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

Related Posts

 

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Hasselblad vs Mamiya RZ67

Hasselblad vs Mamiya RZ67 Pro II

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
November 2015

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.

Mamiya RZ67 6×7 – Camera gear

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.

Hasselblad 501C 6×6 – Camera gear

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.

Mamiya RZ67 6×7 – User experience

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.

Hasselblad 501C 6×6 – User experience

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!

Hasselblad vs Mamiya RZ67 Shoot Out

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.

Hasselblad Portraits

Hasselblad 50mm Distagon Portrait
Hasselblad Studio Shoot
Hasselblad High Contrast

Mamiya RZ67 Portraits

Mamiya RZ67 Studio Portrait
Mamiya RZ67 Headshot + 180mm f4.5
Mamiya RZ67 vs Hasselblad

Conclusion – Clear Winner?

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.

Related Links:

> Hasselblad Links:

> Mamiya RZ67 Links:

New! Hasselblad 501CM

Hasselblad 501CM + Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CFT

Latest Purchase! 🙂

September 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica.com

Hasselblad 501CM :)

After resisting buying a Hasselblad 500C back in October 2014 I finally gave in and purchased my first Hasselblad 6×6 medium format film camera today.  I have owned and tried many film cameras but I have never tried the famous Hasselblad.  At my Zurich model photography workshop last weekend I got to see a Hasselblad in action and the shutter sound and camera form reminds me so much of my much loved Arax-CM (Kiev 88) camera that at one point was my most used film camera.

Back in October 2014 I came up with a list of reasons why not to buy a Hasselblad and so instead bought into the Mamiya 645 camera system. (Link to original post below).

As I have quite a few medium format film cameras here are my thoughts comparing the Hasselblad 501CM to some of the most used to help me with my purchasing decision.  As you will see each camera system brings it’s own advantages and disadvantages.

Hasselblad 501CM vs Mamiya 645 Super

  • Both cameras have WLF (which I love) and interchangeable film backs
  • Mamiya 645 Super focuses closest at 0.7m vs 0.9m for the Zeiss Planar lens
  • Mamiya 645  has faster glass available – f1.9 vs f2.8 Zeiss Planar lens
  • Mamiya 645 has 1/60 flash sync speed only vs 1/500 on the Hasselblad
  • Mamiya 645 has maxium shutter speed of 1/1000 vs 1/500 on Hasselblad
  • Mamiya 645 has hotshoe for speedlights / triggers vs PC sync ports only on 501CM
  • Mamiya 645 Super is smaller and lighter than the Hasselblad 501 so great for travel
  • Mamiya 645 lenses are cheaper than Hasselblad lenses as without leaf shutter
  • Hasselblad is 6×6 format so I can shoot portrait orientation using WLF with ease
  • 6×6 square format captures more detail but less frames per roll of 120 (12 vs 15/16)
  • Square format is somehow more arty (instant Instagram ready images!)

Hasselblad 501CM vs Mamiya RZ67 Pro II

  • Both cameras have WLF (which I love) and interchangeable film backs
  • Mamiya RZ67 has bellows and focuses all lenses super close vs 0.9M for 501CM Planar
  • Mamiya RZ67 is a 6×7 camera with rotating film back but can use 6×6 backs also
  • Mamiya RZ67 requires a battery to operate all shutter speeds vs no battery in 501CM
  • Mamiya RZ67 has 1/400 flash sync speed vs 1/500 on the Hasselblad 501 CM
  • Mamiya RZ67 has maxium shutter speed of 1/400 vs 1/500 on Hasselblad 501 CM
  • Mamiya RZ67 has hotshoe for speedlights / triggers vs PC sync ports only on 501CM
  • Mamiya RZ67 is bigger and heavier than a Hasselblad 501CM
  • Mamiya RZ67 lenses are cheaper than Hasselblad lenses as without leaf shutter

Hasselblad 501CM vs ARAX-CM (Kiev88)

  • Both cameras have WLF (which I love) and interchangeable film backs
  • ARAX-CM focuses closest at 0.6m vs 0.9m for the Zeiss Planar lens
  • ARAX-CM has 1/30 flash sync speed only vs 1/500 on the Hasselblad
  • ARAX-CM has maxium shutter speed of 1/1000 vs 1/500 on Hasselblad
  • ARAX-CM has hotshoe for speedlights / triggers vs PC sync ports only on 501CM
  • ARAX-CM (Kiev88) is a Hasselblad clone so similar size and weight to the 501CM
  • ARAX-CM (Kiev88) is Russian and not famous for reliability and quality control
  • Hasselblad originate from Sweden and have a generally good reliability track record
  • Nether the ARAX-CM or Hasselblad require a battery and are 100% mechanical

