Hasselblad vs Kiev 88

Hasselblad 501C vs. Kiev 88 / ARAX-CM

Matthew Osborne Photography
September 2015

20150926-234936.jpg

One of the first film cameras I bought was a 6×6 medium format rebadged Kiev 88 camera called an ‘ARAX-CM’. The Kiev 88 was a Soviet clone of the 1600 F Hasselblad model hence the nick name Hasselbladski. At the time I also had a more modern Contax 645 film camera but I didn’t like how automated it was despite the amazing and famous Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 lens. I would say the Contax 645 is the camera of choice for many pro wedding photographers that shoot film but somehow I preferred the old fashioned Kiev 88 experience.

For me the Kiev 88 is a real film camera. All mechanical, no batteries and manual everything. I also like how compact it is for a medium format camera when using the waist level viewfinder. My crazy plan at the time was to shoot weddings with two Kiev 88 cameras so I bought an original Kiev 88 camera and additional film backs for both the Kiev 88 and ARAX-CM camera bodies. I then bought extension tubes for macro and an array of lenses the fit the cameras. The ARAX-CM has a P6 (Pentacon 6) lens mount whereas Kiev 88 accepted screw mount lenses. With a small Chinese adapter from eBay I could use the screw mount lenses on the ARAX-CM which was my main camera body to use. I then had the second Kiev 88 camera as more of a film camera backup body. Lenses I had included Mir 26B 45mm f3.5, Mir 38B 65mm f3.5, ARAX 80mm f2.8, Vega 28B 120mm f2.8 and the mighty Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180mm f2.8 lens.

My ARAX-CM camera travelled with me everywhere in addition to a Nikon DSLR digital camera at the time. Because of the compact size of the Kiev 88 design I took it on trips to Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, and even India. My lens of choice was the Mir 65mm f3.5 that let me focus close to give a nice shallow DOF.

This was my film camera setup for maybe 12 months and then I added a 35mm Nikon FM SLR camera (from memory).

After this time my film photography stepped up a gear and I started buying more film cameras. I bought a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II 6×7 camera with 4 Mamiya Sekor lenses 65mm, 90mm 110mm and 180mm. The RZ67 waist level viewfinder is big and bright and so easy to focus with. The Mamiya Sekor lenses also brought a new level of film image sharpness that I had not yet seen. I bought 645, 6×6, 6×7 and Polaroid Mamiya RZ film backs and together the Mamiya kit put an end to me using my ARAX-CM and Kiev 88 cameras. The RZ67 was a bigger camera but I loved the Mamiya bellow lens focusing system to get in extra close without the need for extension tubes. I sold the Kiev 88 camera but kept my ARAX-CM. The ARAX has sat quietly on the shelf as my photography pushed forward. I moved from Nikon digital cameras to a Leica system and my appetite for perfection continued.

My latest purchase was a Hasselblad 501C camera so I decided to dust off the ARAX-CM to re-live the experience before the Hasselblad arrived. I love the fact that the Kiev 88 lenses can focus much closer than Hasselblad mount lenses and that the ARAX-CM has a build in hotshoe for strobist photography.

I used the ARAX-CM on a model shoot and I was amazed how difficult it was to focus the dim split screen centre spot with the WLF. I think got so used to the Mamiya RZ67 and later the Mamiya 645 Super WLF that I have been spoilt. I will now sell the ARAX-CM as the new Hasselblad will perform a similar role.

I didn’t have any expectations for my Hasselblad camera as I have never tried one before buying. I expected the 501C to be pretty similar to the Kiev 88 in many ways but I was so wrong! Yes the do look very similar and yes they are both 6×6 medium format film cameras but that is all. The Hasselblad accepts Zeiss lenses with built in leaf shutters that sync at 1/500 vs the focal plane shutter in the Kiev 88 camera body that syncs at 1/30. The build quality of the Hasselblad feels on par with Leica camera if not better and feels like a Swiss made watch. A true precision instrument. The Hasselblad film back is indeed similar to the Kiev 88 back but just feels better made. The ARAX-CM film back was a different design but looked similar from the outside. The Hasselblad Zeiss leaf shutter lenses add both weight and cost to the equation. Lens for the Kiev 88 can be picked up on eBay for as little as £75-£100 each. Zeiss lenses for the Hasselblad however are normally £350 and skywards.

I think if you are a photographer that only dabbles in film a few times a year then a Kiev 88 will provide the medium format film experience on a low budget. If however you need a precision tool to get the best possible images while enjoying every moment of the experience then I recommend getting a Hasselblad. I think the Hasselblad together with my Leica M3 film cameras are cameras for life.

