It’s been very quiet around here for a while but today I would like to introduce my new baby. No, not the one currently in my wife’s belly (though rest assured that I’ll annoy you with that one as well when the time comes). I’m talking about my new (to me, it’s actually 24 years old) Hasselblad 500 c/m. I’ve really enjoyed the experience of shooting film with my Mamiya C330 but I’ve had the urge to get something in a bit better condition. After looking around for a while I kind of fell in love with the elegant look of the Hasselblad. After hearing the shutter sound in a youtube video I was completely sold. Look through the gallery below for some camera porn before we continue.
Finished drooling? You can’t have it, it’s mine. Compared to the Mamiya this camera has very clean lines. All the settings are on the lens and you only have cranks for advancing the film on the body and back. It’s also a much more flexible system with every conceivable accessory available that you can think of. In the last picture you can see the main parts: lens, body, back and viewfinder. There are even digital backs for it if you happen to have more money than is good for your health.
One very compelling feature is the interchangeable backs. What it means is that you can have two backs with different films loaded and switch between them whenever you want, without finishing the roll you’re on. I plan to get a second back eventually so I can have different ISO films ready for different situations.
I don’t have any stellar photos to show you from this camera yet, since I shot a bit of whatever in order to finish the first roll so I could confirm that everything was working properly. I like the shot at the top though, the light is gorgeous and medium format film holds detail in both the shadows and highlights insanely well in those conditions. The rest of the photos are a bit so-so, but I didn’t have any interesting locations and most of the time the light was really boring as well. I also tried over exposing the film by a stop or two because I’ve seen some very nice results with that. Here I think I might have gotten a bit more contrast and colour cast because of that though. I’ll have to experiment more and I think it depends a lot on how the lab scans the negatives as well. I’m still aiming at getting my own scanner eventually so I can have more control.
Speaking of contrast, the lens on this thing is definitely a bit sharper with more contrast than the one on the Mamiya. It also handles flare a lot better. Below is a shot from the Mamiya that I also just got back, though it was taken in July. Compare it to the one from the Hasselblad at the top and you’ll see what I mean about flare and contrast. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different since the lenses renders very differently. By the way, I’m also using a gold and silver reflector to camera left in this shot.
Other than needing to experiment a bit more with different films (I’ll try Kodak Portra 400 next, these were shot with 160) and exposure, I already love shooting with this camera. Everything just works so smooth and feels so solid. It’s a dead simple camera, there’s not a single unneccessary button, lever or crank on it. The best thing of all has to be the sound when you press the shutter, it’s just awesome. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more classic or iconic camera than this and you can understand its reputation when you handle it.
I’m planning to go to my mom’s place around Christmas and will aim to shoot a full roll of Portra 400 while we’re there, so hopefully that will be something you can look forward to. I’ve taken many of my best photos at her place, so chances are good that I can get some decent shots as long as the weather behaves. The Mamiya will be staying home. I haven’t quite decided if I should sell it or keep it yet. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just like the Hasselblad more and I prefer to keep my gear to a minimum.
I hope that my own experiences with film can inspire some of you to try it as well. It really is an experience that every photographer should try at least once. Hey, Christmas is coming up, I just solved your problem of what to ask Santa for. I’m definitely hooked and I think most of my family snapshots from now on will be taken with an analog camera, at least the ones I come back to and look at again and again.