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A Hasselblad, more than 40 years after first looking.
Old 12-27-2017   #1
Richard G
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A Hasselblad, more than 40 years after first looking.

I have the brochures for the 500CM I wrote away for as a teenager. I nearly bought one in 2012, but got the M9-P instead. I tried the Rolleiflex, but the view was dim and it gets some use but not much. Finally I bought a Hasselblad kit from the classifieds here: a beautiful 1983 500CM with the 80 Planar, the 60 f3.5 Distagon and a spare film magazine.

When picking up a 500cm Hasselblad and 80mm Planar f2,8 what impresses immediately is that it is a lot bigger than it seems in brochures or photographs or videos online. It is nevertheless lighter than it ought to be by Leica standards of weight per volume. The Leica IIIf with a collapsed 50 Elmar feels dense compact and airless. The Hasselblad is light and full of air.

Next is the waist level finder opening to reveal the cinematic view through the acute matte screen in vivid colour. In a single moment the Rolleiflex on the shelf seems doomed to stay there. But the weight of two lenses and two backs and the camera in a bag will soon revive interest in the lightness of the little Rolleiflex Automat.

There is lot of initial enjoyment in seeing first hand the miracle of the removable film back, half way through a roll quite possibly. Then there is the slightly annoying, somewhat entertaining dance of lens and body and back to get used to. The body needs to be in sync with the film back, and also with the lens. Only a lens that is cocked can be mounted on the body, and it too must be cocked. The shutter button will not move when you pull the camera out of the bag. The dark slide must be out to take a picture. Where do you put it? A shirt pocket is good. A trouser pocket puts the slide at risk of being bent. The back cannot be removed without the dark slide being put back in.

The camera has two shutters, the leaf shutter in the lens and the rear body shutter in front of the film plane. The shutter button must remain depressed as long or longer than a slow exposure through the lens’s leaf shutter, lest the rear body flaps close before the leaf shutter has closed. The legendary mirror slap, flaps and shutter cacophony turns out to be nothing of the sort, but is quite a wondrous sound, the audible summation of the many coordinated actions triggered by the shutter release.

Film loading is if anything even more foolproof than with the Rolleiflex, where some have reported forgetting to run the film under the roller in an Automat. There seems to be nothing to go wrong with loading a Hasselblad. I've never seen threads on tricks for loading a Hasselblad. LTM Leica threads on this abound.

Taking photographs is not necessarily quick. Scale focus or prefocus will allow candid shots where perhaps the shutter release sounds will not be noticed. More critical shots require careful focus with the magnifier in the viewfinder, and with the camera close to the eye. The acute matte screen has horizontal and vertical line engravings. These are for ensuring perfectly upright images, and for levelling horizons. In fact scale focus and use of the depth of field markers and hyperlocal distance shooting will work like with any other camera, so long as the photographer has knowledge of the limitations of that approach.

The large mirror movement makes the slower shutter speeds inadvisable unlike with the Rolleiflex or Leica. Experts online maintain that only on a tripod is a Hasselblad worth the investment of money and time. Others dismiss this as rubbish. The chief impediment to a sharp image is vertical mirror movement evident in vertically elongated round lights in the frame. As my advisors in real life have told me, where possible it is best to shoot at 1/250s. But in line with the Hasselblad Manual’s Ernst Wildi’s analysis, the vertical component of the mirror slap can be very effectively negated just with a monopod. I use a Gitzo with a Manfrotto quick release tilt head, RC234. I use this at 1/60s but especially 1/30s and will experiment with going even slower. The accompanying photograph was taken at 1/125s and f8 on the monopod.

What it is it all in aid of, in the era of brilliant compact digitals, autofocus, and endless image making for minimal recurrent expense? Why buy film with 12 exposures per roll? Why carry a tripod or a monopod? It is a different exercise entirely to ‘Leica photography.’ The latter is an intuitive snatching of a picture, scale focused, estimated exposure and 1/60s or 1/40s or even much slower, with a passable result made with the magic of 35mm film and 37 exposures to a roll. The Hasselblad, perhaps medium format generally, is a totally different exercise. Sure, the Rolleiflex was a press workhorse in the 1950s, often still carried in its leather case astonishingly enough, but it is the slowing down with medium format that is one of the chief benefits; and the qualities of the Zeiss lenses, the tonality and finally the sharpness, where that is worth having.

I value the lightness and quietness of the Rolleiflex, but I just can’t see the screen except in bright light. The Hasselblad waist level view is astonishing and this is going to be a long-term love affair with the camera and what it produces.



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Old 12-27-2017   #2
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What a wonderful review and appreciation. I shot a 500CM for a good while years back, mostly handheld, so I come down with those who scoff at poor quality without a tripod. Careful working will allow for lovely images with or without a tripod.

The newer backs have a little piggyback thing to accept the withdrawn darkslide, and there are aftermarket versions available as well. A worthwhile item IMO.

Shoot well!
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Old 12-27-2017   #3
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Welcome to the Dark Slide!

Or is it the Dark Side?

Congratulations on your new world of Mediun Format... like most, I spent the majority of my life in 35mm, film and digital. Last year, I sold everything I could and traded for a 503cxi. My world is a different place now, everything has changed and I have to say that I could not be happier.

Although most of what we do is digital, the 120 film format is where it's at.

Looking forward to your posts and lots of photos!
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Old 12-27-2017   #4
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Richard,

Lovely image by the way.
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Old 12-27-2017   #5
Richard G
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Thanks Bob and Dave.

I realize I’ve put this in the wrong forum. If it matters, the moderator might kindly move it.

It’s interesting that there is so much out there to discourage one trying the Hasselblad. The insert might not have the same serial number, the magazines need yearly servicing or there’ll be light leaks, if you lock up the camera it’s an expensive repair, the lenses need servicing etc etc. I’m probably not going to take as many shots in my total ownership as a busy studio would have shot in six months.

I even did lock mine up half way through the first roll, possibly changing lenses indecisively. I was able to winkle the lens off and recock it with a screwdriver. No problem since.
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Old 12-27-2017   #6
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Teenage dreams realized, that's lovely. Great summary of the niceties of the Hasselblad as well; enjoy the camera, and thanks for posting.
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Old 12-27-2017   #7
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I can recall lusting for the 500C/M back in the early 1970's. If I'm recalling correctly, the 500C/M body, WL finder and A12 back with 80mm lens was selling for a thousand bucks from the New York mail order photo shops at the time. That was an unattainable dream from a beginning photographer who had just spent his savings for a used Nikon FTn and 50/1.4 lens.

I almost bought a Hasselblad a few years back when the used market apparently was saturated by so many pro studios dumping them when switching over to digital. I recall KEH having a ton of them in various configurations and conditions at very attractive prices. Alas, by that time I was also moving to digital and didn't see the wisdom in it--now I regret that decision.

Thanks for the review. I'm glad you finally achieved your young man's Hasselblad dream. Enjoy that great camera!
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Old 12-27-2017   #8
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Well said! The Hasselblad is my choice for MF, over the Rollei. I always seem to jiggle the Rollei when releasing the shutter, while the Blad sits dead solid in my hand. There's no problem at 1/250 hand held. Even 1/125 is OK with wide angle lenses. And a monopod is easy to use when needed. I use the Bogen with a ball head. And I agree, viewing and focusing is far superior with the Blad. And I absolutely must have the interchangeable lenses--especially the 50 and 60.

Nice review, Richard!
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Old 12-27-2017   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
...
It’s interesting that there is so much out there to discourage one trying the Hasselblad. The insert might not have the same serial number, the magazines need yearly servicing or there’ll be light leaks, if you lock up the camera it’s an expensive repair, the lenses need servicing etc etc. I’m probably not going to take as many shots in my total ownership as a busy studio would have shot in six months.
...
Good luck with your Hasselblad! Lovely cameras. They were so stratospherically over my pay grade for so many years that it's kind of a marvel that I was able to build up a complete kit in the middle '00s, sell it off, and then re-acquire essentially the same kit again in 2013-2014.

There's never been anything to discourage my trying the Hasselblad other than cost. I studied the system for so many years prior to ever buying one, all the serial number, lens etc. stuff was all well known to me. I've never locked one up.

(I came from Rolleiflex TLRs first ... It sounds like yours needs one of the Maxwell screens, like two of mine did.)

My Hasselblad kit now includes a '78 500CM, a '78 SWC, three '78 A12 backs, and 50/80/120 Makro/150 mm lenses. Plus a host of accessories and filters. (Tip: get a rapid focusing lever for your lenses, it makes a world of difference in being able to nail focus more accurately and consistently).

I've made a number of exposures at 1/30-1/60 exposure times with good results, with the 80mm lens at least. You can close the shutter diaphragm with one button on the lens, and then pre-fire the rear shutter and mirror with another on the body. That nets vibrationless exposures. (Of course, I use a tripod a lot with these cameras too.)

