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The Hasselblad V-System master guide: overviewThe Hasselblad V-System master guide: overview

The Hasselblad V-System master guide: overview

Welcome to the Hasselblad V-System Master Guide, a collection of in-depth articles and reviews intended to be an exhaustive resource for real, user-verified data on this classic film camera system.

To the uninitiated, the V-System is a black box; totally impenetrable. If you’re coming to it for the first time and think you have everything nailed down, I’m here to tell you that you are likely wrong, very wrong….and that’s where this collection of articles comes in.

This guide started off as a short review of the Hasselblad 2000 FCW, a little-known focal plane shutter version of the classic Swedish box. As the review ballooned to incorporate compatibility, lens versions and camera history, it became clear that a more detailed outline was needed to do the intricacies of the camera and wider platform justice. Thus, this guide was born.

The purpose of this guide is to:

  • Help shed some light on the system for the enjoyment of understanding itself.
  • Assist prospective buyers to familiarise themselves with their options and select the camera body(ies), lenses and film magazines that are most suited to their needs.
  • Bust a few myths and to provide an insight into the cameras from my perspective as a user.

In the guide you will find:

  • Historical context on the V-System.
  • Camera body features and functionality across the entire system.
  • Lens system data – usage and technical information across the range.
  • Accessory, focus screen and viewfinder details.
  • The clarification of myths and old wives’ tales.
  • …and much more far too lengthy to reasonably detail here.

Before we get stuck in, I have a question for you: when was the V-System not the V-System?

Answer: any time before September 2002.

2002 saw the release of Hasselblad’s new native 6×4.5 format H-System cameras and the existing cameras were retroactively rebranded as the V-System in order to create a distinction between these wholly incompatible systems. Prior to that, the entire range from 1948-2002 was called simply, “The Hasselblad System”.

The H-System is still being manufactured in 2018 and continues the hybrid film/digital approach started with the first Hasselblad digital magazine in 1992. That said, the H-System is not what one would call a “pure” Hasselblad. Like the Xpan/Xpan 2 wide format 35mm rangefinders, H-System cameras and lenses are manufactured by Fuji and their subsidiaries; and if you search for “Fuji GX645”, you’ll find a Japan-only, Fuji-branded version of the H1 at a fraction of the Hasselblad price. The system deserves a guide in it’s own right but for the purposes of this Master Guide, I won’t be touching on it, or the newer X-System, aside from the occasional nod to compatibility or incompatibility.

Here’s what I cover in this V-System overview article:

It might look like a lot but that’s only because it is. Still, for this section of the guide I’ll be starting slowly with accessibility in mind. Beginning below, I cover a bit of Hasselblad history before jumping into a deep outline of the V-System bodies, lenses, film magazines and accessories.

Each of these sections will be covered in full in the associated articles that form this guide.

 

 

What is the Hasselblad V-System?

The V-System comprises of several generations and models of (on the whole) fully manual medium format cameras. These all natively take photographs on medium format roll film (120/220) in 6x6cm square format.

Hasselblad Art

Hasselblad 500C
Credit: Hasselblad

The system supports a wide range of lenses from Zeiss, Kodak Schneider and (to a degree) Rodenstock. They cover focal lengths from a 30mm fisheye to a 500mm telephoto.

In between, you have the standard medium format offerings including dedicated macro, zoom and some highly specialist photography lenses.

Compatible digital backs are available, with the first (4 megapixel) version released by Leaf in 1992. At the time of writing the most current iteration is the 50MP Hasselblad CFV-50c, which was released in 2014 and uses a 48.8×32.9mm sensor (very close to a 6×4.5 aspect ratio).

 

 

Hasselblad V-System series overview

The V-system is subdivided into a six distinct series and sub-series as follows:

  • The 500 Series: fully manual, in-lens leaf shutters with flash sync across all shutter speeds.
  • The EL Series: built-in electric motor drives and most famously used by NASA.
  • The 200 Series: cameras with focal plane shutters and fully automatic shooting modes.
  • The 2000 Series: cameras with focal plane shutters and a top shutter speed of 1/2000 second..
  • The SW Series of technical cameras.
  • The ArcBody and FlexBody perspective control/field cameras.

With each of these cameras capable of using film, instant and digital media, the V-System is in a word, extensive

 

 

Hasselblad history

Up until the release of what is now known as the Hasselblad Series One 1600F in 1948, Hasselblad’s photographic division had largely been producing cameras for the Swedish military.

Hasselblad ROSSEX - Credit: Hasselblad Foundation

Hasselblad ROSSEX – Credit: Hasselblad Foundation

A civilian camera based on Hasselblad’s prototype ROSSEX (left), the Series One 1600F was something completely new for the company: modular, precisely engineered, beautifully designed and made for the general public – all based on a recovered World War II German military camera.

Even during wartime, Hasselblad had been using lenses from a number of German lens manufacturers, Meyer, Schneider and Zeiss for their military cameras but for the Series One, they decided to call on one of their oldest partners for assistance: Eastman Kodak.

George Eastman and Arvid Viktor Hasselblad – founder of Hasselblad F.W.’s photographic division and grandfather of Victor Hasselblad – originally met in 1887 whilst Arvid Viktor was honeymooning in Europe. At the time of the 1600F’s release, the companies had been working together for decades, with Hasselblad acting as the sole Kodak distributor in Sweden and offering a number of additional photographic development services. When it came to building the standard lenses for the new 1600F, Victor Hasselblad called on Kodak to help and through their partnership, the camera was released in New York in 1948 with the stunning Kodak Ektar 80mm f/2.8 and 135mm f/3.5 lenses.

The story goes that the use of Kodak lenses for the initial Series One line-up was in recognition of the long-standing relationship between the two companies but my gut tells me it was a little more complicated than that.

Zeiss and the other German lens manufacturers Hasselblad had previously been employing had seen their infrastructure split-up or destroyed following World War II and anti-German sentiment was still high in Allied countries at the time of the Series One 1600F’s release.

Regardless of their neutral status, a Swedish company launching a camera in the US market with a German lens was likely something Hasselblad was not willing to take a risk on and given the long-standing relationship, it made sense to call on Kodak for their lens expertise.

Hasselblad 1600F Advert

Hasselblad 1600F Advert

It’s ancient history that both Zeiss and Schneider later provided lenses to Hasselblad but Eastman Kodak’s support was invaluable in helping them break the important US market.

In 1950 the Series One 1600F was replaced with an improved and upgraded Series Two 1600F. The new 1600F was itself replaced two years later in 1952 by the Series Two 1000F. Although the updated models benefited from revised and improved shutter systems, the cameras remained comparatively fragile and 1957, just nine years after the original 1600F’s release, the Series Two was discontinued in favour of Hasselblad’s new beau: the 500C.

This new 500 Series wasn’t a completely fresh take on its predecessors though. The camera retained its lines and compatibility with the Series One/Two finders and film magazines but lost its focal plane shutter and was upgraded with a new lens mount. Lenses for the new mount were now being produced by Zeiss not Kodak, and came with in-lens shutters supplied by Compur.

Although the system now had a slower top shutter speed of 1/500 second, it offered full flash sync across the entire range and if you were to put the Series One/Two and 500C in silhouette next to each other you’d be forgiven for mistaking one for the other.

Although those troublesome focal plane shutters were gone, Hasselblad wasn’t done with them just yet. A source of great joy and frustration for both the company and its customers, the focal plane shutter and associated mechanisms of the 1600F and 1000F cameras laid the groundwork for the 2000 Series focal plane shutter cameras, which were released 20 years later in 1977, and the 200 Series released nearly 20 years after that in 1994.

The curtain finally closed on the V-System in late 2013 when the Hasselblad 503CW – the last remaining V-System camera – was unceremoniously discontinued. After 55 years in production, the only remaining connection the company had to the system that gave it global recognition was a digital film back and a few lens adapters. To all intents and purposes, the company had become a rebrander of OEM cameras and accessories and was left with zero dedicated manufacturing capability of its own.

Take a look at Hasselblad.com today and you’ll be lucky to find more than a few paragraphs of attention given to the V-System. Considering the importance the system had in establishing the company’s reputation it is a sad virtual hand-washing.

