The first processed and scanned roll of 120 film taken with my Hasselblad came back from my local camera shop. This is really exciting because these results will tell me if my camera is working correctly.
I have taken these twelve photos on an early and dark Sunday morning in thick mist. Not exactly the perfect conditions to start shooting with a new camera. I used a roll of Kodak Portra 160 because that was already in the camera when I bought it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my lightmeter yet so I had to guess the right exposure.. you can imagine my hopes weren’t really that high .. but on the other hand .. my first roll of my Hassy!
I know I will learn a lot in these first weeks using this medium format camera and I want to share all the results with you. I know I’ll definitely learn from my mistakes and by sharing this I hope I can help you to learn a few things as well.
These are the first twelve photos
Obviously they are a bit too dark and although the forest and mist calls for a bit of darkness I was hoping exposure would have been a bit better (brighter).
I have sent my photos to Johnny Patience as I was curious what he would say about these. Will my camera be ok? This is what Johnny had to say.
It’s always a bit of a gamble to judge scans without seeing the negatives, but I see a mix of problems in your results that I would like to share:
1. Underexposure I think most of the frames are about 1-2 stops underexposed. Make sure to always use a handheld incident meter, don’t rely on your iPhone or a second camera with reflective metering. It won’t work, no matter who else tells you it’s fine.
2. Scans + Lab The scans aren’t that great either. Even though your shots are underexposed, the scans are neither destiny nor color corrected properly.
3. Film choice I think Portra 160 was a good choice in terms of color in misty grey light, but Portra 400 would have given you a little more headroom for your shutter speed (assume you shot these at 1/60). I would stick with Portra 400 for about 20-25 rolls and “learn the film” until you get a feel for how it responds before you introduce different film stocks.
Did you check the times of the camera already? This is SUPER important, because the times determine your exposure. Even if you meter correctly, the actual shutter speed needs to match your settings.
Pfew. Exactly the points I thought about myself. So they are not perfect, but it’s mostly my own fault. I don’t feel bad about it because this was a test to begin with and I knew that light conditions in combination with the choice of film and the lack of a decent light meter weren’t great to start with.
Most important is that the camera itself is working great, as you can see on the 2nd, 3rd and 9th frame.
Last weekend I went out on a second walk with the Hasselblad (now loaded with Portra 400) and my newly acquired Sekonic L-398-A lightmeter (what a beautiful piece of gear!) .. and what I immediately noticed is that the light changes a lot when you are in the forest. More than you would imagine. I guessed the wrong exposure because changing of light isn’t that obvious with a digital camera using aperture priority.
Just to be sure I followed Johnnys advice and checked the shutter times last night, and the times of the camera are okay. While checking I also learned that with the Hasselblad you have to hold the shutter release until the lens shutter closes. Press and hold.
I will send the next rolls off to Richard Photo Lab in California, so I’ll have a reference of scanning locally vs RPL. I love their results shared online and I rather spend a bit more on the processing and scanning while getting better results.
Other thoughts about the Hasselblad?
Magical. I love the viewfinder, the shutter sound the square format and the 80mm (35mm eq. 50mm) lens. It is a great camera and I’m super-happy with it. More to come.
Here is one of the photos processed in Lightroom. I only changed it as little as possible with only changing settings on exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows and blacks.