Shared: Fstoppers.com – 5 Popular B&W Films Compared
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
I read an interesting Fstoppers film photography article a few days before flying out on my last photography trip comparing five popular black and white film stocks. I think I was searching for a comparison of Ilford Delta 400 vs. Kodak T-Max 400 film as I enjoy using 35mm T-Max 400 but wondered if Delta 400 would be even “better” for me. I love and really appreciate Ilford Delta 100 film and think it is one of the best films I use in terms of detail and sharpness and to showcase what a camera-lens setup can achieve. Ilford Delta 100 film example image:
The Fstoppers film review however compares five ISO 400 film stocks and illustrates side by side example images of the same subject captured with five of the “best”/ popular black and white films. Each film is compared for tonality, grain and apparent sharpness.
I wont spoil the article if you want to read it in full but overall I was very impressed with the C41 B&W film – Ilford XP2 Super 400. I wont say anymore ahead of the link but if you want to hear my thoughts please see my conclusion below.
As hinted above Ilford XP2 Super 400 was the clear winner for me for detail captured (in this test example) but the image consisted of varying shades of greys and lacked interest. The film with the most impact for me and seemed to be the best compromise for all desired traits (for me) was the very popular Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film with its classic grain structure, good apparent sharpness and thick blacks. I have shot Kodak Tri-X film in the past but found 35mm TriX too grainy for my female portraiture so instead I favour the fine modern grain of Kodak T-Max 400 film. I find 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film much more useable as the grain is less apparent and I have used it a lot in my Hasselblad 501C /500CM cameras, especially if I need to push film to ISO 800-1600 in low light. In abundant light I often use the low-cost Fomapan 100 film (35mm and 120 Foma 100) and rate it from 100-400. That said I must give Kodak Tri-X another try soon!
Ilford XP2 Super 400 film
120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film
35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 film
And for a comparison, the B&W film I maybe use the most – Fomapan 100..
This is a big article so you may want to make a cuppa and find a comfy chair before you begin!
*(Update – Skip to the end to cut a long story short if you prefer a quick answer!)
*Model photos included in this post were all taken throughout this period but seemed less effected than others photos by the focusing issues I was experiencing.
Recap of my history using Hasselblad V-Series cameras…
My first Hasselblad camera (Hasselblad 501C) + the holy trinity of Hasselblad lenses
My first Hasselblad camera was a near mint Hasselblad 501C camera with matching Hasselblad A12 film back and the standard 80mm f2.8 kit lens. As part of the Hasselblad camera bundle I got two additional lenses and that gave me what some people class as the holy trinity of Hasselblad lenses, 50mm, 80mm, 150mm (Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF, Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF, Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF). With this trio of lenses I was able to obtain sharp pleasing results with the Hasselblad 501C almost every time.
My Hasselblad 501C camera died 🙁
Life was good with the new-to-me Hasselblad 501C and I was using the camera on most of my film photography photoshoots. I was then on a shoot following a full day of using the Hasselblad with a cable release and the shutter release button pushed inside the camera body and jammed when I went to take a shot. The weight of the shutter release cable had sheared off the outer housing surrounding the shutter release button meaning it was then hanging lose and so jammed inside the Hasselblad camera body. The Hasselblad 501C is still in this state until I find time to get it repaired.
Replacement Hasselblad Body – Hasselblad 500CM
With no time to repair the Hasselblad 501C and more film photography shoots booked in the diary I went on eBay and bought a Hasselblad 500CM camera body (only) as it looked the cheapest solution. I moved the Acute Matte cross hair focusing screen and A12 film back from the Hasselblad 501C to the Hasselblad 500CM and had my lens to attach. I then went through a phase of using my 35mm film Leica cameras more and also quite a long period passed with me not developing any film due to time constraints (training for the Ironman event). Many months later when I developed the film from the Hasselblad 500CM camera that I used on my Paris model photography trip, Poland trip and others I noticed I had misfocused a high proportion of my photos which was both surprising and disappointing (as unusual). By the end of me using the Hasselblad 501C camera I had got into a routine of using the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF for most of my portraits (see my Hamburg Hasselblad portraits blog post). When I moved over to the 500CM I thought it would be nice to go back to using a longer lens again so opted for the Zeiss Macro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens. Once I saw all these misfocused photos I thought it must be my eye sight not being good enough at focusing with a longer lens. (I do wear glasses to drive but don’t wear them day to day otherwise). I didn’t think any more of it.
In autumn 2017 I got fully back into Hasselblad camera shooting mode and invested in a new lens, a Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF for my model photoshoot in Tenerife. I took the Hasselblad 500CM camera with a waist level finder (WLF) (rather than the usual 45 degree prism finder setup) and shot the camera handheld rather than with the usual monopod. (All because I was travelling light so could carry less gear). I eagerly developed the film from my shoots with Lindsay in Tenerife and to my huge disappointment most of the photos were again misfocused.
Zeiss 180mm Sonnar f4 CF lens – Poland Photoshoot
(..and for Hasselblad wedding)
Following my disappointment in Tenerife I pinned the blame of the misfocus issues on the WLF focusing being less accurate than the 45 degree prism finder and me being less stable handheld that with a monopod. I then bought a Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens to take for my next model photography trip to Poland. I refitted the 45 degree prism finder to the Hasselblad 500CM and use the camera with a monopod for every photo. I also took with me the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF lens. I used both the 180mm Sonnar and 60mm Distagon lenses in Poland and again returned super excited to develop the film. I scanned the 6×6 negatives and to my horror the photos were still not sharp and some were completely out of focus (focus not on the eyes). After closer inspection it seemed all the photos were back focused. That being, the focus point on the final image is further back on the subject than intended compared to what was seen when looking through the viewfinder. For example I focused on eyes and hair at back of head was sharp instead with the eyes being out of focus. This was the case when using both the 180mm Sonnar lens and 60mm Distagon lens. Some photos were just about postable and could be recovered a little in post processing but others were straight to the bin. What a huge disappointment (again). I need camera I can rely on and expected better from Hasselblad.
Hasselblad Focusing Issues / Misfocused images – Possible Causes
I trawled the internet for possible causes of the Hasselblad back focusing issues and people wrote about it being due to user error – perhaps tired eyes (no – not for every photo), camera shake (no – used monopod (and release cable for some photos) and shot at a shutter speed of 1/125 mostly) or the subject/ models moving (likely for the worst out of focus examples but not every photo). Other possible causes documented for Hasselblad focusing issues were – focusing screen loose and not flat / aligned, mirror not aligned / become lose, film back does not match film body or film back defective so film plane not flat to camera focusing plane. I checked the Hasselblad mirror and it seemed OK. The acute matte screen I was using in the 500CM was out of the Hasselblad 501C but it looked flat (if a little lose in the clips). The film back I was using on the 500CM was also from the 501C. Perhaps this mismatch of newer A12 film back on older Hasselblad 500CM camera body was the issue but it is the only working Hasselblad A12 film back I own.
Replacement Hasselblad 500CM camera, lens, film backs bundle
I decided to keep my eye on eBay for a bargain and managed to win an auction for another Hasselblad 500CM bundle with an older 45 degree prism finder (TTL version), an older/ smaller 80mm Planar f2.8 C kit lens and 2x older A12 film backs. I now planned to try my own Hasselblad lenses on the new-to-me Hasselblad 500CM camera body and film back combination and fingers crossed I will be back to sharp and beautiful high definition 6×6 film scans for my portraiture, fashion and Hasselblad wedding photography.
No Hasselblad Wedding Photography 🙁
I had an all analogue film wedding photography booking just days after returning from Poland and I had to make the decision not to pack the a Hasselblad camera as I knew the results would be sub-standard and not 100% sharp (in focus where I planned to be in focus). I was looking forward to using the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm for Hasselblad wedding photography (part of the reason for my purchase) so I hope I get the opportunity to give more wedding couple some beautiful Hasselblad wedding photos on their big day once the camera is working again. (Below – I used my Mamiya 6 camera)
The new Hasselblad 500CM camera was due to arrive soon so fingers crossed the matching camera body and film back will resolve my Hasselblad focusing issues.
New Hasselblad Camera 🙂
My second Hasselblad 500CM camera bundle arrived and had its own issues! A lag between pressing shutter release button and me having to wiggle the film advance lever to release the shutter)(annoying!). I did however do a test roll with my Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens and the resulting photos were in focus and sharp with the lens wide open! Hooray! I can see skin pores again on a models face. Back to the image quality I expect from a Hasselblad camera. So at least I now have one Hasselblad 500CM camera setup that focuses correctly.
Camera Museum London
I am a regular visitor (every time I visit London for photoshoots) to the Camera Museum London which is a one stop shop for Hasselblad cameras. I had been mentioning my frustrations and Hasselblad out of focus problems over a few months and they contacted me to say a guy had been into the shop describing similar Hasselblad misfocus difficulties. Apparently he had ordered himself a Hasselblad split image focus screen so he could see better and hoped that would fix the issue. The Camera Museum suggested to me that a split image focus screen may also solve my focus issues and perhaps I should try that option next. For my close up Hasselblad headshots at least this shouldn’t be the case as I can see clearly each eye lash (but still the photo is not focused) but for further away subjects a split screen would 100% help my focus accuracy.
Hasselblad Acute Matte D Split Image Focus Screen
Despite being able to see well close up after a distance of a few meters I do find it difficult to focus accurately. I reconsidered a Hasselblad split image focus screen (after ruling it out until now) as I love rangefinder focusing (such as my Leica M cameras). I got back on eBay and managed to pick up a boxed mint Hasselblad Acute Matte D split image focus screen ahead of my next Hasselblad photoshoot. Hasselblad focus screens are expensive even for the non-acute matte glass but I needed a screen to benefit my sight and accuracy so I invested in the Acute Matte D version. The glass should hold its value and if the split screen focusing view doesn’t work for me I can always sell it.
Hasselblad Focus Screen Upside Down?
Camera Museum London got in touch with me again and apparently the guy that bought the split image screen was still having focus issues. They checked his camera and his focus screen was mounted upside down (with the straight/ cut metal edges up and the rounded edge down into the camera). My heart sunk! I had already checked my first Hasselblad 500CM focus screen orientation against my Hasselblad 501C and both were the same direction. They were both.. rounded side down! I checked my latest Hasselblad 500CM screen that was focusing correctly.. rounded edges up! When I had bought the first 500CM I had put the screen from the 501C into the 500CM upside down unknowingly.
*Picture below shows the “straight /cut” metal edge which should point into the camera
I flipped the existing Hasselblad focus screen in my first Hasselblad 500CM camera and shot a test roll. Sharp images! I then fitted the Acute Matte D split image focus screen. Again sharp images but also WOW love the new split image view! I can see beyond 1-2 meters distance and focus accurately and with confidence! This is a first in my Hasselblad photography era! Good times ahead! 🙂
To Conclude and Thanks
It took a while but I got there eventually! I now have two Hasselblad 500CM cameras that both focus accurately and I use them side by side on my Hasselblad shoots, whether model photography or Hasselblad wedding photos (see mock wedding shoot with models Harriett and Ash to follow)(preview example above). I will also get my Hasselblad 501C camera repaired once I get chance.
A big thank you to Ward at Camera Museum London for solving my issue. I highly recommend you drop in to say hello to them if you are ever visiting London. They have endless cameras to look at (and buy!), hold a wealth of Hasselblad knowledge and serve great coffee in their cafe too! (Formerly known as “Camera Cafe”).
Here is the blog diary I wrote to document my last model photography trip to Poland on the flight home. Sorry it took a while to share!
10 Models in 2 days.. Poland
Choice of Cameras
I really enjoyed using the Hasselblad 500CM medium format film camera in Tenerife and before I went I replaced the PM45 prism viewfinder with the much lighter and more compact waist level finder (WLF). I had been happy the camera looked more ‘classic Hasselblad’ and that it fitted into my camera bag easier but the final photos are what matters. When I scanned the film from Tenerife I noticed I had much more photos that were sub-standard as they were not tack sharp and many mis-focused slightly. I could only think it was me being less accurate at focusing using the WLF rather than the prism viewfinder. The WLF is certainly more difficult for me to find focus. I refitted the Hasselblad PM45 prism finder in hope that my photos get back to the standard I demand. I think my sharpest Hasselblad photos to date were model photography images shot in Hamberg with the 60mm Zeiss Planar lens but I also had success with it in New York and Poland previously using the 150mm Zeiss Sonnar and 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar lenses.
I’ve started using a different small camera bag to my usual Billingham Hadley Digital (perfect for Leica cameras but not for the Hasselblad camera shape) as it gives me a bit more space and enough room for all of the below mentioned cameras and lenses. It is a really old bag I got free with an eBay film camera purchase but it does the job I need well.
Hasselblad and Leica
The Hasselblad setup using the 180mm Sonnar and ISO 400 speed film will require enough light for a minimum aperture of f4 and shutter speed of ideally 1/125 or more (I will use the 500CM camera with a monopod to increase my chances of sharp photos). I therefore packed a speedlight to boost light levels / brightness if needed.
I brought along the Leica M3 to use with available light. Using the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens and Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 film I can shoot at f1.4, 1/50, ISO 800 (easily) in low light. When there is sufficient light I will use the Hasselblad as much as possible followed by the Leica M3 (moreso in less light). For all digital photos I will use the Leica M240 camera.
Final Kit List
Hasselblad 500cm 6×6 film camera
Zeiss Planar 60mm f3.5 CF lens
Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 CF lens
Leica M240 digital camera
Leica M3 film camera
Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens
Day 1 Model Photography
On my first day I had 4 models starting from 8:30. It was about 10 degrees colder than when I left the UK, overcast and raining in Sopot so not ideal conditions for a beach location shoot. The first photosession was all inside and all digital. The second shoot was a new model from the local model agency, Malva Models who I have worked with before. We managed to get outside briefly but it was cold and the rain kept starting again.
For the afternoon I was to revisit a makeup artists apartment that I shot in December 2016. The MUA had invited her friend too so I had two models and seemingly unlimited creativity in terms of hair styles, makeup styles, cool props, a few different continuous light sources, light stands, a studio backdrop and a cute little dog called Boris to help us. The first 3hrs passed really quickly and I loved the results I was seeing. Next the wine came out and the shoot got extended as it was going so well. After that there was offer of pizza and more wine before the next look but my Leica M240 battery had almost died. Not wanting to miss out on the fun I ran the 2km back to my hotel, grabbed my spare battery that I had accidentally left behind and then 2km back to the apartment just in time for the pizza arriving. After very tasty food and more wine I setup the lights for a bedroom set. Throughout the photosession I was metering with the Leica M240 often shooting at the settings set for the Hasselblad film camera, f4, 1/60, ISO400. I used both the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f4 lens and the Zeiss Planar 60mm f3.5 for wider shots or mainly for when there was not enough room for me to walk back with the 180mm lens to compose. For the Hasselblad I was using mostly 120 Fomapan 100 black and white film metered at ISO 400 and 35mm Kodak T-Max 400 black and white in the Leica M3. I used the Leica M3 camera without flash and with the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens shot wide open at 1/50. After a very enjoyable afternoon and evening I finally got back to my hotel at about 21:30. A perfect end to the first day and I could not have asked for anything better.
