The Hasselblad 2000FCW was the third in the legendary Swedish company’s family of 6×6 focal plane shutter cameras. If you want to be able to use all Hasselblad lenses (including 13 lenses that can only be used with this series and its successor), and if you want to be able to use other lenses from different camera systems and formats, this is the Hasselblad you’ve been looking for.
This article, just like the camera, is not all just about that max 1/2000 second top shutter speed or those lens choices. Once you get past the functional descriptions and detail contained below, you’ll find that it’s closer to a love letter to my favourite and most used medium format camera.
This is a long piece and clocks in at over 7,000 words. I reference multiple resources from the Hasselblad V-System Master Guide I created specifically to support this and other V-system articles. You’ll find links to master guide articles dotted throughout this one – I suggest you use them!
This article starts with a quick history and jumps into a detailed look into the camera’s form and function. I also cover lenses (first party and modified) in some detail before getting into my own thoughts and about it and the results you can achieve.
Here’s what I cover:
Table of contents
- 1 Hasselblad 2000 series history
- 2 Mystique, misinformation, magic
- 3 The Hasselblad 2000 family
- 4 The 2000FCW in pictures
- 5 Hasselblad 2000/200 series lenses
- 6 Other hardware, functionality and options
- 7 What’s it like to shoot?
- 8 Getting the most from your 2000 series Hasselblad…
- 9 The bad?
- 10 More Hasselblad 2000FCW photography
- 11 Final thoughts
- 12 Hasselblad 2000 series technical specifications
Before we get into specs and use, let’s jump into a bit of history, circa late-1940’s…
Hasselblad 2000 series history
The history of the 2000 series Hasselblads is deeply intertwined with the company’s very first consumer camera, the Series One (1600F). It was released in 1948 and used a focal plane shutter capable of a top 1/1600 second speed.
Up until the Hasselblad 1600F, Hasselblad had been using lenses from a number of German lens manufacturers including Meyer, Schneider and Zeiss (all during World War II). For the Series One and later Series Two, Hasselblad decided to call on one of their oldest partners, Eastman Kodak, to help provide the new system’s signature Ektar lenses.
Although highly innovative, the focal plane shutter system was technically problematic and the Series One was replaced in 1950 with an improved Series Two 1600F. Two years later, the Series Two 1600F was itself replaced by the 1000F.
Sadly, the shutter mechanism was simply too fragile for the stresses it was being put under in the field and the Series Two 1000F was finally put out to pasture in 1957. Hasselblad was done with focal plane shutter cameras and had decided to move to the simplicity and reliability of in-lens leaf shutters with the partly-brand-new Hasselblad 500C.
It took almost 20 years for the company to return to focal plane shutters. When it did, it was in the form of the 1977 Hasselblad 2000FC, the last new camera produced during Victor Hasselblad’s lifetime.
During their 20+ year production, the 2000 series and its 200 series successors represented the pinnacle of mechanical innovation and optical engineering at both Hasselblad and Zeiss. A number of camera and lens enhancements were first found on these modern focal plane shutter systems: gliding mirrors, motor-winders, improved internal camera coatings and automatically adjusted floating lens element (FLE) lenses to name a few. The exquisite Zeiss Planar F 110mm f/2 is still amongst the fastest production 6×6 lenses at or near this focal length.
Unfortunately, none of this was able to help the Hasselblad’s focal plane cameras in the long run. The collective memory of the 2000 series’ target market was a long one and although there is no direct evidence of higher failure rates amongst the 2000/2000 series cameras, Hasselblad users, like Leica users are very resistant to change.
“Fragile titanium shutters”, “unreliable electronics”, a “diversion from the true Hasselblad” were all reasons to why they should not be bought or trusted. It’s that lack of trust which ultimately killed them off.
As with Leica’s ill-fated M5, “the camera that nearly killed the company”, I find it sad that Hasselblad was not able to innovate through – in my opinion – grumpy and factually incorrect user sentiment but that’s a topic for another discussion.
Mystique, misinformation, magic
Just like the venerable Leica M, there’s a lot of mystique and misinformation about Hasselblad cameras. There’s no denying the quality and workmanship involved in making them, of the attention to detail.
They are well-designed, well-executed tools and at the risk of offending a few readers, I would like to state for the record that there’s nothing magical about a Hasselblad.
