Hasselblad 500 C/M Camera

Since the beginning of my journey into film photography last April, I knew at some point, if the passion didn’t fade, that I would want to invest in a higher end film camera.

I had originally started off with my beloved Pentax K1000 as I knew I wanted a 35mm SLR camera and since this is a fully manual camera, I learnt lots about Aperture in relation to Shutter Speed and ISO with the help of the built in light meter in the camera.

Apart from my investment in some nice instant cameras such as the Leica Sofort and Polaroid SX-70 I suppose my next investment and step up into a film camera was my much loved Olympus Pen FT half frame camera. I love this camera and the image quality it produces.

In recent months I’ve been really getting into medium format photography. I really love having to think about my composition and how it can work into the square style box.

I think I must have a thing for composing a photo in a slightly different photo size as this is what I love about composing shots with the my Olympus FT.

I suppose my love of the medium format style photos first began when I bought a Diana F+ Camera cheaply on eBay.

As the months progressed I then bought another Lomography style camera, the Lubitel 166B which was originally meant to be a present for my husband as he had taken an interest in this camera but couldn’t get on with it when he tried it so I persevered and began using it.

I love the square format of the photos and I was starting to use more black and white film in it since I knew I wanted to do more darkroom work.

I always thought when investing in a high end camera it may be one of the Leica 35mm film cameras but my heart was telling me to invest in a medium format camera.

As we all know, there is so much choice in the medium format world. You can get fairly decent medium format film cameras ranging from a few hundred pounds right up to thousands of pounds.

If you had asked me in the summer of last year which high end medium format camera I would ever consider buying, I would have said the Pentax 67 which isn’t technically square but I was already in love with Pentax since owning the K1000 and thought I would love the fact the camera style and viewfinder can be used like a 35mm SLR camera.

However, I was fortunate enough to try out somebody’s Pentax 67 camera last year during a photography walk in Brighton. I knew instantly that it wasn’t for me. The main reason……because it was too heavy and big! I really struggled to hold that camera up to my eye and I knew that I would never use it or take it out with me if I owned one.

I had always thought that I would never like a ‘shoot from the hip’ style camera as that just seemed too weird to me to take a photo. However, after using the Lubitel 166B, I realised I loved taking photos in this way which I was really surprised at!

I then looked at potentially investing in a decent TLR camera and again was fortunate enough to have a friend who owns a decent Yashica TLR. However, on trying this, the dial placement just didn’t feel natural to me. I can’t really explain why as the picture quality and image in the viewfinder was much better than the Lubitel but I wasn’t falling in love with it. Also, I knew at some point I would like the option of interchangeable lenses. I know some of the TLR’s have this option but I just wasn’t feeling it.

I then looked at the various Bronica’s and Kiev’s at my local camera shop. Clocktower Camera’s had several for sale but again, on looking at each one, I just wasn’t feeling them.

I’m sure there are still loads and loads of medium format cameras I could have tried but by this point I started to consider the Mamiya and Hasselblad cameras.

Whilst I think the Hasselblad camera looks extremely stylish and I love the modular system, I really thought it wouldn’t be the camera for me either. No where locally had one for me to try out and I didn’t know anyone that owned one although one of my friends used to own one years ago and told me how great they were.

Back in December I met up with one of my camera buddies for taking photos around London and we decided to head to the Camera Museum in Museum Street in Holborn so I could check our their Hasselblad collection as they specialise in repairing Hasselblad’s and also sell them.

The staff were really helpful in there and talked me through the different Hasselblad cameras from the more modern ones, to the V series.

Once I held one of the V series one’s (the 500 C/M to be exact) I instantly fell in love! I had seen the prices so knew I would only want to spend within the budget of the 500 C or C/M and I liked the fact they are fully manual which is what I personally look for in a film camera.

I was amazed at how light weight it was for a decent medium format camera! I was easily able to hold it with my left hand and turn the lens and fire the shutter with my right. It felt great. I loved the viewfinder which was very bright and clear, almost like looking at a television screen. The whole camera felt very natural to me.

The quality of the camera was amazing, it felt well built and not at all plastic.

I was very honest with the camera shop and admitted I didn’t have the funds to buy one there and then but that didn’t seem to bother them with the time they took going through the various camera’s with me which was lovely and helpful of them.

Even if I had the funds there and then I would have held back from purchasing one because I knew I needed to do more research. Also, the 500 C/M model from 1981 that I tried in the shop wasn’t in the best of condition cosmetically (although the price they were selling it for reflected that).

