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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Hasselblad Love

Hasselblad Love – First impressions of the 501C

Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica
September 2015

Hasselblad Love !

My Hasselblad journey so far..

After getting my first Hasselblad camera a few weeks ago it has been a bit of roller coaster ride.  I had the usual pre-arrival excitment and research phase, then the eagerly awaited arrival and just sheer appreciation of the form, feel and build quality.  What followed was real disappointment.  I tried to take some test photos using the Hasselblad 501C kit WLF (waist level viewfinder) and found that I really struggled to see to focus using the nice and bright acute-matte cross hair focus screen. I thought perhaps I was going mad so compared to my Mamiya RZ67 WLF and I could focus fine on the RZ. Hmm perhaps my Hasselblad love affair was going to be short lived.

Panic..

With a wedding fast approaching and where the client wanted me to photograph some images with a Hasselblad I was already starting to consider alternative film camera options for the day.  I thought perhaps my Fuji GF670 rangefinder camera to capture equally sharp 6×6 images on film. I then started researching the various Hasselblad focus screens options and reached out to forums for help.  I looked at the focus screens with the central split image spot but that is as far as I got before wedding day.

Relief..

I took both the Fui GF670 and the Hasselblad 501C to the wedding as the groom said I could try his 45 degree PM prism viewfinder. I tried the prism finder and hey presto, I could see!   So happy and relieved all mixed into one! Since then I have never looked back and am loving my Hasselblad.   It has quckly become one of my favourite cameras (together with my all time favourite, the Leica M3 (s))

What do I like about the Hasselblad V series cameras?

  • Build quality seems up there with Leica. Everything just feels exact and precise.  The Hasselblad really is a joy to use and at the opposite end of the spectrum from the equally sharp Fuji GF670 which to me lacks the fun factor and emotion that makes you want to use a camera.
  • Loving the 6×6 square format. I think Leica should make an M3 square crop camera! I have tried to like square format in the past and struggled but this time I have Instagram instilled in me so square format composition seems to come easier.
  • I like the almost 3D pop from the out of focus background yet sharp subject.  Without doubt the Mamiya 645 Super can create dreamier images more akin to the famous Contax 645 look but with dreamy comes softer focus.  The Hasselblad images are less dreamy (even ar wide open apertures) but appear much sharper.
  • The Zeiss lenses for the Hasselblad V series do indeed all seem super sharp. The Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 and Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 that I have used so far are both among some of the sharpest lenses I have used. That said the Mamiya RZ67 can create perhaps equally sharp yet more dreamy images from the results I have obtained so far with the backdrop melting away behind the subject.  I would compare the Hasselblad to the Leica Summilux ASPh 50mm f1.4 lens.  They are clinically sharp.  The Mamiya 645 Super can look more like the Leica Noctilux lens with a softer dreamy look.  I think the Mamiya RZ sits mid way between.  **Please note this is only based on the very few photos taken so far to date so I will update my conclusion if and when I see different.
  • Interchangeable film backs on the Hasselblad as also found on my Mamiya RZ67,  Mamiya 645 Super and Rolleiflex SL66E are great for weddings where I can pre load 2+ film backs or if I want to shoot a mix of colour and black and white film side by side.   For 35mm film cameras I need two bodies to cover this approach hence I use two Leica M3s for weddings.
  • The size of the Hasselblad “rig” with lens, lens hood, prism viewfinder and on a monopod is no discrete Leica M3 camera yet somehow it is purposeful and also get only positive remarks when out on the street.  It is a real head turner (and conversastion starter!).  I think people really appreciate seeing the older film cameras in action.

Hasselblad negative scans (all with Ilford HP5 plus film)

  • Here are some sample images from the first roll of film testing the Hasselblad

Hasselblad Selfie!

Hasselblad Macro Photography

Hasselblad Film Art

Hasselblad, 80mm + 21mm extension tube

Hasselblad 501C Test Photo

  • Here is a photo taken at the wedding

The Bentley Hotel - Hasselblad Wedding

  • Lastly here are a few images from a model photography workshop the day after the wedding

London Photography Workshop

Hasselblad Model Photography

Hasselblad / Sonnar Portrait

Conclusion

My wishes before the Hasselblad arrived were, I quote (my previous post)..

“The Hasselblad 501CM is by no means the perfect system but I want to try it as part of my quest for the ‘perfect’ camera.  I hope I can love it as much as my Leicas.  My biggest wish is reliability and sharp images and that alone will make me use the camera more than some of my existing ones.”

It is very very early days but I think the Hasselblad ticks all my boxes and is a keeper! 🙂

Coming soon..

