Which Hasselblad should I buy?

Panos Voudouris
14 min readDec 30, 2021

Space: the final frontier. No, not that…I mean the final photographic frontier. And if you ever wondered which camera went to space and, more importantly, the moon, it was a Hasselblad. Lots of others went before and after it, including Minolta, Nikon, etc etc. But the one that everyone remembers is the Hasselblad. And just like Omega, Hasselblad certainly played that card a lot!

Anyway…you read the legend, you heard all about how amazing Hasselblads are and now you are ready to buy one. Prefereably one of these old 500C/M models with a cute silver lens.

STOP! Don’t…yet. I see a lot of posts online about people asking about which Hasselblad should they buy as their first medium format camera. Perhaps they played a bit with 35mm film and now want to get into the real business. Perhaps they already have a cheaper medium format camera and want to “step up”. To help, I will split this article in 3 sections, the first is what to expect if you never had a medium format camera before. The second if you want to get a Hasselblad as an alternative to your existing medium format camera. And finally a third one which is a brief description of the various models and other things you need to be aware of.

Wells-next-the-Sea, England. Hasselblad 500ELX, 80CB, Kodak Portra 400

1. From 35mm to 120

So you’ve tried 35mm or maybe you are an expert. You want to step up in film size. You want the extra sharpness, real estate, tonality, scanning size etc etc. Cool! Great! Well, in that case get yourself a cheap medium format camera and then see if you really want a Hasselblad.

I know a lot of people say “buy once and buy good” and then you never have to buy again. On the other hand if you buy cheap then you’ll want to buy a better one later etc etc (section 2 below anyone?). The question is though, do you really know that medium format is for you? I’ll tell you that I went back to film from digital by jumping stright into medium format, no going back to 35mm. Yet, after 10 years I now have only 35mm and large format.

So just some advice. Medium format is very slow. If you think a manual 35mm camera is slow you are wrong. Medium format cameras are slow to wind, slow and tricky to focus, slow to load and unload film, heavy, etc etc etc. So why drop £1000+ on a Hasselblad (probably more like £1500 min nowadays) when you don’t…