• 2013 Rocky Mountain Audiofest Analog Style


    This year I covered RMAF a bit differently than I have in previous years. Rather than use a digital camera I used my medium format Hasselblad 503CW camera with a 120 film back (Ilford Delta 400 B&W file) and 80mm Hasselblad / Zeiss lens. Readers unfamiliar with medium format 120 film rolls should note that each roll contains only 12 shots. After these 12 shots are taken the camera back must be removed and a new roll of film must be loaded. In addition to this very manual process, the camera has no autofocus or built-in light meter. Before snapping each photo a light meter must be used to identify the correct aperture and shutter speed for the film in use. Once the meter reading is done the camera lens must be set to the correct values for the specific shot, then the camera must be leveled on the tripod, before depressing the cable release to take the photo. Then, it's off to another room to start the whole process over again. There are some intermediate steps but the basic point should be understood, this is not a typical show coverage camera. Fortunately I had a blast using this medium format system. Knowing that each shot is one of twelve one a roll and that I couldn't shoot until I get the shot made me focus much more on what's important. Limiting myself made me think about each photograph critically before setting down my tripod. I was a bit rusty shooting with this system as I usually cover shows with my Lumix DMA-GH2 digital camera. The final results turned out OK. I screwed up several shots. I even took several photos in the Ayre Acoustics room before loading the film properly. Once I figured this out it was too late. Oh well, the experience and conversations I had with people surrounding the use of a Hasselblad for show coverage made it worth the extra effort. I hope CA readers find something enjoyable about the photos as well.



















    Medium Format System

    Camera: Hasselblad 503CW
    Lens: Hasselblad / Zeiss CFE 80mm f2.8
    Film: Ilford Delta 400 Professional
    Light Meter: Sekonic Dualmaster L-558R




















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    Rooms in order of appearance in photos.
    Photos 1-5 Wilson Audio, VTL, dCS, Transparent Cable
    Photos 6-8 TAD Labs, Blue Smoke
    Photos 9,10 McIntosh Labs
    Photos 11-13 Wilson Audio, VTL, dCS, Transparent Cable
    Photos 14-17 Peachtree Audio, Zu Audio, AudioQuest Cable
    Photos 18-21 Bel Canto, TAD Labs
    Photo 22 B&W, Moon Audio
    Photos 23, 24 Ayre Acoustics
    Photos 25-27 Fine Sounds (Audio Research, Sonus Faber, Wadia), Nordost Cable
    Photos 28-30 EMM Labs, Meitner, Sony, Kimber Cable










    Comments 43 Comments
    1. JeffH's Avatar
      JeffH -
      Those pictures look great!
    1. Simon M.'s Avatar
      Simon M. -
      Chris,

      As soon as I saw you tweet that you were using the hassy for show coverage I was stoked. There is just something about a large square negative (especially in monochrome) that gets an emotional response from me. Needless to say you did not disappoint - wonderful images that really go a long way to showcase the equipment and more importantly for me - the vibe each manufacturers room had (e.g. Wilson feels very formal, while the Ayre room is more rebellious teenager).

      Great work and well worth the wait. Now how about sharing some of the images that "didn't quite work out" ;-)

      Cheers,
      Simon
    1. souptin's Avatar
      souptin -
      Damn, those are nice. Overcome with nostalgia now.

      Did you process and scan the film yourself. What chemistry?

      One thing I don't miss about film is the scanning and almost inevitable retouching of tiny (and not so tiny) hairs and other processing marks. In that sense digital is a godsend, and a big step up from the previous generation's combination of C41 film and point-and-shoot cameras. But classic cameras and b&w film still have magic. Also, of course, the way you have to either slow down the picture taking process, or learn to anticipate, gives better composed shots, no contest.
    1. AudioDoctor's Avatar
      AudioDoctor -
      very cool idea Chris! I like it.

      The size of the Zu Submission sub is staggering.
    1. scottsol's Avatar
      scottsol -
      Very low color saturation.
    1. thm655321's Avatar
      thm655321 -
      I use a 1950s Voightlander medium format camera that I inherited, love it.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by scottsol View Post
      Very low color saturation.
      Ha!
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by souptin View Post
      Damn, those are nice. Overcome with nostalgia now.

      Did you process and scan the film yourself. What chemistry?

      One thing I don't miss about film is the scanning and almost inevitable retouching of tiny (and not so tiny) hairs and other processing marks. In that sense digital is a godsend, and a big step up from the previous generation's combination of C41 film and point-and-shoot cameras. But classic cameras and b&w film still have magic. Also, of course, the way you have to either slow down the picture taking process, or learn to anticipate, gives better composed shots, no contest.
      I had Dwayne's photo proccess, print, and scan the film. The scans aren't the highest quality but I'm happy for the most part. Nobody here in Minneapolis processes 120 film anymore.
    1. wgscott's Avatar
      wgscott -
      The Black series is a completely new approach to digital audio and as we said earlier is a cost no object product line, and as such, if you have to ask, you can not afford it! Pricing has yet to be set in concrete, but from what we have been told, expect it to cost in the vicinity of a fully spec'd Mercedes A250 for the complete setup!
      Dang. I shoulda stayed in Med school.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
      Dang. I shoulda stayed in Med school.
      I was told $50,000 by Bel Canto.
    1. wgscott's Avatar
      wgscott -
      Did you get to listen to it? Since you are a homie, do you get a free sample?
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
      Did you get to listen to it? Since you are a homie, do you get a free sample?
      Sounded terrific. No free samples :~(
    1. tne's Avatar
      tne -
      very cool photos!
      i am now so spoiled with my Nikon digital with 32Gb storage, not to mention my iPhone, i had forgotten the joys of B&W file photography.
    1. zerung's Avatar
      zerung -
      Chris,
      This is wonderful!
      Please do note you can also use the 24 roll one with a different magazine (Which you already know),
      As a spoil sport I would also add that Velvia would have been extra sweet.
      Lastly when you win the jackpot, a digital back would be wonderful . Perhaps one that is tube rectified ;-).
    1. Audio_ELF's Avatar
      Audio_ELF -
      Am I allowed to be descenting with my view...

      While the photos are nice; I feel you have missed an opportunity. I was expecting some artistic type shots, ultra-short depth of field, more unusual angles and close ups. The only thing of interest is picture 24 ("Charlie's Records") and perhaps 19 (the second BelCanto "Black" image) shows some promise. Nothing else there is any more interesting than could be achieved with a CSC or DSLR.

      At the end of the day I'm sorry but I would have to give you a "could have done better". That's not to say the photos are bad, but nothing there suggests (to me) it was anything more than a vanity exercise in taking a Hasselblad to an audio show in preference to the more usual camera choice. The only real reason for using something like a Hasselblad for this "assignment" is to get you to slow down and think differently; to my mind you've not achieved anything different in your photography. Perhaps some use of Photoshop is called for...

      Eloise
    1. KDinsmore's Avatar
      KDinsmore -
      Black and White baby!! Love it and miss the analog shots!
    1. james45974's Avatar
      james45974 -
      I guess I would echo Eloise and at the risk of crossing the line from questioning to snarky, Where's the Beef?

      Wasn't RMAF an audio show? Here we are almost 3 weeks after the show and we get a photography article on an audiophile website?

      Chris, you were shooting straight when you stated that you covered the show differently!
    1. Audio_ELF's Avatar
      Audio_ELF -
      Just to add to (and maybe clarify) my comment above..,

      I guess I was expecting some "HiFi as visual art" type images.
    1. souptin's Avatar
      souptin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Audio_ELF View Post
      Just to add to (and maybe clarify) my comment above..,

      I guess I was expecting some "HiFi as visual art" type images.
      Awww, c'mon - gie the man a break! First attempt and already you're expecting the Helmut Newton of speaker porn "Show me those grilles, baby. Mmmm yeah I like that! Work the LEDs for me, oooohhhh yes!"

      There's often a trade off between arty or experimental shots and documentary ones. You definitely need the latter to properly cover an event, but of course the former add the intangibles. One technique, if it's a multi day event, would be to shoot the first day digitally, then plan the second day's (more adventurous) shots based on these. I remember having a photographer's diary that would let you calculate the position of the sun so as to be in the right places for the lighting you wanted (not so relevant here, except for where the sun is streaming in through the windows).

      ps, I like the Bel Canto "Black" images the best too. Although I prefer the one where the background is out of focus.
    1. Audio_ELF's Avatar
      Audio_ELF -
      Quote Originally Posted by souptin View Post
      Awww, c'mon - gie the man a break! First attempt and already you're expecting the Helmut Newton of speaker porn "Show me those grilles, baby. Mmmm yeah I like that! Work the LEDs for me, oooohhhh yes!"
      He should have just made 4 copies of the image in different primary colours...

      There's often a trade off between arty or experimental shots and documentary ones. You definitely need the latter to properly cover an event, but of course the former add the intangibles.
      I guess that's kind of my point ... Being critical I would say that Chris' photos (in the main) have failed to be either arty/experimental or documentary.

      Anyway I'm probably just getting carried away with my red ink... Blame it on being grumpy and ill.

      Eloise