Is anyone actually using a Hasselblad anymore

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by trex|1, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. OK,

    I have pretty much dumped all of my film gear with the exception of the Eos 55 body that I
    keep in a closet, and never actually use, as a back up for slide film for my EOS digital.
    Nonetheless, having owned every camera you can imagine, and the only one I have not
    used being a Hassy, I sold every spare bit of gear that was not nailed down to buy myself a
    nice Hassy 501. Now that I have it, and have played around with it a little, I am wondering
    if there is any real use to it? Do any of you guys actually use a Hassy, and why?

    Would I be better of selling it for a nice lens for my digital eos? I hope someone can tell me
    a good reason to keep it. I do enjoy the chromes, but hope to hear what my fellow
    denizens think.
  2. Its been quite a while since anyone has used a Hasselblad. Most are now in landfills. The manufacturer's been out of business for years, parts are unobtainable, and anyway even a cheap digicam does it all better.

    That you just bought one marks you as a grade A number one idiot.
  3. If you haven't figured it out, Dan is joking (I hope!) Is anyone actually using a Hasselblad anymore? Actually, yes. Just browse the threads in this forum and you'll soon see.

    The 501CM is my primary camera, followed by my Canon 20D. The shot-to-print process is longer with the Hassy and requires somewhat more work, but the results are worth it. the Zeiss lenses are superior to anything hanging off a DSLR, and the 6X6 format gives a richness and depth to the image that no DSLR can match. Keep the 501, use it, and you'll see what I mean.....
  4. An Hasselblad has a slight edge over the new DSLRs with 10MP and more. You can see some difference between a D2x and a 6x6cm Reala image in a 20x24 inch print, but not in a 16x20. The D2x actually looks smoother at any size (less grain/noise), but the Hasselblad has more detail if you blow it up enough. Chromes have less visible grain, but the dynamic capture range is too limited for serious work.

    Is it worth the limited range of lenses, the long setup time for shooting (otherwise called "contemplative" style), waiting for processing, hours spent scanning and struggling with the post-processing (much more than with a DSLR)? Good question. I'm holding on for the time being.

    On the bright side, nearly every medium format digital back will fit the Hasselblad. A few 12MP and scanning versions can be had for under $5K. The more desirable 16MP+ backs that can be used un-tethered start around $10K. At this point, it's a waiting game.
  5. Darius,

    I am also surprised to learn that some people are even regressing back to film after using digital.

    As Mistah Kurtz said: "the horror! the horror!".
  6. "An Hasselblad has a slight edge over the new DSLRs with 10MP and more."

    Can you provide any links to objective test data to support that?

    The FBI study put 200 asa 35mm at 16 MP, one would assume that medium format would be 4 or 5 times that. I wouldn't call that "slight".
  7. I shoot a Hasselblad 503CW with Zeiss optics exclusively. Having a EOS 3 with a couple of L lens as backups and for causal shooting sessions.

    Well, it's not about which camera has the edge over the other (DSLR). It's all about the work flow. For pros who make a living on photography, I agree DSLR is a great tool. For hobbyists like me, the digital work flow sucks!!! - spraying (clicking the shutter on a DSLR)without thinking too much about the composition, etc because it's dirty cheap to shoot hundreds of pics.; Bracketing all the time because it's dirty cheap to shoot hundreds of digital images. Then, spend endless hours in a Photoshop to manipulates and delete many of those bracketed images - painful long hours with artifical effects...

    The bottom line is : viewing an image on a monitor(no matter how large or bright it is) is NO COMPARISON to viewing an image on a 70x70 inch screen projected with a MF Hasselblad projector.

    No fun at all. So I've not bought a DSLR and probably will never unless it's "dirty cheap" - 20MP full-frame uder $1200.
  8. If you do not need the finest photographic intrument ever made -- IMHO -- and do not relish the clarity and superb color correction of Zeiss optics -- you do not need to waste your time with a photgraphic concept that is more than 60 years old. As for me, I'll just hang in there with this out-of-date technology!
  9. I still use a Hassy because it frees me from being tied to, and depending on, computers. 'Hard copy' megatives and prints are original, archival quality historic documents.