Could I tell the difference between a photo taken with a Hasselblad and a photo taken with Kiev 88? I think no. Both camera systems can capture sharp images and I think the choice of film used has an equal part to play in the final results. I don’t remember the Kiev 88 ever giving me soft images as such I but just notice that Hasselblad images can look almost forgivingly sharp when stopped down.

For me a camera can create the perfect photo but unless I enjoy the process of making it then it is of no real interest. An obvious example of the is the super sharp Fuji GF670 folding rangefinder camera. Great photos but no emotionally attachment. The Hasselblad somehow makes it fun to take photos of the most simple everyday objects to try to create ‘art’!

The Hasselblad 501C camera has secured itself a place in my wedding photography camera bag together with my Leica M3s and digital Leica M 240. It would be like leaving one of the children behind otherwise!

20150927-002332.jpg

Advertisements

Ilford Black & White Film

Ilford FP4+ 125 film (35mm & 120)

Here are the first samples of me using medium format 120 Ilford FP4+ black and white film. Photos were shot on my Russian 6×6 ARAX-CM camera (Kiev 88)(aka “Hasselbladski” – Hasselblad clone) and a Russian Mir 3 65mm f3.5 lens. I shot the ISO 125 film at 250.

I develop my own black and white film using a Patterson tank. Here I used Rodinal stand development, 45mins 22 degree with 1 inversion (so semi-stand developing really). I used 1:150 rodinal to tap water. Once dried negatives were scanned with a Epson v600 scanner then cleaned up and contrast enhanced in Photoshop Elements 6. I found the negatives to be a little flat (with lens contrast) so next time I will develop for less time so the shadow stay black. I will also invert more than once to make the highlights brighter (as during stand developing highlights develop first then if left longer shadow detail next. I normally use Kodak T-Max 100 and 400 film. T-Max has a finer grain structure and can look more like digital if very sharp and contrasty. Ilford FP4+ film is more grainy with nice tonality give a more filmic look i think. I like it but i think for 35mm film FP4+ developed in Rodinal may be too grainy for my portraits (however fantastic for architecture).

Here are some more 120 Ilford FP4+ samples (2013)

120 Ilford FP4+
ARAX-CM
Ilford Film
6x6 Medium Format Film

As a comparison to the last photo shown, here is the same photo with the Leica M9 in colour. I have to say on this occasion for me the 35mm digital vs. medium format film battle is won by the 35mm digital.
Leica M9 Colours vs Kodak Portra Film

Here are a few old photos from when I shot my very first roll of black and white film on my late Grandfathers 35mm Yashica MG-1. it was also the first roll of film I developed – December 2012. I was both amazed and overjoyed when this seemingly old fashioned process of developing black and white film at home actually worked! 🙂 Even now they are some of my favourite film shots. They look like film and have a great retro feel, rather than all the later 35mm Kodak T-Max shots that looked more modern.

Yashica goes B&W

35mm Ilford FP4+ samples – home developed in Xtol (2012)
Ellie with Yashica MG-1
Ellie
Jodi with Yashica MG-1
Katie with Yashica, London

35mm Ilford FP4+ samples – developed by Ilford lab (2010)
Yashica  MG-1 B&W #2
Yashica MG-1 B&W #4
Yashica MG1 & Ilford FP4+
Yashica MG-1 B&W #5
Yashica  MG-1 B&W #1

Film vs. Digital Leica M9
I think when film can offer me something extra or different to digital then I get excited. During 2013 I shot almost all Kodak T-Max film. I then bought a digital 35mm Leica M9 rangefinder camera. The results from the M9 look filmic due to the Kodak CCD sensor. As a result my use of film temporarily stopped. Ilford FP4+ film gives a look that is more grainy that the images from the digital Leica and with a much greater dynamic range.

Voigtlander Bessa R3A
As I still have a Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm rangefinder film camera that uses my amazing Leica M mount lenses I am now excited at the prospect of shooting some 35mm Ilford FP4+ film. I have a roll of 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 in the camera at the moment and but I will definitely order some 35mm FP4+ film to try next. I also want to try some ADOS film as I have a soft spot for high contrast black and white images.

Black and White Film Developing
Tonight I have just developed a roll of 35mm T-Max 100 that was shot on the Voigtlander Bessa R3A at ISO 400 at the start of the summer (before the Leica M9 arrived). Most of the photos were shot at the end of the day in low light conditions using the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 at f1.4. Taking this into consideration, I decided to use Rodinal stand development 1:150 ratio again for 45mins but this time with 3 inversions during the stand. The plan was to push the highlights (so brighter) and underexpose the shadows (to give black blacks) to give some punchy high contrast negatives. The negatives are currently drip drying over the bath but I think at first glance I will have contrasty negatives that may be a little dark (perhaps) but I can brighten the highlights when I scan tomorrow if I need to. I did the shoot while in Edinburgh on a work trip with local model Emma and that combination usually produces some very rewarding images. New Kodak T-Max images coming soon!

