Hasselblad vs Mamiya 6

Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

 

Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

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

Intro

Firstly, sorry for the delay on this!  I know a few of you asked me about it weeks ago and I said then I’d share my thoughts soon.  At least waiting til after two trips overseas using the Mamiya 6 I can now give a fair writeup  versus my Hasselblad 501C.  As a quick recap I recently bought the Mamiya 6 to provide a smaller alternative to my 500 series Hasselblad for trips abroad (especially).  Both cameras are 6×6 medium format film cameras taking 120 film.  Both camera are roughly the same price with the Mamiya 6 probably costing slightly more here in the UK due to there being not many Mamiya 6 cameras on the market.  My Hasselblad 501C was my favourite camera before buying the Mamiya 6 so expectation was very high.  Both cameras seem to receive positive reviews from reading prior to my purchase so without further ado lets crack on.

Size Comparison – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

I love the modular 500 series Hasselblad cameras but I only use mine with a prism viewfinder which unfortunately adds both size and weight.  I wish I could focus accurately without the prism finder but I really cannot see properly with Acute Matte non-spot screen glass.  It is perhaps my biggest disappointment with the Hasselblad as I love the waist level viewfinder view / experience on my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera.  The Hasselblad 80mm kit lens is the most compact followed by the 100mm from those I have owned.  My go to lenses are the 60mm Distagon (second shortest of my Zeiss lenses and gives a very usable field of view) and 120mm Makro-Planar for close up portraits and ultimate image quality (more on that to follow below).  The Hasselblad has the advantage of a removable film back so I can use two film backs and have colour film and black and white film running side by side without having to finish a roll.  My Mamiya 6 has the 75mm lens which is the smallest of the 50mm, 75mm and 150mm lens line up.  The Mamiya 6 design allows the lens to partially retract when not in use making the camera small enough to fit in my Leica M camera bag. The bag I use is a Billingham Hadley Digital and the Mamiya 6 will just fit with lens down into the bag.  The size benefit of the Mamiya 6 is not to be under estimated.

Ease of Use – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Being ‘Mr Leica’ is it perhaps no surprise that I love rangefinder style cameras.  The Mamiya 6 like the Leica M cameras is a rangefinder focus design and I love the fact that I have a definitive focus confirmation regardless of the F stop.  I am a little short sighted and wear prescription glasses for driving but not when using cameras.  As such I enjoy knowing that a subject is in focus with a rangefinder when the subject is further away.  That said my biggest complaint of rangefinder cameras is I cannot focus as close as I would like.  Leica M cameras are my bread and butter so it is just normal for me to not be able to focus at a distance closer than 0.7m.  If I then add a Hasselblad 501C to the mix you can imagine my joy when I can focus in really close, especially with the Zeiss 120mm Makro-Planar lens.  I love nothing more than viewing subject through the big bright Hasselblad viewfinder.  If I could see every day life with the same view the Hasselblad gives I think the world would be a more beautiful place!

The Mamiya 6 rangefinder design lets me work at slower shutter speeds / lower light levels at the same aperture as it has no mirror to flap inside causing vibration.  I have shot the Mamiya 6 at a shutter speed of 1/8-1/15 and got a decent photo handheld.  I tend to use the Hasselblad handheld too for ease and shoot normally at a shutter speed of 1/60-1/125 with the light levels I am in.  That said, if I am honest to myself I think I can get more and sharper photos if go back to using a monopod.  I plan to try using a monopod again to compare results. Sometimes I am not sure if I moved or the model moved when using a very shallow depth of field and the eyes are not as sharp as I want.  I find the Hasselblad tends to pull me in perhaps too close at times resulting in many close up portraits.  The Mamiya 6 on the other hand let me work easily at a distance giving images with a different style and lets me make better use of the location.

Image Sharpness – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

The main section of this post and to me what it all boils down to is image quality and more specifically for me image sharpness.  The Hasselblad had set the bench mark very high so the Mamiya 6 had a lot to live up to.  When I read ‘film vs digital’ reviews online the film camera used is often a Mamiya 7 as perhaps the best example camera film can offer in terms of sharpness, say (excluding large format).  To my knowledge the image quality of Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7 lenses is not noticeably different.  As such I expected very good results from the Mamiya 6.  To explain further and to cover myself, the Mamiya 6 photos / experience / review is based on the 75mm lenses I own.  The Hasselblad has an advantage as I have the Zeiss 50mm Distagon CF, 60mm Distagon CF, 80mm Planar CF, 120mm Makro-Planar CF and 150mm Sonnar CF lenses.  I have also owned the Zeiss 100mm Planar CF lens.  If I have to place these lenses in order of sharpness I would say 120mm first, 50mm/60mm/100mm about equal (without thorough testing), 150mm and lastly  the 80mm.  I am rarely happy with the results from my 80mm lenses.  The 150mm Sonnar gives a completely different look to the other lenses, a less fine more buttery smooth image.  My conclusions of the Hasselblad 501C performance is based on the 60mm/120mm lenses that I use most often.

So how does the  image sharpness compare between the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6.  The Mamiya 6 does produce fine grained (if I can describe it like that, regardless of film stock) sharp images with lots of detail captured, with the lens shot wide open or stopped down.  It is perhaps comparable to a sharp digital image in that the image is flat but sharp.  I find it good for further away subjects especially like full body shots.  The Hasselblad 501C and it’s Zeiss lenses produces a different sharpness.  The next few sentences may make some readers cringe as they have read it a 100 times but I cannot describe it any more accurately.  The Zeiss optics on the Hasselblad camera make an image ‘pop’.  There is a lot written online about the mystically Zeiss 3D pop look but it is just fact in this instance.  The Mamiya 6 photos are very flat and to me lack the wow factor.  They are documentary style photos accurately capturing the detail in the scene but they lack the zing.  I don’t take photos to capture ordinary.  I try to create the extra-ordinary as cheesy as that sounds!

