2016 Leica Wedding Photography: Sarah & Ed Wedding Venue: Tythe Barn, Charbridge Lane, Launton, Bicester, OX26 4SR http://www.MrLeica.com September 2016 Sarah kindly invited me to join her and Ed on their wedding day at Tythe Barn, Bicester UK. Sarah wanted all digital wedding photograhy so I didn’t take my analogue film cameras. Thanks for […]
Here are a sample of wedding photos frorm Sarah and Ed’s wedding back in 2016. Still catching up on blogging the 2016 weddings before I start the 2017 weddings! Pictures include Leica wedding photography with a Leica M240 (mostly hence the Leica title) and Hasselblad wedding photography with a digital Hasselblad H3D-31.
The Hasselblad SWC (Super Wide Camera) family of cameras had a production life span from 1954-2009. From researching online my particular camera model, a Hasselblad SWC/M with CF lens attached and a spirit level built into both the camera body and the newer style view finder seems to be dated from around 1982-1988.
Hasselblad SWC – Intro
A Hasselblad SWC/M comes with a Zeiss Biogon 38mm f4.5 CF lens attached. Unlike the more common Hasselblad 500 series / V-series camera models the lens on the SWC cameras does not detach. The SWC is a camera designed and built around the very well-regarded Zeiss Biogon 38mm lens. It is not like a normal 500 series Hasselblad camera (as I think of them) as it has no mirror/ ground glass / waist level view finder setup you normally find at the heart of every Hasselblad. Instead it just has an external viewfinder to aid basic composition. To focus the SWC camera I need to use hyperfocal distance (like I would on a Leica rangefinder camera for street photography) and dial in a preferred focus distance on the Biogon lens (such as 2 meters) and then roughly gauge by eye this distance from the camera to the subject. As the camera is a wide-angle camera there is greater depth of field (DOF) than on say a long lens (especially once the SWC lens is stopped down). The 38mm Biogon lens is roughly equivalent to 21mm on a 35mm camera sensor so gives a pretty wide field of view compared to the standard 80mm Zeiss kit lens on a Hasselblad 500CM Classic which is equivalent to 50mm in 35mm camera terms.
Hasselblad SWC – First Thoughts
My first thoughts when collecting the Hasselblad SWC/M were small, compact and lightweight compared to the Hasselblad 500CM + telephoto lens(es) I had been using prior to picking up the camera. The SWC has a very solid and audible clunk when you release the shutter. Much more so than my 500CM and 501C and much for fluid movement but then it is a newer camera so perhaps to be expected. The SWC finder view is big and bright but also very distorted so it is difficult to retain a mind-set that the photos will not also look distorted. The spirit level built into the SWC finder is a very nice touch as you can see if an image horizon is level without taking your eye from the finder. Well done Hasselblad. The CF Zeiss Biogon 38mm lens looks very similar to all my other Zeiss CF lenses and is solid and seemingly well-built.
Hasselblad Wedding Photography
When I do Leica wedding photography with my digital Leica M240 camera one of my most used lenses is the Zeiss ZM Biogon 21mm f2.8 lens. I have a 28mm Leica Elmarit-M f2.8 lens but found the 28mm focal length not quite wide enough in situation with lots of people and/ or confined spaces. The 21mm ZM Biogon is great for bridal prep shots with multiple bridesmaids in a small room or during a wedding ceremony to capture the bride and groom and some of the guests in the background. For previous analogue film weddings I found the standard lenses on many of my medium format film cameras too narrow to capture everything. For a Hasselblad wedding I have the Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 which is the same as 28mm but nothing wider. Sometime it is just nice to have a super wide lens to photograph a whole room such as the inside of a church. A wider lens also has a great depth in focus so for moving people photos taken in a candid street photography / documentary wedding photography style it is easier to nail focus with a wider lens than with a telephoto lens (when using manual focus). This was one reason/ ‘excuse’ to buy a Hasselblad SWC/M.