No discussion about Hasselblad’s history would be complete without even the smallest reference to the use of their cameras and lenses by NASA for their space program, so here it is, a small reference. Trust me when I say that I will be dealing with this rather large chunk of Hasselblad history in a dedicated article for this collection.

 

 

Hasselblad V-system timeline

Hasselblad System Poster (Credit: Hasselblad Foundation)

Hasselblad System Poster (Credit: Hasselblad Foundation)

Whilst not technically V-System cameras, I have included Series One and Series Two Hasselblad cameras in the tables below for completeness. Without them, the V-System would not exist. You’ll also find some information about the specialist FlexBody and ArcBody cameras.

As with any detail in this and other articles in the collection, if you see anything amiss, or would like to add/edit something, just drop me a line in the comments below.

YearNameSeriesShutter TypeNotes
1948-19521600 FSeries OneFocal Plane6x6cm format with a top shutter speed of 1/1600 sec.
1952-19571000 FSeries TwoFocal PlaneUpdated fastest shutter speed of 1/1000 sec.
1954-1958SWASWLeafFixed Carl Zeiss Biogon 38mm f/4.5 wide angle lens.
1956-1958SWSWLeafUpdated lens barrel.
1957-1970500C500Leaf"C" designation denoting the use of Compur leaf shutters.
1959-1979SWCSWLeafSilver C lenses until 1973. Upgraded to a black body and black T* C lens in 1973.
1965-1970500ELELLeafThe first electrically driven Hasselblad.
1970-1994500C/M500Leaf"M" designation added to signify the ability to modify the camera.
1970-1984500EL/MELLeafBlack body cameras introduced in 1973.
1977-19812000 FC2000Focal PlaneFirst Hasselblads with a gliding mirror system. Top shutter speed of 1/2000 sec. Flash Sync at <1/90 sec.
1980-1982SWC/MSWLeafDedicated Polaroid film back released. Updated to new CF lens in 1982. New removable finders with a built-in spirit level.
1981-19842000 FC/M2000Focal PlaneUpdated with automatic shutter curtain retraction when film back is removed.
1982-1986SWC/MSWLeafUpgraded with CF lens and old style viewfinder.
1984-19882000 FCW2000Focal PlaneSwitchable shutter protection and the first Hasselblad with an auto-winder connection.
1984-1988500ELXELLeafTTL/OTF metering and a larger mirror.
1986-1988SWC/M2000LeafUpgraded with new style viewfinder.
1988-19912003 FCW2000Focal PlaneNew "Palpas" coating to reduce flare (also added to the 503 CX, 553 ELX and 903 SWC).
1988-2001903 SWCSWLeafNew "Palpas" coating to reduce flare.
1988-1999553ELXELLeafTTL/OTF metering and a switch to AA batteries from proprietary Ni-Cad. New "Palpas" coating to reduce flare.
1988-1994503CX500LeafTTL/OTF metering. New "Palpas" coating to reduce flare.
1989-1992500 Classic500LeafPromotional 500C/M, sold only as a camera kit (80mm CF lens + A12 magazine).
1991-1994205TCC200Focal PlaneTTL/OTF metering, in-camera 1% spot metering, auto exposure, zone system support.
1994-1997501C500LeafOnly sold as a black-body camera kit, with special 80mm "C" lens + A12 magazine.
1994-1996503CXi500LeafTTL/OTF metering. Compatible with Winder CW.
1994-2013503CXi500LeafTTL/OTF metering. Compatible with Winder CW.
1994-1998201F200Focal PlaneTTL/OTF, no in camera light metering system.
1994-2004203FE200Focal PlaneTTL/OTF metering, in-camera 20% large spot metering, auto exposure.
1995-2003FlexBodyOTHERLeafTilt and shift. C, CF, CF FLE, CFi and CFE lens support only.
1995-2004205FCC200Focal PlaneTTL/OTF metering with upgraded electronics over the 205TCC.
1996-2013503CW500LeafTTL/OTF metering with gliding mirror system and Winder CW compatibility.
1997-2005501CM500LeafSold as body only or as a Kit in chrome or black finish.
Originally supplied with 80mm "C" lens until 1997 when the lens was switched to an 80mm "CB" version.
Gliding mirror system.
1997-2001ArcBodyOtherLeafTilt and shift. Dedicated Rodenstock large format lenses.
1998-2002202FA200Focal PlaneLike 203 FE, shortest shutterspeed 1/1000 s. No manual mode, no bracketing, not compatible with C-Planar and CB lenses.
1998-2006555 ELDELLeafElectronic Databus contacts for digital magazines, optional IR receiver.
2001-2006905 SWCSWLeafSuccessor to the 903 SWC. The Biogon had to be recalculated for new environmentally friendly lens materials. Now comes as a CFi lens.
2006-2013503CW500LeafA special 503 CW kit, with CFV digital back (16MP, 36.7x36.7 mm, Crop 1.5) 2.8/80 mm CFE lens, silver crank and screen with sensor border indicators. The 503 CWD is a limited edition (500 items), celebrating Victor Hasselblad's 100th birthday.

