On behalf of my team, I am excited to introduce the February edition of the Medium Format Magazine. This month we have great pieces for you authored by Paul Sanders, Vieri Bottazzini, Holger Nitschke, Marie Calmes by Sally Jennings, Janet Dwyer, Alex Burke and Ian Howorth, with an introduction by yours truly. In this month’s interview we go deep into the fascinating world of seeing of Ned Pratt.
We start off on a very positive note with “Ode to Joy” by Paul Sanders. Paul has written a series about contemplative photography and this article is an extension of this important subject. We all struggle with our photography and photographic self from time to time so Paul’s article should help us to put those struggles in perspective. The piece is accompanied by poetic visuals which set the tone for the much-needed break we all need.
In this month’s interview we talk to Canadian photographer Ned Pratt. His book “One Wave” has made a huge wave in the photographic industry. The accompanying imagery is being sought after for private and public collections all over the world. What I find remarkable about Ned is his uncanny ability to talk about the process of seeing and crafting unique and personal imagery. Did I mention that Ned is one of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever encountered in this industry!? Sally Jennings and I couldn’t be more thrilled to present our readers with this fascinating interview.
This month, Vieri Bottazzini shares with us a highly personal account of “The First Sunrise.” It is so easy in this busy and demanding industry to forget about our personal experience. Vieri tells the story of one morning and its sunrise and takes us along on an unforgettable journey. His piece is accompanied by visually rich and colourful sunrise vistas.
The first time I saw Holger Nitschke’s portrait of Lilly I thought, “You have to tell us more about it.” There is no shortage of portraits online but the simplicity of the image, the striking beauty of the model and the rendering of the lens/camera combination makes this portrait a true gem. Holger Nitschke agreed to give us more details about the photoshoot in this month’s HOW IT WAS SHOT.
Marie Calmes has a special way of observing and capturing the world with her Hasselblad film camera. Sally Jennings, our language editor and wordsmith, wrote a short piece about Marie and her work based on some answers Marie sent us. This piece about Marie and her journey wouldn’t be complete without her photographs, which provide an immersive experience into the life and seeing of Marie Calmes.
In the next article Janet Dwyer introduces us to the craft of photo-scanography. She writes: “This unorthodox method continues to present interesting possibilities for large format imaging and printing.” With plants, flowers, nets, feathers, etc. as her key visual elements, Janet crafts remarkable and unusual imagery with her scanner as camera. I am glad to report that Janet has agreed to write a series of articles about her work.
This month, Alex Burke is challenging us with a very important question: “What makes a compelling landscape photograph?“ Alex breaks down this question into smaller visual considerations and puts together a compelling picture of the genre which has been cherished and practiced by so many photographers around the world. As always, Alex shares with us his latest work from the field captured with a large format camera. So much to think about and enjoy!
In his article, “The Move to Digital – Part 2,” Ian Howorth continues his outing into the world of medium format. Having been a film shooter most of his life, Ian is exploring different medium format digital systems and comparing the outcome to his film work. This time the Phase One back P65 has caught Ian’s attention with its CCD sensor which “creates an experience closer to what I’m used to, and a thought process behind creating images that I prefer.” As always, great imagery and writing!
Our issue concludes with the Readers’ Exhibition section where you will find the super imagery submitted by our readers and patrons. I am sure you will find inspiration and zest for seeing by slowing down and looking at each other’s imagery. I‘m planning to grab a glass of wine and look at these images at a pace they deserve.
I trust you will enjoy all the content our writers and contributors prepared for you. We have recently signed some new amazing photographers and writers and you should see their new columns and articles starting in March 2020. I am looking forward to our next issues and much, much more. Thank you for your readership and support.
And if you are not subscribed to the Medium Format Magazine yet, join medium formatters from around the world and gain an immediate access to the November issue, all previous editions and MF Exclusives . It would be wonderful to have you with us.
From a fascinating opening piece from Denis Hocking to an exclusive and engaging interview with Victor Hamke, the November edition of Medium Format Magazine offers 140 pages of ad-free, highly curated content you won’t find anywhere else.
