Hasselblad Portraits – Hamburg Models
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
*(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).
*(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.
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.
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! 🙂
Hello, I finally get chance to share some of the film photos from my last model photography trip to Poland. If you read my blog post review in April you may remember that I decided to take the newly purchased Mamiya 6 medium format film camera rather than the Hasselblad. As such you may see a difference in photo style compared to last year when I took my Hasselblad 501C. The other main difference to note is for this year I was shooting the Mamiya 6 mostly with strobes whereas I used the Hasselblad with ambient light only.
In no particular order here are a selection of model photography / fashion / portrait / beauty photos from Poland all shot with the Mamiya 6. As I get chance to process more I will try to add them to the gallary below.
You can click any photo to see details of film and developing methods used.
I am happy with some of the photos shared above but I think the Hasselblad 501C takes far sharper images with more clarity and ‘pop’. I took the Mamiya 6 to Ukraine (photos still being processed) but I think for the next trip I will try to pack the Hasselblad instead.
Lastly, as mentioned in the last post a big thanks to all the models and to the agencies (Malva Models and Future Models Management) for the collaboration.
(Hasselblad 501C + 50mm, 60mm, 80mm, 120mm, 150mm lenses)
(Mamiya 6 + 75mm lens)
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
I organized another model photography trip to Uzhgorod, Ukraine to catchup with model friends and hopefully also meet some new ones. After recently visiting Poland to shoot with the model agencies I had some ideas of what cameras I may like to take for this trip. I take only hand luggage on all my trips so it depends on the airline as to how much camera gear I can pack. For Poland I had a backpack and my small Billingham Hadley Digital bag so took 4 cameras, a strobe and a compact travel tripod to use as light stand. For Ukraine I only have the backpack.
I took my newly purchased Mamiya 6 to Poland as it is smaller than the Hasselblad 501C. I packed the Leica M 240 for digital and brought the Leica M6 to shoot more film. I selected the Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens for its size, sharpness and lack of flare. The Leica Summicron 50 f2 v5 flares too much for me so I left that at home and instead of packing the slightly larger Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 went one ‘better’ and brought the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO. The 75 APO is my sharpest Leica M lens and maybe sharpest any lens and it lets me focus closer than nearly all standard Leica M lenses in terms of magnification. Another camera I considered was my old Nikon FM plus Voigtlander 40mm f2 pancake lens but in the end I chose the M6. In addition to all of that I squeezed in my Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 collapsible lens and a speedlight (+ reflector). No tripod though.
I currently favour 120 Fomapan 100 black and white film for my medium format cameras but I thought I better use up some existing film in the fridge before buying more Foma. As such I packed mostly Kodak Tri-X 400 film plus a few different rolls to use up. For 35mm film I wanted to shoot more colour so brought along some Kodak Portra 400, Fujicolor C200 and for black and white 35mm Fomapan 100.
One thing I like about Fomapan 100 is I can shoot it at ISO 50-400 and develop as if at ISO 100. I can also push Foma to 800 easily without any real issues. If I am planning to shoot ISO 50-400 I would go for Foma. For ISO 400-800-1600 range I would use Tri-X 400. The weather for the trip was forecast unsettled so Tri-X might be the right choice.
I like to make the most of my model photography trips overseas so managed to shoot 17 girls in 3.5 days shooting 9:00-21:00 back to back. I worked with the local model agency, One Models, who kindly provided a few models that were available and not out on contract overseas. I also worked with some of the girls I knew from previous trips and also a few new faces, friends of friends.
The weather was not as kind as I would have liked (for the time of year) and we had a fair bit of rain. As such I did more photoshoots inside the hotel than I planned to so I had to think a bit more. The speedlight was a life saver in the low light conditions and I used it for the majority of the photos. I do tend to favour using lights for most of my model photography and I think adding light can sometimes make a photo look more like a fashion photo which I like. The speedlight helped me keep my ISO at 100-400 for almost all photos and I also had the lenses stopped down. The biggest limitation was the flash sync speed of the Leica M6 of 1/50. I noted on the film scans for a shoot we did outside in the rain that there was motion blur as the models were moving more than I noticed. The Mamiya 6 has a max flash sync speed of 1/500 so that had no issues.
As I had no light stand or tripod I had to handhold the speedlight for the majority of the photos. This is not ideal as it is difficult to exactly replicate the same light when swapping between cameras (digital and film) but better than nothing (for my taste). I didn’t use the reflector at all so may leave it behind next time.
I noticed my Leica M 240 needs the rangefinder recalibrating again (the second time) so I was shooting 99% with the 35mm Voigtlander Color Skopar lens stopped down a little. I did use the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO for a few photos but I focused with the LCD. The mis-calibrated rangefinder was less of an issue than it may sound as my current style is favouring lenses stopped down to match the film cameras for easy alignment of settings. I shoot digital with ISO, aperture and shutter to match the film camera then when the model looks good I switch to film cameras. I have some nice Sekonic light meters but find at the moment I am not using them. When using strobes I like to see the digital preview of the light prior to shooting film. With daylight I would be happy to meter once then shoot film without chimping on the digital LCD.
Excluding the recalibration issue, the Leica M 240 is on good form and I love it more and more each day. I would still say the Leica M9 and Leica M8 make better B&W photos (more filmic) but the M240 is no slouch and I am getting good results both B&W and colour.
