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50th anniversary


Active Member
2007 marks the fiftieth anniversary for the 500 series from Hasselblad.

I noticed when I took my oldest 500C camera, an early 1957 one, to the repairshop to have it serviced. Nothing serious just clean and lube.

It is no longer in active service but on display with other Hasselblads from the early days of Hasselblad production to show the evolution of the 500 series.


The camera will stay around for a long time to come I think.
I take it you were indicating the Hasselblad factory.
I am an optimist by nature and have confidence for the future of Hasselblad.
The second half of the nineties were a difficult period but Hasselblad is still very much alive.

The company underwent major changes.
Staff was decreased from 700 to about 70 people now.

I think it is only kept alive to witness it's 50th birthday, and expect that the V-System will be gone very, very soon.

The same thing happened to the SWC.

The future for Hasselblad is in (affordable!) digital products.
There are plenty V-System cameras, lenses and accessories about. 'Nobody' is buying new ones.
So all they can do with the V-System is offer backs like the CFV. Anything else does not make economic sense.
Their digital platform, the thing they can still sell, is the H-System. And that as digital cameras that also take film. Not as film cameras that also take digital backs (like those made by Leaf, Sinar, etc. ...).
Hi Bojan,

I hope so to, but I doubt that Hasselblad thinks the same thing.

Their mission is to make the H-series gizmos a success, their mission is not serving the nostalgic needs (as the commercial people at Hasselblad no doubt see it) of the few.

Best case they keep producing the existing & developing new digibacks.

Well Q... the word 'affordable' was never ever really in Hasselblads dictionary. In combination with 'digital' I'm even more worried.

Prices have always been between steep and ridiculous (we can argue about that for a long time, but that is not the point here I think). Affordable for factory-new.. hmm.

Mind you, I look at this from a non-professional photographer. Only after the 2nd hand market grew so large the non-pro got the opportunity to own a Hasselblad. If you are a pro who can write off 10-thousands of EUROs based on a sound business model this is of course not a problem.

Hasselblad actively killing the 500-series.. I think they will continue to produce them until they run out of parts to do so, or when it becomes economically unfeasible to continue (i.e. they no longer sell).

I am an optimist by nature and ordered a new 503CW body to replace an early CW that has served me faultlessly during seven years.

The 500 series cameras and lenses are used every day by many professional photographers worldwide.
I am sure they will continue to do so for a long time.
It will be interesting to see how this 500 series scenario plays out.

On one hand "no one is buying new", well ... it's more like "relatively few are buying new"... on the other hand, a mature design with existing dies & manufacturing paths is usually a high profit margin item for a manufacturer.

IMO, the 500 series is a lame duck with-in the company for all the reason already stated. Hasselblad has always been a professional level camera, and these days that means digital.
It is here that Hasselblad will live or die as a brand.

Not exactly what lovers of the mechanical 500 camera (and film?) like to hear, thus the disparaging tone leveled at the H system.

This is why the notion of a "film camera that also takes digital backs (like those made by Leaf and Sinar" ... AKA: Hy6) seems like a erroneous concept to me. I doubt either Sinar or Leaf see it that way as they also will live or die based on digital capture.

Hybrids are nothing new, most all MF digital capture started that way ... including the H camera before Hasselblad and Imacon joined ranks. It is a fallacy that the backs made for the Hy6 by Leaf or Sinar will work on cross camera platforms ... they are dedicated backs. Hasselblad makes both. Current H offerings will also allow use of a H film back, and with an adapter plate, allow use of the digital back on a view camera. H Backs can be purchased separately for use on most any existing MF camera ... including the 500 series Hasselblads. But the Lion's share of attention is being placed on a fully integrated system in the DSLR mode.

So IMO, Hasselblad has taken the right path with the H system. We on this forum see little of the activity going on concerning this system except for a few 500/200/H system anomalies like myself. However, there is a whole other world of photographers that are passionate about the Hasselblad brand because of the results they have obtained. I belong to a Hasselblad digital blog that by far generates more posts in a month than all my other Hasselblad forums do in a year.

My company currently owns one 500CM (my delightful yellow one), two 503CW workhorses, and two 203FEs and all the Zeiss CFi or CFE lenses from fisheye to 350mm (which is the only CF lens in the lot), plus an array of FE glass. The cameras themselves are almost never used for professional commercial work. I use the 503CWs with film for weddings on occasion, but only because we have a 949 Imacon scanner... a purchase made from the heart not the head. It was a stupid business decision that I have never regretted for a minute. It was paid for by the sweat of the H system BTW : -)

The Zeiss CFi, CFE, and FE lenses are another matter. Their adaptability to multiple camera platforms has kept them busy making images ... so why not keep and enjoy the camera bodies they were originally intended for?
Well, it would be nice for Hasselblad to mark the 50th anniversary of the 500C in some way - preferably not with the routine gold-plated tart's handbag job, though. How about a 500C look-alike, with the early strutted WLF and a silver 80mm Planar? Too much to hope for, I suppose

Yes, Wilko, they always were too expensive (it was, so a CEO once said, because they could ask that much. I think too because they had too ask that much. Making MF cameras, and Hasselblads in particular, never was a very lucrative thing).
And affordability is a relative thing.

But this time the market is going to decide more than at any other time. The competition still is, not from other makers of digital backs, but from Canon c.s. There still is a huge price gap between the two.
Not that it is to be expected that MF digital thingies will ever be, or have to be, available at the same price level. But a bit closer they need to be still.

"no one" or "relatively few"? Hmm...

High profit items can of course only be those that sell. No matter whether the manufacturing bits and bobs are all paid for or not.

In the "good old days", Hasselblad was serving a niche market already. Even at the best of times, only "relatively few" were buying Hasselblads. (MF never was a big part of the photography market.)
Now that things have slowed down a lot, "relatively few" of "relatively few" are still buying Hasselblads.
And "relatively few" of these "relative few" of "relatively few" are still buying V-System Hasselblads.
I think we can, without exagerating too much, equate that to "nobody".

When i wrote about "film cameras that also take digital backs (like those made by Leaf, Sinar, etc.)", i wasn't thinking about the HY6.
I was talking about the Hasselblad H-Series, which are - and should be thought of as - "digital cameras that also take film", and much more about the V-System cameras, that only are "film cameras that also take digital backs".
Digital cameras (that may also take film) are what sell, not film cameras (whether they also take digital backs or not).

So i do think it will be over for the V-System once it's 50th anniversary festivities are behind us.
And rightly so, even: the H-System is the future, if there still is one, for Hasselblad.

And Paul may be in the running for a price (if Hasselblad still awards those - they announced two winners of their large competition, but whether they also awarded the remaining two prices, plus the grand final price, we are left guessing at) with his recently overhauled, and presumably still working
1957 500 C.
They ran a competition to find the oldest one still in use when the 500 C celebrated its 25th anniversary (gee i'm getting old...), so why not again?
Q.G., if the 500 series dodges the bullet, it'll be because of bundling them with a CFV type back that taps the advanced amateur market. This is where the competition is Canon. But until Canon seriously adresses their wide to mid-range lens line-up there will remain a quality image gap no matter what they do inside the camera.

A 503CW with wide or mid Zeiss glass and a CFV back blows away the 1DsMKII in this regard. If Hasselblad came out with a 22 meg 645 sized sensor in the same design as the CFV @ under $10K that would be something. I really think this is possible. As the 39 meg backs proliferate and the price stabilizes, the 22 megs sensors will become orphaned.

But as you say, it's a slim market in the first place. And the 500 series lovers will just walk off into the sunset. So, I'm not holding my breath.
I have done my first 905SWC/CFV shots today . Just using the release botton does not bring the desired results . Partial "exposed" images are seen for 2/3 of the shots . Using the flash sync cord and the correct setting for the back results in very good images .
The use of the flash sync cord is therefore more than strongly recommended .

Here again , the BIOGON is a fantastic lens . I am very much looking forward to receive the APO-SIRONAR-DIGITAL 35mm to have a real comparison .

I do believe , that the V-system will live for quite a long time with the possibility to attach the CFV BACK .
Isn't HASSELBLAD earning good money with this back ? ? ? The demand is rather big and there is no price reduction on the German market up to now .

And for the 50th anniversary , i have an almost mint 500C from 1960 with a superb PLANAR 2,8/80 from 1956 . The CFV can be attached . Ok , its not quite 50 years , but it works .
Just great .
I have no doubt that there is, and perhaps always will be, a difference in quality between MF and 35 mm based digital.
But quality doesn't seem to count for as much as it did , say, twenty years ago. Nowadays, 'good enough' rules, where once it was 'how to get better?'

I do see a future for CFV and similar (hopefully still better) future backs for the V-System.
But i believe the market for them is made up of people already having plenty V-System cameras. People will buy those backs to go with their cameras, and i don't see people buying a V-System camera to go with a back.
Maybe the i-always-wanted-to-have-and-now-i-finally-can market will still buy V-System cameras, but they will fish for one in the used market.

The CWD body - with a new badge and chromed crank arm - may well be the last batch produced.
It may have been to celebrate the occassion of Victor's 100th birthday, but it may also have been a marketting c&aign aimed at getting rid of the last pieces. Freeing shelf space.

Did you change the response time of the back to match the delay of the 905? Just curious, as I'm thinking of picking up a 903 or 905 and would like to be able to use it with my CFV without a sync cord.

The camera I used is a 905SWC . The following settings were used :
Body: SWC , Exposure Time: <1/8sec.
This causes with my camera some "half exposed" shots and I also had one magenta looking image .
Then I used the Flash Sync setting and Exposure Time <1/8sec + the flash sync cable and all captured images were fine .

In the documentation , recieved with the back (CD) it reads :
PLEASE NOTE : Due to the mechanical design of the SWC , pressing the exposure release button too slowly may cause a faulty capture with a magenta cast . Either press the button much more distinctly or alternativly change the setting from SWC to FLASH SYNC and use the flash cable to connect the lens to the CFV .

