Hasselblad Portraits – Hamburg Models
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
*(I will add more photos to this post as I process the film so you might want to check back in a month or so if interested).
*(I will add more photos to this post as I process the film so you might want to check back in a month or so if interested).
I managed to fit in another model photography trip to Budapest before Christmas after a successful trip there back in June. For the last visit I had just purchased my digital Hasselblad H3D-31 so took the Hassy together with my trusty Leica M240 camera. As such I had no space for any of my analogue film cameras. After the initial digital Hasselblad honeymoon period I was soon back to my love of film.
For this trip I had lots of cameras I wanted to take but as usual I was limited by my hand luggage capacity. The first must pack camera was of course the digital Leica M 240 so I could capture digital images to give to the models and model agency. Next was a 35mm film camera so I packed my Leica M2 with Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens. For the M2 I took colour Kodak Vision3 200T motion picture film and some black and white film, Fomapan 100 and Kodak T-Max 400. Next camera was my newly purchased Fuji GA645 medium format film camera. My first GA645 developed an electrical fault so I bought a replacement. It packs small and has a super sharp 60mm f4 lens. Lastly I was split between my 35mm Nikon FM SLR or my Fuji GF670 folding camera. I wanted to give my GF670 another chance so chose that as like the Fuji GA645 it packs small and has a super sharp Fujion lens. For 120 film I took black and white Kodak Tri-X 400 and Fomapan 100 film.
I like to be busy so booked 11 model shoots over my 2.5 day stay. It was a mix of agency models with international experience and model friends with a similar interest in photos. Overall the standard of models looked to be some of best I have yet to work with and it included two recent Miss Universe Hungary winners! NumberOne Models Group model agency kindly provided all the new-to-me models for this trip. Excited!
I booked an apartment in central Budapest to use as both a base and also for photos if needed. November in Hungary is pretty cold and temperatures were not forecast to exceed more than a few degrees Celsius. That said, it was at least forecast to be dry so better than the current wet weather we have been having in the U.K!
I bring it on myself but day one was fast and furious. I had arrived into Budapest late so had not had chance to go food shopping then the first models arrived Sunday morning before the shops opened. I shot five models back to back the first day and managed to dash out quickly at 5pm between models to buy a quick Burger King late breakfast/lunch/dinner rolled into one. The weather was indeed cold so nearly all the photos were taken in the apartment. This really pushed my creativity limits, trying to use the same space to make different pictures for each model. It was also dark by 4pm so I had to use a speedlight for the evening photos. The light levels even during the day were really low inside so I was using both Leica cameras with their Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm and 35mm lenses wide open at f1.4 and with shutter speeds of 1/15-1/60 handheld. I had high hopes to use my medium format cameras more but there was just so little available light I couldn’t. I did try a few photos with the lenses wide open at f3.5 / f4 and again with shutter speeds as low as 1/15 and shooting ISO 400 film at 800 and 100 speed Foma at 400. What little daylight I had really was beautiful and I loved every minute of shooting on location and being out of the studio. If money was no object I would be a 100% location shooter. I find it much more stimulating and inspiring.
Day two was pretty similar to day one in terms of when I was shooting inside the apartment but the pace was more relaxed having only four models not five. The upside was I got to shoot outside with two of the models so it was really nice to see beyond the four walls of my pad and some of the local area. I also got to play with colour a more after mostly black and white photos inside.
For my last day I had to check out by 10am so we shot inside first then outside. For the inside photos again there was some overlap of styles I had shot with other models but the models themselves hopefully got some nice pictures. I think I had used every inch of available light space by the end of the trip! The last photos of the last day were perhaps the most crazy. We climbed out the luxury apartment window of the city centre model agency head office onto the scaffolding platform outside. I proceeded to shoot a series of images whilst the model smoked three cigarettes in quick succession and then we clambered back in through the window we came from. All in the name of art! Surprisingly after the initial shout of I guess ‘what are you doing?’ in Hungarian from the workmen we simply said “jó reggelt” (good morning in Hungarian) as the workmen manovered past us on the scaffolding planks as they just smiled went about their work.
I always strive to improve my photography with every shoot I do. I realize this is not always possible but I like to be constantly learning and pushing myself to keep it interesting and fresh. For me a good photo, in model photography terms, needs three key elements. A beautiful model lit with beautiful light positioned in an interesting location (just my thoughts) and the forth would be some kind of feeling, story or emotion capured in the image. The standard of models for this visit exceeded all expectations and the beauty before me was so mind boggling at times I think I giggled like a small child. I tried to use the window light we had inside to excentuate this beauty yet further and make model / pose fit the surroundings. There was only so many angles I could shoot at to use this light but I would like to think I tried most of them!
From the Leica M240 LCD preview I am hopeful I captured some nice images that are sharp enough to share. It is fingers and toes crossed for the film photo results as I was pushing both the film and my hands to limits taking photos frequently as slow as 1/15 and 1/30 second. I was disappointed I could not shoot the medium format cameras more, especially the Fuji GF670 where I only shot one roll and even then had to finish it at the airport. I did use the Fuji GA645 a bit more but a lot of it was with the speedlight so I think the results will be less dramatic than those shot using only available light. I was happy with both the Leica M2 and Leica M240. I found even the 40mm Voigtlander too telephoto at times so I have certainly become more of a 35mm man than a 50mm shooter. I didn’t miss a 50mm once and I even wanted to go wider such as a 28mm or 25mm. Next time maybe!
A huge thanks to all the models who gave up their valuable free time for photos and to Andrea at NumberOne Models Group who helped facilitate everything and even modelled again. Models Tamara, Natalia, Niki, Kyra, Dora, Petra, Rebeka, Eszter and Francesca, THANK YOU!
New images coming soon!
P.S. To put in perspective quite how much I was on cloud 9 after this trip, I managed to completely miss my flight home and worse still didn’t really seem to care. It wasn’t going to spoil my day. I just wrote this article while I waited and had a coffee. 🙂
(Hasselblad 501C + 50mm, 60mm, 80mm, 120mm, 150mm lenses)
(Mamiya 6 + 75mm lens)
Firstly, sorry for the delay on this! I know a few of you asked me about it weeks ago and I said then I’d share my thoughts soon. At least waiting til after two trips overseas using the Mamiya 6 I can now give a fair writeup versus my Hasselblad 501C. As a quick recap I recently bought the Mamiya 6 to provide a smaller alternative to my 500 series Hasselblad for trips abroad (especially). Both cameras are 6×6 medium format film cameras taking 120 film. Both camera are roughly the same price with the Mamiya 6 probably costing slightly more here in the UK due to there being not many Mamiya 6 cameras on the market. My Hasselblad 501C was my favourite camera before buying the Mamiya 6 so expectation was very high. Both cameras seem to receive positive reviews from reading prior to my purchase so without further ado lets crack on.
I love the modular 500 series Hasselblad cameras but I only use mine with a prism viewfinder which unfortunately adds both size and weight. I wish I could focus accurately without the prism finder but I really cannot see properly with Acute Matte non-spot screen glass. It is perhaps my biggest disappointment with the Hasselblad as I love the waist level viewfinder view / experience on my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera. The Hasselblad 80mm kit lens is the most compact followed by the 100mm from those I have owned. My go to lenses are the 60mm Distagon (second shortest of my Zeiss lenses and gives a very usable field of view) and 120mm Makro-Planar for close up portraits and ultimate image quality (more on that to follow below). The Hasselblad has the advantage of a removable film back so I can use two film backs and have colour film and black and white film running side by side without having to finish a roll. My Mamiya 6 has the 75mm lens which is the smallest of the 50mm, 75mm and 150mm lens line up. The Mamiya 6 design allows the lens to partially retract when not in use making the camera small enough to fit in my Leica M camera bag. The bag I use is a Billingham Hadley Digital and the Mamiya 6 will just fit with lens down into the bag. The size benefit of the Mamiya 6 is not to be under estimated.
Being ‘Mr Leica’ is it perhaps no surprise that I love rangefinder style cameras. The Mamiya 6 like the Leica M cameras is a rangefinder focus design and I love the fact that I have a definitive focus confirmation regardless of the F stop. I am a little short sighted and wear prescription glasses for driving but not when using cameras. As such I enjoy knowing that a subject is in focus with a rangefinder when the subject is further away. That said my biggest complaint of rangefinder cameras is I cannot focus as close as I would like. Leica M cameras are my bread and butter so it is just normal for me to not be able to focus at a distance closer than 0.7m. If I then add a Hasselblad 501C to the mix you can imagine my joy when I can focus in really close, especially with the Zeiss 120mm Makro-Planar lens. I love nothing more than viewing subject through the big bright Hasselblad viewfinder. If I could see every day life with the same view the Hasselblad gives I think the world would be a more beautiful place!
