Medium Format Family

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

Novice to medium format needs some info


Dear all,

I would like to expand into medium format world but knowing nothing about it. I have read some items in this discussion and still have some questions.

I think about a Hasselblad camera. It should be a film camera with TTL exposure measurement - I do not know if there is this possibility or if it is necessary to use a hand-held meter. Of course, also I do not know what to buy, 501CM or 503CW? What is the difference between them? The first one is still available as a kit equipped with CFE 2.8/80 mm lens. I presume that the kit is cheaper than to buy body, lens, etc. separately.

Also I would like to know how usable is HB cameras in comparison with 35 mm RF camera - now I shoot with Leica MP. Are HBs also suitable for outdoor shooting or they are just studio equipment? Maybe a silly question but I did not see a guy with a HB camera around his neck so far. Only once I observe a photographer with a HB taking pictures of a model in park, that is all.

Please, forgive my total ignorance in this subject. I welcome all your comments and suggestions.

Why I am interested in medium format? Besides my real interest there is a portion of my recollection from childhood when my father taking pictures with Flexaret, medium format TLR camera. ....

Have a nice time.




Only the 203 and 205 (and 202) models have a meter built-in the body.

All the rest, including the two cameras you mention, need either a prism finder with a meter built-in (which will provide TTL-metering), or a hand held meter.

The difference between a 501 CM and the 503 CW is that the CW can take an add-on motor winder, and has a sensor built-in so you can hook it to a suitable flash unit and have TTL-OTF-Flash control.

How suitable a Hasselblad is for your style of photography is largely a matter of personal taste.
I'd say a Hasselblad is very well suited for outdoors use too (even though it attracts ore attention than a Leica), and even though you get better results using a tripod (which is true for 35 mm photography too, of course).


New Member
I am a photo-hobbyist and have owned Hasselblad equipment for more than seven years, but rarely got the time to use it. I have recently retired and got the Hassy out of the closet. I now use it almost exclusively over my Nikons and always outdoors. The best picture come with using a tripod but I also do a lot of hand helds. I had rarely used the motor winder due to weight, until I read Marc Williams comments about motor winders. The winder now stays on all of the time. I originally had a non-metered prism finder, then went to PME-45 metered finder, which to me is worth the extra cost.

Hiking with a 503cw-winder-PME45+50mm with get a few funny looks. I have found that is a good place to browse the used Hasselblad section to get an idea of what is available and what the prices are. KEH is on the high side of the used market but they have an excellent reputation.



New Member

Having just taken the jump into Hasselblad and film, myself, being an almost digital 35mm only kinda guy. Having heavyly relied on my camera's buildin metering and great autofocus systems, this is to me complete different keddle of fish.

The process, which I am still learning, using the Blad or any other manual camera (6x17 and a dusty SinarP), is one that to me is really nice and brings me back to basic (it also reveals to me, how little I know or how much I wish i knew) nevertheless it is still very nice.

I will happily drag this kit with me out in the bush (Western Australia) and sometimes do so with both my blad and my Canon 35mm Dslr and a bunch of lenses, and ofcourse a tripod, something to rest up against :)

You slow down, you are now forced to think about what is infront of you. Take your time to meter (yeah, right!!!). Oh, I am using a 503CW with WLF and 60 and 180 mm CF lens's, so it is all manual.

I am trying to teach myself, how to see light, or how to evaluate it and trying to pick a suitable set of variables, time, apperture and ISO speed in some combination, so that I hopefully will get a "Correct Exposure".

Man, have I wasted a lot of film!

What is important to me, is that I am having a great time trying and if I get a good exposure/image, thats is a bonus :) ...and in some instances have been known to pay for some of this.

Now, having said all this, I do think that a winder and a PME-45 metered view finder would be great, as Stephen suggested. This purist approach is all good and well, but the later does give on more flexibelity when out shooting.

I also went for the 503CW because it looked like the most suitable 500-series that could eventually take a Digital-back, when they become affortabe for us mere mortals.

You will enjoy the blad, I mean looking through that view finder is just amazing, a completely different experience to 35mm.

