Hasselblad 503CW

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Review, Tutorial | 70 Comments
Hasselblad 503CW

After I purchased my beloved Fuji X-Pro1, I felt I finally had everything in one little and very portable system that I was looking for: Beautiful, aesthetic and authentic film colors and, even more importantly, more dynamic range than I had ever seen in any other digital camera.

I made one Lightroom preset for color and one for black and white – and that was it. They work consistently on every single image I take with the Fuji – unless I want a different look. No more tweaking tones and endless hours of post processing, no more frustration over white balance or clipped highlights. I decided I was finally there.
Looking back through my work with the D700 made me regret not to have made that decision any earlier and I realized I would never touch my Nikon again ever in my life.

But shooting the X-Pro1 also made me realize how much I really love film. For two very simple reasons: light and color. The most central element in my pictures always was natural light.

No matter how much you tweak a digital picture, even the ones from the X-Pro1, you simply cannot get the tonal response of film. That means digital images look somewhat flatter and artificial. Film gives an image more texture and the results look more pleasing and natural to the eye. These are subtle differences but they are noticeable. Not to speak of the obvious differences in color. I ended up selling all of my digital Nikon gear and buying a Hasselblad 503CW.


For me personally, the images a Hasselblad produces in combination with the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.8/80 are the most beautiful you can achieve with a medium format camera. I just love how the lens renders, with such beautiful tones, so much clarity and the most wonderful bokeh I have ever seen.

When I first got the Hasselblad, I was terrified. Everything about this camera was different. It’s a dinosaur and a tank. Loading a roll of film feels like it takes about 5 minutes, for 12 frames. Everything is manual and requires work. When you compose a picture, you look down at your waist level finder and everything is reversed – even the image. The shutter sounds completely different to anything I’ve ever heard before. It took me quite a bit to get used to all of that.

I had no external light meter and for the first two rolls I had to guess my exposure, which was slightly unsettling. After I got my first scans back, I was relieved. My guesswork turned out ok. The beauty of film is that your exposure doesn’t need to be spot on. It’s usually good enough if you don’t underexpose.

This was the fifth picture I ever took with the Hasselblad. I liked how the color and light turned out:


Since the first day I shot with the Hasselblad, it is growing on me like no other camera ever did. Everything about it just clicks with me and I love to shoot it. It took me a bit to realize what it is that makes this camera feel so special to me, besides the image quality of medium format film.

It’s the fact that I never felt so connected with my photography before. I don’t simply hold a technical device and press a button. I really have to create an image. I have to do everything by myself and I have to do it right with every single frame. I have to load the film manually, I have to meter and think about the meter reading for a moment. Then I take the dark slide out, open the waist level finder and look down at this almost three dimensional looking image. I have to compose thoroughly, manual focus and finally, after everything looks and feels right, I press the shutter.

Shooting the Hasselblad means so much more work than any other camera I’ve used before. And that’s the beauty of the manual process. It feels like craftsmanship to me.

Here are a couple of more images, all shot with the Hasselblad 503CW and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.8/80 on Kodak Portra 160:








  1. Rebecca Lily
    17. April 2013

    Wow, Johnny… what a fantastic review of this beautiful camera. I really appreciate the “artist” standpoint of this review – what it feels like to shoot the Hasselblad, the craftsmanship involved in image-making, and how you demonstrated the end result in terms of light, color, clarity and bokeh. It’s a breath of fresh air to read a review like this – well done.

    And I might add, while I’m smitten with my Contax 645, you’ve convinced me completely that I need a Hasselblad in my camera bag too. :)

  2. Shane O Sullivan
    17. April 2013

    Great review Johnny, almost makes me want to get back into film.

  3. Johnny
    18. April 2013

    Thanks very much for your feedback.

    Rebecca, I am thrilled to hear you would like to get a Hasselblad for yourself as well. That’s very exciting! Until then, you can always try mine. :)

    Shane, thanks so much. I would love to see you shoot a little film now and then. I think that would work very well with a lot of things you shared lately.

  4. Tracy
    22. April 2013

    Came upon your post via Twitter and forwarded it to a friend who also has a Fuji X-Pro1 and is on the fence about a Hassey. I LOVE MY HASSELBLAD it was love at first click. You hit it dead on, the dynamic range, color, tone cannot be duplicated in digital, no matter how many sliders or presets you have in Lightroom.

    Here are some frames from my Hassey: http://blog.tracyclayton.com/tag/hasselblad-503cx/

    I need to shoot more with it.

  5. Johnny
    22. April 2013

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your shots, Tracy.

    It’s really interesting, I stumble upon more and more people who shoot the combination Fuji X-Pro1/Film. I personally find the dynamic range and the basic color palette of the Fuji comparable. But the tonal response, texture and how film handles light is still very different.

    Kudos for shooting street with a Hasselblad. :)

  6. Nick
    2. May 2013

    I really appreciate your posts.

    What does the Hasselblad 503CW offer in comparison to the Contax 645? I shoot a Contax 645 and assumed that if I wanted to crop in on my Contax, I could and I do sometimes. But since you have experience with both – please tell me the reasons why you would want to shoot with the Hasselblad over the Contax?

  7. Johnny
    3. May 2013

    The Hasselblad is my personal preference, it’s not the “better” camera. It just suits me better.

    I think it’s prettier, more solid, more basic. It has no batteries, no meter, not much that can break. And it was still in production until a couple of days ago, what makes it easy to get parts if you need to. Technically the Contax is a cropped-in version of the Hasselblad, not the other way round. (6×4,5 vs. 6×6).

    I also prefer the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.8/80 of the Hasselblad over the 2/80 of the Contax (50mm f1.7 equivalent vs. 50mm f1.2). The Contax is a stop faster and you get more bokeh with the Contax. The 2/80 is more sparkly vs. the 2.8/80 renders a little more creamy. Both are wonderful lenses.

    But these are just my personal findings. My wife shoots the Contax 645 and is very happy with it. It loads quicker, rewinds automatically, has a meter etc. But she solely shoots it for the lens, not the convenience.

  8. Gunnar Eld
    24. May 2013

    Thanks for posting this inspiring post.
    It captured much of my own experiences as I’ve also gone the Nikon, Fuji track and now recently complemented with an old Hassy 500C.
    The workmanship of creating images with the Hasselblad is like therapy for my stressed soul. ;)
    Looking forward to follow your endeavors in the future.

  9. Johnny
    3. June 2013

    Thanks very much for your feedback, Gunnar.

    I’m happy you can relate. I think shooting the Fuji and film is a great combination. And you’re right, working with the Hasselblad can be a very relaxing process.

  10. Hans van den Broek
    6. June 2013

    Nice review from the heart, Johnny!

    I like the DoF of the 6×6 and the drawing of the Zeiss lens.

    Like you I walk around with an Leica M9 and sometimes D600, But I like to use my 1957 Rolleiflex TLR 3.5E and Ektar 100 or T-Max 100. I am in the middle of making a decision for a 501CM (with the larger mirror) or a 503CX.

    Your nice review helped so far that I get more vitamin E (enthusiasm).



  11. Johnny
    7. June 2013

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, Hans! Thanks very much.

    You have a very interesting collection of cameras! I think the 501CM is a great choice if you can find a good copy. I really like to Planar “new C-type” Zeiss made for it.

    Good luck with your purchase!

  12. Erik
    12. July 2013

    A completely agree about the joy of shooting a Hasselblad. I first shot one when I snuck out with my dad’s 500C/M as a teenager. I was hooked! Recently he gave it to me as a wedding gift, and I have kept it with me almost all of the time. Great article, I think you cover the real reasons for shooting well. Thanks.

  13. Harry
    12. July 2013

    Hello Johnny, I’m glad to find your site here. Great story and pictures. I’m myself on my first roll of Portra 400 and a 500C/M. My other devise is a D800E. The 500C/M makes me realize that I really, really, didn’t learn much about photography in the years of shooting digital Nikon. And the agony over exposure settings! The more contrast, the more agonizing it gets! Looking at the pictures above, it appears that your exposure approach was to expose for shadows and let the film take care of the highlights. Is that the case? I’d like to ask what exposure settings you used for the “window light” picture (the one below the oranges). Thank you for sharing a wonderful experience.


  14. Johnny
    17. July 2013

    Thank you very much for your feedback.

    Harry, I’m very sorry but I do not keep track of my settings.
    But I meter all color negative film the same: I rate my film half the box speed and meter for the shadows.

  15. Steve
    25. July 2013

    Hi Johnny (and Rebecca),

    Some wonderful pictures. Without doubt some of the nicest I have seen from the Fujis. For years I have wrestled with the idea of a Hassey. I would be grateful if you could clarify your point on metering for me.

    When you say you rate your film at half the box speed, is this literally setting the camera ISO to 200 for a 400 film? And exposing for the shadows, again is this literally a case of taking a straightforward reading for the shadow areas?



  16. Johnny
    25. July 2013

    Thanks for your feedback, Steve.

    Yes, that’s exactly right:

    With the Hasselblad you don’t have an internal meter. But you literally set your handheld meter to ISO 200 if the box speed is ISO 400 and hold the meter in the shadow area (or the darkest part of your image). Have a look here and here if you are interested in a more detailed explanation.

  17. Steve
    25. July 2013

    Thanks Johnny!

    My main concern with film these days is getting it developed. I’m always terrified of losing film in the post.

    I mainly use an M9 and I’m forever trying to develop a LR preset to try and replicate my X100 skin tones. The only thing that holds me back from an XP1 is the lack of DOF. That’s the allure of the Hassey: DOF, dynamic range, colours and tones and of course, the user experience.

    Hopefully Fuji’s next move will be to provide a FF model.



  18. Johnny
    26. July 2013

    Thank you, Steve.

    You’re right, shipping is a valid concern with film. We usually ship ours insured for a little more peace of mind.

    I’m ok with the depth of field of the X-Pro1 but I agree, a Fuji FF would be perfect. I shoot the X-Pro1 and a Leica MP together with my Hasselblad. For me, that’s the perfect combination. I think the M9 has a very good color palette, but I prefer shooting film with a Leica.

  19. Jake
    30. August 2013

    Hi Johnny,

    Nice post, I’m a 503CW owner too and totally agree with your view. What do you scan your negs with, because I find that part of the workflow lets film down, due to poor quality film scanners, and the expense of drum scanning.


  20. Johnny
    30. August 2013

    Jake, thank you very much.

    My film processing and scanning is done on a Fuji Frontier SP-3000 by Richard Photo Lab in California. I believe film should be processed and scanned by a skilled and experienced pro lab for the best results.

  21. Jesse Struyvelt
    22. September 2013

    Wonderful article.

    What meter did you buy for your Hasselblad? I’m using my iPhone for now as it’s almost spot on for exposures, but it doesn’t really fit the Hasselblad style of shooting.

    Many thanks,


  22. Johnny
    22. September 2013

    Thank you, Jesse.

    I use a Sekonic L-398A, a very simple and inexpensive analog meter that doesn’t require batteries. I suggest using an incident meter when you’re shooting film.

  23. Tracy
    17. December 2013

    Do you tell the lab to do anything differently when you’ve rated Portra at 200 or do they just process as usual at 400? Thanks.

  24. Johnny
    17. December 2013

    The lab processes as usual. The desired effect of rating the film half the box speed is to overexpose one full stop by default. Please have a look here.

  25. Sunny Lee
    22. January 2014


    Those images are stunning. I am starting to get in to more film photography and must say all the manul work pays off at the end when looking at final images.

  26. Johnny
    22. January 2014

    Thank you for your kind feedback, Sunny.

    I agree, I love everything about the process of shooting film – especially medium format with the Hasselblad. I’ve never had so much fun taking pictures before.

  27. Andrew Areoff
    30. January 2014

    And I have that dream team of the 503CW plus the 80mm 2.8 lens. Can you believe my kit has been sitting in a Peli case for years unused – time to get it fired up again – thanks to your inspirational site and blog.

  28. Johnny
    31. January 2014

    Thank you, Andrew!

    I’m happy that you feel inspired to get your Hasselblad out again and shoot it. It’s such a wonderful camera, don’t let it collect dust. ;)

  29. Sean
    26. March 2014

    Hi Johnny,

    Thanks for a really informative post! After being in film exile for almost 5 years I’ve recently dusted off my FM3a and F5, and started shooting film again. I enjoy the process so much more than digital, but I seem to have forgotten all my film knowledge. Posts like this really help!

    I have a question regarding scanning. Here in Johannesburg, South Africa there is only one pro lab where I can have my film developed. I had a whole bunch of film developed and scanned recently and the scans were terrible! Lots of noise and very grainy.

    I have no idea what machine they are using to scan, but they said the quality is 16base @ 300ppi. The B&W scans were not too bad, the colour negs were washed out and the slide film cross processed were very grainy. The file sizes were also quite small, about 2 – 2.5MB.

    What resolution to you have your negs scanned at and how big are the files?

    Thanks, Sean

  30. Johnny
    26. March 2014

    Sean, thanks very much for your kind feedback!

    I’m very happy to hear that you are getting back into film after such a long break. I shared a lot of foundational information in my Film is not dead blog post and the article about Richard Photo Lab. Have a look if you like!

    I’m sorry that your local lab delivered such poor results. I can relate, it took me a while to find the perfect lab. I usually get medium sized scans from the Fuji Frontier SP-3000 which are 2.500 x 2.500 @ 72 dpi for 6×6 medium format and 3.000 x 2.000 @ 72 dpi for 35mm (both 16,9 MB).

  31. Mariano
    25. April 2014


    I find myself in the exact same boat as you… I also shoot with the X-Pro1 but find myself wanting real film camera and finally deciding to put all my eggs in a Hasselblad 501CM.

    I still have not had much good experience or good results since I started out with and older 500C which happened to be faulty – a hand me down. Then using a 500CM which I never really got into because I bought it just to try it out and returned it before the deadline for refund. So I never was able to grow with it and I think the 80mm CF lens was also a bad copy which I had to send back.

    I put the idea of film away to focus more on learning my X-Pro1, but, although I love my X-Pro1, it still doesn’t do it for me like film always has. I finally fully committed to purchasing a 501CM with an 80mm CFE. I’ve been using it everyday and just dropped off my first 4 rolls, so I’m hoping to have better luck this time.

    My question for you is that with the photos you posted here using Porta 160, did you shoot these handheld?

    Your photos are fantastic and this post has inspired me. If you have any time or input, tips/tricks, advice… please let me know!

    Thanks so much,


  32. Johnny
    26. April 2014

    Thank you very much for your kind feedback, Mariano.

    I’m sorry to hear that you had so much trouble finding a Hasselblad that works for you. It’s great that you’re happy with your 501CM now. I’m sure you’ll be thrilled with the results.

    Yes, I shoot everything handheld. I don’t own a tripod. I’m very happy to read that you find my pictures inspiring! If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask. I would be more than happy to help.

  33. Arthur Smith
    2. May 2014

    Great post. These are beautiful shots, but curious as to why you’d shoot Portra 160 with available light? I’d be curious as to what shutter speeds you were getting.

    Also, as a fellow Lightroom user, I’d be curious as to how you set your presets. I see a lot of “dreamy” looking Hasselblad shots, and the truth is, they usually don’t come out looking that way onto the negative. I see this a lot with Polaroid Impossible shots posted online.

    I love photography, but I SO love Hasselblad photography!

  34. Johnny
    2. May 2014

    Arthur, thanks very much!

    I usually pick the film stock based on the look I would like to achieve, not so much based on the ISO rating. I don’t like Portra 160 when it’s shot too bright but I love it for indoor shots and in dull light (that’s just my personal preference). I think the shutter speed indoors would have been around 1/60.

    I don’t use Lightroom presets for my film work. All of my the images shown are straight scans without any post processing.

  35. Artur Conka
    21. December 2014

    Johnny, thank you for this great review. I have been working with the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 for about 6 to 8 months. I find the Fuji to be one the best cameras I have worked with. But I am now planning to buy a Hasselblad as I miss working with film. You have given me the need to go out and start working with film again.

    I have a few questions:

    1. I’m planning to buy the 503CX or the 503CW but don’t know which will suit me better. I know the CX has a TTL but I can save money and buy the CW and buy a light meter. Do you have any tips?

    2. I’m planning to also buy a digital back for the camera. Any suggestions?

  36. Johnny
    22. December 2014

    Thank you very much for your feedback and your questions, Artur.

    The 503CX and the 503CW both have a TTL-OTF flash system, the 503CXi has the winder connection and the 503CW has the gliding mirror system, which helps with vignetting of the finder image with focal lengths over 100mm. You will need a light meter with both cameras.

    Both cameras are great. I shoot the 503CW and the 501CM and they’re basically interchangeable.

    I’m sorry, but I have never researched digital backs. I’ve heard good things about the CFV digital back, but I have no personal experience shooting it.

  37. István Lantos
    1. January 2015

    I’m about to get in film photography. I have same options in mind: Mamiya 645AF with Sekor 80mm 1.9 N, or a Pentax 645N + Fotodiox Hasselblad V adapter + Hasselblad Zeiss Planar T* 80mm 2.8. I’m a little bit confused because I see many Hasselblad Planar 80s on eBay and they look different and priced also differently with huge differences.

    As you’re shooting Hasselblad maybe you have some information what the differences between those Planar 80s are, if there is any? If I buy the cheapest 80mm, that lens has less internal flare protection, microcontrast then the latest released 503CW kit lens?

    With a Pentax 645N body and a Zeiss lens I have the perfect wedding camera, which is marginally cheaper then Contax. A Hasselblad, Zeiss, Pentax monster on budget, called: the HassZeiTax. :)

  38. Johnny
    1. January 2015

    István, thanks very much for your feedback.

    The first Carl Zeiss “C” Planar lenses had 6 instead of 7 elements and no “T*”-coating (less contrast). The 7 element version is unchanged until today (CFE). Another difference is the shutter (Compur vs. Prontor). The CFE lenses also have a data bus.

    I would pick a “CF” lens, which would be the most reasonable and reliable option.

  39. Dave
    9. January 2015

    Hi Johnny!

    So glad I found your blog. I’ve had my X-Pro1 for about two years now and love it! I’m considering selling off my D800 with all the glass I’ve collected over the years. I’ve been able just out of sentimentality. So, I have sort of a two part question for you.

    1. Have you tried the Fuji X-T1, if so do you think it would be able to replace my Nikon system for digital needs.

    2. I’ve been itching to get my hands on a Hasselblad or Contax 645 for larger format and film fix. I’ve read your previous comments on the two and how they compare. Is there a model recommendation for Hasselblad? I’m not very familiar with all the different 500, 501, 503 models. Or what I should steer away from.

    Thanks so much! So happy I found your website!


  40. Johnny
    10. January 2015

    Thanks very much for your questions, Dave.

    1. I’ve tried the X-T1 at LNDNWLK last year and it feels solid and very responsive. If you don’t need a digital full frame camera, I’m sure you would be happy with the X-T1.

    2. All the models you’ve mentioned are great if you intend to shoot film with an 80mm lens. I would rather buy an older serviced 500C/M with warranty from a reputable dealer than a newer 503CW off Ebay from a private seller. I also would not recommend the very early 500C versions because the focusing screens are dark and not easily interchangeable.

    I’m excited about your new cameras! :)

  41. Dave
    16. January 2015


    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I forgot the X-T1 is not full frame. I think this is why the last time I was thinking about swapping in my Nikon DSLR gear, I postponed the transition, waiting for a full frame from Fuji.

    Do you not recommend getting a 500C/M from Ebay or Craigslist? Are there a lot of things that could make a 500C/M a lemon? It’s just that I find a dealers prices are significantly higher than buying personally.

    Thanks again for all your advice!


  42. Johnny
    17. January 2015

    Dave, thanks for your feedback.

    I don’t recommend buying a Hasselblad without warranty. There’s a lot than can go wrong and many of the used cameras have problems (off shutter times, light seals, frame spacing etc.).

    You are right, buying from a dealer is more expensive. But it’s worth it. You’ll enjoy a worry-free camera that provides beautiful results for a long time.

  43. István Lantos
    17. January 2015

    Johnny! Thank you for your answer! :)

  44. Johnny
    17. January 2015

    No problem, István. You’re welcome!

  45. Dave
    17. January 2015

    Thanks again for your insight! I will have a look around at reputable dealers around town.

  46. Johnny
    18. January 2015

    My pleasure, Dave. All the best for your purchase.

  47. Rolana Moleviciute
    21. January 2015

    I would like to ask you which Hasselblad camera is the best to shoot with a 80mm 2.8 lens. Why the price difference? I don’t know which one to choose, I would like to achieve images with great quality for family or couple shoots.


  48. Johnny
    22. January 2015

    Thank you for your question, Rolana.

    The 503CW is the newest model of the Hasselblad V-Series, that’s why they are usually more expensive. The differences vs. the 500C/M are the TTL-OTF flash system, a winder connection and the gliding mirror system.

    I don’t need any of these features, personally. I only shoot a 503CW because it’s the youngest model. You can purchase a 500C/M if it’s in good condition and get beautiful results. You won’t see a difference.

  49. Jay Stride
    28. February 2015

    I’ve only just discovered your blog… it makes inspiring reading.

    I’ve used digital now for many years and use an M9 and Canon EOS 5Dmk3 mainly. Last year I took the plunge and bought a Mamiya RZ67. It produced some wonderful images and got me hooked back on film. Sadly it was stolen soon after purchase.

    Last week I was offered an absolutely mint Hasselblad 503CW with the standard 80mm and thanks to your blog I decided to take the plunge and buy it! The first film has just gone in!

  50. Johnny
    28. February 2015

    That’s wonderful to hear, Jay! :)

    Thanks so much for your kind feedback and for sharing this with me. Congratulations on your purchase! I’m sure you’ll love your Hasselblad just as much as I do. It’s so much fun to shoot!

  51. Joe Hollier
    14. September 2015

    Great piece, totally know what you mean!

  52. Johnny
    16. September 2015

    Thank you, Joe!

  53. Philip
    21. September 2015

    I just received my new Hasselblad 503CW, what a beautiful camera this is!

    Thanks Johnny for the inspiring blog!

    Cheers from the Netherlands,


  54. Johnny
    22. September 2015

    That’s wonderful, Philip! It is indeed a beautiful camera.

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy it a lot. :)

  55. Madelyn Parsons
    14. December 2016

    Hi Johnny!

    I have recently switched from digital to film and wonder what your thoughts are on the Contax 645 system? I have the Hasselblad and LOVE it, and am wondering if I am better off not investing in the Contax because of the high price point.



  56. Johnny
    14. December 2016

    Thank you for your question, Madelyn.

    For me it’s always very difficult to give an opinion on a camera system. What works really well for me might not work at all for you, and something that doesn’t work for me might be perfect for someone else. :)

    My wife shot a Contax 645 for a while and I found it very touchy, technically. Most wedding photographers I know own at least two of these. I think most people shoot it for the look of the Zeiss 80mm f2 and not necessarily for the whole system.

    I think my recommendation would be to compare it to a Pentax 6×7 with the 105mm 2.4 and a Mamiya 645 Pro with the 80mm f1.9 – you might end up liking these lot too. Zeiss also made a wonderful 110mm f2 for the Hasselblad.

  57. Matthias
    11. January 2017

    Hi Johnny,

    Thanks a lot for the amazing stuff you’re sharing here.

    Since a few months I am also using a Hasselblad 500 CM. It’s really a great pleasure to shoot, but I still have problems focusing with the Acute Matte screen.

    What is your favorite method? Would you recommend a split screen or fresnel instead?

    Thanks a lot and best regards,


  58. Johnny
    11. January 2017

    Matthias, thank you very much for your kind feedback. I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying my blog! :)

    You are right, focusing the Hasselblad takes practice. I use an Acute Matte D screen with split prism in both of my cameras. These screens are a little more expensive than the regular ones but it’s worth it.

  59. SP Lee
    12. April 2017

    Hey Johnny,

    Love your story. I walked the same path. I picked up a Fuji X-E1 and it had all the qualities I loved, the Velvia feel and look, which is a film I missed.

    But it was tinkering with the Fuji that got me to haul out my old 503CW which has been sitting in the dry box since the 90’s. What a hefty clunky mechanical monster the H is, but the emotions the pictures elicit. Wow.

  60. Johnny
    12. April 2017

    Thanks very much for your comment, SP.

    Makes me happy to hear that you feel the same way. :)

    The Hasselblad is huge and inconvenient to shoot, I completely agree. But I love how it looks and how it feels in my hand. And the results are so beautiful when you get it right. It’s always a humbling experience, though.

  61. Daniel
    13. December 2017

    Your photographs somehow manage to capture the warm and airy, rose-colored way I remember my travel experiences. It’s like you’ve been reading my mind (only you went there, not me!).

    Inspired in no small part by your images and philosophy, I’m now the owner of a 501cm and 2.8/80mm. Nothing can prepare the uninitiated for the first look through the waist-level finder, although I feel I could do with some motion sickness tablets. How long did it take you to get your head around the reverse image thing?

    I have noticed one thing about shooting with this camera that is genuinely easier and more enjoyable: taking my meter reading in EV and transferring it to the lens. Both my meters can give readings in EV and I enjoy using the button on the aperture ring to shift the settings to suit what I’m trying to achieve. I wish all lenses for all cameras worked like this.

    Thanks again.

  62. Johnny
    14. December 2017

    Daniel, thank you for your kind words. Makes me happy to hear that you’re enjoying my work and find it inspiring. :)

    Congratulations on your Hasselblad purchase! I shoot this camera for a number of years now and I’ve never felt the desire to switch to a different system. The Zeiss 80mm is just perfection for me.

    You are right, the whole upside down left is right thing threw me off too at first. It took a moment to get used to it, maybe a week or two. Now I usually don’t notice it anymore. But switching back and forth between the Leica and the Hasselblad still feels awkward for a few minutes if I happen to shoot both in the same location.

    I agree with you on the EV system, and there are a lot of other little details I got to really appreciate about this camera. I’m sure you’ll love it.

  63. Nathan
    8. January 2018

    Hey Johnny,

    I am in Germany, working as a retoucher, and in the studio that I work the photographers often use one of the Hasselblads. My question is regarding white balance. When they change a lens, the white balance shifts quite a lot.
    And just making the numbers match up (5200k vs 5850k, for example) doesn’t quite do it. There is still a very big difference between one lens and the other.

    Is this normal for such an expensive camera?

    Thank you in advance,


  64. Johnny
    9. January 2018

    Thanks for your question, Nathan.

    I’m not sure if you’re referring to film cameras from Hasselblad (which is what I am shooting) or their digital models. There can be some difference in white balance between different lenses, but the amount you’ve mentioned seems excessive.

    If you’re talking about film cameras, this is likely due to the scanning process and how the lens affects the color rendition. This should still be hardly noticeable and easy to correct.

  65. Cyrus
    7. November 2018

    Dearest Johnny, I was amazed by the fantastic Blad 503 details you are so in sync and tune with. I have seen a very clean 503 CW Millenium but it is very expensive. Is it a collectible piece? I have a 500 C/M. But if the 503 CW is a beauty in your view I await your reply, so I can go ahead buying it. Is film available for it? God bless you.


  66. Johnny
    10. November 2018

    Cyrus, thank you very much for your question.

    I honestly don’t have a particular bias towards any of the cameras from Hasselblad’s V-System. I think the 500C/M is just as beautiful as a 503CW Millenium.

    I own a 503CW and a 501CM, they are virtually interchangeable. I feel the same way about both of them, it’s more about the process of shooting them for me. All of my cameras are being used, I don’t collect them personally or try to keep them in a pristine condition.

    If you love the camera, I wouldn’t see a reason to not buy it. But I don’t think there’s a big difference to the Hasselblad you already own.

  67. Georg
    22. November 2018

    Really great article!

    As soon as funds permit I’ll get into medium format film, torn quite a bit between the Hasselblad that simply has a great compact size and wonderful handling vs. the Pentax 67, because of the ethereal portraits using the 105/2.4 Takumar lens.

    I think film is still superior, however what I’ve seen from images on the web the Fuji GFX cameras are a very big step towards film regarding tonality. Have you ever tried one?

  68. Johnny
    25. November 2018

    Thank you for your kind words, Georg.

    If I could make a recommendation in regards to your camera choice, I’d solely make the decision based on the look of the final result. The lens is what’s making the image, the body is just holding the film.

    I’ve tried many of the modern medium format digital cameras but I’m still not convinced. Almost all of the sensors have medium format “crop” dimensions and you simply don’t get the same rendering as you do from a 6×6 or 6×7 negative. The tonality is getting close, but so do my iPhone images if I process them accordingly.

  69. John
    24. January 2019

    Great review. I just recently bought a 500CM w/ 80mm T* lens, wow the reconnection to photography has blown me away.

  70. Johnny
    24. January 2019

    John, thank you very much.

    I can relate so well – glad you’re enjoying the Hasselblad so much. :)

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