First things first. In addition to having a well documented digital Leica problem (or more accurately I cannot afford a digital Leica problem) I also have a digital Hasselblad problem (same). Also similar to Leica I have a film body and lenses. Though medium format instead of full frame it could be argued that the Hasselblad digital camera is the better value. How?
- Lens Value
- Not only is the Hasselblad camera less expensive, but the lenses are also. By a great margin in fact. The new AF Hasselblad XCD lenses run from a little over a $1,000 to a little over $5,000. The new MF Leica M Mount lenses start at a little over $2,000 and run to over $14,000. Granted you can get aftermarket M Mount glass for less, but I would imagine digital Leica customers might not be value conscious when it comes to lenses. Plus if you buy after market M Mount lenses you may as well adapt the lenses to any number of full frame cameras while you were at it.
So that’s it. Order up a Hasselblad 907x then. Nope.
As much as I would really love to have a digital experience with my 501c there are some issues.
- Main reason. Absent the discovery of a money tree I would have to trade everything I own and a couple of limbs to get the 907x and a couple of lenses.
- Having sold all else I would be left with one single camera that has no EVF.
- AF yes, but contrast only AF with modern glass. Have been far too spoiled by Sony AF goodness to not have access to it at all.
- Lastly a question. What is medium format really?
While I understand the cost of medium format sensor tech is quite high what I would want optimally would be a true 6×6 digital experience. This is what largely stopped me from buying into Fujifilm’s GFX system a while back.
Film medium format is varied but still pretty cut and dry. With 120 film you get 645, 6×6, 6×7, and 6×9 depending on the camera. 6×7 and 6×9 cameras are a little more stingy with exposures than I like. I had a great 645 camera and while I liked getting more shots per roll I found the resulting images from the not that much larger than 35mm film did not provide enough of that medium format magic I was looking for. Personal preference. My better 35mm cameras could provide a close enough look…
…without the extra camera size while delivering 2 to 3 times the exposures per roll. 6×6 is the sweet spot for me.
The digital issue? As pointed out in this The Phoblographer article the sensor in the 907x (and the X1D and GFX also) is not that much larger than 35mm. So that undoes the main party piece. Image capturing real estate. Attached to my 501c I would essentially be capturing smaller than 645 images on my 6×6 camera. May as well keep shooting 120 film.
Thought that was it then. But then in walks Mattais Burling and this video.
Now I have used focal reducers before emulating full frame on an APS-C sensor. Specifically the Zhongyi Lens Turbo II Adapter for Fujifilm X mount. It worked well and I used it with a Helios 44-2 to create one of my favorite images…
…that ended up with James Masiclat and I doing a pro bono shoot for a local High School college prep program. It worked as billed and filled a nice vintage lens full frame hole in my digital line up… until I went to Pentax full frame and eventually landed on Sony full frame that is. Hey. Things happen. Bottom line a 35mm to APS-C focal reducer worked so well I was definitely game to try a 6×6-ish to 35mm focal reducer.
So what of the existing gear.
Somewhere in this timeline a Hasselblad 501c with the Zeiss 80mm f/2.8 literally fell into my lap.
A co-worker offered me a deal I could not refuse. After that I scored a good deal on a bargain grade portrait length 150mm f/4.
After that I scored a great wide lens from a legend, Professor Lonnie Graham.
A 50mm f/4 that also was a deal I could not refuse.
The lens is far better traveled than I am. Read this interview I did for KEH Spotlight blog as confirmation.
So back to the Kipon Baveyes.
While an adapter is not as sexy as a nouveau-retro fantastic Hasselblad 907x 50c it does have its advantages.
- Does not require a Hasselblad V body to shoot with the vintage lenses.
- Has a viewfinder.
- Can attach a flash.
- 0.7x adapter should add a bit of light.
- Image stabilization w/ many mirror less cameras.
- 1/8000s mechanical shutter compared to 1/2000s.
- At nearly 1/10 the cost ($695) you could pick up full frame mirrorless camera (Z, L, RF, and FE for a good number of film Medium format lenses) easily for less.
Even better Adorama currently has the Hasselblad V to Sony E mount variant marked down to $395. I could walk away from $695, but I knew I would regret it if I did not grab one while it was marked down. Truth be told I was still on the fence but my wife gave me the push when she found out. So I went for it. I will list first impressions, shots of the adapter, and first day sample shots.
Concerns I had when purchasing
- Focusing and General Use
- Was concerned that focusing was going to be an issue. But it proved to be no issue at all. Focusing the Hasselblad lenses was no different than the myriad of other manual focus lenses I have used.
- Punch in to focus combined with focusing peaking made MF a breeze.
- Infinity Focus
- Was concerned that infinity focus would be off, but that was not an issue. In fact I set it at infinity and f/8 or f/11 day one and it did just fine as demonstrated with Image Quality Samples below.
- Image Quality
- Colors are spectacular.
- Blacks and white images look wonderful also.
- Was concerned that lenses that performed so well with film would not hold up in the digital era. I did not need to be concerned. A Zeiss is a Zeiss evidently. Case in point below is a throw away shot taken focused to infinity at f/8 taken with little care as a passenger in a car. First shot is fine, but the second sample is a middle crop of that same shot. This did well with 24MP but this makes me confident that if care is taken it would do just fine with higher MP cameras also.
- Medium Format Look
- It is there. Not sure what the actual crop equivalent ends up being between the usual .55x 6×6 medium format to 35mm crop factor, the 0.7x boost this adapter provides, and the square to rectangular crop factor added in for fun. But that look is definitely there. I do not need a back to back comparison. I am quite pleased.
- Previous explanations tested my attention span and I could never put my finger on it before but I think I finally figured out the deal with medium format for me now that I am able to play with this magnified view approximation. You can get subject isolation from a greater distance with a reasonable aperture while retaining a usable depth of field instead of three eyelashes in focus like I have encountered with an ultra fast lens on a smaller bit of real estate trying to approximate the look. That may not stand up to more experienced scrutiny but that is where I am currently. And I like it.
- No issues in use here. Grab the set up by the adapter and pull the screen out to horizontal for a fake waist level viewfinder feel with punch in to replace the Hasselblad’s focus magnifier and a viewfinder to take the place of my Hasselblad viewfinder and off you go. Felt much more natural than I expected.
- The sturdy adapter tripod mount was a nice touch. Should make a static set up work just fine.
- Thought the lenses might be unwieldy on small camera bodies like the A7III. While the weigh like a Buick 50mm f/4 and 150mm f/4 were front heavy it was not that much different than using them on the 501c. Meanwhile the 80mm f/2.8 looked and felt quite at home on the A7III.
- This adapter is tank like. Comes with snug fitting front and rear caps including an especially nice all aluminum front cap. Great job.
Sample shots below with an ongoing gallery here.
So there you have it. Do I recommend it? Yes, but with qualifiers.
If you have one of the mirrorless cameras mentioned along with one of the medium format cameras with adapters available I say yes. I definitely recommend this adapter. If you have yet to purchase either or both that is up to you. I would add up the cost. After all there are plenty of vintage 35mm lenses that provide an interesting look and subject isolation If you already have a mirrorlesss full frame camera or a Pentax K-1 (like I used with an M-42 to K adapter) something very affordable like a Helios 44-2 comes to mind.
If jumping from film medium format and digital medium format is your prime end goal buying a medium format camera may make more sense for you. But if you do find this adapter makes sense for you I do not believe that you will regret it.
Do I still want a 907x? Yes. Of course. But for now this will do just fine.