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What camera did ernst haas use?

Ernst Haas was an iconic Austrian-American photographer known for his innovative color photography. He was a pioneer in using color film in a time when black and white photography was the overwhelming norm. Haas helped elevate color photography to an art form and brought a new visual aesthetic to the medium.

Throughout his prolific career, Haas worked with a variety of camera equipment. He was not beholden to any single brand and embraced both professional medium format systems as well as smaller 35mm cameras. By examining Haas’ body of work and writing, we can piece together the various camera systems he utilized during different periods of his career.

Haas’ Early Photography

Haas first began taking photographs in the late 1940s using a Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera. This type of camera was popular for itsportability, ease of use, and high quality images. The Rolleiflex utilized 120 medium format film and allowed Haas to begin developing his photographic vision while learning the technical aspects of the medium.

In the early 1950s, Haas switched to using a Hasselblad 500C, which also shot medium format images on 120 film. However, the Hasselblad provided additional features and flexibility suited to Haas’ evolving style. The interchangeable lens design and reflex viewing system enabled Haas to more swiftly respond and adjust to his photographic subjects compared to the Rolleiflex.

The Hasselblad 500C remained Haas primary camera for much of his most iconic color work produced in the 1950s and early 1960s. The square 6x6cm medium format images provided excellent resolution and a wide tonal range to capture the subtle nuances of color and light he was exploring.

Adoption of 35mm Cameras

In the 1960s, Haas started incorporating the use of 35mm cameras into his work, particularly the Leica M3. The Leica allowed Haas to work more spontaneously and discretely compared to the bulkier Hasselblad. It enabled him to capture fast paced subjects and ephemeral moments that medium format systems had difficulty with.

Haas took advantage of the mobility and rapid shooting of the Leica to produce innovative street photography in color. While he still relied on the Hasselblad for his commissioned work, the addition of the 35mm Leica opened new directions in his candid documentary images. Haas enjoyed the ability to take the compact Leica anywhere and be ready to shoot at a moment’s notice.

Some other 35mm cameras Haas utilized included the Nikon F and the Zeiss Contax rangefinders. However, the Leica M system remained his primary 35mm camera for the majority of his career. Even as other brands offered technological innovations, Haas appreciated the Leica’s optical quality, reliability, and simplistic control layout.

Shift to Electronics and Automation

In the 1970s, Haas began incorporating early electronic 35mm SLR cameras into his workflow, particularly models by Nikon. These cameras offered through-the-lens metering and other semi-automatic modes that streamlined some aspects of the exposure process. Models like the Nikon F2 enabled Haas to work quicker and be more reactive in fast paced assignments compared to fully manual cameras.

However, Haas still relied frequently on his completely manual Leica rangefinders for their optical brilliance and unobtrusive size. He tended to use the electronic SLR models mainly when shooting conditions required very precise exposure metering. The automation was simply another tool for certain scenarios, rather than the basis of his style.

By the 1980s, auto-focus SLR models were coming to market, but there is little evidence Haas adopted these cameras before the end of his career. He seemingly remained focused on the manual control and flexibility of his Leica rangefinders as his primary tools, along with occasional use of other brands like Hasselblad, Rollei, and Nikon as needed.

Late Career and Legacy

Throughout his long career, Ernst Haas was able to remain flexible and take advantage of improvements in camera technology while retaining his own photographic vision. He blended different formats, brands, and features to best suit his needs for any given shoot. While the Hasselblad 500C and Leica M3 were his workhorse cameras, he wasn’t afraid to experiment as the market evolved.

Haas left behind a legacy as a photographer who mastered both 35mm and medium format disciplines while pushing color photography into the fine art realm. The unique perspective of his work stemmed from his eye, imagination, and technique – not dependence on any single camera manufacturer. While he utilized several brands, Haas transcended the equipment to create images that resonated emotionally and aesthetically. His technical skill allowed him to maximize the results from any camera system and integrate new solutions without losing his style and identity.

Notable Cameras Used by Ernst Haas:

Camera Model Format Notable Features
Rolleiflex Automat Medium Format (Twin Lens Reflex) – Compact, portable design
– 120 film
– Sharp Carl Zeiss optics
Hasselblad 500C Medium Format (Single Lens Reflex) – Interchangeable lenses
– Reflex viewing
– Reliable focal plane shutter
Leica M3 35mm Rangefinder – Compact, discreet
– Fast quiet cloth focal shutter
– Excellent optics
Nikon F 35mm SLR – Mechanical reliability
– Robust durable construction
– Interchangeable finders and screens
Nikon F2 35mm SLR – Through-the lens metering
– Wide range of lenses
– Fast operation


Throughout his career, Ernst Haas utilized a range of camera systems from Rolleiflex, Hasselblad, Leica, Nikon, and other brands. He took advantage of medium format and 35mm options to suit varied assignments and creative goals. While Haas became adept with each system he used, the Hasselblad 500C and Leica M3 appear to have been his primary cameras for the majority of his iconic color work. However, he maintained flexibility and integrated improvements in technology without compromising his vision and photographic style. Haas was able to create masterful images across multiple decades by adapting gear to fit his needs rather than being constrained by one particular brand or format. His technical skill and imagination is what defined his output, with the camera as simply a tool for capturing his unique perspective.