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Hasselblad handheld


Hi guys, I'm a bit new to the hasselblad world. i own a 500 c/m,

in the beginnings i used to shoot mostly using a tripod..

recently i used the hassy hand-held for the first time, shot about 4 rolls with it.. what i noticed after processing is that most of the shots are blurred, blurred as in camera shake.. i shooted mostly at 1/60th and 1/125th of a second, with the 80mm lens..

I was wondering what do you guys suggest from experience as the minimun speed to use hand held, normally on 35mm film i go as slow as 1/60th without problem on a 50mm lens.. so i guessed i could use the same speed.. but it seems i was wrong...

also what are your thoughts on mirror flip, for me it seems it shakes the camera a lot, also what about the proper grip? or cable releases? would be nice to hear from someone who had used this camera a lot hand-held...


thanks a lot

Note that there are quite some rather large moving parts in the Hasselblad, like for ex&le the auxiliary shutter and the mirror. Much larger parts than in a 35mm SLR.

How are you using the camera, at waistlevel using the WLF finder?

I routinely shoot 1/125 with 80mm and shorter lenses. Any slower I try to avoid.

But: I almost always use a PME 45gr prisma finder. Which means my way of holding the camera could very well be completely different than yours. I never liked the WLF much, although it is nice light and compact. The prism makes the whole thing considerably more bulky, and much heavier. Extra mass does help however to reduce shake. For me the WLF contributes to shake, and to horizons that are not level :-(

So: tell us more on how you use the camera.

cheers, Wilko

Shots taken using a tripod will always be better than those taken handheld.

Handholding introduces many things like you and your physical condition, the weather, what you have been doing just before taking the shot, your stance, and such into the equation, making it very hard to formulate any safe speed rule at all.
When out of breath, on a stormy day, after only a few hours sleep following a day of heavy drinking, holding on to the camera with one hand while you need the other to prop yourself up, even the fastest shutter speed may be too slow to 'freeze' you, and produce acceptable results.
thanks a lot!

well yes, sorry, i use at waist level with the WLF.

am using this as my basic way of holding it:

while using the tripod i always try to lock the mirror up before the exposure.. but obviously this is not an option while hand-holding...

what about that 35mm film rule that goes like you should try not to shoot at speeds slower than the inverse of the focal lenght.. like lets say at 50mm never shoot slower than 1/50th - 1/60th of a second.. will it stand in here?

1/125th seems fast enough...


The 35 mm format rule also works in MF, yes.
And it does so just as well as in 35 mm photography, i.e. not very well...

To be safe, best is to use the fastest shutterspeed possible, and look for something to rest the camera, or your elbows, on.
Hi Carlos

I nearly always use my 500c/m handheld, with WLF and seem to get excellent results at 125 - and usually acceptable at 60. However, as a rule I generally use 400 speed films with MF to allow me the flexibility of being able to use higher speeds. With 35mm I usually use 100 or 200 speeds.

By the way, why can't you use mirror lock up hand held? Its fine for static objects and I do it quite often, enabling sharp 60th and sometimes sharp 30th second speeds.

Pactice and it will come

Good luck Gareth
thanks QG

yeah this shots i did where mostly in a street photography kindda thing.. so people moving around, my hands shaking... waiting for the "decisive moment" so that's why i completely discarded that... but like you said if the ocassion allows me to try locking the mirror up previous to exposure, why not? i'll keep it in mind.

thanks a lot
Why not?

Because there is not much, if anything at all, to be gained.
The shake the moving bits inside the camera produce is nothing compared to what your hands do, even when you do your utmost to keep the camera still.
I shoot a lot handheld, since I shoot frequently in low light of moving subjects(mostly my kids) I feel pretty confident at 1/125th. At 1/60th I find a way to brace myself and pull the camera into my chest. Rather than shoot at 1/30th I seem to have better luck slowing down even more to the 1/4 to 1/15th range. I often get motion blur, but sometimes it looks good. I wonder if 1/30th is more troubled by vibration from the mirror and auxiliary shutter. Some of my favorite photos are ones that, if prudent, I wouldn't have taken, but some how work out and end up being special.
Hi Bradley,

<Bradley Quote:Some of my favorite photos are ones that, if prudent, I wouldn't have taken, but some how work out and end up being special.

Your keepers at slower shutter speed, are probably evoking more emotions in you. Some of the most memorable images (even taken) are soft and blury or probably better described as not being tack sharp.


better, in technical terms but not necessary more pleasing to view.
This is all very relative, one may get an image that has a bit of movement or blur, which can enhance the creative impression and the emotion of the image.

Better, is in the eye of the beholder - tripod = better, is only better when one is aiming for a sharp static image.

"Better, is in the eye of the beholder - tripod = better, is only better when one is aiming for a sharp static image."

100% agree. Technology and technique is in the service of creativity in photography, a means to an end with the "end" being defined by the photographer.

Even when using a MF camera for "emotionally evocative" decisive moment imagery, it provides the same benefits inherent in the larger real-estate of MF shots.

Once artifical limitations are lifted from MF photography, and technique is practiced, a whole other area of MF photography reveals itself ... making these cameras even more versatile.

An interesting side note: I recently read about people setting mirror timings on the H cameras that are ever so slightly offset to reduce the effect of mirror slap while shooting hand-held ... resulting in useable shutter speeds at or below the focal length being used. Of course this assumes excellent technique in holding the camera steady in the first place. Not that you can ever really hold it steady, but eliminating the added effect of mirror slap does help according to these users ... similar to locking up the mirror but still being able to see the subject : -)
Yes, yes. Blur can be used as a creative tool...

But the question (remember that?) was specifically about selecting a safe speed to minimize, avoid even, blur.
A tripod does that best (!).
Actually, a tripod and locked up mirror isn't even enough.

A good cable release is worth it's weight in platinum.

I once was doing a job where images had to be pin registered to create annimation ... and just tripping the shutter with my finger, no matter how carefully, introduced movement ... even on a sand bagged heavy-duty Gitzo tripod and locked down large Arca Swiss head. Who would have thunk it? We were all shocked by the obvious movement when we layered the shots on each other and clicked through the animation where you could see it jumping around slightly. Lesson learned.

Cable release to the rescue.
great! thanks again for the answers and also for the (about) photography thoughts!

It really cleared my mind...

thanks again.
If a cable release for a Hasselblad V is the question, any mechanical one will do. Commonly available at most camera stores and web retail outlets.
With regards the above hand held, this was never a problem with camera shake, most shots taken with 125 or faster, as in the early years using a pistol grip we noticed slight horizontal blur. We assumed it may have been because of the pistol grip which would pull the camera to the right on pressing the shutter but it was probably the slower shutter speed.

We recently purchased a used excellent condition 500C/M and had it re shelled, slight chrome pitting, so that we could use the pistol grip again and some of the older accessories. We are reminded why we purchased Hasselblad all those years ago in 1975. I must admit I do like the design of the older equipment and enjoy working with it including the older lenses.

We just do not have this problem anymore, with the 503CW the winder acts as a firm grip with the strap attached and the left hand holding the underside of the lens. With the 500C/M I usually hold my breath and lock my arms just before pressing the release button to lessen any movement.

best wishes, Carl
Following the original thread...

Recently I managed to do some tests using a digital back on the 500cm and (camera on tripod and using shutter release cable)

I can certainly say that there is a evident difference in sharpness with and without mirror lock-up, my test was with shutter speeds of 1/30th and under...

makes me wonder if there is something wrong with the mirror system/cushion on my camera (?)