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New kit for Ansel Adams


Active Member
Writing about the much underrated 250 lens brought up a crazy idea.
What would Ansel Adams have used if he was still around in these days of digital power?

Would he have fallen for the H series?
Would he have kept his V series lenses and bodies?
A pity that we will never know.
But a nice subject to speculate about what he would have selected.
I guess an H camera with 50Mp sensor and the new HTS adapter would have made quite an impression on Mr. Adams.
Ansel Adams was by no means addicted to LF cameras although he used them quite often.

He was also a keen user of Hasselblad cameras ever since he got the first 1600F to try.

I could not find confirmation for something that came up from memory.
The famous Half Dome picture was made with a 250 mm lens.
Mr. Adams even mentioned he could not have made that picture without the 250 Sonnar.

Would Mr. Adams have gone digital and if so what would he have chosen?
cool! i guess the legend comes from the so-called f/64 group..

on the other hand, you are right the compression on some of his images is quite obvious, so you need like a 1.000mm on a 10x8? heheh no way jose...
Hello Terry,

You are a serious candidate for the post of forums historian!
Thank you for the link and the information it gives.
I do not know about copying the page but to avoid a problem with copy right I will leave it to readers to use the link.

I remember distinctly that Mr. Adams mentioned he could not have made this photograph without the 250 lens.
Being 1960 the camera must have been a 500C with a silver 250 Sonnar lens.
I just sold a 250 in silver to an owner of a 500C in Italy. What a coincidence.

AA said in 'Examples:The Making of 40 Photographs' that after becoming fluent with the Hasselblad that many of his best images have been made with iit. pp 134.

Elsewhere I've recall he wrote that the developments in film quality would enable him to use Hasselblad V cameras as his only kit.

Film is still an important material for many art photographers and for AA the silver print was paramount. Like my other favourite, Michael Kenna, AA would, without doubt, still be using Hasselblad V cameras, IMHO. :)

What's John Sexton using today, I wonder?
Hi Gary,

It seems I will have to do some more reading on the subject.
Thanks for pointing out the book: The making of 40 photographs.

Going back to the roots of landscape photography is quite useful in these days of digital power.
Ansel Adams did not object to new developments considering his comment on Hasselblad cameras in view of new films becoming available.

Still I wonder would he have made the switch to digital or not?

Hi Gary,
Ansel Adams did not object to new developments considering his comment on Hasselblad cameras in view of new films becoming available.

Still I wonder would he have made the switch to digital or not?

Without doubt he was progressive and digital would have been acceptable to him at some point and that point would be defined when the print produced from a digital source is superior than from a film source.

His standards were high, set by the results from 5x4 and 10x8 with older films and the Hasselblad with modern slow/medium films. From what I read, as I'm personally limited to 16 mpix, about the big chips, crop factors, edge distortions, fringing, his major digital camera purchase would be on hold. As Kenna says, "why bother". These guys want permanent images on silver paper as personal artistic statements.

Bearing in mind that time and deadlines were not a major concern for him, the product was everything and the convenience of digital would carry little weight except for confirming an exposure, perhaps. We, ie me, adopt convenience and settle for second rate results because my stuff ain't good enough to warrant the effort.

I have a friend,, who uses an MPP and a single 150mm lens to produce art - "what else do I need apart from film?". He might not even need film ..... eg he cut's up a scratched plastic Coke bottle off the beach into a 4x5 and flattens it, selects a bucket of sea water based on the salt crystal patterns, dries it and sticks it in his enlarger to use as a negative. Prints it big and sells them to companies for Board Room decoration.

...... just chewing the cud here ....
I have seen some amazing prints from high end digital files.
Those results made me wonder what users of LF would choose.
As it stands 8x10 is still ahead of anything digital now available.

I agree convenience and faster processing would not have been of interest to Ansel Adams.