Feb 012013
 

HAS

Using the Hasselblad 200 FC/M for Street Photography by Jerry Bei

“UFO” Kodak Ektar 100

UFO

Hi Steve:

I am a street photographer based in Sydney and I have a strong passion for photography in general. I used the Leica M9 and MP as my main tools for street photography in the past couple of years but recently decided to acquire something different. The temptation of medium format have always been there but I could not justify the cost of digital medium format cameras, at least for now.

Hasselblad has always been my dream medium format camera and luckily I got the chance to buy a Hasselblad 2000FC/M camera body with a A12 magazine at a very reasonable price that got me started into medium format. The world of medium format film photography was new to me so I had to learn everything from the start. I got a grasp of how the Hasselblad V system works very quickly since I had quite a bit of experience shooting film before.

“J&M” Fuji Pro400H

J&M

First thing I noticed when holding the camera is its superb build quality, I have held many Leica cameras before but this thing is different, it is built like a tank; heavy and solid. The Hasselblad 2000FC/M with a lens attached is significantly heavier than my Leica M9 with a 50 Summilux ASPH combo but still lighter than a full-frame DSLR setup.

“Black Riders” Ilford HP5+

Black Riders

The viewfinder on the Hasselblad V system is like nothing else I have experienced, big and beautiful. It is almost like a live-view 3 inch LCD screen in the modern days but even better since it is all optical rather than electronic. Viewing through the viewfinder is a pleasure and truly a treat to eyes. I have upgraded the original stock viewscreen to a even brighter Accute Matte D screen that helps to achieve faster and more accurate focusing for street photography.

The Hasselblad V system is equipped with a waist-level viewfinder and it is perfect for street photography. You can simply hold the camera at your waist aimed at your subject and most people don’t even know that you are taking a picture. It’s discreteness is perfect for the streets. The shutter click sound is no where as quite as a leaf shutter or Leica quietness but it is still a pleasure to hear the mirror flipping when the shutter fires.

“Circus Lady” Kodak Portra 400

Circus Lady

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“Gossip Girls” Kodak Portra 400

Gossip Girls

One of the big advantage of the Hasselblad system over other medium format film systems is its inter-changeable backs, which allows swap between different films on the go. There are several different types of film magazines available that can shoot different number of exposures. The most common is the A12 magazine, which allows photographers to shoot 12 frames of 6×6 exposures of 120mm film. You simply insert the dark slide to remove the film back and apply another back loaded with the film you desire. Therefore, you don’t have to wait until all exposures to be finished and able to shoot B&W or Colour during the same photo-shoot.

The lenses are made by Carl Zeiss thus equates to superior image quality. There are several different types of lenses for the V system, some with lens built-in Synchro Compur shutter like in C and CF lenses and some without that uses the in-camera shutter like the F lenses. My Hasselblad 2000FC/M can uses all three types of lenses since it has a built-in shutter and a top shutter speed of 1/2000 second. The optics are all made by Carl Zeiss and has the typical Zeiss quality with its renowned 3D rendition. Some people buy the system because of their famous lenses. There are also difference in lens coating and are noted by the T* sign. The lenses I used are the Carl Zeiss 150mm F4.0 CF T* lens which is equivalent to 94mm in 35mm format, which is the perfect lens for head and shoulder portraits. I am also using the “magical” lens in the Hasselblad world , the Carl Zeiss 100mm F3.5 C T* lens that is equivalent to 63mm and it is a mysterious lens that is rarely used but contains some magical qualities. One day I hope to get the “Noctilux” of Hasselblad, which is the Carl Zeiss 110mm F2 lens that will produce stunning bokeh!

I loved shooting with 35mm film on my MP, although the film qualities are presented i.e. the great exposure latitude, dynamic range and tonality but the sharpness is not up to the standard that I desired. Medium format film seems to be the “Perfect” solution for this, it has incredible sharpness, even at 100% crop looks tack-sharp amazing to me. Although with the significant gain of resolution over 35mm film but it still retains all the film qualities that makes it so attractive. There is also a great gain in shallower Depth-of-Field and the bokeh from the lenses are incredible. The frame is 6×6 which makes it a unique square shape that stands out from all other images. I have yet to print those images in large sizes but have heard that you can even blown them up to 2 by 2 meters prints, which is perfect for commercial usage.

It has been a real joy to use the hasselblad and I am still amazed at its quality. While my journey in the medium format world continues that I would highly recommend for anyone wanting try out medium format film photography : do not hesitate!

Please feel free to visit my Flickr or 500px to see more of my work:

Flickr: HYPERLINK “http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerrybay/” http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerrybay/

500px: HYPERLINK “http://500px.com/jerrybay” http://500px.com/jerrybay

 

“Father & Son” Ilford Delta 400

Father & Son

 

“Hairy Chest” Ilford HP5+

Hairy Chest 

“1958 Chevrolet Corvette” Ilford HP5+ 

1958 Chevrolet Corvette

“French Nun” Fuji Reala 100

French Nun 

“In the Wind” Fuji 400H

In the Wind

  53 Responses to “Using the Hasselblad 200 FC/M for Street Photography by Jerry Bei”

  1. A Hassy is the last camera I would expect a street photographer to use, and it’s awesome that Bei defied conventional wisdom and used it anyway. The pictures look fabulous.

  2. Thanks for putting this article up Steve. Jerry you have a great camera and some truly lovely photos. I particularly like the rendition of the skin tones, very soft and natural looking. Can I ask what scanning you used ?. Great work, impressive quality from you and the camera. Zakk

    • The 500px link doesn’t work

    • I have to thank Steve too for putting up my article to allow me share some of my work with you guys!
      Thanks for the kind words Zakk, as for the scanning process I have been using the Epson V700 Scanner myself but sometimes I let my local pro lab do the scanning.

    • I have to thank Steve too for putting up my article to allow me share some of my work with you guys!
      Thanks for the kind words Zakk, as for the scanning process I have been using the Epson V700 Scanner myself but sometimes I let my local pro lab do the scanning. I have always found tiff files to be excellent.

  3. These are wonderful. I have to admit I know VERY little about Medium Format. How is it you know that your images are in focus. Would it be possible ot have a Medium Format Rangefinder camera? Or would that be at a disadvantage?

    • Hey Bryan,

      normally they work with split-image focusing screens like the 35mm film SLR’s without autofocus. Have a look at Mamiya 6, Mamiya 7 and 7-II. Those are maybe the best medium format rangefinders and the best lenses you can get and Mamiya 7 has even larger negatives as it works on a 6×7 format. Mamiya 6 is a 6×6 square format like the Hasselblad. Mamiya 7-II is still available. Compared to a Leica they are less expensive, well built and not too bulky.

      Martin
      http://www.pholux.com

    • Bryan there’s a ground glass that you look at thru the waist level view finder. That thing on the top in the pic of the camera. The glass is at the bottom. The sides are to shield it from glare. They fold down when not in use. As you turn the focusing ring or knob the image will snap into focus. Many WL finders also have a magnifying glass that can be popped out for more critical focus. Easier focusing these manually than a DSLR.
      There are range finder medium format cameras. Fuji amongst others has made several models.

    • Bryan, Check out the Mamiya 7ii, a medium format rangefinder which can still be bought new at ffordes in the UK, don’t know about anywhere else.

      Ragnar Axelsson uses one plus also Leica Film and Canon digital. He is based in Iceland and has at least two books published, has also been featured on the BBC in an hour long documentary. He has an extensive portfolio of landscape and human interest photos taken in Iceland and Greenland.

    • There are lots of MF rangefinders. Fuji, Bronica, Makina, Mamiya all made them to name a few. There is one you can buy new either under Fuji or Voightlander name–actually, there are two, one model has a fixed normal and the other a wide. And you can find rangefinders in 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, 6×8, and 6×9 formats.

  4. Once I saw a guy in Vienna who was using a Hasselblad for street photography. That silver boxy thing actually attracts less attention than a Nex 7 somehow.

    Awesome pictures btw.

    • I agree. I think part of the reason it does not attract so much attention is that you are looking downward and you don’t have a direct face 2 face contact with the subject which makes them less conscious as well. That is one of the reason I like my Silver Leica X2 with EVF for street since I can aim low and look downward while shooting.

    • Thanks Obican! The waist-level finder is discrete and a perfect way to enjoy street photography!

