Zeiss Sonnar 150mm F4
Zeiss Distagon 50mm F4
I always thought Hasselblads were the coolest. For a little while I used a really old Rolleiflex- like 1937 old- and even though the thing was a charm to use, had fine detail for miles and only jammed every three or four rolls I needed more- I’m a complete contrast addict and the Rollei had none. Red filter, pushing four stops, printing at grade 5, still not enough. Added, I got real sick of the standard lens’s nose stretch up close and every photo being of people looking quizzically downward like a Vivian Maier photograph.
Around the time I started taking photographic work more seriously I was coming out of a career in recording studios and I was able to trade out my beloved 2” tape machine (a 24track Otari MTR90 if you’re interested) for the Hasselblad. Brilliant. I wanted to stay far away from the normal 80mm Planar, beautiful as it is, and went for a 150mm for close faces and the 50mm -more like a 24mm on 135 format- for groups of people (bands) and general distorto-goodness (bands).
The first thing I realised was that I needed to get closer still. The 150 is delicious and smooth, but stops dead at shoulder-length. A bit of Sherlock Holmsing got me an inexpensive Proxar close-up diopter (Zeiss made, T* coated no less) which lets me get close enough to feel body heat and how I can fill the square frame with a face.
After a bit of use I managed to work around all the details I was worried about. Will the camera be too heavy? A little, but not overly. Would I keep losing darkslides? Turns out it’s fine. The lenses I have are much slower than the F2 or so I was used to but in the end, with steady hands and HP5’s ability to push four stops and still look stunning, it’s no problem. After some time together now the Hasselblad and I are good, good friends. Squares make everything look better.
The last camera I’ll own? I certainly hope so, but then I hope that of every camera. I always wanted to be the dude that had just one for the whole of his life, same with guitars, It just doesn’t work out that way does it? Still, for professional work, for planned photos of people that aren’t rushed or unobtrusive and the client is happy with squares, I think this is the one. But maybe I could get my hands on the 100mm lens… and something that shoots 5x4… and an SX70, a couple more lenses for my 35mm camera… But I’m happy. Always happy.
You can take photos with anything.