Although I only rarely use them, I love my Hasselblads. I'm sending the 150mm lens off for an overhaul this year coming... it needs it ... but otherwise I just use the kit and don't worry about it much.

G
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Old 12-27-2017   #10
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Blad to the bone...

A Hassy and a Rollie... what else does anyone really need ? LOL...

We live in great times!
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Old 12-27-2017   #11
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My photographic journey has led me to the Hasselblad 501c that sits on my desk right now, delivered yesterday, actually.

Having run the gamut of cameras, starting with the ricohflex and currently using two Fuji GF670 cameras, one regular one wide, the 501c is such an amazing camera that when I borrowed a 501cm recently, I had a hard time giving it back. I always pined for a rolleiflex 2.8gx or 2.8f, it seemed more my style, having shot for years with a Yashica EM. Something about the Hasselblad, though, is simply stunning in both use and what it produces.

I really cannot wait to get the normal 80mm f2.8 for this camera. I'm replacing the pm5 with a waist level (not really a prism guy), and then I'll be set.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
Thanks Bob and Dave.
t.

It’s interesting that there is so much out there to discourage one trying the Hasselblad. The insert might not have the same serial number, the magazines need yearly servicing or there’ll be light leaks, if you lock up the camera it’s an expensive repair, the lenses need servicing etc etc. I’m probably not going to take as many shots in my total ownership as a busy studio would have shot in six months.

I even did lock mine up half way through the first roll, possibly changing lenses indecisively. I was able to winkle the lens off and recock it with a screwdriver. No problem since.


I've also found this.

"Light leaks, the horror!"

"Why would i buy a camera that comes with a tool to unjam it?"

and many other hasselblad horror stories. I'll tell you what, this is the most beautiful box one could own.
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Old 12-27-2017   #12
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Richard,

I would like to see a photo of your brochure!
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Old 12-27-2017   #13
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The brochures are very ‘70s, garish clothing and big hair and moustaches. The 500CM brochure is comparatively tasteful, and has the camera over the shoulder of someone wearing a denim jacket, all tightly cropped. It’s at the office. I’ve had them in a filing cabinet all these years.

It was of course Apollo 11 that turned me to Hasselblad. I was very surprised when our science teacher talked about the Rolls Royce of cameras and what he was holding was some compact thing in a brown leather case with the tripod bush attachment all the way to one end of the base. How weird was that? “Leica.” He had to be joking.
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Old 12-27-2017   #14
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Enjoy your Hasselblad Richard!

And my experience differs from what you hear on the internet regarding shutter speed. I haven't found the mirror slap to be a problem. The ka-whumpf is loud, but I'm not convinced it is causing shake problems. I'm the problem. I've been using a 645 with an 80mm lens and the focus length is the challenge to keeping things sharp and not the mirror. If you do things well, like brace the finder against your head and are careful with tripping the shutter, you'll be fine at speeds lower than 1/250th, irrespective of the mirror slap.
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Old 12-27-2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeL View Post
Enjoy your Hasselblad Richard!

And my experience differs from what you hear on the internet regarding shutter speed. I haven't found the mirror slap to be a problem. The ka-whumpf is loud, but I'm not convinced it is causing shake problems. I'm the problem. I've been using a 645 with an 80mm lens and the focus length is the challenge to keeping things sharp and not the mirror. If you do things well, like brace the finder against your head and are careful with tripping the shutter, you'll be fine at speeds lower than 1/250th, irrespective of the mirror slap.
Mike is right! And,
I absolutely LOVE the KA-WHUMPF!!!
With MF, go big or stay home! Lol....
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Old 12-27-2017   #16
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I think I've done 1/15 at least, handheld, with the Hassy, with decent results. Maybe it was the 50mm though. The finder is pretty rigid and you can push it right into your face (with the magnifier) and that helps alot.

Design-wise, the interlocks are one of the coolest features of the Hasselblad, to me. The camera's not foolproof, but the designers made it hard for the user to make mistakes.
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Old 12-27-2017   #17
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The Leica shutter sound is the stopping and capping of the curtains and the running of the gears. Very nice. Very delicate. The Hasselblad ka thump seems much less the sound of a weighty, clumsy mechanism, even though the mechanism is so complex, and more just the sound of the movement of air — an indrawing of breath, or a satisfied exhalation. "Look what I just did."
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Old 12-30-2017   #18
Richard G
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Some brochures on the Hasselblad system. These are from 1980.

