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So why did you and why will you


Active Member
For those who are professional photographers, beginners and experienced amateurs alike - so why did you select Hasselblad's 6x6 format; for how long have you continued with it; did you move from another system to it; is it your "main" and / or preferred format / kit; did you move from V series to H series; do you see yourself remaining committed to it in the long term; why would you make a move away from Hasselblad 6x6?

A bunch of questions related to the same issue of what different things took us down this route and influence our deviations from it.

I just thought we may all find those experiences of some interest especially some possible contrast among professionals and amateurs; what other systems we considered or did use before we moved to Hasselblad 6x6 or even away from it.
I got into Hasselblad 6x6 about 5 years ago. It was my second "toe in the MF water", having used Bronica SQA gear nearly 20 years before, which I enjoyed a lot.

While raising a family and spending a lot of time travelling on business I sold off my little used Bronica gear about 12 years ago.

But, with the kids grown up, I longed for big negatives again. It was the 6x6 format that always captured my imagination and being a bit older and "wiser" I knew Hassey V series was for me when I first held one - we both "thought alike"! The system and its functionality "clicked" with my mind.

So for about a year I got to know my 501CM and 80mm CFE very well - it filled a different creative role and purpose to my 135 format gear. During that time the "digi-revolution" made it possible for me to afford my growing system.

Having been committed to 6x6 I did consider other 6x6 systems, but just felt that the all-mechanical V series was more for me and I was comfortable that regardless of anything it would remain "digital ready".

Creatively, I have continued to find that the system remains a wonderful tool and that its mechanical simplicity avoids the "tail wagging the dog".

Creatively 6x6 makes me think outside the square! I'm often intrigued that I can pick up my 501/503 gear and think square; then grab a 135 format camera and think in rectangles.

I'm often pleasantly surprised that I can drive past something and say to myself "I must come back with the Hassy and shoot that - perfect in a square format (despite the fact that there is plenty of negative space to crop anyway).

It certainly has helped me to learn more about "how I see what I see"; to be more critical of what I produce; take more time considering what I am making. Enable beautiful big prints. It seems that the larger the format, the more you have to think about what you are seeing and doing - all good for the heart and ultimately the result.

Sometimes I have wondered if H series may be more helpful; but, I always come back to 3 things that make me stick with the V series: 1. 6x6; 2. If I need a "machine gun" I use my EOS1vHS; 3. Zeiss optics (I just prefer the tonality of German lenses).

Would I part with this system to say fund a digital system or any other system for that matter? - no way; why bother. I just don't need bits and bytes interfering with my passion. There is nothing that I am missing in this system.
I got into Hasselblad gear a little more than a year ago after I found an inexpensive digital back with a Hasselblad mount. Before that, most of my work was Pentax 67 film and 35mm digital.

Since that time I've added a 555ELD body, 40mm CF FLE, 50mm CF FLE, 60mm CF, 100mm CF, 120mm CF and 140m-280mm Variogon.

I find MF digital to be a tremendous medium, even though it necessitates carry a heavy tripod-mounted system for nature and landscape use. Even though a good Imacon scan of my P67 negatives gave me a 50MP file, the 16MP file from a digital back just seems cleaner, even though the pixel count is lower.
I started photography some 30 years ago and that was with a35mm VOIGTLAENDER Vito B . Half a year later i recognized , that 35mm format was not my thing because i found it all too small . Not only that my fingers were always somewhere in front of the rangefinder but also in front of the lens . Then the 35mm negative seemed to me to be made for dwarfs . so i started dreaming of 6x6 and got a brand new ROLLEICORD with a tessar 80mm . I liked this camera very much . 2 years later i ran in trouble with a filmtransport problem which was never solved , although the camera has been back to factory three times . That was the point , where i decided not to have a ROLLEI anymore .
Never . I was aware of HASSELBLAD , but could not afford , so i came across MAMIYA C330 professional , which had already interchangeable lenses . The 180mm was just great and i took many good portaits with that lens . But my dream was still a 500C/M and i was lucky to get a used one , in almost mint condition . And thats where the passion started . You all know the story , where you rectify the need of a new lens (and your wife finally agrees,more or less) So i ended up today with 905SWC 501CM 500CM CLASSIC 201F and 203FE and lenses like 38mm FE50 CF60 CF80 FE80 CF100 FE110 CF120 F150 CFE180 and FE250 plus that stupid little converter 1,4x (never used it) 500EL/M . Sometimes i believe that i am crazy but i also am a collector of HASSELBLADS now . So there are 2 1600F's in absolute perfect condition in my hands (with all 4 lenses which were available) . Sorry you are not right . I do not swim in money , but E-BAY makes it possible and i was always very lucky up to now and got half of my equipment for extremely low prices in E-BAY , many of them in mint condition . (you must bid at holiday time , best chances)
Yes i do take images and not only look at HASSELBLADS and i also do the the B/W film processing myself since many many years . Also in 4x5 inches and 6x12 panorama .
90% of my work is B/W and i had already 4 successful exibitions
Simon , i do not see the need to buy a HASSELBLAD H1 or H2 .
One thing i have learned , is to take your images "format filling" as good as you can . That makes cropping obsolete . Right ????
So why going for a 4,5x6 format ???? That format is contained in 6x6 anyway and 6x6 then gives you more freedom in composing your picture . And regarding digital photography ??? you can attach a digiback to almost any HASSELBLAD . but thats an other thing . I find digital photography much too complicated and i have not seen results , which would convince me to go that way .

