Hand-holding a Hasselblad (maybe a monopod?)

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by howard_b, Dec 29, 2000.

  1. I'm interested in a 501 CM with an 80mm lens.

    I prefer 100 ISO film with 35mm, but I guess I could deal with
    400 ISO in place of carrying a tripod.

    So here's the question: what's the slowest shutter speed I can
    use (with 400 ISO) and still successfully hand-hold the camera?
    What if I use a monopod? I'm assuming f/2.8. If you feel strongly
    that I should not be shooting wide open with this lens, please
    provide alternative advice!

    And by the way, what's the best way to hand-hold a Hassie?

  2. I never had great luck hand-holding a Hassie below 1/125th and expecting truly sharp negs or chromes, no matter the film speed. A few of my buddies, true Hasselblad acolytes, use tripods & MLU religiously - all the time! Their stuff is consistently very sharp! Check out Ernst Wildi's books and "how-to's" and you will find excellent techniques and a wealth of lore. I did use a monopod often, while hiking throught the woods with Hassie. It works better than hand-holding, but not as good as a sturdy tripod. I can consistently hand-hold my old TLRs at much slower speeds,
  3. I read on an old post somewhere to take a cord and fasten it to the base of the camera, leaving the other end drooping to the ground. You then step on the end, and coupled with the neckstrap you get your camera steadied by three points of tension. I have not yet tried it but the theory seems sound, and very portable.
  4. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    You haven't told us what sorts of photography you do, nor what type of film you use but I assume from "carrying a tripod " that your main interest is outdoors and that you aren't primarily studio-based or a wedding/portrait photographer. That being the case, I'd support the 1/125 answer above, but I must confess to a strong belief that no MF SLR is always hand-holdable in natural light.

    Firstly I don't think that an intention or necessity to use the lens wide open or close to it is likely to bring the best out of a superb camera. Virtually any test on any lens will tell you that best performance doesn't occur wide-open.

    What happens when you need substantial depth of field? A 6x6 std lens of 80mm will give you the same depth of field that you'd get on an 80mm lens for 35mm - that is for the same angle of view you get less dof from a MF lens anyway - which is all the more reason not to commit yourself to a route which restricts your choice of aperture.

    What about low light photography or using a polariser? It's amazing how often I find myself with exposures of F11 and 1/4 - 1 second, admittedly with ISO 50 film. Even with a ISO 400 film you'll still get nowhere near the shutter speed for handholding.

    After buying one of the best cameras around, why should you prejudice the results by using film types which certainly in my view won't optimise performance, although b&w will be a lot better than colour in this respect?

    I guess in summary I'd say this. On virtually every walk, or every trip, you'll find some shots you can handhold acceptably and some which would be much better with a tripod. If you're not carrying a tripod you'll either miss these or shoot them less well than you'd like, and if you're carrying a tripod then you may as well use it all the time.

    If you really do want to use MF without a tripod then a rangefinder such as the Mamiya 7 or the new Bronica will give you the ability to handhold down to 1/15 with decent technique. However as a search will tell you, rangefinders also carry a cost in terms of flexibility.

    I'm sorry I've never used a monopod so can't comment on that aspect.
  5. You might consider a Rollei TLR. Most folks can hand hold them down to 1/4 second or less.
  6. Howard: With respect to the above suggestion of three-point tethered tensioning device....forget it for MF SLR. The mass and surface area in even the slightest breeze cannot be stabilized by such a system. A Hassy is best used on a tripod, although I have been reasonably successful using my Gitzo CF monopod. Under said circumstances, I use MLU and min. 1/125 shutter speed. I also try to limit usage to my 110/2 lens(I have 2000FCW), or 180CF. I occasionally shoot 250/4 but never 50/2.8 on monopod due to its mass and bulk being unsuitable for even low wind conditions. Your 80/2.8 is compact enough that a quality monopod may be employed. In said circumstances I would recommend using std. hood in lieu of ProShade to reduce wind induced vibration. 80/2.8 is pretty sharp wide open, better however at f4.
  7. The key to a proper answer lies in your aesthetics. I frequently use my Hasselblad on a monopod at speeds as slow as one second, and all my lenses wide open, but not when sharpness is an issue.<p>
    I use the Hblad for more than one reason, not just for it's sharp optics. A large negative provides a smoother tonal scale at the same print size as a smaller neg, and I like looking at the world through a square hole. I can rent equipment anywhere, and there's a huge used market for almost any model line.<p>

    More to the point, though, I use a heavy Bogen monopod, with a Horseman quickrelease on a tilt only head. With my right middle finger on the mirror lockup, the right index falls nicely on the shutter release. With relatively static subjects requiring little depth of field, and strong emphsasis on graphic design as opposed to essential detail, this technique has provided many effective and successful images. If this was the other photo.net forum... I'd post one (sigh)... t
  8. To answer your question - I don't believe you can hand-hold a Hasselblad 501 at any of its shutter speeds and obtain consistently sharp results (except perhaps using studio flash), although you may still get good images.

    For me, Hasselblad SLR = Slow Film + Tripod + Mirror Lock Up.

