Medium Format Forum

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

Differences between the models CWCXCXI



The former 503CX was introduced in 1989 with then-new TTL flash-metering. Body coating (internally) was improved to reduce internal light reflection - and often heard problems with Hasselblad cameras before this 503CX. In 1994 Hasselblad made some minor chnages to the CX and named it CXi. Changes in the body design made it possible to use 645 and panoramic masks at the rear body opening. I think they also made something with the release button - but I am not sure...

The Hasselblad 503 CW was introduced in 1996. It replaced the 503CX and Cxi.

The 503CW has a new mirror geometry (no image cut off at long exposures wiuth long lenses). Hasselblad offers also a new winder, specifically made for the 503CW (Winder CW), but it can also be used for the 503CXi.

Hi alltogether!

I am quite new to Hasselblad and have a 503CW; last time when I developed my first B&W pictures quite large (30x40cm) I realized how wonderful this camera is. Since I have a COntax I always beleived that there should not be a big difference between Zeiss 135mm and Zeiss 6x6. Now I got evidence!


I'm considering a used 503CX (not the CXi) It is in perfect condition (no wear on the tripod plate, not a scratch on the filmback mount, extremely clean). I don't have a history of the camera but I suspect it has barely been used. My question is...since this is an older model are there any serious falts that were corrected in the CXi or CW? The price is about $1500 US for the body, A12 back, and 80mm Ziess (All are like new). Is this a good price? (FYI, this will be my first Blad.)
Hi Jeremie!

If the lens is a CF or a new C (which looks like the CF but has no "F" and no coloured digits on the surface) the price might be quite ok, otherwise is seems to o expensive. AFAIK the CX lacks of the glide mirror. Nevertheless try to get a rebate.

I am considering buying a 503CW. The reason it appeals to me is because of the Carl Zeiss lens', the CW winder and Hasselblads reputation. I was considering a Pentax 67II or a Mamiya 7II, but always come back to the 503CW. Can someone tell me a little more about the 503CW and/or how they like it.
Thank you for your time
I swear by the 503CW. I had one, sold it and regretted it so much I bought another one with-in a couple of months. Be sure the one you get has the ISO settings that go to 3200 for TTL flash control. The Hasselblad D40 flash is great also.
[..I own both the Hasselblad 503CW and the Mamiya RZ 67II. You can't go wrong with both or the Pentax. I personally love the Pentax because it's a great camera and it's inexpensive. The only thing I don't like about the Pentax is its non interchangeable back and its flash sync. Otherwise, it's a awesome camera. I use the winder and the pm90 prism with my Hasselblad and I love it. It works great when you need to pan from left to right. However, it is heavy and noisy. The 503CW is a great camera. The ONLY difference between the CW and the CX is the CW comes with TTL. Otherwise they are identical. Both also carries Hasselblads patented system lock up feature, camera locking up on you when you least expect it. And there is no way to avoid it. Sometimes you could unlock it yourself and sometimes you can't. So if you decide to go with the Hassy, be prepare to buy two bodies and leave one for back up. So far for me, my Mamiya has been flawless. No problem whatsoever. I'm almost tempted to sell my Hassey equipment because it works so nicely. Also, you might want to take into consideration that Mamiya and it's accessories cost a whole lot less than the Hassy. Anyway, I hope that helped. Good luck..]
May I respectfully disagree with the above post? Unless I'm mistaken, there are other functional differences between the two Hassy cameras. The 503CW has the floating mirror improvement and acute matte screen. This combination provides a clearer non-vignetted
viewfinder over the CX.

While locking is a possibility as it has happened to some Hassy users, I have never had a any of the Hasselblad CM, CW, ELX or ELD camera bodies lock up on me in 30 years of constant use (knock on wood).

I also use a Mamiya RZ system which I do agree is an awesome camera with affordable (to a degree) lens choices. However, the camera is huge and cumbersome for any type of location work or out of studio application. So, in terms of all around work the Hasselblad would be my first choice if forced to one system.

As far as back-up bodies...that is a good idea anyway if you are engaging in any important shooting effort. A simple C or CM Hasselblad is a fairly inexpensive (these days) way to accomplish this if necessary.

If you are really interested in a Mamiya RZ, I am selling my mint, hardly ever used back-up body. I now back it up with the Hasselblad system when shooting in studio (if that tells you anything).

The 503 CW has the gliding mirror system, TTL flash, does not need batteries, and is very compatible with the system. To me when purchasing a camera, rule number one, it is the LENS.

If you read and follow the directions the camera will stay in sync and not lock-up. I always wind the film advance after shooting and I have never had a problem.

My reading of your post is you that you want the Hasselblad. Go for it, or you will always wish you had.


There are many 40+ year old Hasselblads still performing. Also, the staff at Hasselblad has always responded promptly to my questions, even returning telephone calls.

Good Luck

Thank you all for responding to my questions regarding the 503 CW. I am unfamiliar with the hasselblads "locking up", what does this mean. Can it not be fixed once it happens? Or is it just a pain and you have to send it in to have it fixed, therefor stoping you from taking pictures where ever you are unless you have a back up body. Also, Dtliao, you said that you love your pentax and mamiya cameras. Do you feel that there is a difference in lense quality, sharpness of photos, with the 503 CW? Can you tell the difference? >
Locking up is when the mirror stays in the up position after you advance the film. This cause the camera to lock up and until you learn to unlock it, it's a frustrating problem. The camera is useless when it's "locked up." Although, depending on your luck, this doesn't happen ALL THE TIME, but it does. For the amount of money you are paying for the camera, you shouldn't have to deal with this problem. Don't get me wrong guys, I love my hassy. I started shooting with hassy. But this problem is annoying and I hate it. That's why I started shooting with my Mamiya. Maybe the newer generation hassys are not made as good as it was from back in the days because almost everybody I know who purchase the hassy NEW has had this problem with in half a year of their purchase

Anyway, regarding Pentax and Mamiya. They both have come a long way. Both have excellent optics. They are putting up a good fight with the Zeiss lens. Would YOU be able to tell the sharpness and the lense quality? NO. Unless you are some nip picky photo fanatic with a high power loupe then yes. But very very very minimal. I'm pretty sure someone is going to post something to disagree with me.=)

By the way, I miss read your post. I thought you were talking about the RZ67 II not the Mamiay 7II. I only have experience with the RZ not the 7II.
1. I don't think the issue with choosing MF lenses is with sharpness concerns. Most of us will never take advantage of the slight edge any given lens will have over its competition. And, since no manufacturer's lenses are uniformly better than another's, it's kind of moot. You buy into a system, and accept the overall quality of that system. 2. Even though one may not be able to discern sharpness without a loupe, between lens brands, it is a different matter when discussing optical 'signatures.' A Hasselblad lens will have a different character than a Mamiya's. This stuff is most easily seen in terms of bokeh, so if one isn't shooting with shallow DOF, the differences evaporate. Similarly, if you're shooting mostly colour, and with wider lenses.... Whatever. I just disagree that one needs to be a nit-picky photo fanatic in order to have valid discussions about the differences between lenses.
Ooh. I forgot to add a comment/question relative to the "lock-up" concern.... I'm assuming this issue isn't a factor when dealing with the bodies with instant-return mirrors, or am I wrong? I bought a (used) 203FE, with this issue partially in mind. I don't have to worry about the body/lens/back being cocked, nor do I have to advance the film in order to have the viewfinder immediately functional. That, to me, is a tremendous benefit. But, then, I never had to work with a 500-series, and don't accept that as the norm. Coming from an RZ67II, Pentax 67, Rollei TLR and Mamiya 645AF, I found it hard to accept that viewfinder blackout thing....

My observation of the manual for the 203 FE shows in the last paragraph of nearly each section to wind the camera. Also, the trouble shooting section shows 5 of the 9 problems listed, one possible remedy is to wind the camera. So as a prudent practice to avoid problems I instantly wind the camera after shooting . If you do not have an instruction manual they are available from Hassleblad for $5.00.


the problem exist winding or not. so does this mean that if you don't wind, the camera will lock up more often then if you do wind? i don't believe not winding should be an excuse for lock up. cameras should not lock up PERIOD! especially ones that are as expensive as the hassy. in my opinion, many first time buyers are not told about this problem until it happens. then they take it to a shop and they're told that "oh yeah, hasselblads are known to have this problem." for those who doesn't know how to unlock it, they might get rip-off and pay someone to unlock it. i'm not bashing hasselblad, like i said i use it myself. i would just like to point out to new potential users like hendrik that this problem exist.

i use the CW Winder on mine. does that consider a body with "instant mirror return?" if yes, than YES the problem still occurs.
Your opinions regarding which 500 systems are most compatable with existing and emerging digital backs (ie. Leaf and Phase One)?
The Hasselblad site presents the 503cw as an ideal digital companion. Would the 501cm or any other body be less useful?
Aside from TTL stuff. What about in-studio, metered strobe work?
Edward, the 555ELD is digital ready.

Other manual cameras such as the 503CW require a separate digital interface from a 3rd party, and (I believe) the CW motor. By the time you buy all that extra stuff you might as well go with the 555ELD. The 555 has the electronics built in and requires less cables and cords to sync with the backs. Not to mention it is a more rugged motorized camera
Hello everyone - I am considering getting into Hasselblad and have a couple of questions regarding the differences between the 503 models. When and with what lenses does the cw mirror improvement make a difference? Marc mentioned looking for a 3200ISO version of the cw - is that rec based on using the ISO control for flash compensation with the TTL function? Thanks
Hello David,

The CW mirror improvement compared to the non-GMS 500 C(...) cameas is noticeable with lenses of 120 mm focal length and longer. And when using shorter lenses with extension.

Yes, the ISO setting on the CW is only used by a TTL-adapted flash.