I had a lot of chats with different people about the Hasselblad cameras including one of my ex photography tutors who is also a professional photographer and does freelance work for companies such as Sunseeker Yachts and I really like his photography so I value his opinion. He knows my style of photography and also knows you can take photos hand held with this camera and he couldn’t find a bad word to say about this camera either. He also checked with a friend who owned a 500 C/M for quite a number of years before moving to digital and he also only had great things to say about the photo quality and use of the camera etc.

My ex tutor did say that for several hundred less the Bronica’s are quite good but he said I need to go with what I’m feeling and if I settled for a Bronica, I would only end up pining for a Hasselblad so would never be quite happy with the Bronica and I agreed with him.

I could have easily bought a Bronica since I had sufficient funds for one of those but I decided to be patient and save for the Hasselblad.

By this point I had also decided the Mamiya wasn’t for me. Although I had done much research on the different models and heard great things about those camera’s which I know are used by a lot of professional film photographers today. I suppose we have to just listen to what we would like rather than what everyone tells us is best for us and what we should like. Quite frankly my gut told me, buy the Hasselblad.

Through out January, I sold off a load of stuff I’d been meaning to sell for the past year and now I finally had an incentive to do it.

By last week I had made enough money to buy a Hasselblad 500.

I had already decided in my research that I wouldn’t buy a 500C, purely because I wouldn’t be able to change the viewfinder myself and I knew this may be something I possibly would want to change for a particular type of project at some point so it was going to be a C/M model.

I next had to decide on the type of lens as I initially liked the look of the original Chrome lenses but after further chats with the guys at the Camera Museum I discovered that they don’t have the special multicoated layer on the lens so I wouldn’t get as much contrast on clouds etc as I would with a later C T* lens (which are black not chrome). There is also a slightly later lens known as the CF and I was told the image quality wouldn’t be any different to the C T* but it just turned differently so it was personal preference on what style I would like out of these two. The CF lens is also a bit bigger which put me off and is also slightly more expensive so as a newbie to the Hasselblad system, I was quite happy to have a C T* lens when I bought my camera. I also knew for now, I would be happy with the standard 80mm lens since I had tried out the different size mm lenses (from the more zoom type to the wider angle) at the shop and got an idea of the scope of photo I could take through each one.

I already knew that I wanted to buy my camera from the Camera Museum, as they had been really helpful. Also, they provide new light seals with every second hand camera (which would normally cost £80 plus VAT if you asked them to do these for one of your Hasselblad’s) and they provide a 6 month warranty in case of any failures in the camera.

Since I would be spending quite a bit of money, I knew I wanted a warranty. I also knew I wouldn’t be getting any bargains on eBay or Gumtree as they were all going for the same price as what the Camera Museum was charging, if not more on some of them!

Whilst saving for one, the Camera Museum had listed a 500 C/M model for sale which was in a condition I was happy with (unlike the one I viewed in December). This particular model was from 1978 which again, I was happy with. After having a chat with them on Wednesday, I got on a train that morning and tried it out. I spent over an hour with them going through the workings of it. I was extremely impressed by the overall condition, especially the back curtains as you can see in the photo below:

We went through all the shutter speeds which seemed to work perfectly. I was also warned about potentially jamming the camera if I take the lens off and it’s been fired and the camera hasn’t etc so I need to make sure they all match before putting back together. So currently I’m a bit scared of accidentally doing this but hopefully I won’t!

Needless to say I purchased the camera along with a nice original thick Hasselblad strap in excellent condition to give me good support as again, the joys of visiting an actual shop rather than buying the camera online meant that I could try out various straps. I had liked the look of the thin leather strap but after trying it, the camera easily slipped off my shoulder and it just didn’t feel that well supported so I knew that I would need the thicker strap.

They also gave me a free black and white film which I loaded into the camera in front of them so they could make sure I did this properly. It also meant I was ready to go and shoot. I would have loved to have taken some shots in London but I had to rush back to Brighton on the train before rush hour ensued so I used the film locally.

I’ve since got the roll of film developed and am extremely happy with the results. I’ll be blogging about this separately since this blog is really long so thank you to everybody who has taken the time to read it.

