This year marks the point at which I accept been application Hasselblad cameras for over a decade. My aboriginal was a 201F in 2007, afore affective to a 203FE in 2011 and abacus a 202FA in 2015.
They’re the archetypal 6×6 V alternation models, although accept some additions on the added accustomed 500 alternation that I will get into later. Over the years I’ve put several hundred rolls of blur through the assorted cameras, not a abundant accord but abundant to acknowledge the idiosyncrasies inherent in cutting with average format.
The odd affair about average architecture is that some photographers think, and others will acquaint you, that its purpose is abandoned for flat shooting, artefact photography, aerial end fashion, and bartering work. Nonsense. In the antecedent decade I accept acclimated abundance for cutting action, biking and alley trips, as a airing about camera, for continued appellation activity work, and alike aloft 2,000m in aiguille ski season. I’m actually not the abandoned one to do this.
Not already accept I acclimated these cameras in a academic flat setting… Yet the Hasselblad generally gets larboard at home because, well, I don’t apperceive why. The models of the camera I accept affection congenital in metering, aerial blast speeds, burning mirror return, fast lenses. They’re no beneath of a airing about camera than best DSLRs. So why do they get larboard at home?
I anticipate the acumen the camera gets larboard at home is because best of the assignment I shoot with it is continued appellation projects, which tend to be desultory in attributes for those capacity I am documenting. Aback I booty the Hasselblad to assignment on those projects it has a accessory activity as a accepted camera for biking shots, and so on.
For a continued time I did shoot skateboarding on a approved base with it, but alike afresh aback I wasn’t cutting skateboarding I wasn’t actually cutting annihilation else.
There’s no agnosticism that the camera bigger my photography. Aback I traded in my Bronica and alien lights I was larboard with one camera and two anchored lenses, one of them a fisheye, and I would use annihilation abroad for about eight years. It is abandoned afresh that I added a accessory anatomy as a advancement (with a altered lens) and an Xpan.
I am still aggravating to advance the conduct of one camera and one lens for one project, although accept relented somewhat of backward on that constraint.
In an accomplishment to use the camera added alfresco of activity assignment I accept set myself a ambition this year of cutting at diminutive one anatomy a anniversary with the Hasselblad, and alluringly a academic portrait. The camera sits assuredly on a tripod in my abstraction to admonish me to use it. The portraits included actuality are randoms attack over the accomplished few years.
I anticipation it ability be absorbing to go over some of the things the camera has accomplished me. Average architecture is about to become abundant added known, if not popular, with the absolution of the Hasselblad and Fuji mirrorless average architecture bodies this year. While they do alter in anatomy and activity to the archetypal 6×6 SLR bodies, there is still abundant that can be abstruse from them.
So actuality are ten things I’ve abstruse from ten years cutting with a Hasselblad.
For example, cerebration you can get abroad with cutting at about 1/the focal length. If you accept a lot added resolution you will acquisition some of those rules of deride don’t authority up so well, like aback you accept a big mirror or beyond focal alike blast that adds added movement.
I’ll accord you analogy—1/250 was credible as the best x-sync while skate photographers were cutting with 35mm. Aback anybody started cutting average architecture afresh aback 1/500 was credible as the best. If you weren’t application alien lights 1/1000 was the minimum blast acceleration appropriate to benumb action, aback photographers started application college resolution abounding anatomy 35mm agenda bodies afresh that admonition was afflicted to 1/2000 as the minimum.
Get acclimated to cutting added at mid ambit apertures, f/4 to f/8. Although average architecture lenses can be as fast as f/2, you usually don’t appetite to use them that accessible because a) they won’t be sharp, b) alike if they are aciculate you apparently won’t attach the focus, and c) alike if you do attach the focus they accept so little abyss at aing focus that about annihilation will be in focus.
This has an appulse on cutting in low light, but you can assignment about that in added ways. The photo aloft was attack with the 110mm f/2 at f/4 and on the abounding resolution browse you can see that I actually absent the focus point.
You are activity to (near) absence shots, lots of shots. One of the affliction habits I still accept is to abandoned shoot one anatomy of a scene, unless I accept acumen to anticipate I messed up, I get the photo and move on. Consequently I accept a cardinal of photos that are misses because addition blinked, or I absent the focus, or the agreement was a little bit off, or addition or commodity entered the anatomy and I didn’t notice.
The burning mirror acknowledgment on the 200 alternation Hasselblad cameras does allay the aftermost abeyant mistake.
But you don’t appetite to shoot abounding frames of a arena because average architecture files are big. A reasonable affection browse from a distinct 6×6 abrogating weighs in at 150MB, get them scanned professionally and you can accept annihilation up to 1GB per file. If you over shoot you’re activity to add a aqueduct in your workflow because of the bulk of abstracts you will charge to move about and backup.
It takes me about an hour to browse a cycle of 120 blur (12 frames) and about addition hour or two to action the scans, best of which is removing dust and colour correcting. I can accept why some photographers larboard abaft abounding rolls of abortive film, it’s accessible to acquisition yourself with a excess if you shoot a lot.
One of the allures of a average architecture SLR is a waist akin finder. You will see lots of photos on Instagram, videos on YouTube, etc, that are attack through the waist akin finder of a average architecture camera;—photos of photos in progress, it’s all actual meta. You will additionally see bodies cutting photos with the waist akin finder at waist level.
This seems intuitive, because it’s a waist akin finder, right? The botheration is that the waist akin finder is advised for award a scene, and already you accept begin the arena you should accompany the camera up to your eye for two actual acceptable reasons.
The aboriginal is that it’s about absurd to focus accurately aback cutting at waist level, and this is circuitous by the absorption screens on Hasselblads not actuality fantastic. The newer brighter screens still don’t accept focus “pop” and alike aback you are cutting a brace of stops bottomward from advanced accessible you can absence focus—if you’re at the aing focus ambit with the 80mm lens you abandoned accept /- 5cm abyss alike at f/8.
The additional is to bind your composition. If you accompany the camera up to your eye you are not absent by things alfresco of the anatomy and you can accomplish abiding to move hardly assiduously or backwards to abuse the anatomy and align those verticals.
Related to abbreviating the agreement is not pointing the camera up at aing distance. If you are cutting a photo of someone, accurately a bisected anatomy blazon portrait, and application the camera at waist akin you will be pointing the camera up. This leads to an aftereffect that looks like you or your accountable are falling over. Maybe this can be acclimated for artistic effect, but best of the time it looks bad. Accompany the camera up to your eye and you anticipate this.
As I said above, accompany the camera up to your eye and use the magnifier in the viewfinder. Accomplish abiding you don’t accept a correctional diopter in the magnifier if you don’t charge it.
BTW, aback did you aftermost get your eyes tested? What happens if you accept actual bank abyss and you move assiduously or backwards hardly amid absorption and battlefront the shutter? What happens if you focus and recompose? A lot of these issues are activity to be arguable with the autofocus systems in newer agenda models, but they’re account befitting in mind.
I attack with average architecture absorption screens as, afresh declared above, the Hasselblad screens don’t actually breeze into focus. Alike the newer models assume to ache from this. The attributes of average architecture accepting shallower abyss of acreage can fool you into cerebration the accountable is in focus aback they’re not alarmingly in focus.
One of the best investments I fabricated for the Hasselblad is to get a absorption awning with a breach prism in it, about the botheration with a breach prism is that generally you accept to focus and recompose.
This shouldn’t abruptness you, but there is a allegory that average and beyond architecture lenses are of advance bluff than 35mm lenses. In absoluteness it can be either way: there are acceptable 35mm lenses and bad average architecture lenses. There are average architecture lenses that are fabricated for specific purposes, and there are lenses that action commodity that no added lens has—like the f/2 breach on my 110mm lens, a lens which is not aciculate advanced open, but is acceptable abundant aback I get the focus correct.
The photo affiliated aloft illustrates an important point. It was attack on Delta 3200; had I attack this on a apathetic acceleration blur and there had been abundant ablaze to get the aforementioned acknowledgment afresh it would not attending as sharp. The atom increases the credible sharpness. What else? The contrast, resolution, arrangement of the camera, affection of any tripod you use, the developer, the enlarger (scanner), the column processing.
Barry Thornton wrote a book on accomplishing optimal sharpness, “Edge of Darkness”, and in it he abandoned devotes a distinct folio to the affection of the lens absorbed to your camera.
There’s commodity abroad I accept to abode here: that aciculate edges don’t abide so abundant in absolute life. Booty a attending about your actual environment, acquisition commodity that has a authentic edge. A book maybe, your phone, a acclaim card, a cup, a allotment of fruit? Whatever. Imagine how that commodity would attending if rendered in a photograph. It would apparently accept a aciculate edge, alike admitting in absoluteness it doesn’t.
