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Hasselblad V purchase... any later models to avoid?

mjm6

Member
Folks,

I'm looking at buying a Hasselblad 501/503 model camera for some film shooting and I am trying to figure out if there are any bodies that are best to avoid for some reason (reliability, replacement perts, etc.)

My main target is the 501CM, but they are somewhat scarce in the condition and specs I want, so I am also looking at the 501C, 503CX and 503CW... I guess the 503CXi as well.

There are some that would work for my needs, but I'm a bit worried about buying a 503xx and then having some problem with it only to discover that the problem can't be fixed... I'd like to avoid that if I could, and since I will never use the TTL, I was thinking about just avoiding the 503 series, but they are a bit more availalbe than the 501CM.

Also, there are a few 501C cameras that would work, but is that such a scaled back version that I'd xbe better avoising that? I don't care about the intercangable wind knob... what else do I give up getting a 501C?

Thanks.


---Michael
 
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richardman

Active member
A good number of technicians still work on the V series, you can't go wrong. They will last beyond our corporal bodies

Personally I like metering and love my 203FE, but definitely not for everyone
 

mjm6

Member
A good number of technicians still work on the V series, you can't go wrong. They will last beyond our corporal bodies

Personally I like metering and love my 203FE, but definitely not for everyone
Thanks for that... This is my impression baseed on what I have seen so far, but since I have no personal experience, I thought I'd ask.

I will be metering with a spot meter, so I will likely just go with a WL finder rather than any of the pentaprisms. I won't use the TTL at all, but as long as that doesn't cripple the camera in other respects, then I'm fine having one with that.

When buying, what factors do you consider the most important? Condition (obviously), most will need a CLA regardless, I expect, do you think that the vintage of the film backs is a useful deciding factor in one vs. another?

How about getting one with the best (for me) focus screen? since the best ones are pretty expensive, I was thinking that would be a good deciding factor.

Lastly, I mostly do landscape/travel/architecture shooting (think a blend of Michael Mckenna and Fredrick Evans, add a dash of Dick Arentz for pt/pd and Jon Goodman for gravures). In fact, my avatar is a good representation of images I will likely shoot with the camera... that one was shot about 15 years ago on a Mamiya 6 with (probably) the 75mm lens. I'm looking at the coverage of the 80mm vs. the 100mm and thinking the 100mm might be a little better suited to my preferences. Do you have any reason you can think of that buying the 100mm would be a problem? I'm going to be getting a 50mm for sure. Beyond that, I'm thinking 100mm, and either the 180mm or the 250mm to complete a three lens setup.
 

Duff photographer

Active member
I'm looking at buying a Hasselblad 501/503 model camera for some film shooting and I am trying to figure out if there are any bodies that are best to avoid for some reason (reliability, replacement perts, etc.)
While there are minor differences between the bodies, there is no difference in reliability and repairability in the 500 series. It will be safe to choose the model whose specs you most require/desire.

Cheers,
Duff.
 

jng

Well-known member
Folks,

I'm looking at buying a Hasselblad 501/503 model camera for some film shooting and I am trying to figure out if there are any bodies that are best to avoid for some reason (reliability, replacement perts, etc.)

My main target is the 501CM, but they are somewhat scarce in the condition and specs I want, so I am also looking at the 501C, 503CX and 503CW... I guess the 503CXi as well.

There are some that would work for my needs, but I'm a bit worried about buying a 503xx and then having some problem with it only to discover that the problem can't be fixed... I'd like to avoid that if I could, and since I will never use the TTL, I was thinking about just avoiding the 503 series, but they are a bit more availalbe than the 501CM.

Also, there are a few 501C cameras that would work, but is that such a scaled back version that I'd xbe better avoising that? I don't care about the intercangable wind knob... what else do I give up getting a 501C?

Thanks.


---Michael
As alluded to above, the condition of the camera itself is probably more important than the specific model - there are some older bodies in fine shape and newer ones that are pretty beat up. A CLA and mirror alignment once you find a body in good condition is highly recommended to ensure all is in working order and the focus path is properly calibrated to the film plane.

The 501CM and 503CW have the larger, gliding mirror, which among other features avoids masking of the upper part of the viewfinder with certain telephoto lenses (no effect on the actual captured image, however).

Except for the earlier 500C models, the focusing screen is interchangeable, so it's a luck of the draw which screen comes with any particular body. Replacements can be found on the used market, but can get a little pricey.

The 3.5/100 Planar, while perhaps a bit longer than what you're looking for, is a spectacular lens. The 4/150 and 4/180 Sonnars are also excellent. And the 5.6/250 Superachromat is out of this world...

John
 

sog1927

Member
The Acute Matte and Acute Matte D screens are definitely better than the original ground glass in my view, so I'd be on the lookout for one of those. The screens in the 500C/M and later are user-replaceable, so you can always upgrade the screen later. The 100 is definitely sharper than the 80. 500-series cameras are all built like tanks. They'll outlast you and your grandchildren. As suggested, get a CLA and a mirror adjustment to make sure everything's in good order. If you're planning on shooting film, get the light seals replaced in the film magazine(s) just as a precaution.
 