Front cover of one on the system:


The system
by Richard, on Flickr


Another system brochure:


The system
by Richard, on Flickr


The system:



The system
by Richard, on Flickr



The 500 CM brochure, smaller, and square:



The system
by Richard, on Flickr



The system
by Richard, on Flickr



The system
by Richard, on Flickr



A reveal set....



The system
by Richard, on Flickr



The system
by Richard, on Flickr



Another system brochure:



The system
by Richard, on Flickr


More of a catalogue of cameras, lenses and accessories, all in black and white:



The system
by Richard, on Flickr
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Old 12-30-2017   #19
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Richard what a great review, I too purchased a Hasselblad from a friend at a great
price and have been using it and love the photos from it. Along with a Rolleiflex
they're great cameras, so much so I sold most of my 35mm cameras. I think all
you need for the Rollei is a new screen, that's what I did with mine and it's pretty
bright compared to the Hassy.
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Old 12-30-2017   #20
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Richard!

Thanks, the brochure is really cool! I saved them and will pour over those pages this weekend.

Happy New Year!!!
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Old 12-30-2017   #21
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Richard,

I am both thrilled for you and jealous in equal measure

Ever since I first held a Hasselblad about 25 years ago (some gold plated model) I’ve dreamt of owning one. A stint as a studio photographer’s assistant a few years later only fuelled the fire. A magnificent ka thump indeed!

Now that the price of acquisition is increasing, I feel it inching out of reach, but I can’t quite let go of the dream. Then again, perhaps I’m just being romantic...

Enjoy your in good health for many, many years to come.

Cheers,

J
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Old 12-30-2017   #22
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Congrats on the new-to-you Hassy. Hasselblad was always my favourite system. Started out in the early 1970s with a 1000F, which I traded for a then-new 500C. Still have the 500C and it is still in top shape. Now have added a 503CW and a 903SWC. I have been using a Mamiya 7ii more lately because the Hasselbald seems best mounted on a tripod, which is very inconvenient to carry around while travelling. But it is still a favourite system. Good luck and happy trails with your Hasselblad. And I, too, like your picture.
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Old 12-30-2017   #23
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Thanks very much guys. I must say I am increasingly drawn to tripod use with this already. But on my walks I'll make do still with the monopod.

Here's another photo from the brochures. Do photographers actually hold it this way? I have both hands on the camera and use my right index finger for the shutter release. I suppose if I got better with it on the fly, as I tried to this afternoon with my cat, I would need to adopt something like this hold of the camera, and add the rapid focus lever mentioned above.


The grip (?)
by Richard, on Flickr
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Old 12-31-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
More of a catalogue of cameras, lenses and accessories, all in black and white:



The system
by Richard, on Flickr


This is the catalog I have referred to for many years, I now have collected probably at least 2/3 at least of the parts available for these cameras. Looking through this catalog you can realize why I call the Hasselblad "The Erector Set of Photography". You can literally configure these into whatever you desire for whatever project you are working on.

My new Hasselblad A500 magazine by Nokton48, on Flickr

Nobody else made all these accessories. Nobody else not even close.
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Old 12-31-2017   #25
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Very striking device pictured. What’s the back? And even 1/3 of the catalogue would be an impressive inventory.
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Old 12-31-2017   #26
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Quote:
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Thanks very much guys. I must say I am increasingly drawn to tripod use with this already. But on my walks I'll make do still with the monopod.

Here's another photo from the brochures. Do photographers actually hold it this way? I have both hands on the camera and use my right index finger for the shutter release. I suppose if I got better with it on the fly, as I tried to this afternoon with my cat, I would need to adopt something like this hold of the camera, and add the rapid focus lever mentioned above.


The grip (?)
by Richard, on Flickr
I don't seem to hold it like that, my left hand is focusing and the right
hand is kinda under the camera with my index on the shutter button,
Maybe because I'm a Lefty.
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Old 12-31-2017   #27
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Love the opening sentence on the Hasselblad Grip page. Made me look at my other cameras and wonder what use they could possibly be put to that isn’t photography.
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Old 12-31-2017   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nokton48 View Post
This is the catalog I have referred to for many years, I now have collected probably at least 2/3 at least of the parts available for these cameras. Looking through this catalog you can realize why I call the Hasselblad "The Erector Set of Photography". You can literally configure these into whatever you desire for whatever project you are working on.

