Looking for buying advice for Hasselblad

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campy51

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I have always wanted one and now I can't get it out of my head. I have been looking for one in my price range of $850 but most are more. What should I be checking if I do find one? Should I stay away from the 500C?
 

removed account4

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hi campy51 ...
i can't really answer your questions about the 500C but ive been reading and watching we-tube vidz about
MF cameras the past couple of months. it seems, if you can afford the extra BULK
the EL series is affordable as long as you get the battery thing figured out.
it might be the lenses that put you under ...

im guessing mr s.glass might have more / better information for you.
good luck !
 

Dennis-B

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I just traded for a 500 C/M (ca 1973), with an 80mm f2.8 lens (ca 1968). It had been CLA'd by a local company, and it's in as mint condition as I could hope. I also found a PM45 finder, since I'm not a fan of waist-level finders. I meter with a Pentax digital spot. Everything works perfectly. The serial numbers match on the film back, so it's a pretty good find. If I could change one thing, it would be for the newer C/F (black) lenses. Not a great deal of difference in the two, but more a personal preference.

I passed on a couple of C models. The C/M's have interchangeable focus screens, while the C's don't. However, late in the C production, Hasselblad actually changed the body to accept interchangeable screens, so it's more a C/M than a C. The C/M also has a mirror lock-up, which the C lacks.

I already own a Mamiya C330s, so I'm used to shooting 6x6. If you haven't used a Hasselblad, get used to a bit more noise; they're not nearly as quiet as a DSLR. However, it's quieter than my Mamiya RZ67.

The optics are superb. When you scan the negs or transparencies, you get an idea of the optical quality.
 

jim10219

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I got rid of mine. I loved how light the hasselblad was. Also, the lenses were terrific. However, I just couldn’t jive with their unreliability. They jam up often. So much so, that they sell a tool to unjam it in the field. They also need frequent work. A lot more so than most cameras. They’re precision engineered to the point that the tiniest grain of dust can lock them up. Due to the price to have the body and lenses CLA’d and the frequency with which they needed the work done, I decided that camera just wasn’t for me. They’re like an exotic sports car. They’re amazing when they’re working right. They’ll make all of your friends jealous. But they spend a lot of time in the shop and cost a bunch to own and maintain.

I had the 500c. The focus screens were easy enough to change out. You just unscrew the outer body from the frame and slide it out, then unscrew the clip from the focus screen. It’s too much work to be done in the field, but how often are you switching out focusing screens? If the answer is often, then get the 500cm. Otherwise, save some money (cause you’ll need it) and get the 500c. In either case, get one that’s been recently CLA’d and in great shape.
 

Sirius Glass

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I would recommend that you get one of the newer bodies, 1990 or later. I have the 503 CX and the 903 SWC. The date coding is in the serial number HVPICTURES where
H = 1
V = 2
P = 3
I = 4
C = 5
T = 6
U = 7
R = 8
E = 9
S = 0

So ESxxxxx would be 1990, 0Hxxxx would be 2001.

I recommend CF or later lenses. Springs for the C lenses can be hard to find, while parts for the CF and later lenses are readily available. Most CF lenses use the B-60 filter so one set of filters will fit almost all the CF and later lenses.

See:

I have bought most of my Hasselblad cameras and lenses from Samys in Los Angeles and Dead Link Removed.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or for advice.
 

Theo Sulphate

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...However, I just couldn’t jive with their unreliability. They jam up often. So much so, that they sell a tool to unjam it in the field... .

Aiee! Where to begin? Maybe you've just been unlucky. I have been using Hasselblads since 1994; I have four of them and not a single one has jammed nor malfunctioned in any way. Yes, I use them regularly - though I'm not a wedding photographer - but Hasselblads earned their reputation among wedding and fashion photographers.

...They’re precision engineered to the point that the tiniest grain of dust can lock them up...

Ok - that is hyperbole, yes? Perhaps you're thinking of a Patek Philippe watch?


....They’re like an exotic sports car. They’re amazing when they’re working right. They’ll make all of your friends jealous. But they spend a lot of time in the shop and cost a bunch to own and maintain.
...

I have two exotic cars, one from the 1980's - the cost of maintaining them is more than a Honda or Toyota, but less than twice as much. The key is to drive them frequently and perform regular maintenance. Horror stories are usually due to neglectful previous owners or shops that don't know what they're doing.

Do not fear the Hasselblad!!!

:smile:


Or buy an RB67 instead (which I feel is a bargain and a better camera).

.
 

etn

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I got rid of mine. I loved how light the hasselblad was. Also, the lenses were terrific. However, I just couldn’t jive with their unreliability. They jam up often.
Strange. I never experienced a jam in the 4 years I used mine. Granted, it is a low-mileage 2002 503CW, perhaps this plays a role? I could imagine that tolerances might become looser with heavy use and this could make the camera more prone to jams... or maybe you just got a bad sample...
But I wouldn't describe Hasselblads as unrealiable by any means!
My 2 cents,
Etienne
 

Sirius Glass

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I got rid of mine. I loved how light the hasselblad was. Also, the lenses were terrific. However, I just couldn’t jive with their unreliability. They jam up often. So much so, that they sell a tool to unjam it in the field.

On rare occasion an off camera lens has fired and I had to recock the lens. Once or twice I have had a Hasselblad jam but that was caused by a recently purchased lens that needed a CLA. Most camera jams for any type of camera are caused by an Operator Assisted Failure [OAF: usuage ==> the oaf did this or the oaf did that]

They also need frequent work. A lot more so than most cameras. They’re precision engineered to the point that the tiniest grain of dust can lock them up. Due to the price to have the body and lenses CLA’d and the frequency with which they needed the work done,

That is just not the case. Of the many cameras that I have owned, the Hasselblad has been better than most cameras in reliability.

I got rid of mine ... I decided that camera just wasn’t for me.

Probably the only thing you did right with any camera!
 

film_man

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Try to get one of the newer bodies, like Sirius suggested, though for your budget that may be hard. I'd go for a 503CX, 503CXi, 503CW or 501CM. As said, avoid the old C/CT lenses that have a metal focusing ring, I don't like the ergonomics of how the shutter/aperture are coupled and the metal focus ring really hurts after a while with the heavy focusing.

I've owned 3, 2x 501CM and a 500ELX. They are impressive pieces of engineering though eventually I sold them all. One died, the others I decided that in the end I just don't really like shooting with them, though the results are excellent.

Goods bits? Amazing results, wide selection of lenses and they are very pretty cameras and very nicely designed.

Bad bits? I've had one die, one needing service for an iffy shutter release, two backs leaked light. You could argue these are to be expected but the service cost is quite high. Other bad bits, the non motorised bodies have stiff shutter releases, makes it hard to get good results below 1/60. Focus is very slow as well (long through and heavy). Everything is expensive (accessories, lenses, back) and these things are appreciating nowadays.

Regardless of whether you like it or not, expect great results and you probably won't lose money if you decide to move on.
 

Sirius Glass

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Try to get one of the newer bodies, like Sirius suggested, though for your budget that may be hard. I'd go for a 503CX, 503CXi, 503CW or 501CM. As said, avoid the old C/CT lenses that have a metal focusing ring, I don't like the ergonomics of how the shutter/aperture are coupled and the metal focus ring really hurts after a while with the heavy focusing.

Good point. The ergonomics on the C lenses are not very good. I have one, the 500mm, which I got at such a great price that I put up with it.

I've owned 3, 2x 501CM and a 500ELX. They are impressive pieces of engineering though eventually I sold them all. One died, the others I decided that in the end I just don't really like shooting with them, though the results are excellent.

Goods bits? Amazing results, wide selection of lenses and they are very pretty cameras and very nicely designed.

Bad bits? I've had one die, one needing service for an iffy shutter release, two backs leaked light. You could argue these are to be expected but the service cost is quite high. Other bad bits, the non motorised bodies have stiff shutter releases, makes it hard to get good results below 1/60. Focus is very slow as well (long through and heavy). Everything is expensive (accessories, lenses, back) and these things are appreciating nowadays.

Regardless of whether you like it or not, expect great results and you probably won't lose money if you decide to move on.

Every so many years camera seals for any camera need to be replaced. Film backs are no exception. I have mine done by a local Hasselblad service man but you can buy the seals and replace them yourself.
 

Theo Sulphate

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The 501C has a slightly heavy, but not stiff release. I think the camera bodies from the mid-1990's on shared this.

My only objection to the newer bodies is the removal of the body-cocked indicator. Not strictly a necessary feature, but it's nice to have.

As I said elsewhere, the 553 ELX these days is a good choice: seemingly selling for less than a 500C/M. It's more complex, but I think they're worth the money. Unlike earlier motorized models, these take ordinary batteries.
 

HerSmokeySun

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OP, I was in your position back in November, and happily scored a deal with a late-model 500C and have been nothing but pleased with it so far. Here's some points that you may find relevant to your situation:
  • My model of 500C was made in 1971 if I recall correctly, and it hasn't shown more or less reliable than other models or production years from what I've heard. The person who sold me the Hasselblad (and also repairs them) did actually note that he prefers earlier and later models as they have been anecdotally more reliable.
  • My model is also has a removable screen- the same as 500C/M bodies. Pay attention for the little tabs on the top of the screen to identify this feature on 500C bodies. My 'Blad also has a mirror-lock-up, and all other features as a 500C/M that I know of despite some comments above. Maybe production years saw the inclusion of different features?
  • Along with the body I scored a Silver 80mm Planar with a T* coating, and it has served me well. While a CF would be nice to have, I enjoy utilizing the self-timer and the person who sold me the lens (and also repairs them) said that parts for these lenses aren't as rare as they seem, at least for him. I intend to upgrade to a CF, eventually, but for now a CLA'd $250 lens and the ability to make photos is preferable to saving up for a $650+ lens.
  • As far as reliability, I think this may vary between individual 'Blads based on several factors like how recently or if a CLA was performed, how nicely the previous owner treated it, etc. My camera hasn't given me any issues aside from sticky speeds below 1/2 at temperatures below freezing, and I know others who have dropped their cameras onto concrete with no issues. I also have heard from others who baby their Hasselblads and have issues frequently. Luck of the draw perhaps?
  • All of this said, a Hasselblad 500C might be a good way to procure a Hasselblad rig for less than a 500C/M, though this may affect potential resale value in the future. At the moment I'm having too much fun with mine to worry about that. : )

Take this all with a grain of salt, as I'm certain many of the previous posters and soon-to-be-posters will reply with responses backed with more experience than I currently posses. There's also other great similar medium format options (Mamiya's 645, RZ67, Pentax 67, Rollei TLRs, etc.) that can be potentially had for less should I decide against a Hasselblad. I hope this helps, and feel free to send any questions my way. Good luck!
 

mike c

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Bought mine new in 1978, a 500cm, only broke once, the same day I bought it , I jammed it, I did not read the instructions manual. Forty years later it still works fine, have had it serviced about four times. Used it heavily for Wedding photography, now just for my own use with B&W film.
 

removed account4

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I would recommend that you get one of the newer bodies, 1990 or later. I have the 503 CX and the 903 SWC. The date coding is in the serial number HVPICTURES where
H = 1
V = 2
P = 3
I = 4
C = 5
T = 6
U = 7
R = 8
E = 9
S = 0

So ESxxxxx would be 1990, 0Hxxxx would be 2001.

I recommend CF or later lenses. Springs for the C lenses can be hard to find, while parts for the CF and later lenses are readily available. Most CF lenses use the B-60 filter so one set of filters will fit almost all the CF and later lenses.

See:

I have bought most of my Hasselblad cameras and lenses from Samys in Los Angeles and Dead Link Removed.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or for advice.


there you go ..
 

Theo Sulphate

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The Hasselblad's pre-release ("mirror lock-up") is wonderful for astoundingly sharp photos, provided you're also using a tripod and cable release.

What it does is close the shutter, stop down the aperture, raise the mirror, and open the rear baffles. Then, when you press the release, the only thing that moves are the shutter blades. Very quiet, no vibration whatsoever.

Also consider a prism if you're less than thrilled with the waist level finder (which is pretty decent). For the cost of a good dinner I bought an old HC-3/70 which has 4x magnification of the entire screen plus diopter adjustments. Of course, there are nicer ones with metering.
 
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campy51

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I recently bought a Bronica S2A in excellent condition other than the lens had some fungus which surprisingly was easy to clean. It's big and bulky but nice. I have shot a few rolls but have not printed or scanned them so I only can look at the negatives and I don't have the knowledge to evaluate the negatives to see what will print well. I went to a camera show last weekend and played with a Hasselblad for a few minutes and fell in love with it and has had me thinking of picking up one, but hard to justify the cost for occasional use. There is a guy locally who repairs Hasselblad and I might stop in and see if I work out a trade for repairs in case I find one cheap due to malfunctioning. I repair copiers and printers and maybe we can work something out.
 