Day 2 Model Photography
Former Miss Poland picked me up at 8:15 in a little sports car then we travelled to her apartment for the photoshoot. I managed to finish the expired roll of Kodak Portra 800 shooting on her balcony using available light and then most of the other photos were inside with digital. We even managed some lifestyle photos with her dog. As time goes on I seem to enjoy lifestyle photography more and more and it is one of the looks/ styles I enjoy to photograph.
Next I had another agency model I had spotted on Instagram but also from Malva Models. I thought she was local when I invited her but she actually lived 3hrs away and came by bus. The weather was a bit brighter, warmer and drier so I made use of the beach location and shot almost all the shoot outside. When the light levels are low working on the beach helps as the water and sand reflect light up onto the model like a giant reflector. The Zeiss Sonnar 180mm telephoto lens was a joy to use out in the open and in these conditions the 40mm and 50mm Leica M mount lenses suddenly felt too short. I wish I had brought the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens or Leica Summicron 90mm for more of a telephoto look. Next time!
The third model I spotted on Facebook and had sent her an invite on the chance she would respond. It later became apparent she was signed to a Warsaw model agency but lived closer to Gdansk. From the first few test photos I knew it was going to be a good shoot. Even as a new model she could hold a pose and eye contact better than some of the full-time models and took direction really well. This was perfect for the Hasselblad film camera that is a little slower to operate than the Leica M3. The next model cancelled so we kept shooting and I loaded a roll of colour Fuji Pro 400H to fire off in quick succession using the last of the evening sun. I really hope the Hasselblad photos look as good as they appeared in the viewfinder!
The model after that was late so I had half an hour to run to a shop to buy some fresh bread to eat to keep me going and then I walked along the beach front to the pier to meet the model and her friend for an after sunset low light shoot. We shot until it was completely dark and then it was back to the hotel for an indoor shoot with a girl I worked with a few years ago. It was a nice catchup and hopefully give a confidence boost plus some new photos for Instagram and Facebook. We finished about 22:00 and that was the last shoot done for Poland. I had an early flight home the next morning.
October is probably too late in the season to plan for lots of outdoor photos on the beach in Poland so I was happy I could use the new Zeiss Sonnar 180mm outside as planned. In all my previous visits to Sopot, the longest lens I have used is the 120mm Zeiss Macro-Planar so it will be good to compare the look of the 120mm vs. 180mm lenses at the same location.
I was very lucky to have been invited to the makeup artists apartment for most of the first day as we had heavy rain and not much light. My plan for the two days was to shoot inside the hotel as little as possible (as I have visited it so many times) and to instead find different backdrops to use. I did reasonably well to achieve this goal I think. My previous visit to Poland was mostly models photography with flash against a white hotel wall so I think this visit should hopefully bring more interesting pictures.
I have high hopes for the Hasselblad 500CM film photos (especially with the new Sonnar 180mm lens) so I shot 7 of the 8 rolls of 120 film I took with me. I used the Leica M3 less and shot 2 1/2 rolls of 35mm. As with all my model shoots some models screamed out ‘need to shoot this on film’ (because of the pose/ look, the clothes, the location, the light or all of them combined) and other less so. As such I think most of the film was shot with 3 or 4 models of the total 10.
Doing a shorter more intense two days rather than four days in Poland worked better as I had almost no time wasted/ down time compared to previous visits. I enjoyed meeting / and discovering some new faces and I will certainly keep in touch for future visits.
As with all my model photography trips, a huge thanks to the models, especially those that didn’t know me previously and who trusted me to give them some nice photos in exchange for their time. In no order thank you to models Dorota, Kinga, Pola, Marta P, Marta W, Weronika, Marysia, Paulina, Natalia, Kinga S, to Malwina at Malva Models agency and to Monika at the hotel.
I still haven’t developed all the film and I have held back some of the developed Hasselblad film images for a Hasselblad specific blog post that will follow this one. As always more photos will be shared to my Instagram (@MrLeicaCom) and my Flickr as I get chance. Thanks
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!
Digital Hasselblad Wedding Photography – Amy & Mike
Amy and Mike’s wedding – photo taken with a digital Hasselblad camera –
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! 🙂
This morning I woke up tired, still smiling, and more tanned than I was a week ago. I had landed back in the UK in the early hours after three full fun packed days of model photography in warm sunny Tenerife! As with all my overseas photoshoots here is the usual summary of what I got up to, some camera specifics and a few thoughts thrown in too.
