I have no experience of Hasselblad but generally people are keen to air their grievances but remain quiet when things are going well. I suspect that the complaints you hear or read about are a very small percentage of the total of users' experiences.
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
I have not written about Rolleiflexes in general, but "my Rolleiflex TLR's" in particular.
Originally Posted by Q.G.
I'm perfectly aware that different people have different experiences with cameras. What should I have written? Anything contrary to my experience?
Been a Hasselblad specialist and sold the system in mid-80 I would say that the older mechanical cameras worked well but the 2000-series had shutter problems and there was always some problems with the magazines.
I have a lot of other camera systems that I used and have to say that I had most issues with Hasselblad.
But very sharp photos when it works
(My experience is from Hasselblad system from around 1985-1990).
I was a die-hard Hassy fan for many years - I got out of the system when I realized I was much more of a large format shooter and wasn't using it often enough anymore to justify keeping it. I started off in 1994 with a 1960's vintage 500 C with an 80 C (chrome) lens. I bought it from a wedding photographer who had also bought it used. I eventually had to repair it twice - once was minor - a spring for the mirror return went bad. The second was expensive - the regulator that controls the rear body baffle doors had broken due to age and dry rot (at that point it was something on the order of 35 years old), and it was costly because to replace it required basically a complete disassembly of the camera to remove the rotted part. I also had a 500 C/M that was a mid-80's vintage and worked like a charm the entire time I had it. I never had a failure with that body, or with any of the lenses I had (80 C, later an 80 CF, 50 CF, 120 CF, 38 CF on the SuperWide). I had some problems with backs, but mostly minor. I had one of the old #12 backs, the early type, that needed a good CLA. I had some minor spacing issues with my older #12 backs, but nothing that couldn't be fixed with a quick, inexpensive (read $40-50) tune up. My A12 backs were all solid with no major spacing issues, except one - and that was because the seller was an unethical sleaze fobbing off his worn-out gear ( he was a professional photographer in LA and he was cleaning out his shelves of stuff that was cosmetically excellent but mechanically exhausted ). When I discovered the problem with the back he refused to even split the repair bill with me. It never worked right, even after a second trip to the shop. In sum, in my experience of buying and using used Hasselblad gear, I had five backs, four lenses, two bodies (three if you count the Superwide), and also the old double-cable release type bellows extension, and they provided me with over a dozen years of reliable enjoyment and consistent use as an amateur. The kit went with me on numerous trips around the US, and to Spain, and never stranded me.
Just my own personal experience with the system.
I, too have a Hasselblad 503cx that will lock up when the mirror release is tripped. I finally broke it while re-cocking the shutter by hand. Now it will get its needed adjustment along with its repair. My fault as much as anything.
I've had Canon F1s break down, Rollei TLRs and Yashica TLRs that have shed parts in the field. I've had old, heavily used C lenses break a shutter on assignment. I've had motor-driven 553ELXs grind through an entire year of catalog photography without a hiccup. Hasselblads are great cameras and no more prone to breakdown than any other system when they are well maintained. It's a necessary expense.
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I was a studio assistant in the 70s and 80s when Hasselblad was everywhere and have loaded more backs than you can imagine. The general consensus was 'precision but delicate' and most photographers owned or would hire in a second body to cover breakdowns.
IMO they're quite reliable. In studio use it was a good idea to have a spare body just as it was a good idea to have an assistant.
Unfortunately one body + assistant sometimes = using the spare body.
Biological interface error.
It will benefit from regular and expensive maintenance, and from being used by a user who knows what the hell he/she is doing with it, at least enough so that he or she can avoid doing something that will mess it up. Anything else, and problems can easily pop up, though they do not always do so. (Sorry if my experience is tainted by my experiences with Volvos and German cars. )
If you want a product made to take the abuse of irregular or no maintenance, and idiot users, get a Japanese camera, IMHO.
I wonder if there are any parallels with automobiles. My '91 Honda went 244,000 miles on under $1,000 of repairs (Alternator, starter, and distributor where the only things that ever broke.), and it was still going just fine getting nearly 30 MPG and passing smog tests with flying colors when I sold it for $500 six years ago. I beat it into the ground when I drove it, and didn't do anything other than change the oil every 5,000 miles and other regular maintenance (filters, etc.). On the other hand, while I have found the European cars in my life to be better designed and built overall when it comes to measuring raw quality, they have required constant and expensive service and repair. I don't have the personality or the pocketbook to deal with that, myself. $25 for a missing switch knob just doesn't compute in my book. I feel the same way about Hassies. They are a heavy financial investment when you consider what it will take to give one the care it should have, even with today's used market. I think they are one of the smartest camera designs ever, and that they are a joy to use, however.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 01-30-2011 at 01:21 AM. Click to view previous post history.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
Automobiles. Cigars and sotch whiskey next...
These cameras are very robust. At least as robust as any other make. The idea that they are "delicate" is quite ridiculous.
(Just an opinion from someone who has bounced his quite a few times too many, having them fall from tripods, pushed off the edge of a table, slide down a slope, even dropped from a bicycle i was riding at speed when the shoulder strap of the bag (a leather covered cardboard box with cardboard cut-out interior, with the only 'padding' being a velvet interior lining) snapped.)
So don't worry.
I have used haselblads for years without any major problems, the winder for the 503CW has an issue with the locking mechanism but apart from that my P45 tells me that over the last three years there have been 78,000 exposures without any problems ,the ELX did have a issue with batteries but an adapter bought on ebay sorted that problem, so I would say that if you look after your kit and get it serviced then you should have no problems .