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How I Met My Hasselblad:

A story of how I made my dreams come true 😉

Do you remember a question I asked the Universe a few weeks ago?

Well, Here’s the answer:

Me and Hassy 🙂

:-))) I hope you’re smiling now :-)))

The real thing:

Now that I’ve got a Hasselblad H1 camera now and I’m going to be using with with a PhaseOne P25+ back. It’s not going to replace my Canon 5D MKII, as I want to keep both systems; the 35mm and medium format. They’re different animals and I know that both will be necessary in the studio.

You probably think that I’ve got a lot of money to spend on this camera?  No, that was not the case.  Was it a business requirement for me to jump to medium format? Nope. I’m always trying to do things I want instead of the things I have to. So the answer as simple as this, I wanted it 🙂

At the beginning of 2011 medium format systems seemed to be completely out of reach for me. I had Canon 1Ds Mk III, an old 5D (12 Mpx) and about $4K-$5K for the equipment upgrades I need for this year.

So, how did I do it?

Nothing special really, just simply buying and selling operation which now seems to be a very obvious solution. Looking back, everything appears logical and so easy to make happen. I can only wish that I can see with such clarity in the future. Usually after I set my goals things start happening here and there, slowly moving me towards the destination. I started to consider things that were not on the surface at the beginning, seeing things that were not as obvious months ago..

First, I replaced my spare camera. Having sold my old Canon 5D  for $1000, I bought a 5D Mark II for $2500. Then I compared the 5D MK II against my 1Ds MK III (Canon 1Ds MK III v.s 5D MK II: is there is any difference in image quality? ) and found that there is nothing that can stop me from replacing the 1Ds MK III with the 5D Mk II. I found that the 5D MK II image quality was the same or even better in some areas over the 1Ds MK III.  I did not care much about poor focus performance on 5D MK II, it’s not enough to prevent me from making the switch.

Net result: $2500 -$1000 = $1500 spent.

The next step was to sell my DIY technical camera rig which I had adapted to work with 35mm DSLR and in order to buy my “dream one” to work with medium format digital back. I was looking for Sinar P3, but I got a good deal for Cambo Ultima D (my second choice), so I bought it. After reading some reviews on Cambo Ultima and Sinar p2/P3 I found that the Cambo might fit my build even better.

Net result: $1200 (Ultima D) – $850 (DIY rig) = $350 spent.

The third step was to sell Canon 1Ds MK III, buy a medium format digital back and then a camera for it.  The 1Ds MK III went for $4250 and I quickly found a replacement for it. The PhaseOne P25+ 22 megapixel MDF for $4550. I started using the P25+ with my Cambo camera and found it to be an amazing tool despite the fact  that the back is few years older than the 1Ds MK III it replaced : Phase One P25+ vs Canon 5D MK II.

About a month later I’ve got a nice deal on slightly used Hasselblad H1 + HC 80mm F2.8 lens kit for $2500.

Net result: $4550+$2500 – $4250 = $2800 spent.

Total cost of the “conversion”: $4650. This is about a half from what I’ve paid for Canon 1Ds MK III in 2008.

Everything I bought was purchased on eBay. I set search alerts so that eBay would send me new items that matched my search criteria. It’s a pretty easy and effective way to find what you need.

In the end I ended up with two new (to me) camera systems, while retaining the full functionality of the Canon gear I already had. I’ve moved up to a different league and now I’ve got tools I want in order to compete. Now it will be much easier (not financially, but mentally 🙂 to continue moving forward and upgrading to larger sensors and newer cameras as needed.
Please don’t tell me that “a camera doesn’t make a good photographer” thing, It’s never been about this argument.  I needed all of the advantages that medium format cameras provide, as well as I know that I need to use Hasselblad to work with my “dream” clients.

Now my goals need to be adjusted and my vision board redrawn:-) BTW, our next big step is going to be moving to California. In October we are going to take a trip to find a place we like. Traveling from San Francisco to LA in a week. That will be a lot fun for me and my family!

A few words about the Hasselblad h1 and some pictures too:

I’ve had a chance this weekend to enjoy my new Hasselblad and I’ve got some pretty nice images done in the studio. I don’t need to say that I wasn’t thrilled by the quality the H1 + P25+ produced. However, The HC autofocus system is very slow compared to Canon’s L line, but the precision of a single center focusing point is amazing.  X-sync of 1/800 sec is always a good thing as well:-)

Oh, and my  portfolio page on Alex Koloskov hasselblad owner’s page. It’s free :-))

Here it is, first set done in studio, 1/800 sec @ F3.5:

Hasselblad H1 test by Alex Koloskov

Hasselblad H1 test by koloskov studio photography

100% crop from above:

hasselblad H1 test by koloskov 100% crop

Amazingly shallow DOF and crisp sharpness at F3.5!

The lighting setup:

Creative studio portrait photography lighting setup

Hope the image of the lighitng setup is self-explainable. By varying ratio between #1 and #2 I’ve got the effect of washing the color from the face. Foamcore was placed under the glass  for a better diffusion. Two little white reflectors on both sides of the table helped to soften the shadows.  #3 is a hairlight, #4 is a gradient creator.

The lighting was really good for the look I wanted to see. The examples above were slightly processed (Genia couldn’t resist to play with the images), but I want to post “As-IS” one directly from a camera RAW, processed in C1.


As-is Hasselblad with P25+ RAW:

As-is example of Hasselblad h1 and P25+ digital back

All the best for everyone!



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