Hasslebad

Member
I generally look at the condition of the paint on the back and the barn doors. If you see a lot of paint scratches there, it was probably heavily used (switching backs). If possible, look at the condition of the palpas coating inside the camera. That coating is known to crack. Small cracks aren’t a big deal but you don’t want a body with chunks coming off.

The 100mm was the first lens I bought. I bought it for the focal length. I’ve read about its legendary reputation for sharpness. In my experience it is very sharp but optimized at infinity.
 

docholliday

Well-known member
I've owned over 2 dozen V bodies. None of them were 501/500 series, though. My favorite is still the 205FCC and 203FE as they have metering built-in for use with the WLF and not needing the prism. I've also owned both the Winder CW on the 503CXi and CW as well as the Winder F on my 203/205 bodies.

Pretty much anything of the 501/503 series is good. Older 500 bodies can have a lot of wear or neglect, despite looking pristine. If you go to the 55x motorized bodies, you can have issues with older ones and funky batteries. I would take a well-worn body owned by a pro over a shelf queen most times as I know the pro camera got regular maintenance. You can always pull the leatherette, polish the chrome, and releather it easily - even with croc or snake leather if you wish.

Stay away from the 2000 series as parts are non-existant and the titanium shutters will fail unexpectedly.

The 200 series are still the best of all worlds, and can take digital backs if you have the bodies modded to altering the wiring config for back communications. But, the mod will also remove the ability for the bodies to communicate with the film backs afterwards.

For all series, 50x or 20x, change to the Acute-Matte D (denoted by the double notches) if it doesn't come with one for the best view.

Things to watch for are rear doors drooping (doors slipping the axle pin), rough wind (excessive wear), lenses that trip when removed (high wear on the drivetrain), and sloppy winder knobs with excessive play (rough handling of the crank). All of these can be fixed easily and it is recommended no matter what condition the body *seems* to be in when you get it to send it to a competent mechanic for CLA. I do my own work on bodies, so I've rebuilt and serviced a lot to see this wear present.

If you plan on doing any studio shooting, it's worth it spend the extra for the 503 bodies - even if you don't use TTL. The Winder CW with the infrared remote is an amazing piece of gear and so very functional. I wish that my H bodies would have included that remote design as it would make the H cameras almost perfect.

Also, check your backs carefully for slippage. Don't worry about the "insert numbers not matching". It doesn't really matter. I've mixed and matched a dozen backs and never had an issue. Load a roll of junk 120, wind it up. Place it on the camera, fire and hold the shutter, and mark draw around the edge of the film through the body with a pencil. Then, wind, fire again and repeat until you are at the end of the 12 frames. Pull the film and look for evenness between frames that you've drawn. If you see unevenness or gradually growing space between frames, you'll need an overhaul on the back as well.

Buy yourself a half dozen or so light traps to keep around. They are easy to change and will go bad if you constantly put the darkslide in and out between shots. Also, check your darkslides for bends and rough edges as that'll destroy light traps faster than fast.

Another thing if you plan on having multiple backs and are going to keep the system - take a small file and add a random notch to the edge of the back aperture where the other notches are. That way, if you get a random light leak, you can tell which back is the culprit - and you can quickly fix the problem (you *do* have extra light traps in the drawer, right?)
 
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P. Chong

Well-known member
Another thing if you plan on having multiple backs and are going to keep the system - take a small file and add a random notch to the edge of the back aperture where the other notches are. That way, if you get a random light leak, you can tell which back is the culprit.
fantastic advice Doc...as usual. But I cannot quite picture how to do the advice on the last paragraph. Do you have a pic?
 

docholliday

Well-known member
fantastic advice Doc...as usual. But I cannot quite picture how to do the advice on the last paragraph. Do you have a pic?
I don't have a pic...I haven't had a V system in years. However, look at the edges of the hole where the film shows through the back when the darkslide is removed. You'll see what looks like two cuts on one side. They're little lines. Those are what puts the notches onto the image if you scan/print the negative outside the frame. You'll take a small triangle file and lightly score another line at different places on different backs. I had so many backs at one time that some backs had two extra cuts scored into them. For example, back "1" may not have any extra notches cut. Back "2" would have one cut near the top. Back "3" near the bottom. Back "4" half way between top and middle. Back "5" half way between middle and bottom. Back "6" double marked half way between middle and top along with middle and bottom.

When printed/scanned, you'll see an extra "notch" appear, exactly where you put the cut. If you get a negative with light leak, look to see where that extra notch is at and you'll find the back that's responsible. It's been really common practice with production/wedding photographers in the past managing dozens of backs.

