This Old Camera: Hasselblad 501c – V Series Camera

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My first post ever about the Hasselblad 501c said:

I count my 1st ever roll of film through a Hasselblad camera (acquired recently from a friend who made me an offer I could not refuse) a success. Thank you interwebs and Southeastern Camera-Carrboro for the tips. First and last frames done in before they had a chance by yours truly and have inspired my new mantra, “Always cock shutter before putting on film back after playing with camera body. Always…”. Not counting those. Of the remaining ten, nine came out so I am thrilled.

Now that I have had time with this camera I wanted to revisit and update this post.

If I had to use one word for this camera it would be respect. Respect for the heritage. Respect for the quality of the image it produces. Respect for the way it distills the process of taking a picture down to it’s most essential elements. There is a lot of talk about how manual film cameras make you slow down, but along with that these cameras force you to think. Why? Glad you asked:

  • Novice prism disorientation. This was my first time with a waist level viewfinder. While the viewfinder clarity is amazing it takes a bit of time to get used to left and right being reversed. Not too difficult, but it takes a minute and also inspires you to think about your shot.

  • Light meter learning curve: I have long wondered how a light meter works. While I have used film cameras for quite some time by the time my father brought me online in camera light meters were quite common. Light meter manual and youtube were my friends here. What’s more, is that the light meter has now become a mainstay with my digital photography as well. For example, after setting up a 3 light kit using a light meter and Hasselblad for family reunion portraits I went on to use the same readings for my K-1 for the rest of the portraits in full manual rather than risking exposure inconsistency with the camera’s internal meter.


  • 12 exposures: I used to worry about wasting film with 24 or 36 exposures on a roll of 35mm film. 12 exposures will make you positively stingy with shots.
  • Zen film loading: I love loading medium format film. Oddly relaxing.
  • General handling: This is a camera that makes you look like you know what you are doing even if you do not. For me that makes me take even more care not to fall short of that expectation.

Bottom line? I love this camera. It honestly fell in my lap, and as an unknown, I would have not laid out full price for one. But now that I have owned and used one I will never let it go. Above that knowing what I know now I would strongly recommend that anyone with the inclination and means, but has doubts to go ahead and make the plunge. I doubt you will regret it.

Here is a link to an ongoing gallery and below are the samples I originally posted of the first roll I shot with it.




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