If you wind the flash sync cable from the sync socket just around the SWC viewer to the CFV BACK , its not nice , but works perfectly . I can live with it .
Today , I used a L-flash bracket with an additional release cable , and experienced no trouble .

I must admit , it does not look very sophisticated , but it works perfectly .
A side effect : People look very much to your camera and some were asking , what kind of camera you are using , as there are so many small pocket things around .

That reminds me of a situation some years ago . I was setting up my 4x5 inch camera
for an image of a wonderful waterfall .
And older guy and his wife came along , and he asked me if this is a HASSELBLAD . I said yes , it is the latest model . He walked on , very proud to have known , that my 4x5 inch camera was a HASSELBLAD . Haha
Without these little adventures , photography is boring .

Very interesting thread gentlemen.

What strikes me as illogical statements in many publications these days is the claim that a Canon 1DS MkII can compete with a MF digital capture despite how excellent the Canon's 35mm format capture is.

From a plain logic perspective, it is like saying a P&S digi-cam can compete with a full frame Canon 5D in the image quality stakes. They don't and can't.

Surely frame size matters just as pixel count matters?

I totally agree with QG's comment that "near enough" seems to rule. In the 35mm arena we see so many s&les of cropped frame images that are muddy, un-sharp, and with a plastic look, that 10 years ago (in the all film era) no consumer would tolerate.

For me today I have to say that the ONLY digital images that have REALLY impressed me (they seem no different to film) are those I have seen made from an MF digital back - simply my observation.

Funnily enough one photography magazine I buy regularly - for its variety of content and range of shooters' portfolios - constantly reminds me of how consumers have come to accept second rate image quality. As I open the pages I can 100% pick the images shot digitally with 35mm type SLRs from those shot with film or a MF camera.

As you may guess I have not gone digital yet. I'm predicting my first digital step will likely be a CFV back! I will not take 2 steps back for one step forward!

Marc, I read with a smile your comments about the Imacon scanner. I for one can confirm how brilliant it's results are!
So, I have a very generous offer to help relieve you of the constant reminder that it was not the best business decision - ship it to me here in Australia and I will happily cover the freight and insurance costs!!

It's great to hear Jurgen speak so happily about his CFV purchase after that awful saga with the original version he received. It's reassuring to see that our V series cameras have such an option available whatever Hasselblad's intentions are for this range of cameras.

Is anyone using his Zeiss/Hasselblad lenses with their H series cameras - how convenient is it and how good are the results?
"Is anyone using his Zeiss/Hasselblad lenses with their H series cameras - how convenient is it and how good are the results?"

Hi Simon, yes ... I'm using both the H/C lenses for their autofocus abilities ... and all my Zeiss CF, CFi and CFE lenses via the ingenious Hasselblad CF adapter.

Here is how it works:

You mount the adapter, then the lens ... and connect the short sync cord from the adapter to the sync port on the lens. This is not the same as a sync cord from the back to the lens, which can be an annoying nuance.

If you mount any CFE lens the H camera immediately recognizes it, and you're ready to shoot. If you mount a C, CF, or CFi lens ( no data-bus contacts), you have to use the grip menu to select which lens is being used ... including any non-E extenders ... then shoot.

The auto-aperture function is preserved ... you do not have to stop down meter with any of the lenses!

Since the 500 series lenses are mechanical, and the shutters have to be cocked for each exposure, there is a thumb lever on the left side that you must cock before each shot.
The cool thing is that it requires an upward motion to cock it, which makes it easy to do without moving your left hand from it's natural cradling position on the lens.

One advantage to the CF adapter is that it provides focal lengths not available in the H/C line-up ... like the 30mm fisheye, 40/4, 60/3.5, 180/4, 250/5.6, 350/5.6 and 500/8.

so, with a 503CW and a H1 or H2 camera + CF adapter you'd be covered and backed up using the same set of lenses.

Another big advantage to using an H camera with the 500 series lenses is that the camera provides focus confirmation in the viewfinder. Quite useful when shooting with wide lenses in lower light, or more challenging focus situations. The H focusing is quite accurate.

Results using the Zeiss glass on the H cameras?

Exactly as you would expect. However, you do lose the excellent DAC lens corrections in Flexcolor that using the H/C wide angles facilitate. The H/C lenses are quite good and are probably the better choice for some digital applications ... but I recently acquired 2 film backs for the H camera, and I think for film, especially B&W film, I will opt for using the Zeiss glass.

Here's the H2 kit with a 180/4 CFi mounted + a film back. The back cap is a metal one to protect the digital sensor ( the same one that comes with a CFV)

As you may guess I have not gone digital yet. I'm predicting my first digital step will likely be a CFV back>


Keep your ears to the stone, as there may be a Square Sensor on the horizon. I spoke to a factory rep of a back maker about it this past Tuesday and he was somewhat positive about it.

Good to hear from you.


Gilbert, the CFV is square ... as are ones from Leaf and Phase One ... so, do you mean one larger than 37X37 with a higher meg count?

That would be nice : -)