Hasselblad 501CM vs Rolleiflex SL66E

  • Both cameras have WLF (which I love) and interchangeable film backs
  • Rollei SL66E has bellows and focuses all lenses super close vs 0.9m for 501CM Planar
  • Rollei SL66E lenses can be reverse mounted to become macro lenses vs can’t
  • Rollei SL66E has tilting bellow for selective focus images vs standard look of 501
  • Rollei SL66E has 1/60 flash sync speed only vs 1/500 on the Hasselblad
  • Rollei SL66E has maxium shutter speed of 1/1000 vs 1/500 on Hasselblad
  • Rollei SL66E has hotshoe for speedlights / triggers vs PC sync ports only on 501CM
  • Rollei SL66E is bigger and heavier than a Hasselblad 501CM
  • Rollei SL66E is like an Italian sports car.  When it works it is a dream but not often
  • Hasselblad 501CM was thought to be reliable enough to go to the moon so the opposite

Hasselblad 501CM vs Fuji GF670

  • The Hasselblad 501CM has a WLF and interchangeable film backs vs Fuji without
  • Fuji GF670 and Hasselblad 501CM Zeiss Planar kit lens both focuses closest at 0.9m
  • Fuji GF670 and Hasselblad 501CM both have a flash sync speed of 1/500
  • Fuji GF670 and Hasselblad 501CM both have a max sync speed of 1/500
  • Fuji GF670 has hotshoe for speedlights / triggers vs PC sync ports only on 501CM
  • Hasselblad has interchangeable lenses vs. fixed lens only on the Fuji GF670
  • Fuji GF670 offers 6×6 or 6×7 format vs 6×6 only for the Hasselblad 501CM
  • Fuji GF670 is a folding rangefinder camera so more compact than a Hasselblad
  • Fuji GF670 and Hasselblad 501CM are perhaps a similar weight despite the shape

Hasselblad 501CM Wish List

For me the there are three things I really wish the Hasselblad camera system offered –

  • Faster glass (Perhaps an f2 Planar lens as found on the Contax 645)
  • Closer focusing lenses (0.6m would be perfect) (8mm extension tube is an option)
  • Hot shoe when using WTF (easier to work with wireless triggers than sync cables)

Conclusion

The Hasselblad 501 C/M is by no means the perfect system but I want to try it as part of my quest for the ‘perfect’ camera.  I hope I can love it as much as my Leicas.  My biggest wish is reliability and sharp images and that alone will make me use the camera more than some of my existing ones.

Note

When looking to buy a Hasselblad my mind was boggled by all the various camera bodies and lenses.  Here is a few things I found out during my research.

Hasselblad 501CM vs 500CM

  • Hasselblad 501CM (1997 – 2005) is newer than the  500CM (1970-1994)
  • Hasselblad 501CM is said to have a new internal lining to reduce internal reflection
  • Hasselblad 501 has new Acute-matte brighter focusing screen (can buy for 500CM)
  • Hasselblad 501 has gliding mirror system so less screen vignetting with longer lenses
  • Hasselblad 501 film advance crank lever is not removeable. 500CM one is
  • Hasselblad 501 has no body ready indicator than was found on the 500CM

Hasselblad CB vs CF lenses

  • Hasselblad Zeiss CF lenses are said to be of superior build quality
  • Hasselblad Zeiss CF lenses are normally more expensive than CB lenses
  • Hasselblad CB lenses are the cheaper budget lens line like the Nikon E Series lenses
  • Hasselblad CF lenses are said to be sharper than CB if pixel peep but not that dramtic
  • 16 different Hasselblad Zeiss CF lenses available vs only 3 CB lenses
  • Hasselblad Zeiss CB lenses were released after CF lenses and has 6 elements not 7

Related Links

*Above facts based on my best knowledge and reading material only.  Comparisons include some of the camera features important to me rather than every feature.  Light meters not mentioned for example or the benefits of 6×7 vs 6×6.