    It's entirely possible rhe early 21st century will be characterized by a void of visual information relating to everyday life because so much of it is being committed to 'soon to be obsolete' hard drives, never to be saved and passed along to the next generation of machines or people. Besides when I can get one of those 10MP digi-backs for under a grand everything that was old will be new again.

    Mostly I use Hasselblad tho' because of the wonderful optics and the sharp detail that provides me with imagewise.
  10. Spelling, spelling: sorry -- "instrument" & "photographic".
  11. <br>the Hasselblad is a camera. you learn it, conjure up ideas, and go forth and try to capture them on film. or you simply find interesting aspects of your life; your world; and capture those. if you are only interested in resolution or convenience, the Hasselblad is a very poor choice. should you side-step those issues, and look deeper within as you mature as a photographer, you just might find that the Hasselblad is the perfect tool for expression. or not .. and if not, sell it and move on.<br><br>

    best of luck in your endeavour,<br><br>

    daniel taylor<br>
    san juan island, wa.
  12. William, of course I was joking. So, I hope, was Darius.

  13. My wife has planted flowers in my Hasselblad bodies. I let the kids use the long Zeiss lenses for burning ants. My neighbor has disassembled most of the other Zeiss lenses and is making tree ornaments of them.

    And every month the neighborhood gets together and throws the broken digital cameras into a caldron; we dance and sing "The End of the World as You Know It."
  14. Dunno about the Hassy, but I use a Rolleiflex and a Widelux pretty regularly. Two weeks ago, I spent a week aboard my motorcycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway with my 11 y/o son, riding and shooting and hiking. My 15 y/o motorcycle, 25 y/o tent, 50 y/o cameras, and 11 y/o son all got along alright, more or less - and we brought back good stuff (on film).

    My film cameras can produce Jpegs, but if I buy a digital camera it can't produce negatives.

    Hopefully, when I'm old or dead, my son will be going through the negs and thinking how cool it is that all these images of his childhood survived multiple computers and computer crashes.

    No, I'm probably not a Luddite. I work with computers every day, and see them crash and die, and various operating systems come and go. I doubt he'll be able to read my CDs - but with his naked eyes he'll be able to view negatives.

    Gotta hunch somebody will still be able to print them.
  15. Edward Ingold said about chromes, that "the dynamic capture range is too limited for serious work". Oh, really? It's a pity to know that all the chromes in the world are not "serious work".

    Anyway, compared to projected 6x6 chromes every current digital projector is definitely inferior (with a resolution comparable to perhaps 18x24mm slides or less).

    Think about a 6x6 chrome projected on a 1,5x1,5 meter screen - to compete with that you ought to make 1,5x1,5 meter prints of all your grainless, flawless digital images (which have such a wonderful capture range in the high tones, which are so perfect - so much white!).

    Of course, to spare money, buy for example an "affordable" Canon 5d (3000$ body only). It is SO affordable compared for instance with the Rolleiflex SL66E with 40,50,80, 150 and 250mm Zeiss lenses I bought for less money. And, finally, how much film and developing can you pay for with 3000$?

    Well, if you are a pro who shoots a lot of frames, there is no economical alternative to digital. But I believe that many serious amateurs who shoot moderate numbers of pictures can shoot those cheaper with medium format than with a 10-16MP DSLR, all expenses considered.
  16. Just the other day, I observed a studio shoot in which the pro's venerable v-body was
    outfitted with a phase one back, tethered up to a powerbook and a 20-inch cinema
    display. So 20th century, so 21st century.
  17. Neal, that article is not the best or most update comparison. Film resolution can vary greatly with type, speed, B&W vs. color, etc. which I am sure you know. Type of scanner used has almost as much impact on final resolution. Many people are attracted to DSLR to avoid expensive drum scans. The article does not make sense to me in some areas:

    "If the field of view is held identical for both sensors above (35 mm ISO 200 color film and a 6-megapixel CCD), the film, with 40 percent more pixels than the CCD (8.64 million versus 6.1 million), will provide an improvement in resolution of approximately 20 percent."