For anybody interested in purchasing a Hasselblad, accessories or who would like some more information about the camera or getting a repair done, their website is:

https://www.cameramuseum.uk

Printing Contact Sheets in the Darkroom using the Paterson 6 x 6 Proof Printer

In one of my previous blogs I mentioned my obsession with printing contact sheets which I had been doing for 35mm negatives and I had a Paterson Proof Printer specially for this.

Since I’ve recently been getting more into medium format photography and when I knew I was going to continue to do prints in a darkroom, I decided to invest in a 120mm Proof Printer from Paterson.

I bought mine brand new on eBay since I struggled to find any second hand ones at a cheaper price in this particular format.

I decided to try it out on my first session in the Brighton Community Darkroom.

However, I made a couple of mistakes. First of all I’m not sure if the mistakes were due to me concentrating so much on mixing up the chemicals and getting used to the enlarger but I’ll explain what I did.

Here is a picture of the first contact sheet I did:

I did the usual test strips first to check the exposure times etc. These photos were taken at Brighton Marina using my Lubitel 166B camera and JCH Streetpan 400 black and white 120mm film. The film is naturally high in contrast which I love.

The first mistake I made was not matching the negatives the correct way round in the proof printer. In my haste to get a contact sheet printed and check I was using the enlarger correctly, I had just put the negatives into the proof printer without really thinking about the direction etc which resulted in this print.

Also, I noticed that the end photo hadn’t quite printed fully. I was perplexed as to why this was and thought perhaps there was something wrong with the proof printer?

I re-read the instructions of how to use the proof printer (which quite honestly, is pretty self explanatory) but I thought I must be doing something wrong. I still couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. I then read the instructions again and saw the key sentence that I originally must have kept skimming over when reading them originally and here is the mistake I made:

When I print the contact sheet, I was putting the 8 x 10 inch photo paper directly onto the grey sponge area then shutting down the top screen which contained the negatives and subsequently taking an enlargement:

What was happening was that the border where the hinge is on the front screen, was blocking part of the negative from transferring onto the paper, hence why I wasn’t getting the full photo.

Finally I realised from the instructions that I should have been placing the photo paper into the slot of the where the hinge is directly onto the negatives on the glass front:

I’m sure to most people this would seem really obvious, even without reading the instructions, and I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit I did this mistake, but I do tend to lack common sense sometimes!

Once I realised my mistakes, I decided to re-print these negatives again during another session in the darkroom.

I used a No 2 Contrast Filter and did a test strip using exposure times of 30 seconds:

From the test strip I decided on an exposure time of 2 1/2 minutes. Before I printed the whole contact sheet again, I did another test strip at the full 2 1/2 minutes exposure to check I was happy with that:

You’ll see that the last photo was much lighter but I have to make some compromises when doing a contact print so was happy with this and here is the final result:

First of all, I’m pleased I managed to get all the images the right way round! You’ll see that a couple of the photos are under exposed but at least I get an overview of the photos and can then choose which ones I’d possibly like to work on for enlarging into prints.

I’m very happy that I now know how to use the contact proof printer correctly and will be using it for all my black and white medium format negatives when I need to do a contact sheet.

Developing Prints in the Darkroom

I have now visited the Brighton Community Darkroom a couple of times since I joined and am slowly getting more familiar with the Durst DA 900 enlarger every time I use it.

Currently I’m managing to get there once a week and am spending approximately 4 hours there per session.

I was there yesterday afternoon and wanted to work on developing some prints from my 120mm black and white negatives that I took on my Lubitel 166B Camera.

There was a really nice beach shot I recently took on a stormy day in Brighton and the waves were crashing against the sea defence wall and there were some clouds in the sky.

I’m still very much at the learning/experimental stage of my darkroom work so accept the fact that without a tutor on hand (like during my black and white photography course) I’m going to probably make many mistakes and waste a lot of paper.

Yesterday was my first time enlarging a 120mm negative print on the Durst DA 900 enlarger as in previous sessions I had been making contact sheets.

I was slightly nervous if I was actually going to do it correctly. I had an initial introduction to the enlarger by one of the helpful members of the community darkroom but that was a few weeks back so I wasn’t sure what I’d remember.

Thankfully, as well as an actual manual on the enlarger, there were some helpful notes provided to me by Paul who is one of the community members and in the notes he provided his recommended combination of condenser and lens that he feels work best depending on the size negative I’m doing an enlargement from.

Rather than going by the manual recommendation, I used Paul’s guidelines since he has experience of using this particular enlarger.

I therefore used a Unicon 105 Condenser lens and 105mm enlarger lens for the 120mm (6cm by 6cm) negatives.

After doing an initial test strip, here is the print I did with the aperture moved down a couple of stops from the brightest aperture to f/8:

You’ll see that its quite dark and doesn’t have much contrast. I also was annoyed at the fact there were dust/hair marks on the photo, which I hadn’t noticed on the negative. I currently use a cheap plastic air blower but I’m seriously considering investing in the more powerful aerosol type of blower as I think that will do a better job of getting rid of unwanted hair/dust as I don’t think my current one works very well.

I decided from this initial print that I wanted more contrast in the photo and also to be lighter.

I had learnt about contrast filters at my college course and thankfully the community darkroom has the Ilford Multigrade filters that I can add to the condenser lens.

I decided to try a No 3 contrast filter and again, did a test strip. I also removed best I could with the equipment I currently have, any unwanted hair/dust on the negative.

Here is the print I did with an exposure of 40 seconds:

This photo is much brighter than the original one I did but I’ve also lost all the cloud detail.

I looked at my test strip again and decided to do another print with the same No 3 contrast filter and a slightly longer exposure time of 50 seconds:

This resulted in a slightly darker photo (as you would expect) but there still wasn’t much cloud definition.

I decided at this point that I perhaps didn’t want so much contrast so changed the contrast filter to No 2 and did another test strip. I did the following photo with an exposure of 80 seconds:

I was much happier with this photo in the fact it was lighter than the original one I did and that it had the cloud definition.

I wanted to next experiment with a No 2.5 contrast filter just to see the difference but I unfortunately ran out of time in my darkroom session so will have to try that next time.

Although the photos aren’t perfect yet, I’m really enjoying the whole process of experimenting and the trial and error.

I noticed on this final photo that more dust had managed to somehow get onto the negative which shows in certain areas of the photo so I really do need to find a way of making sure I can fully clean the negative. I do also wear white fabric gloves when handling the negatives to avoid finger marks.

I look forward to blogging more about my darkroom sessions as I learn more.

Lomography Redscale XR 120mm Film and my Lubitel 166B

I recently purchased a triple pack of Lomography Redscale 120mm film for £5.00 which had expired back in 2012.

I’ve shot redscale film on my 35mm film camera’s before but thought it would be fun to test out on my Lubitel 166B camera during the daytime.

Here are some photos I took using a roll of the film:

The rescale wasn’t as ‘red’ as I thought it was going to be but I wonder if that was because the film was several years old. Instead, I thought the pictures had more of a Sepia tone to them. I also note that the film states to have an ISO of 200 for super-intense red and orange colours and ISO 25 if you want to mix additional tones of blue and green to the image. The Lubitel doesn’t have a light meter but from my previous use of the camera and the weather we have in the UK in the winter, I tend to shoot the Lubitel with a shutter speed of 1/125s and an aperture between f/5.6 and f/8.

Either way, I think the Sepia tone works quite well with the garden images I took.

‘Mystery Is A Compass’ photo book by Jonathan Liu

A couple of months ago, I went to a Photo Book fair at the Phoenix Gallery in Brighton.

It was part of the Brighton Photo Biennial that was held from 28th September – 28th October 2018 around various places in Brighton.

The Brighton Photo Biennial is a month of free photography, exhibitions and events for professional, enthusiasts, students and families alike.

I love to collect photo books (especially film photography ones) so was keen to attend the photo book fair which was within walking distance from where I live.

Whilst at the fair, I was drawn to this book called ‘Mystery Is A Compass’ by Jonathan Liu. What drew me to the book was the simplicity of the front cover, the title of the book (I love a good mystery) and it had a couple of re-printed handwritten notes plus a photo attached to the front cover with a vintage bulldog clip.

It was a publisher stand called Duende Print who was selling the book and after having a chat with them, they confirmed to me that the black and white photos were taken using a film camera which appealed to me even more. I’ve since spoken to Jonathan who confirmed to me that the photos were shot on a mixture of large format (4×5) and medium format film along with stills from a Super 8 film reel.

The book looks into the disappearance of 20 year old Everett Ruess who was last seen in November 1934 heading into Davis Gulch off Escalante in Utah, USA.

Investigators were sent in search of him and found what looked like a campsite with some of his supplies. Further along the Canyon was an arch with an inscription at the base which read ‘Nemo, 1934’. In latin, Nemo translates to ‘No one’.

The book describes the theory of ‘Plato’s Meno’ where to summarise, there is a mystery to this unknown entity and that this mystery can act as a compass guiding you through the seemingly unknown.

Jonathan decided to follow Everett Reuss’s route to the Southern Utah desert because he wanted to find a deeper understanding of what his motivations were, and to witness the beauty that ultimately consumed him.

Jonathan describes in the book that the only physical legacy Everett Reuss left behind is in the form of a drive through fast food restaurant in Escalante named ‘Nemo’s’.

Jonathan has cleverly mixed photographs he has taken along with excerpts of Everett’s letters that were left behind when he disappeared.

I really wanted to blog about this book because I found it to be such an interesting read and I liked the black and white photos Jonathan had incorporated into the writings.

The book is a nice compact size measuring 150mm x 210mm and is a 52pp french-fold book which means some of the photos go over two pages which is a bit different to a standard photo book.

The book was published in May 2018 and there were 30 First Edition copies printed. My copy is number 28.

For more information on the book and Jonathan Liu, you can visit Jonathan’s website at http://www.jonathanliu.net

I would highly recommend the book and checking out Jonathan’s other work.

Emulsive Secret Santa 2018

A couple of months ago, I read about a Secret Santa gift exchange run by Emulsive

It’s basically an international Christmas gift exchange for the film photography community.

They ran it last year with great results so decided to do it again.

I immediately signed up and had the option of whether I wanted to have my person I would be matched with for gifting located in the UK or whether I would be happy to have somebody international and pay additional postage costs.

I thought it would be more fun to have someone from overseas so confirmed this would be fine and patiently awaiting a further email from Emulsive to confirm who I would be sending my gift to.

In the meantime, I was also matched to somebody who would be my ‘Secret Santa’.

The aim is to be able to send the gift to the person in time for Christmas and they open the gift on Christmas day. Since I had chosen to post to somebody internationally, Emulsive were good enough to provide me with a match in enough time to enable me to source the gifts and post them to the person in time for Christmas.

In the meantime, we were able to provide a wish list of things we like in film photography so our matches could see what we/they like and hopefully be able to get them gifts that they would be really happy with.

I was very excited when I received my match of whom I’d be posting to and discovered they were in America. I was also able (via the Secret Santa website) to email the person I was gifting (and ask anonymously) their general interest in film photography (i.e. did they have a preference of shooting in colour or b&w, did they have a preferred format of film etc).

After I found out more about the person I was gifting, I was able to buy films to what I thought they would like and some I didn’t think they could easily get hold of in the US. I also included some other things such as a pinhole camera, a camera related notebook and a camera themed pin.

We were also encouraged to send any of our personal photo work so I sent them a card with one of my photos on it.

We had the facility online of being able to confirm when we had received our gifts so our Secret Santa’s knew they had arrived safely.

I was very happy when I knew my match had received their gift from me in time for Christmas day.

My Secret Santa was located in Australia, which I also found exciting as I don’t know much about film photography in Australia or what films are available over there etc.

My Secret Santa was kind enough to email me first to see what my interests in film photography were.

My parcel also arrived in time for Christmas day, all beautifully wrapped. I patiently waited until Christmas day and I was so happy with the thoughtful gifts my Secret Santa had sent me. I felt really spoilt!

The cover photo of this blog is the gift I received from my Secret Santa (minus the Koala Bear Cadburys Chocolates as I promptly ate those before I managed to take this photo!).

I had never heard of several things I had received, such as the Hillvale Holiday film so I’m really looking forward to trying that out.

I’m a huge lover of analogue photography magazines and am always on the hunt for new ones and I had never come across ‘She Shoots Film’ before.

I read this magazine from cover to cover within a day because I found it really interesting so this is definitely a magazine I would buy.

I also love the Cinestill films so was really happy to receive these in my gift as well.

My overall experience of the Emulsive Secret Santa 2018 has been a really positive one, from the fun I had of buying gifts for my match after discovering more about their style of photography etc to what I received.

If Emulsive decide to run this again in 2019, I would highly recommend all film enthusiasts to take part since it is such great fun.


Trip Zine Issue 2

A Couple of months ago, I blogged about a new magazine that had recently been published called Trip Zine.

The magazine is completely dedicated to photos taken on the Olympus Trip 35 camera.

Trip Zine recently had asked for submissions for their upcoming second issue and I was pleased to find out that three of my photos taken on the Olympus Trip had made it into the magazine:

Trip Zine Issue 2 can be purchased at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TripZine