The Mamiya 6 rangefinder design lets me work at slower shutter speeds / lower light levels at the same aperture as it has no mirror to flap inside causing vibration. I have shot the Mamiya 6 at a shutter speed of 1/8-1/15 and got a decent photo handheld. I tend to use the Hasselblad handheld too for ease and shoot normally at a shutter speed of 1/60-1/125 with the light levels I am in. That said, if I am honest to myself I think I can get more and sharper photos if go back to using a monopod. I plan to try using a monopod again to compare results. Sometimes I am not sure if I moved or the model moved when using a very shallow depth of field and the eyes are not as sharp as I want. I find the Hasselblad tends to pull me in perhaps too close at times resulting in many close up portraits. The Mamiya 6 on the other hand let me work easily at a distance giving images with a different style and lets me make better use of the location.
The main section of this post and to me what it all boils down to is image quality and more specifically for me image sharpness. The Hasselblad had set the bench mark very high so the Mamiya 6 had a lot to live up to. When I read ‘film vs digital’ reviews online the film camera used is often a Mamiya 7 as perhaps the best example camera film can offer in terms of sharpness, say (excluding large format). To my knowledge the image quality of Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7 lenses is not noticeably different. As such I expected very good results from the Mamiya 6. To explain further and to cover myself, the Mamiya 6 photos / experience / review is based on the 75mm lenses I own. The Hasselblad has an advantage as I have the Zeiss 50mm Distagon CF, 60mm Distagon CF, 80mm Planar CF, 120mm Makro-Planar CF and 150mm Sonnar CF lenses. I have also owned the Zeiss 100mm Planar CF lens. If I have to place these lenses in order of sharpness I would say 120mm first, 50mm/60mm/100mm about equal (without thorough testing), 150mm and lastly the 80mm. I am rarely happy with the results from my 80mm lenses. The 150mm Sonnar gives a completely different look to the other lenses, a less fine more buttery smooth image. My conclusions of the Hasselblad 501C performance is based on the 60mm/120mm lenses that I use most often.
So how does the image sharpness compare between the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6. The Mamiya 6 does produce fine grained (if I can describe it like that, regardless of film stock) sharp images with lots of detail captured, with the lens shot wide open or stopped down. It is perhaps comparable to a sharp digital image in that the image is flat but sharp. I find it good for further away subjects especially like full body shots. The Hasselblad 501C and it’s Zeiss lenses produces a different sharpness. The next few sentences may make some readers cringe as they have read it a 100 times but I cannot describe it any more accurately. The Zeiss optics on the Hasselblad camera make an image ‘pop’. There is a lot written online about the mystically Zeiss 3D pop look but it is just fact in this instance. The Mamiya 6 photos are very flat and to me lack the wow factor. They are documentary style photos accurately capturing the detail in the scene but they lack the zing. I don’t take photos to capture ordinary. I try to create the extra-ordinary as cheesy as that sounds!
Fluff aside, how do the Hasselblad photos differ and perhaps why? It seems the Zeiss optics have greater micro-contrast which helps give the apparent additional sharpness. The Zeiss optics focus closer which gives a shallower depth of field at the same given aperture helping to give the 3D look. Focusing closer can increase image distortion with wider lenses which can also give a kind of 3D look to an image. Focusing closer to a face naturally lets me see every eye lash and skin pore using the Hasselblad that I can’t see as closely with the Mamiya 6 as I am too far away. As such the Hasselblad photos look sharper to my eyes.
With all the excuses aside, I am 99.99% sure that my Hasselblad photos are a bit or a lot sharper than the Mamiya 6 photos. Some Hasselblad negatives need no additional sharpening after scanning whereas I think I always boost sharpness with the Mamiya 6 film scans. I tend to process all my film scans to bring out the sharpness in a image regardless of the camera I use. All the example photos below have been processed but it is worth noting that each photos is probably as sharp as I can get it without introducing additional grain / over doing it (too much)(to my eyes / taste).
Based on the cameras and lenses I use and the resulting photos I would say the Hasselblad 501C camera images appear sharper that the Mamiya 6. I will also say the Hasselblad Zeiss optics render images in a much more pleasing way, to my eyes and taste. I prefer the Hasselblad camera for close up portraits and when working within up to say 1.5m distance. The Mamiya 6 for me is still a keeper due to it’s compact size, rangefinder focus system and being sharp enough for me to use happily. It is not always possible to carry the Hasselblad with me when working with models overseas so the Mamiya 6 is my next best option. If carrying gear was no option I would take both cameras to a shoot and use the Hasselblad for <1m photos and the Mamiya 6 for those at a greater distance. I would perhaps get the Mamiya 6 50mm f4 G lenses for wide shots and have the 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar on the Hasselblad. This combination would also suit me well for film wedding photography for my style of working.
I am not interested by a Mamiya 7 as I prefer the 6×6 film format of the Mamiya 6 (versus 6×7) and the retractable lenses of the Mamiya 6.
Below are lots of example images using the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6 with different models, different film, different light so you can make up your own mind on what camera produces the ‘nicer’ images to your taste. I have also included a sneak peek of a few images to come from my Poland and Ukraine trips as I didn’t have enough examples photos from the Mamiya 6 in the UK.
I did a shoot with Stacey recently in my home studio in Coventry UK. I decided to shoot my Leica M6 35mm film camera up against the medium format 6×6 Hasselblad 501C film camera. To give the Leica M6 rangefinder a fighting chance I loaded it with the super fine Ilford Pan F 50 film and attached the super sharp Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens. I did do a few wider shots with the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii lens which is also nice and sharp. The Hasselblad was already loaded with Kodak Tri-X 400 but for some reason I thought it had Fomapan 100 film is so shot the roll of Tri-X 400@100 and developed accordingly Both rolls of film were developed in Xtol developer. Click any photo for more details.
Here is a sample of the film scans:
I was also using my digital Leica M8 for the shoot and it still impresses me as to how film like the Leica CCD sensor appears. Here are a few examples.
I think the Leica M6 was at the top of it’s game and thanks to the choice of Ilford Pan F 50 film. I actually preferred the Leica M6 photos on the whole to that of the Hasselblad. That is quite an achievement as the Hasselblad has done nothing but impress me since my purchase. The real test will be using the Hasselblad 501C + Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens + 120 Ilford Pan F 50 film for sharp lens and super fine grain film. That said, it’s great to remind myself of how good the little 35mm Leica film cameras can be.
Big thanks to Stacey for putting up with my usual array of quirky cameras pointing at her! 🙂
In December 2015 I took my Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera to teach a 1-2-1 model photography workshop for a week in New York. I took two Hasselblad lenses; a Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF lens and a Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF lens. I took all photos on 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film which was then developed at home in Xtol and scanned with an Epson v800 flatbed scanner.
Here is a selection of 6×6 Hasselblad portraits from the models we worked with on the first of two photography workshop weeks in New York. Click any photos for more details about the model, lens and developing.
I have used and still use many different film cameras and digital cameras and I think my 500 Series Hasselblad is the best of the best. I enjoy using the Hasselblad and I love how it makes and ordinary scene look really special with minimal effort. Some of my film photos may look perhaps over edited but in reality all I do is adjust contrast, sharpness and remove dust specks to the majority. The Hasselblad does the rest.
I do like the small size and convenience of Leica cameras (as seen on the second NYC workshop) but when I revisit Hasselblad portrait photos I think the extra effort involved is more than repaid by higher image quality. By this I mean the weight and bulk of the Hasselblad camera (and if I use a monopod too) is worth the effort as I get higher resolution images from the medium format film and Zeiss lens combination. Medium format gives me sharper sharp areas and softer soft areas next to each other all in the same photo. With 35mm I can have soft or sharp, not both in the same image. The Hasselblad XPan 35mm rangefinder camera bridges the gap with resolution to match a 6×7 panoramic 120 film image yet shot on 35mm film. An awesome combination that you will see much more of!
Colour film Hasselblad portrait photos still to come from NYC plus all those photos with the Leica M3, M6, M8 and XPan on the second trip.
I have owned my Mamiya RZ67 medium format film camera since summer 2013 but have only recently bought my Hasselblad 501C. Here is some more information on each camera system and then a few example images.
Over the last two years I have done Mamiya RZ67 fashion photography, Mamiya RZ67 wedding photography and Mamiya RZ67 Polaroid photos. I have a selection of Mamiya Sekor lenses for the RZ; 65mm f4, 90mm f3.5, 110mm f2.8 (my favourite lens on the RZ) and the 180mm f4.5. I also bought different film backs for the Mamiya; RZ 645 film back, RZ 6×6 film back, standard 6×7 film backs and lastly a Polaroid film back. To focus the RZ67 I use the big and bright waist level viewfinder and until this experiment I have only shot the RZ handheld.
If you have read my recent blog posts you will be aware of my Hasselblad v-system camera equipment but to recap I use the following Hasselblad lenses; Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF, Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF, Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF, Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF and I use two 6×6 Hasselblad A12 film back. To focus I use a Hasselblad 45 degree prism finder and try to use the Hasselblad on a monopod for the sharpest possible photos. I have a waist level viewfinder but found it very difficult to focus with the acute matte screen (without split prism). In the last few months since purchase I have already done a Hasselblad wedding and Hasselblad fashion photography. I absolutely love the Hasselblad portraits with the 6×6 crop factor and can honestly say that I think the Hasselblad has had more beneficial impact on my photography than any other camera.