    But if you want to hand-hold, then use fast film, the fastest shutter speed possible, use the waist level finder, cradle the camera body on your two hands holding it firmly against your chest, using the fingers of your left hand to focus and your right index finger to press the shutter release. Trying to use mirror lock up when the camera is hand-held is not a good idea. Also it is more difficult to hand hold the camera firmly if a prism viewfinder (especially the 90 degree one) is being used - you have to hold the camera higher and cannot easily use your chest for support.

    There is an accessory grip available which may give extra support for hand-held shots.

    I do not like monopods but many photographers find them very useful.

    Hand-holding a camera does add a certain freedom to your photography - there are even some photographers who hand-hold their large format cameras. But if you do want to routinely use a MF camera hand-held then I would agree that a rangefinder MF camera is the best option. For a recent project, I took some river scenes with my 5x4 camera set up on a sturdy tripod. At the same time I took a few shots hand-held with my Fuji GA645. I ended up using the pictures taken with the Fuji - not as large or perhaps as sharp but they were better images.
  9. In Ernst Wildi's book, The Medium Format Advantage, he talks about how the waist-level finder is inappropriately named. For hand-holding a Hasselblad with a waist-level finder, he recommends pushing the finder firmly into your forehead while shooting. He also makes some recommendations on how to use a monopod effectively: don't stand it straight up like a pole, lean it out in front of you, spread your legs a bit, and again, push your forehead down onto the camera to help steady it. Personally, I don't like pushing my forehead down onto the waist-level finder and I don't own a a monopod. I use a tripod almost all the time and even with it, I notice a pretty big difference between shots made with the mirror locked up and those where the mirror is moving. Get a copy of The Medium Format Advantage or another one like it. You can get it for around $35.00 at buy.com or book stores.
  10. Howard

    I handhold the Hassey frequently using a Gitzo carbon fiber monopod using the 45 degree finder. I shoot at 1/60 at full aperture (80 f2.8) quite a bit and find it works very well. Of course, if is not sharp in the sense of Ansel Adams sharp but it is nice. I shoot with Delta 400 and have used some Delta 3200 at night with excellent results - any lack of sharpness for 8 x 8 prints seeming to be more from subject movement and shallow depth of focus. I frequently take close ups of my baby with a monopod and 80 and an extension tube and the results are lovely. I would be wary about using my 150mm at these speeds, but it works very well of course with the 50mm f4 at full aperture too. I think you should go ahead I have always been pleasantly suprised how good the pictures look at 8 x 8 enlargements. If you want 16 x 20s you may find something lacking, but the gain through MF tonality makes up for some loss of critical sharpness.

    Personally I would use 1/125 for an 80mm and try and use a monopod. With a monopod you can go to 1/60 reliably and perhaps below. I do not prelease in these circumstances as you may loose the framing.
  11. Howard:

    I regularly shoot with a Hassie and an 80mm lens and a monopod. I use a bogen pod with a quick release. I have used this combo over the last couple of years and have been surprised with my results. The monopod takes some getting used to and with practice your skill with it will improve. In my opinion, monopods are grossly underated. Predicting exactly at which aperture and shutter speed you will show unexceptable camera shake is for you to try and then decide. I think locking up the mirror will give you at least another stop! Do this even with a tripod. A side benefit is that when not taking a shot, the monopod can serve as a very functional hiking/walking stick. In fact, I have carried the Bogen without the camera into some pretty rough areas. Of course a monopod cannot replace a tripod in really dim conditions, but I think you might be quite surprised at what one can do. Enjoy.
  12. Howard,
    I've been using a 501cm for over three years almost exclusively for slides (glass mounted) which are projected on a 48 inch square screen. I almost always hand hold the camera - even down to 1/60th of a second. The projected slides are very sharp - perhaps could even be sharper if a tripod or monopod was used. But I like to move around a lot for a variety of shots - landscapes, portraits, candids, etc. It does take practice, of course, to develop steadiness. Sharp slide projections should be a reasonably good test of camera steadiness. I suspect that many longtime MF users would disagree with my approach.
  13. [And by the way, what's the best way to hand-hold a Hassie?]

    I have always used a monopod when shooting with medium format cameras and I trigger the shutter with a short cable release. I've used this method on my Hassy, RB67, C220F, Rollei TLRs. Without which, I wouldn't be able to shoot as slow as 1/30 sec in a quick and flexible manner.
  14. Howard, After traveling to Europe and Asia with 30 pounds of Hasselblad equipment I can assure that I wouldn't even think of taking a picture without a sturdy three legged tripod. I normally shoot Velvia (granted very slow) which requires long exposure times when maximum depth of field is needed. I also never, never, never take an exposure unless the mirror is released first. I know that all of this requires a lot of hassel but the results will be stunning. You cannot hand hold a hasselblad unless you are shooting at 500 of a second. Good luck and happy shooting.

    Victor B.
  15. Howard,
    I bought a Hasselblad for the optics, asthetically it's more trouble to manuever. My theory:"Why spend all that money on high-priced glass and then give it every opportunity to be unclear when you push the trigger?".
    You spent good money on your equipment, try a graphite tripod if you don't like the weight, but use the tripod, you'll be glad you did. I can put my slides taken with my Canon and a tripod right next to slides taken with the 500C of the same subject matter on a tripod and the difference is amazing!
    Spend the money, you only go around once.

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