Fluff aside, how do the Hasselblad photos differ and perhaps why?  It seems the Zeiss optics have greater micro-contrast which helps give the apparent additional sharpness.  The Zeiss optics focus closer which gives a shallower depth of field at the same given aperture helping to give the 3D look.  Focusing closer can increase image distortion with wider lenses which can also give a kind of 3D look to an image.  Focusing closer to a face naturally lets me see every eye lash and skin pore using the Hasselblad that I can’t see as closely with the Mamiya 6 as I am too far away.  As such the Hasselblad photos look sharper to my eyes.

With all the excuses aside, I am 99.99% sure that my Hasselblad photos are a bit or a lot sharper than the Mamiya 6 photos.  Some Hasselblad negatives need no additional sharpening after scanning whereas I think I always boost sharpness with the Mamiya 6 film scans.  I tend to process all my film scans to bring out the sharpness in a image regardless of the camera I use.  All the example photos below have been processed but it is worth noting that each photos is probably as sharp as I can get it without introducing additional grain / over doing it (too much)(to my eyes / taste).

Conclusion – Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6

Based on the cameras and lenses I use and the resulting photos I would say the Hasselblad 501C camera images appear sharper that the Mamiya 6. I will also say the Hasselblad Zeiss optics render images in a much more pleasing way, to my eyes and taste.  I prefer the Hasselblad camera for close up portraits and when working within up to say 1.5m distance.  The Mamiya 6 for me is still a keeper due to it’s compact size, rangefinder focus system and being sharp enough for me to use happily.  It is not always possible to carry the Hasselblad with me when working with models overseas so the Mamiya 6 is my next best option.  If carrying gear was no option I would take both cameras to a shoot and use the Hasselblad for <1m photos and the Mamiya 6 for those at a greater distance.  I would perhaps get the Mamiya 6 50mm f4 G lenses for wide shots and have the 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar on the Hasselblad.  This combination would also suit me well for film wedding photography for my style of working.

I am not interested by a Mamiya 7 as I prefer the 6×6 film format of the Mamiya 6 (versus 6×7) and the retractable lenses of the Mamiya 6.

Below are lots of example images using the Hasselblad and Mamiya 6 with different models, different film, different light so you can make up your own mind on what camera produces the ‘nicer’ images to your taste.  I have also included a sneak peek of a few images to come from my Poland and Ukraine trips as I didn’t have enough examples photos from the Mamiya 6 in the UK.

Thanks

Hasselblad 501C Portraits

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

Mamiya 6 Portraits

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

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Leica M Mount Lens King Of Bokeh Test!

Leica M Mount Lens King Of Bokeh Test

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

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

The Bokeh Test

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

Qu. Which Leica M mount lenses were tested?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qu. Why did I do this test?

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

Leica M Mount Lens Bokeh Test Results:

  • 1) Leica Elmar 135mm f4

Peg Bokeh Test! Leica Elmar 135mm f4

  • 2) Leica Summicron 90mm f2

Peg Bokeh Test! Leica Summicron 90mm f2

  • 3) Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5

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

  • 4) Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4

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

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

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

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

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer

Leica M Mount Lens Test & Zeiss Lenses for Model Photography

Tonight I was playing around with my M42 mount Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.8 on the Leica M9 via a Leica M – M42 adapter. I understood that you cannot focus M42 lenses on the rangefinder focus system as there is no coupling but I found that if I set my 50mm lens to 0.65M I could focus through the view finder. This is amazing for me as I like to use lenses close so can now use this nice lenses at 0.65M whereas other Leica M lenses tend to focus at 0.7M. (see below for Zeiss Planar Model Photography on D800!)

I then thought I would try my perhaps even nicer M42 mount Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 lens (via same adapter). Again I found I could focus it at 0.65M. This is great for me as I now have an 80mm lens I can focus at 0.65M. Perfect for my model shoots.. watch this space! Pleased. (see below for Zeiss Pancolar Model Photography on D800!)
Zeiss 80mm Pancolar (M42) @f1.8  - Test Shot

My Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens acted as a bench mark for my little comparison test looking at both sharpness and minimum focal length.
Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 Nokton @f1.4 - Test Shot

Latest my new Voigtlander 28mm f2 Ultron arrived today. It looks super sharp at f2 so looking forward to the wedding this weekend. My first Leica Wedding! 😀
Voigtlander 28mm f2 Ultron @f2 - Test Shot

> I have one more lens on route so check back and I will add the results. It’s a surprise! 🙂

Note* All photos are resized DNG files using LR3. No sharpening. All lenses used wide open at minimal focal distance on Leica M9. The tones are not an accurate representation as the sun kept coming out (was for the 28mm shot).

I use the M42 Zeiss lenses on my Nikon D800 via adapter as love the super sharp Zeiss optics and tones over Nikkor glass.  Here are  a few examples:

Zeiss Pancolar Model Photography: Katie & Harriett

Katie with CZ Pancolar 80/1.8

Katie SOOC with CZ Pancolar 80/1.8

Harriett with Pancolar 80/1.8 SOOC

Zeiss Planar Model Photography: Katie

Katie with Rollei Planar 50/1.8

Katie with Rollei Planar 50/1.8

Summer 2012 - Katie SOOC

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk