Which Hasselblad lens has "character"

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by rc51owner, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. rc51owner

    rc51owner Guest

    Hello,

    so I have recently bought a 501C body (and prism finder) from a local camera store. It was a bit of a whim purchase. I have been looking to get into MF photography for a while. I now need to get a lens(es) (and backs) to actually try this format out.

    The style of photography that I intend to do with this out-fit is environmental portraits and landscapes. Looking back through my various cameras the pictures that I like best are typically taken with a Rollei 35SE (40mm Sonnar) and the 45mm Tessar on my C/Y outfit.

    Catching up on what lenses are available for my camera everyone seems to tout sharpness. Me I am interested in something that has some character. I know this is hard to define; but for me it isn't all about pin-sharp pictures.

    Is there such a thing as a characterful lens for the 500 series Hasselblads?

    Regards,

    M
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,577
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My experience has been that "sharp and contrasty" is the character of Hasselblad lenses. If you don't want that then maybe you have the wrong tool.
     
  3. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,577
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    p.s. One of the things I've done with to get "character" is the use of low contrast film like Portra 160NC and softar filters.
     
  4. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,063
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Welcome on Apug!

    I use the Zeiss lenses with my SL66 and find them to have quite different "characters", depending on the lens type. The 80/2,8 and 120/5,6 Planars deliver a very sharp and three-dimensional look. The 150/4 and 250/5,6 Sonnars have a quite "dreamy" bokeh that reminds me of older LF lenses, but they are very sharp in the plane of focus. The 50/4 Distagon (old one) has a surprisingly nice bokeh but is quite soft when used wide open. It becomes pretty sharp when used around f11 nonetheless. Considering your demands, I think you should give this lens a try. The old silver ones are real bargains. Mine is the old one without HFT (or T*, in Hasselblad language), but the colours are rich nonetheless. I think the "character" of the 250/5,6 might suit you too, but this lens is best used on a tripod.

    Here is a picture taken with the 50/4 on Velvia 100:
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2011
  5. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

    Messages:
    5,682
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    T* is Zeiss language, Slixtiesix, and not called T* on lenses made by Rollei, because of just that.
    :wink:

    To show that it may be a matter of personal perception (and whatever makes up the mix that results in that) i can chime in to say i find no difference in character among the Zeiss bunch, except for a very few.
    The old 350 mm and 500 mm Tele-Tessars (for not quite being on par with the other lenses), the Superachromats (yet they are what Brian said: "sharp and contrasty", but to an even higher degree). And the 110 mm Planar.

    That 110 mm Planar is a lens in world of is own. It doesn't stand out for being sharp and contrasty (though not a bad lens, compared to its Zeiss brethren, not quite as good, wide open), but for the soft and smooth way it renders transitions in tone.
    But only when used wide open, at f/2. Stop it down to f/4 or 5.6, and it's 'just another Zeiss lens'.
    It does tend to show some double contour 'bokeh' though.

    So if you really want a Zeiss lens with a special character, you must get one of those 110 mm Planars.
    You then must also get a focal plane shutter Hasselblad body.
     
  6. mesh

    mesh Member

    Messages:
    266
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2009
    Location:
    Armidale, NS
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I find the 150 Sonnar to have real character. Beautiful bokeh, smooth tonality and a quite different look to the 80 IMO (and the other Zeiss lenses I have tried). Agree with the comment re: Portra 160NC... a lovely partner to the sonnars.
     
  7. Zathras

    Zathras Subscriber

    Messages:
    573
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree. The 150 is a beautiful lens.
     
  8. lns

    lns Member

    Messages:
    434
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's funny, but I think the lens is less important with my Hasselblad than with my 35mm cameras. With my Nikon or Leica cameras, the character of the lens can be very obvious; some of those lenses seem so much better than others. In contrast, with the Hasselblad, I've used the 60mm, the 80mm and the 150mm, and really find very little difference other than focal length. I agree that the film and developer can make a big difference, however.

    -Laura
     
  9. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

    Messages:
    4,571
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
    Location:
    İstanbul
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Laura is right.

    You must spend more time to developers if you want to get a Leica feel. I have two sonnars and they are really dont like every lighting conditions. But I used a Soviet 80mm planar copy and it was great at macro range and less than 4 meter range. May be pyro helps you to get more controlled highlights at Zeiss.

    Umut
     
  10. rc51owner

    rc51owner Guest

    Hello everyone! What a great bunch of answers. I appreciate all of the responses. To the person that suggested that I use a different film to achieve "character" - that was not obvious to me. Thanks for the suggestion.

    My favourite focal length in 35mm is 35mm. From what I have read above this points to me getting the 60mm first. So I think this will be my first lens. After that it sounds like the 150mm Sonnar has similar characteristics to the 40mm Sonnar on the Rollei 35SE. That is good to hear.

    Regards,

    M
     
  11. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,005
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Put a crummy, poorly-coated filter on your lenses, shoot without a lens hood, and you may like what you get. I have bought a few "bad" filters just for this purpose. I usually use them with my 4x5's when I want to use movements, but find the image quality of the big film to be overkill. I think Hassy lenses are technically stunning, but I prefer the more "mild" signature of my Mamiya C series and Press lenses over all. It's hard to describe. The Mamiya lenses are perfectly sharp; they just seem to have a lighter touch, whatever that means. Pentax lenses remind me a lot of Hassy lenses. Technically stunning, but a bit heavy handed for what I like sometimes.
     
  12. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,063
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    "T* is Zeiss language, Slixtiesix, and not called T* on lenses made by Rollei, because of just that."

    Oh no Q.G., why was I already aware that my statement would provoke a reaction like this the very moment I wrote it ... :D
    Of course T* is a Zeiss trademark and the designation is used for lenses they produce for other camera mounts too. However, not all lenses that are marked HFT were made by Rollei under license. Only some were (in fact the 50mm, 80mm and 150mm). The other lenses were still manufactured by Zeiss but labeled HFT because of uniformity. So Zeiss lenses made for Rollei=HFT, Zeiss lenses made for Hasselblad=T* and that was the way I meant it :wink:

    Best, Benjamin
     
  13. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

    Messages:
    5,682
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Zeiss lenses made for Alpa, Sony, Arriflex, Nikon, Leica, Contax, ... all and sundry T* (if not plain T).
    The only odd one out was Rollei. See?
    :wink:
     
  14. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,063
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I only meant it with regard to the distinction of Rollei and Hasselblad, but you´re right, I shouldn´t have referred to it as "Hasselblad language" because it is of course a Zeiss terminology.

    But one final word: Rollei is the only odd one because they are so special! :D
     
  15. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

    Messages:
    5,682
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm not arguing with that.
    :wink:
     
  16. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

    Messages:
    1,520
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    What a tough question that is, as far as I'm concerned, the Sonnar CF 150mm is a quite "special" optic, I use it the most, but heck, that's only personnal taste, of course!:smile:
     
  17. aluncrockford

    aluncrockford Member

    Messages:
    101
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2008
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    You would not go far wrong with the old C lenses the 120mm is worth a look as is the 40mm which is one of the biggest and heaviest medium format lenses I have ever owned.
     
  18. tokengirl

    tokengirl Member

    Messages:
    37
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That is the truth right there - I thought I wanted the 40mm, until I handled it in person. I picked it up with both hands and decided right then and there that I have other cameras I can shoot wide angle with.

    As for the OP's question, the only lens I have for my Hassy is an old chrome 80mm (I think it's from 1970). It sure does have character compared to all my other camera lenses. It has a nice luminous almost 3D quality at the wider apertures that I do not see in any of my other lenses, even the nice Canon L primes.
     
