Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6

Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

 

Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

(Hasselblad 501C + 50mm, 60mm, 80mm, 120mm, 150mm lenses)
(Mamiya 6 + 75mm lens)

Intro

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.

Size Comparison – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

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.

Ease of Use – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

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.

Image Sharpness – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

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).

Conclusion – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

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.

Thanks

Hasselblad 501C Portraits

Hasselblad Portrait
Hasselblad Film Portrait
Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6 !!
Hasselblad Fashion
Hasselblad 501C + Delta 100
Flashback
Hasselblad + Zeiss Sonnar 150
Hasselblad Double Exposure Fashion
Hasselblad 501C
Hasselblad 501C + Sonnar
120 Ilford Pan F 50
Hasselblad + Pan F 50
Haselblad 501C Portrait
Hasselblad + Fomapan 100
Hasselblad Studio Session
Pageant Girl
London Model Shoot
120 Ilford FP4+
Zeiss Planar 80mm

Mamiya 6 Portraits

Mamiya 6 + 75mm Lens
Mamiya 6 Sharpness
Mamiya 6 + 75 + Tri-X
Fomapan 100@800
Mamiya 6 Fashion
Summer Vibe
Mamiya 6 Rangefinder
The view from my hotel, Ukraine

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Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95

Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95

Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95

The legendary Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 is perhaps at the pinnacle of camera lens engineering and was released in 2008 to replace the already legendary Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. The f0.95 Nocti is the fastest brightest most expensive Leica lens in current production (that I am aware of) and is also surrounded by the most hype.

I own some nice lenses but I buy mostly second hand. My most expensive lens purchase to date was my Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s. A new Noctilux f0.95 costs almost 4x more than what I spent on the 200f2 so it was safe to say I would not be buying one any time soon. That said I longed to try this Noctilux magic so I ordered myself the older cheaper Leica Noctilux 50f1.0

The 50f1 had not yet arrived and I was teaching a photography and lighting workshop in London last weekend with model Katie. Phil who joined us for the day kindly offered me the use of his Leica Noct 50 f0.95 and I jumped at the chance! I lent him my Leica Summicron 90mm f2 and we were all set.

Here are some sample images that I took during the workshop with my Leica M9. Photos are with available light only using the 50mm f0.95 at f0.95. We fitted a 3 stop ND filter (ND0.9) as the conditions were bright yet I was only interested in using it at f0.95 (wide open).
Leica Noctilux f0.95
Portrait Photography Workshop

Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 Test Shot
London Photography & Lighting Workshop
Leica Noctilux f0.95
Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95
Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 Portrait

As a comparison photo here is headshot taken with the Leica Cron 90mm f2 (1973) on the M9
Leica Summicron 90mm Portrait

And a comparison photo headshot taken with the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 on the M9 (different day, French model Valentine)

Leica Summilux ASPH Bokeh

First impressions of the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95, in no order,

  • Heavy!
  • Long focus through (takes a long time to focus from 1m to infinity)
  • Sharp wide open at f0.95 (edge to edge without pixel peeping)
  • Little or no noticeable flare
  • Clip highlights (overexposed highlights) easily as what you get in the photo is often brighter than you visualise with your eyes
  • 1m minimum focus distance is not near enough (vs the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 at 0.7m) for my taste and is the biggest drawback for me
  • Good for half body photos but not as good as the 90mm f2 Cron for headshots
  • Better results in low contrast light (out of direct sun) (nicer images for my taste)
  • Requires a 3 stop ND filter to use in bright conditions if using wide open
  • f0.95 DOF at 1m was not noticeable more shallow than then Lux ASPH 50 at 0.7m (by eye)
  • f0.95 DOF at 1m appeared less shallow than the Cron 90 f2 at 1m (by eye)
  • Easy enough to nail focus at f0.95 if the subject is static


Is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 better than the Leica Summilux ASPH 50 1.4?

I think for the additional expense of the Nocti I rather have a Lux ASPH 50f1.4
+ a Cron 90mm f2.

Is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 better than the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0?

We will have to wait to see. As soon as my 50 f1 arrives I will be testing it straight away and I can then post some comparisons.

If money was no object would I chose to shoot with the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 over any of my other Leica lenses? Probably yes! ..unless travelling with weight restrictions. The shallow DOF at f0.95 can make any scene appear more beautiful that what would be seen with the naked eye.

Do I prefer the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 or the Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s?

I prefer the Leica 50 f0.95 mostly due to the size. I think the 200f2 is slightly sharper wide open but both give near edge to edge sharpness at their widest aperture. The 200f2 gives greater subject background separation but then it is a much much larger lens!

I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to both test this amazing lens and also to now be able ot compare it to the older cheaper Noctilux f1. Coming soon!

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Wedding Photographer

Related Post
Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 (pre-arrival hype) – https://matthewosbornephotography.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/leica-noctilux-50/

Leica Noctilux 50!

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 (1981-1982)
Leica Noctilux 50!

I just bought one!!! 🙂

As a Leica photographer and even before owning a Leica camera I always dreamed of owning a lens that was faster than f1.2. I love shallow depth of field (“DOF”) and my best lenses for this to date include Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 (medium format lens on the Contax 645 – equal to 50mm f1.1 approx on a 35mm camera), Nikon 200mm f2 AI-s, Nikon 50mm f1.2 AI-s, Carl Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 (M42) and more recently on the Leica cameras; Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii, Leica Summicron 90mm f2, Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 (1954) and Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 (to mention a few).

Despite owning all those mentioned lenses the dream lives on. Today I decided to make that dream come true and reinvest some savings that had matured into Leica glass rather than a low interest deposit account. No price can be placed on the enjoyment I get from my photography and as Leica lenses retain their value well I see it more as an investment than an expense.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 vs. Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 – Price
The fastest Leica lens and in current production is the latest Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95ASPH that was released in 2008. (Canon actually made the first 50mm f0.95 lens years earlier) Here in the UK the retail price to buy a new Noctilux 50/0.95 is in excess of £7.2k. Used Noctilux lenses hold their value well but this is more than double the cost of a used Noctilux 50mm f1.0. Most of the Leica shooters that I know use a f0.95 not the older f1.0 but I was not in a position to spend that kind of money on one lens.

Was I tempted by the newer sharper faster Noctilux f0.95?
Initially of course yes. I do like my apparent lens sharpness combined with a shallow DOF however my taste seems to be changing as my photography matures. I own the famous ‘Lux ASPH 50mm f1.4 and it does indeed have edge to edge clinical sharpness at f1.4. That said, it is not my first or even second choice when selecting a 50mm lens to use for my portraiture photography. Until recently I favoured the Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 for a combination of sharp, contrasty, punchy images with a nicely rendered OOF area/ bokeh. I then bought a 1954 Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5. That has changed everything. It is soft, low contrast and prone to flare yet I absolutely love its quirks and the vintage imperfect look it applies to images.

Sample image using the Summarit 50/1.5 @f1.5 on my Leica M9

Classic Black & White Photography

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 vs. Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 – Images
If I compare photos taken with the older Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 vs the current Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 I would say it is like comparing the 1954 Summarit 50/1.5 vs the current Leica Lux ASPH 50/1.4. Many people say photos taken with the Noct. f0.95 are not dissimilar from those taken with the Lux 50 ASPH. Both these lenses give clinical sharpness. The older Noct f1.0 however has real character and ‘proper’ imperfections that you just cannot make or add to an image after in Photoshop. A particular favourite characteristic is the misshaped bokeh balls of the f1.0 that are more akin to bokeh of the Summarit 50 lens. I think the f1.0 images capture many of the best bits seen in the Summarit 50 photos yet 10 fold.

Painting with my camera not etching with micro precision
The vintage Summarit really is a fantastic lens if used correctly but I feel I will be able to get even more out of the Leica Noctilux 50 f1 lens. I like to ‘paint’ things of beauty with the majority of my photography regardless of the subject. Having a lens that appears to paint on the detail with a big fat brush rather than etch in the finer details with micro precision is exactly why I chose the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 over the 50mm f0.95.

I have not even received my lens yet but this is my conclusion to date drawn from the research I did prior to my purchase. Most of the reviews I had read for the Summarit 50 were terrible but it turns out the lens is a real gem. I hope to prove that the older Nocti f1.0 is more than a match for its newer sibling for some types of photography.

More about the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2
I bought the v2 model that has an E60 thread and removable Leica hood. Many people praise the v4 as being the most sought after of all 5 models released. The v4 has built in slide out hood but the v2 is lighter and often cheaper than the v4. I like using flare in my photography so there is a very high chance that I will not fit the lens hood. I will just protect the end of the lens with a ND filter or UV filter. Lens hoods often make lenses much more imposing so I currently do not use any add on lens hoods on my LM mount lenses.

I bought my 1981-82s Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens from Italy via eBay so I must now wait patiently before I get to try the lens and share some sample images with you. The Noctilux lens is the now the most expensive item in my photography bag but I see it as a long term investment rather than a luxury expense. It may seem that I buy new camera gear almost every week and sometimes this is true but I buy almost all second hand and I spend little to nothing on anything other than photography! I get paid working as a Leica wedding photographer, fashion and beauty photographer and for running photography and lighting workshops from my Coventry studio and on location. Any money I receive from my photography is reinvested 100% back into my passion.