Hasselblad SWC for Street Photography
Leica cameras are popular street photography cameras when focused using hyperfocal distance. As mentioned briefly above it means I set a desired distance and aperture on the lens and this gives me a certain range in focus (say everything between 1-3 meters). Once set it basically makes a Leica camera a full frame 35mm point at shoot camera (if you keep your subjects within the area in focus from the camera (Ie. if something is 4m away I need to walk closer before taking the photo or move the distance on the lens to further away before taking my shot). The same methodology can be applied to the Hasselblad SWC camera, setting an aperture and focus distance on the 38mm Biogon lens. As the 38mm is equivalent to 21mm in 35mm terms it gives quite a deep depth in focus. (Telephoto lenses have a much shorter distance in focus at any aperture). The SWC camera can them become a 6×6 medium format point and shoot camera for street photography, weddings or otherwise. The biggest restriction in the UK is sufficient light so the SWC is more suited to bright conditions or high ISO film stock than low light photography for this technique.
Hasselblad SWC for Travel Photography
One big selling point of the Hasselblad SWC for me is the compact size and relatively low weight. The Hassy SWC/M weighs under 1.4kg (with camera, finder and film back attached) and in comparison a Hasselblad 500CM camera + 80mm kit lens + film back weights closer to 1.6kg (but for the lenses I use the Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens alone weighs 1.1kg!) For my overseas model photography photoshoots I tend to take with me the smallest cameras that provide sufficiently high image quality (and are fun to use and reliable). It could be argued that my Mamiya 6 and Fuji GF670 are more suited as medium format travel cameras but I much prefer the rendering of Hasselblad lenses to the Mamiya glass and I find the GF670 fragile (currently awaits repair) and not exciting to use (even if it is a very capable camera).
Hasselblad Fashion Photography
Another reason to buy the Hasselblad SWC is for my Hasselblad fashion photography. I love the Hasselblad telephoto lenses such as the Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 lens and Zeiss Macro-Planar 120mm f4 lens for portraits but to photograph clothes full length a wider lens is often easier. The Hassy SWC 38mm Biogon lens could be deemed too wide but many fashion photographers have used wide lenses in the past to give their fashion photos a different look. I think I may use the SWC camera more for wedding photography but I hope I can also use it for some of my model photography to add some variety to my work. For environment portraits a wider lens is also very beneficial as it helps to capture both the model and their environment. I have shot many times in Budapest for example and taken headshot / half body portraits yet the surrounding location detail outside the field of view might have added additional interest to the images if included. I think of all the locations I have done model photography the city that screams “use a wide lens” the most is without doubt New York city. I need to go back soon! On a previous visit to NYC I used my 35mm Hasselblad XPan camera for a wider view but found I usually prefer 6×6 format to panoramic for my model/ fashion portraits. Using both the wide-angle Hasselblad SWC/M and a standard Hasselblad 501C /500CM body side by side gives me the best of both, with the option for wider environment portrait / wide angle fashion look photos and also shallow depth isolated headshots and portraits with a longer telephoto lens. When using two Hasselblad bodies I also have the advantage of the Hasselblad V system being modular. (See more below).
Hasselblad Modular Cameras (Specifically Film Backs)
One huge advantage of investing into the Hasselblad 500 series (V-series) cameras (including the SWC camera) is the cameras are modular in their design. This means I can unclip a standard Hasselblad A12 film back (or any other film back) from any Hasselblad 500 camera and use it on my new Hassy SWC/M. Having multiple film backs to use can be really valuable during a Hasselblad wedding for example. If I was using a Mamiya 6 camera for group photos and finished my roll of film mid-session I would need to halt proceedings, rewind the film and reload with fresh film to continue. When using a Hasselblad I carry multiple pre-loaded film backs and as soon as film finishes in one back I can quickly unclip and attach a second back with film loaded ready to go. Another advantage of multiple film backs is I can load one back with colour film and one back with black and white film. For Hasselblad fashion photography (or film weddings) or any client shoot I can shoot a mix of colour and black and white film and swap the backs between cameras. For example shoot a wide scene in B&W on the Hasselblad SWC then take the back from the Hasselblad 500CM (loaded with colour film) to capture a colourful confetti group photo straight after. The 500CM can then capture some B&W wedding portraits on a long lens and so on. I would travel with at least two film backs for model photography trips and if possible carry 2 Hasselblad bodies too, the SWC/M and a 500CM or 501C.
