Buying Hasselblad 500C(/M)

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by roman_groger, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. Dear all.
    After my beloved Yashica 124G developed a problem with shutter and I found the repair would pay the camera again, I was offered to buy the Hasselblad. I know only very little what I learned from the posts at and would like to ask you for help. I have two options:
    1. Hasselblad 500C, 1968 model with matching A12 back, waist level finder, chrome 80mm lens. This is the model with older fixed focusing screen made by Hasselblad. It is all very clean, I would say about 8/10. Offered at $845.
    2. Hasselblad 500C/M, 1987 model with matching A12 back, waist level finder, chrome 80mm lens (a tiny bit cleaner than that above). This contains the newer Minolta Acute-Matte focusing screen. It is also very clean, about the same as above. This would be at about $1000.
    I would like to know whether it would be worth investing in the newer model. Is the focusing screen so much better than the older made by Hasselblad ? Is there any other factor than would make one of these two better over the other one ? I am not a professional, but serious amateur.
    Thank you all very much.
  2. The Acute Matte focusing screen is brighter than the original and makes focusing easier. Not sure why the one you are looking at is made by Minolta. On the chrome 80mm lens these are going to be quite old. Try to find out the serial number. Then you can enter the S/N on a website called Check out prices for a newer C or CF model at The $1,000 sounds about right. I checked the KEH website, and you can buy a 500 c/m with Acute Matte for about $400, A12 back for about $120 and an 80mm C T* for about $500 for a total cost of $1,020.
    I would choose the 500 c/m instead of the 500 C.
  3. Definitely go with the 500C/M. You can find all different kinds of screens and finders for it. But probably the most significant difference between the two is the age. Although the 500 series are built like tanks, and could be used to smash any modern DSLR into little pieces, 1968 is getting pretty long in the tooth.
    The chrome lens will have the old Synchro Compur shutter but it is still and excellent lens. It is only single coated and has a little problem with flare but not bad. The only downside to the Synchro Compur shutters are that repair parts are getting a little hard to find. But both my C T*'s are early 80's vintage and both have them and they are still going strong. Just have them CLA'd every year or two
    It is DEFINITELY worth the extra $200!
    My 500C/M is a 1984 vintage, with 1978 and 1995 A-16 backs and it is still going strong. I will never part with it, EVER!
  4. Roman,
    Both are excellent cameras, but when repairs become and issue, the CM will have more parts availability.
    Unless you are buying this from a camera store, you will not have any warranty implied (and you may not even from a store).
    Particularly if you are in the US, you might want to check at to put together this same kit for the CM. They are very conservative in their ratings and offer a 60 day warranty. I have bought lots of items from the, particularly Hasselblad, and I have always been very happy to find that what they call bargain, I would call excellent to excellent plus. Piecing this together from them (in their latest catalog) looks to be in the same price range as what you describe.
  5. Graham and Scott, thank you both for being so quick. I was not aware about the age of the lenses so this is very important for me. How crucial is to have a matching back ? In the store, they told me that it is very important but with the precision of Hasselblads I don't think this would be so bad if they were not. Also, that the Acute-Matte focusing screen is made by Minolta is written here:
  6. Tim, thanks a lot. I really thought CM would be better. I am stretching my budget a little bit but I want something that can travel with me. I actually live in Europe but am now in the US for two weeks - not so much time to piece it together.
  7. Roman, there are two different camps with respect to having matching backs and inserts. None of my backs have the same serial numbers as the inserts, and I have had no problem. You will pay more for the matching back and inserts. There are others who will tell you that you are much better off paying the extra. The theory behind having matching backs and inserts is that since they were made for each other there is less chance of light leaks or a malfunction. My personal non- professional opinion is that the Hasselblad quality control was so good when these backs were made that you aren't taking much of risk by buying the mismatched backs and inserts.
  8. If you are going to be in the States and staying at the same place you may have time to place an order with KEH, and get it delivered while you are here. Their phone number is 770-333-4200 (Atlanta, Georgia) and their website is They have a 14 day no questions asked return policy and a 60 day warranty. They will also ship overseas. Their grading is very conservative going from Bargain to Like New. I have bought Bargain items in the past without any problems except for one Nikon manual focus lens. They took it back and replaced it without any problems. Since it would be more expensive and harder for you to return any items from Europe I would suggest that you buy either Excellent or Excellent +.
    I have no connection to KEH other than being a very satisfied customer. Good luck, and enjoy your visit here.
  9. As an aside, it's interesting to me to see that the prices for used 500C/Ms seem to have gone up. I bought a 500 C/M with A12 back and 80mm CF lens from KEH Jan 09 for $780, and they seem to be north of $1000 today.
    Seems that the market has picked up a little.
  10. Thanks all. I also noticed that some backs are on marked "12" and the others "12 with release". What is meant by the release ? (the shutter release ?)
  11. I forget what it means by "with release" but it has nothing to do with the shutter. I think the A12 with release is an older model but I could be wrong.