This isn't my shot, but I found an image of an A12 with enough to show the notches. You'll see the (original factory) cuts in the back where I've circled. These are what puts the notches in the side of your neg.
Inkeds-l1600_LI.jpg
 

mjm6

Member
Thanks all... I now have a 501C that had a CLA last fall and it looks great (and works great as well). 4- A12 backs, a 50mm, 80mm, 150mm, and 250mm and *gulp* I just ordered a SWC/M that seemed like a fair deal (and I got the newer viewfinder for it).

I need to get a Hasselblad to GF lens adapter to try all the lenses on the Fuji GFX camera and see is any of them are worth crossing over. I doubt it, since they won't have profiles cooked in, but they may offer a nice alternate at times. I'm particularly thinking about getting my hands on a 250mm Superachromat to test and then maybe replace my Fuji GF 250mm with that one to do double duty.
 

ggibson

Well-known member
Thanks all... I now have a 501C that had a CLA last fall and it looks great (and works great as well). 4- A12 backs, a 50mm, 80mm, 150mm, and 250mm and *gulp* I just ordered a SWC/M that seemed like a fair deal (and I got the newer viewfinder for it).

I need to get a Hasselblad to GF lens adapter to try all the lenses on the Fuji GFX camera and see is any of them are worth crossing over. I doubt it, since they won't have profiles cooked in, but they may offer a nice alternate at times. I'm particularly thinking about getting my hands on a 250mm Superachromat to test and then maybe replace my Fuji GF 250mm with that one to do double duty.
For shooting on GFX, you might look into the metabones speedbooster adapter to get a similar field of view and depth of field as on film (cropped to 4:3 anyways). You could also carry a standard adapter in addition, effectively giving you two focal lengths to work with per lens.
 

schuster

Active member
I have the Sonnar Superachromat (Sa) CFi 5.6/250mm and the Tele-Superachromat (Sa) CFE 5.6/350mm. Both are absolutely razor sharp on the Hasselblad 503CW with a Phase One IQ-160 back, and of course with film. But, I did a quick test with a Fotodiox Pro dlx Stretch adapter on the Fujifilm 100S, and at full frame, down to about 1/16 of the frame, the images were beautiful, but when I got down to pixel-peeping, not so hot. I was really disappointed. There was a "ghosting" around the highlights. Maybe it could be fixed by extending the adapter, but I haven't tried that. However, I tested the Makro-Planar CFE 120mm, and the CF 150mm with the adapter and the results were great. So far, it seems like the longer the focal length, the less adaptable. Has anyone else here had something similar?
 

schuster

Active member
Can anyone here recommend an excellent Hasselblad repair shop in New England? When I was in L.A., I used to go to Rudy Lingg, but he retired years ago. My 503CW and ArcBody are in great shape, but it's been decades since their last oil change, spark plugs, tire rotation etc.
 

mjm6

Member
Can anyone here recommend an excellent Hasselblad repair shop in New England? When I was in L.A., I used to go to Rudy Lingg, but he retired years ago. My 503CW and ArcBody are in great shape, but it's been decades since their last oil change, spark plugs, tire rotation etc.
There is a guy named James Kilroy in MA that does repairs. I don't have contact info on him, other than that he is in Warwick, MA. He did the CLA on my camera. Beyond that, I cannot speak for his work.

...just found an email address:
[email protected]
 

mjm6

Member
I have the Sonnar Superachromat (Sa) CFi 5.6/250mm and the Tele-Superachromat (Sa) CFE 5.6/350mm. Both are absolutely razor sharp on the Hasselblad 503CW with a Phase One IQ-160 back, and of course with film. But, I did a quick test with a Fotodiox Pro dlx Stretch adapter on the Fujifilm 100S, and at full frame, down to about 1/16 of the frame, the images were beautiful, but when I got down to pixel-peeping, not so hot. I was really disappointed. There was a "ghosting" around the highlights. Maybe it could be fixed by extending the adapter, but I haven't tried that. However, I tested the Makro-Planar CFE 120mm, and the CF 150mm with the adapter and the results were great. So far, it seems like the longer the focal length, the less adaptable. Has anyone else here had something similar?


Well that just saved me $2500 probably. Thanks for the info on the lenses on a GFX body.
 

suni16

New member
Can anyone here recommend an excellent Hasselblad repair shop in New England? When I was in L.A., I used to go to Rudy Lingg, but he retired years ago. My 503CW and ArcBody are in great shape, but it's been decades since their last oil change, spark plugs, tire rotation etc.
I don’t know about the ArcBody, but David Odess in Randolph, MA knows the V series well. He has done some lenses for me, film backs too. His turnaround time is somewhat long, so you have to go in knowing that.
 

Pieter 12

Member
My experience with older, orphan and low-volume cameras is that even though there might be technicians who work on them, parts are not always available, completely disabling the camera. So if there is a part that is prone to failure that cannot be somehow fabricated, supplies can dry up over time.
 
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