Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Budapest-Ukraine Road Trip

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2017

 

Leica Shoot Out

Well Overdue

I had originally booked to visit Ukraine in July this year (and Poland) but due to my Ironman triathlon training commitments I decided to forgo both model photography trips and rebook them after the event.  I wanted to try to get to Ukraine before the cold weather came so booked it as soon after the Ironman as I could.  I also rebooked Poland (to come!).  After no overseas model photography shoots since I think May 2017 it felt like it had been forever.  I was more than ready for this one!

Camera Gear

  • Leica M240 digital camera body
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens
  • Leica M3 film camera body
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica M4-P film camera body
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens

Cameras and Film

I have been to both Budapest and Ukraine quite a few times now so I tried to select cameras, lenses and film stock different to previous trips. I wanted to take a medium format camera but had taken the Fuji GF670, Fuji GA645 and Mamiya 6 in the past and was not overly impressed with the results compared to a 35mm film Leica.  I think if you load a Leica with professional standard fine grain film they can capture super sharp high clarity images even with the smaller 35mm film format.  I’ve had great success in the past combining in particular the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens with  the fine grain black and white Ilford Pan F50 film.  I wanted to bring the Hasselblad but I didn’t have sufficient capacity in my hand luggage so settled for 2 Leica film cameras, one to shoot colour film and one for black and white film. I also tried to pack more rolls of colour film as I normally shoot mostly black and white. For colour film I bulk loaded a batch of Kodak Motion Picture Vision3 200T film which is tungsten balanced but I use it with a 81B colour correction filter in daylight. I also had some daylight balanced Vision3 50D to use but less of it.  For black and white film I selected what I believe is the best with regards to image quality (sharpness and clarity) and took Ilford Pan F 50 and Ilford Delta 100 film. For low light I packed some Kodak T-Max 400 film as I like the fine grain and some of my usual bulk loaded Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 which has such great latitude and seems to work in almost any light.

Leica M Lenses

When taking Leica film cameras rather than a different film camera brand such as Hasselblad, Mamiya or Nikon, I have the advantage that I can pack one set of lenses to use on both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica film cameras.  Last time I was in Ukraine my M240 needed recalibrating so I used a 35mm Voigtlander Skopar lens stopped down to ensure I had a deeper depth of field. I was also using speedlights a lot for flash photography.  In contrast, for this trip I wanted to use less flash and shoot with a shallow depth of field. My obvious lens choice for available light photography is the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. Digital photos to me can look very boring but the Nocti lens shot wide open can add a lovely filmic / painterly soft look to a photo and it is these imperfections that make the photos perfect (for me anyway). I like the small size of the compact Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens and it balances nicely on my Leica M3. It is also very sharp wide open.   I packed the 50/2.5 for those reasons but in hindsight I wish I had packed the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 as it is more suited to available light photography. I find the Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 can be a little too soft at f1.0 when shot on film (for many film stocks I’ve tried) whereas the Leica Summilux 50/1.4 ASPH can work well at f1.4 with film.  Lastly I chose the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens for a wider view yet suited for available light also. Again in hindsight next time I may pack 3 50mm lenses plus a 35mm for occasional use. It is frustrating to use two focal lengths side by side as I will stand in a place to compose for say a 50mm lens then when pick up the camera with the 35mm lens on the perspective is different and I need to walk forward for the same crop as seen with the 50mm, only to then step back again when I switch to the 50mm.  I think I’m currently back to being a 50mm shooter as my most used focal length. 35mm can feel too wide yet 75mm – 90mm can be too long/ tight.

Budapest

Budapest was only a short visit and hello to models en route to Ukraine.  I had two nights in Budapest city centre so booked three models each day. On day one the first model didn’t arrive nor even bother to write. Luckily the next two models were some of my most reliable in Budapest so they came prepared. What I learnt the most from the day is regardless of a model looks, the models I can make the best photos with are those that are as excited as me about making the pictures. Two creative minds on a photoshoot can lead to some amazing results and in particular I love models that are also stylists. They piece together really interesting clothing combinations and somehow source garments that you rarely see on the high street.  I was really happy with days photos despite the morning being wasted by a no show. The digital images I was seeing on the M240 LCD using the Leica Noctilux lens looking very promising.

I only had one evening in Budapest so even after a busy day shooting and not much to eat as soon as the last model left I grabbed my running kit and drank a quick coffee then did a sunset run along the River Danube. So beautiful and enjoyable. The perfect end to a perfect day!

Day two had another bad start with another cancel but I was tired so made the most of it and had some extra sleep. The rest of the day was two more reliable models so luckily stress free. I think the big difference for day two is the model had their own vision that was not my preferred arty style so having less input made it more like going through the motions. Day 1 I shot nearly 3 rolls of film. Day 2 I didn’t shoot a single frame! I think the longer I do photography the more selective I become, both in terms of models I work with but also the styling, location and general mood.  I only shoot film when I feel the capture deserve it.  Film doesn’t suit every photo, I think, or for me anyway. To be more precise, if the light does not interest me when shooting digital I will not reach for a film camera. Light is everything.

