Hasselblad 500cm Review and Sample Images

February 9, 2021

Filed in: Photography

(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).

Sample Photos

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.

Black birds dot the sky like freckles against the clouds and waning afternoon winter sunlight.

A skeletal, fallen tree lies in the dry lakebed of Lake Delle Valle in Livermore.

A picnic charcuterie board overflows with focaccia, prosciutto, golden raisins, blueberry goat cheese, apples, and brie. Cutlery is scattered around on the tablecloth beside the board. Gentle winter sunlight casts a soft shadow.

One lone ginkgo tree stands out among the evergreens on the shore of Lake Delle Valle in Livermore, California.

hasselblad 500cm review and sample photo on fuji 400h. The flaming red leaves of a Japanese maple contrast with the deep blue sky on a sunny winter afternoon.

hasselblad 500cm review and sample image on portra 160. Golden rays from the sunset hit a towering tree in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

hasselblad 500 cm review and sample image on portra 160. A couple laughs and smiles at each other behind a Speed Graphic 4x5 camera.

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!

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  1. […] means to say, what first deterred me from this camera — experimentation — now seemed like an invitation to step out and try something I wanted for […]

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Paris & California strolls; plenty of flowers; stories; and looking for the beauty in the everyday. I hope you'll come along as I take the year to document the entirety of my home state!