Actually Using The Hasselblad 500C/M

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Dave Colangelo, Jul 3, 2016.

  1. Dave Colangelo

    Dave Colangelo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I thought it might be of interest for some here to see what it takes for a completely average photographer to learn how to use a Hasselblad 500C/M. This threads goal is to serve to document the trials and tribulations I will encounter using this camera. I plan to post both the good photos and the bad to server as a learning experience for others as well. Before I launch into anything I should provide some background on how this camera came into my ownership and what my goals are here. If you don't know what a Hasselblad 500C/M is you should check out this link for more info.

    TL;DR;

    Most people who get into photography as a serious hobby will at some point read about the famed "Hasselblad" cameras. Considering their new X1D release their name has been back in the press recently and Im excited so see that camera when it actually hits the shelves. On any note the Hasselbald has a certain way about it that few other cameras have been able to match. Nasa took the early 1600's to the moon, many great album covers have been shot with them and countless famous photographers have used them over the years. One thing that I have found in my recent reading is that due to the heavy professional use and generally high price tag there is not that much information available on these cameras from the point of view of a normal or hobbits shooter. For many years these cameras were simply out of budget for all but few people, however as of late, with the hike in quality of digital cameras and the closing of many film factories the film Hasselblads have really come down in price. This has allowed some of us hobbits to get a piece of gear that was previously out of reach.

    My 500C/M came to me after a few months of searching and a bunch of phone calls, heres the story. There is a small antique shop about an hour from me owned by a very nice old woman. She always has some interesting camera stuff coming and going and I have bought some great vintage nikon stuff from her over the years. About a year ago she told me she had some "old medium format stuff lying around somewhere". I told her that I was getting back into film and I would be interested, she preceded to tell me "Its Hasselblad stuff, the good stuff". I got excited and told her to call me if she found it. Months passed with no call and I ended up back in the store in passing but she still had not found it. She told me that she had a fair idea of where it was but she kept forgetting to look for it. She went on to tell me that if I called her during the week a few times to reminded her she would look for it. We played phone tag for the next 2 months and eventually she located the camera. It was a fairly complete set that included a 500C/M and 3 lenses. Unfortunately I was only able to strike a deal on the camera body, some accessories and the 80mm lens. Part of the deal was also contingent on me not selling the camera (I couldn't just turn it around for a quick small profit) considering the price I was ok with that and the camera came to my possession.

    I knew the camera would need a CLA no matter what (it had been sitting for years) and there was also a problem with the rear shutter curtan. The 500C/M has the main shutter in the lens but there is a second (non timed) curtain in the back of the camera body that was not actuating open fully. After some hunting I located one of the few people that still serveces these cameras. David Odess did the full CLA and repair on the camera for a very resonable sum and was well worth it to get the camera back in working order. His work is flawless and I would highly recomend him to any other Hasselblad owners. It took about 2 months to get the work done but it was well worth the wait.

    In the process of waiting I did all the research I could on the camera, how to use it, its pitfalls and its praises. To give the cameras highlights for those who dont know about it, the 500C/M (and almost every other hasselblad) is a medium format (120 Film) SLR camera. It is generally equiped with a waist level view finder and sports hot swapable film backs that allow you to change film mid roll. Hasselblad never made a variable zoom lens for the V series so you only have fixed focal lengths to work with. The most common lenses are 40mm, 50mm, 80mm (the most common), 150mm, and 250mm. They made a somewhat poorly regarded 500mm and a 350mm that seems plus minus at best. I currently have the 80mm and 250mm (I also have a broken 500mm but thats another story). My discussions here will begin with the 80mm and the 250mm (both are single coat C serires lenses) and move into other things as I aquire them.

    I am going to do my best and refrain from comparing this to digital cameras as thats like comparing apples and Hasselblads, they are just different. You can find endless discussions on film V digital elsewhere here if you like. For this Im going to stick to discussing the camera at hand, I will however compare it with some of the other medium format cameras I have used (Rolleichord, Yashica 635 and dare I say it Holga). If I can get ahold of one I would love to compare it to a Kiev 88 (the Russian copy).

    IMG_4378.jpg

    Regards
    Dave


     
  2. Dave Colangelo

    Dave Colangelo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I was able to get the camera out for the first time this holiday weekend down at the shore to take a few frames. I wont have the negatives until later this week but here are some shots of it out in the field.

    IMG_4410.jpg
    IMG_4411.jpg

    Regards
    Dave
     
  3. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I had a 500 c/m. Good luck to you. I was looking for another and ended up with a Fuji GX680III instead.
     
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  4. Dave Colangelo

    Dave Colangelo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    So the first roll came back from the lab yesterday, all in all not that bad. The light meter I had is defiantly off by at least a stop (but has been replaced with a good working one). Everyone can check out the roll here. Let me know what you think!

    Regards
    Dave
     
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  5. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Not sure if it's my phone but I see light bands in some of the photos. Is that the scan or light leak or my phone?
    Definitely see the meter issue, can it be calibrated?
     
  6. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yep, the banding you see is film processing.

    Joe
     
  7. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Well, that's not good.
     
  8. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    How do you know the meter is off?
    How was the film processed? Who did it and what chemistry?
    How was the film scanned? The images are very flat suggesting poor processing and/or poor scanning.

    Joe
     
  9. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    How were these metered/developed/printed/scanned? They all seemed very flat ... Easily fixed in post ... But still very flat and lacking contrast.

    PS- I posted before reading Joe's remarks. So what Joe said ...
     
  10. Dave Colangelo

    Dave Colangelo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    In response to the common questions,

    - The meter was tested against my D3300 and against the new meter (Gossen Sixtomat) both confirmed it was off.
    - The film was processed by a local lab, I can get more details from them on the actual chemistry they used next time I'm there.
    - The lab also did the scans, these are the lower res scans that are just part of their develop and print package, they are more intended for proofing, they will scan at higher resolutions if you ask (pay) for a particular image.

    Both the scans and the prints are fairly flat, for the record the film was Illford HP5 400ISO. I have been taking notes on each shot when I take it so I have all the exposure numbers, ill try and add them to the images for a frame of reference.

    For the time being I have been having the lab do the work, mainly due to time constraints however I have been slowly accumulating development tanks, a changing bag, and the other odds and ends needed to develop at home. My next mission is to work on developing the film my self.

    Regards
    Dave
     
  11. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You're due a refund on the film processing for that last roll. The banding from uneven processing is obvious. Time to look for other lab alternatives.

    Joe
     
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  12. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I would be pissed.
     

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