First attempt with my Hasselblad

First attempt with my Hasselblad

I got my first images from my first attempt with my Hasselblad back from Popeye Camera last night.     I went with Popeye scans as I wanted to get these up here quickly.

I love this camera.    When I nail the shot they are so good.   When I miss them they are so bad…   My current miss rate is more than 50%.    Waist level finder, a reversed view in the finder, hand held metering, manual focus, manual everything – it’s a lot to take in…  I think it will take me a little while to get used to shooting with this.

You also attract a lot more attention shooting a Hasselblad than you do when shooting with a Leica.  I didn’t expect that.   A lot of people come right up to you and ask ‘Is that a Hasselblad?’.

Today’s configuration:  Hasselblad 501cm with a Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm f/2.8 shot on Ilford 400 XP2.


I got my new Hasselblad and did what any good photographer should do.  I went to the massive Yodobashi film warehouse in Shinjuku and spend $250 on film ($100 if my wife asks)…

Yodobashi Film Store in Shinjuku

It is taking a while to get used to the waist level finding.    I spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out why I couldn’t get this awning to line up.  It was driving me crazy.   Looking at in through a waist level finder backwards wasn’t helping me to notice that it wasn’t straight on the building.


Surprise… it’s Suzuki Yakitori!   I love this little shop.

Suzuki Yakitori

Exploring Roppongi Hills after a lovely date with my lovely wife…

Roppongi Hills

My wife Mayumi wanted to try my Hasselblad…  Waist level finder, a reversed view in the finder, hand held metering, manual focus, manual everything – it’s nothing to her.  She nailed it.  I can’t say the same of my shots of her…but she promised to teach me how to use the Hasselblad.

Dave Powell of ShootTokyo

While I got a few cool shots I did miss as many…   I completely blew the exposure on this one.   I am going to scan this one myself and see if I can recover it as it was a beautiful sky.  Popeye scans with a single present for all images.  I’m sure I can mix things up a bit and come back with a nice image.

Hasselblad Failure

I typically pick a focus point on the right or left side of the frame when shooting a Leica and use the negative space in the middle to create energy to my focus point.  This clearly does not work in a square format at least with things on both sides.  I need to learn how to maximize the square format.

Hasselblad Failure

and moving subjects are nearly impossible.   At least for now.

Hasselblad Failure

I am loving this camera and there is something satisfying about the whoosh-bang-clank sound the shutter makes when I release it.   I can’t wait to explore more with this camera. Thanks for stopping by today…


  • Ricky Lai

    Hey Dave,

    Pretty good result from your 1st roll, the portrait of you by your wife is very good. :)

    Keep on shooting ~

  • Simon

    Nice results. Have to say the one your wife took is my favorite due to the bokeh and composition :)

  • Tom

    Real music comes from the 500 ELM. whoosh-bang-clank-whir. I used one for 25 years and it never missed a beat. Get a Prism finder, makes life so much easier. I saw you have a Sekonic meter, I still have a Studio Deluxe and they are great. I did move up to the Gossen Luna Pro for studio work. As for the sky think filters. Enjoy, looking forward to the new year.

  • Dave

    Thanks Ricky. Mrs. ShootTokyo killed it. Much better than mine…

  • Dominic

    Great results for your first whirl at using the Hasselblad! Looking forward to more pics!

  • Lilly Schwartz

    Hey Dave,
    Looks like a lovely first attempt! And yes, your wife nailed it! I’d say with manual everything you could let things slide a bit. I was getting too bogged down with my Zorki as well so I made things a bit easier for myself. I ditched the light meter last year and use sunny 16 instead. I also use the Zorki as if it was shutter priority 1/500 during daylight. I only change the aperture if there are real light changes and thanks to the great latitude of film I can get away with it. Guesstimation isn’t hard to learn either. After 30 rolls like that I can guesstimate quite well. That said, guesstimation works best with stand development, because it compensates another 1 or 2 stops. However, even with unforgiving developing methods I hardly lose more than 3 shots per roll due to miscalculation. Maybe try it and see what happens! I was rather surprised that even my first roll of guesstimation worked out extremely well! Also, is there any way to zone focus this baby? If I focus at 4m and shoot at least f/8 chances are that everything relevant is in focus. I know you love your wide apertures, but if you get overwhelmed then zone focussing really helps. When it’s gotta be quick I usually just >f/8 it at 1/500 with my standard focus and with that I’m way faster than trying to focus with the dim 40 year old viewfinder of the Zorki. I only really focus when I shoot wide open or have a stationary subject. Lazy, but for street photography and with the soft Zorki lenses it makes sense. In any case, with these methods I’m down to only changing the aperture on an all manual camera. In most cases I don’t even have to do that and can spend my time and mental energy on focussing or framing. Maybe that’s the way to go to get the hang of the reversed viewfinder.

  • Dave

    Thanks Dominic!

  • Dave

    Lilly – Good advice. I am already getting good at guessing. Once you get a reading you can figure out if you are enter a stop or two of darker or brighter light. I imagine after some time this too will become second nature. I got a lot of 400 film and my fastest shutter speed is 1/500 so I am shooting f/8 or f/11. Zone focusing might work. I need to play with this some more to figure out.

  • Carole (NY etc)

    Hi Dave,
    I had my loved Mamiya (an old one C220), with manual everything and light meter, before getting the Leica M6. And curiously I am struggling more with the Leica so far… But the Mamiya is heavy and I find shooting a roll is quite a physical experience… Medium format is soooo good though.

  • Bill W.

    I am with you Carole, I love my Mamiya C220. Medium format is so right. I love my M9 though, and I can’t put it down.

  • Dave

    Carole – What about the Leica are you struggling with?

  • Dave

    I can’t put any of my cameras down. I think I have issues…

  • Kris D’Amico

    Nice work! Killed it for your first roll with the Hasse.

  • Carole (NY etc)

    It’s a Leica M6. It’s not really a struggle, but I don’t seem to get the results I expected. And I have no time right now to really focus on it. I got it fairly recently, and I am not shooting as much as I would like to. Patience, I guess, is something I should learn in 2014! (and a goal would be to shoot more too). As I got my medium format quite a long time ago at a period I was less busy, in a place that inspired me more than my present city, it seemed easier to manage. Thanks for asking!!!

    PS, also it puzzles me that I get better results with my 1950 something 50mm summicron than with my 35mm summicron IV… Maybe need some check up… Maybe it’s me.

  • Dave

    Thanks Kris!

  • Dave

    Carole – It took me a while to get used to my 35mm Summilux. Try only shooting that lens for a month and that might help. That’s what I did.

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