As mentioned the Leica M6 max flash sync speed of 1/50 is a killer for strobist work. It is just too slow unless used in very controlled conditions. I did get some nice black and white film scans but I also lost a few due to model motion blur outside. The Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO pretty much lived on the M6 but strangely I found it too tight for my current taste on location. I was loving the 35mm focal length on the M240. I might take two 35mm lenses next time to match the view for easy composition across the two Leica cameras.
After getting some quite nice results in Poland using the Mamiya 6 medium format 6×6 rangefinder camera, I was excited to see what I could do in Ukraine. (Poland photos still to come when i’ve edited a few more). I am enjoying the size of the Mamiya 6 camera very much and it is very easy to carry it in my little Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag together with one complete Leica M camera or 2 Leica M bodies and 2 Leica M lenses packed down. I still have my Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6 post to write but in the meantime it is safe to say the Mamiya 6 is a keeper. I still only have one lens, the 75mm which I like due to it’s smaller size and lighter weight (vs. 50mm and 150mm lenses) and the focal length. That said I would like to use a Mamiya 6 50mm f4 G lens if I see one for sale at a reasonable price. I think the wider view would be great for film wedding photography to capture a wider scene.
I have been travelling to Ukraine for quite a few years now and I must say the level and quality of modelling from the girls this time is the best to date. The resulting photos may have been helped a little by me not having any majority camera issues (unlike previous trips) and being armed with more photography knowledge and experience. In addition to that, I meet more and more models each visit so every follow up visit I pick the best of the best to maximise the chance of making photos I will like. I always try to better my best work with every shoot and although it may not always be possible it keeps me fired up and as keen as ever.
As with all my trips, a huge thank you to all the models I worked with, to One Model agency and to the makeup girls where applicable. I didn’t experience a single cancellation so that was a real breath of fresh air compared to the usual UK (and now Poland) high cancellation rates of 50-60% plus. Big big thanks!
I have started to develop and scan some of the black and white film but the colour film is still to follow.
My latest camera purchase is a 1989 Mamiya 6 medium format analogue rangefinder camera. The camera has a 6×6 film format and came with the 75mm f3.5 kit lenses. There are 3 lenses available, 50, 75 and 150 and all use the built in camera viewfinder with rangefinder patch.
I had overseas model trips fast approaching and I wanted to take a medium format film camera with me. The 6×6 Hasselblad 501C continues to be perhaps my favourite camera to operate and the results it gives but I use it with a prism viewfinder so it’s not as compact as it could be. I have smaller medium format cameras already, Fuji GF670 (6×6 & 6×7), Fuji GS645 and Fuji GA645. I tried to love the GF670 again recently as it ticks most of my boxes but didn’t really work for me. The GS645 shutter sticks so needs repair but is otherwise a nice camera. The GA645 is too automated for me but that was the camera I had planned to take as it is super compact yet has the crazy sharp Fujion 60mm f4 lens. The camera however also recently died on me and had an electrical fault preventing the camera from finding focus and therefore letting me depress the shutter to take a picture. The Mamiya 645 Super is a slightly larger camera but smaller and lighter than the Hasselblad. Upsettingly I seem to have feel out with love with the M645 also as the results have not been good enough recently.
I have always been tempted by a Mamiya 6 or Mamiya 7 camera so I think it was just a matter of time. I nearly bought a Mamiya 7ii when I bought the 35mm Hasselblad Xpan to take to New York in December and then resisted.
When considering this purchase I looked at both the Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7. I am still not a big fan of 6×7 film format. To me it is almost a waste of film as the resolution is far higher than I need for online use. I shot the Fuji GF670 in 6×7 format a few weeks ago but found I still prefer 6×6. The Mamiya 6 was therefore the obvious choice, partly due to the film format but equally because the lenses retract into the camera body making the camera only slightly deeper than the Fuji GF670 folding camera. The Mamiya 7 lenses don’t retract and it has the 6×7 format. Some people prefer the Mamiya 7 / 7ii as it can accept a wider lens 43mm lens but for my model photography that is not something that interests me (at the moment). The Mamiya 6 and 7s are highly regarded to be well built with sharp optics so they hold a higher price tag compared to the Fuji 645 medium format camera range. I was tempted to get another small Fuji to try but decided to pay more and get a camera that will hopefully last me a bit longer.
As written above, I do love the Hasselblad 501C especially when working within 1m distance of my models for tight crop head and shoulder (or closer) images. For photos at a distance greater than say 1m I prefer a rangefinder like my Leica M cameras to focus. Rangefinder cameras have the disadvantage that they cannot focus very close to a subject. The Mamiya 6 has the same issue and will only focus from 1m-infinity on the 75mm lens. As such, if I pair up the Hasselblad 501C and Mamiya 6 I get the best of both worlds and all the photos would it theory blend seamlessly with the same 6×6 format. If I was covering a wedding with medium format film cameras this will now be my go to setup I think. The Hasselblad and Mamiya 6 lenses are of a similar speed with f3.5/f4 being quite common. The Mamiya 6 has the advantage of being a rangefinder so can be used at a slower shutter speed handheld without the mirror slap vibration of the Hasselblad. If I get the 50mm lens for the Mamiya 6 I think I would use that setup for wider and the 120mm / 150mm lenses on the Hasselblad for telephoto. I have no interest in getting the 150mm lens for the Mamiya but others rate it highly.
Resulting images coming soon. I shot a quick roll before my trip overseas and here is the photo I scanned in the earlier hours before the flight rather than sleeping than night!
Mamiya 6 + 75mm lens + Fomapan 100 / Model – Elle