Hasselblad 500CM - What Am I Missing?
BACKGROUND - I am the son of a retired pro shooter. As a kid I spent countless hours in my father's dark room as his youthful assistant. That was a long time ago. My career path went outside of photography, but I've reached an age (58) where I have time to rekindle and pursue this passion. For the past few years I've been shooting various Canon DSLR's (7D, 1D4, & 5D3). While my digital shooting has been fun, it is not as rewarding and satisfying as I had hoped. I have a strong yearning to pursue black and white image-making and I want to start shooting film again. I've determined to begin with a medium format camera and I am extremely fond of the 6x6 format. In addition, my wife is a 1st generation Swedish immigrant. Accordingly, it would appear that I have no choice but to become a Hasselblad shooter. My medium photography targets would primarily be photographed from a tripod and long exposures will sometimes be employed.
Based upon my research of APUG and a few other sites, I intend to obtain and start this endeavor with a 500C/M chrome body, A12 back, and 80mm f/2.8 Planar lens.
1. Is there a particular 'vintage' of Hasselblad bodies that is better than others? I've read that the workmanship of the 1970's - 1980's is excellent.
2. Is there a particular series of lenses that would be preferred for my intended use? While I think the chrome lenses look marvelous, it is my understanding that any of the C/CF/CB/CFi/CFE series lenses will work on the 500C/M.
3. Are there certified Hasselblad repair facilities in the southwest USA that can provide reliable CLA and repair services? I live/photograph in Arizona.
4. Any thoughts on eBay Japanese sellers as a source for my intended purchases?
5. What am I missing or forgetting to ask before I take the plunge?
Thanks in advance for your help and generous counsel.
Buy from KEH in Atlanta. Read their return/guarantee policy, it's top-notch as is their customer service.
Later model 500C/M comes with the rapid winding knob, a sometimes useful feature. You may be able to find one with a Acute-Matte screen, which is much brighter than the original screen. This is a good thing.
Go for the CF lenses, C lens repair parts are no longer made. Focal length choices are entirely up to you, everyone seems to have their own opinions as to which they like.
Plan to pay for a clean/lube/adjust for every piece you purchase. You then will be set for a decade of trouble-free shooting.
A newer model would have the gliding mirror, which reduces vignetting with longer lenses. I have a 501CM, so I don't know how much of an issue it is with the older models. I've heard it's not worth the extra money for most uses.
I would spend the extra money to get a model with the Acute-Matte screen.
The older chrome lenses are harder to repair since some parts are not still available. I would stick with the CF lenses, but I did buy a 250mm C, since the price was so low and I don't use it a lot. I like its quality and hope it lasts a long time. But if it fails and isn't repairable I only spent a bit more than the cost of a CLA on it to start with. That's something to consider.
I would recommend http://www.david-odess.com for repairs, unless you find a local repair man with factory training and some experience.
I took in a 500cm with 80mm Planar as a trade. Mine came with both the original screen and a Beattie Intenscreen. I also highly recommend purchasing one of the bright screens available.
The 80mm is nice and well balanced but an old design. If you want the sharpest you need to buy the latest Zeiss computer designed lenses. Of course they will be pricier.
If you plan on using long lenses you might prefer a later model than the 500cm. They have gliding mirrors and do not vignette like the 500cm does.
KEH is an excellent place to buy. On numerous occasions when pricing Hasselblad lenses I have actually seen KEH less expensive than ended Ebay auctions. I would check KEH first before bidding on Ebay. I'm not saying to not buy off Ebay but to go into it educated before you make your purchase. Hasselblad cameras and lenses are not cheap!
Plus 1 with the suggestions. Definitely buy from a trusted source with a fair return policy. If you happen to find one in your locale, take a couple of rolls of film and shoot with the equipment before purchasing. Develop or have the film developed so you can check actual performance before you commit. Actual condition is sometimes exaggerated. Don't rule out a 503CXi.
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As a Swedish immigrant myself I would concur with the Hasselblad acquisition.
Have lots of fun! Those 500 series cameras are all great, and mine has provided me with nothing but countless joy over the years.
You can be certain that when the photographs are not good enough, it is not because of the camera.
Hälsa så gott till din fru från en till svenskättling.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
While not a Hasselblad user (yet!), it's worth remembering that millions and millions of photographers published their exquisite works in coffee-table books shot entirely with the stalwart combination of a 500C/M and 80mm Planar. And the astute-minded analogue photographers looking for enduring quality, I would say this combination still rules many, many decades after it was first introduced, and it's far cheaper to get hold of than in its hey day when a kit would easily bankrupt the family. I will acquire a Hassy kit one day, probably a 503CW with 45° viewfinder and 80mm. Importantly, and irrespective of how many have owned a 500C/M body before you, it is a solid piece of photographic history that has risen above the ordinary to reach the legendary, something that will never, ever go out of style so long as there is film to put in it.
“The photographer must determine how he wants the finished print to look before he exposes the negative.
Before releasing the shutter, he must seek 'the flame of recognition,' a sense that the picture would reveal
the greater mystery of things...more clearly than the eyes see." ~Edward Weston, 1922.
Thanks all for the helpful comments and encouragement. I hope others will continue to opine.
I definitely will acquire a body with an Acute-Matte screen or I'll acquire a brighter screen separately and have it installed as part of a CLA. I will start with a waist level viewfinder. There is something about looking down onto the screen and composing an image that just seems right to me. I also think the 4.5x magnifier in the later models will be helpful. Who knows, I may change viewfinders down the road.
I'm hopeful that acquiring a 80mm Planar in the CF or later versions (with T-coating) should be reliable and provide excellent service consistent with the Zeiss reputation. I truly like the idea of learning the 500C/M with a 'normal' lens perspective. I'm sure other lenses will be added over time. For the type of photography I anticipate enjoying with the Hasselblad, I don't think I'll ever go longer than the 150mm Sonnar - so I don't think vignetting should be an issue.
Just to clarify, is the 500C/M's "Pre-Release Button" the method used to lock-up the mirror to minimize vibration from "mirror-slap" - especially during long exposures?
Also, does a good CLA involve only the body or does the lenses benefit for similar attention?
Last edited by JDW22; 10-14-2013 at 08:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Originally Posted by JDW22
Body. lens and back assuming you don't know when it was done before.
Originally Posted by JDW22
If you're planning on lenses 120mm or longer, a newer model with the gliding mirror is nice to have. My body doesn't have it and I find myself using my 120 and 250 way more than I ever thought I would. I have to estimate my frame coverage a lot more than I like. (turns out the 553 ELX I found turned out to need more fixing than it's price warranted).
Because I work almost exclusively on a tripod and I'm not 6'6" tall, I find the 45 degree finder exceedingly useful as I don't always want my camera low enough to allow me to use the WLF. I was able to find one of the later versions, the PM-45, and haven't use my high-mag chimney finder since.
I fell in love with the Hasselblad when I was 11, I was late in my later '50s when I finally got it. I love it.
KEH is a good resource. I've been very happy with my purchases from them. Craigslist locally has been a fine resource too. (Vancouver has very active photo section)