  5. Thank you for this article, great photos! I recently bought myself into Medium Format Film photography, too! It’s great to work with it, film is still nice and makes you rethink your shot and framing before you really press the shutter release. Great learning curve!

    Martin
    http://www.pholux.com

  6. It is so strange reading this as up to ten years ago most pro photographers would have already known what you have written. The 110 f2 is a great lens to use but it is very heavy, however the ‘blad sits comfortably cradled in your hands and this is not a problem – but get it he focus lever. Also if you can’t pick up a Softar 1 or 2 ( the 3 is excessive) they are useful for portraits. The 250 is a great lens as well.

    As for street photography’s with the ‘blad try sitting down on a seat and waiting …. I have to confess I found the 500/2000 ‘blads easier than the H series which in my day did not have waist level finders?

    If you want to go digital a 16mp 38x38mm back is not too expensive now and the crop from 56×56 is manageable … But get ready for 100 mb files!

    The medium format quality cameras were very well made and being modular were an easy way to build up an outfit over a period… You could of course put a Polaroid back on ….

    Great to see some square images again.

  7. it shows what film tonality medium format film is. lovely pictures no harsh no heavy proceesing… eye pleasing..

    • Each Medium format film has its own unique character and tonality, It is always the unexpectations of results making it seems so enjoyable to use. I agree there are significant less need for post-processing on film photos than digital files since you want to preserve “character” of each film.

  8. Excellent photos. There’s something about colour neg film. I can only describe it as more gentle than digital. I use a Yashica TTL for street photography occasionally. Doesn’t have interchangeable lenses or backs, but it works well. It slows me down and makes me choose the right composition, subject & moment. It attracts attention but it doesn’t. Most don’t notice. Just some old guy fiddling with some contraption. Those who do notice will often stop and pose. They don’t seem to be intimidated. Must be my looking down as mentioned above. Then there are those who are interested. Is that a camera? Must be very old. Does it work? Twice I’ve had Japanese tourists offer to buy it.

  9. Wonderful and amazing pictures! Working with a Hasselblad must a real treat!

  10. I have thought about using my old Hasselblad for street. But never got around to it. These images show that it was a mistake to leave the camera at home. I really like “Gossip Girls” Kodak Portra 400 and the last one “In the Wind” Fuji 400H. Which has a great composition.

  11. Well got to say I love these. Very refreshing and unpretentious. I will be honest and say that a lot of pictures submitted here are not my cup of tea; exotic (poor?) people in other countries taken with very expensive cameras and sterile black and white snaps. Jerry you really have found a way of using the camera’s signature (along with film stock) and of course your ability and interest in photography. I have had a look at your Flickr site and even the stuff photographed in other countries like Egypt work. The reason for me is that you and therefore your photographs are respectful. They don’t seem to treat other people like cheap models to be photographed for the glory of the photographer.

  12. I especially like the last two for the luscious color photography. The French Nun picture is all gorgeous deep jewel tones. In these days of grubby street photography I rarely see color like that. Not that the color is everything – it’s a very nice image – but the color stands out. I also love the pink dress in the last one. I can feel the cool wind so easily.

    • The colour of film is still unmatchable, even with today’s technology to manipulate similar colours through film filters that I still can notice the difference, it’s never the same. The colours of some films are just so rich like you said and the tonality is lovely thus I hope there will always be a place for film photography. Cheers.

  13. Probably the *last* camera I would chose, but once you find your niche- stick with it!

  14. Well, you must have strong and steady hands man. I tried this couple times, but well I prefer a lighter camera for that purpose.

    Bravo and continue your work!

  15. Nice shots, why I’ll bet you can even use a light meter. That you have a good idea what you shot will look like. Just think of the Megapixals you have in each roll of film. The killer IQ in your CZ. Film still lives.

    • Cheers, I have read somewhere that 6×6 medium format 120 film has equivalent of 48 megapixels in digital terms.

      • If you have a nice scanner it really helps. I have a Nikon Super Cool Scan 9000 ED. From my old 6×7 and 6×6 are 65 Megs Tiff images. They look great. I mostly shoot with 35mm film. The only film med. I have have is a Hassi 905 SWC. Just think of it. You can buy a Hassi 50(?)cm with a back and buy a 100 f3.5 Plannar ( shaaaaarp! ). Killer combo for liitte bucks. Getting a good scanner is the trick. Good luck Jerry.

        • Cheers Karl, I have the Epson v700 right now and I found it to be adequate. I agree that a good scanner and good scanning skills are essential to complete the process. The SWC is a real monster for landscape shooting and combine with the 38mm biogon just producing amazingly sharp images, it is a camera that I would
          Like to own someday.

  16. You are an amazing photographer! I love these pictures… They are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them.

  17. There are a lot of ordinary photos that get posted, your’s are not among them. Great job Jerry, love your compositions, love the colours, excellent work.

  18. Love the car and the woman in the breeze….

  19. Hi Jerry, I really enjoyed your photographs. I found the colors and lighting to be very pleasing to the eye which leaves me with a couple of questions. Is the seemingly greater dynamic range (less dark shadows) a property of the format or something you are doing for processing? Also do you do any digital post processing? Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • Thanks HJP, glad to answer your questions, I found using film that I did a lot less post processing than comparing to digital files. There are only basic tweakings need to be done like highlight, contrast, etc so I found film to be less demanding in terms of PP thus more fun to shoot with. Medium format film has ever great latitude, tonality and dynamic range than 35mm and it is a great medium to shoot with!

  20. Thank you for your ideas and photos. You hit a home run, especially your comparison of the weight of a Hasselblad with today’s high end digital SLR’s.

    No camera feels or sounds like a Hasselblad, and the sharpness advantages are obvious. I find I take better photos with a Hasselblad because it engages me and slows me down, forcing me to slow down and think.

    Thanks for saying what should have been said a long time ago.
    Roger

    • Thank you Roger, using the Hasselblad had been a real enjoyable experience for me and I am just telling how I felt about it, glad others enjoyed it too. Using 120mm film with only 12 6×6 exposures has really slowed me down too, this allows more time for the users to think before taking a picture and I think this helped me to become a better photographer.

  21. Very pleasing pictures, the images look in many ways larger than life, I don’t know whether its the film, camera or photographer or all 3 but its looks much nicer, more professional, in a ‘larger frame’, than a lot of pics we see.

    And you managed something no one has, a post with not a single negative comment, which is rare around here.

  22. Great images and it has always been a dream of mine to have a Hasselblad, one of these days.

    I just realised that the new Leica M240 with the EVF will be great for street photography as you can position it so you look down into it thereby being less obvious when using it for street photography.

    Ross

    • You should give Hasselblad a try someday and I am sure it will bring a lot of fun!
      All Leicas are great for street photography but I am still hesitant whether to change my M9 to the new M yet, really need to see more actual reviews and Images before I can make up my mind but I am sure functionality wise it is an improvement.

  23. Good work Jerry … I really like these photos.

    I’ve got a 205FCC … but I use it less and less (Size / ongoing film/scanning costs). I’ve pre-ordered a Leica M and I’m hoping that it’s a camera I can use for my personal projects … I want something small, digital …. and I want the images to “look” better than Canon/Nikon etc …

    How do you find the image quality compares between the Hasselblad and the Leica?

    • Thanks Trevor! I have no doubt that the Leica M will be an awesome camera and it all comes down to personal preferences for the image rendering.
      All Leicas with the Leica glass offers nothing short of exceptional quality as it is probably at the peak of 35mm format. I found the rendering to be different on the Hasselblad and it offers digital level of sharpness but retains all those lovely film qualities. It certainly offers that different look you are looking for so I suggest give it a go someday.

  24. Thanks for sharing, lovely photo’s, selection and camera. I do love square format and MF Film.
    I do however find the palm top ‘Blad a bit tricky.
    I haven’t shot anything nor touched a camera since September, but will shoot some 6×6 photo’s with my Rolleiflex 6008i this Spring, the Rollei is very ergonomic

  25. Great article and fantastic pictures, especially the father & son and the corvette. it’s like everything I love about my Contax Aria and Zeiss 50mm f1.4 taken further. I have a Mamiya M6 and love composing in the square format but prefer the look of the Contax. The Hasseblad might be a good compromise.

    I wonder how the Hasselblad Zeiss look compares with the Contax 645 Zeiss.

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