  19. pgomena

    pgomena Member

    Messages:
    1,377
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, Or
    You might be surprised to find the 60mm is wider than you think. I find that the 80mm seems wider than a normal lens on 35mm. The 50mm is quite wide, close to a 28mm. I think the "wideness" of the lens has a lot to do with the aspect ratio of the format. It doesn't translate perfectly between formats. I own a Fuji 6x9 with a 90mm lens. "Normal" on 6x9 ranges from about 90-110mm, and I'd say mine gives the feeling of a 35-40mm lens on 35mm. Maybe rent or borrow a couple of lenses to get a feel for them. Hasselblad lenses are an investment.

    Peter Gomena
     
  20. rc51owner

    rc51owner Guest

    If the 50 is close to a 28mm in 35mm format then the 60 would be close to a 33mm. No? I can appreciate that the aspect ratio would impact the feel of the focal length since isn't the focal length normally defined based upon the diagonal
    Now that is a great suggestion. The LCS (local camera store) that I bought the 501c body from has a rental department. I need to do is now get a back and some film and then I can go to town. Oh I also need to learn how to load film/use the camera/meter without a meter... quite a lot of things in fact :smile:

    Regards,

    M
     
  21. declark

    declark Subscriber

    Messages:
    246
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    So. Cal
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Having the common set of 50, 80, & 150, it's the 150 CF I seem to enjoy the most. The 80C runs second place. The 50 FLE is used the least. The 50 doesn't seem wide enough for me when I want the exaggerated wide look.
     
  22. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

    Messages:
    5,682
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The 50 mm on 6x6 has the same horizontal angle of view as a 32 mm lens would on 35 mm format.
    To get the same vertical angle of view though, you need to put a 21 mm lens on your 35 mm format camera (but that will then of course have a wider horizontal angle of view.)

    So based on the assumption that we tend to try to fit things in our photos along the long side of the format, you get extra on the short side when using 6x6, compared to 35 mm format.
    That's what makes 6x6 lenses appear wider to rectangular format shooters than they are.
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,499
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you think that there is a reasonable possibility that you might buy the lens from your LCS, I'd suggest asking them if they would be willing to agree to crediting all or part of any rental fees you pay toward any lens or accessory purchase you might make from them within, say, 60 days of the rental. You may find that they would be quite agreeable to such a proposal.
     
  24. JamesMorris

    JamesMorris Member

    Messages:
    53
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The 160mm CB lens is a Tessar design, which may be worth investigating. I use Tessars in LF at various focal lengths because of their character, but haven't tried the CB.

    I'd also suggest trying the 50mm FLE, which is a focal length possibly more suited to environmental portraits. Especially good close up, with a photojournalistic approach.

    I've not found the focal length equivalents really match up very well between 35mm and 6x6 -- the formats are too different and they really have their own character.
     
  25. pgomena

    pgomena Member

    Messages:
    1,377
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, Or
    I've been trying to think up a snappy reply to the OP's original question about Hasselblad lenses and "character." My smarty-pants reply is that they all exhibit the "Hasselblad character." Sharp with nice, smooth contrast, more akin to the character of a view camera lens. I just consider them to be "high-fidelity." The only difference between my 80 and 50 CFT* lenses is focal length and corner sharpness. My 120 I would describe as a tiny bit gritter in its character in some circumstances. That's why the 150 is usually the lens of choice for portraiture. Its reputation is for a smoother, rounder rendition of subjects than the 120. I've also used the 180 and 250mm lenses, and other than to say they're excellent, I can't comment on any particular difference in "character" from any of the other lenses. I haven't used the C lenses in years, but they were excellent as well.

    As for which lenses to choose to build a system, that's a personal matter. I bought my kit as a whole, used. My favorite lens of the three is the 120. The focal length is more often "right" for the scene in front of me. The 50 is perfect when I need "wide." The 80 is fine for when it fits the need. I use the 120 and 80 much more often than the 50. A good setup is the 50-100-150mm lenses, another is 60-120-180, which leaves room for the 40 if you need a very wide lens and the 250 if you want a longer one. Truth be told, I could find use for all of them if I could 1. afford them, 2. carry them around easily.

    I would buy the CFT* lenses or the CFi lenses because Hasselblad no longer makes parts for the C series.

    Did I mention that I like the system?

    Peter Gomena