The Hoff – Rolls 3&4. Learning the Hasselblad 2000fcw

If you are following this I have embarked on a journey to learn to use my newly acquired camera by shooting 52 rolls through it and then putting down my thoughts on this blog.

Last time you may recall I had an issue with the film, there were overlapping frames on the negative and I did not know why. The advice I received was to wind on the crank in a more gentle fashion to see if that helped and if not get the magazine serviced.

Thus I set out on a trip to Brighton (UK) carrying two rolls of Portra 800 as the weather was changeable so I did not know what light I would get.

I choose to load the film on the train down to Brighton. About 20 or so minutes of trying to spool it, it suddenly occurred to me what I had done wrong last time and that I am an idiot ( no no please don’t all rush to correct me).

Turns out I can’t read instructions properly and secondly it seems to be a theme with this camera and I, I feel the need to over complicate things based on its reputation.

What did I do wrong. Let me explain.

Take a look at picture 5. It is showing that the tongue of the paper should be put into the take up spool. Last time I read it completely different. I somehow managed to read that as run the paper through the rollers, not over them. Thus I had threaded the film through one roller at the start then across and under and through the other end before putting it on the take up spool. How did I know this is what I had done, you ask? Because I spent the best part of 25 minutes trying to load the Portra 800 exactly the same way and was getting extremely frustrated at not being able to get the paper in between the first roller. It was then I stopped looked at it rationally and thought. No way would they make it this hard, took another look at the book and had the lightbulb moment of Oh so that’s what they mean. The film was loaded in seconds after that.

As you will see, no issues with frame spacing or camera advance this time.

So what did I learn or take from my shooting for the day? Firstly, the camera does attract a lot of attention. The couple of times I have used it now people have come up to me asking about it and photography in general. Thankfully not saying “wow they still make film for those things”. I don’t mind this at all as it’s interesting to meet people and hear their stories about photography.

The next thing that struck me and this is hard to describe as it’s a feeling, but it feels very intuitive to use. I can fire off a couple of shots almost as quickly as I do with my OM1n the only difference with The Hoff is that I need to meter the scene first. At its basic set up for shooting, it really is not a difficult camera.

The other thing to mention is that I was hesitant buying this camera because of the waist level finder and imagined I would need a prism finder. This was based on the fact that when I used a Yashica Mat G I felt as seasick as a landlubber that had just got on a small fishing vessel in a storm. For some reason The Hoff does not do this to me. I think and Mat G people please correct me if I am wrong but it helps the up and down are the right way, was it the same on the Mat G? But mainly it also helps that the camera is long with a lens, almost like playing a driving game and having the car bonnet in the scene to help.

As mentioned I loaded with Portra 800 a favourite c-41 colour film of mine. There is no doubt it is an expensive film but I can live with that for a few reasons:

  1. Most of my colour shooting is done with slide film and processed E6. Thus the Portra 800 with C-41 development actually works out cheaper for me when you add both the cost of the films and the development and scanning of them.
  2. I love the colours of Portra 800. I have never been a fan of Portra 400 (too warm/orange for my tastes)
  3. It is very versatile film and handles different light, even within a scene really well, You can shoot it rated at 200, 400 or 800 and mainly get good results in terms of colour and exposure. It’s not a miracle worker though!

So in terms of images here are some that I will share today

The one below is an example where I shot a bit too much into the sun. One thing I probably should think of getting, even though unlikely to help in this scene is a lens hood.

The other ‘accessory’ I need to get is a good strap. The one on the camera is the standard thin leather Hasselblad one. Nothing wrong with it, just don’t find it overly comfortable. Now I could be sensible and get a new one that had all the supports and recommendations and looks very nice, I believe Optech (?) come highly rated, but I won’t. This is a beautiful camera and I want a beautiful strap to complement it. I don’t care if that makes me a ‘Show Pony’ yes it’s a working camera but why should it not also be adorned in the finest. Tap and Dye are current top of my list, but I continue to research.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed this update, plenty more to come.

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The Hoff – Learning to use a Hasselblad 2000fcw. Rolls 1&2

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.

https://emulsive.org/reviews/camera-reviews/hasselblad-camera-reviews/the-ultimate-guide-to-the-hasselblad-2000fcw-a-focal-plane-shutter-unicorn

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’

New York Snow Storm

I was working in New York recently and got caught up in the first snow storm of their season. The traffic was at gridlock and the subway rammed with people trying to get home. Thus I did what any self respecting Brit would do. I enjoyed happy hour (3hrs) in a bar to pass the time. Whilst sitting in the bar I suddenly thought, I don’t know when I will be back in the city, let alone when it is covered in snow. Thus I decided to sacrifice the last 4 exposures that were left in my camera and load a roll of Ilford Photo HP5 and shoot it in the snow on my way back to my hotel.

Thus here are the results of my walk. Ilford Photo HP5 shoot at 3200 and thus pushed 3 stops in development. Olympus OM1n.

E6 cars

I have not posted a blog in a few months due to being very busy so I aim to start posting regularly again.

I took my trusty Olympus OM1n to an American car show recently and shot a roll of Velvia 50 and a roll of Provia 100F. Below are some of my favourite images of the cars on show. Hope you enjoy viewing them.

Orange

Sometimes with a roll of film I like to challenge myself with a theme. Thus recently I loaded the Fuji GA645 with a roll of Fujifilm Velvia 100 and set myself the challenge of the theme of Orange. So please see below for the images. Processed E6 by SilverPan Film Lab (in the UK) and scans tweaked in Snapseed.

All images from the same roll, except the chairs one.

The Sound of Sussex – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

If you follow my blog posts you will see I am a bit of a fan of the Washi S film. This is a black & white sound recording film that I really enjoy using but can leave me with mixed results. So far all the rolls I have shot have been 35mm so I was very pleased to see it was also available in 120.

I was staying at hotel in the Sussex countryside for a weekend away with the family so thought I would give it a try there. I loaded the film in my Fuji GA645 and placed an orange filter on the front. All my previous Washi rolls have also been shot with an orange filter.

Let’s get right to the point these are mainly really bad. I have analysed why and believe the Fuji was not the right camera to use for this film. Ok hang before you say a bad workman always blames their tools, let me explain. Previous Washi film shots I have taken were using my Olympus OM1n. With this camera I could meter through the lens and point the camera at various different parts of the scene and then adjust accordingly. With Washi S it can really blow the highlights if you are not careful and conversely if you are too respectful of the highlights all you will get is really dark areas elsewhere.

I did not use a handheld meter with the Fuji and left it to its own metering, I firmly think this film needs to be shot in a camera with full manual settings and use the TTL metering or a handheld meter. I won’t go into all the different types of metering as quite frankly I am a real novice with this and would just be making things up, I just know through practice and experience with my OM1n how the film works for me.

I will try some more Washi S in 120 but this time in the Zeiss Ikon Nettar with my iPhone light meter. Let’s see if it improves. Anyway enough talking now here are the images.

The negative as I thought you may be interested, shot on top of an iPad, hence the funny patterns

The good:

The Bad:

And the Ugly (although love the clouds in these):

Chrome Headlights

I was lucky enough to visit a show in London recently called the London Concours. This was basically a selection of some of the finest sports and classic cars. I anticipated bright sunny weather and knew the cars would be bright and colourful. so packed some slide film for the afternoon.

The challenges on a day like this are basically crowds and reflections. Thus for certain shots I concentrated on the details to avoid both of those challenges.

Here are a selection of shots, taken on a Fuji GA645 with a mixture of Fujifilm Provia 400X and Kodak Ektachrome 200 EDP developed in E6 by SilverPan Film Lab.

Your Vision

Hello,

I have been very busy lately so not been able to update with any blogs. I am hoping to get back on track and start writing regularly again so here is a short blog to kickstart the process.

When I first started shooting film, I was very much in the ‘I must get it right in the camera’ camp.

There was to be no cropping or editing. Over time I felt this was harsh and although I may have been getting the technical parts right, when I looked at the image it didn’t always match the way I visualised it when I took the shot.

Now this does not bother me nearly as much and I use Snapseed to help me get the image how I visualised it. As I am editing from scans they have already had some manipulation anyway. I demonstrate this with the unedited scan and what I wanted when I took this shot in the two images below.

My basic point is whether you shoot film, digital or any other medium. How much or how little you edit and post-process is your choice. So don’t get hung up over it, be honest with yourself and your audience but above all produce the image that matches your vision.

Image taken on a Fuji GA645 with Fujifilm Velvia 50.

SCAN:

MY VISION:

Let’s get lunch

I was kindly sent a bunch of Kodak Vision films from @Dizd (Dizzy Cow on twitter). Some 250D and some 50D. I am a big fan of these Vision films especially when they are processed in their native chemicals ECN-2. Nik and Trick in the UK sell the developing kits for this.

I finally had a chance to try a roll a week or so ago, so I wanted to shoot one as practice. All shots are taken on an Olympus OM1n loaded with Kodak Vision 250D developed in ECN-2.

A little side note before sharing the images. Every single roll of film I shoot I see as a practice roll, even if I am going for a specific project. It’s all about learning for the next roll and the next roll and so on. I am never disappointed if I get things wrong in a roll, I am only disappointed if I don’t learn from it. With film photography I firmly believe I will be practising for years and years to come and thus only the last photo I ever take before putting my camera down will be ‘The Shot’

Anyway all this talk has made me hungry, what shall we have for lunch?

First try with Rollei Ortho 25

I purchased this film on a whim as it was sitting staring at me in a shop. I quite often like to try a current film stock that I have not shot before.

At ISO 25 it had been sitting in my draw at work for a number of months due to London’s grey rainy days coupled with the fact I was feeling too lazy to drag along a tripod.

So last Friday I knew I had sometime free time at lunchtime and the weather was particularly bright so I thought I would finally give it a go. The challenge I had was that I needed to finish all 36 exposures that lunchtime as I was out that evening with the camera and it needed to be loaded with a film for night shooting (Kodak Vision 500T in case you were interested)

Thus out I ventured. The camera was the Olympus OM1n with either the 50mm 1.8 or 28mm 2.8 being used for shots. There was no filter for the reason that at ISO 25 I needed all the light I could get. All shots are handheld with the OM and unless I specifically want blur I don’t tend to shoot under speeds of 1/60 without a tripod.

I really like the results I got with this film, it reminds a bit of the Washi S but with a bit more control. I will definitely shoot some more of this including in 120. One interesting thing to note is that this was Rollei Ortho 25, there is a Rollei Ortho 25 Plus also, which through my completely unscientific research and assumptions I think is a newer version.

Anyway enough of my wittering, here are some of the images (lab developed and scanned, some tweaks in Snapseed).

This building is near my office, here is an interesting fact (for some) it was recently used for filming the latest Mission Impossible film and is the one Tom Cruise damaged his ankle on jumping across the roof. He was back here the other weekend filming those scenes again.

Then I ventured further along Victoria Embankment

From here I went to the gardens at the Inns of the courts to capture the trees

And finally I stopped at the Dragon, this particular marker is where you cross from the City of Westminster into the City of London (I may be wrong in my specific description here). The Dragon markers are dotted across the City of London (this is the business district in London) and face out from the City so you know when you are entering the City of London.

It was also my signal, time to head back to the office.