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Buying a 501 CMcondition and comparison to other bodies


New Member
I'm probably buying a 501 C/M kit (actually trading a bunch of other equipment in for it). It will be my second Hassy, joining a 30 year old 500 C/M. The rationale is that I'm heading off to a summer residency in nature and landscape photography. at the Maine Photo Workshops. I didn't want to be dependent on a single body, especially one that was 30 years old, when I'm using my cameras every day. I'll have my Nikon digital stuff as well, but I will be shooting primarily with Hasselblad gear.
The kit my local (excellent) used dealer/repair shop came up with is somewhat expensive ($2000 with 80mm C (the recent one that came with the 501C and CM, not a 30 year old C lens) and the latest A12 back), but supposedly in like new condition (not LN-, truly like new). KEH wants $1800 for the same kit in EX+, $2300 in LN-, so it's a decent deal, but dependent on the condition being what it is advertised to be. The condition does appeal to me (for reliability, not for collector reasons).
First of all, is this a decent price, assuming the camera really is LN (all boxes and manuals are known to be included). It's well below KEH, but KEH is often high. Second, where do I look for wear to distinguish an LN camera from LN-. What's the first place to wear-back attachment, waistlevel, some corner?
Third, does a 501 C/M make sense? I want the acute matte focusing screen (easy, but expensive to add), the gliding mirror and the generally much newer camera, so I'm not looking for an older 500 series. I really don't care about TTL flash, so I would use a 503 CW as a 501 C/M anyway. The open question to me is the 201F-it's basically a 501 C/M with a focal plane shutter that gives me access to some nice lenses. I have heard this one argued both ways-the 201 is harder to fix (my local folks work on 500s and 501s all the time at good rates, but won't touch anything with a focal plane), but it has the extra versatility of the dual shutter. Of course, the local dealer is pushing the 501, because they can handle all the maintenance for me (which is attractive-they're honest, reasonably quick and fairly cheap).
The focal plane lenses I might consider someday, that I can't use on a 501, are the 110 f2.0 and a couple of the Russian "hasselbladski" lenses, especially a tilt/shift lens. I would use the 110 for close focusing (it's cheaper than a 120 Makro-Planar), not for the speed. I would consider a Flexbody (if I ever find one at a good price) a better alternative to a Russian tilt/shift lens (I'm basically after tilts, not rise and fall).
The built in meter of the higher 200 series cameras holds no attraction to me until reaching a 205 TCC. I have no interest in a center weighted meter, but a spot meter would be useful. I'm pretty sure a 205 TCC would be WAY outside my budget, though. I'm stretching to afford the like new 501.
Am I doing the right thing with this 501? I think so from what I've been able to figure out, but I'd be interested in other opinions.

Hello Dan,
my opinion is that the price is not attractive, it is always an old body , it is sure an old lens, only the back can be considered a new one.
The LN condition for someone who will use the camera, is not important. What is important is that all the mecanical foncionalities will work good (after a long sleep in the box). If the lens was placed in an wet place, you don't see it on the outside view of your lens, it is inside on the lenses, and on your picture when you will use it.
The answer, is always the same, for all what we buy, "MAYBE it is a good deal".
For the price, I think that it is personal. It is better to speak about the value, not about the price. If what you will buy is important you can spend more and you win.
One other kind of analysis, you have to think if you have to sell it. Do you will receive this price.? Is the market of hasselblad always sure of success.? do you will always sell it for the same price that you spend one or more years ago.?
I think that hasselblad is the last of some big name that can sell it for always a good price, but it is falling down.
How is the price of an F2-Nikon, now? some years (4 or 5) ago, it was 3 or 4 times higher.
The market is moving. I hope that it will turn back like some good years ago.
What is important is to take pictures, if we always can.
I think your rationale is fine for the 501CM. It's a fine camera and will last you a lifetime, I also think there will always be a market for this wonderful camera. I'd stay with either the 501CM or 503CW. I don't use the TTL function on my 503CW too often, but I must admit I enjoy the power winder! I think the price you've been quoted, however, is a bit high. I buy and sell Hasselblads all the time, mostly for fun since I make little money doing it, and that is just too far above market -- unless it is being sold with a serious warranty. As to your question about wear, the first place to look is where the back attaches, the second is the lens attachment point. After that, I look at the bottom tripod attachment point and then general condition of the rest of the camera. As you may already know, you can determine the year of manufacture of the body and back by using the code "VHPICTURES". Assign the number 1 to "V" and follow on until you assign 0 to the "S". Then read the two letters that appear in the serial number and that will indicate the year of manufacture. For instance, a serial number with the letters "ER" in it indicates a year of manufacture of '98.

If you can find a 201F for a good price, i'd say you need to get that one instead of the 501 CM.

If not, the 501 CM kit sounds great, yes.

Where to look for wear? Look for the obvious dents, dings or scratches that might be a sign of a fall or worse.
See that the rear shutter doors open fully, and that the mirror lies flat against the top of the camera.
Put a back on and see if there is too much play (a bit, laterally, is quite normal though).
Oh, and make sure that the Acute Matte that originally came with this camera is indeed still in there, and not replaced by an older type screen.