Regular readers of The Rolling Road will already know that I am a firm believer that less is more when it comes to cameras and photogear.The less gear you have the more likely you are to take your camera with you and having just one fixed focal length lens means less decisions.However principles can be flexible and encouraged by friend Roger Putnam in the UK who had already started on the Hasselblad collecting trail I purchased a good collection of Hasselblad gear in Australia and Germany over a few months last year-funded by selling some unwanted Porsche wheels and racing tyres.This is the antithesis of the less is more philosophy.It is a big, heavy collection of vintage film camera gear.I bought it so that I could dabble in film photography again and because I had always coveted a Hasselblad-the king of cameras.A Hasselblad is a piece of high precision mechanical and optical engineering and totally unaffordable for most of my lifetime but now selling at bargain basement prices.
I'm still learning to use the Hasselblad.Shooting with medium format (6x6) film is a completely different style of photography to shooting with digital --even to shooting with 35mm film-it is slower and more considered and shooting with an old Hasselblad is even slower and even more considered.Adapting to the square format also takes some time.
I find focussing using the waist level finder very difficult because it is so dim.There is very limited depth of field with the Blad lenses -even the wide 50mm Distagon has limited dof unless it is stopped right down which is not often possible if you are handholding the camera as camera shake is an issue.The mirror makes a big "slap" when it moves.I now understand why Hasselblad photographers so often used a tripod.I have a growing admiration for those professional photographers who used Hasselblads as their camera of choice to shoot fashion,wildlife or whatever.Even loading a film in the Blad is a not a simple task .I cannot imagine doing it in a hurry or carrying a Blad outfit around on a photoshoot.
I have just weighed my complete Hasselblad outfit-a 500 body,two magazines,an exposure meter,a prism viewfinder and 50mm,80mm and 150mm Zeiss lenses,assorted lens hoods and an extension tube and it weighs just over 7kg.My Leica X1 weighs 330 gm incl the battery.Not a fair comparison but telling nonetheless.
I have been learning to use the Blad over the past 14 months shooting both colour and black and white.In the last couple of weeks I have taken it into nearby Bouddi National Park -see Bouddi- firstly down to pristine Maitland Bay where I took the above photo on Kodak Portra 400 film using the 80mm Zeiss Planar lens.It was a handheld shot.The negative was scanned in on a Canon flatbed scanner and it has not been manipulated at all.What you see here is as it came out of the scanner.Portra is just a wonderful film.The white object on the horizon is the sail of a yacht on the Hawkesbury Rive.
The photos below were taken on two of the tracks in the park -again on Kodak Portra 400 film- the first with the 50mm Zeiss Distagon lens with the camera on a tripod and the second and third with the 80mm Zeiss Planar lens with the camera handheld.I particularly like the third shot as it captures the atmosphere of the steep track down to Maitland Bay so well.
I wish that I had used a tripod for these shots so that I could have used a smaller aperture and got more depth of field-the foreground is not quite sharp as you may have noticed-but the track is a very steep climb and it is all I can manage to take down the camera body and one lens.Taking a heavy tripod and another lens would be heart attack territory.