Slovakia

Normally when I shoot in Ukraine I fly into Slovakia from the UK and then get a bus over the border to Uzhgorod. For this trip I decided to fly to Budapest, then bus from Budapest to Slovakia, stay there overnight then get my usual bus from Slovakia to Ukraine.

That was the plan anyway. I am quite relaxed as a person and I arrived to the bus station at the exact time of departure and missed my pre-booked bus.  Luckily I was able to find another bus going to Slovakia 6hrs later that would arrive in time to catch my connecting bus to Ukraine. The long time waiting was less painful than feared and I arrived in Uzhgorod on Day 3 ready to shoot.

Ukraine

Window Light

Day 3.  I had a quick one hour shoot with an agency model I knew from last year and then my model friend arrived on her train from Kiev.  We set to work and had an extremely enjoyable and productive first day using the light right through until sunset. I can’t wait to see the photos!

Day 4 started with a pre-breakfast lingerie shoot which just showed the amount of thought and planning going into trying to make the nicest pictures.  Once we were both dying of hunger we stopped for breakfast. In the afternoon we shot a few more looks right up until it was time for the model to catch her 16hr return train back to Kiev. A very enjoyable first two days in Uzhgorod and the bar had been set high for others to try to follow.  I felt very fortunate a model would want to travel 16hrs (each way) for a photoshoot.

Leica M240 B&W

Day 5 was supposed to be my first full day working with local models friends with five models booked back to back morning til night. Sadly three of the five models cancelled putting me on a bit of a downer after experiencing such highs in the two days before.  The sun and warm 28 degree temperatures we had been enjoying also gave way to a day of mostly rain. The last model, my first ever in Ukraine six years ago, braved the rain and we shot under a bridge before retreating for coffee and cake.

Leica Fashion Photographer

Day 6 was my last in Ukraine so I’d booked in five more models. Luckily my endless hours on social media trying to organise all these shoots paid off and I had no cancellations.  Even the sun came back out for us!  I shot with a wide mix of ages and experience and I think I discovered a new super model at the age of only 15.  When I first came to Uzhgorod I shot with a 15yr old girl and now she’s based as a model in Paris (the last I heard).  I also had a lot of fun catching up with friends and it’s lovely when they seem genuinely thankful that I came back to visit them.  I was dead on my feet again when the last model finished but still decided to fit in one more run along the river despite being dark.  I even made two new friends on the pull up / dips bars outside one of the housing blocks.  It is probably not that common for ‘tourists’ to mingle with the local but I enjoyed it. A great memory to end my time in Ukraine.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1

Night Bus

The original travel itinerary was to stop off at a hotel in Slovakia on my way home via Budapest. After realising the night buses were not that painful I cancelled my hotel and booked a night bus instead. That gave me a full last day in Ukraine but also now some extra time in Budapest to fit in one last shoot.

My taxi was at midnight to go to the bus station. I jumped in the taxi, an old Lada Niva I remember well as a child and said ‘autobus station to go to Slovakia’. The driver said ok and we speed off along the empty pot holed roads, without a seat belt sitting in the passenger seat. (It is considered rude to wear a seat belt). I tried to show a driver an iPhone map photo of the bus station and he replied ok ok Slovakia. I soon realised he had misunderstood me and we were driving at speed in the opposite direction to the bus heading direct to Slovakia! To cut the story short I managed to make him stop the car and by describing roads and various Uzhgorod landmarks he understood and I managed to catch the night bus to Slovakia. The bus trip was great except we arrived to Slovakia 2hrs early.  It was perhaps 15 degrees colder than Ukraine and I now had a 3hr40 minute wait in a dark and deserted bus station. I wore all my clothes trying to keep warm but was very relieved to see my bus arrive to take me to Budapest. I slept the entire journey like a baby, including dribble!

Back in Budapest

A model friend from a few days earlier met me at the bus station in Budapest and we had a very enjoyable and hopefully successful shoot.  I suggested we shot at the location and it gave very different backdrops to the rest of my Budapest images. A good decision. We then also shot a bit more on the metro travelling into the city before I caught my bus to the airport.

CV Nokton 35mm

Thoughts

I believe the number of rolls of film I shoot on a trip is a good indicator as to how successful it was. I managed to use ten rolls of 36(/37) exposure 35mm film and for once I think more colour than black and white.  I was trying to push the equipment and materials to their max to see what I could achieve so I’m interested to see the results. In particular using fine grain film with the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 shot at f1.0-f1.2-f1.4. I don’t think I stopped the lens down beyond f1.4.  I fear at f1 the photos will still be too soft (for my taste) but I wanted to try so I know my equipment limits.  Another sign of success for me was every film photo was taken with available light which I was keen to do (after so much flash film photography in the last 12-18 months). It’s easy to make light but harder to find it.  To again push myself I took no reflector to bounce available light so I’m excited to see how we got on.  I tried to mix up my styles even using the above mentioned parameters and I also shot outside as much as I could to use the locations.  Where possible I tried to not photo a model against a wall and kept the lenses close or at to their widest apertures. (The opposite of when I was doing a lot of flash photography and had the lenses stopped down (higher f. stop for a greater depth of field)).

