First Rolls | Hasselblad 55 Extension Tube | Marc Nagainis

I have a theory about hunting for used cameras, wherein the closer you get to that payment sweetspot, the more you will love that camera.  I’m frugal (ask my wife) so most of my purchases will tend to be low cost and high return. For me, it's not the kill, but the thrill of the chase.  I’m also not a collector, I’m a user and I shoot everyday. None of my cameras sit on a shelf and look pretty, although some don't get used anywhere near as much as they should.  I process all my own film at home, and scan to digital with an Epson v550. I have a B&W darkroom in the basement that will someday get the love it deserves. 

55/150 combo

55/150 combo

 

Acquiring a set of Hasselblad extension tubes for my 500 c/m was pretty high on my list of wanted accessories as I thought doing some macro work with my Hassy would be a fun and rewarding challenge.. I was looking on a semi-ongoing basis, biding my time till the correct item came my way, at the correct price. I found an advert on my local Kijiji (Canadian Craigslist) for a 55mm tube, a bellows and a winding knob, and was able to negotiate the kit for $40 CDN.  SOLD!  

55/150 combo

55/150 combo

 

 

 

 

 

I first tried the tube with my 80mm lens.  Whilst this did get me the macro I was after, the 10cm / 5 inch  lens end to subject distance and the couple of millimeter thin depth of field was an impractical combo in the field.  I could easily use this at home, on a tripod with a fast shutter speed, but in the real world , hand held, it was just not practical.

55/150 combo

55/150 combo

I swapped out the 80mm for my 150 F4.  Wow.  It seemed like the tube and the lens were made for each other.  They practically sang as I snapped them together.  My depth of field is a much more manageable 1-2 cm / 1 inch and my lens end to subject distance is about 30 - 40 cm / 18 inches.  Nirvana for those times when I try to capture bees and wasps (I did mention my irrational fear of bees and wasps?  No?  ‘Nuff said).  

I lose a totally unscientific .5 to 1 stop of light with the tube, and will usually adjust my shutter speed to compensate.  I try to keep the aperture at F8.  There are online calculators to help you out with your exposure but you know, math.  Amirite? Just wing it…  For me, my photography is about feel and intuition and some good luck.  I’m so not a pro.

55/150 combo, with backing paper bleed.

55/150 combo, with backing paper bleed.

I’m still on the hunt to pick up the rest of the tube set or at least the 21mm.  The tubes can be stacked, I imagine i’ll lose the full stop or better of light, but man, the 150 lens should just sing.

Bottom line, these tubes can be a great addition to your photographic kit and provide a new avenue to explore with medium format macro work.  I was a devoted street shooter even with the Hassy, but I’ve declared this past summer (2016) my Summer of Medium Format Macro and E-6.


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Film photographer Marc Nagainis is based in Canada.  You can see more of his work on his website .