Hasselblad Focusing Screen Adapter 41025 SWC/M
An obvious disadvantage of the Hasselblad SWC/M is the fact that the viewfinder does not allow for critical focusing. Maybe it is because I have used Leica rangefinder cameras intensively for a prolonged period but for much of my photography I like to line up straight lines (horizontal and vertical) in a scene with my frame lines in the viewfinder. For example at a church wedding I would centre the viewfinder to the church aisle to capture equal detail on both sides and ensure it is aligned to the straight edges of the walls. With the Hasselblad SWC the finder view it is only a rough guide of composition. I would hate to have to crop every SWC photo after scanning to straighten and centre each picture. Luckily there is another option
There is a Hasselblad Focusing Screen Adapter 41025 for SWC (SWC/M) cameras which basically makes the SWC into a mini 4×5 camera/ large format camera. On my large format cameras like the SpeedGraphic and Sinar F2 I compose an image upside down on the ground glass on the back of the camera and then critically focus using a magnifying loop. The Hasselblad focusing screen adapter is basically a ground glass as you would use on the top of a Hasselblad 500CM but on the back of the camera. The SWC has no mirror so a photo is composed by just looking through the lens at the image displayed on the glass. On a large format camera in bright conditions I put a jacket over my head and the back of the camera to block light glare. Luckily the clever engineers at Hasselblad have a much neater design. The focus screen adapter accepts any Hasselblad 500 viewfinder such as the pop up waist level viewfinder (WLF), a 45 degree prism finder or a chimney finder as examples. To critically compose the Hasselblad SWC I just unclip the A12 film back, clip on the focus screen adapter (with WTF or prism already attached), compose (with camera on a tripod for example), unclip the adapter, reattached the film back and take the photo. This process is not for every photo as takes more time than quickly estimating a composing and focus with the standard SWC finder on the top of the camera but it is a nice option to have for when I have more time (and it will be more rewarding to get the planned composition rather than cropping something in/ out of frame that was not desired.
Hasselblad and Leica Cameras
I like and use Leica cameras as they are well-built, enjoyable to operate and have great lenses that capture sharp pleasing images. To get ‘better’ than what Leica film cameras could give me I had to look at larger film formats. I have tried and use various highly regarded medium format film cameras but it is Hasselblad cameras which I seem to enjoy and appreciate the most. Hasselblad 500 system cameras are of a similar build quality to Leicas and with equality good optics made by Carl Zeiss. I have enjoyed using Hasselblad 501C and Hasselblad 500CM cameras and this gave me the confidence to buy the Hasselblad SWC/M. The SWC/M is more Leica like being more compact and operated more like a Leica rangefinder (in terms of composing via the external finder) and I would argue for my particular SWC/M model the film advance lever and shutter release sound and feel even better than it’s 501C/500CM siblings. Like a Leica M3 and the Hasselblad 501C / 500CM, the Hasselblad SWC/M is 100% manual and has no batteries or electronics. I love the simplicity of manual cameras without batteries and the knowledge that they cannot develop electrical faults in the future that may not be able to be repaired. I enjoy using my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera but I often have battery related issues that I don’t get with a 500CM. I have some nice Fuji 645 format film cameras but the GA645 specifically relies heavily on electronics and one of mine seems to have sadly developed a terminal electronic fault. At least manual Hasselblad and Leica cameras are in theory more likely to keep going into the future even if they need a CLA (clean, lube, adjustment) every so often.
Hasselblad SWC – Specifications
As with many of the cameras I own and have talked about on this blog, Ken Rockwell has also reviewed the camera and kindly details all the specifics of the Hasselblad SWC on his site. Rather than me repeat the same camera facts please see a link below to Ken Rockwell’s SWC review
Hasselblad Resale Value
One good thing about investing in older Hasselblad film cameras is they seem to hold their value quite well (and even appear to increasing in value/cost over the last 12 months or so). If I find the Hasselblad SWC/M camera isn’t really for me at least I can say I tried it. I would never have discovered my love for Leica and Hasselblad cameras if I didn’t take the chance and move away from the camera(s) I used at the time. I never know, the SWC/M might become my new most used most loved film camera! Either way I will enjoy finding out!
2016 Hasselblad Wedding Photography: Amy & Mike Wedding Venue: Warwick House, Southam & Chesterton Windmill, Warwickshire http://www.MrLeica.com July 2016 Leica & Hasselblad Wedding Amy and Mike kindly invited me to cover their wedding photography at Warwick House, Southam in the UK. The wedding was digital photography only (no film photography) and I used my trusty […]
Here is the first of a series of short blog posts to cover some of my 2016 wedding photography highlights using my Leica and Hasselblad digital cameras and film cameras.
Here I had the chance to cover Amy and Mike’s wedding with my digital Hasselblad H3D-31 + 80mm f2.8 kit lens. The photos are quick B&W Lightroom edits of the original colour photos. I could not have achieved this look with my Leica M240.
More weddings coming soon! .. together with the Poland model photography trip and some several techical / geeky camera specific posts! 🙂
2015 Hasselblad Wedding Photography: Alex & Lisa Wedding Venue: Barton Hall Hotel, Barton Road, Barton Seagrave, NN15 6SG, UK http://www.MrLeica.com December 2015 Intro & Apologies! I know the days and weeks past by in a blur but I can’t believe it is almost two years since I shared any wedding photographs! Really sorry for the […]
I covered Nick and Naz wedding photography a few weeks ago in the UK and they asked me to use analogue film cameras only. I had a very enjoyable day and used a variety of film cameras – Hasselblad, Mamiya, Leica and more. It also made me realise I had not shared any wedding photos since 2015! I am now on catch up! More to come! 🙂
Destination Wedding Photographer
To my frustration, on the same day as the UK wedding I was also asked to photo a wedding in San Francisco, all expenses paid etc. I added it to my list of destination weddings I was asked to cover but for some reason was not able to attend!
I did manage to get to a wedding in Florida in 2014 and fingers crossed 2018 will bring more great destination wedding photography opportunities! 🙂
Bridal session photography is quite possible my favourite type of photography. A mix of model photography, wedding photography and fashion photography with the best bits from each. By that I mean a nice model in a beautiful wedding dress and where we have all the time we need to create hopefully beautifully crafted images without the pressures and time constraints of an actual wedding day. To then shoot it all on a film camera is then icing on the cake for me. I prefer the look of film and hope to shoot a higher percentage of film at every wedding I cover going forward.
Leica Wedding Photography / Film Wedding Photography
If every couple allocated at least one hour of their wedding day for me capture stylised wedding photos like this I would be a very happy man and I think the resulting images would result in a happy bride (bride and groom too depending who was in the photos). Posing two people is often easier than one and a real bride and groom are on their wedding day high so that normally results in nice smiley natural looking wedding photos. Posing does not need to be a dirty word. It merely lets me place my bride and groom in the best possible light.
For this bridal shoot in Ukraine I shot with available light only to be able to work quickly. I was using both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica M3. For the second roll of film in the M3 most of the photos were taken within a space of five minutes. It was my fastest roll of 35mm film shot to date as I wanted to make the most of the situation. Beautiful and willing models, the flowers, the dress, the location all in a remote woodland clearing one afternoon in Ukraine after a mini road trip. The bride(s) spoke little / no english but we still managed to get some nice photos with me directing with my hands and using body language. The first of two bridal shoots was with model Evgenia and I used AGFA Vista 200 Plus colour film (below). I then did the shoot again with model Olga in the same dress using Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film (not all scanned yet). Here is an example photo with model Olga in black and white.
Hasselblad Wedding Photography
The Ukraine trip was pre-Hasselblad era so I had my Leica M3 35mm film camera, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens and was shooting 35mm AGFA Vista 200 plus budget film. I really like AGFA Vista film at the moment and prefer the more saturated look to that of Kodak Portra that can look a little flat. I wish there was a 120 AGFA Vista film for me to use in my Hasselblad as there seems a real gap in the colour film available for 400 speed saturated film. I need a Kodak Ektar 400 film ideally as I love the saturation from Kodak Ektar 100. Going forward my new Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera will be with me at all my weddings. It is not as fast to use as the Leica M3 rangefinder for film photography but the results are just amazing.
Without further ado here are the AGFA Vista colour film photos from the first bridal photography session shot with my recalibrated Leica M3 and model Evgenia.
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
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
Camera bag. My kit could be split into 2. The Hasselblad camera kit bag and the Leica M camera kit bag.
Hasselblad camera kit
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
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 loks 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.