My new Hasselblad A500 magazine by Nokton48, on Flickr

Nobody else made all these accessories. Nobody else not even close.
Good grief, you continue to amaze me with your depth of knowledge and amazing collection of all things, and now this image! Like you, I am absolutely mesmerized by the modular concept of Hasselblad cameras. Pure genius!
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Old 12-31-2017   #29
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I purchased a new 501CM w/80 CF, 50 CF, and 150 CF lenses and a couple of A12 backs in the 80's. Bitten by the Leica bug having owned a R4 SLR and wanting to try the rangefinder experience, I traded for a new 1985 Wetzlar M6 w/ v. IV 35 Summicron and some other items.

I never regretted picking up the M6 and 'Cron (still have them). But, I regret trading my 'Blad rig. I miss it.

I've been itching to pick up another 501CM w/80CF, WLF, and short H'Blad QR wrist strap - keep it simple. Still have my Gossen Luna-Pro SBC and always found it easy to transfer the EV reading to the CF lenses using the interlocking EV button.

The 501 felt so natural in my hand; using the technique above; cradling the camera in my left hand, my left index finger naturally fell on the shutter button, focusing and rewinding with my right.

Enjoy your 'Blad! They are fun.





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Old 12-31-2017   #30
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Hello Richard, Congratulations and I recommend using the left-hand grip and shutter-release if you want to be a fully-qualified Bladista - it makes it relatively quick to focus with your right and wang another frame in place also with the right. I used to use one in the 80's and have recently bought another one, a '77 500 CM. Photo taken below this morning of my '70 BMW (living the 70's all over again downtown at 1/60th, which I think the left-hand cradling most of the weight may help.

Hasselblad 500CM Planar 80/2.8 TMax100
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Old 12-31-2017   #31
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I have returned to using my SWC. Basic photography is therapeutic!

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Old 12-31-2017   #32
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Nice Raid!
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Old 12-31-2017   #33
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Thanks mcfignon: that does indeed look pretty sharp at 1/60s.
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Old 12-31-2017   #34
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I have returned to using my SWC. Basic photography is therapeutic!

I will be trying not to enlarge my Hasselblad cupboard too much. Another lens perhaps. Maybe one more body......or indeed maybe the SWC.
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Old 12-31-2017   #35
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Quote:
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Very striking device pictured. What’s the back? And even 1/3 of the catalogue would be an impressive inventory.
It's the Hasselblad 500 exposure A500 Film Magazine. Utilizes one hundred feet of 70mm film. I bought one recently, but alas, it was not as described, so I had to return it.

More of an item for the Hasselblad collector, rather an a user (I am both)
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Old 12-31-2017   #36
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Quote:
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It's the Hasselblad 500 exposure A500 Film Magazine. Utilizes one hundred feet of 70mm film. I bought one recently, but alas, it was not as described, so I had to return it.

More of an item for the Hasselblad collector, rather an a user (I am both)
You need either strong arms & wrists, or a good tripod with such a large film back. I can see its usefulness for studio photography with a hasselblad.
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Old 12-31-2017   #37
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I will be trying not to enlarge my Hasselblad cupboard too much. Another lens perhaps. Maybe one more body......or indeed maybe the SWC.
Hasselblad was wise to choose a camera for a single lens since that lens is as close to perfection as can be designed. Having no moving parts allows the lens to always be perfectly attached to the camera in perfect alignment.
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Old 12-31-2017   #38
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You need either strong arms & wrists, or a good tripod with such a large film back. I can see its usefulness for studio photography with a hasselblad.
Actually Raid it is not nearly as heavy as you would think! I was amazed! Although, of course, it was not loaded with 70mm one hundred feet of film, that adds a lot of weight! And that is exactly why I returned it, there was no way I could load it (aside from the fact that it requires an EL/M NiCad to power the film back mechanics). The film counter was wonky, and the back would not properly close, so back it went (sniff, sniff!)

I would actually consider it to be hand holdable (but not discreet obviously!)
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Old 12-31-2017   #39
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More 70mm Hasselblad Backs. I have an ongoing 70mm thread here if anyone is interested. Shooting 70mm is almost like shooting analog digital, no need to look at the frame counter. https://www.rangefinderforum.com/for...hreadid=161383

Hasselblad ELM 70mm by Nokton48, on Flickr
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Old 12-31-2017   #40
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The SWC/M is indeed tempting as well!
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