I know many photographers prefer the diffused light on an overcast day for taking portrait photographs but for me I love nothing better than blue skies and direct sunlight.  Living in the UK where we often have cloudy weather I found I really appreciated the sunny days of Budapest and Uzhgorod. If I simplify things, the entire model photography trip was just one big light hunt! I think I need to relocate to a sunnier warmer destination. San Francisco perhaps!

Overall I was really happy with my week away and I don’t think I would have changed anything other than pack the hugely missed Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens to use with the Leica film cameras.  I really wasn’t feeling the 35mm focal length and I would have been happy with only 50mm lenses. The best performer of the trip was without doubt the mighty Noctilux 50f1 lens.  The cameras were fighting over the Nocti as I wanted to use it to shoot film with but also to get the instant gratification when using the Noctilux on the digital Leica M240 and seeing the image on the LCD.  I don’t feel at any point that I missed not having a medium format camera.  Previously I have enjoyed the high flash sync speed (1/400-1/500) of most of the medium cameras to control ambient light when using flash. As I did nearly all available light photography the fast (f1.0-f1.4) Leica M mount lenses were much more suited (than f2.8-f4 MF lenses).  I am interested to see what the smaller 35mm film format Leica cameras achieved.

I think I write this and the end of every blog post I share but I’d like to think some of the images to come are my best yet.  I certainly tried!  Coming soon.

Big Thanks

I’ve not named models individually throughout this post but a huge thanks to models Eva, Nadja, Lili, Galyna, Inna, Dana, Angel, Nikoletta, Franciska, Alexa, Maryna and Valeria. It wouldn’t be possible without you.  Also apologies for the models I didn’t see this year.  I know I missed quite a few of you in Ukraine due to time constraints but I hope to be back again next year!

Thanks

Matt

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1 Camera (M240) + 1 Slow Lens

1 Camera (M240) + 1 Slow Lens

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2016

Hamburg Agency Model

Broken Leica M240

Last December I was shooting with my Leica M240 in Poland only to find it was misfocusing and needed recalibrating.  The weeks past but I always had a need for my main workhorse camera, the Leica M240 so couldn’t part with it. I found if I used a 35mm lens and shot it at f4 I had sufficient depth to focus and get my subject sharp. As such the tiny Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 pancake lens became my do everything lens, every model photography trip and every Leica wedding photography shoot.

Fast Lenses

If you have seen my previous photography you may have noticed I love fast lenses, from my early Nikon days using lenses like the Samyang 85mm f1.4, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-S and Nikkor 200mm f2 Ai-S to some of my Leica-M mount lenses such as the Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5, Leica  Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH and of course the mighty Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0. All those lenses shot wide open kind of dissolve the background to leave just the subject to catch the eye in the photo.  You can pretty much shoot anything anywhere with a fast lens and it looks good and the look can’t be replicated with an iPhone.

To go from that way of shooting to suddenly having to shoot at f4 on a 35mm lens with most things in the photo in focus was a bit of a shock. I had to make ‘cool’ photos with everything in the photo in focus (or at least visible).  Hmm!

Learning to shoot without shallow DOF

I found shooting with most things in focus helped me concentrate on trying to use better or more interesting light, stronger or different compositions and alternative camera angles in addition to working more closely with the models to try to fine tune their pose, look or expression. I am certainly far more picky now and often assist with applying makeup or styling suggestions to help try to make a stronger final image in camera. For a time I used the M240 for test shots then either shot the final image on film with say the Leica M6 or Hasselblad 501C or more recently warmed the model up with the Leica M240 then switched to the digital Hasselblad H3D-31.

Leica Germany Repair

I managed to finally send my Leica M240 off to the Leica Germany engineers for recalibration at the end of July 2016 and the camera was back with me in August looking literally brand new. I’m 99% sure it received more than just a recalibration and all under the Leica warranty scheme. I cannot speak highly enough of the Leica customer service and you certainly get what you pay for with Leica (in my experience).

What did I Learn?

I now have the novelty factor of being able to shoot fast lenses again on the Leica M240.  I can also shoot a range of longer focal lengths again, 50mm, 75mm, 90mm and so on. Before the period of shooting with just a 35mm lens I regarded myself as a 50mm man. Coming out the other side I would say I’m probably equally 35mm or 50mm biased and do find 75mm and 90mm quite limiting with their tighter crop for regular use. Equally during my Leica Noctilux phase I shot everything at f1 regardless as to whether it was a flat brick wall or something against a distant backdrop.  Shooting this week with the Noctilux I am shooting perhaps ‘smarter’ in that if a model is against a wall I might stop the lens down to f2 to improve the sharpness or if a subject is further away I might shoot at f1.4 to get a slightly crisper photo than just everything very soft.  It is a battle of styles as I love super sharp such as the Hasselblad Zeiss 120mm Macro-Planar CF lens or the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO but also love pleasing bokeh and the painterly feel of say the Noctilux or Pre-ASPH Leica Summicron 90mm f2 shot wide open. It’s a balance and depends on the subject too.

Conclusion

It not ideal to have a semi-function main workhorse camera (or any camera to that matter!) but I don’t think it did me any harm overall.  That said it is nice to be able to use all my Leica M mount lenses again. 🙂

Here are a few recent example images with the Leica M240 and Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 Color Skopar in Hamburg, Germany

Calvin Klein Shoot

Hamburg

Runway Model

Agency model

 

Many more example images in my last Leica M240 post

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Polish Models on 35mm

Polish Models on 35mm

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

September 2016

In contrast to my last few model photography trips where I packed big lights, light modifiers, light stands, monopod, medium format film cameras, medium format digital cameras, a mass of batteries, chargers, memory cards, big bag of 120 black and white film and 120 colour film I thought I needed to get back to basics.

Camera Bag

For this trip I had the digital Leica M240 plus Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 lens, the analog Leica M6 plus 1950s Leica Summicron 50 f2 DR lens, the compact Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens for if I need a wider angle and then the tiny 1960s Olympus Pen-F half frame camera.

I planned to shoot black and white film in the Leica M6 and used a 35mm bulk film loader to roll myself some Kodak Plus X film to bring. I hope the lower contrast look of the film will add to the vintage and less perfect look of the photos. I brought the Olympus Pen-F to shoot some colour film as the weather forecast was blue skies some days.  I loaded a roll of 35mm Fuji Provia 100f E6 slide film which I bought in B&H, New York when I did my second workshop there in January.  The half frame gives me 72 shots from a standard 36 exposure film roll.

The film photos are to please me and the digital Leica M240 photos are to give to the models to use for their portfolios.  The digital camera is also great to warm up the models and for a preview to show them the look I am going for. I metered all film photos with the M240 as I just replicate the same settings on the film cameras, using the M240 in M mode. To keep it simple and for a change I used available light for all except one shoot where I also used my speedlight to boost light levels.

Models

As with most of my model photography trips I looked forward to catching up with familiar faces but also to work with a few new models too.  I had the usual multiple cancellations for a variety of reasons but overall we did well.  The models that did meet on the whole gave 110% effort and almost all had made personal sacrifices to be able to meet me making them even more focused to have a great shoot.

Model Photography – Poland

Here are some sample from some of photos I have worked through so far:

Leica M 240 (Digital)

Natalia

Leica Noctilux Bokeh

Agnieszka

Leica Noctilux Portrait

Karolina

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1

Agata (& ATR Gear Clothing!)

ATR WEAR - Polish Chick

Teresa

Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4

Paulina

Polish Model

Agnieszka

Leica M240 + Noctilux

 

Leica M6 (Analogue) + Kodak Plus-X Film

Natalia

Kodak Plus-X Fashion

Agnieszka

Kodak Plus-X Portrait

Kodak Plus X Film

Teresa

Leica M6 + Kodak Plus-X

Kodak Plus-X Bulk Film

More to come from the other models when I get chance..

The colour film has not yet been developed but I did shoot the roll of Provia and a roll of AGFA Vista 200 Plus so wish me luck with those! 🙂

Matt

Lomography.com – Petzval 85 Art

Lomography.com – Petzval 85 Art

Matthew Osborne Photography/ @MrLeicaCom

September 2016

 

Petzval 85 Art Lens – Nikon F Mount

The lovely people at Lomography.com kindly got in touch and lent me their Nikon mount brass Petzval 85 Art lens to try.  Below is a link describing how I got on and here are some example images with Sophie and Charlotte (also included in link).  All photos taken with my old Nikon D800.

..I have to say, the Petzval 85 Art makes Nikon D800 photos interesting so it’s good! (I say that as I struggled to get excited with my Nikon D800 photos on the whole hence my move to film and Leicas).

Petzval 85 Art

Sophie
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
Petzval 85 Art
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85 Art Lens Brass
Petzval Bokeh
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85 Art

Charlotte
Petzval 85
Petzval 85 Art Lens
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
New Petzval 85 Art Lens Brass

Lomography.com Magazine – MrLeica.com

Link – https://www.lomography.com/magazine/323494-matt-osbourne-portraits-with-the-petzval-85

Petzval 85 vs. Other Nikon Mount Fast Lenses

When using the Petzval 85 lens it reminded me of the overly soft photos captured from my Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens when shooting at f1.2. Here are a few examples as a comparison. I think the Petzval 85 is sharper wide open at f2.2 and has ‘better’ bokeh (meaning more character).

Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s

Nikon D800 Headshot
Alice with Nikkor 50/1.2 AIS
Katie SOOC with 50/1.2 AIS @f1.2

I then thought perhaps the Samyang 85mm f1.4 would be more comparable so here are a few samples. The Samyang 85 is pretty sharp wide open at f1.4 and a great lens but I think again the Petzval 85 lens bokeh has more character.

