I always keep my eye on the Twitter feed of London Camera Exchange secondhand as some amazing bargains crop up from time to time, usually at weekends when most trades-ins happen.
Such was the case a few weeks back when a 1966 Hasselblad 500C camera with the standard Carl Zeiss 80mm f2.8 Planar lens and waist level finder popped up at what seemed a ‘too good to be true’ price and a quick call to Phil at LCE Bath secured the deal. A couple of days later the box arrived and I noticed that the lens had ‘A&AEE’ etched onto it, so at some stage it had been used by the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, possibly for aerial photography?
I loaded a roll of Kodak Ektar ISO100 film into the A12 back and although it was getting late in the day, nipped out into the New Forest to see how the 500C performed, using the ‘Light Meter’ app on my iPhone to measure the exposure value (EV). The 500C features an interlock between the shutter speed and aperture rings so once the EV has been selected on the lens the exposure is set, 1 second at f8 in this case. Although I have used many medium format cameras over the years including Bronicas, Mamiyas, Rolleiflexes and Yashica Mats this was my first experience of a ‘blad and what a mechanical masterpiece it is. Made in Sweden by Victor Hasselblad AB there is nothing remotely IKEA about this! The reversed image on the ground glass takes a bit of getting used to but really got me thinking about composition and what to include and exclude from the frame. The 12 shots went all too quickly and the following day I had chance to put another roll of film through the camera during a workshop on the Dorset and Wiltshire border in mostly bright sunny conditions.
Sadly once I had the films developed and scanned it was apparent that there was a light leak between the camera body and the A12 back. Closer inspection revealed that the film ‘gate’ on the camera body was worn from years of having the film back ‘scraped’ on rather than locating on the bottom hinges and lifting into place. Easy to say now of course but when the pressure is on during a job, and with only 12 frames on a roll of film, time is of the essence when changing the back.
The camera was supplied with a full 6 month guarantee and I would happily have had it repaired but wear to the main camera body seemed a tricky one so I opted to send it back to LCE for a full refund. A shame as it was a lovely camera and a joy to use but no use with a light leak. Phil at LCE Bath sorted the refund in a couple of days and if you are looking to purchase used items I would thoroughly recommend the London Camera Exchange stores, most of the time their prices are cheaper than eBay and supplied with a full guarantee. The huge secondhand list from all LCE branches can be found here.
I am now on the lookout for another Hasselblad 500C, 500C/M or 503CX.
Here is a selection of images (some where the light leak is clearly evident) made during my all too brief time with the 500C;