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50mm Distagon which one


New Member
My first on the forum !!
My 503CW needs more exercise and I`m dying to get a 50mm Distagon.

Which one ?......this choice is dictated by budget but I dont want to take too many chances with an antique!! The plan is to buy off ebay and play for a year and assuming I am in love brainer looking at the forum
.... then upgrade!!

Looking at the forum all of you have said over the years that this is great glass assuming all is working well.
So I think I can get a great f4 CF T* in my current budget <500 GBP ...but if I weaken
what more am I really getting from the FE, CF FLE (CFi is too pricey for the next few months)with their various f1.4, f2.8 f4 - options.

For the record the glass is better than me anyway !!
tell me !!

I would not be afraid to use older lenses provided they have been serviced in time or reconditioned and are well kept.
Older C series lenses are still being used and go on delivering stunning quality.

A "C" 50 mm lens from the later black series has T* coating.
It was an upgrade of the oldest 50 mm C lens with early coating.
The C lens with black barrel and T* coating was sold from 1975 till 1982
Price range: 250-400 GBP

The 50 mm CF is optically the same lens as the C model but fitted in CF housing and suitable for 60 mm bay. filters.
This lens was available from 1982 till 1989.
Price range: 350-500 GBP

The first 50 mm with an improved performance especially at close range is the CF FLE.
It has floating elements that will allow correction for focussing at close range.
The lens was introduced in 1989 and phased out in 1998 with the arrival of the 50 mm CFi
Price range: 400-800 GBP

All these lenses are F4.
The 50 mm F2.8 lens is not suitable for your camera.
This lens is for use with focal plane shutter cameras from the 2000 and 200 series.
It is the fastest WA lens in MF and was the first lens with floating elements
for Hasselblad. Needles to say it is a superb lens.

A full service at a specialist repair facility will set you back about 100 GBP.
Prices depend on the condition of the lens and where you buy the lens.
A dealer will be more expensive but can offer you warranty and service.
Don, I have a CF Distagon 50mm f4 lens that I use on my 503CW and 501CM. It is the FLE version (the "floating lens element" version). In the CF line of lenses the 50mm was made in FLE and non-FLE versions. The latter is the better of the 2 versions and therefore more expensive.

It is easily identified by its "second" focus ring up front of the lens. The feature's benefit is that it enables even sharper images at close distances. Because a 50mm wide-angle lens is often used with an item in the closer foreground, the FLE enables optimal close focus when such a lens is typically optimised for infinity focus.........

It is definitely worth paying the extra money for the FLE version of the CF lens IMHO. I use mine a lot and always marvel at how sharp it is. Its "look" is very appealing to me and quite natural.

The Distagon 50mm also has excellent correction of aberrations and especially has comparatively low visual distortion when held correctly.

Your understanding of the CF FLE version being very well regarded is IMHO correct. So, you won't go wrong buying a CF Distagon 50mm FLE.

Of course take great care on ebay and be careful to get a seller who will respond to your questions and email you additional photos of it etc. etc.. I have made 2 Hasselblad lens purchases on ebay with great success and big savings.

Good luck and welcome to this forum.
Many thanks SImon, my mind had been moving in the "spend more, get more" direction already so this is helpful.
Oh boy here we gio again!!
Other threads imply the superlative quality of the FLE is worth waiting and paying for!!

I`m not sure if you can say this on the forum but did you have a good experience with any ebay shops in particular - I`m wary of intercontinental shopping from the UK + a decent size operation in HK or the states will be honest about the contents and so the additional customs has to be considerd

thank you again !!
You're welcome Don.

Firstly, if you are decided on a CF version of the 50mm lens, then I strongly recommend you pay the extra few dollars and get the FLE version.

In addition to what I said above, because all my lenses are CF they all share the same bayonet filter size.

With regard to eBay, I bought from private sellers - the approach buyers use to minimise risk of lost money is very individual. But, my process is to examine their eBay history carefully; send messages for more info and examine carefully their responses; request additional photos be emailed to me and examine them carefully; ask very exact questions about condition and use.

Through that process if any single thing gives me any doubt I do not bid and wait for another to come along one day.

I have been lucky - sellers were genuine with long good track records with ebay. In one case a seller was a member of a collectors club so I was able to check that our happily. I bought my CF Distagon 60mm on eBay with a great outcome - but it took nearly 2 years to find the right one and right seller.

You just need to list a process and go through it and not get over-enthusiastic about the item and keep a level head.

I have never bought from an eBay store. If I was interested in a store item I would also check dealer comments by members - it is a huge list and has very useful info if the dealer is listed.

I'm sorry I cannot help more - as I said it's an individual thing.

BUT, HAVE YOU CONSIDERED KEH.COM? I have had excellent experience with them and they are highly regarded for their integrity and work hard to ensure satisfaction. See their site and read their warranty policy etc.. KEH is a wonderful and huge used gear reseller.

