Tag Archives: Hasselblad SWC/M

SHOOTING VERY, VERY LONG EXPOSURES…AND A COLOURED MOONBEAM

JULY 2019

I’ve been shooting long exposures of the moon ‘rising and setting’ ever since I went back to using a film camera, a few years ago now. I was taken with an image by, once again, Michael Kenna, of the moon rising over the Chausey Islands off the French coast. I realised that over the years I had photographed the moon many times, but never as a really, really long exposure. The magic that happens during an excessively long exposure is quite wonderful and Kenna had started a whole ‘minimalism movement’ in monochrome photography with his ‘frozen water’ and also his many images by moonlight. Others had done long exposures before but Kenna did lots of it and made some outstanding pictures…as he still does.

So my first attempt was an exposure over a couple of hours or so a Corfe Castle. I stood around for a few hours, whilst the full moon rose up behind the castle…and my images were rubbish! First lesson, the moon only lights what it can shine on so find something in the frame that will get illuminated….a silhouette of a dark castle isn’t very interesting!

On then to attempt number two. This was perfect…the moon rising behind the wooden ‘Low’ lighthouse that stands on the beach at Burnham. I had to find a night of the full moon when the tide would stay off the part of the beach long enough to capture a very long image. Moon tables and tide tables…planning always comes into this sort of photography.

3 hour 15 min moonrise | ‘Burnham Low’ lighthouse Burnham-On-Sea | 2016

I feared my tripod would move during the 3 hours and 15 minutes that this exposure took as the beach was soft as you can see….but I got away with it.
The magic that happens is partly to do with the reflections from the moon ‘spreading’ across the image to give a much bigger illuminated area than is observed by the human eye. Plus of course you don’t actually know where the moon will ‘travel to’ during the exposure…although you soon learn to judge it pretty well. There is no ‘live view’ screen on my Hasseblad film camera alas.

Here’s a slightly different one, of the moon ‘setting’ over misty water and mountains.

Trail of the fullmoon setting behind Blake Rigg and illuminating a mist covered Blea Tarn 9th May 2017.

That’s a 2 and a half hour exposure. I set up two cameras, the Hasselblad SWC/M with it’s 38mm wide lens and another 501CM camera with a 50mm widish lens. If I’m lucky with my location I can wander back to my campervan and make myself a coffee…as I did here. The mist arose as I was away and I hadn’t put anything on the camera to keep the condensation off but the images were OK.

I’m aware that I’ve mainly been shooting the moon ‘rising’ so I now have to find locations for more of the ‘setting’ moon images. It’s less easy to find interesting ‘west looking locations’, particularly in my home area on the Dorset coast. The lens I choose obviously determines the size of the moon in the image. Those like the Blea Tarn one above have a pretty small moon, whilst in this Southampton River Test image, shot with the 250mm lens the moon is really big.
Some passing clouds also do ‘nice things’, as they add texture to the moon, even better then than a totally clear sky. Over such long exposure times, most moving clouds won’t even register, just the ones that get brightly lit my being close to the moon.

Moonbeam over the River Test | Southampton | 2017

Here’s my latest image from the full moon earlier this month. I haven’t yet had the full ‘rising moon’ monochrome image (that I took over 2 and a half hours) processed as it’s still sitting on a roll of Acros in one of my camera film backs. However here’s my first colour ‘moonbeam’, although the moon obviously is still bright white. This was taken over 15 minutes at the Durdle Door arch, here in Dorset. Shot on Portra film. I’m still deciding if I like the image in colour, even if it is pretty ‘monochrome’, ie one colour!

15 minutes of moonrise at Durdle Door.

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HASSELBLAD 907X – THE NEW SUPER WIDE C?

JUNE 2019

Hasselblad just made a set of surprise announcements. They are going to be selling a Mark 2 version of their most beautiful looking digital camera to date, the X-1D. It has a better touch screen and I do hope it will fix some of the things they omitted when the original X-1D came out. I hope they’ve remembered that photographers need a proper ‘remote release’…you can’t rely on being tethered to remotely fire a camera. Also they must fix the small built in delay the camera suffers from. Pressing a shutter must be instant!

I think this is the most beautiful looking camera…ever! Well done Hasselblad!
Now in addition to updating it…..perhaps you’ve fixed somethings…oh and cut the price!


