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.

SWC or 40mm??


Hi fellow Blad users,
Although I love my 50mm it is sometimes just not wide enough.
Question - if I do manage to scrape up the €/$ for a wide-angle, what is the better choice: SWC or a 40mm?
Thanks for any assistance.


Active Member
Please, Log in or Register to view quote content!

Very difficult, if not impossible to answer. Depends a lot on your subjects & way of working.

If you, like me, are attached to reflex viewfinders instead of a fish-bowl-like image on a SWC viewfinder, well, then you want the 40mm. I also like to know quite exactly what I will get on the film.

If you like a very nice compact, light-weight, really silent camera, with an even better image quality than the Distagon 40 can give you, you want the SWC.

Given that I myself will always want have at least a 50mm with me too, I will need to carry a reflex body anyway. Which makes the choice for me easy: I bought a CF 4/40 FLE. The 40mm is often too wide, but irreplaceable once you find yourself with a subject where the 50mm is too narrow.

Paul, our esteemed moderator, has allowed me to play with his collection of SW cameras. I just cannot really get "into them", but that is a very personal thing. They are beautifully crafted machines, with superb optical quality.

Don't be tricked into thinking that the Distagon 40 is much worse in image quality. This is more like "really extremely good" versus "extremely, extremely good". And I have the slides (chromes if you will) from the CF40 to prove my point.



New Member
40 mm or SWC is a continuing story. Many words have been used to describe pros and cons of these options.

Pro for 40 mm:

Easy control over composition, fits existing body, in case of CF version excellent IQ although the older C lenses are very good too.

Against: Higher distortion compared with SWC, heavier this goes certainly for C lenses. Large expensive filters B 104 for C lenses and 93 mm for CF/CFE

Pro for SWC:

Smaller and easy to carry, silent operation allows snapshots without being noticed, almost free of distortion.


Image control with viewer less acurate, better image control with rear fitted screen adapter possible.
More expensive than a decent 40 mm: C lenses from 500 euro, CF from 1300 euro. A clean SWC even older early ones will set you back 1500 euro.


SWA camera, predecessor of the SWC introduced 54 years ago at the Photokina by Victor Hasselblad

-IMG 1410-2.jpg

500 CM with 80 mm CF and 500 CM with early 40 mm C lens.

With a little luck an early 40 mm C lens with excellent glass can be found under 400 euro.....

Wilko, show us some of those excellent images, for instance the Berlin ones taken with 40 mm CF lens.


  • IMG_1378-2.jpg
    95.4 KB · Views: 123
  • -IMG 1410-2.jpg
    -IMG 1410-2.jpg
    182.5 KB · Views: 125


New Member
Most photographers concentrate on the optical qualities or better the difference in optical qualities.
It is much mor sensible to look at the different methods of operation for the 40mm Distagon lenses and the SWC.

The SWC allows P&S operation. It was probably the worlds first and certainly the most expensive point and shoot camera.
At F 5.6 with hyperfocal setting the range is from 2m till infinity.


I have to say, despite wanting to use selective focussing some times, I love my SWC. It gets the most use out of all my lenses and cameras. For traveling its perfect. For landscape its perfect and for point and shoot its great as well.

I only do hyperfocal and mostly at f/8. The results just blow me away. I can handhold at down to 1/15 sec. I enjoy the experience of only being able to look through the less than perfect viewfinder, and then getting back perfect results. I really enjoy using this camera. If you want to know exactly what your picture looks like, get the 40mm.


New Member
You are using the SWC exactly the way I do and in the process you use all its possibilities.
Like me you have found with extra care the 1/15 shutterspeed gives good results.
Being able to get high IQ pictures with a camera that does not attract a lot of attention is an unexpected bonus.

It takes a few days to get acquainted. After that you are hooked.
Try to find a 903 for rent. In larger cities there are often suppliers for professional equipment that have a rental department.
Get a 903 for a weekend and shoot. The results will blow you away.

I did the first shots of the house I bought two years ago.
The former owner and the agent both said they had not seen such excellent pictures from this property before. It was not me, it was the old SWA camera that made those pictures.



20 years ago a firend give me the swc for one week. I removed the viewfinder and only use the level. After a film you understand what will be in the picture.

It was not a point and shot but a fell and shot camera.

The important point is that's a Biogon, so no distortion if you care.





New Member
Are there any repair/parts availability issues with pre-CF SWCs? A black lens SWC seems to be about the same cost as a 40mm CF/FLE.



New Member
Wilko is working night and day to take pictures:

Location Berlin, lens 40 mm CF FLE, scanner Epson 3200

Photography Wilko


Thanks for the advice and info.
The images are incredible - especially the 2nd one.
I will see if I can rent / loan both and then decide (hopefully).


New Member

The situation for SWC cameras with a "C" lens is no different than that for "C" lenses.
No new glass available, some other parts only s/h.
The good thing is the lens is fixed to the body so chances of damage are much smaller.
Any "C" lens that is properly treated will last for ever. These lenses are full metal constructions with extremely low wear.
A CLA very 3-5 years is all it takes.

Right now I have arranged a service for a friends SWA camera.
The helicoid needs attention to become as smooth again as it was 50 years ago.
That kind of service or repair is possible for all "C" lenses.

My SWA camera is 54 years old and used quite often.
Yesterday I took it to the new bakery in the village to shoot the interior of the shop and take some pics of the ovens.
The other SWA will be used as well once it is returned from the repair shop.
Its first outing will be a trip to the Alps in Switzerland.
Nothing against using these beauties. That is what they are made for.



Here an other light weight and easy to handle vintage beauty (1957)

View attachment 426

The beauty weighs 1400 gr inclusive magazine and viewer .
Here without cable release adapter .

Paul , I am looking for a SWA in a similar or even better state .


New Member
Please, Log in or Register to view quote content!

Patience, my friend patience :z04_aetsch:

There are some problems with production in China.
As soon as those are solved you will be the first to receive a brand new SWA replica :uhoh:

I know you have reserved a spot in your show case for the legendary Supreme Wide Angle camera.
Good news is that camera exists. It has already been made.
Time will work in your advantage to get a real good one.



That is a beautiful photo of a beautiful camera.
I am really intrigued to use one.
Hope the weather in Allgäu is as beautiful as what we are having in CH.
Gruess, S



You can even attach a CFV back to the SW camera . I have done successful tests with that combination . All you have to do , before you wind the transport knob , swing the CFV back a bit , because the CFV frame does not have that little hole for the detent , which comes out of the camera back .:z04_photos: