Buying a Hasselblad 500cm

The choices I made when I bought my Hasselblad system.

I have been looking at Hasselblad cameras on and off for a number of years. The design of the V system has always appealed to me, but I always seemed to talk myself out of buying one.


Back in August I found a nice 500c/m body at a reasonable price and decided to snap it up before I could talk myself out of it again. Of course the body is only part of the system. I would still need to get a lens, a viewfinder and a film back. So I started my search for all of the pieces to put my system together. The beauty of the Hasselblad V system is that it is a modular system, so you can pick and choose what you add on to the body. The system dates back to the 1950’s and Hasselblad only stopped producing their latest model in 2013. This means that there are plenty of different options available and the prices can be very reasonable for the older versions.

So what did I decide to buy? The body as I mentioned before is a 1974 500c/m. I know it is over 40 years old, but these things are built like tanks. My body looks like it has been well looked after and has only had light use. The more modern versions are much the same, but carry a higher price tag. The A12 film back was easy to source as there seems to be an endless supply of them. All I had to do was choose one that was in good condition and had a matching insert. For the viewfinder I have always had my heart set on a waist level finder. I know that this is not everybodys preferred choice, but I love the look of them and how they fold down to nothing. Again this was easy to find a nice example that was in keeping with the age of the body. The biggest decision was what to use for a lens. Hasselblad have always used Carl Zeiss lenses, so I knew what ever I chose it was going to be good quality. I opted for a 150mm f/4 Sonnar C type, then a few weeks later I found a 60mm f/5.6 Distagon for a really cheap price.

Now that I had everything together I had the decision of what film to use. Considering that most people are now shooting digital I was surprised how much of a choice there still was. I knew I wanted to shoot in black and white, so that made the decision a bit easier. I opted for a roll of Ilford FP4 as it ticked all the right boxes, especially the part about the enormous latitude for exposure error. This was important to me as there was going to be a certain amount of guesswork in my exposures. Armed with a home made notebook for recording all my data, I set off to try and make the most of the 12 shots on the roll of film.

To be continued…