The recently acquired pristine Hasselblad C 500, picture taken with the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H3.
We hope you appreciate our pictures on the website. We like to share with you, dear reader, our experiences in photographing cars, and how we make the photographs you see here on the site.
As you may have noticed, we always prefer to shoot our (test) cars in a natural, if possible neutral background. A car should stand on its own, and the background should never distract. We also like the contrast between technical man-made shapes of a car and eternal, largely unspoilt nature. Wide angle shots are made, but sparingly so, to avoid too much distortion. We also like to make close-ups of the details and different features of the car, so that you get the impression, as a reader, that merely by looking at the pictures, that you “drive” the car, or at least get a visual “feel” of it. the unique character of a car is usually best revealed in the details.
We will also comment on the cameras and equipment we used in taking the pictures. This feature is actually a beginning of a series, where we will present some new camera models, equipment and techniques in regular intervals.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The workhorse: the Canon 300D with standard lens and battery grip for battery stamina and extra sturdiness... picture taken with the Canon 350 D.
Digital or film?
Of course, as you may expect, we revert mostly to digital photography. But we haven’t thrown away our analogue cameras, nostalgic buffs as we are. There are always good film scanners around, and we have thousands of slides and colour and black and white negatives of historic cars photographed over the years, and they are brought digitally alive again with our Minolta Dimage Scan Elite S400.
A Canon 300 D workhorse…
But let us tell you more about the equipment we use. Most of the photos you see on the site so far have been made by our “workhorse”, the 300 D Canon with the standard 18-55 mm lens. The camera has made over the years thousands of shots, and basically never misses a beat. The autofocus mode of the camera is rather slow, and one has to be patient and careful when focusing. It is also rather sluggish to start up when switched on, the modern cameras being much better on this respect. Our model also has a tendency to overexpose in the portrait position, and pressing the shutter button several times to measure exposure helps the camera to get a (second or third) better reading and achieve better results.
The body has received two years ago a battery grip BG-E1, which we bought secondhand from an astronomy photographer who needed the extra battery power for longer (night) exposures. It makes the camera sturdier, easier to handle and the extra battery power is quite useful. Until now, we never found a proper original sun hood for the standard lens, which is annoying indeed. No dealer seems to have them in stock and they are apparently virtually impossible to get, which we fail to understand for a lens which is sold in such large quantities.
The Canon 350 D; picture taken with Sony Cyber-Shot
When we are going on assignments to museums, or drive unique historic cars, we use a black Canon 350 D, with the 17-85 mm EF-S lens, 1:4-5.6. This lens has a macro mode and an image stabilizer. The body has none of the drawbacks of the 300 D. It focuses more accurately and faster, and the exposure is correct most of the time.
We say most of the time, as getting the correct exposure is much more critical in digital than in film photography. It pays to bracket exposure in difficult lighting conditions. We hardly use the “auto” modes, virtually always “P” or Manual modes. We bought the 350 D right away with the battery grip BG-E3, for easier handling and battery power. We have also purchased the 550 EX Speedlite flash with it.
The Nikon D100, picture taken with the Sony Cyber-Shot
Then comes a Nikon D100, with a superb 17-35 mm lens, and Speedlight SB-50 DX. This camera is also used for picture sessions of classic cars. We also have the F100 Nikon, when we feel like using film, and using the full potential of the lens for that “special occasion”.
Small but beautiful…
The Sony Cyber-Shot, looking "professional" with the large sun hood. Picture taken with the Canon 350 D.
A torn leg muscle learnt us the limitations of walking around with bigger cameras, especially when one had to use crutches for while. So we picked out a smaller camera, carefully choosing a quality Zeiss lens. We chose the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H3, which is equipped with a Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar 3.5-4.4 6.3 to 63 mm lens, and sports 8.1 megapixels definition. This camera is quite extensively used lately, and some of the pictures of the Fiat 500 have been shot with this camera. Also the pictures of the infra red screen on the CL 500 have been made with it, as are the pictures of the interviews with the designers. We use it with “vivid colour” settings for the web photos and choose also somewhat more sharpness, and it has an excellent close focus.
The Sony Cyber-Shot with its lens shade unscrewed, picture taken with the Canon 350 D.
The lens is also of the Super Steadyshot type, and indeed quite good pictures can be made at slower shutter speeds. Actually, the photos of the other cameras in our first photography report have been shot using the small Sony Cyber-Shot. The shooting and setup menu is initially somewhat cumbersome, but once you get used to it, you can really play around with this Sony. One can set focus mode, light measuring mode, colour correction, sharpness, bracketing modes, film speed, just to name the most important. One drawback is that when manipulating the camera in frantic action one can easily inadvertently touch the setup buttons at the back, and change these settings when you do not want this…
The larger screen of the Sony has a lot of information if you wish, but quality is not outstanding. The setup buttons at the back can be triggered inadvertently... picture taken with the Canon 350 D.
This smaller camera has of course its limitations in noise and colour balance at higher ISO speed settings, and one is advised not to go higher than 400 ASA, but then again, the shots for the screen of the CL 500 and the truck in the headlights of the Mercedes were shot at an 1600 ASA setting… with Photoshop colour corrections added later on.
One nice item is the large screw on lens shade hood, which protects the very good Zeiss lens from moisture, dust and shocks, which makes the camera much less compact but more “professional” looking. The large hood rim prohibits any use of the powerful built-in flash, so for flash pictures one has to unscrew the hood, making the camera again much more compact…
The pristine Hasselblad, picture taken with the Sony.
Yes, we always wanted this camera, as we do believe in large format for these “eternal” pictures, having already two Mamya 645’s, one with the grip and exposure meter and 55 mm lens, one “classic” body with the 80 mm lens.
The Mamya 645, which has been with us for many years. Photo taken with the Sony.
But recently they have the company of an immaculate and pristine 500 C Hasselblad, which has been overhauled completely. We will report on this camera later on, and share with you on the site the pictures made with this absolute gem… and as promised, we will also present, comment and show the photos made with new and recently launched cameras… which you will see “in action!”
Hans Knol ten Bensel
A superb Nikon 17-35 mm lens on the D100 for those special pictures...
As is the Zeiss lens of the Hasselblad...
Both pictures taken with the Sony Cyber-Shot