A quick note: In the pre-1957 F-era, there were two Kodak lenses (80 mm and 135 mm), five Zeiss lenses (one of them, the 80 mm Tessar, in two different mounts), the Biogon on the SWA/SW cameras, and a Dallmeyer.
You need 6 more...
Sorry Qnu i was not precise enough . i ment the Zeiss lenses (60mm 80mm 135mm (very good lens) and the 250mm . i am very much after a superwide or a supreme , but i am going only for the absolute top condition .
And i also use RICK NORDIN'S compendium as a reference .
You can't collect all items , but i was lucky to get some good accessories and also "strange lenses" like a PLANAR 80mm (6 elements) which was obviously built a year before the 500C was on the market .

As you can see in Richard Nordin's excellent book, there were two different Zeiss 250 mm lenses. They (both) pop up now and again.
It's rather more difficult to find the leather cases they came in
: anyone know where to get the one for the f/5.6 250 mm lens?

You mean you have a 1600/1000 F mount Planar? Or the first version 'C' 80 mm Planar?
Either way, i envy you. (Very, very much, in fact, if it is a 1600/1000 F Planar lens.)

The fact that items were built before they were put on the market, by the way, shouldn't stike you as being "strange". It would be strange if they only started making themn after they were put on the market.

I like the 135 mm Sonnar a lot too. Excellent performer. And great focal length.

The fun bit about collecting the pre-1957 stuff is that it is a limited set, and it's (almost) possible to indeed gather all items.
What i find most amazing though is that you can still find pre-1957 items new in box, in mint condition. 50 years (or so) later... still unused... not corroded away... the mind boggles.

There are a few must-have 'rarities' though that i haven't seen yet. But that is what keeps collecting enjoyable, isn't it?

Collecting is now easy, because cheap.
I have to restrain myself on many occassions, trying to convince myself there is no point in building an "early-C" (pre-1960) collection.

So there's another answer to Simon's original question: collectability.
Hasselblad cameras marked the beginning of a new era in MF photography. The system camera concept may not have been completely original, the time will have been ready for such a thing, and others surely would have come up with something similar if Hasselblad hadn't.
But Hasselblad was (to all intents and purposes) the first to show that 'it' could be done, and that it made a lot of sense to do so as well. And he showed that it could be done extremely well too.

So these things have, besides being excellent tools, a historical significance too. Reason for me to be interested in the person, the company, and the history of how things came to be.
And that was reason for me to want to have the actual 'historical' items too.
But only as an extra. I really am a collector of information; my desire to know is far stronger than my desire to have.

But 'collectioning' aside; i didn't begin my Hasselblad set as a collector.
The 'modern' stuff i chose because i wanted to take pictures, also am a sucker for quality, liked the system, and could not afford it...

In school at the time, i really couldn't. That caused some 'years of agony': i wasn't going to compromise what i thought was the best choice, just because i didn't have the money. I know that if i had, and had bought another, cheaper camera, i would have always regretted it, would always have seen it as 'second choice'.
I know, it's only tools, and not the only tools that can do 'the job'. But.. you know...

So i spent school holidays working in all sorts of industry.

Anyway, the other options i thought worth considering then were Mamiya RB, or Rollei SLX.
Mamiya i found far too big and heavy. Rollei was just as expensive as Hasselblad (and somehow didn't quite measure up to Hasselblad).
So it took me a quite while before i had 'a set'.

The square format, by the way, wasn't that important to me. It still isn't.
I tend to use the format the camera that i happen to be holding has, but don't mind which aspect ratio it is.

So the square format was not one of my selection criteria.
Versatility and quality, and ergonomics were.
Interesting comments guys. Larry, you sure got committed at a rapid rate - all in a year, wow!

From Jurgen and Qnu's comments it seems we all shoot MF in the quest to maximise quality and that Carl Zeiss is a very big part of that.

I wonder what other formats we shoot and what proportion of our photography is MF shooting?
I have had my 503cw for just over 10 months. I bought it initially to sharpen up my portrait work over the images I was producing with a Nikon D2h and D1. I also wanted to streamline the post production work after weddings and other events. I quickly accomplished BOTH goals and am now forever HOOKED
As this is my first experience with medium format film, I gave more emphasis to the reliability of the machine, both in use and as an investment, than to the format dimension. (I haven't had the batteries in the Hassey die midshoot yet
) Then I had the first roll of film processed! The "square" has reignited something deep inside the left side of my brain...CREATIVITY:D I am endlessly enamoured by the bold statement of the square format when juxtaposed against the rectangle. Compositionally I feel "set free", no longer worrying about conventions. The digital explosion has overrun the world with rectangular images and when the eye runs across a square...well, lets just say it's like seeing a bright yellow 60's muscle car in a line of Honda Accords
happy.gif piques the interest and stimulates the thought process. Yessir, I like the square so much that I even crop my Nikon files square now
As for moving to the H series, I'll take the 503 digital when a full sized square sensor comes out...until then, I'll keep the Nikon 9000 scanner hummin!
Melton, I was very intereted to hear about your "re-ignited creativity" through 6x6. Me too!
There is something quite beautiful about a large 6x6 image of anything.

I was also interested in your comment "digital explosion has overrun the world" - so true. I refer to it as being how "consumeristic thirst has infultrated photography".

While I do not wish to sound overly prescious; my years behind a camera viewfinder in the days of one media (film) began with a careful selection of preferred tools and concentration of my efforts on creating images rather than the tools themselves. My conversations with others (fellow shooters or people interested in my images) were typically about how I used the tools and / or about the images and what made them appealing.

Sadly today so much of conversation is dominated by topics such as "Have you got a..."; "Did you get a digi..."; "How cool is the new...: etc. etc..

The infultration is so similar to the tiresome discussion about the latest and greatest PC; how fast; how big... Or, like excessive mobile phone fascination... "Does yours do..." " My new mobile....".

Bits and bytes so often seem to bring out a mindless need to have for the sake of having it; a preparedness to dump for the sake of keeping up with others; a reckless regard for real value for money and outcome focused benefits.

Moreover so often we are exposed to unsubstantiated claims about performance; near fraudulent statements. Photography stores so often staffed by salesmen with little true knowledge and littel photographic skills - people with smart mouths, flogging gear and conning lambs being lead to the slaughter.

Certainly much of this has been to great advantage and profit benefit of manufacturers that now have factories so busy that they can't believe their luck. I'm not so prescious as to see that as a bad thing. But what I dislike is how such behaviours push the creative and artistic pleasures into the background never before see in this art.

That so many will visit photo exhibitions only to ask if "that image was taken on a XYZ MP camera...." is sadenning. It risks pushing great talent into the land of commodities. Of course I'm not suggesting that this generally applies accross the board; but it is nonetheless a growing characteristic.

While I'm lucky and grateful for having the equipment I have, in the end I'd be happy enough if I only had one cheap but effective camera and one lens, so long as I can keep running as much film through them as I desire.

Certainly I've benefited from digital technologies to the extent that my film frames can be scanned for me to play with, share easily, and conveniently display to others on a simple TV set. And one day I will be happy to record my images on a full frame sensor matching all the attributes of film and do so without having to be too concerend about the film and processing cost per frame that I shoot.

But I for one certainly do not want Bill Gates and his like to dominate my passion. I will always prefer that my eyes and brain dominate my photography.
For people coming from 35 mm photography, a part of the change is in the viewing system of typical MF cameras.
Instead of peeping through a 'hole' at your subject (with the camera surrounding the hole merely being something obstructing, restricting the 'direct' view), looking down in a waist level finder at the ground glass image of your subject adds a 'degree of separation'.

You're no longer dealing with the subject itself, but with an image of the subject.
Trivial as it may seem, that makes a huge difference.

A pitty that the last crop of MF machines all were 6x4.5, needing peep-through 90 degrees prism finders again. Now it's completely up to the person doing the peeping again to find the picture in the scene.


While Zeiss lenses are good, great even, they were not part of why i chose Hasselblad. The lenses produced by Mamiya etc. are that too.

What you say in your penultimate paragraph applies to me as well.
Digital technology has made life easier by a fair amount. And i too do see myself switching to direct digital capture sooner or later (now, the only digital camera i have is in my cell phone. I never use it, of course).

We can complain about Gates c.s. as much as we like. All that matters to me is that the machines i run their software on allow me to also run the applications i need. And they do.
How you can see Gates is/would be/could be dominating our passion is beyond me.
The first 6x6 I used was a YashicaMat I bought for $30 back in 1977 when in art college. I was using a Canon F1 at the time, and was pleasantly blown away by the tonality in the B&W negatives it produced. Unfortunately, after about 4 rolls the camera tumbled out of my locker at school and was no more. In the early-mid ‘80s I almost acquired a used Mamiya 330 from a work colleague, but passed to instead pick-up a mint Leica M 21 Elmarit for $400 CDN. At roughly the same time I had a chance to borrow a SWC, compare the results with those from the 21 (no slacker itself), and thereafter the SWC became my dream camera.

When in art college I had a chance to sign-out/borrow practically all of the medium format systems then available, and was most impressed by the build quality and results that Hasselblad & Zeiss provided. I have always had a deep appreciation for fine craftsmanship, and have always-preferred totally manual, mechanical cameras for the craft and discipline they require to use consistently (as a painter and printmaker I was trained that one either mastered one’s tools and medium(s), otherwise they controlled you and, more importantly, your results). Given that I am from the Canadian prairies, reliability, robustness, and not having to depend on batteries are also important to me.

In the ‘80s my Leica served all those and other preferences and practicalities admirably, excepting the fact that my style of shooting tends to be somewhat contemplative and a 35 mm. rangefinder isn’t quite the ideal tool for that. Further, I also prefer to crop and nail-down an image in-camera unless I already intended to do extensive masking and other manipulations in the darkroom – that craft thing again. I also tend to print large (16x20+). A view- or field-camera would fit those needs admirably, but not my need for a walk-around camera that provides relatively precise framing but quicker action. This may explain why I went with a medium format SLR as my general-purpose kit.

And why did I choose a Hasselblad V system? To be honest, I almost went with a Linhof Technika 6x9, but missed out on an excellently priced used system. After some thought, I decided that a field camera rather than a technical camera would be the better choice down the road, quite possibly an 8x10 since I have always wanted to explore platinum printing. The 6x6 format is a neither-here-nor-thing for me, though not having to be concerned about turning the camera on edge for vertical shots helps to maintain an even flow during a session. There is also the matter that the Hasselblad V system is a masterpiece of industrial design and a pleasure to own in itself. And of course there are the practical reasons noted earlier, and the fact that I always dreamed of owning a SWC – something I realized just recently.
I have been reading all comments very careful and want to add some ideas to this discussion .

first to Qnu
what i have for the 1600F / 1000F system is a ZEISS OPTON TESSAR 2,8/80 and also a CARL ZEISS TESSAR 2,8/80 both in very good condition . the 250mm lens is a ZEISS OPTON SONNAR 4/250 with very little sign of use .
the Planar 2,8/80 6 elements i was talking about is a C-MOUNT PLANAR of the very first serie (for 500C camera) and the serial number is even lower than the first mentioned lens of that type in RICK NORDINS compendium . it has the serial number of the built in shutter engraved on the back .
I use that lens (from the year 1956) in combination with a 500EL/M from 1980 and a magazine from 1999 .
Very strange for a collector ???? No . This is a very good ex&le of how compatible this HASSELBLAD design is over all the years .
regarding mint accessories for the 1600F/1000F series , i think that some guy around nils peterson in sweden could have got access to never sold parts and they now come on the "market" via E-BAY . i have one of these "mint" extension tubes (20mm)

Now back to the general discussion .
I believe that many of us came to HASSELBLAD via Rollei , Mamiya , Yashica and similar brands . So did i .

But i did not go for HASSELBLAD because of the 6x6 format .
At the time i made the decision for my first 500C/M i was only driven by the idea of the bigger format , best quality of the camera and there were almost no other formats on the market anyway , except 6x9 or even bigger .
I was fascinated by the design .
Using a rolleiflex or a mamiya c330 i found that holding the camera in my hands i always felt , the camera will fall out of my hands , tilting away from me to the front .
now looking at a HASSELBLAD i think as long as you dont use a lens longer than 150/180mm you have a wonderful balance in you left hand . Lens in front , body in the middle and magazin in the back. View finder on top . what a design . i think the versatility of that design keeps us all a bit fascinated again and again . and after i had the chance to see the HASSELBLAD lens production at CARL ZEISS in germany , i was so fascinated that i could hardly breathe .
friends , we are using and might be also collecting an absolute outstanding design of a camera .
just great . nothing to add but open for any discussion .
best regards to you all (am i too emotional ?????? ) :)

Have you told Richard Nordin the serial number of your early C 80 mm Planar lens (and that of the shutter)? And can you share it with us?
As you know, info like that is important to collectors. And it would be much appreciated.

A pitty it is not a 1600/1000 F Planar. I'm still trying to figure out if there ever was such a thing. Perhaps not.
And whether the Planar replacing the Tessar as 'standard' lens had anything to do with the film-to-flange-distance reduction in the 1600/1000 to 500 transition. We know the Planar was responsible for the too-short mirror in the 500-series Hasselblads. So maybe?

Your source for mint 50 year old parts appears to be different from mine, though both are in Sweden.
Where did they stash this stuff away, and why was it untouched for so long? Perhaps it came from the Hasselblad building when they vacated the premisses? I wish i could have been there, pick up some crumbs too...

Anyway. Very off-topic.
Yes Qnu i have informed Rick Nordin about that lens .
The serial number is

Yes Qnu
I have informed Rick Nordin .
The serial number is as follows: CARL ZEISS PLANAR 2,8/80mm NR.: 1594923 (obviously 1956)
There is a protection ring around the back lens (element) which was obviously mounted in later years . the number of the shutter is a SYNCHRO COMPUR Nr.: 2955871 .
Engraved and layed out with wite colour . All times of the shutter run very well but i have no profing results .
if you are interested in details of my 2 1600f bodies , give me a note .
Qnu, I was fascinated by your fortunate "collection" of classic Hassy equipment. They must be wonderful tools enabling enjoyment of them in their own right as well as the practical use you can also enjoy.

I collect some old folders and early rangefinders not because they have great value (mine don't that much) but because their designs fascinate me and because I just enjoy the engineering that went into them. I do occassionally use them and get some pleasure out of their imaging characteristics.

My comments about "Gates getting in the road of my passion" was my more colourful expression. Please don't take such colour in my expressions that seriously.
But, what I do mean to get accross is that while like you I get much benefit from the digital technologies in photography as well as in business and other persuits; I do not get the same "pleasure" form it in creating images. My passion lies in the process of seeing and recording images I make, what ever their type and I hate the thought of all that digi stuff "in my face" at the time. With film I understand how the film I use will resolve images; how I may need to compensat the exposure etc..

I loath situations like "fatal error...OK?"; I loath plugs and leads and batteries and bugs and cards and the whole user unfriendly stuff that just p....s one off big time. This may be in part a natural intollerance that developes in one a couple of years away from the big 50; and certainly is an intollerance now that my chronic pain requires incresing levels of narcotics. So, the KISS principle gets more and more important to me.

These days I am lucky to very rarely get a surprise when my positives and negative come back. But at the comfort of my desk I am happy to use these remarkable software applications to fine tune and crop my images - a lot of which "fine tuning" is necessitated by the way film is "translated" when scanned.

I even find that I draw the line when fine tuning at not making my images something the were not in the fist place. I have had nice comments about landscape images punctuated with comments like "you might even lift the colour saturation a bit to make it more appealing"! No, I won't do that when the image was our Australian outback and it's naturally so "bleached". But that's all a separate discussion about our individual preferences for "tweaking" images digitally, now that we have the tools to do that.

Like you I had an aversion to clunky 6x7 gear although I quite like the format. I had concerns about Rollei gear and saw that lots of fora were littered with all sorts of electronics complaints and simply the feel of the Hassy connected with me. But the use of Zeiss glass was a big "comfort factor" to me as well.

I think you or Jurgen said something about a preference to buy the "best" (eg a lens) and just work out the numbers rather than penny pinch and make a purchase only to be regretted later. I 100% share that view.

When I discovered joy in Leica M, I could only afford one (hell of a good one at that) lens - I was satisfied that it may be the only lens I ever have on it; but was content that I may "get lucky" and be able to add others if the need arose and the resources were available. In a way, just as Wayne said in another thread, that helps to make you get the best out of what you have.
Qnu, I do also 100% agree with your comments about "peeping" through a 90 degree prism and finding the image you are seeing.

It's also why I get so much enjoyment from my 4x5 and its relatively huge ground glass, and that a reversed, upside down image is actually a joy!
I have friends which enjoy looking at an upside down and also left and right reversed image as you do :)
I use an ARCA SWISS 4x5 inch metric model and i hate an upside down image . i always tried to turn my head around and thats why i bought the "image mirror box" and i am very happy with it .