Digital Camera That Shoots Film!? (Hasselblad H Film Back)
Do you ever wish your high end digital camera shot film too!? Can you actually buy a digital camera that shoots film too? With a Hasselblad H series camera you can shoot analogue and digital! Here I detail which models to look for and include sample photos using the Hasselblad H film back on my digital Hasselblad H3D-31 camera.
So can you actually buy a digital camera that shoots film too?
Yes! Yes you can.. and I have one! This article goes into detail about the Hasselblad H system and some of the good to know facts. Before you look to buy one of these cameas check the specifics to make sure the camera gives you what you expect. Not all Hasselblad cameras can shoot both film and digital.
Hasselblad H film cameras
To give a bit of background, the first Hasselblad H series camera was the Hasselblad H1 (released in 2002) followed by the H2 model. The the H1 and Hasselblad H2 were designed and known as ‘Hasselblad H film cameras’ even though they also accepted a digital back. The Hasselblad H3D camera was the first H series camera designed as a digital camera. An example of this is the Hasselblad H3D-31 that I own. After the H2 model all future Hasselblad system cameras were optimised for digital and not all shoot film.
Is there a Hasselblad H4D film back?
The Hasselblad H3DII and H4D models that followed the H3D only worked with a digital back. There is no Hasselblad H4D film back option as the H4D camera does not support film. This is one big disadvantage of these later H3DII and H4D cameras vs the older H3D I have. If you like shooting film more than digital like me then the Hasselblad H3D was the best Hasselblad H camera to get in the H system to this point.
Hasselblad H5X film / Hasselblad H6X film
With the release of the more modern Hasselblad H5X and H6X cameras the design was changed. The H5X and H6X were both manufactured to be compatible with the older H1, H2 and H4 digital backs AND film backs. If you have lots of money you can have your own Hasselblad H6X film camera rig that shoots digital too. For a slightly cheaper (yet still expensive!) option look for a Hasselblad H5X film back setup instead.
What to buy? Hasselblad X vs H system!
Is the H system the best option today? Now we also have the Hasselblad X series cameras like the smaller form design Hasselblad X1D50C. If I had a Hasselblad X vs H choice to make I think I would stay with the H system. I love being able to shoot film and digital on the same camera body and lenses. The Hasselblad H system lets me do this but the new X series doesn’t. If you only shoot digital the Hasselblad X1D is a much smaller more portable camera.
Hasselblad V to H adapter “CF lens adapter”
It is worth noting that if you already own a Hasselblad 501C or similar Hasselblad 500 series camera these amazing Zeiss lenses can be used on the H system cameras too. With the Hasselblad V to H adapter (aka Hasselblad CF lens adapter) I can use the full lineup of manual focus Carl Zeiss lenses on the H3D camera body. This can save a lot of money if you have already invested into V series lenses and then buy a H system camera body.
Portraits using Hasselblad V lens on H body
Here are few digital examples using a Hasselblad V lens on H body camera. Click the photo to see the lens used –
Hasselblad H film back “Film Magazine HM 16-32”
If you are trying to find used online the correct name for the Hasselblad H film back is a “Hasselblad Film Magazine HM 16-32”. The H system film back is a little different to the classic A12 Hasselblad V series back. The obvious different is the A12 500 camera back is 6×6 format whereas the H film back is 6×4.5 format. The other main different is the dark slide is built into the back with the HM 16-32. With most older film cameras you have to physically remove the dark slide before taking a photo. This is true for the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II , Kiev 88 , Mamiya 645 , Hasselblad SWC/M and Rolleiflex SL66E (to name a few!).
The Hasselblad Film Magazine HM 16-32 gets it’s name as it can take 120 or 220 film. Loading 120 film gives 16 photos per roll and 220 film gives 32 photos per roll. 220 film is pretty uncommon now so I use 120 film with my H3D camera.
Hasselblad vs Contax 645
Of all the cameras I have used the Hasselblad H3D is most similar to a Contax 645 . Both cameras have a similar form, automation and excellent lenses. In a Hassselblad vs Contax 645 comparison the Contax would probably win just because of the legendary Zeiss Planar 80mm f2. A fantastic lens which is unmatched to my knowledge (and experience) in terms of sharpness, resolution and depth. Yes the Hasselblad HC 80mm f2.8 kit lens is excellent but the Zeiss Planar is 1 stop faster. That was the reason I bought the Contax in my early film days. Looking back I wish I had kept the Contax 645 now. It is one of the few film cameras I’ve sold.
Hasselblad H3D film portraits
If you follow me you will know that I enjoy using a wide range of film cameras for portraiture. With that said my Hasselblad H3D film portraits are some of my favourites (in terms of combined image quality and depth). Here are some portraits with a Hasselblad H + film back. Many of them were shot with models in Poland but click the images for exact details.
More Hasselblad H3D film photos
Hasselblad 500 645 film back
Did you know that you can also shoot the 645 film format with the classic Hasselblad 500 series cameras? The Hasselblad A16 film back for the V series cameras captures 16 6×4.5 format photos instead of the usual 12 square images. I will write a follow up blog for this and share some examples including a Hasselblad 500 645 vs Hasselblad H 645 comparison.
Inspo! Hasselblad H5X + film back photoshoot
The amazing Sails Chong using the H5X for a film shoot!
To wet your appetite! Hasselblad H6D Promo
..and for completeness the Hasselblad X1D!
Popular film photography articles
- Do You Need Film? Click Here!
- How to Process Film through to Digital (Develop, Scan, Edit)
- C41 Film Developing at Home (It’s Easy, Try it!)
- 35mm Hasselblad XPan Camera Review
- You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!