Egg on my face with the Mamiya 6

Self Portrait (2013). Mamiya 6, HP5+, D-76

A few years back I owned a Mamiya 6 medium format rangefinder. Eventually I drifted toward using the Hasselblads for medium format and sold the Mamiya. I’ve been missing it.

Carrying a Hasselblad around “just in case” doesn’t make a lot of sense. I love them, but they’re definitely not convenient. If I want convenience and medium format, the Mamiya 6 is about the best there is.

I’m thinking about trying one again. After all, with a self timer I can make silly things like the above photo :).

The Hasselblad is Back

After spending several months out for repair with David Odess, my Hasselblad 500C/M kit is back! Isn’t it beautiful!

Hasselblad 500C/M, Zeiss Planar 80mm, and A12 back

I had begun to notice that my exposures were all over the place. At first I thought it was just inconsistent metering on my part but it turns out the shutter mechanism in the lens was badly broken. Considering the camera was made in the 1980s, I thought it was time for a CLA of the whole kit. I sent the lens, body, and back to David and waited patiently for their return.

Here’s what was fixed:

500C/M Body

  • upper plate foam
  • front plate foam
  • release button spring
  • base plate
  • screw for base plate

80mm CF

  • main spring
  • cocking ring spring
  • gear train

A-12 Back

  • light trap
  • light trap foil
  • nylon stop
  • drive gear

Also “Body, lens and magazine were cleaned, lubricated and adjusted in accordance with factory specifications”

Everything about the camera now feels and works wonderfully. I’m happy to have it back and intend to use it for many years to come.

Here’s one frame from the latest roll. I’ve always loved how the Zeiss lens renders.

Josie (2017). Hasselblad 500C/M. 80mm Zeiss Planar. Tri-X

Using Flash with the Hasselblad

Kelly Photobombs (2015). Hasselblad 503CXi

Carrying around a Hasselblad and flash unit makes for a cumbersome kit.

Hasselblad 503CXi with D-Flash 40

See what I mean? It’s a monster. Shooting handheld with a big camera in natural indoor light makes for a nearly impossible situation. Using a flash dramatically reduces the number of blown shots and with medium format film the higher the hit rate the better.

While the rig is bulky, it’s also dead simple to use. The Hasselblad 503CXi offers TTL metering when used with the D-Flash 40 so the whole thing ends up being sort of a giant point-and-shoot. I just set the shutter speed to 160 and the aperture to f/8, focus and shoot.

Dad-splaining (2015). Hasselblad 503CXi with D-Flash 40

Medium Format with the Hasselblad 500 C/M

About a month ago I bought a Bronica SQ-A kit after spotting it on Craigslist. I wanted to try medium format film and I’ve always liked the square 6×6 shape. The big negatives are amazing, and the camera works just fine.

The only problem is that it isn’t a Hasselblad, which is what I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. After putting a dozen or so rolls throught the Bronica I decided to buy the Hasselblad and be done with it.

The 500 C/M was produced from 1970 until 1994. Mine was made in 1990 and it’s gorgeous! That’s the good news. The bad news is that I couldn’t focus the thing. I don’t know how anyone ever got off any sharp photos with the standard focusing screen. I have since replaced the original with the later Acute-matte D screen with microprism and split window. It’s still tricky, but much better. The Acute-matte screen looks to be about 2 stops brighter than the original. I still need to use the magnifier, but at least if everyone holds still I have some chance of getting it right.

Hasselblad’s V series prides itself on being modular, and compatible. There are many different viewfinders, film backs and lenses available. Here’s a photo of mine with all of the parts separated.

It really is clever, and seems to be built to take years of normal use. I plan to invest in a 45-degree prism finder eventually to see if that helps with focusing, but for now, I’m having fun peering at the ground glass and hoping for the best.