    I was not aware that film had pixels.
  18. It might come down to how do you make prints ?

    If you get Lightjet or Lambda prints from a lab those are $500,000 laser printers but with any detail not right run back to the lab for another try...

    And there is no continuous-tone home printer except for an optical enlarger. To use an optical enlarger you must use film...but the $800 optical enlarger competes with the $500,000 laser printer probably up to 16x20 size..

    Well, with digital or with scanned film you might inkjet print at home...but both digital and scanned film are going to be post processed. Then there is the inkjet setup and testing. So digital is not a workload relief but perhaps convenient multi-tasking.

    If you don't make prints then digital might be great...
  19. A couple of points:

    Neil, I believe Edward did post some photos at some time which evidence his point on the Hasselblad - D2X comparison. Also I think I recall that there are a number of problems with that FBI study. I may be mistaken on both those points, but a quick search will reveal details.

    Binyuan, you are seriously over-estimating the capability of all current DSLRs if you believe them to be capable of reducing the ability of the photographer and causing them to work "...without thinking too much...". All the models currently on the market have no direct link into the brain of their users. It is, of course, a great disappointment that photographers now have a medium in which the marginal cost of each image is virtually zero, and can bracket without financial penalty, but despite this distortion of the true photographic path it is still open to photographers to apply their technique, creativity and intelligence in exactly the same degree as ever.
  20. "Well, if you are a pro who shoots a lot of frames, there is no economical alternative to

    I think I'm a pro (at least I make my entire living with it) and shoot a lot of frames and still
    use film most of the time. Simply because it is more economical (apart from technical
    advantages). After a long shooting day I drop off my films in the lab. There is a trusted guy
    there who scans and corrects my negs on a real-time machine. I could never ever do what
    he is doing in such a short amount of time. And I don't have the time, because I shoot all
    day long if its a busy period. My clients get their digital images just as fast and all I have to
    do is do my job: being the photographer. Not a computer nerd. It is a lot more profitable
    to do the shooting only and have the negs dealt with cheaply, because clients are rarely
    willing to pay the premium for all my hours in Photoshop. Compared to my digital
    colleagues my hourly income is a lot higher.
  21. "Chromes have less visible grain, but the dynamic capture range is too limited for serious work."

    What is this nonsense?
  22. Absolutely. I learned early on that a Hasselblad somehow encourages a photographic point of view like no other camera. Maybe it's the square format or the large image projected on the ground glass. Also, about 80% of my B&W work is with a Hasselblad, because I can't seem to get the results I want from PS and digital printing... yet.
  23. i agree wholeheartedly with everyone.

    I use one.

    I use it because it is f**king ace and makes a great THWUMP sound when you press the

    Try getting a good drum scan of your best picture and blow it up to 40 inches square with
    a lightjet from a good lab.

    Digital schmidgital - you'll have to shell out a lot of hardware money to get anything close
    with 'em.

    Sell all your digital stuff and get an SWC.....



    p.s. Pico, I really think it is very cruel of you to encourage your children to burn ants.
  24. Robert, never mind Edward, I bet he's just jesting.
  25. enw


    I use my Hasselblads for the same reason I drive a Porsche; I enjoy the journey as much, or even more than, arriving at the destination.
  26. I use it...and have fun with it while using it.
    That's all that matters to me.
  27. Please no mention of Porsches, ok....
  28. OK, you can talk about Porsches, if you have to. But there's a big hole in my life, that a
    Boxster would fill very nicely, and I would rather not be reminded of that fact......

    BTW, how do you get a Porsche when it means the kids go without food? You see that's the
    problem with them, you need a lot of discretionar income, and what with everyone being
    outsourced, not to mention global warming, I am worried my dream of owning a Boxster may
    never be realised.
    Nah, better keep Porsches out of the discussion...
  29. Soon it will be internal combustion engines versus cars that run on electric motors make no
    sound and run on lithium ion batteries. I saw one with eight wheels that can go 300km/h
    here in Tokyo. The motor companies want nothing to do with it, it would kill the gas burners
  30. "Absolutely. I learned early on that a Hasselblad somehow encourages a photographic point of view like no other camera."....

    As a Bronica 6x6 user, I'm feeling left out.
  31. For a pro, it's a tool in a toolbox and useful as needed. For an enthusiast it's usually a desire spawned by talk or print. The 6x6 Hassie isn't a better tool per se', it's just another tool. Some use it all the time, some once in awhile. It depends.

    If I were to shoot macro, I wouldn't reach to my CM but my 35mm. If I were to shoot a landscape, again not the CM, but my 4x5. If I were to shoot of a child engaged in sports, not the CM again, not fast enough, but my 35mm or a DSLR. Quick Headshot; No. There's alot of times something else would be a better tool to use, there are times when a 6x6 can fulfill the job. I really don't see it as a 'because I get negs, because i can project it, because I can print it hugh", type of instrument. It's just a tool to either do a job, capture a moment or express a view. You can work in the format and love it as some do, or you can grab it when needed. What's it good for? It's good for what you think it's good for.
  32. Maybe what we need is a Porsche that has a shutter button on the steering wheel and a
    keen Zeiss lens in the grille that takes a 40 MB picture and gives you a histogram on the
    GPS screen. But then that techology would migrate down into the Jetta, and then where
    would we be?
  33. > BTW, how do you get a Porsche when it means the kids go without food? <br>

    kids can beg.
  34. Robert said, "Chromes have less visible grain, but the dynamic capture range is too limited for serious work."
    What is this nonsense?"

    You confuse the high contrast and DMax of the finished slide with dynamic range. You refer to the OUTPUT. In terms of INPUT, the capture of an image, reversal film has a dynamic range of about 3.5 stops from black to washout. Negative color film has a dynamic range of 5 to 7 stops. Even though the negative appears less dramatic than a chrome, the finished results prove otherwise.

    Shawn said, "Can you provide any links to objective test data to support that [the resolution of a DSLR compares well to that of an Hasselblad]?"

    If you haven't guessed, I use an Hasselblad extensively, as well as DSLRs. For what it's worth, I have an objective example supporting this conclusion on my gallery page. Not newspapers taped to a wall, but a practical situation under ideal circumstances - slow film, tripod and a still subject. The Hasselblad can't come close to my D2x for large group pictures in room light. If you want a link with more examples, see

    Large chromes are indeed a beautiful sight when projected on a screen or viewed on a light table. I agree that a digital projector is little better than screen-saver quality. Unfortunately, projection is mainly for business presentations, traveloques and sharing between dilitantes or relatives.
  35. Referring to it being "f**king ace," there's a great feeling when a guy carrying a pack full of digital gear through Venice, Italy stops his wife so he can watch you shoot with your Hasselblad. As he walks away he says, "That's a camera."

    Plus, there's the great, loud THWUMP, the phenomenal detail in the Zeiss lenses and the smell, oh yeah, the beautiful smell of fixer. I s'pose I could sit with an open bottle of vinegar while processing digital shots on the computer, but it just wouldn't be the same.
  36. I think it's not only the(overpriced yuppie) Hasselblad that is still used but also a lot of Mamiya's, Rollei's, Pentaxes, Fuji's and let us not forget Bronica's. I myself abandoned digital for the greater deal (only webpagestuff with it) and actually returned towards to film, it's just a lot more quality.
  37. There's absolutely no reason to use a Hassy any more, Darius. Throw it away as soon as possible! It's dangerous. Digital is better. And not dangerous. Everyone else knows, but you.
    But make sure, you throw it in my direction;-)

  38. I had my 500CM as a paperweight on my desk since digital had gone big over the past few years. Yes, my crystal version that is. I'm still shooting with my other 500CM Classic as happily from day 1 with no regrets.
  39. Edward - I don't think that the dynamic range comment was misundertstanding dynamic
    range, just questioning the idea that this limited range makes chromes unsuitable for
    "serious work". You are lucky to have an Hasselblad, an digital and an large format.....!
  40. "Wide dynamic range is a bourgeois concept."

  41. Last week I had dinner with a man who's been using a single Hasselblad with a single back and a single lens for over twenty years and has got about five published books out of it. And he's still using it just as he did before the digital "revolution". The books win him prizes. If you use one too, you might win prizes. After all, I don't use a Hasselblad, and I don't win prizes: as we all know, it's not the photographer, it's the camera.)
  42. Peter - I bet he has never had it serviced, either.
  43. uk



    It's a pain in the ass when you forget to set the scan resolution and end up with a 400 mb file, when you really only wanted a 100mb file.

    Simple mistake wastes loads of time producing scans that will blow up to the size of a house, when all you really want is a high quality 20"x24" print.
  44. As ever using Hasselblad 6x6 remains as compelling today as it was many decades ago IMHO. Nothing comes close to seeing a Hasselblad/Zeiss produced 6x6 trannie (except maybe a 6x9, 6x12, 4x5 and 8x10).

    In the past 5 years as digital has rapidly grown - so too has my 6x6 Hasselblad kit by 5 times!

    I suggest you buy some beautiful trannie film and take that 501 out and shoot pictures - you'll later have 12 joyous images that will keep for near enough to forever!

    Yes there is a huge use to it - taking superb images - far better use than "playing around with it a little".

    I have never ever doubted its usefulness and won't for as long as it makes beautiful images - which ultimately is up to me and not the camera.

    And by the way, IMHO my 1930s and 1940s Zeiss Ikon Super Ikontas and Ikontas alike are as useful today as they were 60 to 70 years ago!

    Long live 120 roll film.
  45. Peter thanks for clearing things up. So, if I use the Hasselblad I will become a prize winning! I always had a feeling it was the camera and not the photographer....So,
    that's why people agonise about equipment so much on photonet, having the best equipment
    guarantees you getting the best shot....amazing.
  46. I work in a large camera store and spend most of the time being persuaded that this or that digital SLR together with this or that IS or VR lens is sharper than sharp. Why was this not a consideration when using a Hassy? (or most other larger format film cameras?). In my opinion, digital is great for imaging, but when it comes to serious photography, use film.
    I recently heard from a reliable source that insurance companies won`t accept a digital image, only prints with negs, so you can`t fiddle it.
    I find the 20D makes for a great Polaroid test, before using film.
    I recently shot a street scene outside our store with a Mamiya Universal 6x9 using the 75mm. Checking out the neg with an 8x loupe, I could clearly count each and every leaf on the tree across the road.....I`ve not seen such immense detail in ages!
    The Canon 20D with a 28-105mm IS USM, merely smudged it. I won`t even begin to discuss the quality of 4x5, but if speed is what you need then use digital, if QUALITY is what you prefer, use a Hassy. (Or Bronica, Mamiya etc). It makes a change to see one go AGAINST the flow and be an individual, instead of rushing out to buy an electronic marvel that`s outdated before your mobile phone is. Make dirt on your CCD`s a thing of the past and just enjoy the Blad.
  47. The only reason I'm not using my 'Blad (500C/M) right now is that it's in the shop getting the light-baffle return spring sorted. In the meantime, I'm lugging around the Mamiya Press with 6x9 back and 75mm wide-angle lens, and I agree with Dean Jones that the images are superb. Unfortunately, the camera is so much bigger and heavier than the Hasselblad that I hadn't had it out of the case in several years. I love my 'Blad for its comfortable size, art-deco design, bright (Accute-Matte) focusing screen, lovely mechanical sounds and big, sharp negs and slides. It's just plain FUN, and it helps me see things I might otherwise have missed. Enjoy yours.

    John Hancock / Sydney Australia

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