Knowing I leaned heavily towards medium format, the square in particular, and that cost is a factor, I chose to focus on film photography, which is also another bias I slowly developed.
I wanted to be able to do portraits like Matt Osborne, mesmerized by the cleanliness and sharpness with a simultaneous pure and nostalgic quality to them.
The obvious conclusion was to get the best camera I could afford to match what Matt shot. I figured, if my hardware leaves no doubt, then it is just technique I will need to focus on.
And in this, I was not wrong. I would say I was right, were it not for the detours I took in my selection exercises within the Hasselblad V system range, having owned three bodies and six lenses at one point, before I even set foot in the studio with one.
But my base assumption was right on the mark. The Zeiss Jena lenses of the P-six are decent glass and all, but the system doesn’t come close to the Hasselblad for image quality possibilities.
Those who tell you so are plain wrong.
Just imagine the immense satisfaction of scanning a roll of film you developed that previously always turned out frustratingly sub-par results and all of a sudden everything you wanted and expected to get pops up on your screen looking almost like the shots you previously only admired online!
The resolution of my images, the crispness and clarity and the way the glass now drew the light so warmly and lively were outstanding discoveries I was now able to make. At last, the joy of photographing with the best equipment made achieving the greatest results was just around the corner. Every time I raised that viewfinder to my eye, looking at that big, bright and beautiful, square, cinematic focusing screen I saw magic and I snapped magic.
Household utensils all of a sudden began looking artistic. Mundane light, in my Acutte Matte screen looked like a silver screen production at the golden hour. I liked the rounded magnifying glass, polished jewel look of the Pentacon Six focusing screen. I still have a soft spot for it. But I wouldn’t trade it for my private screening room type situation the PME-5 prism locked on top of my 503CW afforded. Not in a million years.
And I certainly didn’t care for going back to looking through the small, dark and real-estate deficient dinky toy screens of the full frame cameras. The medium format fascinated me so much, I only kept the 35mm option in Digital as a complete afterthought. A tool necessary for learning and doing product photography on other, more noble photo equipment I wanted to sell. And I certainly wasn’t interested in ever using 35mm film. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would with medium format available (though I realized rather quickly large format wasn’t my bag due to the slowness of it all and the bulk, which is where I found the medium format a happy and adequate compromise). I mean – where would the advantage be over already excellent digital full frame that was just so easy and convenient? All the development, scanning, software cleanup – for what? No gain in image quality like with medium format to be found anywhere with 35mm film. Just the same uncertainty and lack of control as with all other film process.
Yet here I am – the 35mm my current camera of choice. But I am getting a little ahead of myself here.
So, I have the cool ’Blad, got may developing tanks, my chemistry, enlarger, scanner and what have you. Well, how is my photography now?