Hasselblad 500cm 6×6 film camera
Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
Olympus Pen F film camera
Olympus Zuiko 35mm f1.8 lens
Olympus 35RC film camera
Leica M240 digital camera
Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens
Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
Lumix LX100 (Leica D-Lux 109) digital camera
Cameras.. including dusting off my Hasselblad 500cm for a trip away
I edited a Hasselblad film scan that I had taken in Paris back in February and I forgot quite how good the detail is in the 6×6 film negatives compared to 35mm. When I bought my first Hasselblad, a 501c, I really struggled to focus using the waist level viewfinder (WLF) so bought a PM20 prism viewfinder. I found this easier to use and the Hasselblad became more similar to the Contax 645 in that regard. I absolutely love the magic of my Mamiya RZ67 Pro 2 WLF so I’ve always been a bit disappointed that I didn’t get on well with the Hasselblad WLF and the acute matte bright focusing screen (glass). I think I often use the excuse that I’m not taking the Hasselblad as it is too big as this can be the case but it doesn’t need to be. The PM45 prism does add both weight and size to the camera and the Zeiss Macro Planar 120mm f4 is bigger than the kit lens. I’ve never been a fan of the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens as I think it is softer than the 50mm, 60mm, 100mm and 120mm Hasselblad lenses in my opinion (the 150mm is buttery soft but in a great way). In 2015 when I was in full Hasselblad swing and fast become Mr Hasselblad rather than Mr Leica I bought a Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 because it is almost as small as the 80mm yet crazy sharp and with little distortion. I had it a week then decided it was a lot of money when I could just use the 120mm Macro Planar instead to achieve equally sharp results yet also get closer to my subjects without the need of an extension tube. I saw a classic shot of a Hasselblad 501c on Instagram and it reminded me how pretty the camera looks with their WLF compared to with a prism finder. A Hassy just doesn’t look quite the same without the WLF and it just seems right to see the image on the top of the camera. I decided to put my WLF back on my Hasselblad 500cm (the 501c awaits repair) and if I centre my subject on the ground glass cross hair for the part I want critical focus I can see to focus. On most of my other non-rangefinder cameras I can see to focus anyway within the frame but the Hasselblad Acute matte screen goes a little pearlescent/foggy if look at some angles. I practiced focusing with close up subjects and it seemed doable. I then switched back to view the same subject with the prism viewfinder and noticed the view was much less magnified. That made me like the WLF more and then main two advantages of having the WLF fitted is 1, it packs much smaller (and lighter) and 2, it just looks right and how it should be used (and very cool too!).
So with that I now had a compact (standard rather than enlarged) Hasselblad 500cm camera body and film back ready to go. I was then back to the debate of what lens to take. The 120mm is big but very sharp and lets me go close but I find it makes me take mostly headshots as it sucks me into the subject. The 60mm focal length was my standard lens when I used my ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) in my earlier photography days. It let me go closer than an 80mm and the 35mm field of view was perfect for environmental portraits and street scenes when I was shooting in India and other places (search ARAX on my Flickr feed for examples). I bought the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF when I got the Hasselblad 501c and have used that for perhaps 50%+ of my photos. At the time I liked the images and for portraits of men I love the distortion a 60mm lens gives up close. For girls however I’m now starting to prefer the flatter less distorted view of a slightly longer lens (to avoid the big noise look!) the 60mm is also smaller than the 120mm Macro but still bigger than the 80mm. I was then back to deciding whether I would be happy using the little 80mm lens or not. I viewed a few 80mm lens photos I could find and didn’t hate them and then I viewed the few 100mm photos I had taken when I had the lens for a week. Wow they were sharp, almost too sharp even at f4-f5.6. Two days before my flight I got in touch with my friend at the now called Camera Museum in London and they kindly shipped out another Zeiss 100mm f3.5 CF lens for me. So I was all set with my new compact Hasselblad 500cm setup with WLF and uber sharp yet compact 100mm lens. My Hasselblad was looking sexy again!
After taking my Leica film cameras on almost every overseas model photography trip I decided to mix it up a bit and pack my pocket size full frame 35mm Olympus RC35 as I was hoping it would be bright conditions and the camera is super sharp stopped down a little. I also packed another camera I have a real soft spot for, the amazing Olympus Pen-F half frame film camera. As I shoot 99% models/ portraits I often find I don’t photo other subjects on film as I think I will never use the images. The real beauty of the Pen-F is with 72 photos per roll you can be snap happy and photos anything and everything. I’ve started including a few non people photos on my @MrLeicaCom Instagram feed so I thought I could try to get some little arty shots with the camera in addition to portraits. Considering the Olympus Pen-F is half frame you would expect the film scan of the tiny negatives to be really low resolution but in reality it seems the opposite. I have made some crazy sharp photos with the Olympus Pen F camera. The effect can be made even more dramatic I you load fine grain film like black and white Ilford Pan F 50 or the amazing (yet pricey) Fuji Provia 100F E6 slide film. I decided to treat the Pen-F to a roll of 35mm Provia 100 and would shoot more black and white film in the Olympus RC35. For the Hasselblad I packed both colour film and black and white film and even included a roll of expired E6 Fuji Velvia 100 to shoot and then try cross processing it in my C41 Tetanol kit chemicals. I have two Sekonic lightmeters but I find because I am always shooting digital and film together I meter with the digital camera LCD instead. I packed the little Lumix LX100 (Leica DLux109) as a backup and my Leica M240 as the main digital camera. For my workflow with models I like to use a digital camera to warm them up first rather than shooting film straight from the first pose. The digital LCD also helps me show models what I am trying to achieve and often gives them a confidence boost once they know they look good on camera. If I was shooting only film I think a new model especially would struggle to not be able to see how she looks plus they can’t see what I am doing nor if the results are worth their time in front of the camera. Models can also spot things on the back of the camera LCD images I may not such as clothing malfunctions or hair not behaving itself or need for more makeup etc. As such this hybrid style of shooting using both film and digital side by side works well for me. I also find digital very beneficial when I am using strobes as you can’t quite visualize how a photo will look when flash lit compared to using available light.