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Related Posts

Yashica MG-1 (Contains the same example images)
Voigtlander Bessa R3A
ARAX-CM
Rodinal Stand Development

ARAX-CM: Vintage Look Film Photography

6×6 Vintage Look Film Photography

Taken with my Russian medium format film camera, the ARAX-CM 6×6 that is a rebadged Kiev 88 and also known as a Hasselbladski. The Kiev 88 was a Soviet clone of the Hasselblad 1600 F hence the name.

arax-cm

If you want to buy an ARAX camera you should get in touch with Mr Gevorg Vartanian at http://araxfoto.com/ where he will be happy to help. I found the customer service to be excellent and have made several purchases from him.

This photo was shot in an old castle in Ukraine with model Olga on a day trip back in spring 2013. Shot on Fuji Pro400H colour film.

Details and defects as shot. I didn’t clean up the photo as it is slightly mis-focused on the face plus I liked the vintage look despite the light leak.

I have only recently had this batch of colour film lab developed and it was then I noticed the ARAX film back had incurred a light leak problem. Frustrating but it is now fixed with a bit of card and sticky tape!

I love the simplicity of my ARAX. No battery or electronics to go wrong, just a box, a viewfinder, a lens and a film back. It reminds me of my first car, a Russian Lada Niva Cossack 4×4 that also had minimal mod cons! Both can be mended with basic tools and their simplicity make them a joy to use.

I used to use the ARAX-CM as my travel medium format film camera as it would fit in my bag easily unlike my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II which is too big. The huge viewfinder on the Mamiya does makes focusing a doddle but I prefer the 6×6 format vs the 6×7 I think.

I guess they both have their pros and cons! 🙂

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Note: If you are looking to get into medium format film photography I have both a Pentacon Six TL (6×6) and Kiev 88 (6×6) both in their original cases with lenses for SALE. Both cameras offer a fantastic cheap way to get into medium format film and the P6 especially would be great for photography students as the cheaper of the two.

Gallary Content Page

Related Pages  – Shared Photos From my Flickr.com Sets

Wedding Photography

Film Photography

Model Photography

Misc

Camera Gear & Lenses

http://www.MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Gallary – India 2004-2013

Sharing my Flickr Set, India 2004-2013

ARAX-CM & Kodak Portra, IndiaPune, India with Nikon FMKodak Portra 400 Street  PhotographyNikon FM - India6x6 India Street Photography on FIlmIndia Commute - Nikon FM
McDonalds Drive Through..Thank You!India on 6x6 Film!Kodak Portra India Street PhotographyARAX in IndiaIndia HighwayVintage film photography
Street PhotographyLong Walk Home, IndiaStreet shooting, IndiaFilm Is Not Dead (2)India on FilmIndia Commute (2)
Street Kids, IndiaSome People Just Really Take The Pee!India Highway (2)India Highway..India.. off the beaten trackSecurity Conscious, India

India 2004-2013, a set on Flickr.

Details:

Selection of photos taken on my trips to India including both film photography and digital photography.

Cameras used include:
ARAX-CM 6×6 (Kiev 88) (Medium format film)
Nikon FM SLR 35mm Film
Nikon D800
Nikon D700
Nikon D90
Pentax Optio S4 (2004 trip)

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

ARAX-CM India – Double Exposure

Film Photography – ARAX-CM + Mir 65mm f3.5 in India earlier this year. Only recently got the film developed and am starting to scan it in. Here an accidental double exposure but I quite like it.

Shot on medium format 120 Kodak Portra 400 film, Pune

Here are a few more from the trip –
Kodak Portra 400 Street  Photography
Kodak Portra India Street Photography
6x6 India Street Photography on FIlm

I will add more when get chance

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

Camera Gear for Sale!

Here is some of the photography gear I have for sale. Items for sale include both film cameras and lenses and digital camera equipment. I will add photos and more details to each item as I get chance:

> Pentacon Six TL Camera (6×6 medium format film camera) with Carl Zeiss Biometar 80mm f2.8 lens (aperature ring not working so lens stuck) + leather case

> Kiev 88 Camera (6×6 medium format film camera) with 65/3.5 lens + leather case + additional TTL finder

> Mir 45mm f3.5 lens (P6 mount) (aperature ring not working so lens stuck at f3.5)

> Nikkor 85mm f1.4D Lens (boxed)

>Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AI Lens

> Contax 645 Polaroid back (for Fuji film)

> Rode Pro Mic (boxed) + wind jammer sock (BNIB)

> Manfrotto lightweight tripod (BNIB)

I’ll add more items when I get chance. Please contact me for more details if interested. Thanks

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk