Which Hasselblad 50x to choose?

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Mozg31337

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Hello everyone,

I have been looking to purchase my first Hasselblad camera for a while now and it seems that I am not the only one. I like the looks of the medium format (currently have 6x6 Pentacon Six and and old Voightlander Besa I 6x9). I mainly shoot family, travel trips and occasional landscapes. Over the last year or so, when I first started looking at the Hasselblad, the prices of the camera seems to have increased and keep going up. So, it might be a good time to get myself one before Hasselblad pricing become similar to Leica M film cameras.

Anyways, I have been looking around for 500 series camera and lens and not really too sure of which one to go for. There tend to be a lot of information suggesting that the later models like 500CM and 503CX / CM have a few common faults addressed. On a contrary, some people suggested that the older models, like 500C have a better quality materials and built and after a proper CLA should outlast the older makes. What is the community take on it?

Similarly, with lenses, have had a conversation with a technician at one of the London's camera shops and he suggested that the older Zeiss lenses, the silver once, are far better in quality and parts compared with the newer models with T* label. He said that the older lenses were also multicoated, but not labeled and the quality of the optics is pretty similar. What is your take on that? Any thoughts or perhaps comparison pictures between the older and the newer lenses?

And finally, I came across two cameras with the lenses and backs. One is a complete set of 500c with 3 lenses (50,80 and 150mm Zeiss in silver colour) and 2 backs that was sitting in a case for about two decades, but looks like in near mint condition from the pictures. This camera is for sale for about £1,200 - 1,300.

The other one is a newer 503CX made in the mid 80s with a single 80mm and one back in mint condition for the same price as the first one above.

Which one do you think I should go for and why ?

Thanks

Andrei
 

Alan9940

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IMO, you can't go wrong with any 500-series Hasselblad camera. That said, I can only speak to the 500C/M because that's what I've owned and used for about the last 35 years. Other than a couple of service trips for the backs, I haven't had a single issue. Supposedly, the later models have the "gliding" mirror and some other improvements. The mirror thing is to avoid vignetting of the groundglass view with certain lenses. Don't know about all that, but I own several lenses from 50mm to 250mm and I've never had a problem seeing my image and/or focusing it properly. The later models will, of course, cost you more money. Regarding the outfit sitting in a case for two decades, I'd be careful if you decide to go that route. In my experience, Hasselblad's don't like sitting around not used; especially the leaf shutters in the lenses. I once had the shutter in my 250mm start sticking a bit and I thought I would need to send it out for service, but after exercising the shutter a few dozen times the issue resolved itself. Since I don't use my Hassey outfit all that often nowadays--mostly shoot LF--I exercise the camera and lens shutters every couple of months just to keep everything working. Oh, and make sure to have a good look at the light baffles in the back of the body to ensure they're intact and functioning properly.
 
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Mozg31337

Mozg31337

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Alan, thanks for your reply. I am tempted to get the later model as my gut feeling since in a lot of cases later models usually fix things that are found broken by the users over time. In many cases, they are better. However, wanted to get more thoughts from the users and possible technicians who have been using/servicing them for years.
 

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If you plan to use longer focal length lenses, I suggest looking into the 501 or later series of cameras. The older cameras will cut off the image in the viewfinder,
and even though it doesn't affect the image on the film, still it is difficult to compose when part of the frame is not viewable.
 

Ai Print

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If you plan to use longer focal length lenses, I suggest looking into the 501 or later series of cameras. The older cameras will cut off the image in the viewfinder,
and even though it doesn't affect the image on the film, still it is difficult to compose when part of the frame is not viewable.

I second this.

As much as I loved the 500CM's I had been using since the late 80's, image cut off gave me fits at times when focusing closer with lenses like the 120 Makro Planar and longer than 150mm at any focus distance. I understand for some it might not matter but I am not a loose shooter in 6x6, I frame with precision to maximize the image area.

That being said, I have four 501CM's and a 500 ELX which also has the gliding mirror.
 

Theo Sulphate

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As much as I like certain things about the old C and CT* lenses, I recommend the CF series lenses because of much better ergonomics (the shutter speed and aperture ring interaction) and the shutters have been improved and the lenses are newer.
 

Alan9940

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Hmm, I've read for years and years about cutoff with longer lenses on older Hassey bodies. I use a 250mm on my 500C/M, PM45 prism, acute-matte screen, and the only thing I've ever noticed is a slight darkening in the upper corners. The entire image can be seen, tough. Perhaps it's because I don't typically focus longer focal lengths on close objects? Just curious...are you all saying the image is literally cutoff? As in you can't see it at all?
 

itsdoable

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The only 500 series bodies with the GMS was the 503CW/CWD and the 501CM (I'm not including the EL series). I'd suggest you should try for one of those, but they will cost more. The older mirror systems are fine, I've lived with them for years, and they are reliable, but due to age, you may fine that a service is required to get the focus accurate, as the foam pads holding the mirror can deteriorate with age.

Several service technicians I know also prefer the older C series lenses for build quality, they are heavier as they use more brass, the later CF lenses used more aluminium. Personally, I prefer the CF series for functionality.

As with all these items, the condition, and wear probably plays a bigger roll on reliability than the specific model.
 

Ai Print

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Hmm, I've read for years and years about cutoff with longer lenses on older Hassey bodies. I use a 250mm on my 500C/M, PM45 prism, acute-matte screen, and the only thing I've ever noticed is a slight darkening in the upper corners. The entire image can be seen, tough. Perhaps it's because I don't typically focus longer focal lengths on close objects? Just curious...are you all saying the image is literally cutoff? As in you can't see it at all?

The image itself it not cut off, just as viewed. The deciding factor for me was when I was shooting across a canyon with my 180mm and had to contort to see the VF and could not line up on it perfectly. I think my eye's less than perfect alignment on the camera made the problem more pronounced because it really showed a lot more image area on the neg, like as much as 15%.

So from that point forward I only used V system bodies with the gliding mirror and now it does not matter at all how off kilter my eye line is, the depiction is always accurate.
 

jim10219

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Go with a newer one. The newer, the better. And one in great condition.

The thing with Hasselblad is that they are often used by pros who will run them into the ground. Collectors take care of their cameras, because that's what they care about. Pros abuse the hell out of them, because they only care about the getting the shot. Then, once the camera is damaged enough to be not worth repairing, they buy a new one and sell off the old. And they can be very expensive to repair and maintain. I had an early model 500C that needed work (about a year after a CLA, so I was trying to maintain it well) and sent it into my local guy. He couldn't fix it. So I sent it in to David Odess. He wouldn't fix it. He said it was too old of a model and too unreliable and if he did fix it, he'd be worried it would break again soon and just turn into a money pit. Around the same time, I had a 150C Sonnor lens freeze up on me and need a whole new shutter (or enough new parts that my repair guy wanted to buy a whole other 150C lens for parts). So I sold off all of my Hasselblad gear (the broken stuff as parts) and moved on to Mamiya (C220 and RB67). I'm not saying you will experience the same problems that I did, but I am saying that you want to be sure to buy a good one, because you may think you're saving a bunch of money by buying an older model or one that just needs a little TLC, or older lenses that shoot just as good but don't have multicoating, but what you're actually buying are a bunch of hefty repair bills in the not too distant future.
 

Ai Print

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The thing with Hasselblad is that they are often used by pros who will run them into the ground. Collectors take care of their cameras, because that's what they care about. Pros abuse the hell out of them, because they only care about the getting the shot.

This is not a universal truth though.

I have been using Hasselblad professionally since 1988 and I have always taken care of the gear. One of the reasons for this is that if you abuse your gear in the so called modality of "Getting the Shot" you may very well not get the shot at all. All my Hasselblad gear is very well maintained, especially now it is no longer made...this is one of the reasons I have not 1-2 501CM bodies but 4 and some dozen A-12 backs.

One of the first things my mentors taught me in the early days in looking for Hasselblad gear in good condition was both lens mount and film magazine wear on the body. If it was all banged up, then you have a pretty good indicator of overall wear and tear since it either takes years of regular use or carelessness to make that happen. Specifically, if the ridge that is part of the light seal on the rear of the camera body is more than just paint worn off but shows lots of dings in the metal, that shows the film backs were hastily put on and taken off. You can always re-paint the ridge, you can not build it back up again once the metal has been shaved off.

My two cents.
 

NJH

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I actually prefer and really like the ergonomics of the older lenses, the mechanically linked self adjusting depth of field markers a nice touch as well. What is not so great is the daft filter system on the wider C/CT lenses.
 

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A hint on the finder screen: The newer bodies, such as the 501CM should have the bright Acute-Matte screen installed. Some users are comfortable using the older and dimmer screens, but most like the bright Acute-Matte. A scam that I have seen on the 'Bay is for a seller to take out the Acute-Matte screen from a recent-vintage Hasselblad body and sell the screen separately. Then he installs an older cheap screen in the body. As usual, buyer beware.

The older silver barrel lenses are fantastic. But so are the newer versions!!
https://worldofdecay.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-long-view-and-some-gas-250mm-sonnar.html
 

btaylor

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Good advice here. I have a lot of old gear. I am not a collector so i don't go for "mint." But I find there is usually professional gear that has in fact been used moderately and not used up (jim10219's money pit situation). As Ai Print pointed out there are usually wear areas that you can look and get an idea of how hard the gear was used: worn off paint/lettering from body or lens, the banged up surface where the magazine contacts the body, a lot of surface dings, etc. I always figure a CLA is probably going to be needed, when lubrication gets old it has to be replaced. I haven't really gotten stung yet and its been a long time!
 

jim10219

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This is not a universal truth though.

I have been using Hasselblad professionally since 1988 and I have always taken care of the gear. One of the reasons for this is that if you abuse your gear in the so called modality of "Getting the Shot" you may very well not get the shot at all. All my Hasselblad gear is very well maintained, especially now it is no longer made...this is one of the reasons I have not 1-2 501CM bodies but 4 and some dozen A-12 backs.

