New! Hasselblad 501CM

Hasselblad 501CM + Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CFT

Latest Purchase! 🙂

September 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica.com

Hasselblad 501CM :)

After resisting buying a Hasselblad 500C back in October 2014 I finally gave in and purchased my first Hasselblad 6×6 medium format film camera today.  I have owned and tried many film cameras but I have never tried the famous Hasselblad.  At my Zurich model photography workshop last weekend I got to see a Hasselblad in action and the shutter sound and camera form reminds me so much of my much loved Arax-CM (Kiev 88) camera that at one point was my most used film camera.

Back in October 2014 I came up with a list of reasons why not to buy a Hasselblad and so instead bought into the Mamiya 645 camera system. (Link to original post below).

As I have quite a few medium format film cameras here are my thoughts comparing the Hasselblad 501CM to some of the most used to help me with my purchasing decision.  As you will see each camera system brings it’s own advantages and disadvantages.

Hasselblad 501CM vs Mamiya 645 Super

  • Both cameras have WLF (which I love) and interchangeable film backs
  • Mamiya 645 Super focuses closest at 0.7m vs 0.9m for the Zeiss Planar lens
  • Mamiya 645  has faster glass available – f1.9 vs f2.8 Zeiss Planar lens
  • Mamiya 645 has 1/60 flash sync speed only vs 1/500 on the Hasselblad
  • Mamiya 645 has maxium shutter speed of 1/1000 vs 1/500 on Hasselblad
  • Mamiya 645 has hotshoe for speedlights / triggers vs PC sync ports only on 501CM
  • Mamiya 645 Super is smaller and lighter than the Hasselblad 501 so great for travel
  • Mamiya 645 lenses are cheaper than Hasselblad lenses as without leaf shutter
  • Hasselblad is 6×6 format so I can shoot portrait orientation using WLF with ease
  • 6×6 square format captures more detail but less frames per roll of 120 (12 vs 15/16)
  • Square format is somehow more arty (instant Instagram ready images!)

Hasselblad 501CM vs Mamiya RZ67 Pro II

  • Both cameras have WLF (which I love) and interchangeable film backs
  • Mamiya RZ67 has bellows and focuses all lenses super close vs 0.9M for 501CM Planar
  • Mamiya RZ67 is a 6×7 camera with rotating film back but can use 6×6 backs also
  • Mamiya RZ67 requires a battery to operate all shutter speeds vs no battery in 501CM
  • Mamiya RZ67 has 1/400 flash sync speed vs 1/500 on the Hasselblad 501 CM
  • Mamiya RZ67 has maxium shutter speed of 1/400 vs 1/500 on Hasselblad 501 CM
  • Mamiya RZ67 has hotshoe for speedlights / triggers vs PC sync ports only on 501CM
  • Mamiya RZ67 is bigger and heavier than a Hasselblad 501CM
  • Mamiya RZ67 lenses are cheaper than Hasselblad lenses as without leaf shutter

Hasselblad 501CM vs ARAX-CM (Kiev88)

  • Both cameras have WLF (which I love) and interchangeable film backs
  • ARAX-CM focuses closest at 0.6m vs 0.9m for the Zeiss Planar lens
  • ARAX-CM has 1/30 flash sync speed only vs 1/500 on the Hasselblad
  • ARAX-CM has maxium shutter speed of 1/1000 vs 1/500 on Hasselblad
  • ARAX-CM has hotshoe for speedlights / triggers vs PC sync ports only on 501CM
  • ARAX-CM (Kiev88) is a Hasselblad clone so similar size and weight to the 501CM
  • ARAX-CM (Kiev88) is Russian and not famous for reliability and quality control
  • Hasselblad originate from Sweden and have a generally good reliability track record
  • Nether the ARAX-CM or Hasselblad require a battery and are 100% mechanical

Hasselblad 501CM vs Rolleiflex SL66E

  • Both cameras have WLF (which I love) and interchangeable film backs
  • Rollei SL66E has bellows and focuses all lenses super close vs 0.9m for 501CM Planar
  • Rollei SL66E lenses can be reverse mounted to become macro lenses vs can’t
  • Rollei SL66E has tilting bellow for selective focus images vs standard look of 501
  • Rollei SL66E has 1/60 flash sync speed only vs 1/500 on the Hasselblad
  • Rollei SL66E has maxium shutter speed of 1/1000 vs 1/500 on Hasselblad
  • Rollei SL66E has hotshoe for speedlights / triggers vs PC sync ports only on 501CM
  • Rollei SL66E is bigger and heavier than a Hasselblad 501CM
  • Rollei SL66E is like an Italian sports car.  When it works it is a dream but not often
  • Hasselblad 501CM was thought to be reliable enough to go to the moon so the opposite

Hasselblad 501CM vs Fuji GF670

  • The Hasselblad 501CM has a WLF and interchangeable film backs vs Fuji without
  • Fuji GF670 and Hasselblad 501CM Zeiss Planar kit lens both focuses closest at 0.9m
  • Fuji GF670 and Hasselblad 501CM both have a flash sync speed of 1/500
  • Fuji GF670 and Hasselblad 501CM both have a max sync speed of 1/500
  • Fuji GF670 has hotshoe for speedlights / triggers vs PC sync ports only on 501CM
  • Hasselblad has interchangeable lenses vs. fixed lens only on the Fuji GF670
  • Fuji GF670 offers 6×6 or 6×7 format vs 6×6 only for the Hasselblad 501CM
  • Fuji GF670 is a folding rangefinder camera so more compact than a Hasselblad
  • Fuji GF670 and Hasselblad 501CM are perhaps a similar weight despite the shape

Hasselblad 501CM Wish List

For me the there are three things I really wish the Hasselblad camera system offered –

  • Faster glass (Perhaps an f2 Planar lens as found on the Contax 645)
  • Closer focusing lenses (0.6m would be perfect) (8mm extension tube is an option)
  • Hot shoe when using WTF (easier to work with wireless triggers than sync cables)

Conclusion

The Hasselblad 501 C/M is by no means the perfect system but I want to try it as part of my quest for the ‘perfect’ camera.  I hope I can love it as much as my Leicas.  My biggest wish is reliability and sharp images and that alone will make me use the camera more than some of my existing ones.

Note

When looking to buy a Hasselblad my mind was boggled by all the various camera bodies and lenses.  Here is a few things I found out during my research.

Hasselblad 501CM vs 500CM

  • Hasselblad 501CM (1997 – 2005) is newer than the  500CM (1970-1994)
  • Hasselblad 501CM is said to have a new internal lining to reduce internal reflection
  • Hasselblad 501 has new Acute-matte brighter focusing screen (can buy for 500CM)
  • Hasselblad 501 has gliding mirror system so less screen vignetting with longer lenses
  • Hasselblad 501 film advance crank lever is not removeable. 500CM one is
  • Hasselblad 501 has no body ready indicator than was found on the 500CM

Hasselblad CB vs CF lenses

  • Hasselblad Zeiss CF lenses are said to be of superior build quality
  • Hasselblad Zeiss CF lenses are normally more expensive than CB lenses
  • Hasselblad CB lenses are the cheaper budget lens line like the Nikon E Series lenses
  • Hasselblad CF lenses are said to be sharper than CB if pixel peep but not that dramtic
  • 16 different Hasselblad Zeiss CF lenses available vs only 3 CB lenses
  • Hasselblad Zeiss CB lenses were released after CF lenses and has 6 elements not 7

Related Links

*Above facts based on my best knowledge and reading material only.  Comparisons include some of the camera features important to me rather than every feature.  Light meters not mentioned for example or the benefits of 6×7 vs 6×6.

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About matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.
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8 Responses to New! Hasselblad 501CM

  1. Tal says:

    Matt, you can also get a 645 back for the Hassy, and the dark slide holder is only available on newer backs, my 501CM came with an older back which had no holder, I then purchased a 2nd newer back with a dark slide holder, so “technically” it’s not correct that the 501 has a dark slide holder over the 500…if you know what I mean?!?

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