Hasselblad 500 C/M: Thoughts? Advice? Anecdotes?

cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,967
125
Hi all,

i'm still loving my Canon...still with 5D3 likely till the "R" equivalent comes out.

In the meantime, I'm dabbling. I"ve had a blast with my new ONDU wooden 120 film pinhole camera.
My first shots actually came out in spite of myself!!

Medium format and the high resolution has me fascinated now.

I've been watching YT and thinking that getting one of the older Hasselblad 500CM cameras to continue my journey into 120 film might be fun...and the pricing doesn't look bad.

Looks like you can get a pretty nice camera, back and 80mm lens for right about $1K or so.

I'm trying to research and study up, but wondering if anyone else here uses this or has experience with them?

If so, any advice what to look for when buying them?

I've head that since these things were largely all hand fitted that on the camera backs, you need to make sure the serial number on the back itself, matches the SN on the interior slide in workings for the film holder.....

Any other tidbits like this?

How do you like shooting them?

I"m leaning towards getting the full mechanical version....but any particular models you can write about, Pros/Cons of each?

What are your favorite lenses for these?


One thing that REALLY intrigued me is, that it appears soon, that Hasselblad is coming out with a new digital back:
CFV 50C II

That will work on these old bodies. I know this will be $$$....but it does look like a neat way to sneak in over time with hasselblad going forward since you'd be able t use this back with old cameras and lenses.

They will also offer a thin "camera" module to go on this back and allow you to use modern H lenses that have auto focus, etc.

But I"m getting ahead of myself, just seemed like it might be fun to get one of these and shoot a bit of 120.

Where would you recommend buying these?

I've heard the KEH is a good place...maybe a bit more than eBay, but with them I understand you get a warranty and 2 weeks to try and send back if you're not happy.....

Thoughts? Links? Stories?

Thank you all in advance,

cayenne
 

old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
391
33
For a long time I've been tempted to get back into medium format film. My favorite would be Mamiya RZ67, but I might go with the full manual RB67 instead just to avoid potential electronic failure issues. Back in the day I used to always shoot Mamiya. I had a good friend who shot 500 series Hasselblads for years. His experience was that they loved to be used but that lenses that didn't get exercised regularly had a tendency to have shutter issues. He often shot two weddings a week and made sure he rotated bodies and lenses to have everything exercised. I'd think a warranty and/or liberal return policy would be a must when buying something that old that may have been idle for years.
 

cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,967
125
For a long time I've been tempted to get back into medium format film. My favorite would be Mamiya RZ67, but I might go with the full manual RB67 instead just to avoid potential electronic failure issues. Back in the day I used to always shoot Mamiya. I had a good friend who shot 500 series Hasselblads for years. His experience was that they loved to be used but that lenses that didn't get exercised regularly had a tendency to have shutter issues. He often shot two weddings a week and made sure he rotated bodies and lenses to have everything exercised. I'd think a warranty and/or liberal return policy would be a must when buying something that old that may have been idle for years.
Interesting, thank you for the reply!!

Have you shot with both? What do yo like about the Mamiya over the Hasselblad? Does the one you are talking about also shoot 6x6?

Like I mentioned, I'm just kinda getting bitten by the bug, but this looks fascinating to do, and I might try my hand at developing my own B&W...although I did find a place near me that develops rolls of 120 for about $7 each.....which isn't bad.

I do want to go full mechanical on these things like you....I'm figuring that will last much longer than old electronics like those elder cameras would have....

Thank you for the reply, please keep the comments coming!!

C
 

old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
391
33
Very rarely used a borrowed Hasselblad but always found them to be precision tools and a joy to shoot with. Reminded me of a thoroughbred. The Mamiya RB/RZs are more of a workhorse - bigger/heavier, handholdable but best used on a tripod as much as possible. Initially I shot 120 but tended to like 220 due to fewer roll changes. I liked the 6x7 format more than 6x6 although early-on I did shoot Mamiya C220 twin lens reflex which is 6x6. Mamiya was more affordable than Hasselblad yet neither was cheap.

I never counted but estimate I've developed 1000's of rolls of B/W - mostly Tri-XPro. Eventually I got tired of my fingers always being stained and smelling (more from printing than developing). I have processed rolls of Ektachrome with good success but found it too stressful for paid work so handed everything off to local lab.

Although tempted to go back to MF film, I just haven't convinced myself there would be enough satisfaction to justify the time and investment. I hope you go for it and can tell me what I'm missing!
 

cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,967
125
Very rarely used a borrowed Hasselblad but always found them to be precision tools and a joy to shoot with. Reminded me of a thoroughbred. The Mamiya RB/RZs are more of a workhorse - bigger/heavier, handholdable but best used on a tripod as much as possible. Initially I shot 120 but tended to like 220 due to fewer roll changes. I liked the 6x7 format more than 6x6 although early-on I did shoot Mamiya C220 twin lens reflex which is 6x6. Mamiya was more affordable than Hasselblad yet neither was cheap.

I never counted but estimate I've developed 1000's of rolls of B/W - mostly Tri-XPro. Eventually I got tired of my fingers always being stained and smelling (more from printing than developing). I have processed rolls of Ektachrome with good success but found it too stressful for paid work so handed everything off to local lab.

Although tempted to go back to MF film, I just haven't convinced myself there would be enough satisfaction to justify the time and investment. I hope you go for it and can tell me what I'm missing!

Gotcha!!

Thanks for the info and replies!!

I"m doing my due diligence , research and then will shop and see what the market bears for a good quality camera for a reasonable price.

I think this may be a fun side learning experience.

I'm only really interested in film for things you can't really do digital...the higher resolution for Medium and possibly even large format film, or shooting extremely wide panos, in one shot without stitching, I'm also eyeballing a Shen Has 6x17 camera.

But that's pretty $$$....and I need a new computer first and my saved pennies are already allocated for a new Mac Pro whenever they finally release it....

But I think these 2x film cameras are on my short list, maybe have to wait till next year, but I'm looking hard now.

C
 

Graphic.Artifacts

EOS 7D MK II
Aug 1, 2017
450
256
Sounds like you are committed to medium format but if you don't have much experience with film I'd recommend starting with 35mm.

The smaller format will exaggerate problems in your technique and force to to correct them. Larger formats will hide the flaws and make you less likely to improve.

My advice is the same it would have been 30 years ago, make your bones in 35mm and then move up when your technique warrants and you have a better sense of what your needs are.

There are lots of great inexpensive 35mm film cameras around and you are definitely going to pay the "instagtam fashion accessory" price for a Hasselblad right now. No disrespect to the 500 CM. IMO it's one of the best cameras ever made. If you can get one for a fair price you probably wouldn't regret it but in my opinion you would be getting ahead of yourself.
 

Graphic.Artifacts

EOS 7D MK II
Aug 1, 2017
450
256
Getting to the point where you can produce a high quality home-brewed 35 mm negative is no small accomplishment. Something I think users of pretty much any digital camera made in the last 10 years might find difficult to fully appreciate.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,522
749
I bought a 500 c/m om craigslist about 7 years ago for $1700. It had 4 lenses, multiple backs, viewfinders, tons of accessories. Everything had original boxes. Just the case was worth several hundred, so it was a deal. Everything was perfect. I got a dozen or more rolls of 120 and 220 as well.

There are deals out there if you are patient.
 
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dadohead

EOS M50
Dec 3, 2011
34
3
I've had, over the years, a 500C, a 501CM, and a 503CW. The 80 Planar is a beautiful lens and you could easily spend the rest of your life with only that lens and never exhaust the possibilities. The closest analog in 35mm I ever found was the 55 Otus. The 120 Makro is also awesome, as is the 40 Distagon. You want the lenses to be T* coated, so you'd probably do better looking at the later C lenses or the CF lenses. You probably want more than 1 back, as shooting different stocks without finishing a roll is one of the Blad's chief advantages. The two biggest problems are sometimes the rear curtains get jammed; you have to put in a slide, pull the back, pull the lens, and reset the curtains. The other is the linkage between the cocking mechanism for the curtains and the lens. You have to remember to check the cam on the front of the body and the cam on the back of the lens before mounting the lens. You're not supposed to be able to put an cocked lens on a uncocked body, but it happens. Apply too much pressure to the winding mechanism, especially if you have a lever winder, and you can jam or even break the lens cocking mechanism. Also, if you use lenses longer than 150mm on any of the bodies other than, I think, the 503CW, part of the image top will be cut off in the viewfinder, due to the mirror box. The 503CW has a gliding mirror to compensate. You'll also come to appreciate the satisfying sound that the camera release makes; it's unlike anything else in the camera world, and you can tell a lot about the camera's health just from the sound of the shutter release. Also, try to make sure you are getting an AcuteMatte focusing screen with the split image. They are much brighter. The newer V cameras had them, but not the older. Replacing one is wickedly expensive.

Hassys are sturdy cameras until they're not, at which point they become door stops. They are compact with a folding hood and one can walk around with a Hassy slung over the shoulder. They are contemplative cameras, and mindfulness is rewarded. You can't just blow through film; well, you can, but you won't have much to show for it. Downside--stock up on film. There's no telling how much longer it or processing will be available. I live in the San Francisco Bay area, and 15 years ago you could get 120 film processed at practically any time of the day or night. Now, I don't believe there is anyone processing film locally.
 
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cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,967
125
Sounds like you are committed to medium format but if you don't have much experience with film I'd recommend starting with 35mm.

The smaller format will exaggerate problems in your technique and force to to correct them. Larger formats will hide the flaws and make you less likely to improve.

My advice is the same it would have been 30 years ago, make your bones in 35mm and then move up when your technique warrants and you have a better sense of what your needs are.

There are lots of great inexpensive 35mm film cameras around and you are definitely going to pay the "instagtam fashion accessory" price for a Hasselblad right now. No disrespect to the 500 CM. IMO it's one of the best cameras ever made. If you can get one for a fair price you probably wouldn't regret it but in my opinion you would be getting ahead of yourself.

Thank you for the reply!!

I've actually got some old Nikon FA bodies if I want to do 35mm.

I'm thinking for film I'm only interested in film that will gain me resolution at or above what a modern digital 35mm camera will put out.

I"m also interested in different aspect ratios, so only looking right now at 120 film offering, ESPECIALLY pano stuff in the 6x12 or preferably 6x17 for each shot.

I figure my 5D3 will be good for a long time for the "normal" stuff.

Thank you!!

C
 

old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
391
33
I don't have scientific evidence, but I think if it is higher resolution you are seeking you will be hard pressed to find 6x6 or 6x7 format equipment that exceeds the resolution capabilities of a 5DSR for example. I have no experience with the film pano cameras so I can't address 6x12 or 6x17 formats. The combination of film limitations and older lens designs is really hard pressed to exceed modern digital capabilities (not to mention the sensor shift resolution gains some bodies permit). Now, the look of film is a whole different issue. I love the look of vintage glass and Tri-X myself, the grain pattern is magnificent.
 
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privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,905
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I'm thinking for film I'm only interested in film that will gain me resolution at or above what a modern digital 35mm camera will put out.

I"m also interested in different aspect ratios, so only looking right now at 120 film offering, ESPECIALLY pano stuff in the 6x12 or preferably 6x17 for each shot.
That isn't the reason to shoot film and vintage cameras, the reason to do it is for the process and the look. I have 6x6 all the way to 6x17 and digital has outclassed all films by a long way, but the process of taking images with these larger negatives is an altogether different and for some enjoyable way of doing things.

Take a look through this photographers channel, he shoots digital for work and film for fun and prints, he has some great stuff up there and shows the pleasure of the process, which is the very essence of film shooting for most people.

 

cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,967
125
That isn't the reason to shoot film and vintage cameras, the reason to do it is for the process and the look. I have 6x6 all the way to 6x17 and digital has outclassed all films by a long way, but the process of taking images with these larger negatives is an altogether different and for some enjoyable way of doing things.

Take a look through this photographers channel, he shoots digital for work and film for fun and prints, he has some great stuff up there and shows the pleasure of the process, which is the very essence of film shooting for most people.

Yeah, actually, Nick Carver videos are what have kinda put me down this road of trying film.....

I guess I stand corrected, I thought I'd read that you could get resolutions from medium format and especially large format film that you could not get off of even most of today's digital cameras?

I really want to get one of Nick's cameras, the Shen Hao 6x17 at some point, but for the life of me, I can't seem to find one of those, body only for less than about $2500 at best. All the other Shen Has 4x5's can be had much cheaper.