  12. A12 release refers to the back release. In the case of an A12 release, the release itself says "A12".
  13. Roman, there is a small button on the top of the back that one pushes to the side to release the back from the camera body. In reading George's comment I remembered that imprinted on the release button it says "A12". I also have two A24 backs, and one has "24" imprinted on the release button which would make it an "A24 with release". The other one simply has a black dot on the release button. Thanks for jogging my memory, George.
  14. Roman,
    I will echo everyones else's responses.
    I use the 500C/M and 501C/M. I also use the 500C but it is much less versatile.
    1. Cannot change screens
    2. The older they are the more difficult a repair becomes if parts are required.
    3. Pre 1962 C's have a pin in the lens mount area which means they cannot use CF and later lenses
    (May be an issue if you spot a nice CF for sale)
  15. A couple of notes:
    Only the very oldest 500 Cs are difficult to repair if (some) parts are needed. But only if you want to keep it in a state as near to original as possible. They can all be repaired if you don't mind getting older bits inside replaced by improved newer bits.
    There is no such pin-issue. You can use all (!) shuttered lenses on all 500-series bodies.
  16. Yes, go for the C/M, simply for a shutter with less use, and more likelyhood of being able to repair.
  17. I have two early Hasselblad 500 C cameras from 1958. Both seem to have had a pin in the bayonett. But what is left from them is a very small hole. These cameras are of course compatible to all C-, CF-, CB-, CFi- and CFE-lenses.
  18. I just bought a 500C body from KEH and it works wonderfully well. From the serial # I see it was made in 1969. I paid $179.00 for the body and it looks like the 501 c/m I bought new a few yrs. ago.
    They both make beautiful photographs.
  19. All the Hasselblad V Series cameras are rugged machines capable of taking great photos. That said I'd go for the 500c/m because the brighter Acu-Matte screen will be a big help. This camera is a very different animal than your Yashicamat TLR; it is much heavier and so easy to tote around. That said the ability to use other focal length lenses and focus with the SLR will more than make up for any inconvenience. I've had my 501c since I bought it new in 1996. I'm still amazed at the resolution of the Carl Zeiss lenses.
    some wrote:
    "I bought a 500 C/M with A12 back and 80mm CF lens from KEH Jan 09 for $780, and they seem to be north of $1000 today.
    Seems that the market has picked up a little. "
    Yes, quality medium format gear IS going up! That's a 25% appreciation in price. Your stocks should be so lucky!
  20. Roman,
    I use 501 CM, I have no experience with 500CM but I guess it should be a same story. Just using common criteria I would
    go for 1987 model and 1987 CM has much better focusing screen as that made on 1968, that is for sure. Considering you
    mentioned you are tight on budget - if that 1968 camera looks still good to you and will more likely do its job for next 20
    years just imagine 1987 model, it will survive you. These cameras are so well made that they are actually state of art and
    you will be not dissapointed. Don't forget also an important fact - 1968 camera desperately needs overhauling, it mean main
    springs have to be replaced, cleaning and lubrication etc. It will cost you at least another 200$! So from that point of view
    your 1987 500CM is still OK if the camera wasn't heavily used by professional. Even that I would recomend you clean&lub
    as soon as possible. Definitively go for 1987 model, it is worth of 200$ extra. Good luck!
  21. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    The earlier model digital backs are coming down in price (the 16 MP for V cameras is almost affordable on the recent Hasselblad special sheet) so that may be affecting C/M and later body prices.
    The main advantage of C/M over C is owner interchangeable screens. Except for metered finders, finders for one will work on the other (and a camera repair person with proper equipment can change out a C screen for an Accumat if you want a metered finder that is adjusted to work with that screen). The accessory shoe on the side are identical for both. C T* black lenses seemed like the best compromise for me, though one of my lenses is a CF. Ex pro equipment tends to be harder used than ex-amateur equipment, though anything left in storage for a decade or more may need relubrication.
    Get it a decent tripod if you don't have one already.
  22. Wow. Thank you guys a lot. This more than got me started. This morning I got the 500C/M body with Accu-Matte screen (non-matching A12 back but promised to fit perfectly with the body) for $475 (this is a 1978 body with 1979 back). From KEH I got the 80mm C F* black lens for $415. Both are in excellent condition and so I think for $890 it is a bargain. My life will never be the same...
  23. Congratulations Roman. I am sure you will enjoy your "new" gear. You will not regret having bought from KEH.
  24. Roman,
    You are right your life will never be the same... Once you try Hassy you will never get back!
  25. Roman,
    I developed my first roll of B/W from my "new" 500C/M last night. I have not done any EI testing, so my exposures were a little off, but even under a loupe the negatives are amazing. The shots were taken with a 50mm C and a 150mm C T* lens and I am just in love with this machine.
    I did "cheat" and bought a Keiv TTL/Spot prism, but for $38.00us I couldn't say no.
    Enjoy your new tool, it will last you a lifetime. -Harry

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