Back in November 2018 I picked up a Hasselblad 2000FCW. I had been looking for a Medium Format camera for a while. Having shot/owned a Holga, a Zeiss Ikon Nettar, Yashica Mat124G and Fuji GA645 all great cameras in their own right I still felt I hadn’t found ‘the’ MF camera for me.
I knew I didn’t want a rangefinder. Shooting the Fuji in 38 degrees centigrade in Cyprus for 2 hours only to realise the whole roll of Velvia 50 was shot with the lens cap on pretty much convinced me of this. The Zeiss Ikon Nettar was fantastic but a little too slow and more importantly lacked flexibility in terms of other lenses, using filters etc. The Holga, to this day some of my very favourite images were created with it but it was a real love/hate relationship.
Thus to cut a long story short, I have ended up with the Hasselblad 2000FCW as next on my list to see if it is the one. A little side note about me, in 35mm I use an Olympus OM1n, I know this to be the one for me and have zero interest in any other 35mm SLR. I want this ‘feeling’ for an MF camera, I like the simplicity of one camera choice for each format.
Thus I am now embarking on a 52 rolls project to learn the camera and see if we are going to be long term partners. 52 rolls (as opposed to 52 weeks) so I do not pressure myself to shoot for the sake of it.
I do not intend this to be a camera review. That has very recently been written by Emulsive with his fantastic love letter to this camera.
This is intended as a record of my thoughts, successes and failures as I take a journey to learn it.
It took me over two months before I loaded my first roll of film in it. Part of the reason was I had been very busy at work and also got hit by a chest infection but if I am honest another part of it was I felt a bit intimidated by it and probably spent a lot of those two months overthinking it. I guess I was a bit overawed by the reputation of the camera but in January, I, with the help of a couple of people on Twitter, pulled myself together and remembered it’s just a camera, chuck some film in and see what happens. Thus film choice was my first decision.
As you can see, I seem to have quite a bit of slide film. Normally when I first shoot a new camera, test a lens etc I end up doing something stupid like loading it with some weird film stock or heavily expired film so I am adding so many variables that the test becomes a bit irrelevant. Thus this time I did the sensible thing, I loaded Ilford HP5 Plus.
And yes well spotted, I did the sensible thing and purchased a copy of the instruction manual.
Now if you have never loaded a Hasselblad before, even with the instructions it is slightly different. You have to loop the film the right way round through the rollers. My first attempt.
The above was my first attempt and completely and utterly wrong. Luckily I realised before it was too late. FYI the film side should be facing out.
Once loaded, out I ventured to take pictures in an area I was very familiar with to take test shots. Because of the light I rated the film at 800 when metering. I found the camera surprisingly light and straightforward to use. Everything felt quite effortless, even the waist level finder. With my Yashica I used to get motion sickness, but not so much with this camera, not really sure why. All was going very well until the 6th frame and the shutter would not fire. I tried everything I could, but was worried about breaking something so took it carefully. Emulsive came to rescue here and we spoke and he talked me through various options as to what the problem could be. Ultimately I managed to wind the film on to the end to save the few frames I had taken. Here are a couple of the shots from roll 1.
I loaded a second roll and as the light had faded by this time, I rated it at 3200. Another short interlude, I was using the lightmeter app on my phone for metering.
This roll went really well in terms of I enjoyed shooting it and got 12 frames. The camera felt good to use and intuitive. It was only when I got the scans back I realised there was a problem.
There were no spaces between the frames, in fact they overlapped in many cases. This could easily be and most likely user error i.e. me winding the crank too quickly. I guess I will know for sure with the next roll. Anyway here are a couple of shots from roll 2
The issues I have had with the film, has not put me off the camera. These are teething problems and precisely why I am committing to 52 rolls before making a decision. There will be many quirks and challenges but this for me is the only real way to learn.
Thus this has been Roll 1 & 2. Time to get on to the next one.
Oh yeah one final thing, yes I have given this camera the name ‘The Hoff’