This is the botheration in recording commodity that has diminutive analogue on a average that doesn’t, and one of the agency in which photography has afflicted our expectations of how that analogue should be represented.
The modular attributes of earlier average architecture systems was a affairs point: shoot altered backs for altered sizes and types of film. But the backs were the weakest allotment of the system, decumbent to ablaze leaks, anatomy agreement issues, or jams. They would ruin a shoot afterwards admonishing and accustomed at diminutive one additional was actually essential. You could aces one up for beneath than the amount of accepting them serviced, but ran the accident that a second/third/fourth/fifth duke aback would aloof advance its own faults.
Light leaks were the best accepted affair due to the cream seals that are placed at the aphotic accelerate slot, and these could be replaced with little effort. You bare to do this at diminutive already every added year depending on how you stored the camera/backs, but they could still aback ruin a anatomy or two afterwards apprehension in ablaze light. I developed a addiction of autumn my backs with the aphotic slides out as abundant as accessible in an attack to bottle the cream seals for longer.
This is no best an affair with new mirrorless average architecture cameras, but does accomplish me admiration what the anemic allotment of the systems is activity to be? Cameras consistently accept commodity that causes frustration, so what is it this time?
I affected on this in accoutrement the problems with the backs above. A average architecture camera is not a distinct time purchase, you’ll charge a account for approved account and maintenance.
Medium architecture cameras accept this allegory (another one) surrounding them that they aloof go on alive for decades afterwards anytime accepting a problem. I anticipate allotment of that allegory is perpetuated by bodies who own them for abandoned a year or two and afresh advertise them on, or who own them and abandoned dust them off for a shoot already every six months.
This is not my experience.
All three of my Hasselblads accept appropriate repair, forth with sending the 203FE for a accepted service. The 202FA developed a additional blast blind issue, which thankfully was a atomic repair. The 203FE is currently actual bitchy and needs “warming up” afterwards not accepting been acclimated for a few days—the additional blast blind will not aing unless I dry blaze the camera a few times. My 201F absolutely awash up and appropriate an big-ticket fix, at which point I awash it to awning the amount of the adjustment and confused up to the 203FE.
Admittedly, this is the attributes of the 200 alternation models which are actual complex, over 400 genitalia in the anatomy abandoned according to the account manuals, and abandoned Hasselblad will account them. The 500 alternation are simpler but these still charge approved account if you use them over the continued term. If you biking with them this should be obvious, genitalia will alleviate up or go out of alignment.
Also, accede if you aces up a ten/twenty year old “mint” action additional duke camera it apparently hasn’t been acclimated and accordingly hasn’t been serviced.
Given what I wrote above, this should be clear. I purchased the 202FA primarily as a advancement camera aback I started to biking added afield for the continued appellation projects I am alive on. Up until now it hasn’t bare to be acclimated as a backup, so has been acclimated instead as a accessory camera with a altered lens on it. There has been moments aback the 203FE wasn’t functioning, but I managed to get it alive afresh by dry battlefront the camera abundant times.
This is not bargain because the advance in a distinct average architecture body, but afresh accede traveling to the added ancillary of the apple abandoned to accept your camera fail. Not bargain either. Perhaps hire a advancement anatomy if you are activity on a trip, or alike aces up a bargain beat-up additional duke body. This is atomic with the earlier blur cameras, you can aces one up for a brace of hundred Euros. The agenda versions? Not activity to be so easy.
Substitute “square” for whatever the aspect arrangement your camera shoots in here. 24x36mm, 33x44mm (6×4.5cm), 6×6, 6×7, 4×5” (8×10). 24x65mm (XPan). These are all abnormally ample boxes, so they accord you altered agency to compose a scene. Abiding you can crop, but you will see the arena abnormally aback basic and that will apparently alpha to access the way you compose.
The aboveboard has become abounding over the accomplished few years (thanks to Instagram). I’ve consistently been addicted of it because I don’t feel as accountable to approximate compositional devices, or rules that are followed abandoned because anybody says they charge be followed. I can shoot a abounding anatomy account and appropriately put the accountable accurately blast in the average of the anatomy afterwards audition complaints about the aphorism of thirds. Accepting attack with the aboveboard for a continued time I feel it has afflicted the way I compose with added frames.
Ultimately this is a acute acumen to accept one architecture over another. It’s not about blur against digital: it’s about squares against rectangles, big cameras against baby cameras, fast cameras against apathetic cameras.
This has been a acumen I accept captivated off so continued on accepting a agenda camera to alter the Hasselblad, I am too absorbed to the square.
The analytical affair about average architecture cameras, abnormally those that you ability aberrate about award scenes at waist akin with, is that bodies tend to acknowledge to them differently. My acquaintance is that there is generally a abbreviate moment in which the accountable seems absent to the camera and afresh aback they apprehend what is activity on they become curious.
This acknowledgment is altered to the afraid or arresting acknowledgment that can appear aback you point a ample DSLR at them.
I anticipate allotment of this is because you can’t actually adumbrate abaft a average architecture camera in the way that you would a DSLR. The attributes of the cutting action agency it’s difficult to get aboveboard shots and acute telephoto lenses don’t actually abide for the format. This agency you accept to get aing if you appetite to ample the frame, you accept to accomplish your intentions clear, you accept to relax, and abounding times it’s aloof best to ask.
This isn’t activity to be the case with the new mirrorless models so I apprehend reactions to those are not activity to alter abundant to their abate counterparts.
The concern is generally a acceptable icebreaker, absolution bodies attending through the waist akin finder and demonstrating the way the camera is acclimated seems to put bodies at ease. This is not a fast camera, I’m not aggravating to t you out. And, of course, if the accountable has any absorption in photography, which is generally a accustomed these days, this can advance to diffuse conversations.
It’s not about resolution, microcontrast, colour rendering, activating range, sharpness, or any added of those arid technicalities. At diminutive not for me. My affidavit for acrimonious up a average architecture camera, some thirteen years ago, was to facilitate a altered access to photography. Aback I ditched the aftermost of my lights in 2008 my access afflicted again.
Sure the technicalities matter, but you accept to accept that cutting with a average architecture camera is altered to cutting with a 35mm camera. Aloof as cutting with an iPhone is altered to a 35mm camera, or cutting with ample format, or wet plates, or a rangefinder, or whatever. And I’m not talking about slowing down, because slowing bottomward slows you down, I’m talking added about how you see the apple through your camera and how the camera allows you to see the world.
“The best camera is the one you accept with you” is an around-the-clock banality that is now a absurd byword accustomed we all accept cameras with us at all times in one anatomy or another. The best of the camera informs your approach, and appropriately the image, and appropriately the administration you take.
This is important over the continued term, and has been a key agency in the projects I accept been alive on.
Part of my affidavit for autograph this column chronicle to the accurate cantankerous anchorage I acquisition myself at. The 203FE is the best camera I accept anytime acclimated admitting all of its quirks, failings, expense, and temperament. However, I acquisition myself backbreaking of cutting film, not because of the action but rather the arresting accoutrements that generally assembly with it, and I am aing the end of the abiding activity assignment I accept been cutting alone with this camera.
I could get myself a agenda aback for the 203FE, which will absorb some about-face work. Yet the amount of that aback eclipses the amount of a new mirrorless average architecture bureaucracy significantly, and I would be larboard with a camera that still has the quirks and failings. A camera that still needs to be serviced every two or there years, which is in no way affirmed to be possible.
This is an adverse bearings that Fuji/Hasselblad accept now created. The bazaar for new and acclimated agenda average architecture backs for V alternation cameras, those of college resolution and quality, is now about dead. Unless Hasselblad can absolution one at a abundant lower amount than the mirrorless cameras, which is absurd to appear as that will appulse the mirrorless sales. The V alternation in agenda anatomy is now over from a development point of view.
Medium architecture is at a axis point, the absolution this year of mirrorless Hasselblad and Fuji models stands to acquaint a ample cardinal of photographers to it. I could advertise my accepted accessories to aloof about awning the amount of one of those setups, and I accept to accept I’m tempted.
The Hasselblad 203FE is the best camera I accept anytime used, but all acceptable things charge end. Maybe I’ll delay for adaptation two or three of the new cameras though.
About the author: Lee Johnson is a Switzerland-based columnist and software developer. You can acquisition added of his assignment and words by visiting his blog, or afterward him on Twitter and Instagram. This commodity was additionally appear here.
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