Samyang 85mm f1.4

Innocence?
2012 REPOST: Nikon D800 + Samyang 85mm f1.4 Fashion
Harriett
Nikon FM

Petzval 85 vs. Leica M Fast Lenses

Finally, as a Leica photographer it seems only right to include a few example photos with fast Leica lenses that are also soft(ish) focus shot wide open.  The obvious lenses that spring to mind that I own are the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 and Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2

Leica M9 Skin Tones
Leica M9 + Noctilux
Leica M9 + Noctilux
Leica M Typ 240 + Noctilux
Leica Noctilux Bokeh

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Street Portrait
Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Retro Leica

Hasselblad Fashion Photography – Poland

Hasselblad Fashion Photography – Poland

(Hasselblad 501C & Leica M Typ 240 Model Photography)

October 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica.com

20151012-002833.jpg

Intro

I have lost count of how many trips I have made to Poland now. This is model photography visit number 3 for Poland in 2015 I think! I will link the previous trips at the end of this post if interested. Each time I visit I make new contacts and so have more and more models to choose from. This is the first visit where there were 5+ models wanting photos but I was already fully booked.  As my photography matures I get more selective with the models I work with so to try to create the best possible images.

Camera gear for Poland

On previous visits I have packed as many as 4 cameras I think from memory together with an array of lenses. For this trip I decided to try to keep it simple. The plan was two cameras and two lenses and that was all. When packing I found I then had some spare capacity so added a few extras bits! For this visit it was all about the Hasselblad 501C camera! I was so excited to get there and get started!

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Camera bag:

  • Leica M Typ 240 digital camera
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens
  • Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera
  • Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens
  • Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens
  • Hasselblad A12 film back (x2)
  • Hasselblad PM 45 degree prism finder
  • Yellow filter, 81B warming filter, 82C blue filter
  • Bellows lens hood
  • Sirui P-326 carbon monopod
  • Shutter cable release
  • 5in1 reflector
  • 120 medium format film (see below)

Colour film:

  • Kodak Portra 160, 400, 800
  • Kodak Portra 160NC (expired)
  • Kodak Ektar 100
  • Fuji Pro 400H

Black and white film:

  • Kodak Tri-X 400
  • Kodak T-Max 400
  • Fuji Acros 100
  • Fomapan 100
  • Ilford Delta 100
  • Ilford Delta 3200

20151012-002506.jpg

Leica digital photography

I needed one digital camera to capture instant images to give the models and also to warm them up with poses before shooting on film. The Leica M 240 sensor is quite capable but lifeless so to give myself a fighting chance of creating something I might be interested in I packed the Noctilux lens to be used wide open at f1. The Noctilux captures more filmic looking images even on the modern Leica M 240 CMOS sensor.

Hasselblad film photography

I wanted to pack just one film camera to let me focus on capturing a smaller number of hopefully better crafted film images. The Hasselblad camera slows me down so I have time to think twice before pressing the shutter. With 35mm film photography I find I now fire off a series of shots much faster than I used to. Medium format film in 6×6 format gives me 12 frames a roll rather than 36 frames for 35mm film. I planned to be more selective and therefore have less similar images and hopefully more keepers. Normally I would shoot one roll of film per model so now I want to take less overall images, digital and film per girl but hopefully a higher standard of work. Being able to pack a spare Hasselblad A12 film back was really exciting as I could shoot 120 colour film alongside 120 black and white film with the same model. My preference is black and white film but if models bring some colourful clothing I have the option to capture them in colour too.

Hasselblad Zeiss lenses

For Hasselblad lenses the original idea was to only take the Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 lens as it lets me do close up portraits in addition to standard photos. I decided to add the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 for three reasons, well four really. It gives me a wider view closer to 50mm in 35mm terms. The 80mm f2.8 kit lens is one stop faster than the 120mm f4 Makro-Planar for when I need more light. (This is often the case with medium format photography as lenses are not as fast as 35mm film camera lenses). The f2.8 aperture also gives me a greater shallow depth of field verses the f4 Makro-Planar lens at the same distance though in practice the 120f4 vs 80f2.8 might be quite similar looking. Lastly the Zeiss Planar is reasonably small and light for a Hasselblad mount lens so was easy to fit in my bag.

20151012-002612.jpg

Film and filters

Normally I load ISO 400 speed film into my Hasselblad in the UK as there is often never enough light (well since buying my Hasselblad in September anyway!). The Poland forecast was looking quite promising being colder but more sunny. The hotel is on the beach so the sand can act like a giant reflector bouncing light back up onto the models. As such and with my usual positive outlook I packed a range of film speeds from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. I packed roughly a 2:1 ratio of black and white film to colour film and tried to cover myself for all levels of brightness. Some films where to be shot at box speed, Kodak Ektar 100, Fuji Acros 100 and Ilford Delta 100. Kodak Portra 160, 400 and 800 and Fuji Pro 400H were to be overexposed by roughly one stop where possible and if enough light and if not at box speed. Fomapan 100 is an excellent film with great latitude and can be shot at ISO 100-400 and developed at box speed. Kodak T-Max 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are also bomb proof and I can use at ISO 200-800 easily and ISO 1600 if needed. Lastly I packed a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 to try. I read it is better shot at ISO 1600 but if I need to I will try it at ISO 3200.

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Poland visit

I visited Sopot, Poland again for four full days of model photography. I planned to work close to and inside the hotel to make the best use of the time. I looked forward to lots of close up portraits and interesting 6×6 crops using the Hasselblad as this is what I enjoy the most.   I can’t do close up photos easily using a Leica M camera and standard lenses so this is what I really miss from my Nikon days. I am loving the Instagram ready square format of the Hasselblad camera so will enjoy composing as a square rather than the usual rectangular format.

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Polish models

Models include catwalk agency models, non-catwalk specific agency models and non agency models with a mix of perhaps 50:50 new faces and familiar ones. My models were Marta K, Marta M, Marta P, Marta W, Irmina, Natalia, Agnieszka, Weronika, and Teresa. Lots of Marta’s!

I am especially excited to work with some of the girls as we have been planning the shoots for weeks online. It is crazy how many hours of planning are involved ahead of a trip. I dread to think the total number of hours I have spend writing on Facebook to the different girls trying to coordinate everyone so as many girls as possible get to have photos. It doesn’t feel a chore but it does take time.

Leica M Typ 240

I found the Leica M 240 camera much more enjoyable to use with the Leica Noctilux 50f1 lens attached but I always wanted to get closer than the 1m closest focus distance. The original plan was to bring the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens that works at 0.7m but it gives a more modern look to the images. Taking only one lens for the Leica M 240 worked well as I could concentrate on using the Hasselblad.

Hasselblad 501C Camera

The Hasselblad 501C was such great fun to use. I found the 120mm Zeiss Makro-Planar lens pulls me in close to the action for most of the photos. I really had to make myself step back for photos further away. My eyes find it far easier to focus more accurately when I am in closer. I used the 120mm Makro Planar lens for perhaps 11 of every 12 images on average apart from the last shoot where I loaded ISO 100 film so needed the speed of the Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 lens. I am glad I shot some photos with the 80mm as I am interested to see the Zeiss Planar depth of field at f2.8. I found I had to use my lenses wide open at either f2.8 or f4 to achieve a 1/60 shutter speed inside. Outside we sometimes had more light so I did some close up portraits at f5.6 and even a few at f8 to see how the 120mm Makro-Planar lens performs. For a few photos at the end of one day I shot the Zeiss Planar 80mm at f2.8 at 1/15 shutter to get the necessary exposure so it will be interesting to see if the photos are usable. All photos were taken with the Hasselblad 501C camera mounted directly on the Sirui carbon monopod and with a shutter release cable to try to give me more keepers when at 1/60. We shall see. I didn’t have much experience using a Hasselblad camera ahead of this trip to Poland so I am still working out my limits.

Hasselblad and Kodak film

I asked some models to bring bright coloured clothes and they did so I took the opportunity to shoot some Kodak Ektar 100 film. I think Kodak Ektar film can captures some of the sharpest colour film portraits so I wanted to pair it with the equally high performing Zeiss lenses for the Hasselblad. I also used some expired Kodak Portra 160 NC and fresh stock Kodak Portra 160 and 400 film.

Black and white film and filters

For black and white film photography I paired the film with either the yellow filter or the blue 82C filter if not interchanging with colour film also. When switching between colour film and black and white film using two A12 Hasselblad film backs I used no filter or sometimes the 81B warming filter instead.

Keep it simple

When I am normally juggling multiple film cameras I often don’t use any filters for my black and white film photography as have enough to think about. Using just one film camera is so much better as I can stay more focused and therefore make less potential mistakes. Switching Hasselblad lenses and film backs is a recipe for disaster if I am not concentrating! I made detailed notes (for once!) of what filter and film combinations I was using and the lens choice so can refer to this once the film is developed to see how the results compare. It may be that I start using filters much more again if I like the results better with filters than without.

Available light

To speed up my photography and again to simplify everything I captured all photos with available light only.  I will look to introduce strobes when using my Hasselblad camera for model photography and fashion photography to make use of the 1/500 flash sync speed but for this trip I relied on daylight and worked during daylight hours.

Summary

Without doubt this was my best trip to Poland to date. I was extremely happy with the camera choice. In particular the Hasselblad 501C was just a dream to use and the Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 lens did all I asked from it. In future I could easily make do with one Hasselblad lens only and if I had to choose it would be the 120mm rather than the 80mm for me. I don’t think I have ever been more excited to see the film photos developed from a trip away. Expectation based on the view I saw through the viewfinder is so high I just hope I am not disappointed. I will get the colour film negatives lab developed and scanned so I will post the results here once received. I develop my own black and white film so tend to post photos one at a time to Flickr as I get chance to work through them. I plan to share the results using the different colored filters, the various film stocks and comparing the 120mm vs. 80mm Zeiss lenses. Fingers crossed the results are OK!

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As usual with my trips abroad I am wondering when next to visit Poland!

Related Posts

(Please note all photos included were using my iPhone and the ‘real’ photos are to follow!)*

Leica – Hasselblad Wedding

Leica – Hasselblad Wedding

(The Ultimate Partnership!)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica.com

September 2015

Intro

Yesterday I had a special wedding to photograph in London. Every wedding is special but for the camera geeks among us this was special on a different level. I was chosen by a fellow Leica M 240 photographer’s wife to cover their wedding as I use a camera they both know and trust. In the lead up to the wedding I was looking to buy a Hasselblad medium format film camera so asked them if they would be happy for me to use it on their wedding day. It turned out the Leica shooter was actually a previous Hasselblad nut and had all the best equipment, bodies, lenses, finders and even a digital back! Not only that but he was selling it all to concentrate on Leicas. To cut an even longer story short, we agreed that the wedding payment could made in a currency I know well… Cameras!!

My new Hasselblad camera kit

  • Hasselblad 501C body (mint / boxed) + WLF + A12 film back + Hood
  • Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens
  • Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF lens
  • Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF lens
  • Hasselblad PM 45 degree prism viewfinder

Meet the gang! My new Hasselblad trio - 50mm, 80mm, 150mm. Fresh back from yesterday's wedding in London! #hasselblad #hasselblad501c #zeiss #distagon #planar #sonnar #prism #filmcamera #filmwedding #film #mediumformat #6x6 #cameraporn #ilovefilm #ishootf

I knew the wedding venue was going to be a low light affair as I had visited in advance to meet the couple. ISO 800-3200 using available light. I was glad I had upgraded my Leica M body from the M9 to the M 240 with its higher usable ISO. That said I was worried that there would not be sufficient light to handhold the Hasselblad camera without motion blur.  With that in mind I treated my new Hasselblad rig to a lightweight monopod and head.  I already have an aluminium Manfrotto monopod but find it too heavy to lug around with ease so it tends not to get used. I read various monopod reviews and the clear winner to me was the Sirui.  As such I bought –

  • Sirui P-326 carbon monopod
  • Manfrotto 234RC quick release tilt head

Wedding macro photos

Leica cameras are not ideal for macro photography so when I take more than one camera to a wedding I like to have the option to shoot close up with the second camera.  As such before my Hasselblad arrived I bought a 21mm Hasselblad extension tube.  Used on the 80mm Zeiss Planar it lets me get very close to my subject and on the 150mm Sonnar something inbetween the Planar with the macro extension tube and the lens without.  I fitted the 21mm extension tube to the 80mm for a few wedding detail photos during the day so it was money well spent.

Cameras for the wedding

Camera bag. My kit could be split into 2. The Hasselblad camera kit bag and the Leica M camera kit bag.

Hasselblad camera kit

The Hasselblad kit consisted of the items listed above but with the addition of a loan lens for the day, the amazing Zeiss Distagon 40mm f4 lens for the wide angle shots. I used this instead of my new 50mm Distagon as I needed the extra width indoors.

Leica M camera kit

  • Leica M240 digital body (mine)
  • Leica M240 body (loan from groom as backup camera)
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 v2
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH
  • Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8
  • Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8 (not used)
  • Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5

Film choice

I knew I needed a film that I could push up to ISO 1600 and maybe even ISO 3200. My first plan was to buy Ilford Delta 3200 film but then I noticed on Flickr that people push Ilford HP5 400 film +2 stops to ISO 1600 with ease and even +3 stops up to ISO 3200.  Delta 3200 film can be quite grainy even in 120 format and is more pricey than HP5.  HP5 400 film loks like it can be pushed +2 stops to ISO 1600 and still get reasonably clean (low grain) negatives. As such I bought a supply a 120 Ilford HP5 film for the wedding. Luckily we had some sun outide so I was able to expose the HP5 at ISO 800. I used a shutter speed of 1/60 where possible and 1/30 where insufficient light. When there was even less light in the evening I added strobe light to boost light levels.  I used all lenses at their widest apertures with the Hasselblad on the new monopod and with a shutter cable release.  I also used the 45 degre PM prism for all photos as find it much easier to focus.

Tonight testing the new #hasselblad ! 😊 #hasselblad501c #mediumformat #film #ilford #hp5 #120film #6x6 #ilovefilm #filmisnotdead www.MrLeica.com

Reality check

At times like this it really makes me appreciate my little Leica M3 rangefinder cameras. With a f1.4 lens I could have shot at the equivalent of ISO 200 (vs Zeiss Planar 80f2.8)(2 stops brighter) and handheld the camera for still photos at 1/15 (vs 1/60 with Hasselblad) giving me the equivalent of a useable ISO of 50 on the M3 vs ISO 800 on the Hasselblad.

The Wedding

  • Digital Leica M 240 – provided the practical, quick response, portable, non-imposing camera setup for when the wedding was moving at a faster pace.
  • Hasselblad 501C – brought the fun and excitement when the pace was slower and I had the time to carefully craft my images.
  • Leica M3 film camera (or perhaps the Nikon F4 SLR) –  offer the perfect middle ground being both fast and film. Win win (but not present on the day).

The Results

I’m looking forward to reviewing the digital images from the wedding but I absolutely can’t wait to develop the Hasselblad film negatives to see how I got on.

Special Photos

It is nice to think that the Hasselblad 501C camera that the groom had bought new over 19 years ago (and that the bride remembers him using while she waited!) was used to photograph part of their wedding day.

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR Lens

I have always had the old Leica Summicron 50f2 DR (“Dual Range”) lens on my ‘to try’ list despite owning a modern Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens.