More new Hasselblad images coming to Flickr (and here) soon.  I was shooting in London today with a male model in the morning and with an array of exciting (and new) Hasselblad lenses in the afternoon. 🙂

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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

Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm f2.8

Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm f2.8 T* – Leica M mount
Matthew Osborne Photography

Carl-Zeiss-Biogon-T-25mm-f2.8-ZM

My latest purchase is a Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm f2.8 lens. At my last wedding I spent much of the day swapping between a Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2 and Zeiss ZM Biogon 21mm f2.8 on my Leica M9 for wide angle photos. I enjoy documentary wedding photography where people are captured interacting and shown within their environment. In contrast, for my model photography and portraiture when there is only one subject I often like to isolate by subjects with tight crops and/ or a shallow depth of field.  For indoor wedding photography such as for some of my last wedding in the Peak District I often found the 21mm ZM Biogon a little too wide and the 28mm Ultron too close to 35mm, being too narrow. The ZM Biogon 21mm and 25mm are sharper than the f2 Ultron and more similar to the sharpness of the 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar. I used to enjoy the 24mm focal length on my Nikon D800 using a Nikkor 24mm f2.8 prime. I have most focal lengths in Leica M mount but nothing between 21mm and 28mm.

Leica 24mm f2.8 Elmarit-M vs. Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm f2.8

There is actually three 24mm-25mm Leica M lens options –

  • Leica 24mm f2.8 Elmarit-M costing £2200 weighing 290g and with an E55 filter
  • Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm f2.8 costing £900 weighing 260g and with a 46mm thread
  • Leica 24mm f1.4 Summilux ASPH costing around £4700 weighing 468g

The Leica Lux 24mm is beyond my budget and I don’t think I would be willing to spend over £2K on a wide angle lens as a portrait photographer. I therefore had two options, a used Leica Elmarit 24mm f2.8 or for less money a new Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm f2.8. I have no loyalty to Leica lenses and do love the contrasty punchy images from Zeiss glass. If the Elmarit and the Biogon were the same price new I would choose the ZM Biogon as the ZM 46mm filter thread fits in with my existing lenses and filters (excluding the Noctilux and 90mm Cron that are larger than 52mm). I use step up filter rings for lenses from 39mm-52mm to use 52mm filters.

I am hoping the Zeiss ZM Biogon 25mm f2.8 lens will replace two lenses in my camera bag, the 21mm and 28mm. The 28mm has already replaced my 35mm for most weddings so my new wedding lens trio would then be 25mm, 50mm, 90mm for focal lengths but take the 75mm for detail photos. For a two lens setup I would use the 25mm and 75mm Cron APO for a super sharp lens combo on two Leica M bodies. For a one camera one lens setup I tend favour the 50mm focal length over 35mm, hence my Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 weddings.

Sample images coming soon! 🙂
Matt

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Leica Fashion Shoot Poland

Leica M9 Location Fashion Shoot
Matthew Osborne Photography
Sopot, Poland, August 2014

Sopot Beach, Poland

I recently returned from another three day location shoot in Poland, this time at the beautiful beach resort, Sopot. I stayed at a hotel on the beach so it was perfect to use as a base for beach shoots.  When I last visited in June 2014 I stayed in the city of Gdansk and took model portrait photos with an urban backdrop.  The photos had a soft natural look using little or no makeup for most of the girls and each wore their own clothes.  It was just me working alone with one model at a time, and six girls over three days. Malwina at Malva Models supplied me with all the models.

For this visit to Sopot I worked closely with Malwina beforehand to organise makeup/ hair stylists, some new models and wardrobe (stylist to provide clothing).  I wanted to give some of the photos more of a fashion look and this to me is a result of a good model, strong poses and hard lighting (not always), enhanced further by a great makeup artist and hair stylist.  When shooting Leica fashion photography in the UK I rely heavily on lighting as this is one of my strengths. I have various strobes, speedlights and light modifiers and use these to light models both in the studio and on location. I believe available light can always be enhanced by artificial light in every situation if done correctly. I often keep my model photo shoots simple, relying on lighting and a strong model and then directing the clothing style, hair and makeup (and assisting with all three if needed!).  When there are fewer people involved we can work fast and efficiently.  That said, sometime I need the help of others to help to try to take my photos to the next level.  This was one of those occasions.  I communicated in advance the clothing styles I wanted to shoot, the location, the makeup style, and selected models with the look I wanted. The more effort you put in before a shoot the better results you will achieve, right down to details such as the choice of shoes and accessories.

I was traveling light to Poland from the UK again with just a 10kg hand luggage allowance.  This would really restrict the amount of camera gear I could take.  I wanted to pack at least one speedlight but in the end decided to rely on just a reflector as though as it was a beach location so there should be plenty of available light both direct light and diffused light (from above) and reflected light reflecting off the sea and sand, regardless of whether a clear sky and sunshine or an overcast day.  (My preference is at least some broken cloud cover, especially when shooting with speedlights in the UK).