I have always loved the big bright RZ viewfinder and 6×7 rotating film back. The 110mm f2.8 lens give both sharpness and a shallow depth of field. The size and weight of the Mamiya RZ has not deterred me but that said I have not used it a huge amount and it has never been overseas on model photography trips. I have always been happy with image sharpness and camera handling. One of the features I like the most on the RZ is the bellows focusing system as I can get as close as I want to my subject without the need of additional extension tubes. Perhaps my only complaint is the fact that the Mamiya RZ requires a battery. I found I used the RZ more without a battery and at the 1/400 fixed shutter speed. The Mamiya RZ is great for 6×6 Polaroid photos and I like how the image is captured in the centre of the film rather than being offset. I have used the Mamiya RZ with Polaroid back for events and the Polaroid photos produced are great. I always used the RZ handheld and never really thought to do any different despite the weight.
From my recent blog posts and the rave reviews you may have noticed that I am a huge fan of the Hasselblad camera. I really struggled to focus with the original waist level viewfinder but now I am happy using the 45 degree prism finder. My favourite lens is the super sharp Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens as it lets me focus closer than the 80mm Planar kit lens and is incredibly sharp. As such I have hardly used the 80mm kit lens that most people seem to keep on their Hasselblad 500 series cameras. The Hasselblad is smaller (lighter and more compact) than the Mamiya RZ and as such it has already been overseas with me to Poland for model photography location shoots. The Hasselblad is 100% mechanical so requires no batteries which I love and the build quality is on a par with my Leica M3 film cameras (I think). It is a very rewarding camera to use!
As I own both cameras I was interested to compare the Hasselblad 501C to the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. Here are a few images from each camera from my shoot with Julie in the studio. All photos werer shot on expired 120 Ilford Delta 100 film and developed in Kodak Xtol developer. Film negatives were scanned with a Epson v800 scanner and finished in Photoshop. Both cameras were used on monopods to make it a fair test. I fitted the Mamiya RZ with a 6×6 film back so both cameras were 6×6 format. Click on any photo to see the lens used and additional information.
Both the Hasselblad and Mamiya RZ67 camera systems are capable of producing very sharp images and I cannot call a clear winner here. As such I think it comes down to what camera I enjoy using more. The Hasselblad is smaller, lighter, arguably better built but also more expensive than the RZ. If you are on a tight budget I would say you can capture equally good photos with a Mamiya RZ but if you want a camera system for life I would get a Hasselblad everytime. The Hasselblad 501C will still be with me together with the Leica M3s for years to come where as I think the Mamiyas will come and go. That is my rose tinted 2 cents worth anyway.
Finally I can share a selection of Hasselblad portraits taken in Poland during my model photography trip last month. There are still plenty of film negatives I have not yet edited but here are some of my favourites so far. I have split the photos by film stock used. Details of camera lens, filters, camera setting, developing method and model can be obtained by clicking on the any photo.
All photos were taken with a Hasselblad 501C 6×6 medium format film camera and shot with available light only.
It is difficult for me to chose one film stock as a clear winner as conditions were different each day and each model has a certain look. As mentioned in a recent blog post, I think 120 Fomapan 100 Classic offers excellent value for money (being the cheapest film I used). I have just stocked up on 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 for the winter months and again I think it is an excellent film. One of my favourites. Kodak T-Max 400 was also a very strong performer and to be honest no film resulted in a sub-standard image. The expired Kodak Portra 160NC worked fine despite being out of date, without a foil wrapper and with an unknown storage history. In these photos I preferred the Kodak Portra 400 to the Portra 160 but that might just be the lighting. All in all I was happy with all the films chosen for the trip.
Big thanks to all the girls again – Agnieszka, Irmina, Natalia, Marta, Marta, Teresa, Weronika (as included here). With the help of these amazing models and my new Hasselblad 501C film camera I think I may have produced some of my best work to date. I travelled to Poland with less cameras and a clear goal which was to take fewer but hopefully higher standard photos. The Hasselblad seems to have helped me step up a gear with the quality of images I am now able to capture.
As always I cannot wait to get back to Poland. My model photography trips overseas tend to be my highlights throughout the year. Before I return to Poland I am heading out to New York City to teach 1-2-1 model photography for a week. It will be my first visit to NYC and only my second visit to the US so you can imagine how excited I am! Coming soon! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed these images as much I did. I think my most photogenic blog post so far! 🙂