As a follow up to my last post ‘We Need to Talk about a Four Letter Word‘, this post is to keep you up to date with what I’m doing. As you can probably guess from the title and the main picture, I’ve bought myself a 1982 Hasselblad 500 c/m. I’ve been shooting in 35mm for a while now and have really wanted to make the jump up to a bigger format, in fact, the pull of medium format had become so strong that it was no longer an issue of if I would make the step up, but when.
Choosing a medium format camera is not exactly a walk in the park. Sure, you can visit your local camera store like West Yorkshire Cameras and get terrific advice and you can start to narrow your choices down, but you still have a lot of decisions to make; much more decisions than with 35mm.
For example, the most pressing issues is what negative size you want: 6x4.5; 6x6; or 6x7. Each of these offers a unique negative and potentially another set of questions for each.
I wanted to move to medium format because I was drawn to the large negative, therefore, 6x4.5 just wasn’t the right option for me. There was not a big enough jump from 35mm (something I’m very comfortable with) to 6x4.5. That is not to say, obviously, that there aren’t brilliant 6x4.5 cameras out there! And, of course, this format might be perfect for what you’re looking for. For example, the Mamiya 645 is a brilliant camera in this category.
6x6 offered a larger negative but quite often is talked about as a problematic format. I think this mainly comes down to it being a square format. Therefore, classical compositions can be tricky. However, if you have grown up with Instagram and social media in general, then this format might not be as unusual as you think; Instagram is or was a square crop (check out Ian Wong’s great video HERE). Also, because it is square you don’t have to worry about landscape and portrait orientation. Furthermore, as it is a 6x6 negative if you wanted to crop to a rectangle you could easily do so; effectively making it a 6x4.5. The Hasselblad 500 series is 6x6 and the 500 C/M is used by my favourite landscape photographer Michael Kenna. There is also the Mamiya 6 rangefinder camera.
And then there’s 6x7. This offers the biggest negative and there are some seriously good cameras out there in this category; expensive, as well. Some of my favourites are: the Mamiya 7; the Mamiya RB and RZ; and the Pentax 67. The cameras in this section tend to be a lot heavier and less mobile. That being said, the Mamiya 7 is a rangefinder style camera and is perhaps the most mobile medium format camera out there. It is, however, still relatively very expensive.
So why did I choose the 6x6 Hasselblad 500C/M? I was drawn to the history and the Carl Zeiss lenses. Worryingly, I had watched a lot of Youtube videos on how it was fiddly and not easy to use. But I must say that after only using it a few days I find it very easy to use; even loading the film was hassle free. Obviously, once I get my first roll of film back I’ll be able to see how ‘easy’ I actually found it. I am expecting my first few shots not being in focus – I think it does take a few shots to get used to how to hold the camera whilst pressing the shutter. Though there are ways you can use this camera in order to minimise hand shake.
It is completely modular and manual. This means that you can change the camera to fit your needs. For example, I don’t have a waist level viewfinder. Instead I have the 45 degree prism that corrects the way you see the composition (normally the image would be reversed).
I’ve taken 4 images (out of the 12 available on 120 film). One of which was an attempted self portrait. There is a lot to say about this camera, little tricks that help you get the most out of it, but I’m going to wait until I have example images to talk through some features.
Until then here are some images taken on my Fuji XT-1. And I’ve included at the bottom some of the videos I found useful. Let me know what you think.