The camera equipment I finally decided on was as follows –

  • Leica M9 digital camera body
  • Leica M2 35mm film camera (loaded with 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 black & white film)
  • Fuji GF670 Pro medium format film camera (loaded with 120 Fuji Pro 400H & 120 Kodak Porta 400 colour film)
  • Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 T lens (as my main lens for sharp images)
  • Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2 lens (if I needed a wider angle)
  • Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 (for soft portraits and to use in low light)

Why my choice of 50mm lens?
On my last trip I took a Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5 and the Noctilux.   I used the Noctilux for the majority of the images.  I like to cycle my lenses and dust them off now and again for a run.  I have used the Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 very little since I bought it, before the Leica Summilux ASPH 50 f1.4, the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 and other older 50mm lenses?  If you read one of my older posts I wrote the Planar is too sharp for portraits.  That said I have got used to sharp by using the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO so thought would pack it as it is both small (39mm filter thread and focuses close at 0.7m) (Noctilux and ZM Sonnar do not focus as close).

Would I chose the same camera lenses next time?
No. The Planar was great and was used for perhaps 90% of the daylight images but the weight of the Noctilux was not worth it for this style of photo shoot.  Fashion photos often look better sharper to see the clothes details so sharper lenses are more suited. Lenses that are sharp when shot wide open such as the ZM Planar just get sharper stopped down.  That said I prefer the rendering of the Zeiss ZM Sonnar over the Zeiss ZM Planar.

My lens choice needs to be a balance of weight and quality.  For this reason next time I think I would pack my current favourite studio lens, the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO that focuses at 0.7m and is very sharp and the small and compact Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 for a wider low light lens. I took this lens to Ukraine last year and loved the results despite it not being as sharp wide open as some of my other lenses.

So how was my photography trip to Sopot?
Each day of the three days was completely different.

Summary –

Day 1
Two model shoots, Sara and Zuza (“Zuzanna”), and clothes stylist Marta providing all the clothes for the day.
Day 2
Three model shoots, Magda, Vicky and Marta, clothes stylist Marta and MUA (hair and makeup) Joanna.
Day 3
Two model shoots, Sara (second shoot) and Paulina only and an evening Engagement style shoot with Teresa and Wojciech.

In more detail –

Day 1
I arrived midday into Sopot so only had a half day of photos.  Sara was a new model so I was giving much more direction during the shoot. Marta kindly helped hold the reflector for some photos. We didn’t use an MUA.  Zuza had shot with me before so we worked fast and made use of the daylight we had before dark.  Everyone seemed pretty exhausted by the end so we stopped before 8pm.
Day 2
Starting at 9am, as I knew makeup always takes a long time model Magda and MUA Joanna arrived and got started. We got some music on in my hotel room and time just flew past. Marta arrives to help select clothes for each girl and we were still doing makeup. We finally got outside and started shooting and for the rest of the day I overlapped the models so would be shooting with one girl while another model was with the MUA. This meant we didn’t stop but luckily the girls ordered in pizzas for us and I provided some rounds of coffees from the hotel restaurant to keep us all going! As more models arrived it was a squeeze in the hotel room but we worked around each other.  The weather was changeable so during the showers we shot inside then went out when it stopped.  There was a cold wind on the beach so we kept the girls wrapped between photos and worked fast.  The last two changes for models Marta and then Magda were in the dark but we still got some photos.  Here the Noctilux lens became a life safer with an f1.0 aperture.  Makeup had slowed down progress vs. Day 1 but combined with the clothes and head pieces made for some hopefully strong images.
Day 3
We had no clothes stylist or MUA so it was me working alone.  This tends to be fast but it can be hard to hold a reflector and manual focus the Leica M9 camera at times.  One model was not able to attend so I got some down time to review my images.  I had Paulina in the morning that I met last time in Gdansk then Sara again from Day 1 as I knew we could get good results working 1-2-1. It is often easier on new models when there are fewer people involved. In the evening I had asked model Teresa to bring her boyfriend Wojciech for a couple shoot / engagement session styled look. Wojciech had not had photos before but they worked flawlessly together and with my direction and their love for each other it made for some really strong and romantic photos.

Fuji GF670 medium format film fashion
Despite it being a rush for much of the trip I was still determined to do some medium format film fashion photography. I managed to shoot two rolls of 120 colour film using the Fuji GF670 in the 6×6 film format to get 12 photos per roll. In hindsight as always I wish I had shot twice that number. Next time! I will share the results once the film is developed.  I also shot almost a full roll of 35mm Kodak TMax 100 on the Leica M2 for a more gritty look (to be stand developed in Rodinal (R09)).

Here are a few photos of some of the models  from the trip.  I don’t currently have my laptop so have used LR3 to process the images (without the finishing touches in Photoshop Elements).