Overseas photoshoot with UK model
Normally when I do model photography overseas I work with local models at the location I visit. The problem my Coventry UK regular models have is we normally shoot in the house or home studio. I think I have used every wall, doorway and window so many times I now need something more inspiring. In addition to this, some clothes can look amazing on a model but they need the correct setting or backdrop to look their best. I asked Lindsay, a model I have work with quite a lot in the last 12 months if she’d like to do a photoshoot in Tenerife and to my delight she agreed. When booking flights and hotels with a model the key criteria for me is reliability. Many models have highs and lows so one week they will be really keen then they go off the radar for six months. That doesn’t really work for overseas trips. I visited Tenerife once before so I picked an area I was slightly familiar with. The difference this time is I have a model there to work with so I’m excited to see what we can create.
Photoshoots – Day 1
Lindsay and I arrived into Tenerife late morning and got started straight away. Luckily for me Lindsay is great at doing her own hair and makeup and we’d discussed clothes beforehand so we had a pile of cool garments to work with. The weather was around 21 degrees in the morning and 27 degrees in the day with blue skies and strong direct sunlight. Our hotel room had a balcony with a sea view so we had that as an additional location to use. Being situated right on the coast we had a sea breeze which worked well for hair moving in the wind pictures. I started using the Hasselblad quite quickly and soon got to grips with focusing via the WLF (I think anyway!). The camera felt stable to use without a monopod or tripod and I was using shutter speed of 1/60 or faster. I realised there was some Kodak Vision3 50D Motion Picture film in the Olympus Pen F so I finished that roll on the first day. We went to the coast for sunset but the light dropped quite quickly and too fast for me to use my Hasselblad and f3.5, 1/60, ISO 100 film. It was a pity as Lindsay created some amazing hair for me and wore a red outfit I was looking forward to shoot. We got some shots in the low light but almost all on digital. Once the light had faded we went back to the room then I went out for a quick moonlight run just along the sea front. Not far as it got too dark to see my feet but I still loved it.
Photoshoots – Day 2
We set our alarms and walked down to the coast before breakfast to catch sunrise at 8:00. It was not that easy to shoot into the sun and correctly expose the model but we tried a few different setups. Once the sun was up we walled back and enjoyed an amazing hotel breakfast. Lindsay changed clothes, hair and makeup and headed outside again and found this fantastic derelict building. This was to be our playground for the next 2-3 hours. I was whooping every 5 minutes the light was that good and Lindsay just got better and better. I give models directional pretty much constantly throughout a shoot to fine to a pose before I click the shutter. I think models have to be quite patient with me barking orders at them and continually shouting “wait wait wait, again again” as I swap between cameras, and tweak my composition or point of view. Hopefully the pictures are worth it though and Lindsay mentioned she has got a lot more keepers (photos she likes) when shooting with me in the past so I guess that’s good. In the afternoon we did a lingerie shoot in the hotel room and then had a bit of downtime before the golden hours so I made the most of it and went for a run along the coast. As sad as it sounds it was one of the best experiences of 2017. I absolutely loved it! Running on single track routes weaving between the rocks and cactus, hopping across boulder fields and the beautiful coastline alongside. One of my wild ideas is to get into Ultras. These are 50K-100K plus endurance fell running events often on similar terrain to what I was enjoying. I just love the exploring aspect of it all. Running on tarmac roads around Coventry doesn’t really do it for me but I will try to build up a base fitness in the meantime. It will also work well for future Ironman events.
I got back from the run then we went straight out the door again for a sunset shoot. The sun was setting inland to where we were situated so only really gave us some low direction light rather than pretty classic sunset shots. I decided to load the Fujicolor C200 film into the Olympus PenF for an extra stop of light (verses the Fuji Provia 100 film). Once the sun had gone down we continued to shoot until I was at ISO 6400 on the Lejca M 240, f1.4 and 1/30. By that stage I couldn’t really see Lindsay anymore to focus so we finished our days photos and went for some well-earned food and drinks.