I am excited for the arrival of my Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 and I will of course report back soon once it arrives.

Have a great weekend!

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer

Leica M Mount Lens King Of Bokeh Test!

Leica M Mount Lens King Of Bokeh Test

(Testing shallow DOF & bokeh with lenses at their widest aperture)

I did a similar test a long time ago when had my Lumix G1. It was an unplanned spur of the moment thing today.

The Bokeh Test

  • All lenses used at widest aperture and minimum focus distance.
  • All photos taken as B&W JPEG on Leica M9. All processed as I do all my images through LR3 with increased sharpness.

Qu. Which Leica M mount lenses were tested?

  • 1) Leica Elmar 135mm f4
  • 2) Leica Summicron 90mm f2
  • 3) Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5
  • 4) Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4
  • 5) Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

(I did not test the slower Zeiss ZM Planar 50m f2 and Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5)

Qu. Winner of the Leica M mount Bokeh test (and shallow DOF)?

  • Leica Summicron 90mm f2 is King of Bokeh from lenses I own in terms of giving a very shallow DOF.

Qu. Lens giving the deepest DOF and so to me the least useful for my portraits?

  • Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 – A great lens but the 0.9M minimum focal distance kills it.

Qu. Are Leica lenses visually better and performance wise better than Zeiss or Voigtlander lenses?

  • Not at all! The CV Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii easily matched the Leica lenses in the test giving excellent results – sharp wide open, shallow DOF even for a 35mm lens and with attractive bokeh.

Qu. Did the ‘One of the best lenses ever made’ stand out – The Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4?

  • No in this test is the Lux’ 50/1.4 was possibly the least impressive lens in terms of apparent sharpness, clarity and pop.

Qu. Apparent sharpest lens wide open (combination of resolution and contrast)?

  • The 1960s Leica Elmar 135mm f4.  This lens is also by far the cheapest of those tested and is also very lightweight and slim with a 39mm filter thread.  I can’t wait to mount the Elmar 135/4 on my Lumix G3!

Qu. Why did I do this test?

  • Because to me I often see very little visual difference between lenses I use when shooting models to the extent that I find it very difficult to tag photos afterwards as there is no accurate EXIF data. I also wanted to see which lens would give me the most shallow DOF for use on my new Lumix G3. The CV 35mm f1.2 would be equivalent to 70mm f1.2 with the 2x crop on the m4/3 body making it a perfect portrait lens.

Leica M Mount Lens Bokeh Test Results:

  • 1) Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Peg Bokeh Test! Leica Elmar 135mm f4

  • 2) Leica Summicron 90mm f2

Peg Bokeh Test! Leica Summicron 90mm f2

  • 3) Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5

Peg Bokeh Test! Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5

  • 4) Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

Peg Bokeh Test! Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

  • 5) Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

Peg Bokeh Test! Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii

*Please note this was not a scientific test and the conclusion are based merely on my taste and views of the results obtained.  I’m sure some people may disagree with my findings but that is also fine.

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer

Leica Summicron 90mm f2 (2)

Leica Summicron 90mm f2 – Sample Portrait Photos

My latest lens arrival, the mighty Leica Cron’ 90mm f2 lens (1973 version) is proving quite a hit on Flickr. This photo of model Emma was taken during my first studio session with the 90/2 on my Leica M9. I posted the image to Flickr and it received more fav’s in the first 24hrs than any of my 3000+ photos have ever received in all the time on Flickr. Quite an achievement!

I bought the 90/2 lens on eBay after seeing it at 4x less cost than the Leica Summilux 75mm f1.4 lens. I had my heart on the 75/1.4 but my brain too over and I got the 90mm instead. The lens has a super silky pull out hood and crisp aperture clicks. It is not a small or light lens by Leica standards but it now lets me achieve the shallow depth of field I crave.

The shallow DOF look was a norm for me and my Nikon D800 using lens such as the Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s, Samyang 85mm f1.4 and Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8.

When I moved over to Leica M lenses and my Leica M9 I struggled with the 0.7M closest focus. Now with the 90mm Cron this is not an issue.

I think the Leica Summicron 90mm f2 offers great value for money in Leica lens terms. I’m very happy with my purchase and can’t wait til the next shoot!

Here is another shot with the Leica M9 + Summicron 90/2. The Leica Cron is fantastic for portraits.

Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Colours

And here is my Flickr stream most liked images!

CaptureEmma

More samples coming soon. I think this lens is going to get well used!

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer