to!).
- Tenerife 1 – Lindsay
- Tenerife 2 – Group Shoot
- Hasselblad SWC-M
- Hasselblad 501C / 500CM
- Mamiya 6
- Leica M3
- Intrepid 4×5 Camera – to follow