Owning one will not imbue you with photographic superpowers and if you’re a bad photographer with a Holga, you’ll likely be a bad photographer with a Hasselblad. What a Hasselblad – the right Hasselblad – can do in the right hands, is become an integral, effortless part of your process.
“…there’s nothing magical about a Hasselblad”
You could apply the Leica equivalent of that wordy statement here; “the camera becomes invisible in your hands” but that’s too simple a description and over-eggs the pudding a bit.
What it means to me is that with my Hasselblad, I don’t have to worry about the reliability or performance of the camera or worry about the quality of the images the lens can produce. After all, a “bad” Zeiss lens is still a great lens by any account. Once you’ve bonded with it, the camera will effortlessly take care of the mechanics and let you focus on the most important part: capturing the world around you.
The Hasselblad 2000 family
My Hasselblad 2000FCW is the 3rd generation in the family and was manufactured in 1986. Those three letters, FCW, tell us it supports:
- Focal plane shutter lenses.
- Compur shutter lenses.
- Dedicated motor Winder.
In real life, this translates to being able to use every single lens ever produced for the Hasselblad V-System (including several which cannot be used with 500 series cameras). If you’re feeling lazy, the camera wind film for you, too.
Here’s how the 2000FCW fits into Hasselblad’s focal plane camera family:
|1977-1981||2000 FC||First Hasselblads with a gliding mirror system. Top shutter speed of 1/2000 sec. Flash Sync at <1/90 sec.|
|1981-1984||2000 FC/M||Switchable automatic shutter curtain retraction when film back is removed.|
|1984-1988||2000 FCW||Improved internals, the first Hasselblad with an auto-winder connection.|
|1988-1991||2003 FCW||New "Palpas" coating to reduce flare (also added to the 503 CX, 553 ELX and 903 SWC).|
I came to the 2000FCW by way of an upgrade from a 2nd generation 2000FCM body about two and a half years ago. Since then, I’ve run close to 200 rolls through it. My reasons for upgrading were simple: it was an improvement on my previous model, a great deal and still serviceable.
It seems that in 2019, most service centres now no longer offer support on many 2000, 200 and 500 series camera bodies or any of the lenses. If you’re a Hasselblad user, I’d appreciate it if you could help me by contacting your local service centre to get a bigger picture of the current state of affairs – drop me a line if you’re interested in helping out.
I’ll be covering small details and differences between the 2000FCW and the other three cameras in the 2000 series as we go through this article. The differences are slight but important – better shutter protection, shooting mode options, timers and coatings.
Let’s get started with a quick tour of the camera.
The 2000FCW in pictures
As with the 500 series, the 2000FCW is a simple aluminium cube finished in chrome and leather and on the face of things, looks just like any other mechanical Hasselblad 500. Here’s a side by side comparison of the 2000FCW and a 500CM.
Pretty much identical, right.
The two camera bodies in the above configurations can share film magazines, Waist Level Finders and focusing screens. Only their lenses cannot be completely swapped – the 2000 series can use the 80mm Planar C from the 500 series but not vice versa.
The front of the 2000FCW is naturally dominated by the lens mount, underneath which, you’ll find the shutter release button with a standard cable release thread (left) and the lens release (right).
The biggest difference between the 500 series surrounds the mount. This toothed ring is the shutter speed selector dial and when looking down on the camera, shows a range of full-stop speeds from 1/2000 second to 1 second, a Bulb mode and a “C” lens mode.
Half-stop shutter speeds such as 1/375, 1/750 and 1/1500 are not marked but can be selected and used. It is also possible to set half-stop apertures on F and FE lenses.
Although quite shallow at ~4mm deep, the presence of the shutter speed dial means that 2000 series Hasselblads cannot use the shortest (10mm) macro extension ring. It’s not a big deal.
No surprises inside the mouth of the camera. You have a shutter cocking mechanism and lens shutter trigger pin (bottom center), the mirror (locked up in the below picture) and of course, flocking to ensure light tightness.
As with many Hasselblads of this era, the flocking has a habit of cracking into crazy paving as it ages. You may get residue on your fingers if you rub it and it can be replaced but unless it starts coming off, it won’t present any issues with light tightness.
The 4th generation 2000 series body – the 2003FCW – uses Hasselblad’s improved Palpas internal coatings. It’s slightly more resilient to ageing but still “crazes” given time.
Looking at the right-hand side of the camera (as the lens is pointed away from you in normal use) you will just about see a red arrow on the shutter speed dial. This points to the EV numbers found on all Hasselblad lenses. It’s a very useful touch and I’ll get into later.
In the center you’ll see the film advance crank and below it, a mirror lock-up (MLU) switch. To flip the mirror up, pull the switch back after the shutter is cocked – useful for long exposures.
If you have a 2003FCW, you will also find a self-timer switch located here.
The film crank can be removed to make way for the motor winder attachment and holds a little surprise. Flip out the handle and you’ll find a small button with an off-center red dot. The dot points to one of three numbers, 0, 1 or 2. These relate to three selectable shooting/mirror modes, which I talk about further down.
The mode dial also has a secondary purpose as a button: you can use it to re-cock the shutter and if you wish, capture multiple exposures. I’ll come back to the mirror modes, re-cocking the shutter and the motor winder attachment a bit later on.
Towards the rear of this side, you will find one of two strap lugs and underneath that, you’ll see the camera status indicator. This little window shows white when the shutter is cocked and ready to fire or red/orange if the shutter has been fired and needs to be cocked.
Many people believe this to be an important feature of the 500 series and lamented its loss in the 501CM. I considered it to be a big-ish deal until realising that in my first couple of years using the camera, I had checked the window maybe once or twice.
With the film magazine removed, you’ll see the huge, electronically controlled, battery-powered double curtain titanium shutter dominating the rear of the body. I’ve tested mine to be accurate to within a tolerance of ±1/10th of a stop for every speed – not bad for a camera made in 1986.
Below it is the camera’s serial number (smudged out here) and above it (to the top left) is a little metal trigger pin. This is the shutter curtain protection mechanism. If you try to remove the film magazine with the shutter cocked, the switch will detect the change and automatically retract the shutter into the body.
Note that this doesn’t work if there’s no battery in the camera, or if the shutter has already been fired but it’s useful to have all the same.
You’ll notice that my shutter isn’t exactly in perfect condition but it is light-tight and the creases do not affect operation in any way.
On the sparse left-hand side of the body, you will find a non-locking PC-sync socket for flash connections (top-left), a standard Hasselblad accessory rail and model number plate (center), a lock for the shutter speed selector dial (shown below in both positions), a battery compartment and the second strap lug.
The battery compartment houses a single 4LR44 (476A) 6V battery. It’s the same type as used by the Pentax 6×7/67 and some other cameras of the era. A fresh battery is rated to work for around 20,000 shutter actuations but Hasselblad recommends replacing the battery once a year.
To put that into context, that’s over 1650 rolls of 6×6 exposed 120 film. If you wanted to shoot that much film in a year, you’d be shooting 4.5 rolls of 6×6 120 film per day every day. I have so far replaced the battery on this camera twice, although both occasions stemmed from paranoia and not a lack of juice.
A nice little accessory from Hasselblad is the “60x multiplier” (not pictured). It’s a standard battery compartment paired with some simple electronics that (as the name suggests) multiply the shutter speeds by 60. This means that instead of working with shutter speeds running from 1 second down to 1/2000th of a second, your camera will now fire from 60 seconds down to 1/30 of a second…mad but useful for long exposures.
It’s worth pointing out that with the battery removed, the 2000FCW can be used in the same fashion as a purely mechanical 500 series camera. Set the shutter speed dial to “C” and the shutter curtain will act in the same way as the baffles/barn doors on a 500 series Hasselblad.
The bottom of the camera has but one purpose: mating the camera to a tripod. You can do this by using a 3/8″ tripod thread (or 3/8″ – 1/4″ adapter), or by sliding the specially designed “foot” onto a Hasselblad quick release plate.
The top of the camera is where the focus screen and finder mount live and it’s from here that you can see the shutter speeds when using the camera.
Hasselblad’s Acute Matte and later Acute Matte D focus screens were made for the company by Minolta. The standard screen that comes with the 2000FCW is good enough for everyday use with the Planar F 80mm f/2.8 kit lens. That being the case, to get the most from any Hasselblad, a screen upgrade is an ABSOLUTE MUST, as it will change the way you use the camera. I’ll come back to this a little later on.
That’s it for the body. Let’s take a very quick dive into the 2000 series lens system.
Hasselblad 2000/200 series lenses
As noted in my Hasselblad master system lens guides, the V-mount lens system is comprised of ten generations of lenses. All but two were made for Hasselblad by Zeiss, with Schneider providing two generations of a zoom lens based on the same design used by the Rollei SLX and 6000 cameras.
