Digital Camera That Shoots Film!? (Hasselblad H Film Back)

Hasselblad H3D Film Back Photos

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.

Hasselblad H3d-31 camera - with film back

So can you actually buy a digital camera that shoots film?

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.

Hasselblad H3D-31 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.

Hasselblad H3D Film

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 H3D-31 B&W
Hasselblad H3D-31
Hasselblad H3D-31
Hasselblad Studio Shoot

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.

Hasselblad H Film Portrait
120 Ilford FP4 Portrait
Ilford Delta 100 Review
Hasselblad 645 Portrait
Hasselblad H3D Film Back!
Hasselblad vs Zenit
Hasselblad H3D Film Back
Hasselblad H3D Film Back
Hasselblad H3D Film Back
Hasselblad H3D Film Portrait

More Hasselblad H3D film photos

Hasselblad H3D-31 Film
Leica Camera

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. See example images and using a Hasselblad 500 645 vs Hasselblad H 645 comparison – Hasselblad 645 Photos (A16 Hasselblad 645 Back)(V vs H System 6Γ—4.5 Film) .


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!

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Author: 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.

12 thoughts on “Digital Camera That Shoots Film!? (Hasselblad H Film Back)”

  1. Great write-up and images! I was debating between Hassy H and Contax 645 as well, ultimately the H system won because of the lack of support for the Contax system. Zeiss 80/2 is great but the HC 100/2.2 comes close imo.

    1. Hi thanks for reading! Yes good choice I think with the H system though the older models are not supported now either sadly. Yes I nearly bought that lens, maybe I will one day! πŸ™‚

      1. Just recently emailed Hasselblad and they said they still will repair original H1’s.

      2. Thanks George, great info. That is different to the general information I received about Hasselblad H cameras so good to know. Thanks.

  2. I have recently purchased an h3d (not an h3d II) and would love to know a source for the hm 16-32 film backs. I’m running dry on eBay.

    1. Hi Christopher, sorry I get most of my gear from eBay within Europe. Maybe keep looking and try local camera stores / Hasselblad dealers too.

  3. thinking of buying a h camera system but to use with 3rd party digital backs, is the last film camera h3d also the last of the h ones that can take like a phase one back,,,,,i think the later x system allowed it again but there too pricey

    1. Hi, I would check with your local Hassy rental dealer as there are so many combinations – some work, many don’t

    1. Hi i’m not 100% sure as I had the 31 (I). Maybe check with your local Hasselblad dealer before buying just to check as I know the 31 1&2 are not cross-compatible.

  4. Of course the other thing you can do is shoot a Hasselblad 500 series with a digital back along with the standard film back. The advantage being the 500 series cameras are mechanical with only the back electronic so if your battery dies, you can still shoot film all day long. On an H series if the battery dies you have a paperweight,

    1. Hi David, yes and no. Yes 500s plus digital back give a great setup and all the beauty of the old cameras (WLF etc) but just to correct you for your own info, you can get H series battery grip that takes 3 off the shelf CR2 (I think it is) so if you can find a shop you can get back to shooting again. Agreed full manual is still the best!

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