New lens :) #Vintage #Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR with goggles for close focus. Looks beautiful on the #leicam3 :) #leicacamera www.MrLeica.com

When considering new glass my first reference point is Flickr. I ask myself ‘do the images with this lens have something special about them, regardless of the subject matter or talent of the photographer?’ My modern Leica Summicron 50f2 v5 lens is my least used 50mm as I tend to favour the Leica Noctilux 50f1 or Leica Summilux ASPH 50f1.4. The vintage Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 creates beautiful images but flares easily so not for all occasions. I sold the Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 and Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 but I don’t think I fully appreciated the strengths of the Sonnar until after it was sold. With the 50f1 Noctilux normally living on digital Leica M9 body I wanted another 50mm lens to live on the Leica M3 film camera. I shortlisted either another Zeiss Sonnar 50f1.5 or a vintage Leica Summicron 50f2 DR. I did a quick reality check for the usefulness of the two 50mm lenses.

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50f1.5 vs Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50f1.5

  • Fully functional on all my Leica M camera bodies
  • Modern lens coating so less prone to flare
  • Zeiss ‘3D’ pop look wide open
  • Sharp wide open
  • 50f1.5 is almost 1 stop brighter than 50f2 DR so more useful in low light
    BUT
  • Close focus only 1m (the reason I sold my first ZM Sonnar lens)
  • Some copies of the lens are said to have focus shift issues

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR

  • Can close focus at 0.5m (0.478) when using goggles attachment
  • Sharp images wide open
  • Images have a signature ‘DR’ look that I dont see with the modern v5 Summicron lens
    BUT
  • Lens only functions at a range of 1-4m on my Leica M9 and M8 (no close up or infinity focus ability)(*note lens is fully functional on my Leica M3 and M2)(and non-TTL M6)
  • Have to attach-detach goggles every time you want to go from close focus (0.478-0.88m) to 1m to infinity

I was keeping my mind open then on a recent trip to Munich Germany I visited the Leica Munich store to say hello and to see if they had a Leica Summicron 50f2 DR lens in stock to try. Sadly they didn’t have in but instead kindly recommended a shop that may have one. I found the shop and my luck was in! They had two 50mm DR lenses. One copy of the lens was cheaper so I tried that one first. It was not calibrated with my Leica M9 so I tried the second copy and asked the store if I could take it out the shop to try in the street. I left the Noctilux lens with them as a small deposit and they smiled and agreed. What struck me most was the sharpness wide open at f2 and the beautiful way it rendered out of focus areas. It took maybe five test photos and that was all I needed to see. Sold to the man that has enough lenses already but felt a need for one more!

#cameraporn #leicam3 #leicacamera #rangefinder #vintagecamera #leica #summicron 50f2 DR + Goggles - www.MrLeica.com

I will sell my near mint modern Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens with box if anyone is looking buy one? I know many Leica shooters swear by them but I dont use it enough to keep.

Eager to try the Leica Summicron 50mm DR to its full potential I fitted it to my Leica M3 and shot half a roll of black and white Kodak T-Max 100 film which was already loaded in the camera. It was sunny and I felt I was missing out by not shooting colour during the golden hour. I had no 35mm colour film with me in Germany,  only 120 Portra for the Mamiya 645 Super. Luckily I discovered a small camera shop when out exploring and when I asked for colour film they opened a box of the old Kodak Portra 400 VC that they must have had in stock for years. I’ve only ever used the new Kodak Portra so was interested to try the older 400 VC Portra. The model had cancelled for the afternoon shoot so I took the opportunity to set myself a challenge.  Shoot a 36 exposure roll of film in one afternoon of anything and everything using the strengths of the Summicron 50 DR lens. To me this meant mostly shooting wide open at f2 with plenty of close ups and considering the out of focus areas for colour and bokeh. Results to follow!

#filmchallenge 1x roll of Kodak Portra 400 VC (36 exposures), 1x Leica M3 rangefinder film camera, 1x Leica Summicron 50f2 DR, 5 hours of walking the streets taking photos of anything that caught my eye and finished off with 1x KFC meal :) #kodakfilm #lei

Leica Summicron 50f2 DR vs Mamiya 645 / Mamiya RZ usage

My most used non Leica camera is currently the Mamiya 645 Super.  What I enjoy most about the Mamiya 645 and even more so the Mamiya RZ 67 (and Rolleiflex SL66E) which use bellows, is the ability to focus close to my subject.  To me that is one of the biggest weaknesses of the Leica M system, the 0.7m rangefinder closest focus distance. Now my Leica M3 will focus to 0.5m at f2 I am excited to try the Summicron 50 DR for my portrait work. Again, results to follow!

I feel the Leica Summicron 50f2 DR is the perfect lens for my Leica M3. The combination look beautiful together and function is on a par with form. If the combination looked pretty but wasnt capable of taking good images it would be worthless to me. I buy vintage cameras to use not to polish.

I hope to try the Leica Summicron 50f2 DR on both my Leica M9 and also Leica M3 this weekend so sample images coming soon.

Here is a test shot SOOC from outside the camera store.  Leica M9 JPEG

Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR - SOOC

Ken Rockwell is a big fan of this lens. More tech detail here – http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/50mm-f2-dr.htm