Anyway, that's on my back burner till I can find a deal, but after that I discovered the 6x6 format and the Hasselblad is what I want for that, although, I did last week, score a mint condition Yashica Mat 124G 6x6 camera for like $75....I'm about to play with that this weekend, but I really want the Hasselblad too.

But even if resolution is not superior, shooting in different aspect ratios should prove to be fun.

And yes, at some point, I would like to try my hand a developing my own, at least for B&W.

PBD: May I ask what 6x17 camera(s) you shoot with?

Thanks for all of the great response!!! Please keep it coming!!

cayenne
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,905
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For the 6x17 I used to have an old view camera that somebody had converted, truth is I don't actually know where it is now! But if I get that urge to shoot film I have a Mamiya Universal kit with backs from 6x4.5 to 6x9 that was given to me by my wife, it was her grandfather's and he bought it new in Japan when he was stationed there after WWII. I also have an EOS 1VHS I bought new and it has only had 38 rolls of film through it, I just don't ever get the urge to shoot small film.
 
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cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,967
125
With reference to buying a classic camera, like the Hasselblad 500 CM or other nice vintage camera....

Any recommendations on where / how to buy?

eBay is a source of course, but seems a bit risky.

I've heard of the KEH site, they seem to have a good reputation, and do give warranties and ability to return items, but they do seem to charge a premium price for this.

Anyone have experience with KEH?

Other sites/recommendations on buying vintage cameras?


Thanks in advance,

C
 

StoicalEtcher

EOS 80D
Jan 3, 2018
171
79
Yorkshire
With reference to buying a classic camera, like the Hasselblad 500 CM or other nice vintage camera....

Any recommendations on where / how to buy?

eBay is a source of course, but seems a bit risky.

I've heard of the KEH site, they seem to have a good reputation, and do give warranties and ability to return items, but they do seem to charge a premium price for this.

Anyone have experience with KEH?

Other sites/recommendations on buying vintage cameras?


Thanks in advance,

C
Cayenne,

Can't help you with a specific suggestion, but from a generalist point of view, I would suggest looking at second hand stock at some decent dealers (not necessarily Hasselblad dealers). In the UK at least, there are a number of decent camera dealers who regularly take in medium format gear as part exchange from people upgrading, or changing, or well-heeled amateurs who gave it a go and decided it wasn't for them.

While you will pay a bit more than you might do on eBay, and may not get much if any guarantee, a decent dealer is unlikely to sell you something they know doesn't work or has a serious issue, without at least flagging it up to you. Nothing worse than trying something out for the experience and then landing a pup first time out.

Beyond that, I'd say just go for it - if budget allows. Remember: life is not a dress rehearsal, this is the main show, and it keeps ticking by. Dive in and enjoy the fun of it.

Cheers

Stoical.
 

cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,967
125
Cayenne,

Can't help you with a specific suggestion, but from a generalist point of view, I would suggest looking at second hand stock at some decent dealers (not necessarily Hasselblad dealers). In the UK at least, there are a number of decent camera dealers who regularly take in medium format gear as part exchange from people upgrading, or changing, or well-heeled amateurs who gave it a go and decided it wasn't for them.

While you will pay a bit more than you might do on eBay, and may not get much if any guarantee, a decent dealer is unlikely to sell you something they know doesn't work or has a serious issue, without at least flagging it up to you. Nothing worse than trying something out for the experience and then landing a pup first time out.

Beyond that, I'd say just go for it - if budget allows. Remember: life is not a dress rehearsal, this is the main show, and it keeps ticking by. Dive in and enjoy the fun of it.

Cheers

Stoical.

Thank you for the reply.

Are you talking about brick and mortar storefront dealers, or online dealers? I found the KEH online dealer that seems to be good......but I dunno of any place near me at all that handles old cameras like I'm talking about....

Do you have stores over there you can go to and physically touch and look at before buying with old film cameras?

Thanks in advance,

cayenne
 

old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
391
33
I've used with KEH with good experience (selling, not buying). As to storefront dealers, there are two I've dealt with. Robert's Camera in Indiana has excellent selection of used gear which you can handle. They sell on eBay as well. Also Camera Exchange in Michigan has a strong medium format background but with definite Mamiya bias (owner was former MamIya representative). They sell on eBay as tecsales and on Amazon. Probably not the place to look for Hassy stuff though. Obviously neither help if you aren't in those areas. Have you tried Craig's List, someone may be selling locally.
 
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