With capability enabling it to span the globe and past, the Hasselblad 500 collection is a particular collection of digital camera. As snug in the palms of elite trend photographers as it is with astronauts on the lunar surface, it’s a time-tested legend. Partially as a result of of this illustrious lineage, Hasselblad’s cameras command a premium worth in contrast with comparable medium format machines. The question is whether or not the Hasselblad is value that premium in the present day.
Rivals like the Pentax 67 supply a larger adverse and superlative lenses. Likewise, the Mamiya 6 supplies a sq. destructive in a extra compact type issue. Naked-bones Russian cameras value pennies on the greenback (or ruble?) and aren’t as bare-bones as individuals wish to suggest. Why pay the extra cash for a Hasselblad?
The ace-in-the-hole which separates the V Series from its rivals is its standing as a system digital camera. With greater than fifty accessories out there, and a capability to combine and match to create a very bespoke machine, the Hasselblad permits every consumer to create a images platform completely suited to their fashion and their desired methodology.
When you have a singular type and haven’t but been capable of obtain it together with your present setup, the possibilities high are that the Hasselblad V Series may help you get there. Just don’t anticipate it to return low cost.
What’s the Hasselblad V Series?
As the story goes, images enthusiast Victor Hasselblad was not glad with the options out there to him to take photographs of his beloved flowers. He had already created a digital camera system which the Swedish army used for aerial images throughout the 1940s, and noticing a scarcity of civilian skilled medium format system cameras on the market, Victor took issues into his personal palms.
Valuing adaptability, Hasselblad’s digital camera system was created with the capability to take a number of lenses and accessories proper from the begin. Starting with the 1600 F of 1948, a Swedish-made machine which used Kodak, Zeiss and Schneider lenses, Hasselblad started to realize traction amongst photographers on the lookout for great image high quality in a package deal that was positively minuscule compared to the giant format cameras of the day.
But these early Hasselblad cameras have been blighted by the unreliability of delicate shutter mechanisms. It was not until the 500 C got here to market in 1957 that Hasselblad managed to deliver a mass-produced machine which mixed a modular system and nice picture quality with tank-like development.
With the reliability issues largely behind it, the V system was able to shine. And shine it did, especially the lovely chrome-plated version. As with different basic digital camera designs, Hasselblad V collection cameras handle to be both useful and very lovely at the similar time. Their modern bodies look like one single hewn chunk of metallic, regardless of the modularity of the system. And when held for the first time, it provides the impression of being an ingot of Swedish-made excellence.
Unlimited artistic potential – The V System
The Hasselblad V system is modular. And once I say modular, I’m not speaking about a couple of lenses and the odd viewing display. Its core is comprised of a physique, viewfinder, focusing display, movie back, winding deal with and lens. However over the many years Hasselblad has manufactured dozens of totally different variants of these elements, which means the photographer can easily stability selection and worth to go well with his or her needs.
An military of accessories full the package deal. The lefthand aspect of the digital camera features an adjunct rail which allows us to mount many of these add-ons. I might advocate choosing up the spirit degree and never removing it from the digital camera again. Extension tubes in numerous lengths permit us to focus far closer than the minimum focus distance if the state of affairs requires.
Every single element of the digital camera may be stripped out and replaced with something else to go well with our wants. And compatibility is outstanding, if not common. The most recent 503 CW with digital again could possibly be matched to an historic silver chrome C lens. Likewise, a 500 C will settle for the newest and biggest CFi lenses to roll out of Oberkochen.
This is amazingly helpful in sensible software. It permits us to carry a variety of movie magazines preloaded with totally different shares to realize totally different seems to be for a landscape shoot, for instance. And take it a step further – as soon as we now have the essential accessories, we will effectively rework the system into a completely new digital camera to suit any state of affairs. For every shoot, it’s attainable to switch the digital camera to squeeze the most performance out of it for the process at hand.
Have to get close for some product images for a shopper? Sorted, simply equip the 105mm S-Planar and the bellows accent for complete management of framing. Obtained a portrait shoot later in the day? Seize the 150mm Sonnar, a prism finder and a winder grip, and we’re able to go. Have to shoot the Earth rising over the horizon of the Moon? That happened with a ‘Blad. There really isn’t a state of affairs that may’t be handled with the Hasselblad V collection.
This helps to elucidate how one system has been so central to such a diverse range of photographic types and situations over the years. Even the fashions used by NASA for area missions aren’t unrecognizable compared to their brethren made for public consumption.
The core of the Hasselblad V collection is effectively a light-tight field. This is the blank canvas to which a consumer can apply an virtually infinite amount of modifications and modifications to make the digital camera uniquely theirs.
One direct end result of Hasselblad’s success was the demise of their rivals, Rollei. A gentleman’s settlement between Victor Hasselblad and Dr. Reinhold Heidecke in the late 1950s left the subject free for Hasselblad to print cash. As TLR sales ran aground from the mid-1960s and onwards, Rollei was left to play catch-up, releasing the beastly Rolleiflex SL66 in 1966.
If being a totally modular system was the Hasselblad’s ace-in-the-hole, then the German-made Carl Zeiss lenses have to be thought-about the X factor. The unique lenses have been groundbreaking at the time and are still impressive by trendy requirements in the present day. These have been the lenses that made the venerable T* multi-coating world well-known. The definition, clarity and resistance to flare immediately made the V system stand out from its rivals.
In addition to providing some of the greatest picture high quality out there in a movie digital camera system, the Zeiss lenses all use leaf shutters, which permits the photographer to sync flash proper up to the prime velocity of 1/500th of a second. Studio photographers (and individuals who require fill-in flash) will love this, although photographers who work out in the area a bit more might find the relatively sluggish prime shutter velocity a bit more limiting.
It’s attainable to seek out C-series lenses at excellent costs, however there’s a good purpose for this. Though they’re optically similar to most of the the newer lenses, they’re ergonomically infuriating. The shutter velocity and aperture are interlinked. Whilst this means it’s potential to regulate our settings and retain the similar EV, it makes switching settings when lighting circumstances change inconvenient at greatest.
As the years went by, Hasselblad periodically improved their lenses. The original C lenses advanced into CF variants, with improved ergonomics. Later large angle lenses have been improved with shut focus correction. A variety of “basic” CB lenses supply nice value for money, if you will discover one.
Which Version Should You Choose?
Bought constantly between 1957 and 2012, there are a lot of V Series cameras obtainable on the market in the present day. At first glance though, it is probably not immediately apparent which one to buy. The excellent news is that the majority of the differences are minor, and all of the cameras will present a implausible consumer expertise, once we get past the quirks.
Here’s a breakdown of the variants out there on the market as we speak –
- Hasselblad 500C – 1957-1970 : Accepts all accessories, focusing screens can solely be switched out by a technician.
- Hasselblad 500 C/M – 1970-1994 : “M” denotes the capability to switch the digital camera system. Added the capability to shortly change out the focusing screens to brighter fashions, totally different grids, specialty screens, and so forth.
- Hasselblad 503 C/X – 1988-1994 : Added an inner TTL flash meter, as well as a “Palpas” coating to get rid of inner reflections. Got here as normal with the improved Acute Matte focusing display.
- Hasselblad 501 C – 1994-1997 : An all-black variant that was bought as an entire package, with an A12 journal and 80mm C lens. Confusingly this C lens is definitely a CF designation, not the older C-type lenses that have been initially released with the 500 C.
- Hasselblad 503 C/W – 1996-2013 : Came outfitted with a “Gliding Mirror System” which prevented viewfinder blackout with telephoto lenses. Came with the Acute Matte D display, the ultimate and greatest evolution of the focusing screens. Suitable with the Winder CW for many who have to shoot quick (with their sluggish cameras).
- Hasselblad 501 C/M – 1997-2005 : Outfitted with Acute Matte D display. Winder CW system suitable.
Hasselblad additionally manufactured a handful of particular fashions. Cameras designed especially for extensive angle images, or models with built-in motor winders to website two examples, these cameras glad area of interest wants with the similar primary core digital camera.
Two separate electronic collection, the 200 and 2000 collection have been manufactured between the late 1970s and 2004. These added inner metering, some programmed capturing modes and other bells and whistles, at the value of requiring batteries. These 200 and 2000 collection got here with focal aircraft shutters, though they could possibly be used with the C and CF collection lenses. A variety of F lenses without leaf shutters was created by Carl Zeiss. These include a bigger aperture (and price ticket) compared to their leaf shuttered equivalents.
The most recent models, the Hasselblad 503 C/W and 501 C/M command a big premium over the 503 CX and 500 CM. That is mainly right down to their merely being newer machines, as their added features gained’t actually come in useful until you’re utilizing proprietary Hasselblad flash models, or want access to the winder.
One key cause why the 500 C is usually considerably cheaper than the rest is that it does not have interchangeable screens. Because of this you can’t swap in the excessive definition Acute Matte screens utilized in the later cameras. Although this is not a dealbreaker, some of these screens actually may also help with important focus, which may be so very important in medium format images.
The 500 C/M hits a sweet spot in worth and features. Because it had the longest manufacturing run, they’re readily available on the market. Verify the circumstances of the digital camera intently earlier than buy, and keep in mind that these machines have been typically used and abused by jobbing photographers over the many years. This makes purchasing from a trusted vendor with a warranty a better choice than rolling the dice on eBay.
The 503 CX is another great selection. Manufactured in the mid-1990s, these got here commonplace with the improved Acute Matte viewing screens. Manufactured by Minolta, these screens have an actual ‘pop’ which help the shooter obtain focus more simply than the older screens.
[Images in the samples gallery were made with Kodak Tri-X and Ilford FP4 and Ilford HP5]
Hasselblad 503 CX; 80mm Planar; Ilford FP4
Hasselblad 503 CX, 80mm Planar; 10mm Extension Tube; Ilford FP4
Capturing the ‘Blad
An inverted horizontal perspective and the long focus throw on all of the lenses imply that Hasselblad V collection cameras are sluggish and deliberate cameras. Security options, although adept at prohibiting the capturing of blank frames, can even sluggish issues down even additional. However when you want to take your footage at a canter relatively than a gallop, then there’s so much to like about the Hasselblad. It rewards users who park it on a tripod and take their time to seek out the greatest composition earlier than making a photo.
Utilizing a waist degree viewfinder is definitely difficult, even for more experienced customers. New customers shouldn’t be stunned to spend the first few months directing muses to maneuver the mistaken approach, or twisting the digital camera away from the action at the crucial second. Once our brains make the adjustment though, things clean significantly. Anticipate to develop into hooked on the magical moment when a topic pops into focus in the viewing display (this is very true on models with the improved focusing screens).
The question of the 6×6 format is an fascinating one. Instagram and social media signifies that individuals are more accustomed to the square frame than arguably another time before, which is both a blessing and curse. The good news is that these giant negatives can easily be cropped both horizontally or vertically into a extra traditional facet ratio, if that’s desired.
All of the sounds of the Hasselblad combine superbly to provide the impression of an exquisitely tactile machine. The shutter fires off with a satisfying ker-thunk. The viewfinder pings open as the chromed change on prime of the digital camera is released. The geared winding deal with of the film journal whirrs as we load and unload roll after roll. It’s a symphony of mechanical pleasure.
80mm Planar CF, Purple Filter, Ilford FP4
The Hasselblad V Series has a quantity of fail-safes to stop cack-handed photographers from losing frames, by accident exposing film, and suffering any quantity of different minor mishaps that may happen when capturing before that first cup of coffee.
Initially, these little hangups may have new customers staring blankly at their digital camera and wondering in the event that they’ve acquired an expensive paperweight. As we get to know the digital camera, nevertheless, anticipate to begin to appreciate these thoughtful interlocks. Once we think about that these preventative measures have all been achieved with cogs, gears, and pulleys, it turns into even easier to understand and understand why the Hasselblad turned so revered as a mechanical masterpiece throughout the 20th Century.
Although this can be very strong, the Hasselblad likes things its personal approach. Because of this you have to be thoughtful of the interlocks and never pressure the digital camera to do anything it doesn’t need to do. For instance, if utilizing extension tubes, the photographer should take off the lens first after which remove every tube, one by one. Failure to take action may cause the digital camera to jam.
The loading of the film magazines may be extraordinarily finicky. You’ll should feed the backing paper around the again of the magazine to the take-up spool, which feels counterintuitive. For those who don’t then flip the deal with to decrease the information over the film, the magazine won’t sense whenever you get to border one, and you will waste the complete roll of movie.
As the Hasselblad is a system which rewards affected person capturing over velocity, I’ve never had a serious problem with missing pictures as a result of of the failsafes. That stated, it wouldn’t be the system I reached for if I needed to shoot some quick action on the streets.
Most of these quirks are more inconveniences fairly than dealbreakers although. And the failsafes gained’t cause points for customers after the first handful of rolls create the crucial muscle memory.
Hasselblad 503 CX, 80mm Planar CF, Ilford HP5
A tuned and cleaned Hasselblad setup that includes the waist degree viewfinder, 80mm Planar lens, normal focusing display and movie back will run approximately $1,200-$1,500 from a good digital camera store with a return coverage and assure of full performance, and will probably value much less from eBay. That’s a good chunk of change, especially once we contemplate that a equally modular Mamiya 645 system might be had for about half the worth.
On the other hand, it’s troublesome to really feel short-changed by the Hasselblad. The build quality is unmatched, the customization choices virtually limitless, and the image high quality is outstanding. They’re compact, elegant, and timeless in a means that few different cameras in their class can declare.
Shoot the Moon
A Hasselblad V system digital camera gained’t make you’re taking better photographs. However when you have a transparent imaginative and prescient for what you’re making an attempt to realize together with your images, the V collection could be configured that will help you do the job (any job). Should you’re capturing professionally day-in day-out, this adaptability might make the Hasselblad good for you. For amateurs and keen lovers, a Hasselblad may be extra of a luxury than a necessity.
But don’t assume you’ll have to break the financial institution to construct a system. With a number of suitable Russian-made equipment and a second film back, it’s attainable to deliver the worth of owning a Hasselblad right down to earth. And there’s nothing like capturing the Moon digital camera. Isn’t that value a bit of a premium?