Although staying with the 50Meg pixel resolution, the X-1D also gets another new lens…fine, but the best news for ‘old dinosaurs’ like me who love their old V Series film cameras is that we haven’t been forgotten.
The long standing CFV range of Hasselblad digital backs were brought up to date a few years ago when the CFV-50C model appeared giving us the 50Meg pixel CMOS detachable back. An expensive option at the time, although it was dropped in price…. but then it was discontinued when all of the Sony 50Meg chips went to the new X-1D production. I thought it had ‘gone forever’!

Now the CFV-50C detachable back returns and gets an big update, with bigger, brighter flip screen and a better set of controls that mimic the X-1D functions.
All Medium Format backs are ‘cropped’ as no manufacturer will make a 6×6 cm square back. So compromises give us at best a nearly ‘645 format’ or something well under it
It’s not easy to turn a square format designed V Series camera, even with a prism on it, so will they make the new back ‘rotatable’? It doesn’t look like it. I can shoot in either ‘landscape or portrait’ with the very old Leaf Aptus digital back I have but the Hasselblad CFV-50’s were always stuck in ‘landscape’.

Now I usually use a 1997 Hasselblad 501CM or an even older 1970’s 500CM and also love the very odd camera that Hasselblad originally called the ‘Supreme Wide’ or ‘Super Wide’. The model I have is the SWC/M CF version from 1982. The development of this camera came from Victor Hasselblad’s desire in 1954 to have a really wide angle camera, but wanting to use the Zeiss 38mm Biogon lens. It’s an outstanding true wide-angle design and not a retro-focus. This lens has almost no barrel distortion and ‘back in the day’ it was indeed a ‘supreme wide angle’. Now though it’s perhaps equivalent to a ‘full frame’ 21 or 24 mm lens I guess.
Alas it requires a very short distance between the film plane and the back of the lens and could not accommodate the usual Hasselblad reflex mirror. It also came with no viewfinder and relied on an external finder to approximate the cameras view and even had no rangefinder…all very crude, even then!

My SWC/M is like this, pictured by Richard Nordin in his seminal book ‘The Hasselblad System Compendium’…which along with the Fifth Edition of Ernst Wildi’s book ‘The Hasselblad Manual’, every V Series user should own.

My love for the images this SWC camera makes is why the last announcement really intrigues me! They’ve announced something called the Hasselblad 907X. This firmly ties it to the ‘Super Wide C’ line…as the last models ever built of those were designated 903 and 905.

That’s the 907X in the picture below. The ‘sliver of a body’ just squeezing in between the new detachable CFV II 50C back and one of the existing line of XCD, or even HC lenses. The XCD’s are from the X-1D cameras and the HCD and the HC lenses are from the current ‘big Hassy’ digital cameras…The ‘H Series’.

Now that’s really beautiful too. Hasselblad’s own picture of a pre-production 907X with CVF II 50C back and a 45mm HCD lens.
Have Hasselblad ‘gone and lost the plot’ with their model naming! All these ‘II’ versions are stupid…you can’t even type Roman numerals easily! Why not CVF-50D and X-1E?

So the 907X is similar in concept to Victor Hasselblad’s original 1954 ‘SWC’ design…but in a digital form…and now with a removable lens. An ‘old dinosaur’ like me hasn’t been able to get a true wide angle when using a digital back on the V Series as the crop factor meant the widest 40mm Zeiss on a V camera was somewhat cut off. The 907X will take the 21 and 35mm XCD wide angle lenses now of course and you use the tilt screen and buttons on the new CFV II 50C back to control it. The ring around the shutter button allows exposure changes I believe.

There was also no fun in putting a CFV-50C back on the SWC camera, as the ‘microlenses’ used within the back caused fringing at the edges of the image….although to be honest the ‘microlenses’ problem only came about well into the development of Medium Format digital backs. My 12 year old Leaf Aptus does work well on my SWC/M camera, although it’s still cropped of course.

The press release also mentions old V Series lenses as being adaptable to the new 907X, but they’d have to improve the current software correction for it to be for all the V Series lenses to make that really good I think.

The 907X is so ‘basic’ that it’ll come with an external viewfinder…just like the SWC did and also with a handgrip giving ‘more buttons’. I’m dying to see it….particularly since Hasselblad have apparently dropped prices.

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