Denis Hocking opens the November issue with his account of an incredible voyage into the deep Arctic. In his reportage-style piece, “The High Arctic: The best photographic experience of my life,” Denis takes us on a true adventure which he describes this way: “It was very difficult for me but, in retrospect, my life is substantially richer for the experience.” I have to say the same after reading this captivating piece. I am confident you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Every month we bring you an interview with captivating medium format photographers and thinkers. This month we are so thrilled to share with you an exclusive interview with Victor Hamke, who in his own words “likes to drink a lot of coffee, loves to sleep and who always enjoys good conversation. A pretty normal dude.” We beg to disagree. Victor’s classy, intimate and powerful wedding imagery is anything but normal. Victor shares with us his beginnings, processes and his approach to this fascinating genre of photography. Whether you shoot wedding photography or not, you will love it.
Next, Steven Friedman in his series “Shoot to Print” presents his image titled “Zebra Aspens” and shares his story and philosophy behind this image. Steven also explores a variety of printing papers and the differences between them, including his own favourites. I cannot emphasis enough the importance of the subject of printing. Valuable and powerful advice!
In the following article, “In the Moment,” Paul Sanders continues his series about contemplative photography. He writes, “Reflecting on an image is a valuable exercise in itself. Ask yourself how you felt about the original moment. How you saw things is very powerful. I often journal about my images, reflecting on the way I felt at the time and how I feel looking back at the way I collected the moment.” I don’t know about you, but this thought alone opened my mind and senses to a totally different way of thinking about my own photography. Paul’s text is accompanied by a tranquil photograph you can’t stop looking at. A must-read for everyone!
Chris Knight, whom we interviewed last month, has agreed to write this month’s column “How it Was Shot.” Chris presents one of his stunning images, “Queen of the North” and explains in great detail the story behind the image, including the mechanics of shooting it from inspiration to styling and from lighting to post-processing. You will see the entire process of creation. It cannot get better than that.
In his column “Metapixel,” Lloyd Chambers tackles the issue of “Multi-Frame Stitching and Panoramas.” Lloyd explains the technique and the process and provides multiple examples. He also recommends the gear which could help you achieve the best results. I wouldn’t be surprised if you started experimenting with these techniques for yourself.
In his article, “Sky is the Limit” Vieri Bottazzini makes a fascinating case for sky in landscape photography. Vieri shows us examples when the use of sky makes the images powerful and different. He also shares his thoughts about the use of different ratios in landscape photography and the power of medium format to achieve your own goals or, as Vieri describes it, when “the sky is the limit.” We definitely agree.
In the following article, Ludwig Hagelstein continues his series about medium format analogue photography. In Part 2 he writes about “choosing the right film for your project.” He counters a popular notion that there are not many types of film to choose from and gives us some signposts how to look for the film that you would like to pick up for yourself.
The topic of film doesn’t end with Ludwig’s piece. Alex Burke continues the subject “exploring the dynamic range of colour negative film.” He shares his experience of shooting film and makes a compelling technical case for it. As usual, his stunning landscape photography might make you pick up film again, if you are not already shooting with it.
Finally, the Readers’ Exhibition section makes a comeback so please make sure to see the great work submitted by our readers.
And if you are not subscribed to the Medium Format Magazine yet, join thousands of medium formatters from around the world and gain an immediate access to the November issue, all previous editions and MF Exclusives . It would be wonderful to have you with us.
The Swedish Academy has just announced that Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian writer Peter Handke have won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
This morning as the news hit the wires, we had a brief conversation with photographer Tomasz Lazar who had the opportunity to photograph Olga Tokarczuk on an assignment for the New Yorker Magazine. On this assignment Tomasz worked with the medium format camera, Fujifilm GFX50R.
After the announcement we asked Tomasz for a short comment and here is what he told us:
“Life is a never-ending journey during which you never know who you will meet. Thanks to the New Yorker Magazine commission I had the pleasure of photographing writer Olga Tokarczuk, the Nobel Prize winner.” “To understand the person, you need dive into their realm and with this can come amazing ideas.”
You will find Tomasz’ article in the August issue of the Medium Format Magazine. We are pleased to report that Tomasz is working on another exclusive article which will be posted in the December issue of the Medium Format Magazine.
Phase One is known for its highly customisable camera systems offering the best available image quality and longevity. If there was one weakness in the current Phase One system it would be its weight, which should not come as a surprise given the quality of lenses and sophistication of the gear.
Despite the weight, many fine art landscape photographers travel and shoot with the Phase One XF system to achieve the highest quality capture and produce massive and highly detailed prints.