Photoshoots – Day 3
Last day already yet we’d done so much in just 2 days we felt we had been in Tenerife much longer. For sunrise I still had black and white film in the camera so had to use that first. I might pack 2 Hasselblad film backs for my next trip (one film back loaded with colour film and another film back with black and white film). I then wanted to try shooting a roll of Fuji Velvia 100 with the intention to cross process in C41 chemicals. From my research I believe the film scans will look completely red, with a lot of contrast and not much detail. I don’t know if the photos will be a success but I tried to compose some simple compositions and fired the 12 shots off in reasonably quick succession. After breakfast we did one more indoor shoot to use our hotel room before we had to checkout. I loaded a roll of 120 Kodak Ektar 100 and really hope the photos look as good as they did through the viewfinder. Fingers crossed! Prior to check out Lindsay accepted my look request of curly hair, my favourite retro looking red swimming costume and makeup to match. We went out and shot the red outfit against the blue sky and finished with my sunglasses the look was complete. I loved it but what photographer doesn’t love red! I finished my roll of Ektar film and that was the last photos for the Hasselblad. Six rolls of 120 film shot in total. I didn’t think we’d use all the 120 film so it shows how well we had done (I don’t shoot film unless I like what I see). I will bring more rolls of 120 film next time if these images turn out OK. I also finished the Fuji C200 in the Olympus Pen-F but we were mid-way through some amazing photos so I loaded the Fuji Provia 100F slide film to make the most of the red outfit and cool hair / makeup. Lindsay changed clothes and we took a walk along the coast. I saw some photogenic steps coming out the sea so we shot there first then Lindsay decided she wanted to lie on the rocks with the water around her. I said she was crazy but we got into position to get the shot. 30 seconds later a big wave came along engulfing Lindsay and washing her straight off the rock. I must have instinctively pressed the shutter as it happened and managed to catch the just before and the aftermath. Poor Lindsay was a bit scrapped and battered but saw the funny side. A few wet hair photos then back to hotel reception to rest. I made the most of my last free hour in Tenerife and went out for one last run, determined to reach the summit of a distant hill within the allotted time. I did it and even managed to shoot some video on my iPhone for my Instagram feed. I think I will finally buy a GoPro camera soon to capture some behind the scenes footage from our photosession and my various antics.
Tenerife was my first photoshoot trip where I travelled out with a model to an overseas destination. I did a debrief with Lindsay at the airport while we waited for our flight as to what we could do better if I was to organise a similar overseas photoshoot trip. Overall it had been a huge success and for me personally it was a near perfect mix of photos, sunshine and training and with great company too. Working 1-2-1 with Lindsay for 3 days really pushed our creativity to keep producing different looking photos time and time again. It’s quite impressive what you can think of when you try and have an environment that inspires you to shoot. Lindsay and I were both very keen to get to most out of our trip and as a result didn’t visited the hotel pool once to relax in the sun. We both agreed we are very keen to do it all again but next time also look to invite at least one more model and for a larger event the possibility of makeup artists and a stylist/ wardrobe person too. More models would mean individual models would get to relax a little between shoots. Makeup artists would be beneficial for models not as confident as Lindsay at doing their own hair and makeup and a stylist can bring unique garments that can’t be found easily on the high street. As a minimum, Lindsay and I will be going back to Tenerife for another 3 day shoot as soon as we can!
For me personally next time I would try to pack two Hasselblad film backs and more 120 film, using it as my main film camera for all key images where there is sufficient light. I would probably replace the Olympus 35RC and Olympus Pen-F cameras with my Leica M3 to capture high quality images when there is insufficient light for the Hasselblad. I could use the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens on the Leica M3 for low light and then use the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens on my Leica M240 for more unique looking images. If I had more people on the photoshoot I would pack a reflector for someone to hold and then not bother with taking any speedlights. If it was only me and Lindsay (or one other model) I may try to take my digital Hasselblad H3D and use it with strobes. Why take the H3D? Because it has a flash sync speed of 1/800 vs. 1/180 for the Leica M240.
Are you a model and potentially interested in joined me on a future shoot? Is it for you?
In summary if you are a creative (and reliable!) model that enjoys creating TF images in your free time and are happy to cover your own expenses plus put up listening to me for three days then get in touch! If you are good at hair and makeup that is ideal, if not I am open to models bringing their own makeup artists along if the MUA is happy watching or relaxing during our shoots. If you are a model with an interest in clothes then your creative mind can only help enhance our photos and you are very welcome. For anyone interested please get in touch and I can give you more details including approximate costs (based on this trip).
*Update – January 2018 Tenerife trip is already booked with limited availability for models but if it goes well with this bigger group then I will organise more model photography location shoots.
1-2-1 Model Photography Workshops – Overseas
I could also look at potentially organising overseas 1-2-1 model photography workshops. If you want to shadow me working with Lindsay or another model and have the opportunity to take photos to build up your portfolio I’m sure I can arrange something. I have done 1-2-1 photography workshops in overseas cities before such as New York or Zurich but working with local models rather than UK models.