Alan Gales

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I took a Hasselblad 500cm in on trade and owned it for a little over a year. It came with the original focussing screen plus a Beattie Intenscreen. With the Beattie it was a joy to shoot. The later accute-matte screens are said to be even better than the Beattie Intenscreen. If I was to buy a Hasselblad today, I would definitely get a later model than the 500cm because of it being newer and having the great accute-matte screen.

I used to shoot Bronica EC's and had an S2a for a short time. Personally, I prefer Hasselblad but I think a lot depends upon how much you plan on shooting the camera. I don't shoot medium format that often any more so I replaced the Hasselblad with a lot less expensive but not near as nice (in my opinion) Mamiya C220f. I can only afford so much gear and prefer to spend my money on large format but of course that is me.
 

jim10219

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On rare occasion an off camera lens has fired and I had to recock the lens. Once or twice I have had a Hasselblad jam but that was caused by a recently purchased lens that needed a CLA. Most camera jams for any type of camera are caused by an Operator Assisted Failure [OAF: usuage ==> the oaf did this or the oaf did that]



That is just not the case. Of the many cameras that I have owned, the Hasselblad has been better than most cameras in reliability.



Probably the only thing you did right with any camera!

That was rude and unnecessary. I demand an apology.

In any case, it was a late 50’s model that while in good cosmetic condition, it may not have been in good mechanical condition. All I know is it jammed a few times (out of hundreds of shots), so I had it CLA’ed. Then my 150mm Sonnor lens shutter locked up. The repairman said it needed a whole bunch of new parts, so he’d have to buy another working lens to pull the parts from (it too was an early model). That made it too expensive to repair. Then a few months later, the body completely locked up so I sent it in to David Odess, thinking maybe my local guy wasn’t the best repairman for a camera like this. David Odess sent it back to me saying he doesn’t work on cameras this old because they’re too unreliable. He said, even if he fixed it, it would likely break again soon, so it’s generally not worth the time and money. So even the Hasselblad expert David Odess doesn’t deem them all that reliable. He still charged me a bench fee for that piece of information, by the way. So after owning one for about a year and taking 3 trips to the shop for two different components, I moved on. My RB67 is a much more reliable camera, makes 6x7 negatives and is cheaper. If it’s wasn’t so heavy, the Hasselblad would have nothing on it.

I have several other older cameras, some more than 100 years old, that often just need a little cleaning, lube, and light seals (sometimes bellows), and most of them come back to life and will go decades without needing further repair. And I’ve never had a repairman tell me a camera wasn’t worth repairing because it was too old. Maybe I’m spoiled by all of the other great cameras I’ve owned. Maybe I just got two lemons(body and 1of 2 lenses). In any case, my experience turned me away from the Hasselblad brand.
 

Logan Becker

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I got my 500C for around $850 from KEH/Ebay. What you can try doing to save a little extra dough is to try looking for a body+A12 back and finding a lens separately. When it comes to the lens, I would definitely recommend saving a bit extra for the black "T*"series lens, because as Sirius said, they're a lot more recent and the springs can be replaced if necessary. Try to find the body in good working order, CLA'd preferred. Japanese sellers are usually the best in that regard.
When it comes to Hasselblad, I've found that slowly accumulating parts and accessories is the way to go-- gives you time to adjust your technique with each new addition. I started with just the basic stock camera with an 80mm Planar, then worked up to a flash bracket/grip, pistol grip (part #45047, NOT #45057). , prism finder, multiple film backs for seamless color<-->B/W shooting, you get the picture. The pistol grip paired with a prism finder is an awesome pairing for action shooting... kind of looks like you're going to vaporize someone though.

Best of luck in your search!
 

Kodachromeguy

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The advice Sirius gave above is excellent! And as Theo wrote, Hasselblads ARE reliable. They were used by thousands of wedding, industrial, and commercial photographers for decades. They are amazingly reliable as long as the unit you buy is in good condition (i.e., not abused or just plain worn out) and you do not operate it the wrong way. Some thoughts:
1. Buy a recent model because it will have the Acute-matte viewing screen, recent backs, and the larger gliding mirror. Make sure the seller did not strip the Acute-Matte screen out to sell separately at a profit. That may be a recent scumbag technique on ePrey.
2. The Zeiss lenses with the T* coating may be slightly more contrasty than the older single-coated pre-T* lenses. But I must say, my old silver 250mm f/5.6 single-coated lens works astonishingly well. Zeiss was always conscientious about baffles and other techniques to reduce flare. So don't turn down an older lens if it is in good condition,
3. Learning to load the back is a bit fiddly. Ask a friend to help.
4. Use the pre-release whenever you can.
5. I think prices of good Hasselblad equipment have been rising over the last two years. Buy soon.
6. Have fun!!

Tracks_WarriorsTrail_Bovina_20180117.JPG

Snow in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Kansas City Southern rail line near Warrior's Trail (the route that US Grant and Union troops took in the Civil War, and yes, the train line was in the same place).
 
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MattKing

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When I used to work with and around wedding photographers who used film in the film for weddings days, they would all:
1) marvel at how good the Hasselblad was for weddings; and
2) complain at how often they needed to have their cameras serviced.
The servicing was almost never for some catastrophic problem. Essentially, it was just maintenance and adjustment.
I think that the cameras and lenses were designed that way - service them regularly and they would be real workhorses.
 

Theo Sulphate

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... When it comes to the lens, I would definitely recommend saving a bit extra for the black "T*"series lens, because as Sirius said, they're a lot more recent and the springs can be replaced if necessary...

Whether satin chrome or black, the oldest lenses are the C lenses (see footnote). The T* refers to the lens coating. These C lenses have the Synchro-Compur shutter, a self-timer, and the shutter speeds and apertures are interlocked by default to maintain the same EV (you need to pull back a tab to change it). The black C lenses are newer, but they're basically 1970's lenses and, unless they've had a CLA, will start to have issues with the slow speeds and self timer. I have one 80/2.8 C lens and one 250mm C lens in great condition, plus my SWC has a black C T* lens. All the rest of my lenses are CF lenses.

The CF lenses followed the C lenses. Improved shutter, no self-timer, separate adjustment of aperture and shutter speed with a convenient button to allow maintaining a fixed EV if you wish.
CF lenses were superseded in the year 2000+, but the CF's are great and can be bought at moderate prices today (compared to original price).

CF 100mm is best ever Hasselblad lens. You rarely see them for sale, comparatively.


(*) When the 501 C was introduced, it came with a "C" designated lens - however it was really a CF-design lens without the interlock button and without the F setting (for use on focal plane 200-series bodies). This was part of the 501C cost reduction package.
 
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johnha

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I don't have a Hasselblad, years ago when I was considering buying a used one I chose a new Bronica SQ-B instead (similar price but a new camera with an additional 120 back free and cheaper lenses). I had read a lot about Hasselblads jamming (mostly attributed to user error) but I wasn't sure I wouldn't make similar mistakes. The system costs of the Bronica were much cheaper, which for me at the time was a great benefit - I was able to build a three lens, two back kit very quickly. I do think the Hasselblad is the second best looking 6x6 after the Bronica S2A.

If you really want one, nothing else will do - I can understand that feeling. But depending on how big a system you might need/want - check your likely system cost to see if it's achievable (or how long it might take before you get there). I can only suggest you buy from a reputable dealer, with a decent return/warranty policy and preferably one you can visit to check out various cameras and select the one that stands out the most (especially important when buying used gear).
 

Alan Gales

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When I used to work with and around wedding photographers who used film in the film for weddings days, they would all:
1) marvel at how good the Hasselblad was for weddings; and
2) complain at how often they needed to have their cameras serviced.
The servicing was almost never for some catastrophic problem. Essentially, it was just maintenance and adjustment.
I think that the cameras and lenses were designed that way - service them regularly and they would be real workhorses.

Matt, I'm 56 and have attended probably an average amount of weddings here in St. Louis. I've only been to one wedding where the photographer shot a Hasselblad. People I knew who shot weddings couldn't afford a Blad and shot Bronica or Mamiya C series. They wanted a Blad though. I've heard the same thing. As long as you use the camera properly and got it serviced when needed they were pretty much problem free. I've also heard that Hasselblads need to be used and not sit around too much. I only owned mine a little over a year. I wonder how often it would need to be serviced when used by the average amateur photographer.

One more thing. If shooting a Hasselblad for weddings then don't forget a softar 1 filter. Zeiss lenses can be too sharp sometimes! :smile:
 
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