Square Cool - by Will Stanton

You only have to look at a Hasselblad to realise the thing oozes cool. It shares that sort of Volks Wagon, Mini, Dualit toaster, genuine '50s chrome edged chic. And the damn thing is still the best medium format camera since sliced bread!

In it's basic form It's about the lightest medium format camera there is and the quality of the engineering and optics is still brilliant. You can make the camera as up to date as you like with all the mod con bolt on goodies but don't muck about with all that, get a basic body and lens combination, a good old fashioned light meter, stuff 'em in your bag an get out there shooting. (I must admit here to a secret yearning to play  the new  mamiya 6.45 with autofocus. this and a revolving back are about the only real inovations in medium format design since the Hasselblad was invented)

Don't listen to all these people who disparage the square format. Square is flexible. You can shoot landscape or portrait without fiddling about turning backs. With modern films the quality loss of cropping to a rectangle is not a problem and the difficulty of cropping through the view finder is over stated. If you must crop do it at the print stage, you've still got all the square on the neg so if you change your mind later, well print it again. 

But don't fanny about cropping, enjoy the beauty of shooting square. Its a fabulous format especially for prints. Your prints look different right from the start because every one else is humping one of these rectangular lumps about or cropping the hell out of their 2¼'s.

Pros    

  • It's light 
  • It's small
  • The lenses are fabulous
  • Ansel Adams used one
  • It's square
  • it's beautiful 
  • It's cool

Cons

  • Make sure you've got one of the bright focusing screens
  • loading film is a little fiddly with gloves as you have to feed the leader edge under a side flap
  • Lenses other than standard are fairly heavy and my lenses though incredibly sharp are lacking a little contrast. (However my newest lens is 15 years old so that may have something to do with it!)
  • It is possible to jam the camera by half pressing the shutter release. you then need to use a screw driver in the back of the camera to re cock the shutter which is a pain in the arrrrr... ..neck!

It's still true that a good landscape photographer doesn't need a bag full of electronic gizmos, he or she needs good basic technique, a good simple camera that works properly, an excellent lens and most important of all an eye for an image that speaks to people.

PS .....some film would be good too.

W.S.

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May 2014
Roger Voller

 

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