Today, Phase One has announced a brand-new camera system, the XT, designed exclusively for landscape photographers. The key features of this new system are the highest image quality, portability and “travel-friendly” design. Phase One has built this new system on the Phase One’s IQ4 Infinity Platform, fully integrated in this compact portable system.
The XT camera system has the latest 150MP “full frame medium format sensor,” which is 1.5x the size of crop sensor found in mirrorless medium format cameras. We recently had a chance to view large prints crafted from the same sensor and the level of detail was stunning.
The small, brand-new camera body is “the most compact digitally integrated field camera to date.” In its press release, Phase One cites fine art landscape photographer, Reuben Wu:
“I can easily fit the camera with two lenses in my small shoulder bag, and still barely feel like I am carrying anything.”
This could be a game-changer for those who want the best image quality available in the current market in such a small package.
To achieve this level of portability without compromising image quality, Phase One called on its partner, Rodenstock, the less known but highly respected producer of the highest quality lenses. “All lenses are fitted with Phase One’s new, digitally integrated, X-Shutter—an intelligently controlled electromagnetic shutter—born from Phase One’s industrial applications.” At the moment of this release, Phase One offers three lenses:
The XT – Rodenstock HR Digaron-S 23mm f/5.6
The XT – Rodenstock HR Digaron-W 32mm f/4
The XT – Rodenstock HR Digaron-W 70mm f/5.6
One of the most important features of the cooperation between Phase One and Rodenstock is 24mm of shift on both the X and Y axis. Phase One explains: “The shift movement allows the photographer to correct perspective distortion and create stitched images at a tremendous scale/resolution.” The XT camera body integrates the shift position in the image file for later reference.
Phase One emphasises the simplicity of use of the new system. The XT camera system is built to “obviate the steep learning curve of a technical camera.” We found this approach quite promising—something our Medium Format Magazine team will be eager to test and experience in the field. The same design logic prompted the Phase One design team to go with manual focus which “gives greatest control and precision—yet its operation is intuitive. The XT camera movements are simple due to large prominent dials. The image in Live View displays the results of a composition and focus in real time.”
We haven’t yet had a chance to test this new camera, but we found this product focused on landscape photography refreshing in an industry whose camera releases more often than not try to please everyone, resulting in confusion and gear that is difficult to operate. We believe that the future of high-end photography lies in specialized tools tailored to a well-defined audience. Once the XT system becomes available, our team at Medium Format Magazine will be delighted to test this new product and share our findings with you. This may well be the ultimate landscape photographer camera.
Look for our extended coverage of this release in the Medium Format Magazine including an exclusive interview with Drew Altdoerffer, product manager, and LauNorgaard, the chief visionary officer of Phase One.
Last year I had the opportunity to shoot with the original X1D for the first time. Even before I put my hands on the camera, I received a few emails warning me that the original X1D was slow, so not really useful on the street. Regardless, I took the X1D on the streets of Vancouver and…I really enjoyed shooting with it. Go figure!
The three reasons I liked shooting with the original X1D were portability, design and image quality. You can read about my findings here. When I describe a camera, I can’t be impersonal, nor do I pretend to be. I don’t trust reviews that pose as impartial or unbiased. Photography is an intimate, personal experience. I pick up a camera and find out if it complements my way of shooting and seeing. I connect with the camera or I don’t. It’s that simple. Therefore, my thoughts in this article are simply mine. Other members of the Medium Format Magazine may have different opinions. That’s fine.
When I heard that, during my trip to New York, I would be able to try (very briefly) the brand new X1D II 50C on the streets of New York I got excited. I was eager to find out how this new iteration of the camera compares to the original and whether it still matches my shooting style.
This is exactly where I must begin. I have been shooting, studying and teaching photography all around the world and one thing I have always been amazed by is how paranoid and fixated some of my students, and the internet in general, are about speed. I never understood this inclination to hurry. Sometimes it feels as though everyone is after pictures of hummingbirds racing each other on the Daytona racetrack. How strange! Especially so, when this narrative doesn’t match images posted on blogs and forums.
Yes, I understand there are some areas like sport or bird photography which require a certain functionality and speed, but for most types of photography even the slowest cameras are absolutely fine (being slow has its own benefits). For me, photography is a painfully slow craft requiring attentiveness, observation, creativity and articulate framing, including so-called street photography. Great imagery requires time, thought and patience, all in short supply in today’s world.
