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.

Fresh owner of 501CM


Hi all,

Yes, about six hrs ago I became an owner of a new 501CM kit!
Body Ser. No. xxSI30xxx, Magazine Ser. No. xxSI12xxx - both were produced in 2004 (right?), one year before discontinuing this model.

The camera is not so complicated as it seemed when I studied the instruction manual in advance to be ahead. It is nothing difficult to remove and attach the lens. It is easy to remove magazine and withdraw the film holder (three digits on the film holder really correspond to the last three numbers on the magazine ser. no.
) and to assemble the parts together again.

What it is not so easy at present as to the camera operation? It is the focusing, steady holding the camera and holding the horizon and vertical lines to be truly vertical. Also the mirror image seen on the screen is something I will have to get used to. The shutter release seems to be very stiff (surely I am spoiled by my Leica) - it puts up considerable resistance so I cannot held the camera without shake when firing off. Maybe a cable release could help. And, of course, much of practice.

Focusing screen is Acute-Matte D with split image which is seen by means of the magnifier. At some incorrect angle of sight the lower part of the circle becomes black. (???)

It happens that magnifier sometimes doesn't flip up, and a sligh dab to the lid of the viewfinder is necessary to do this. It is an unpleasant "detail", and I have it to fix in repair service here.

So I have a Hasselblad but it takes time I become a Hasselbladest.

Hi Zdenek,

Shutter release should not be so stiff it induces shake. I have to admit, I never used or liked the "standard" shutter release (using your left hand) that most books & manuals suggest. I'm strongly right-hand biased, so I trigger the shutter with my right hand. You might want to experiment a bit.

As for non-level horizons etc: I had that problem until I got an AM with checkerboard plus split-image. I really love that screen. My 'levelling' is typically more accurate with the prism finder installed, using a WLF I tend to 'tilt' more easily. (Tilt sensor anyone? ;-)

To make the split-image not darken you must align your eye rather accurately, that is normal. It gets worse with slow lenses, then sometimes one half of the split darkens regardless of your eye position.

have fun!

Congratulations! You will enjoy the camera.

Cameras like this demonstrate that there are very few technical parameters involved in photography: focus, aperture, shutterspeed. That's it.
That, in an age where user manuals need hundreds of pages to explain the myriads of details of the many 'modes' modern black plastic picturecomputers 'offer'...

You will find a way to hold and operate the camera that suits you best.
And you will get used to the left-right reversed viewfinder image very quickly.

The focussing button is indeed not as soft as the ones on many other cameras. But that too will grow on you, and it wil become less of a struggle to fire the release and keep the camera steady.

And speaking about keeping the thing steady: a tripod will improve the results the camera can produce immensely.
You may think the images the Hasselblad produces are great (and they will be), but you definitely do not get to see what it is really capable of until you put the camera on a tripod.
So use one whenever possible!

The split image rangefinder is the best way to achieve precse focus.
But yes, your eye needs to be exactly above the thingy, else one half will black out.

Expensive machines though Hasselblads are, the folding hood is not a piece of hi-tech precision engineering, but has enough 'play' to need our assistance every once in a while.
If not too bad (needing just a tap or prod, not needing pliers or worse
), it's something to get used to.
If too bad, finding a replacement is probably cheaper than trying to have this one fixed. But see if you can learn to live with it first.

Have fun!
Q.G. de Bakker (Qnu) wrote on July 31:

' 2007 - 11:21 pm,The focussing button is indeed not as soft as ... '

You mean <font color="ffff00">the release button, don't you?

Thank you all for suggestions, advise, and for encouraging me. I apprecite and I need them much.

You mean you haven't discovered the focussing button yet?

You're right, of course. I meant the release button.
G'day Zdenek:

You're in for a real treat. And I 'ditto' the comment about a tripod. It certainly makes a difference. Once you find the focussing button and the release button, the rest is easy.

This image is from the 80mm Planar CFE on Portra 400 (with tripod) f8 at about 10 feet (3m) I think. The compression for this posting here loses some sharpness, but it gives an idea.



