First Rolls: Hasselblad 500CM

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I recently sold my Mamiya RB67 and purchased a Hasselblad 500CM from a fellow NZ film shooter, Michael Neale (you should go check out his awesome work). I’m only a few rolls into it but I thought I’d share some of my photos and experience so far.

Kodak Portra 400 // dev+scan by The Black and White Box

Roll #1

On this roll I was shooting down to a shutter speed of 1/60 as I had been doing the same on my RB67, so I didn’t think much of it. Once getting the scans back I realised many of the shots either had motion blur or I had missed the focus! I’ve been using split screen viewfinders until now, so the Hasselblad focusing screen is taking a bit of getting used to. There were still a few I was pretty happy with though - I’ve included some below. You can click on a photo to view the full res version. The one of the ship is a good example of motion blur, as I was stopping down the aperture for as much depth of field as possible.

Roll #2

With this roll I only shot down to a shutter speed of 1/125 and took more care with focusing. I was much happier with the results across the roll. The photo of Judah and Ash on the swing was kindly featured on KEH Camera’s instagram feed.

Roll #3

Roll #4

thoughts (Camera Geekery)

Out of all the medium format cameras I’ve owned this is definitely the most portable - on the strap it hangs nicely against the body when not in use and isn’t too heavy. As expected of the legendary Carl Zeiss glass, the lens performs amazingly. Even at the widest aperture of 2.8 there is no noticeable vignetting, distortion, or loss of sharpness at the edges of the frame. The fact it is all-mechanical appeals to me and means I never have to worry about batteries. Despite the minimum focus distance being a slight limitation for close-ups, I get the feeling this is going to be a a great camera for portraits and landscapes, which is what I find myself gravitating towards when using the camera. There are only 12 shots on each roll, and to make the most of this larger negative size you need to really nail the focus and make sure you don’t get any camera shake from lower shutter speeds like I mentioned above.

The Hasselblad’s limitations inspire a more thoughtful, calculated approach and it rewards the extra work by producing stunning images. I don’t think medium format will ever replace 35mm for candid/documentary style photography for me but I find myself reaching for this camera more and more when I head out to shoot.

Hit me up with any questions in the comments below.

-Sam