What started out as us asking Barry about his favourite camera turned into an even better post about several favourite cameras of Barry’s and some great stories! See below….
Most of my favorite projects have involved photographing people from the same grouping either in their home or a place that they feel most comfortable in. When I first started doing commercial work, I used a Mamiya 6X7 which seemed to work OK. I did some catalog work for HBC in Winnipeg and after completion, the art director asked to see my negs. She claimed this had not been shot on a Hasselblad and they prefer to only use photographers who use Hasselblad and if I wanted additional work from HSC I should consider switching to Hasselblad. She was able to tell this because Hasselblad mags have two small “V’s” cut into one side of each magazine. I think everyone knew this except me. After an exhaustive examination, comparison and testing of both systems, I switched to Hasselblad and have never regretted it. My system is known as the V-system and I have continually up-dated what I have. One of the things I really appreciate is this is a Swedish camera with superior Carl Zeiss lenses. I find they are the sharpest I have ever used and the quality of the camera itself is second to none. Many other brands have tried to copy it and failed. And lastly I am Swedish on both sides and using Hasselblad is my one main cultural identification with Sweden besides Ikea, which runs a very distant second. I started with a 500C, then a 500CM, then a big switch to the 503CW. The 503 has a system that doesn’t cut off the frame with longer lenses, has a superior detachable motor drive and remote unit and came with a D-Flash 40 with OTF exposure—OK but not great. I think this was Hassie’s best camera ever and was the last V-system camera they made. Lastly, at the first upstairs sale at another local camera store I bought a Hassie 202FE camera with a 110mm f2 lens and winder. The winder is inferior to the CW but I mainly wanted the 110 and 203FE which I got for less than I would have paid for the 110 used alone! A steal! BTW I always buy used cameras instead of new as you save a lot money that way. Just like buying cars. Planning to do a project with the 110 lens shooting only at f2 to blur the background and have a narrow focus throughout.
1) Mamiya 6 or MF 6X6 RF camera. By far the best! Get 2 1/4 negs on 120 film so great quality with superior lenses.
Lens retracts part way into the body when carrying in bag or shoulder making it very compact but heavy due to all metal construction. The 50 (28mm-35 equiv.) lens is also worth buying alone as it is an unbelievable superb lens. The 75mm or normal lens is also superb. Great combination for landscapes, head and shoulder portraits or wider photo etc. Not great for real CU shots because RF design. They also made a 150 mm f4.5 which is only useful at infinity because the RF is not long enough to accurately focus at shorter distances. I own one and will never sell it! Shutter is near silent—quieter than a Leica. I can stand next to someone, photograph them and they don’t know it. Flash synchs at all speeds so great for balanced fill flash. Find that Nikon SB flashes work the best for this.
2.) Fuji RF 120 cameras – don’t know what I would do without these!
a) Fuji GS645. Takes 15 645 shots on 120 or 30 shots on 220 if you can find the film. Lens, 75mm f3.5, folds into camera for compactness and carrying. Great walking camera when you don’t
want to take much along. Balanced fill flash at all shutter speeds. I find most people don’t know it’s a camera and ask if it’s a tiny computer, tape recorder, etc. I usually say “yeah it’s all those
things”, then unfold it and take their picture. I have had a number of people want to buy it, so if you find one, buy it or let me know and I’ll buy it as a back up! Yeah, it’s that good!
b) Fuji GSW 645 with fixed 45 f5.6 lens equiv. to 28mm in 35mm. Mostly plastic with metal parts so very lightweight and compact. Just a fabulous lens. Great camera for landscapes, cities, anywhere you want a wide angle look. Travel with this a lot! Also have had several people in airports or when travelling who want to buy this. Again let me know if you find one and don’t want to buy it yourself and I’ll be glad to get another one.
c) Fuji GSW 690 I or II or III. This is the 645 on steroids. Negative size is 2 1/4 X 3 1/4—it makes the 645 negs look tiny. 65mm f5.6 lens or 28mm –35mm equivalent. All metal, so heavier but worth it when you see the negs. Lot easier to carry this than hauling the 4X5.
It was rather startling to see I only have a few 35mm cameras in comparison with 2 1/4 medium format cameras. The quality of the big negatives is the reason. I started with a Nikon FTN Black camera from Hong Kong because it was so cheap. I have stayed loyal to Nikon over the years by buying the Nikon F, Nikon F2, F3 and because I started specializing in slides, a pin registered F3. A revolution occurred with the incredibly small Olympus OM series and I got swept up. Fortunately Nikon followed suite with the FM/FE series and I switched back to Nikon. The year I did I was still using my OM2 with a zoom lens in a helicopter over Winnipeg and both Olympus camera and lens fell apart from the vibration of the ‘copter. Never had a Hasselblad or Nikon do that! So back to Nikon but after not shooting slides anymore I rarely use 35mm. I still have the cameras and lenses and much to my friends’ displeasure who want to buy it all for cheap. I’ll never sell them. I consider them the best Nikon ever made. Once they started to add multiple small motors for auto focusing, multi exposure, multi composition, GPS (why?) and anything else they can add to tempt buyers into buying more, the cameras got bigger and bigger until they are now bigger than most medium format and even a few small large format cameras. Do we need such large complicated cameras to get a photograph of something we value? GPS??? And I won’t even get into what I think of digital. But I do have a friend who to me epitomizes the ultimate digital user. He carries a huge Nikon DSLR with a equally huge Nikon 28-300 lens. He’s big and strong so no problem. He works and travels for the Federal government all over the world and is gone for 3 days to 2-3 weeks at a time. When he comes back I always ask how many photos he took. Usually 3000-5000 for 3days, 20,000 for a week. For 2 weeks or more—30,000-35,000. Here’s the best part—he never edits or even looks at the photos again. But he keeps the SD cards catalogued in case he needs to. Is he the only one one out there that does this? Thank God we are all different or the world would be pretty boring.
The only 35mm camera I like to carry/travel/shoot now is Leica M/Voitglander rangefinder cameras. I own a Leica M3, M6, CL (Minolta made), and Voigtlander R3M and R4M. The R4M is for wide angle lenses 21-35 and 50mm. It’s the only camera ever made that can do this. I’m a wide angle freak so I love this camera. The Leica M is designed to get close to the subject. It is quiet, quick and extremely precise and the lenses are super crisp and very small in comparison to SLR/DSLR lenses. I usually carry my M6, Voigt. 21mm f4 or 25mm f4, Leica 35mm f2 (I use this lens at least 90% of the time), Leica 50mm f2 and 90mm f2.8 Tele-Elmerit. All very small and extremely sharp. I don’t use the light meter in the camera as it takes too long and the shot is gone before you match the needles or diodes. I try to notice how the light is changing, and change the camera controls by guess. For over 30 years I have only used B&W film and print materials which are more forgiving. If I don’t have a clue I always carry a Sekonic L-308B light meter in a Lowe Pro belt case which I always carry. I love the meter/case combo so much I bought another one in case I ever lost it or it broke. Check it out you’ll love the meter. I have to admit I’m feeling a bit “exposed” telling everybody what kind of cameras and the amount of equipment I own, which may be the same case for you if you are reading this blog. Good luck!
Here are a few photos from Barry, taken with one of his Hasselblads…
And from the Mamiya…
And the Nikon FM2…