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Hasselblad 500cm mirror lockup


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Hello, I am a new Hasselblad user, just got a 500cm from eBay. However, after testing it I’ve realized it has something odd with the mirror lockup. 

Whenever I press the mirror lockup button, the camera acts as if I was pressing the shutter button. The mirror does not stay up, the shutter is released and then the mirror just comes back down… just as if I pressed the shutter.

Is there an easy fix to this? Is the camera jammed? Are there any easy ways to fix it?

I appreciate any suggestions.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/7/2023 at 10:07 PM, chuck909 said:

Return it

You do seem to have purchased faulty equipment. Definitely talk to the seller about the issue. I mean unless it was free or nearly so. 

That said, you might ask the moderators to move this (or repost it yourself) to the Medium Format forum section. You’d get attention there from folks who are knowledgeable about your camera. 

Edited by Ricochetrider
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On 2/7/2023 at 5:41 PM, nenesolarte said:

Is there an easy fix to this?

Is the camera jammed?

No.  And no.

It isn't quite "jammed', at least not yet (a jam usually entails inability to wind, or have the mirror come down, or inability to mount/remove the lens).  But your 500cm mirror pre-fire mechanism is gummed up, likely from a long period of disuse, and is overdue for tune-up/lubrication/servicing. More than most other brands, Hasselblad was engineered to be used hard, used often, and serviced regularly. When Hasselblad sits unused for months, never mind years, the mechanics slowly gum up, eventually grinding to a halt. They can be revived, and once revived can be kept in good order by regular use (or at least dry firing every couple weeks). But revival can be more costly than anticipated.

Newcomers to the wonderful world of Hasselblad are often blissfully unaware of the fact these are very quirky, very complicated pro-oriented cameras that were priced comparable to a good used automobile in their heyday, and required periodic servicing at pricing comparable to a good auto mechanic. When working properly, they are amazingly tactile and precise-feeling cameras with incredible Zeiss glass.

But. That was then.

Today, most buyers are stuck with the eBay lottery, where buying any vintage camera is a big gamble. When it comes to exotic German or Swedish gear like Rolleiflex or Hasselblad, the odds are stacked even more firmly against you. There was an enormous revival of interest in "prestige" vintage film cameras eight or nine years ago, at that time most of the good-condition Hasselblad stuff got snapped up at reasonable prices and left the open market. What remained were the more-worn or long-unused examples, in various states of relative functionality, which is what most often trades hands on eBay now in 2023.

The good news is Hasselblad gear is still fairly easy to get repaired, as almost every decent camera tech still in business was trained at some point to work on them. In their day, they were a steady income stream for repair shops: they were designed and intended by Haselblad to be serviced on a regular basis. Common wear points includes parts of the film back mechanism, the lens leaf shutters, and the body mechanism timing. All these elements must sync together perfectly for a proper Hasselblad experience.

The bad news is Hasselblad service typically costs about what you paid for each module of the camera, which can run into the hundreds to service a complete kit of film back, body and lens. This was not an issue back in the film era, because the pros (and very wealthy amateurs) that could afford Hasselblad never thought twice about the service costs. Today, the average newbie film shooter attracted by the Hasselblad mystique can be shocked by the necessity and cost of such maintenance. But it is what it is: Hasselblad was never remotely a budget-oriented system. The buy-in price for the gear has dropped to half or a third of what it was originally, but service costs soar ever-higher each year.

With most other camera types and brands, the recommendation would normally be to return a dysfunctional camera to the seller and try another example, hoping for a better outcome. With Hasselblad, the situation is more nuanced and other factors must be considered. Sooner or later, in a few weeks, months or a year, the majority of Hasselblad items circulating on eBay today will require servicing, whether they seem to work OK when you first get them or not (the lens leaf shutters especially have an infuriating tendency to die a few weeks/months after your return window expires). Given a service expense is all but guaranteed, the "return it or repair it" question becomes one of relative value of the specific Hasselblad piece to the specific photographer.

What is the overall condition of your 500cm? Is it very clean and nice cosmetically? It can be hard to find nice examples today, so repairing them can feel more palatable than repairing a worn-looking wreck.

Other than the mirror pre-release dysfunction, does everything else work well? If so, you can maybe postpone repairs and use the camera awhile to see if it really suits you (like Leica or Rolleiflex, they can be a love/hate affair upon longer acquaintance).

But if there other hints of trouble, repair (or return to seller for refund) may be more urgent. For example, film winding should feel steady, smooth and relatively light. If it feels heavy, esp with crank folded out, its gonna need service fairly soon. Is the focus accuracy of the body good? If not, the foam positioning pads between the mirror glass and the plate it rides on have decayed to dust and need replacement.

If your newly-acquired 'blad looks nice and you paid a reasonable price, I'd probably keep it and save up for a servicing (bird in the hand, etc). But if you paid the going market price for a perfect example, or paid a premium based on seller claims of "working perfectly", a return for refund may be the better option. Its a tough choice: faced it myself many times as I built up my own Hasselblad system. 

Edited by orsetto
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