One camera to rule them all


My latest camera purchase – Hasselblad H1

I’ve made a major change in my camera gear. It’s something that I’d been thinking about for a while. And no, I haven’t gone digital

The problem is that I had too many cameras – or to be more precise – too many camera systems:

  • Hasselblad V System
  • Olympus OM
  • Contax G (because I do find autofocus handy on occasion)
  • Olympus digital which I need for work

(and we won’t mention the large format gear and sundry other 35mm and medium format cameras…)

So I typically I was carrying four camera bags in the boot of my car, and since I don’t like leaving cameras in the car overnight, four bags that I had to carry from car to house and back again each day.

So I started thinking: wouldn’t it be good to have one camera that can fulfil the role of all four systems

  • A camera that would be good for landscapes and seascapes and would be good to use on a tripod
  • A camera that could be taken off the tripod and used in auto mode hand held if required
  • A camera that could be easily manually focused or with auto focus
  • A camera that could shoot film or digital with interchangeable backs

There aren’t many cameras that can meet all those criteria:

  • Contax 645
  • Mamiya AFD
  • Hasselblad H
  • Rollei Hy6

The Contax 645 is tempting but it’s expensive and is no longer supported, so it could easily become a very expensive paperweight.

The Rollei would probably be ideal for me, especially since it is the only one of the four that shoots 6×6, but the cameras a relatively rare and expensive.

So that leaves the Mamiya and Hasselblad, and the decision between those two is a tough choice. In the end I plumped for the Hasselblad, mostly because the viewfinder of the H system cameras is removable and because I had a sneaky feeling that if I went for the Mamiya I’d always be wondering whether I should have gone for the Hasselblad.

So…I bought an H1 with a Phase One P25 back on Ebay. I also bought an HC 80mm lens and three film backs. And I added 50mm and 150mm HC lenses.

I decided to try the H1 for a month or two and then decide whether to keep the H1 and sell most of my other camera gear, or sell the H1.

And the verdict is… I still have the H1 and a large part of my other gear, including my Hasselblad V System is on Ebay. The Contax G stuff and some of the Olympus digital has already gone.

And I really do now carry only one camera bag – quite a heavy one, granted, but no heavier than the one that contained my V System gear.

Will the H1 fulfill all of my camera needs? No, it’s not the lightest to carry, nor the quietest in operation, so I’ll still keep my Mju II and Olympus rangefinder. And I’ll hang on to at least one OM body for when I need more extreme focal lengths than the HC lenses I currently have. I don’t plan on getting any more lenses for the moment, although I might get a 1.7 converter to make the 150/3.2 into a 250/5.6.

But otherwise the H1 is just about perfect for most of my shooting. As an example, over the last week I shot…

On Saturday – The Isle of Fire Festival at Barry Island…


Isle of Fire, Barry  (H1, 150mm, Fuji Provia 100F @ 400)

On Sunday Llantwit Major Beach…


Llantwit Major (H1, 50mm, Velvia 50)

On Monday – the Royal Welsh Show…


Royal Welsh Show (H1, 150mm, Fuji Provia 100F @ 400)

On Tuesday a wild flower meadow…


Wild flower meadow (H1, 80mm & 52mm extension tube, Fuji Pro 400H)

On Wednesday a couple on their 65th wedding anniversary


65th anniversary (H1, 80mm, Ilford Delta 400 @ 800)

Now previously that would have involved several different cameras.
The Isle of Fire would probably have been the OM-4ti
Llantwit Major would have been the Hasselblad 500EL/M
The Royal Welsh Show would probably have been the OM-4ti
The Wild Flower Meadow would also have probably been the OM-4ti
The 65th wedding anniversary would probably have been the Contax G1 & Olympus digital
But instead of four different cameras I used just one – the H1. (I did also use the Mju II at the Royal Welsh.)

So…thus far the H1 has done exactly what I hoped it would do, allow me to concentrate on just one camera.


About cariadus

Photography addict. Film shooter.

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