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica – December 2016
In June 2016 I visited Hamburg to work with local model agencies. I took my digital Leica M240 camera but also my beloved 6×6 medium format Hasselblad film camera (501C)(together with a bag of 120 black and white film!) The standards of models was in general very high and as such I shot a lot of film. It took me quite a while to develop, scan and process it all and there are still plenty I have not worked on. Here are some of my favourites so far
Hasselblad Film Camera Images
Chantal @ Core Management
Tomas @ Core Management
Carmen @ Core Management
Phila @ M4 Models
Chris @ Core Management
Aaron @ Core Management
Cailtin @ Core Management
Janna @ Core Management
Sofia @ Core Management
As I may have commented before, the Hasselblad 501C is one of my only cameras where the quality of the images makes me want to print the photos. I periodically print my work in photobooks and for my last two books the majority of the photos were taken with the Hasselblad. (Poland models June 2015 and NYC models December 2015 trips).
My Hamburg model photos taken with the Hasselblad 501C will certainly feature in my next photobook. Great camera!
*(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).
Two days after my Hasselblad H3D-31 digital camera arrived I was due to fly out to Budapest, Hungary for a long weekend of model photography. I decided to leave my analogue Hasselblad 501C camera behind and instead take the new H3D-31 and also my digital Leica M-240 rangefinder. It might sound silly to take two digital cameras and no film cameras but I wanted to try out the new Hasselblad H3D-31. I didn’t want to take only the H3D-31 as I only had two CF cards and two batteries. I was not sure how long two batteries would last me when doing model photography on location and I would need more than the 32GB + 16GB CF memory card I owned. I also only have one lens, the Hasselblad 80mm f2.8 HC for the H3D-31 which is not wide enough for all situations. The Leica M240 can easily last all day shooting on two batteries and I have plenty of SD cards for storage.
Models – 3 Model Agencies
I used to travel through Budapest quite regularly for work so I had been planning to return for a long time. Hungary was home from home at one point and much of my very early model photography practise was shot there. I planned the trip for the summer to try to utilise longer and warmer days (hopefully!). I got lucky and we had nearly all dry weather with blue skies. I collaborated with three Budapest model agencies including NumberOne Models Group, Maverick Agency and Face Model Management. I worked 9:00 – 21:00 with back to back shoots and did 8 photo sessions in all; 2 guys and 5 girls (with Lilla coming back for a second shoot). The standard of models was mixed as is often the case when selecting models in advance online. Some models did exceed expectation and were both experienced and of high standard. I was lucky to catch them between their contracts overseas, often Paris, Milan, Istanbul and Asia.
Location – Budapest
Budapest is a very photogenic city so I wanted to try to capture some of it in my photography. That said, I prepared for rain so booked a city centre apartment with balcony instead of the standard hotel booking approach. It was the best decision ever and I got really lucky with a nice room and amazing balcony to use for photos. The apartment was located in the centre and I could see the crowd gathered around a big screen for Euro 2016 games! Nearly all photos outside were shot within 5min walk of my apartment so my usual strategy. I tend to only need a wall and some nice light for my style of photos normally but I did try to use some Budapest landmarks too.
I wrote this while waiting for my flight home after an amazing few days of model photography in Germany last weekend. I collaborated with local model agencies here in Hamburg and photographed 11 models in 2.5 days, back to back. Good times!
A big thanks to M4 Models and Core Artist Management for giving me the opportunity. It was my first visit to Hamburg so I organized all the models remotely in the build up to the trip. Overall we were lucky with the weather with only a few spots of rain in total. Almost all photos were shot outside on the streets of Hamburg working in the area close to the hotel. The standard of models was generally very high and although I selected the models I photographed almost every one surpassed my expectations. I’m very excited to see the results.
I kept camera gear very simple and I only had 8kg hand luggage to work with anyway. My digital setup was the Leica M240 camera and Voigtlander 35mm Color Skopar pancake lens. For analogue photos I managed to fit in my Hasselblad 501C 6×6 medium format film camera plus the Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 lens. I shot all black and white film and the majority was Fomapan 100 film shot at ISO 400.
Models included Phila and Antonia from M4 in Hamburg and Anita over on contract from Number One Models in Budapest. I then had Janna, Carmen, Cailtin, Sofia, Chantel from Core and also for a change male models Tomas, Aaron and Chris also from Core. I expected to be working with all German models but I got to meet Dutch, Hungarian, Australian, American all signed to the Hamburg model agencies.
Some of the female models were of really high standard and a joy to work with but it was the male models that surprised me the most. All three of the guys produced really strong images and I loved how I can light men differently to women opening a whole new world of lighting oppotunities. I try to give girls flawless skin with light but for guys any ‘imperfections’ just added character. I hope the resulting photos look as good as I remember!
I shot 11 rolls of film and plenty of digital too so can’t wait to see the resulting images. I was happy with all the equipment I’d taken to use and would not hesitate to pack the same setup again.
If the agencies like my work I’m already hoping to work with some of the models again soon! 🙂