Is it OK for a beginner to buy a used 500 body?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by slecoanet, May 2, 2004.

  1. Hello everybody!

    After many hesitations, I'm ready to step up from 35mm to MF.
    The other big step is that I plan to buy a used Hasselblad system.

    500 bodies seem to be a good deal in many stores.

    I red documentations, but it was not old enough to describe the 500

    I searched info on the internet about the 500xx and found out there
    are many type, some being quite old. Not that I'm afraid of old
    bodies, but I'd like to be able to detect traps when choosing my
    equipment (non compatible lenses, backs, accesories...).

    I know Hasselblad is famous for keeping up and downwards
    compatibility, but I wouldn't like to spend much money in a system if
    I have a risk to get stuck somewhere.

    I plan to shoot mainly landscapes or street scenes, so I'd like to
    buy wide angle to standard lenses (in case you'd warn me I can't use
    a the Zeiss 300/2.8 T* or something like that, it's no big deal, by
    the way I should consider selling a kidney to buy it (-;) so would
    the choice be wrong? Should I buy a more expensive 501 or 503 body?

    I thank you in advance for any advice, and I apology in advance if my
    questions are silly or have already been asked.

  2. The CM bodies will allow you to change focuse screens. You might want to move up one step newer than the C and get the CM or newer.
  3. Stephane,

    If you want Wide Angle, I don't recommend Hasselblad. I have a Hasselblad (and love it)
    but you can't get a good Wide Lens for it without spending a lot of money.

    See my thread below this one about "In Search of Wide Medium Format"

  4. I agree with John. The prices for Zeiss lenses are very expensive. This
    becomes a big concern when you want to build up your MF system. Sure the
    500 series bodies are decently priced, but the lenses, are obscenly priced.
    This will add up to huge bucks in the future, and you have to think what your
    budget will be. Other systems have lenses that are priced more reasonably
    IMO, and are top-notch optics. For example, the Bronica, Pentax and Mamiya
    6x7 SLRs have great lenses and are priced much more reasonably than the
    Hassy or Rollei's. It would be hard to see any major difference in photos
    taken with the Zeiss glass and the glass from Bronica, Pentax or Mamiya.
    From personal experience, I own a Pentax 6x7, and the 55mm wide angle
    that I have (cost me ~$500 used) is a killer lens. Also consider the 6x6
    Bronica SQ system that is very similar to the Hasselblad, but much more
    reasonable in price.

    Here's a link to a great webpage about MF cameras
  5. I would like to add.....

    If you want to shoot square format with an 80-150. HASSELBLAD RULES! I'm not getting
    rid of my system or anything.

    The older "C" lenses aren't expensive. I got my 80 for $225 and it is great. A "Bargain"
    150 F4 C can be had at KEH for about $300.

    It is popular to say that the old C Lenses aren't good and should be avoided. A quick look
    at the classic images that were shot on those lenses is enough to let you know that C
    Lenses are good enough for you (for me at least).

    The Wide lenses have been a shortcoming in the Hassy system.

  6. I did the same thing a year ago. Best advice is to take a structured approach or else you can make expensive mistakes despite how economic it is now to get into MF through quality used gear today. I selected Hasselblad for reasons of my intended use and then it's technical characteristics.

    You're best to plan by deciding the following main issues:
    1. main use - eg landscapes / portraits etc;
    2. format - eg 6x4.5; 6x6; 6x7 etc.
    3. other detailed considerations like - need for in-built metering or TTL flash; motor winder and other handling preferences (too many to mention here);
    4. how the equipment feels in your hands (no point having kit that meets your planned purpose if you hate how it handles).
    5. Other issues like the overall system - range of lenses and accessories. Eg if you're into serious macro work, best to forget Hasselblad and look at Bronica in stead.
    6. Budget - I always treat that as a last consideration and only in terms of planning purchases over time - rather than let budget steer you into a bad decision you'll later regret.

    So, for me it worked like this:
    I have a 35mm system, my MF purpose was for creative work in portraits and landscapes etc.
    I decided on 6x6 - square format is fascinating, creatively challenging and gives an image of significantly larger size - I can also crop 6x6 to 6x4.5 if necessary.

    Two choices? Bronica and Hasselblad.
    Then I wanted to be sure the system would likely give me backward and forward compatability - a big investment requires a manufacture's commitment to that. Hasselblad has achieved that very well and protected professional's investment.

    Hasselblad system? - a strong range of lenses (but narrower than Bronica); sensational optics (my requirement); totally modular equipment; proven reliability, safe used values and a large used equipment range available.

    Then which Hasselblad? - leaf shutter for flash synch at all shutter speeds (500 series); focal plane shutter (200 series); etc etc.
    Keeping it simple: a 501 is an updated 500 (main feature is the gliding mirror system that enables full picture view); a 503 is a 501 with TTL auto flash capability (eg use a dedicated connector with a Metz).

    Decided on 500 series. Which 500? Do I need motorised (no), do I need TTL flash as in the 503(no), so it was a 501 or similar earlier model. I looked at specs for 501CM and its predecessors and decided I wanted the acutematt screen and gliding mirror (as well as a slightly newer body anyway).

    As far as price goes, a kit should always mean savings on buying individual bits.
    Price meant 501CM kit (with 1 back and 80mm CFE f2.8 lens) for cheap money (used 2 year old student kit) and just hold off buying more lenses. Then planned what lenses and other kit I'd like to end up with and prioritised buying them (spare film back, light meter, filters and Metz flash, 50mm CF fle f4 and a 180mm CF f4).

    By the way, it is sensational - I'm delighted by the results and choice as it suits my purposes very well.

    Wide angle lenses - you'll need to do some conversions of 35mm focal lengths to 6x6 to decide the angle of view you're after but remember that the impact is different even if the angle of view is the same due to the square image!! The Zeiss wide angles are 50 and 40mm (35mm equivalent of about 28mm and 23mm respectively). The ultra wide is 38mm (about a 21mm equivalent) but this is a seriously expensive lens.
    I hope this helps because I've seen some buyers in second hand equipment stores get totally confused and shy away from making a decision or unwisely jumping in without a plan.
    Happy hunting.
  7. I strongly disagree with the answer saying that Hasselblad is not good for wide angle. 38mm, 50mm FLE and 60mm CF are all reputed lenses. I own a 50 FLE and love it.

    But one big advantage of Hasselblad vs. other sytems (pentax, bronica, Rollei) is the compactness. A 501CM with WLF is very compact, this point is important when backpacking.

    A Mamiya 7 is also a very compact outfit, but it is not a SLR.
  8. Seb Seb,

    we aren't saying that W.A Zeiss lenses for Hassy's are no good, but that they
    are too damned expensive for many. There are other systems with excellent
    W.A optics for a fraction of the price of the Zeiss's. For anyone on a budget,
    this is very important.
  9. Seb,

    If you read the original post.....self-described beginner....doesn't want to spend too much
    money....wants Wide Angle.... Shoots mainly lanscapes and Street scenes.

    None of that description screams "You should have a Hasselblad".

    With Hasselblad you have to pay $1,500 to get a pretty good Wide Angle Lens.

  10. Stephane, I have been reading with great interest your search to upgrade to a medium format system. I understand what you are going through as I went through those same motions about 7 years ago.

    I settled on a used Hassy system for many reasons. In no particular order...the camera feels "right" in my hands, top-notch optics, it will hold its value, wide availability of components on the used market (and at great prices if you are patient), interchangability of it's components, and it's a workhorse that will be of service to you for years to come.

    Having said that I must also agree with other posts promoting outstanding values and great results with other systems on the market. There are some great systems out there at great prices, including Hassy systems, but don't fall into the trap of basing a decision purely on the supposed cost of one component (lens) as some systems will have more expensive bodies, backs, or accessories prices than others making the TOTAL cost of a high-quality system closer to one another than you might think.

    I am in agreement with other posts stating that you must fully understand what you expect the system to do for you in terms of picture taking quality, availability of components, quality of manufacturing, ability to service, etc.

    Having said that I would like to extend an offer to you should you decide to purchase a Hassy. I have a used Zeiss 50mm f/4 Distagon T* lens for sale. It's the perfect lens for what you want to shoot...landscapes and street photography. How good is the Distagon? I won Best of Show using this lens for a photo I took while in Cuba.

    Over the years I have found myself gravitating towards people photography and I find that I am just not using this lens any more. I need a 150mm lens to do the work I want. A good used Distagon on ebay sells for around $1,100 to $1,300, if I recall correctly. I purchased this lens for $1,050 - a good deal. I would prefer selling the lens to someone like you who wants to take their photography to the next level. The lens includes an after market uv filter, caps, and a quick focusing ring. Price = $900.

    I realize you just started your hunt, but if you are interested in more information please contact me at...

    Good luck with the hunt for your next system.


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