You’ll likely be able to discern the meanings of some of the designations used in the camera names above. For reference, I’ve provided a complete listing of what these mean in the following section.

 

 

Hasselblad V-system family nomenclature

Looking at the table in the previous section, it’s apparent that Hasselblad V-System has a dizzying array of camera nomenclature and designations. Some may seem arbitrary or just downright puzzling but they all have meaning.

The following three sub-sections outline the main terminology used in describing the individual series in the V-System family, as well as the camera designations themselves.

Later in this document, I’ll also be talking about the lens and film magazine types and their designations.

 

Hasselblad V-System camera families

Series nameOverview
Series OneThe original focal plane camera system (1600F).
Series Two2nd generation focal plane camera system (1600F and 1000F).
V-SystemNative 6x6 format camera system encompassing five distinct camera series: 500, EL, SWx, 2000, 200.
H-SystemCreated in collaboration with Fuji, this is a studio-centric family of 6x45 native cameras.
XpanHasselblad's only foray into 35mm photography, also in collaboration with Fuji.
X-SystemHasselblad's newest (digital) camera system. Maintains backwards compatibility with previous system lenses and some accessories.

 

Hasselblad V-System cameras

FamilyOverview
1000 SeriesFocal plane shutter, max top shutter of 1/1000. *1
1600 SeriesFocal plane shutter, max top shutter of 1/1600. *1
500 SeriesIn-lens leaf shutter, max top shutter of 1/500.
2000 SeriesFocal plane shutter, max top shutter of 1/2000.
200 SeriesFocal plane shutter, max top shutter of 1/2000.
SWC SeriesIn-lens leaf shutter, max top shutter of 1/500.

*1 – Whilst not technically V-system cameras, the Series One and Series Two Hasselblads represent the root of the system, so are represented here for completeness.

 

Hasselblad V-system camera body designations

Designations used for each camera are provided below alphabetically and grouped by series. The body designations are generic at best but can be used to provide a basic identification of the features present within each version.

DesignationOverview
CCompur (in-lens) leaf shutter compatible body.
C/MCompur lens compatible. Modified.
CXCompur lens compatible. TTL/OTF X-sync flash.
CXiCompur lens compatible. TTL/OTF X-sync flash. Improved.
CWCompur lens compatible. Winder compatible.

ELElectric film transport.
EL/MElectric film transport. Modified.
ELDElectric film transport. Digital back support.
ELXElectric film transport. TTL/OTF X-sync flash.

SWASuper Wide Angle Compur lens. Based on Series One/Two.
SWCSuper Wide Angle Compur lens. Based on 500 Series.
SWC/MSuper Wide Angle Compur lens. Modified.

FFocal plane shutter.
FCFocal plane shutter. Compur lens compatible.
FCCFocal plane shutter. Contrast Control system.
FCMFocal plane shutter. Compur lens compatible. Modified.
FCWFocal plane shutter. Compur lens compatible. Winder compatible.
FEFocal plane shutter with Electronic databus connection.
TCCTone & Contrast Control system mode.

FlexBodySpecialist field/studio camera suited for perspective control. Compatible with Hasselblad lenses and film magazines.
ArcBodySpecialist field/studio camera suited for perspective control. Compatible with dedicated Rodenstock lenses and Hasselblad film magazines.

