Hasselblad 501c | camera review

These days, every few months it seems that there are new cameras released, each incrementally “raising the bar” of digital imaging a step further, while slowly driving past cameras into obsolescence. Just last month, Nikon announced a camera with ISO capabilities over 3 million, and Phase One announced an amazing digital back sensor that photographs at an astounding 100 megapixels.

It is refreshing to know that there are cameras still capable of standing the test of time. It is my hope to make images that can follow suit.

I distinctly remember while studying at ERBA d’Angers (an Art school in Angers, France) in undergrad in 2000, as a kind professor with an amazing handlebar mustache showed me the ropes on how to use a Hasselblad 500c. As I watched him familiarly select shutter speeds and apertures (simultaneously wondering how the mustache was so perfectly formed) he mentioned something that was astounding. It was so crazy that I thought it was ‘lost in translation’ from French to English. But, no…it wasn’t. He said: “this is the camera that I learned on when I went to school here.” At first I thought that he was saying he had also learned on a Hasselblad. Actually, he meant that about 25 years before that, he had photographed with the exact same camera. Like I said, this camera has the ability to stand the test of time!

In the meantime, I hope that Hasselblad has a bright future as well. I eagerly listened to an interview on Luminous Landscape with Hasselblad’s CEO, who certainly gave out some tidbits of hope for the future, and fixing the strange things that the company did in the last decade. I’m going to be saving up for products that are still in development!

I contacted a local photographer, whose business pre-dates color film photography, saying that I was interested in shooting a ‘Blad, and asking if I could borrow one for a bit. He has four of them, and was very kind to let me borrow a couple! I also realized that there was a decent chance I might be using a camera with significant historical value to my family. The same camera I borrowed is the very one that photographed the wedding of my wife Lindsey’s parents, a mere 38 years ago! So, I decided to put it through the paces!

The following shots are actually on good, old film. Expired film, at that…so I over-exposed by a stop, and crossed my fingers! Looking back, I should have tried to find some faster film, as I was struggling to attain shutter speeds fast enough to combat the mirror shake…but that’s another story. These photographs are from Thanksgiving and Christmas, with locations ranging from our backyard in Tennessee, to a fantastic time with family in Folly Beach, SC.


My brother, watching over the turkey we smoked. Notice the black frame on the left side; Hasselblads leave a distinctive pair of notches.


So, a Hasselblad isn’t necessarily a sports/action camera. I was lucky to get this one in focus!


My brother, J.R.


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