(Updated 2/28/22. A Hasselblad 500cm review. Disclaimer: I ended up trading the Hasselblad for a Rolleiflex, which I felt, personally, lent more joy.)
I remember the first time I laid eyes on the Hasselblad. It was during the early days of the pandemic, around my birthday, and I was sitting in a stone cottage in the French country side searching for a present for myself. An I-survived-a-pandemic present. This was it.
Of course, the Hasselblad’s reputation alone precedes it, and I was dying to get my hands on such a piece of photographic history. These guys are already hard to come by—and for the price I paid? I thought never in a million years. So, from France I supervised, with the the help of my brothers, the transaction, shipment, and receiving of the camera to California, and promptly took it for a spin the moment I landed stateside.
Here’s my honest Hasselblad 500cm review.
Hasselblad 500cm Review
The first thing I have to say is that this camera is a TANK. It has to be a solid five pounds or so. But, the shutter makes the most satisfying THWACK when you fire it.
The lens did make some beautiful photos in the signature way only Zeiss can (see the last photo). Overall, it was a real pleasure and treat to use this camera—from learning its quirks, like how the mirror locks up after every frame, to figuring out how to load the film and detach the back—but it just wasn’t for me.
I do attest that the images were lovely…but I think the Rolleiflex brings me more joy. There’s something super delightful about the TLR cameras that I can’t get over. Plus, mine has an internal meter and the Hasselblad did not.
The viewing screen, however, was nice and clear, something I struggled with on other cameras. I think, beyond the subjective lack of charm, my two major hangups were 1) double exposures are complicated and 2) it was just so. Heavy. I like to have minimal gear and weight as I often take long walks with my cameras. So, anything that weighs me down is going to be an automatic no-no, unless it’s extremely versatile (read: my 24-70mm zoom lens).
Winter is a slow time. It’s cold. (Aka, California weather-wimp cold of 40 or 50 degrees F.) There’s not as much sunlight and I feel sadder. So far, I’ve only shot one roll on my Hasselblad, Ansel. Before winter ends, it might be three. Here’s the first.
This roll was all about finding the joy and delight in the everyday. From birds in flight to golden sunsets catching the tree branches, these were fleeting moments of glory.
Locations: Lake Delle Valle, Livermore; Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; my backyard; Hope’s backyard.
I am a San Francisco Bay Area film photographer specialising in the floral portrait, families, love stories, and (personal) brands. Want to work together? Get in touch! I’d love to know your story. If you need fine art prints & posters to decorate your home, check out my print shop!