In chronological order, the V-mount lens generations are:
|C||1959-1974||Compur lens (single coated).|
|C T*||1974-1979||Compur lens (multicoated).|
|F||1977-1991||Focal plane shutter support.|
|CF||1980-1989||Prontor lens. Focal plane shutter support.|
|CF FLE||1990-1998||Prontor lens. Focal plane shutter support. Floating Lens Element.|
|CF IHI||1990-1998?||With and without Prontor lens.|
|FE||1994-1998||Focal plane shutter support. Electronic databus.|
|CB||1996-2006||Prontor lens. Basic lens type.|
|CFi||1998-2013||Prontor lens. Focal plane shutter support. Improved design.|
|CFE||1997-2006||Prontor lens. Focal plane shutter support. Electronic databus.|
|ZV||2008-2013||Prontor lens. Focal plane shutter support.|
Note: C and C T* lenses are separated into two generations for clarity. They are in fact the same lenses and with and without Zeiss’ T* multi-coating. All lenses made by Zeiss for Hasselblad after 1977 were given the T* coating.
All Hasselblad V-mount lenses can be used on the Hasselblad 2000FCW. The F and FE lenses are shutterless and were designed specifically for the 2000 and/or 200 series cameras. They cannot be used with 500 series bodies unless the camera is being used in bulb mode.
These lenses typically focus closer and benefit from wider maximum apertures than other generations. With the exception of the Planar F 80mm f/2.8, which is identical to the Planar CF 80mm f/2.8, F and FE lenses are optically distinct from their equivalent in-lens-shutter siblings.
Non-F/FE V-mount lenses can be used in one of two ways: with the camera’s focal plane shutter when set to their bulb or “F” mode, or with their leaf shutter by switching the camera’s shutter speed dial to “C” lens mode (see below).
A complete list of focal plane shutter F and FE lenses follows:
Zeiss V-System F and FE lenses
|Manufacturer||Name||Focal Length||Max Aperture||Lens Designation|
|Manufacturer||Name||Focal Length||Max Aperture||Lens Designation|
Adapting lenses to the 2000 series
The camera’s focal plane shutter means that users of the 2000 series are not limited to just V-system Zeiss (or Schneider) lenses. In fact, almost any lens with a flange focal distance close to 74.90mm can be adapted to the V-system and used with these cameras (no Pentax 67 glass, I’m afraid but you can mod those cameras to use V-system lenses).
The most obvious lenses to convert are those from the older Hasselblad Series One and Two 1000F and 1600F (82.10mm FFD) and Pentacon Six (74.90mm FFD). I have yet to try the former but converted a Pentacon Six mount Zodiak-B 30mm f/3.5 fisheye to V-mount some years ago (see mages below).
Considering the prices of C and CF Zeiss fisheye lenses, and their admitted limited use, it was a great investment for a lens that I already had and use two or three times a year.
If that doesn’t sound adventurous enough, you can go one step up and adapt large format lenses for use on the 2000 series.
Through the use of readily available and inexpensive components (a bare mount and helicoid assembly), almost any large format lens with a back focus distance over 74.90mm can be used.
For heavier and longer large format lenses, such as the Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm f/2.5 I use on my AEROgraphic, it’s possible to use Hasselblad’s Automatic Macro Bellows Extension.
In short, the sky and your imagination are the limit.
Other hardware, functionality and options
Focus screens and prisms
The most basic (and pleasurable) way of focusing with a Hasselblad is by looking down onto its huge focusing screen through a Waist Level Finder (WLF). The finder provides shade against light and comes equipped with a flip-up magnifier but it doesn’t “fix” the left-is-right inverted image you’ll be presented with.
Open the WLF and look down at the screen and focus the lens to bring your subject into sharp relief. I find looking at the screen from a distance of about 30-60cm (1-2ft) works best for general/critical focus but if you want to be absolutely sure, you can nail focus by flipping up the magnifier and bringing it up to your eye (or moving your eye down to it).
Focus screens come with a number of types and with or without focusing aides. The most basic is the simple crosshair matte screen. The image gets sharper as you approach critical focus. Other screens have sections with microprisms embedded in them, which go from fuzzy to crystal clear.
The best (for me at least), are screens with Fresnels (aka “split image rangefinders). Bring the two halves of the subject together and you’re set.
I’m currently preferring using the “42170 Acute Matte Split Image Grid” (shown above) and “42210 Acute-Matte D 203 (Standard)” screens. They offer a view that is at least twice as bright to my eye than the standard one that came with the camera and the 42170 specifically has a horizontal split image Fresnel and both horizontal and vertical gridlines – great for squaring off images.
I drew up the two images below to better illustrate the fine markings on the screens:
There are many, many focusing screens out there either sold by Hasselblad (and made by Minolta), or by third parties such as Rick Olsen, Maxwell and ARAX. Alternate screens start as low as $35, although prices can go upwards of $300 for a more desirable first-party option.
Some photographers may feel nauseated when first using cameras with a WLF or Chimney finder. The inverted image doesn’t take much getting used to and will eventually become second nature to most. That said, if it’s a huge deal breaker and you still want to shoot with the best 6×6 medium format system ever devised, a bunch of first-party metered and unmetered 45° and 90° prisms exist. A decent prism finder needn’t break the bank though, Kiev 88/88CM prisms all work with the Hasselblad V-system for a fraction of the price.
Speaking of Kiev, there are some purists out there who will wretch or some other nonsense at the thought of using this combination. It works perfectly and unlike first-party Hasselblad prism finders, the Ukrainian metered prisms can be easily recalibrated by even the least technically-inclined photographer.
I understand the desire to stick to first-party accessories but no-one should ever be ridiculed or taunted for using a perfectly working solution just because it doesn’t come with the “right” logo. If it works, it works.
Film magazines, use of…
With the exception of certain Polaroid film magazines, every other Hasselblad film magazine ever produced can be used with the 2000 series Hasselblads. You’ll find a great amount of detail about Hasselblad film magazines in my exhaustive guide.
Mirror modes, multiple exposures, motor winders
Flip up the film winding crank and you’ll see the small dial the off-center red dot I mentioned earlier.
The dot will be pointing to one of three numbers embossed on the inside of the crank, 0, 1 or 2. These relate to the following mirror modes:
- 0: The mirror remains locked up at all times.
- 1: The mirror stays locked up after shutter release and only returns after the shutter has been cocked by the user (emulating the 500 series behaviour).
- 2: The mirror flips up on shutter release and returns immediately after the shutter has closed.
I keep mine set to “2” because I like the sound it makes…and because it’s easier to see if something of interest comes into the frame after I’ve made an exposure.
You set the modes by removing the film winding crank and turning that red dot dial. Above the crank is a red dot on the body. It points to one of two markings and a little bit behind these is a small metal switch. Push this down and turn the crack counter-clockwise about 30 degrees to release it from the body.
You’ll see some electrical contacts for the winder, ignore them. Pull on the red dot dial and turn it clockwise/counter-clockwise to set it to 0, 1 or 2. Reinstall the crank.
Finally, the red dot dial can also be used to re-cock the shutter after the camera’s shutter safety mechanism has triggered, or to make intentional multiple exposures. With the winding crank installed, simply press it in towards the and wind the crank through 360°. You’ll hear a “ping” and although the film won’t advance, the shutter will be recocked.
The 2000FCW and later 2003FCW can both make use of the Hasselblad Winder 44067 for a whopping 1.3fps advance. To install it, follow the same procedure detailed above to remove the winding crank and attach the winder instead.
I owned one for a short time but found the weight to be problematic – the winder needs 5xAA batteries and results in the strap lug being offset. I was also paranoid that the winder would go mad one day and trigger itself.
What’s it like to shoot?
In a word, wonderful.
The 2000FCW is hands down the best medium format SLR I’ve ever used and probably my favourite medium format camera of all time.
Allow me to rewind…
I know I’m not alone in considering my cameras as companions and have in the past sold perfectly good cameras because we simply didn’t gel (a nod to my first Nikon FM3A). Cameras have different characters and personalities. Some can adapt to the needs of the photographer but most require a little compromise, as they prefer to be shot in certain ways.
“will the camera help or hinder my photographic objective?”
From that photographic companionship perspective, I’ve never quite managed to develop the same affinity with another medium format SLR that I have with my 2000 series cameras. Case in point, I sold my much loved but rarely used Mamiya C330F kit just a few weeks ago because it hadn’t been out of my dry cabinets for over a year.
We often talk about the photographer and not the camera as the most important part of the photography equation. That’s a little too black and white for me, so I respectfully disagree. I work in use cases and if I’m going out to shoot for a specific purpose, I will always ask myself, “will the camera help or hinder my photographic objective?” To me, a positive answer to that question is a huge component of the final result.
Sometimes I’m happy for a bit of a hindrance – the challenge is fun – but for the most part, if I want to do a specific thing (and I’m not testing new gear), I’ll walk myself through that process.
These photography-specific outings are few and far between, so my gear’s performance against my visualisation is crucial to me when the opportunity arises. For my more opportunistic photography (which is the vast majority of it), I’ll play around with different cameras and experiment to find a mode of thought and use that fits. Even then, I mostly prefer a device that will directly translate my visualisation into reality. The Hasselblad does that perfectly.
If I want to engage in a bit of creative photography the Hasselblad normally isn’t the camera I pick up but with extension tubes, teleconverters, close-up lenses, macro bellows and large format lens adaptations, it’s definitely moving up that list.
“Performance against my visualisation is crucial.”
When out and about in the field, it’s surprising how small and comparatively light the 2000FCW is. The name Hasselblad conjures up images of large, bulky cameras. It isn’t a physically dominating camera but it’s not a lightweight beast. By comparison to a few other manual medium format and 35mm cameras:
- Hasselblad 2000FCW body and A12 film magazine + Zeiss Planar F 80mm f/2.8: 1,632g
- Leica M6 TTL 0.85 + Tele-Elmarit-M 90mm f/2.8: 825g
- Mamiya C330F + Mamiya Sekor-S 80mm f/2.8: 1,730g
- Mamiya 645 Super + Mamiya-Sekor C 80mm f/2.8: 1115g
- Nikon FT3 + Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 AI-S: 1,315g
- Nikon F2 + Nikkor 28mm f/2 AI-S: 1,195g
Not that different.
Tangent – straps: For what it’s worth but a decent strap will come in handy and considering their age and various horror stories, I refuse to use first-party Hasselblad straps. After quite a bit of searching, I was recommended to try OP/TECH USA’s Super Pro modular strap system by a friend. I now use them for all my medium format gear. They do a great job of reducing apparent weight on longer trips.
Back to the camera. The form factor is pretty damned close to perfect for me. As unergonomic as a rounded cube of aluminium might sound, with a lens and film magazine mounted, it has a size, heft and balance that sits well in the hand without being too much. It’s clean and devoid of extraneous buttons or dials that need to be tweaked and checked before “the decisive moment”.
As standard, the F and FE 2000 series lenses use the same black rubber grips and follow the basic ergonomic design of the CF series Hasselblad lenses. None of that painful and finicky scalloped bare metal you have with the older C lenses.
Even with the standard focusing screen and Waist Level Finder equipped, subjects quickly come into sharp relief and the lens will focus down to about 60cm/2ft.
The F/FE lenses are also closer in ergonomics to 35mm SLR lenses – Nikons, at least. The aperture ring sits next to the lens mount and the focus ring in front of that. This is due to the aperture/shutter interlock system and EV numbers I mentioned previously.
To use it, dial in your exposure using either an aperture/shutter combination or EV number. Let’s say f/5.6 + 1/500 (EV 14). If you want to change your aperture or shutter speed but keep the same Exposure Value, simply push down the interlock button on the aperture dial and twist it left or right. In the picture above, you can see the button circled above in red.
You might use this to bracket a shot at a different aperture, or if you simply change your mind before pressing the shutter button.
A tangibly different Hasselblad experience
Even though these cameras are literally cut from the same cloth as the 500 series, 2000 series bodies are very different beasts in actual use. My three cents:
Cent one, you simply cannot underestimate the freedom the extra two stops of shutter speed the camera gives you – 1/2000 second vs 1/500. It is a huge advantage for photographers like me who prefer shooting wide open – or as close as possible to it. I’ve always found the usual 500 series user’s defence of “I use ND filters, slow film or just stop down until I can use my 1/500th” a little trite but then again, the vast majority of Hasselblad users seem to use their cameras (literally) in the field, capturing landscape after landscape after landscape.
That’s not the way I use mine.
Cent two, I have a fundamental dislike of the way the 500 series shutter/baffle system works and feels. With the 2000FCW you simple press and let go of the shutter button to activate it (it opens and closes by itself much in the same way a 35mm camera does).
The 500 series requires you to press and hold the shutter button to trigger the leaf shutter and open the baffle at the back of the camera body. You must keep it held down until the shutter has finished cycling because although the shutter will continue to cycle without your help, you need to hold the baffle open until it’s done.
The 500 series does have a lock of sorts for picky people like me but in use I found it to be more of a hindrance. It’s a small niggle, almost inconsequential you might think, but for me was a big turn off. Perhaps I was being too picky when choosing between the two but it certainly feels “faster” in use.
Cent three, you can use: Every single Zeiss V-system lens, convert lenses from the Pentacon 6 system/other medium format system AND adapt large format and lenses which have similar flange focal distance. This opens up a huge world of possibilities and is something I covered in brief above.
Split personality shooter?
The way the 2000FCW effortlessly adapts to the photographer’s needs boils down to solid design and ergonomics. It is not some form of latent transforming robot, although it may feel like that at times.
On the one hand, the 2000FCW is a slow, process driven camera which demands methodical and considerate use from its owner. On the other, it will devour film with wild abandon. Shoot, wind-on, shoot, wind-on.
With the standard 12 exposure 120 film magazine, one can easily finish a roll in minutes and still know that each frame will be in focus – good composition at that pace is not guaranteed if you’re new to the square format but even at this pace you can easily get half or more of a roll of keepers with a few rolls under your belt.
It’s not a machine designed for run-and-gun photography in the common street photography sense, although I find my 2000FCW to be faster to use on the street than any manual medium format camera I’ve used before.
That’s not to say that it will be the same for you. In order to get the most out of the system, you do need to invest some time, money and thought. For quick-focus-quick-fire photography or if you plan on using longer, slower lenses, having a bright focus screen is a must.
The sound of the 2000FCW
Sound and touch are a huge part of the affinity I mention in the previous section. Regardless of your pace and subject, the 2000FCW punctuates each step of your photography with the satisfying song of clicks, clunks, zips, slaps, whooshes and whirrs.
With extended use, you’ll begin to associate and anticipate the distinct notes of that song as the sign of a job well planned and well done.
Hyperbole? A little, perhaps but it’s honestly the way I feel.
De-cap the lens (click), open the finder (shhht-clunk), flip the magnifier (tick), focus (silent), set aperture (click), set shutter (click), fire (whoosh-slap), wind-on (zzzzzip-clunk), repeat.
With the camera hanging from your shoulder, you’ll complete the first three steps as you bring it up from your side – it’s an act of preparation that you’ll soon complete like an automaton.
Perhaps this will do a better job:
Getting the most from your 2000 series Hasselblad…
…or any camera, in fact.
For me, my Hasselblad is an everyday carry camera. Understanding and accepting the way I typically shoot helped me to play to its strengths and improve my photography.
Over the years I’ve built out formalised and informal processes to help me get as much efficiency out of the system (I need it). Here are a few quick examples which might help you:
Example 1: I’m shooting on the street (people/mid-distance photography). I’ll set the lens to a hyperfocal distance somewhere between 4-8m for my preferred aperture (normally f/2.8 or f/4). When something/someone comes into a mental range, I lift the camera up, flip the WLF open, make a small focus adjustment and fire. Wind on, drop the camera to my side and close the WLF. Next. All this assuming that I have a meter reading or Sunny 16 guestimate in my head. I am of course, much more careful with slide film.
Example 2: I’m shooting detail (grunge, grime, detritus). I’ll set the lens to a distance of about 1m/3.5ft and f/2.8. I like extreme subject isolation and textures shot close up and wide open, so when I see something, I’ll get close and shoot. If I need to get closer, my Planar F 80mm f/2.8 will focus down to about 60cm / 2ft. Setting the lens at 1m in the first instance helps me to remember to move closer.
Example 3: I’m shooting landscape/architecture. I’ll set the lens to f/11 or f/16 and use a hyperfocal distance that ends at infinity. Everything else is slow and methodical – levelling the camera (handheld or on a tripod), taking a careful set of meter readings to place my shadows and then shooting. As you might expect, I take more care in these situations.
None of this is new but I did want to make the point of the 2000FCW as not-just-another-landscape-queen.
From the fanboy levels of positivity oozing from this page, you would be forgiven for thinking the camera has no faults. There are a few, although be warned that I am well down the road of splitting hairs. For example, I would ask for shutter button lock of some kind but really that’s only because I’m an occasionally clumsy so and so.
Here’s how: if I’m going out with only a single film magazine I don’t use the dark slide. It’s permanently out and kept in a 3rd party holder on the back of the film magazine. Because of this, I’ll sometimes accidentally press the shutter button (yes, I’m an idiot) but with the lens cap on and the ability to re-cock the shutter without needing to advance film, it’s no biggie.
By far the largest criticism of the 2000 series has been those big titanium shutters and how (apparently) easy it is to put your fingers through them.
I’m almost certain this kind of damage to 2000 series shutters was mostly caused by curious photographers (GIF below semi-related) but still, the issue was enough to get the attention of Hasselblad…
The first 2000 series camera, the 2000FC, had no mechanism in place to provide protection against clumsiness/curiosity. The second (2000FCM) added a switchable trigger, which allowed you to enable or disable the shutter retraction system discussed in the “in pictures” section above. The 2000FCW and it’s successor the 2003FCW kept the trigger but removed the switch.
By itself, this mechanism is a good enough solution to potential accidents but Hasselblad owners are as picky as Leica owners and with the release of the 200 series, the titanium shutters were replaced by rubberised cloth (something the Kiev 88CM had been employing for years). It’s still possible to “upgrade” a 2000 series shutter to rubberised cloth if you happen to know a repair facility.
As far as other issues go, the internal coatings have a habit of ending uploading like crazy paving (but typically won’t affect the light-tightness of the camera). After 30+ years, the leather covering has a habit of shrinking here and there. Er… the black coating on the “foot” of the camera (where the tripod quick release plate engages with the camera body) scratches off easily. Oh, and I have no idea why Zeiss only printed and not engraved the lens markings.
That’s all I can think of.
More Hasselblad 2000FCW photography
There’s not much more to say and I don’t want to repeat myself so I’ll keep this very short.
What the 2000FCW does, it does exceptionally well and in my opinion, provides a shooter’s experience that is superior to its more successful 500 series brethren. Remove the battery and you have a fully manual 500 series camera. Put the battery back in and you can shoot all, not just a subset of those amazing lenses at up to 1/2000 of a second.
You can also use nearly every single accessory ever made for the V-system and while is doesn’t have the relative silence of the (unmotorised) 500 series cameras and their leaf shutter lenses, it has a personality that’s hard to find fault with.
If you’re in the market for one of these cameras, I believe your best starting point is the 2000FCM (2nd generation) but if you happen to snag a deal on any version with a shutter in sound physical condition (sub-US$350), take it.
For a demanding medium format photographer, the best of both leaf and focal plane shutter worlds.
Thanks for reading,
Ps. I’d like to give a tip of the hat to Erik Gould for reminding me of the importance of structure. Without him, you’d have given up three paragraphs in.
Hasselblad 2000 series technical specifications
|Camera name||Hasselblad 2000FCW|
|Camera type||Single Lens Reflex|
|Format||120 / 220 rollfilm, 70mm reel, pack film.|
|Image format||6x6, 6x4.5, 4.5x6, 4x4|
|Manufacturer||Victor Hasselblad AB|
|Manufacture dates||2000FC - 1977-1981
2000FCM - 1981-1984
2000FCW - 1984-1988
2003FCW - 1988-1991
|Viewfinder coverage||Waist Level Finer: 100%
PM45 Prism: 96%
B, 1 sec - 1/2000 sec (with 60x multiplier: 60 sec - 33 sec)
With no batteries, camera defaults to 1/90 sec or can be set to "C" mode
2000FCM onwards, camera allows C/B mode use for C/CF/CFI/CFE Lenses
|Lenses||Zeiss C/CB/CF/F/FE/CFI/CFE lenses range from 30mm fisheye to 350mm
Any other lens capable of being adapted to the camera's 74.90mm flange focal distance
|Accessories||Metered and unmetered prism finders (40 and 90 degree)
2x Waist level finder (with optional diopter adjustment)
Focusing chimney finder
1.4x and 2x teleconverters
16 / 32 / 56mm extension tubes
6x6, 6x4.5, 4.5x6 and 4x4 film backs
120/220/70mm/pack film options
Accessory level spirit level
Accessory level cold shoe
Left handed grip
|Metering||EV 4 - 19
ASA 6 - 6400
(with metered prism)
|Flash||X-Sync PC connection to 1/90 sec (focal plane)
X-Sync PC connection to 1/500 sec (C/CF/CFI/CFE lens)
|Power||1x LR44 (6v) battery|
|Weight||Body only: 729g
Body + A12: 1173g
Body with 80mm: 1,632g
170mm x 109mm x 104mm
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