Maybe that’s why I enjoy shooting with medium format.
The moment I touched the new X1D II 50C I was glad it was exactly the same physical design as its predecessor. The size of the camera itself is something I really liked. The X1D II doesn’t feel like medium format camera at all. Even today, as the medium format market is evolving so drastically, the X1D II is still the smallest medium format camera on the market by far. You really want to pick it up and shoot with it.
All the materials and buttons are top quality. There is no doubt you are holding something expensive and special. The new graphite-grey exterior looks absolutely stunning. Once you wrap your fingers around the grip, the camera stays firmly in your hands. I am one of those people who dislike camera straps and the X1D II with its firm and comfortable grip is among the most comfortable to hold in the hands for hours.
As I navigated through the X1D II the next thing that caught my attention was the size of the LCD screen at the back. It is huge and bright. At 3.6-inch 2.36-million-dots this touch display feels so right on the medium format camera. You want to use it, review your imagery, interact with it. Strangely enough, despite its huge size the LCD doesn’t ruin the overall design but rather complements it.
Then naturally I press the “on” button and find the start-up time is definitely faster than the original X1D. No, it is not lightning fast by any means, but it is an improvement, to be precise, 46% faster according to Hasselblad. As I press buttons and play with settings, the entire experience feels so much faster and more fluid. The new processor certainly makes a difference.
Then I bring the camera up to my eye and a larger EVF is a welcome addition with 55% more pixels than its predecessor (1024×960 vs. 1024×768). I keep playing and notice that now I can fiddle with the menu system in the viewfinder.
THE STREETS OF NEW YORK
As we leave the Hasselblad headquarters, cloudy skies threatening rain await us. The X1D II 50c and I have only about two hours and that has to be enough, for now. As we start exploring the SOHO district, I first try to check the autofocus, which feels more accurate and faster. No, it is not a huge improvement, but it is enough for me to notice.
Out of the corner of my eye I see a young man smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk, so I approach him and ask for a portrait. He kindly agrees and I take a few portraits of him. Then we move on. As I walk by some store displays, I am attracted to reflections in the windows and try to align two visual dimensions with mixed results.
Then we continue until I notice a distinctive window with columns hugging it on both sides. I raise the X1D II to my eye and work on framing. What I really like is the large EVF with all the info displayed at the bottom in big clear letters without blocking the image.
I settle on very tight framing. With such a big LCD I am tempted to take a look, again. I quickly remind myself that I have very limited time and I need to know the camera better. Of course, this fiddling with new gear goes against my nature as I can see stills all around me—it is New York, after all.
So I start scrolling through the images I‘ve taken so far using the touch screen. I smile. I really fancy this big, bright screen. Then I dive into the menu system again and I like the new lettering and improved spacing. The X1D already had one of the nicest and cleanest menus in the industry. The combination of projected menus and real buttons on the right works really well. At this point, it is clear to me that Hasselblad approached the X1D II with the intention of not messing it up with things that worked but rather focusing on issues that needed their immediate attention.
Around the corner I look inside an artistic studio and I notice a statue of a woman bathed in gentle light, which that day was in short supply. What a pity, I quip. Regardless, I like the framework of the windows and I want to use it as a framing help. I totally forgot that my time with the X1D II was very limited and immerse myself in crafting this one image for far too long. I like the results, but I have to pick up the pace. How fitting, in the always hurried and busy New York.
At this point I decide to test the autofocus in action shots. The plain stage provided by a uniform wall should do. A few meters away I notice vapour escaping from a grate in the ground—that would be a nice addition, I reason with my inner self. I position myself so people would walk into my frame. The first character doesn’t fit well with my visual storyline. A few minutes later I see a distinctive gentleman walking firmly along taking big resolute steps. This gives me an opportunity to catch the action. I raise the camera to my eye, wait and press the shutter button at the exact moment. Eagerly I check the result on the screen and yes, my timing was right and so was the camera’s response. We are doing well.
Just then my watch sends me the warning that I have to head back to return the camera. I oblige. On the way back I see many more photo opportunities. I try to muster some optimism. I feel I am just starting. Both the X1D II and I are connecting and enjoying ourselves.
