The Hasselblad Experience

I have a 2015 Kia Soul, Alien Green color..

It’s a great car. I am grateful for the dependability I’ve found in it.

I’m grateful for the value I seem to have found in it.

I’m grateful that it gets me from here to there, and, for the most part, to this point anyhow, I don’t worry too much about whether or not it’ll get me to my destination.

It’s a great car.

I once drove a corvette.

Along with getting me to where I’m going, in the same way my Kia does, it’s an experience to drive.

Everything about it is just… well… better.

When I think of my Hasselblad 500cm… I think of Corvettes and Rolls Royces and Bentleys.

Although other medium format film systems will get the job done, none do it with the same regal manner or distinction.

Simply put, the Hasselblad 500-series is the pinnacle of medium format film photography.

Now, this is anything but an original thought.

The camera is widely regarded as the top-of-the-line system, and even to this day, 40-year old kits sell for thousands of dollars.

Shooters still aspire to call one of these camera setups their own, and it is a conversation starter amongst film lovers and even those who are just dabbling in the genre.

There is a very interesting story behind Hasselblad and founder Victor Hasselblad. Details of this can be found all over the Internet, just a quick Google search is all that’s required to delve deeper into this tale.

In short, Hasselblad started his company in order to make cameras for the Swedish Air Force. Well, his design essentially altered the course of photographic history and created a brand that would become synonymous with top-quality photographic equipment.

Heck, the camera system needed up on the moon!

To this day, Hasselblad from decades ago are routinely used to shoot everything from portraits to landscapes and everything ion between.

Sure, they’re boxy, expensive and sound like a small canon when fired, but shooting a Hasselblad is as close to a religious experience as one can get in film photography.

There is no meter in the 500cm, a leaf shutter in the lens, and the waist level viewfinder takes some getting use to, but all that aside, there are very few, in fact no other camera, I would choose to shoot ever a Hasselblad 500cm with an 80mm 2.8, waist-level finder and A12 back.

And I haven’t even began to tell you about the image quality from any of the system’s lenses.

They’re optically amazing.

Now that I’ve spent the better part of 400 words explaining to you how wonderful the system is, let’s spend a moment talking about a few of the drawbacks.

For starters, it’s not for everyone.

There is little or nothing discrete about it, although some have used it for street photography.

It’s not a light setup, regardless of which lens graces the front end of the camera body.

Focusing requires time and precision, which is a drawback to some, a blessing to others.

They can be fragile and temperamental machines.

Regular overhauls and CLA’s are recommended, particularly for the lenses.

And, last but not least, they are not cheap, regardless of condition.

You can look at this factor two ways, I suppose. For one, the quality is so good that the value hasn’t wavered much over the years. Or, you can look at it as you’re paying a premium for the nameplate.

That said, my Hasselblad is among my most treasured possessions and on a very short list of things in my life I would say I need.


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