Now if only I had and knew how to use a wet-darkroom. This scanning business is a pain, I use a mix of an old Imacon Photo and an Epson V700. Which are a nice compromise. The Epson is quick, compared to the Imacon, but the Imacon gives better result. But the Epson is really good at the quick and dirty :)

Zdenek, good luck with your choice, if you are like me, you will enjoy your blad, even if you have to come back here and elsewhere and ask for advise. There is a really good crowd here who can offer alot of good advise (probably should not include me in that group <grin>)

just a few ups and downs about my little experience with my blad

good luck and enjoy



New Member
My last all manual camera was a Leica IIIf until I started with the Hasselblad. I wanted to be a manual purist..that didn't last long...12 exposure film rolls..long time for feed back, especially if traveling..wasn't worth it. For me TTL metering made a huge difference, and recently with the CFV's different world. You can shoot a lot of exposures, try different things and get same day feed back.

Henrik, forget the dark room..pigment on paper printers are amazing. I recently got an Epson can get good results with little knowledge or experience and probably spend a life time to get a great print. Doing your own prints is very satisfying and worth the expense.



New Member
Zdenek, since you shoot Leica M now (and I assume you use Leica optics too) then I think Hasselblad / Zeiss optics are the way to go for you. I too shoot Leica M and one very pleasing factor of also shooting Hasselblad 6x6 is that the Zeiss lens qualities live up to the Leica M lens qualities whereas others may not necessarily live up to that excellent standard and mix of aberration corrections, resolution and tonality.


Thank you all for your creative and encouraging answers. The purchase of a Hasselblad camera is my future project. I am not a rich man so first I must work and save money and then I can and buy what I desire. This I have practised all my life.
From your answers I can see that 501CM together with an exposure meter is all what I "need" or want. I need not a motor drive or a digital back device. ... but who knows?

My another question is if there exists a good and comprehensive source where I can learn more about hasselblad system - a book, etc. I visited
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
but there are not much information. Thanks.



New Member
Hi Zdenek,

There is a great book called The Hasselblad Manual by Ernst Wildi.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
Hasselblad-Manual-Sixth-Ernst-Wildi/dp/0240806131/ ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-8464926-6476933? ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183372256&sr=1-1

The latest edition was updated in 2000 so it includes the 205FCC and the Xpan but, of course, none of the H series and digital backs.

Regards Peter


New Member
>Hi Zdenek

a good book to start with is 'The Hasselblad Manual' written by Ernst Wildi. Try to get the 5th edition, which will be best for you.


<!-quote-!><table bgcolor="#feffe6" border=3 bordercolor="#333333"><tr><td><font size=1 color="#000000"><font color="#feffe6">Quote:Peter Walker (Peterbkk) wrote on July 02:</font><p><font size=1 color="#000000">' 2007 - 12:36 pm,There is a great book called The Hasselblad Manual by Ernst Wildi.'</font><font color="#feffe6">end of quote</td></tr></table><!-/quote-!>

Thank you very much Peter and Krish.




Here are some info of the 6th edition taken from publisher's web:

"The Hasselblad Manual
Sixth Edition

Publication Date: 24 January 2004

1) The Hasselblad Image Formats
2) Digital Imaging with Hasselblad
3) The Hasselblad Camera Systems
4) The Hasselblad H Camera system
5) The Hasselblad V System Cameras and Components
6) Operating V System Cameras
7) Operating the EL Cameras
8) Operating the Superwide Cameras
9) Operating the 200 Cameras
10) Selection and Use of V System Film Magazines
11) V System Viewfinders and Focusing Screens
12) Achieving Perfect Exposures
13) Controls for Exposure and Creating Images
14) Characteristics and Use of Lenses on all Camera Models
15) Operating the Flexbody and ArcBody
16) Understanding Light and Filters
17) Flash Photography with all Hasselblad Cameras
18) Close-up Photography
19) the Hasselblad Xpan Cameras
20) Keeping Camera Equipment in Good Working Condition
21) Older Hasselblad Cameras
22) Projecting Medium-Format and XPAN Transparencies

If this kind of post is against the rules I ask moderator to delete it. Thanks.



New Member
Stephen Van Devanter (Vandevantersh) wrote on July 02:

' 2007 - 5:40 am,Henrik, forget the dark room..pigment on paper printers are amazing. I recently got an Epson can get good results with little knowledge or experience and probably spend a life time to get a great print. Doing your own prints is very satisfying and worth the expense.


Hi Steve,

I know I have had an Epson 4000 for a few years now and can see that the newer printers are now even better, especially for B&W. How do you find the 3800 (sorry for hi-jacking the thread) ?



New Member

This my first experience with a "High End" printer. Both color and B&W prints are outstanding. My opinion on print print quality is not worth much but I can comment on ease of use for a beginner. I would characterize the pro3800 as pro quality output in a "Home" friendly package. Printing from LR is painless.



New Member

The sixth edition removes or truncates a lot of the material on the manual V-system to fit in the H-system and touch on digital imaging. If you are focusing on getting into the V-system, I would suggest either the fourth or fifth editions. Because of the span of release dates of my equipment, I eventually ended up with one of each of the editions, but this is overkill, unless you require the specialized information only available in certain editions (info on outdated accessories, etc.).

Before jumping into the Hasselblad system, I purchased Wildi's fifth edition and used it as a reference to familiarize myself with the depth and breadth of the system. It was an invaluable investment. Then again, I have photographic interests that run from astrophotography thru macro, so I especially appreciate the system's flexibility.



New Member
I purchased Wildi's fifth edition and used it as a reference to familiarize myself with the depth and breadth of the system>


I also read Wildi's Hasselblad manual before I purchased my equipment and keep it with me in the field especially if I am thousands of miles from home.




New Member
I think I have the 6th edition of Wildi's excellent book. But I wonder why one poster thought it is best to "... get the 5th edition...".

I also suggest the "Hasselblad System Compendium" by Richard Nordin. It is very good for identifying specific pieces of equipment. Of, course Wildi's book is the overall "Hasselblad bible".


New Member
>Hi Simon,

I suggested the 5th edition to Zdenek for 2 reasons...

1) I have heard that more detail and discussion is devoted to V system in the 5th edition compared to the 6th edition which talks quite a bit about digital hassy. Zdebek is looking at 501CM or 503CW.

2) I have also heard that the physical 'get up' of the 6th edition leaves a little to be desired.

Cheers Kommini


Taras R. Hnatyshyn (Tarashnat) wrote on July 02:

' 2007 - 9:39 pm,The sixth edition removes or truncates a lot of the material on the manual V-system to fit in the H-system and touch on digital imaging.'

Yes, it appears that it is so. Every book new edition has a specified page range, so some older items are often made short in favour of the new once. It shouldn't be too difficult to get a used copy of 5th ed. In this way very recently I got a like new copy of Odyssey by Norman Seider through a local book import agent. Btw. I would like to know what kind of camera Seider used to take such beautiful pictures.

Gilbert James (Gjames52) wrote on July 02:

' 2007 - 11:40 pm,I also read Wildi's Hasselblad manual before I purchased my equipment and keep it with me in the field especially if I am thousands of miles from home.'

Before I buy Leica MP I read Osterloh's book. It always is good to know as much as possible about a thing you want to go for.



The book is ordered... Well, I can start my excursion to medium format photography. Only time will show if I become a Hasselblad hobbyist, and I want to at present. In the case I will not I will stay on doing that "ridiculously"
small 35 mm pictures.
Thank you for all your advices and recommendations. I am going to watch this interesting place, and, maybe, I will ask other newbie questions.
Happy time with 6x6.


PS: As to Norman Seider, I got the following answer on another photo forum: "Norman uses Leica equipment for 35mm and Technikardon for 4x5." I can recommend both his books Odyssey and Opening Scenes) with great BW pictures to your attention.


New Member
Thanks Kommini. That is interesting - I must look out for the 5th ed.

About the 6th ed, what does "get up" mean?

Yes, Zedenek I agree and I too liked Osterloh's book. Have you seen that now Erwin Puts has all his lens reviews available on-line as downloads?!