Leica Black and White
Zeiss ZM Planar Bokeh
Available Light Photography
Zeiss Planar Portrait
Leica M9 + Zeiss ZM Planar 50
Romantic Dinner for Two

I will post a separate selection of images once film is developed for the Leica M2 and Fuji GF670 here at MrLeica.com, some colour fashion looking photos once I have Photoshop, and also some more of the engagement style images at LeicaWeddingPhotographer.co.uk

Related Posts

Travelling Light (Part 1)

3 Days, 6 Models, Poland

Fuji GF670

Leica M 50mm Lenses Compared

Leica M Mount 50mm Lenses Compared
MatthewOsbornePhotography – Leica Photographer

Leica M 50mm Lenses Compared

As a Leica photographer I have now collected quite a few 50mm Leica M mount lenses. I am always interested how one lens performs against another and until I can decide my favourites I am not selling any. I thought it might be useful to do a quick comparison of 8 50mm lenses, 7 of which I own and 1 I was able to use for a day to try (Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95). I explain my thoughts, pros and cons of each lens based on my own experience and taste and using the lens copies I own. My findings may differ from your own or from comprehensive technical reviews that have been performed for each. I have included a sample photo from each lens to give you a real example but if you want to see more please visit my Flickr stream where I have an album set up for each lens I use –
https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/sets

50mm Lemses – Pros and Cons of Each:

Zeiss ZM Planar 50f2:
Pros – Very sharp and contrasty. Focuses at 0.9m
Cons – Too sharp for some subjects! No built in hood.
Thoughts – Apparent clinical sharpness/ high contrast and unflattered for anything other than baby like skin
• Example Photo using a Leica M9
Leica M9 - B&W Film Look

Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50f1.5:
Pros – Sharp in the centre and contrasty at f1.4. Nice rendering of OOF areas/ bokeh
Cons – Closest focus 1m. No built in hood.
Thoughts – Good apparent sharpness (high contrast) shot wide open with nice rendering. Fine for most portraits.
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50/1.5 Portrait

Leica Summilux ASPH 50f1.4 (Lux 50):
Pros – Edge to edge clinical sharpness at f1.4. Focus at 0.7m. Built in hood.
Cons – Bigger than the Cron and ZM lenses. Modern look.
Thoughts – Sharpest 50 but lower contrast vs Zeiss. Best 50mm up close.
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Leica Engagement Photography

Leica Summicron 50f2 v5 (Cron 50):
Pros – 39mm filter thread and built in hood. Focus at 0.7m. It does nothing badly
Cons – It has no one character to lift it above other 50s.
Thoughts – Great all rounder. It does nothing particularly well (vs. other 50s that each have a strong point) yet does nothing badly either. My least used 50 (excluding Jupiter 3 – has some focus shift to account for so not used much)
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Leica Summicron 50

Leica Summarit 50f1.5 (1950s):
Pros – Vintage look from the camera giving photos with that Leica glow. Cheap
Cons – Closest focus 1m. Soft, low contrast and prone to flare
Thoughts – Creates beautiful glowing portraits if used to its ‘strengths’ (Cons).
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Street Portrait

Leica Noctilux 50f0.95:
Pros – Edge to edge clinical sharpness at f0.95. Good subject background separation
Cons – Closest focus 1m. Very expensive. Heavy. 60mm filter thread. Modern look
Thoughts – very similar to Lux ASPH 50 in all respects but cannot focus at 0.7m.
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Leica Noctilux f0.95

Leica Noctilux 50f1 v2 (1981):
Pros – Unique look images created – can resemble medium format/ large format film
Cons – Closest focus 1m. Expensive. Heavy. 60mm filter thread, Soft, Low contrast
Thoughts – Softer and lower contrast than all lenses list except Summarit 50f1.5. Nicest bokeh and rendering IMO.
• Example Photo, Leica M9
Leica vs Mamiya RZ!

Russian Jupiter 3 50f1.5 (Zeiss Sonnar Clone):
Pros – Cheapest and great value for money. Contrasty giving apparent sharpness
Cons – Closest focus 1m, soft focus and prone to some flare
Thoughts – Similar to Leica Summarit in all respects but more contrasty
• Example Photo, Leica M9
M9 + Jupiter 3

Conclusion

What is my favourite Leica 50?

It depends on the task –

Lux ASPH 50 if I want tight crop headshots or edge to edge sharpness.
Noctilux 50 f1 if I want to create ‘better’ than reality photos and bokeh
Summarit f1.5 if I want a more vintage look from camera with lots of flare
ZM Sonnar for sharp environmental portraits
ZM Zeiss for the sharpest possible image

But if I could only own one 50mm lens?

• Noctilux 50 f1 – It can produce images like no other.

I hope you found it useful even if you do not agree with some of my findings. (I know the Leica Cron 50 is a very popular lens).

Matt – MrLeica.com