With the exception of the SW/SWx models, every other V-System camera body can accept different lenses. The SW/SWx cameras were sold as sealed units with dedicated lenses not available elsewhere. Only the film magazines were interchangeable.

 

 

Hasselblad V-Mount lens system

The Hasselblad V-System’s lens system (V-Mount) is comprised of six generations of lenses. Each lens in the system has a Flange Focal Distance (the distance from the lens’ mount to the film plane) of 74.90mm.

All but two V-Mount lenses were produced by Zeiss for Hasselblad. These were zoom lenses and were created by Schneider. They were based on the same design used by the Rollei SLX and 6000 cameras.

For the purposes of this document, I have not included lenses used by the ArcBody camera in the table below. These are technically large format lenses adapted by Rodenstock for this specialist camera body.

 

Lens adaptations and modifications

500 Series cameras lack a focal plane shutter, which means modifying lenses from other systems is impractical for many Hasselblad owners but it there is a small and growing “mod” community of Hasselblad 200/2000 users (including me).

Pentax 67 modified to Hasselblad V Mount - Litzst on eBay

Pentax 67 modified to Hasselblad V Mount – Litzst on eBay

These rather strange but wonderful individuals adapt Pentacon Six, Hasselblad 1000F/1600F and large format lenses for use with their camera bodies.

It is perfectly possible to machine a dedicated adapter to mount and use Series One/Two lenses on 2000/200 series cameras. With their Flange Focal Distance of 82.10mm, the most common route to modify these lenses is by using a modified 16mm macro extension tube.

On the subject of adaptation, it should be noted that all first-party Hasselblad lenses can be very easily adapted to other medium format and all 35mm camera mounts – as well as for specific large format applications.

The main exception to that rule (agreed upon by machinists in the know) are lenses from the Pentax 67 system. Still, workarounds exist where the 67’s mount itself is modified to accept V-System lenses. Check out the wonderful abomination from South Korea’s Litzst on eBay on the left.

 

Lens families/designations

Let’s take a quick look at the various Hasselblad lens families/designations produced for the V-System.

DesignationManufacture datesOverview
C1959-1974Compur lens (single coated).
C T*1974-1979Compur lens (multicoated).
F1977-1991Focal plane shutter support.
CF1980-1989Compur lens. Focal plane shutter support.
CF FLE1990-1998Compur lens. Focal plane shutter support. Floating Lens Element.
FE1994-1998Focal plane shutter support. Electronic databus.
CB1996-2006Compur lens. Basic lens type.
CFi1998-2013Compur lens. Focal plane shutter support. Improved design.
CFE1998-2006Compur lens. Focal plane shutter support. Electronic databus.

NOTE: All lenses which followed 1974’s “C T*” lenses include this new coating. A distinction has been made above only to recognise a mid-production update.

General lens compatibility

Only lenses which include a “C” designation (C, CF, CF FLE, CFi, CFE) can be used on 500 Series cameras.

All Hasselblad V-Mount lenses can be used on all Hasselblad 2000 and 200 Series cameras.

With the exception of the 135mm Macro-Planar, all V-System lenses include dedicated aperture and focus rings, aperture stop-down levers and PC-sync flash ports. The 135mm lens is designed to be used with a dedicated bellows extension for focusing and thus has no focus ring.

CFE lenses include a databus connection to pass exposure information to the camera body and can be used in a similar manner with 200 series bodies and the 503CX and CXi bodies. Other than the electrical contacts, they are identical in every way to the CFi models.

When the CF lenses were released, the shutter was replaced by a Prontor type. Still, the “C” designation stood.

 

Specific lens compatibility

F designated lenses were designed specifically for 2000 Series cameras and do not include a shutter. They typically focus closer and benefit from wider maximum apertures than other generations of lenses. They can also be used on 200 series cameras.

FE designated lenses were designed to be used with 200 Series cameras but can also be used with 2000 Series bodies. As with the F lenses, FE lenses have no shutter, focus closer and mostly have wider apertures than their C designated counterparts.

Certain F/FE lenses, such as the Planar 110mm f/2. F/FE are optically distinct from their equivalent C-designated leaf shutter siblings. However, the Planar F 80mm f/2.8 is identical to the Planar CF 80mm f/2.8.

If inclined, one could use an F or FE lens on a 500 series body in bulb mode…but I’ve yet to see anyone try.

 

Lens identification

You can very quickly tell if a Hasselblad lens is an F/FE or a C/CF/CFi, etc. Check the location of the focus and aperture rings. If the aperture ring is closest to the lens mount then it’s an F/FE lens. If not, it’s a C/CF/CFi, etc., lens.

You’ll see a lot of eBay sellers and even bonafide camera store selling F lenses as FE lenses. You’re best to confirm yourself, as FE lenses command much higher prices. They can be easily distinguished from normal F lenses in two ways:

First, the mount includes four circular gold contacts (the databus connection). These communicate aperture information to 200 Series bodies.

Second, every FE lens features a pair of parallel blue stripes on the lens body. Whilst the stripes could be rubbed off unintentionally, there’s no way the databus connection is going anywhere.

Zeiss T* Coating Mark

Zeiss T* Coating Mark

From the beginning of 1974 (whilst the C lenses were still in production), all Zeiss lenses made for Hasselblad were given a new and improved coating designated by a “T*” on the front of the lens.

Not all lenses which received this coating were marked so – a case of branding catching up to technology and very unlike today, where the smallest, most meaningless feature is used to try and edge ahead of the competition.

Anyway, you can identify these multi-coated sleepers by the slightly different colour cast on the lens.

For what it’s worth, many people prefer the early lenses for their slightly lower contrast result (especially on black and white film), however with a suitable shade and an eye for the direction of light hitting the lens, they stand up very well against later lenses in nearly all conditions.

 

 

Hasselblad film magazines

Hasselblad film magazines come in versions which support 120/200 rollfilm, 70mm film strips, Polaroid Series 80 and 100 film, as well as glass plate and cut film. For this system overview, I will not be covering Polaroid, glass plate and sheet film magazines/backs. These are covered in the film magazine article in this collection.

With a few exceptions, nearly every single Hasselblad film magazine made from 1948 until production ceased is compatible with every Hasselblad V-system body ever made. How’s that for commitment?

There are a few incompatibilities however, the main ones you should be aware of are:

  • Instant film support for EL, SW and 200/2000 series.
  • Rollfilm magazines and Series One and Two camera body compatibility.

Full details of rollfilm, sheet and instant magazines and backs can be found in this dedicated section of the guide. If you don’t want to jump over just yet, here’s a quick breakdown.

 

Rollfilm magazine generations

There are seven types/generations of Hasselblad rollfilm magazines:

  • One type of older manual “M” type backs (also known as “C”, “M” or just by their numeric designation).
  • Three types of “A” type (automatic) film magazines.
  • Three types of “E” type (electronic) magazines.

The numeric designation on each roll film magazine denotes the number of frames it is able to shoot on a single roll of 120, 220 or 70mm film. The letter denotes the family of magazine. For example:

  • An A12 designation tells us that it’s from the “Automatic” series and can capture 12 frames (6×6) on a roll of 120 or 220 film.
  • An E16 designation tells us that it’s an “Electronic” magazine which shoots 16 frames (landscape 6×4.5) on 120 or 220 film.

Each rollfilm magazine is comprised of a shell and insert. Load the film in the insert and then install the insert into the shell. Wind the film on until you reach the first frame and then take the freshly loaded magazine and mount it onto any V-System camera body.

Magazines can be swapped out mid-roll, just slip in the dark slide, release the magazine and swap.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the available V-System roll film magazines:

 

General purpose Hasselblad film magazines

DesignationFilm typeExposuresImage format
12120/220*1126x6
A12120126x6
A24120/220*2246x6
A16120166x4.5 - landscape orientation
A32120/220*2326x4.5 - landscape orientation

*1 – A plug could be purchased to block-out the film window on these magazines and therefore allow the use of 220 film (with a bit of guesswork).

*2 – 120 film can be used in 220 film magazines without modifying the magazine’s gearing. To use an unmodified 220 magazine with 120 film, simply ensure that the start mark on the film is lined up OPPOSITE the red mark on the film insert.