One of the first things my mentors taught me in the early days in looking for Hasselblad gear in good condition was both lens mount and film magazine wear on the body. If it was all banged up, then you have a pretty good indicator of overall wear and tear since it either takes years of regular use or carelessness to make that happen. Specifically, if the ridge that is part of the light seal on the rear of the camera body is more than just paint worn off but shows lots of dings in the metal, that shows the film backs were hastily put on and taken off. You can always re-paint the ridge, you can not build it back up again once the metal has been shaved off.

My two cents.
You are absolutely correct. And that's a good tip to assess wear. I shouldn't have been so hyperbolic. I was just stating that they are expensive cameras, and as such more likely to be owned by a professional. And a lot of professionals (but certainly not all) tend to wear out their gear and replace them a lot more often than most hobbyists and collectors.

I actually bought the Hasselblad and the RB67 from the same pro. He had the Hasselblad for over 50 years and bought the RB67 just a few years before retiring, so it was in much better shape. The Hasselblad looked great on the outside, but was worn out on the inside. I'm not mad though. He gave me a great deal. I sold the Hasselblad parts for more than I paid for both cameras and the repair bills.
 

Sirius Glass

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I have the 503 CX and the 903 SWC. The 503 is new enough. With my 250mm and 500mm I do not even notice the missing image sliver so the gliding mirror is no big deal. I see not need for a power winder unless it is essentially free.

Buy CF or new lenses, the ergonomics are better and almost all the lenses use B60 filters so you only need one set of sometimes expensive filters. The electronic connects may or may not be needed depending on the digital back. I only shoot film. I have the 30mm [Fisheye], 38mm [SWC], 50mm, 80mm, 100mm, 150mm, 250mm and 500mm lenses.
 
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Mozg31337

Mozg31337

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Wow, thank you everyone for your comments and advice. I have inspected the 503CX and it looks like a pretty good camera. With very minimal signs of use around the body and the back. The lens is in a fantastic shape too. I was hoping to get it for around £1100, but the seller was pretty firm on the £1250. Do you guys think that it's a good price for a very good condition 503CX with 80mm CF lens. Both are made in the late 80s. The back has the matching serial too. The camera was previously purchased from a camera shop in France , but there are no records of past CLA.
 

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I used the impending birth of my first grandchild 7 years ago as justification for my blad purchase. I chose a 500CM because I wanted the ability to easily change focusing screens and an 80cf lens. I added an acute matte D screen later which was a significant improvement. It took a little while to get used to but now it is my preferred platform. Like a Leica, if you buy wisely and don't like it you can get out of it without getting hurt.
 

Ai Print

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Wow, thank you everyone for your comments and advice. I have inspected the 503CX and it looks like a pretty good camera. With very minimal signs of use around the body and the back. The lens is in a fantastic shape too. I was hoping to get it for around £1100, but the seller was pretty firm on the £1250. Do you guys think that it's a good price for a very good condition 503CX with 80mm CF lens. Both are made in the late 80s. The back has the matching serial too. The camera was previously purchased from a camera shop in France , but there are no records of past CLA.

I think it is about 10-20% higher than average but the thing is you have been able to inspect it in person before deciding and that weighs into what I call "Opportunity Cost". You could try your luck on ebay and most likely save £100-250 but then there is the potential dealing with customs, etc.

Sometimes it is just good energy to pay someone what they are asking too.
 
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GLS

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I went with the 501CM myself because I wanted the GMS, and the Acute Matte D screen. The extra features of the 503CW (motor wind capability and TTL flash metering) were not things I had any need for.
 

Sirius Glass

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Acute Matte D screen is worth having.


I think the prices are too high, checkout KEH.com. Yes, you will have to pay shipping and maybe customs, but if there is a problem they will take a return, exchange or repair so that you will be happy. I have bought a lot of my Hasselblad equipment there as well as other brands.
 

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503CX for the Accute matte screen and for its TTL flash control capability.
 

Arthurwg

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501CM. Has the latest "gliding mirror", which is helpful with longer lenses. Less expensive than the 503CW, which has TTL flash which you may not need.
 

GLS

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I think the prices are too high, checkout KEH.com

Bear in mind that prices for camera equipment in Europe are nearly always higher than the US. This includes used gear. Once you have paid the 20% import tax + duty fees + shipping though, I doubt ordering from KEH will be any cheaper.

However, to the OP: if you do decide to go down that route (ordering from abroad), then I would seriously consider the Japanese market. In my experience the condition of the used gear there is generally superb, and the prices fair. The sellers also tend to be very honest in the grading of the equipment, and provide lots of pictures (and even videos!) of it to demonstrate the condition. I have ordered most of my Pentax 6x7 gear from Japan, and have no complaints.
 

GarageBoy

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Very simple
500c/cm,501c for the basics
Cx for ttl otf flash
Cxi for winder
501cm for gliding mirror
503 for gliding with winder and ttl

The later models do have the anti glare coating that cracks (cosmetic unless it falls off and jams)
 
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