[by Michael Clark]
Over the last year, I have been testing out a wide variety of digital cameras, everything from the latest and greatest mirrorless offerings to top-end DSLRs to high-end, super expensive digital medium format cameras. I don’t see a new camera as something that will revolutionize my photography necessarily, but I was looking to add another option to my existing kit – one that I could use to push my photography to another level. At the end of 2015, I purchased a Hasselblad digital medium format system and four H series medium format lenses.
Purchasing a medium format digital system may seem like a crazy thing to do in the current climate, especially for an adventure sports photographer. But, in my tests last year, I was not inspired in any way by the mirrorless options, while the Hasselblad system inspired me in a way that I have not felt since I bought my last Hasselblad setup back in the film days. This new system has me working up all kinds of new concepts and portfolio shoots that I would never pursue were it not for this new camera. I am figuring out ways to use this camera to create very unique images. And, I am also inspired by this system because I have sunk so much money into it that I have to make it pay.
While everyone else seems to be jumping on the mirrorless bandwagon, after doing some math I realized that while full-frame mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter, once you add the weight of the extra batteries needed to equalize the systems, the weight is pretty much the same and the autofocus in the mirrorless cameras I tried wasn’t up to par with my current DSLRs. While it is always fun to acquire new gear, I just couldn’t see how a mirrorless setup would be any better than what I have currently for the type of subject matter I normally shoot. Please note: I am not trying to start a flame war here about different camera formats. Rather, I am trying to give a little background to my thinking and why I went for a much more expensive option.
One thing I love about the Hasselblad – and this was true for my old Hasselblad and all of the other medium format cameras I have worked with over the course of my career – is how it forces one to slow down and carefully consider the images created. There were many other factors that influenced my decision as well, including: the image quality, the flash sync speeds, the sharpness from edge-to-edge, the perception created when I pull this camera out on big assignments, and my current clients’ needs. I know for most this will sound like a ludicrous decision and financial folly, but my last Strictly Business blog post entitled, Standing Out, exemplifies a big part of my thinking on this decision.
How do you stand out in a crowded industry? We are all trying to figure this out. I still believe that creating amazing images will help a photographer to stand out and succeed. Purchasing a camera is not going to make one stand out. But, if it that equipment inspires hard work and new creativity, how much is that inspiration worth? The future will have the final word on whether or not this was a smart decision, but for now, I am beyond excited to have a stellar new tool, which is helping – and pushing – me to create new and exciting images.
Michael Clark is an internationally published adventure photographer and author. For more stories and inspiration check out his Newsletter, which is a quarterly magazine that goes out to over 6,000 photographers and clients. He also recently published an updated version of his e-book, A Professional Photographer’s Workflow: Using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, which can be purchased on his website. See more of Michael’s work at www.michaelclarkphoto.com.