Hasselblad Portfolio Days – A Review
In late November I joined Jamie Crawford from Modelinscene Magazine to review Hasselblad’s Portfolio Days up at their London Studio in Hoxton. The lion’s share of my time is spent ‘in the field’ (no pun intended) as a landscape photographer. I also photograph weddings, events and location portraiture too. I tend to work with natural light. Working in a studio with professional lighting, apart from some product work, is starting to head out of my comfort zone.
I’ve previously used Hasselblad film cameras but have no experience with their digital systems so I was a prime candidate for them to demonstrate the ease and quality of their systems and also how easy it is for someone to benefit from their Portfolio Days.
The concept of the Portfolio Days ‘allows photographers to not only get their ‘hands on a Hasselblad’ in a studio environment, but also have exclusive use of the facilities with bookable time slots, allowing photographers to completely dictate the shoot. And what’s more, with a model release included within the deal, the resulting images can be used in the photographer’s portfolio’.
All of this is offered at £80 per hour. We booked 2x 1hour slots which I think is about right depending on what you would like to achieve. Now with the equipment alone costing you £800 to rent the value of this service becomes quite clear. I’ll get onto the cost of owning the equipmenmt a little later.
The Hasselblad Studio was located at 71 Fanshaw Street, N1 just a stones throw from Hoxton Square and about 5-10 minutes from the Tube at Old Street.
I arrived and was introduced to the team. On hand was a technician to talk you through the Hasselblad H5 systems cameras and also the Broncolor Lighting. Hasselblad are the distributors for Broncolor in the UK. I was also introduced to our model for the day Katie Green. Katie is the former face of Wonderbra and the leading light behind the ‘Say No to Size Zero’ campaign. The Technicians on hand can give you as much or as little assistance as you like. I was happy to let Katie do her thing and concentrate on the photography, using the techies to help with the lighting.
Hasselblad Portfolio Days
The H5D-60 System was surprisingly easy to use. It initially felt a little ungainly compared to a Canon DSLR but you get used to the balance and weight quite quickly. Focusing was a little different and took some getting used to due to the centre spot focusing and the need to then utilise Hasselblad’s True Focus system to re-compose your shot. The system fixes focus on the centre spot and then minimal adjustments through the x and y axis are compensated for when recomposing, maintaining focus.
Exposure was set for a fixed point (handily between two pillars) and the camera was set as 1/250 and f11. I used a variety of Hasselblad glass on the day and the combination produced some very sharp images, so sharp that my ‘beauty retouching’ was under pressure when I came to edit. The quality of the files produced was absolutely stunning and I would love to give the same gear a whirl in the field or on a product shoot where the sharpness would really come into its own.
The camera was very different from what I am used to. The pace of working with it required a bit more thought, an approach similar to how I work when creating landscape images. Trigger happy shooters might struggle. The process is slower and the impatient will need to take a breath here and there as Focus takes a little longer, images take longer to appear on the LCD and you will not be working at high fps rates. When they do appear, well, you are presented with fantastic colour rendering and excellent sharpness. You can check critical focus well via the rear LCD using the zoom tool.
Katie Green made a number of outfit and makeup changes during the 2 hours we were there and we varied the lighting setup from Fashion to Beauty. This flexibility means you can get a good variety of shots for your Portfolio. I shot approx 120 photographs during the 2 hours we were there. Katie was great to work with, a real pro and provided good range in the shots that were taken.
The detail and sharpness in the images was very impressive indeed. At one point I zoomed into an image in the Hasselblad Phocus software and noticed a tiny blemish on the back of Katie’s hand, barely visible to the naked eye but there it was, a tiny scar in glorious detail she had received just that morning playing with her kitten.
I really believe the Portfolio Day product is great value for money. To gain access to arguably some of the best equipment available, a professional model, with full support and to be able to utilise the images non-commercially within your own Portfolio will be very valuable to many. I think the Portfolio days even lend themselves as ‘Experience’ style gifts for budding photographers. I will definitely be back in the future and when the brief is right I’ll certainly consider renting the H5D-60 system to ensure I can get the best results possible. The experience using the Hasseblad gear has certainly made me think.
I’ll also be keeping my eyes open to see what Hasselblad can come up with to replace my much loved Xpan and whether they can bring a mixed panoramic concept to the market. All in all a very good day out and certainly very interesting.
The January edition of Modelinscene magazine is now out where you can read the full article.
I shot the cover, the Article Images and the back of my head appears to have found its way into Hasselblad’s Portfolio day advertisements. Good to see they only use the best models. 😉