Used Hasselbald Buying Looking for comments on this draft
Things to consider when purchasing a used Hasselblad 500C Series 120 film camera.
Model evolutions include the 500c, 500cm, 500 Classic, 503c, 503cm, 503cx, 503cxi
What made and continues to make these cameras a compelling choice is their ideal mix of features & functionality, light weight, small size, ease of handling, extreme reliability & optical quality. As a camera with a great design, right out of the gate, changes have been very minor over the last 50 + years. They are still being produced today.
In the days of film these were no compromise top of the line professional cameras with Zeiss lenses and were outrageously expensive. Their price new was in the thousands of dollars for a complete kit and so created a market for less expensive cameras out of Japan – Bronica, Mamyia, Kowa, etc. Some of these Japan made cameras were reasonably good some were really ugly performers.
The 500CM was manufactured from 1970 to 1994 was the most widely acclaimed medium format camera in the world during that period. A completely mechanical SLR with a cast aluminum body and film back structure with a very long service life. It was not unusual to run thousands of rolls of film through these without any malfunctions. All 500C series cameras had a between the lens shutter that flash syncs at all speeds. This was a key feature as it allowed for using flash in bright daylight environments to fill up the overly dark shadows in a scene. I was once told the “C” stood for “Compur” as in Compur brand shutter. This was the shutter type used in the early lenses. In addition to the 80mm a 150mm F 4 Sonar lens is nice for portraiture and a 60mm Distagon is a nice slight wide lens great for group shots around tables at gatherings.
A photographer having experience with a 35mm SLR may find the 500C series viewfinder not quite as bright and also requiring a little more effort to focus. This is due to the larger film format and lenses with generally smaller maximum apertures of F 2.8 or F4. For this reason photographers have found that prefocusing with the use of the depth of field scales, also called zone focusing, is very useful when shooting hand held. If on-camera strobe is used a unit capable of an F16 exposure at 10 feet (Guide Number 160) is ideal.
The lens barrels have changed styles over the years however even the early chrome barrel lens are superb and they are all compatible as long as they are equipped with a between-the-lens shutter and as such labeled as “C” or “CF” lenses not “F” only lenses. The vast majority of used lenses out on the market are “C” lenses. I cannot recommend purchasing any of the “F” series cameras used. Their complexity, I feel, makes them a poor choice.
When looking at a used 500C series camera one the easiest way to see if it has had lots of miles on it is by inserting the dark slide, removing the film back and looking to see how worn the anodized black camera-to-holder mating surfaces look. For the lenses, remove the lens and look at the bayonet tabs on the lens for brassing and dings to see if the lens has seen lots of lens changes. There is a surprising number of low mileage Hasselblads out there that were purchased by wealthy amateurs ultimately becoming closet queens later sold on eBay.
For the 500CM there was a user upgradable focusing screen that improved brightness considerably. Many of these 500CM cameras have had their screens updated by now. I have heard of, but not seen, where the light trap door on the camera where it mates to the camera back allowing for lens changes with the film back dark slide withdrawn can dry out and leak light. For this reason check the door seals on the body for light leaks when considering a used camera purchase.
The earlier model called a 500c (no “M”) did not have interchangeable focusing screens and were dark to look through. Many of these cameras had their screens updated to a brighter one by a service technician early on. Even these are great cameras and low usage ones can be found. The earlier lenses offered with both the 500c & 500cm had a really neat and useful depth of field scale markers that moved as you changed apertures. The early “12” magazine unlike the “A12” and later 120 magazine could be loaded with 120 or 220 film for up to 24 exposures. Later on the use of 220- 24 exposure film required the purchase of an additional, and expensive, dedicated 24 exposure back initially known as an "A24”. In my opinion later versions after the 500CM such as the 500CX did not offer much in useful features beyond the 500CM. They are great cameras although I would not pay a premium for one.
Models, Features Added & Years of Manufacture:
1957-1970 500 C, Flash synchronization at all shutter speeds;
1970- 1997 500 C/M, User interchangeable focusing screens ;
1997-2005 501 CM, Change in mirror design to minimize viewfinder vignetting with shorter lenses;
1988-1994 503 CX, Added through the lens off the film automated flash exposure control.
I think the term you're looking for is shelf queen. A closet queen is something altogether different!
There is a surprising number of low mileage Hasselblads out there that were purchased by wealthy amateurs ultimately becoming closet queens later sold on eBay.
There is/was a B50 to B60 adapter available which had both internal and external B60 bayonets. So no need to stick to one version of the lens.
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You might want to check your title - a "Hasselbald" may be a follicly challenged Swede
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Originally Posted by Argenticien
I think Hasselblad actually means Hazel leaf in English, but it could mean baldy
Originally Posted by MattKing
Last edited by benjiboy; 05-02-2012 at 03:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.