You may need to employ some trial and error. Alternatively, your local camera repair service should be able to help you re-gear your film back to suit. It is also possible to use 220 film in 120 magazines. Shoot 12 frames then wind up the roll and then reinsert to shoot the next 12. The frame spacing might be off slightly but you should still end up with 24 (or 36) useable frames.

 

Special purpose / limited run Hasselblad film magazines

DesignationFilm typeExposuresImage format
A12V120126x4.5 - portrait orientation
A16S120164x4cm - superslide format
A7070mm706x6

 

Electronic film magazines

Electronic film backs can be used with all Hasselblad V-System cameras but have some dedicated functionality for use with the 200 series bodies.

Not listed here are the Ex-TCC and Ex-FCC film backs, dedicated for use with the 205TCC and 205FCC cameras and their Zone System metering modes. These film backs will be covered in the dedicated film magazine article for this guide.

DesignationFilm typeExposuresImage format
E12120126x6
E24120/220*1246x6
E16120166x4.5 - landscape orientation
E32120/220*1326x4.5 - landscape orientation

*1 -120 film can be used in 220 film magazines without modifying the magazine’s gearing. To use an unmodified 220 magazine with 120 film, simply ensure that the start mark on the film is lined up OPPOSITE the red mark on the film insert.

You may need to employ some trial and error. Alternatively, your local camera repair service should be able to help you re-gear your film back to suit. It is also possible to use 220 film in 120 magazines. Shoot 12 frames then wind up the roll and then reinsert to shoot the next 12. The frame spacing might be off slightly but you should still end up with 24 (or 36) useable frames.

 

 

Hasselblad Accessories

Like any mature system, Hasselblad has a rich ecosystem of V-System accessories that come in all shapes and sizes. Chances are that if you can think of something that you’d want to use, it was produced at one time or another. So-called “speed finders”, dedicated macro flash attachments, underwater housings and even “blank” lens mounts for you to have a play with.

For the purpose of the dedicated accessory article in this guide, I’ll be breaking out accessories into the following groupings:

  • Lens-based (shades, hoods, close-up lenses, tele-converters and extension tubes).
  • Prisms and other finders.
  • Focus screens.
  • Everything else, miscellanea and curios.

It gets hard to categorise everything, as there’s always the risk of becoming too granular. That said, if it’s worth discussing, I will be – yes, that includes the reason why Hasselblad lens hoods and shades are square.

 

 

Wrapping up

That’s it for now. It’s tempting to continue but I value my sanity and at nearly four thousand words so far, so should you. This is a living document and if you come back, you’ll likely find that things have been updated and links to new sections added.

Although you should consider it an element of the whole, as opposed to “part two in the series”, the next article in this collection, will take an in-depth look into Hasselblad V-System film magazines and bust a few myths about those damned matching inserts and shells.

Thanks for reading!

~ EMULSIVE

 

 

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About The Author

EMULSIVE

Self confessed film-freak and film photography mad-obsessive and OVERLORD at emulsive.org. I push, pull, shoot, boil and burn film everyday, and I want to share what I learn.

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  1. Maybe you could rewrite the addendum on using 220 in 120 backs? I read it over and over, and can’t make sense of it. Otherwise, I look forward to the rest–it’s great!

    Reply
  2. A great article that will probably make me spend a lot of money in the near future!

    Reply
  3. Wow! EM, what a great work!! Thanks this article is very very interesting and complete. Congrats!!!

    Reply
  4. @Hasselblad Very timely for me! Thanks Em!

    Reply
  5. Phil Harrison

    By gum! This has brought back some memories. I used the V system at work for 15 years. A solid extremely reliable workhorse and it was worked hard. We had 500C’s, 500CM’s, EL’s, SWC’s and many lenses and accessories. You know I hadn’t picked up a Hasselblad for 20 years until recently and it was like riding a bike, remembered how to use it, felt like an old friend. Looking forward to more nostalgia in the following articles.

    Reply
  6. This is superb – good work, Em, very good indeed!

    Reply
  7. @Hasselblad What was the hole in some backs for then?

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. The Hasselblad V-System master guide: film magazines, instant and sheet film backs | EMULSIVE - […] one of this article covered a broad overview of the Hasselblad V-System. This section of the Hasselblad V-System master…
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