Good hunting.
Pleased to be of service - I have tn bitten the bulet yet `cos everytime try to make a decision its costing more....!!


Glad to be of service.
Do not hesitate to ask for help.
There is alot of good gear available now at friendly prices.

@Don, Carl Zeiss only makes two kinds of lenses for Hasselblad:
Very good ones and even better ones.
Any 50 mm in decent condition will surprise you with the results.
I hope this helps.

Paul said "...Carl Zeiss only makes two kinds of lenses for Hasselblad:
Very good ones and even better ones."

Never a truer word said!! We should keep in mind when we are discussing Hasselblad kit in general, and the Zeiss lenses specifically, that we are talking about distinguishing among variations of excellence!

I`m still pressing on with my researching the Distagon CF FLE / CFi FLE market from the UK..........phew! How can you tell the age of a lens please?

I gather for certain older models there is a number lurking in the rear of the lens which can be viewed if the focus is moved to bring the optics closest to the end - the number can then be viewed which includes a ref to the date.

Similarly - there`s an ebay item ( 270208858726 ) which is boxed and the box serial number matches the lens (as of course it should.............) and there are then two extra bits of date
First - date / described as 991421
Second - Code / 32566852

I`m getting impatient which I know is not good buying practice but you know what it`s like !! Cant wait to be using one in the springtime !!



The German lens is a well used example, also one of the first 50 FLE lenses.

Ebay UK lists a clean looking C lens in black.
It will end in less than 48 hrs. My guess is around 220 GBP
Nothing wrong with a good C lens. It is not the age but the condition that counts.

Then you could take a look at the stock of ffordes UK.
Starting with 249 GBP till 1299 for a mint 50CFi these prices include VAT
Robert White UK has a clean 50 FLE just under 800 GBP + VAT

Do not forget for many applications FLE is not the big advantage many will
try to make it.

In the UK you have a nice selection offered by traders.
Ebay UK is rather modest at the moment for WA lenses.
Thanks Paul,

I am getting there!!

In essence we are talking about good./very good/excellent glass here.
Thats irrespective of age - condition for all ages and types is crucial and with ebay you trust in the vendor or his retruns policy, with Ffordes, etc (I like RG Lewis locally) you can touch and feel.
Most lenses can be serviced (should be every so often) and if needed restored up to top condition mechanically - and even some glass related problems can be fixed too.

What is the date from which the CF`s were produced do you know?

Am I right in thinking the main difference between C and CF is in internal coating, shutter design quality? The CF design also has the wider end also (but still 60 wide?

thank you , thank you !


C lenses 1957-1982 after 1975 black barrels T* 250-400 GBP

CF not FLE 1982-1988 same optics as C black, new shutter 350-550 GBP

CF FLE 1988-1998 new design floating elements 650-1000 GBP

CFi FLE 1998-present 70mm bay (CF 50 has 60mm) 900-1400 GBP
CFi has improved internal coating, better flash socket and new helicoid.

Prices depend on where, shop/ebay/privat offer, how warranty? and most of all the condition of the lens.
Do not forget non FLE's are still very good lenses!

Quite a lot photographers do not even bother to use the FLE option and leave this lens group at infinity.

It's the serial number.
I entered it into the Zeiss Lens Date applet on Hasselblad Historical ( ), and the 1988 date appeared.

If you do get this one, do not become one of those photographers that do not use the FLE ring!
............that`s one hell of a tetchy website - maybe it doesnt like us Brits - I have only managed to get it to tell me 2 dates so far - usually it is an error message!

Yes, i apologize for that.
It worked fine, until the site was moved to a different host.
I'm figuring out what is causing the problems. Difficult, because it works fine in the programming environment and doesn't even raise a flag in the debugger.

Meanwhile, it helps to move to a different page after using the applet once, and then come back (works better than a refresh/reload).
Stupid to have to do this, i know. Sorry!

To everyone, Many, many thanks to you.

Thanks for all your help, advice and all the information supplied.

I have bought a 50mm CFi Distagon for £900 from Calumet UK on ebay – it is an ex demo model.
I understand they are a reputable vendor (I have checked all refs to them on the forums available - they seem ok and they have been around for many many years).
Without a doubt I CANT AFFORD IT!!

The lens itself is without doubt, to the naked eye, totally perfect, really Mint +++, and for some reason I won as the only bidder (which made me even more nervous). However - I have 14 days to consider my choice and their shop is very close to my office - bit risky to go there though £$£$£ !!

If I can get rid of the builders in my house I`ll be able to find my kit , my beloved 500CW – I can`t wait to start shooting!!

....thanks all again , Don
Hello Don,

Good luck with this beautifull lens.
Now we are anxious to see some first results of course.

Calumet a large international group that was formerly known as KJP.
It is a reliable dealer of professional gear and also long time official Hasselblad dealer.