I reluctantly head back. Suddenly my camera turns off. How strange, I think. After all, it is the pre-production model and things often get interesting when working with pre-production versions, regardless of the brand. I quickly realize that isn’t it. I simply need to change the battery. Wait! Where is the replacement battery, which the folks at Hasselblad were so kind to prepare for me? I think and start sweating. It hits me hard. When we picked up the camera, I already had one large bag with me, so I left the Hasselblad bag with its replacement battery in the office. I can’t believe it.
Well, there is a price to pay for your own dizziness. Now I will be walking back for about an hour with the brand new X1D II 50C in my hands and unable to take a photo. Maybe a selfie? With my iPhone? No! Definite no!
At least I can gather my thoughts about the X1D II and the medium format market in general.
The first thing that comes to mind is the topic of pricing.
The new, improved model is priced at US$5,750 or EUR 5,000. This is massively less than the price of the first iteration of the camera. Clearly Hasselblad has positioned the X1D II as an entry model to the Hasselblad medium format world and not far from other medium format cameras in this price range. Given the same sensor and minor improvements, this was a natural move. It leaves space for one more product which would fit into the previous X1D spot and be priced around the US$10,000 mark. Well, let’s stop speculating.
Of course, the much lower price has angered some users, but this is a road toll we need to pay to ride this fast and exciting highway of medium format innovation. Who knew medium format would start invading the higher-end full frame offerings? Think about it! You pay slightly more and instead of a BMW 3, you get a Porsche 911! Not bad at all. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I talk to many photographers who own bags of full frame cameras and lenses and suddenly the elusive medium format has never been that close.
I have already written about the X1D II being the most portable medium format camera on the market. It appears that Hasselblad is working hard to complete the entire experience, finally. As someone who travels a lot, I always drag my MacBook with me. Yes, I tried many ways to bring just my iPad Pro with me but there was always some problem. No one has so far produced a wholesome travel solution where I could upload my RAW files to my iPad, process them and share them efficiently. Yes, Adobe is working on the iPad version of Lightroom, but it is not out yet.
After a brief encounter with the Hasselblad Phocus Mobile 2 I think that Hasselblad may be on the right track. I could import my RAW files directly to the iPad, process them and share without any fuss. I haven’t had enough time to play with the software so I cannot say how well it works but I liked the simple and intuitive user interface and it appears that the RAW files, despite their size, were transferring quickly.
Of course, it is logical to assume that a medium format camera so small and portable would be a global travel companion and I think that matches this philosophy with built-in GPS.
All right, my short but eventful adventure with the X1D II 50C is over. I really enjoyed the camera and I am looking forward to shooting the final production version soon. This time I will make sure to have more time and pack an extra battery. Speaking of batteries, despite the new processor, larger screen and overall improvements, Hasselblad says the battery life should stay roughly the same. Not bad at all.
We finally got back after an adventurous time with the Hasselblad X1D II 50C. After returning the camera, we headed for a cup of coffee. As we took pleasant window seats in a corner cafe and started chatting about the camera, the sun peeked out of the clouds, hugging the streets with beautiful light. I could easily have got upset but strangely I didn’t. Out of nowhere I started reciting the words to Sting’s song “Englishman In New York.” What a strange day indeed.
The Medium Format Magazine will have extensive and exclusive coverage of the camera from every possible angle by our contributors and staff. We will share our findings and provide you with analysis of the medium format market, following this important release.
For those of you who are already shooting medium format or considering buying their first medium format camera, we invite you to subscribe and get immediate access to the latest and all past issues of the Medium Format Magazine and highly regarded PDF Exclusives publications.
There is no question that many Hasselblad X1D-series users long for a zoom lens to complement the system. Just announced, the zoom lens promises to deliver performance-matching prime lenses. Per Nordlund, Hasselblad lead optical designer, said: “This really is the best lens Hasselblad has developed —its performance is extremely high, competing with our prime lenses. I can even go so far as to say that it’s probably the best zoom lens currently available on the market.” Hasselblad points out the quick autofocus and internal focusing, which keeps the lens’ dimensions constant. Here is the link to the official announcement. We will bring you more information, including a full review of this lens, once it becomes available.
You will find the full press release and more information on Hasseblad.com
The Medium Format Magazine will also have extensive and exclusive coverage of the lens from every possible angle by our contributors. We will share our findings and provide you with analysis of the medium format market, following this important release.
For those of you who are already shooting medium format or considering buying your first medium format camera, we invite you to subscribe and get immediate access to the latest and all past issues of the Medium Format Magazine and highly regarded PDF Exclusive publications.