OLD HOUSE c1898 WALL DETAIL © Colin Clarke 2007


This could be an other candidate for a "HOME SWEET HOME" calendar .
Why not ? ? ?

G'Day Jurgen:

Just got back into my town and home today after travel/business, and did not have time to do the Forum for a while.

Yes, I like the idea of an abstract picture as it is 'on topic' but just a little different. One thing we know is that it will suit any month of the year!

It is a very large file, of course, so I will bring it to size, and send it to the web address this week sometime as an 'entry' and see what happens. I think that the sharpness will hold up much better in a larger file.

Cheers and greetings, Mate !


@Simon. I see you are an excellent webmeisternnow, mate! It took me a good hour just to read the headlines. Plenty of stuff there. Bonzer!

Here is one way to hand hold. I generally don't do it this way. There is no reason the model in the picture should have any more status on this matter, and I don't think he is able to hold the camera level

Although his hair is certainly neater than mine...


You'll notice that trouser fashion of the times meant that waist level was a bit higher than it is today.

The instructions how to hold the camera haven't changed with waist-level-dropage, and we're left to find our own way to hold the camera when using the waist level finder.
A serious ommission on Hasselblad's part, i feel. Good thing that they put Planet-V online. Now they can correct that!

Victor's counterpart had more problems deciding how and where to hold his camera. It kept rolling of his potbelly. Hence the name Roll-ei perhaps?
The recommended way holding of the camera (with - I'm sorry - almost zero ergonomy) as can be seen in the above picture, makes me the kind of problem I mentioned in the first post on this thread. Holding the camera in hands without a support from the bottom caused the difficulty with horizontal and vertical stability of image in the WF. I will be able to judge this matter after processing the first film. Maybe the WF is very sensitive (which I suppose) to even minor (i. e. normal) shaking of hands which need not to have any harmful effect on the results. I think the larger image in WF the more obvious motion changes.


It's the other way round, i'm afraid.
Any and all movement will have adverse effects on image quality. Even movements so small that you can't see them.

Handholding the Hasselblad is not difficult (but use a tripod whenever possible!). I think you should practice some more, get familiar with what perhaps is an unfamiliar posture.
Do not feel you have to do it any other way than the one you like best: the "Hasselblad grip" will is not obligatory.

But i think the problem might not be so much the posture, but getting used to the left-right reversed image. It's difficult to get a 'straight aim' when things move opposite to what you expect.
You - like all of us - will get used to that though. Don't worry!
And by the way:

The poor quality of the image showing Victor is, of course, not due to bad scan quality of a badly printed image.
It is because it was taken, not with a Hasselblad, but with a Rolleiflex...

I understand an ergonomic camera should be designed in such way, it's controls are easy to reach and find while being comfortable to hold. In this content, the 500CM excels. Well, at least in my hands.

Good ex&le of bad ergonomics: DOF preview in EOS 5D.



Practice holding the camera as instructed, after all many people have been doing so for over 50 years. Also, apply the appropriate shutter speed for the lens you are using so that you can get a decent exposure.

I think you will find that you can cradle the camera very well. I suggest keeping your elbows and arms snug to your body while making an exposure and slowly press the shutter release.

Also, you purchased a Hasselblad to get a different and better photographic experience, so just go with the flow! You will see that it works.


G'Day Zdenek:

This is probably "a blinding statement of the obvious", however, for what it is worth: When I have given instruction to students using a 500/200 series, or a Rollei TLR, (or others for that matter), I have always started them off on a tripod mounted camera, with waist level finder (WLF).

First, they get the idea of using WLF as a miniature viewcamera glass for composition, and then they get used to 'panning the camera' to get the effect of reversed image movements. They also practice 'mirror up'. I also have them change backs and change lenses, 'on the fly'.

After two or three rolls of film, they are ready to 'fly solo' without the tripod. But, as expected, most students are so in awe of the ability to frame the shot, look up, look down, change the composition, and so on, that many use the tripod whenever they can. Later, they get to use a prism (which changes the ergomonics somewhat).

Notwithstanding the above, with practice, the 500/200 with a 50/60/80 can even become a fun 'street camera' because you can use 400 film and shoot at higher speeds, at right angles even.

As Gilbert says, "you will see that it works".




As others have said, you should get used to organising your hands SOMEHOW, but it has to be said that the 'box' doesn't exactly mould to the hands. Perhaps if Vic was more interested in street shooting than birds, things might have been different...

Adding the Hasselblad flash bracket to the left side helps in my opinion, if the extra bulk is acceptable. Slight leverage, but also allows the shutter to be released by a tightly gripped hand, not a loosely gripped one.

I think that pressing the camera into the sternum area can also helps At least the square means never having to turn it on its side!

Given the fashions of the day, I am surprised that Vic didn't patent a platform for the belt upon which the quick release plate could be clicked on and off with ease.

From memory, QG, the picture was taken with a Leica, hence it being unsharp. There is no truth to the rumour that it was grabbed from some forgotten place on the Web.
When I used to shoot with a Hasselblad and when I now shoot with my Contax 645, I find that the neckstrap, suitably adjusted to your "shooting distance" from your eyes, allows for an easier and firmer grip.

I use a similar technique with my Leicas; wrap the neck strap around my wrist, pulling it tight against the back of my neck when at eye level; provides for increased steadiness.
Congratulations Zdenek! I love my 510CM and would not part with it for anything!

Wonderful QG!

Zdenek, when you feel any frustration with getting used to holding the camera and with how the image is the wrong way around - just take a deep breath and remind yourself that these are some of the very finest instruments in photography EVER! Many of the world's greatest photographers have created their best images with these. There really is no design flaw, just some quirks we mortals must adjust our minds to.

They are a wonderful precision instrument and over time you will marvel at their engineering and quality.

I echo everything the others have said to you and add these comments as further emphasis:

1. That huge mirror goes through a violent process when your image is made - while in your hands the vibrations are limited by good engineering, it is the vibrations that we cannot feel that make a tripod mounted camera's image show the camera / lens' best quality.

2. The mirror pre-release function is there for a purpose, so use it when the camera is tripod mounted unless the situation makes that impractical.

3. The 80mm CFE f2.8 should (my expeience) only very occasionally black out half the centre circle unless you have the lens DOF preview lever activated and the lens stopped down a bit. Yes, the other f4 and f5.6 lenses need more careful positioning of your eye.

4. Do not expect the Hasselblad shutter button and activation to feel anything like your Leica. These are 2 very different devices. But with practice you should have no issue with being able to gently squeeze the button in hand-held shooting. To a new user it feels heavy. But your comment was that the shutter was stiff - did you mean the shutter button is stiff?

If you decide to have it checked then I suggest you invest in having the body, back and lens inspected and lubed etc in one go - so that you begin life knowing every component is checked, lubed and adjusted from day 1. That is not cheap but a great way to begin the next 50 years with your beloved Hasselblad!

5. When I first got my 501CM, I spent 10 hours on both a Saturday and Sunday shooting away anywhere I could think to go - parks and gardens, city streets and monuments. It was that intensive introduction that made me 110% comfortable with the camera - an extension of my body and mind. And I enjoyed it immensely.

For the first few hours I had no film loaded but I really got to understand how AND WHY the controls do what they do. Then I loaded film and just kept shooting and re-shooting that one roll - trained me in loading and re-loading; then I used real film - postives, because I wanted to see how well I read the light with this big 6x6 image and its aperture and shutter controls.

6. Make sure you carefully read the film loading instructions - nearly every Hasselblad V owner I know had the first role come back BLANK (me included)! (because it was loaded with the paper facing the shutter!).

7. Take care to ensure the shutter is cocked before you attempt to remove or fit a lens or else you will have a very nasty experience.

8. Get over the issue of the magnifier popping up perfectly every time - it really is a non issue.

And on a lighter note, a great way to become 100% comfortable with the camera's ergonomics is to TAKE IT TO BED WITH YOU EVERY NIGHT!