Daily Inspiration #96 by Wolfgang Spekner

You just gotta love images from a Hasselblad. Today’s photos come from Wolfgang Spekner and what can I say? They are GORGEOUS.

From Wolfgang:

“Hey Steve,

first of all thank you very much for your work and your website. It’s a daily inspiration to me.

Lately – also because of your recent analog inputs – I’ve started to use my old Hasselblad 503cx with it’s 80mm CF T* lens again. Photography feels so much more real when using film, especially medium format. My big problem with digital has always been the flatness, the lacking 3D-look of the images, ever since I used my first digital camera in 2004 (a Nikon D70). I’ve been using a Canon 5D, a Canon 5DII, a Leica M8 and nowadays I’m using a Nikon D700 and a Panasonic GF1, but I never get the look and the feel of film out of these electronic devices. And back in the days, when I was using film-cameras, I never got the looks of medium format out of a 35mm camera. When I first got my hands on a Hasselblad 501cm and shot the first roll of 120 film back in 1999, I instantly fell in love with the brilliance, the 3D-look and the DOF of the images. I’m not at all a tripod guy. I like to photograph in the streets, in bars, in daily life situations. I don’t plan my pictures and a tripod would mostly prevent me from shooting intuitively. So I ended up using my Hasselblad mostly handheld. I never used a lightmeter with the Hasselblad and learned how to guess exposure. It was amazing how often I was right with my guessing – especially using mostly slide film.

So today I thought it might be a nice addition to your daily inspirations to inspire you and the others with the beauty of film medium format and to tell you that medium format too – when kept simple – can be a quite spontaneous, lightweight and fun experience – especially considering the quality of the output. Besides medium format cameras are cheap today on the used market.

The two pictures are from a trip to Rome, Italy in 2001 and a trip to Venice, Italy in 2000. Both were shot on Kodak E100S (that’s the E100G today), scanned on an Epson V750 scanner and postprocessed in Lightroom with dust and scratch removal and resizing in Photoshop. I’d like to draw your attention especially on the shallow DOF with the 80mm lens at f2.8 that makes part of the beauty of this format.

Keep on with your amazing work!

Wolfgang (Austria)



  1. @ Garry: I’ve used a Mamiya 7ii for several years, scanning the transparencies with an Epson 4990 (a precursor to the V700). If you’re interested in seeing some examples see this page on my flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sapientiguana/page22/
    It’s a good combination of MF and scanner, and relatively cheap if you buy both second hand. The small files on flickr don’t do them justice – i have some of these blown up poster size on my wall and they look lovely.

  2. True Dave S, however the lens on that 10 year old S2 will cost more used in 10 years than it does now, new …

  3. pixelmixture,

    Unfortunately that’s easier said than done. The size of the sensor is the biggest cost input for a camera. A huge slab of silicon like that would cost a lot of money. Also, since MF is by its nature a specialty item (most of the market uses cellphones, point-and-shoots, or DSLRs) they wouldn’t be able to amortize the development costs by selling millions of cameras. Keep in mind that anyone who bought one would have to buy a whole new set of MF lenses.

    Your best bet is to wait 10 years and pick up a used Leica S2 or Phase One digital back for $200. (And no, that is not a joke. The highest-end DSLR’s of 10 years ago now sell for $75.)

  4. great photos.

    I can’t understand that no brand is able to feel that there is a big market for a cheap fullframe digital MF camera.

    how can a MF full frame could be cheap? simple: full manual, low resolution (<20Mpx)
    i would die for such a product… i don't have the time anymore to shoot film …

  5. Thank you, guys, so much for your kind feedback!
    @ David S.: As you can see in my fotostream most of the pictures are about the same people. They know me mostly quite well and know that I have a camera with me almost all the time.
    I found out three things though:
    1. A Leica M or other rangefinders are great, since they don’t cover all your face – that’s the same for the new non-DSLRs as a GF1 etc. And even a Hasselblad or a Rollei (given you use the waist level finder) make people feel more comfortable, sometimes because they seem so outdated that people find them interesting and ask about them. So you have something to talk about and they feel better being photographed.
    2. Most of the time I try to use small lenses (35 or 50) on a DSLRs. I mostly have a hard time sticking a Nikon 24-70/2.8 into the face of somebody I don’t know.
    3. This one is very obvious: I have to talk and listen to people when I first meet them, before introducing my camera.

    @Damian: I did the PP in Lightroom, played especially with the colors. I mostly start with one of my LR presets and adjust it. I used Photoshop for scratch and dust removal and resizing only.

    Thanks again,


  6. … simply beautiful shots with an air of times <>. Charming photos, they are warm and tender with an ingredient today’s digital photos lack quite often.

    I have taken photos with a Rolleiflex 6×6 in the early days, mostly b/w and enjoyed that.

  7. I realllly want a MF camera, hopefully a blad or contax. Both awesome images with so much detail and that MF look.

  8. Great images! I just sold my only MF camera, since it was too huge (Mamiya C3) and today received the developed films. I really regret selling it. I guess I’ll buy at least relatively newer MFs like Mamiya 7 in near future.

  9. First photo is great.

    Steve: Would love to see some reviews of MF equipment, maybe CameraQuest would lend you a Bessa III? Or maybe a Mamiya 7? Also be interested to see how that V700 handles MF film.

  10. I shot MF film ONCE but the gear was not mine. I LOVE the look of MF, film more so than digital MF. These images here by Wolfgang are excellent!

  11. Indeed an inspiration from Wolfgang – I have been tempted by getting a medium format camera myself – I have never shot film in the same hobby function as I do now with digital but this post reminds me again to reconsider. Have you, Steve, shot medium format?

  12. Wolfgang,

    Just checked out your photostream. You have a wonderful eye for color and composition, but what struck me most is your way with people. None of your subjects seem posed or tense in front of the camera — and you are using big-ass cameras like the D700 that are hard for subjects to ignore. Almost every shot is a perfect candid. Can you talk about how you shoot people and make them comfortable?

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