5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Hasselblad 503CX – By James Greenoff

I’ll admit it. I repurpose content from my blog into 5 Frames posts for 35mmc. That’s what this post was going to be, a reworking of a recent post about my Hasselblad. While drafting it I was struck by how often I write about the camera I just bought, or the film I just tried out.

As photographers we are drawn to the new and the novel. The gear-head inside me is always hunting for the next perfect thing. It makes sense then that the current adventure/enquiry/post is always about the most recent addition to one’s batterie de cuisine.

2014 – Single Poppy – Normandy – Portra 160

Blogs are supposed to be about now, so this is a break from tradition. It is not the post about how I took my Hasselblad to a racetrack, or how I got on when I shot slide film in a half-frame camera, (I haven’t done this yet, I’m tempted). This is the antithesis of those posts, this is a long-term, (if not long form), test. A post from the back-of-the-magazine, the post that I never write.

2015 – Chiostro Del Bramante – Rome – Portra 400

The Camera

I bought it in 2013, and it quickly established itself as a keeper. In that time it has seen flurries of activity and patches of indolent spectatorship, the latter as I’ve wrestled with newer arrivals.

I bought it with the classic 80mm f/2.8, a waist-level finder (WLF), and an A12 back. My intention was to keep it that way, but my resolve failed me very quickly. While I’ve made some significant missteps in my curation the collection has now stabilised. It is (at time of going to print), a three lens set up, (50mm, 80mm, 120mm) a few finders, one of them metered, and a few backs.

The things that draw me back to the Hasselblad are the taughtness of operation, the sound it makes, and of course, the image quality. I’ll catch sight of something made with it, either on the wall or in Lightroom and instantly wish I shot the damn thing more often.

2016 – Scrap – Deruta – Portra 400

I love the unabashed square format, and Hasselblad’s own argument for it. (Square crops portrait, crops landscape, and looks good square).

I love the resolving power, even an 800 asa film can withstand a meaty crop and I love that at 25 years old my camera is still taught, smooth and beautiful.

In comparison to other cameras I’ve owned, the Hasselblad was easy to get results with quickly, feeling understandable and easy to use. That said it has at times proved an unhealthy relationship. I took it to #lndwlk a few years ago and was one of the few medium-format shooters and the only Blad. In the interests of keeping things compact I eschewed a prism finder and missed focus more than once trying to run and gun with the WLF.

2017 – Lou – Stroud – Portra 400

The Images

The images I’ve selected for this post are each taken from a year of ownership and are presented in chronological order. They serve as a hint at this camera’s legacy, a granular presentation of a larger catalogue of images that has been hard to choose from, and probably does not do the camera justice.

I’ve added a few cameras to my collection over the years. Some I’ve sold, some I’ve given away and the ones I love the most, (or have bought most recently) remain. There will come a time when all the other cameras are gone and only this one remains. You might not have the same experience, you might hate the weight, the bulk, the inability to remain inconspicuous, but even if it’s only briefly, I say if you can; do.

2018 – Todi at Dawn – Umbria – Portra 400

Rockwell Moment

I got my Hasselblad 503CX  from London Camera Exchange in Worcester, it’s a shop I work in from time to time and it has an ever-evolving collection of film cameras and lenses which you can view here

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  • Avatar
    September 14, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Magnificent photographs, thank you for sharing them.

  • Avatar
    September 14, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    James great article. Although I read all the 5 frames posts on 35mmc I don’t usually comment on them as lately the images to me, anyway, are just run of the mill stuff (apart from Hamish’s and a few others work) but your photographs are real quality. The camera plays its part of course but you are the talent behind it (or above it with the WLF!)

  • Avatar
    September 15, 2019 at 7:35 am

    Really nice shots and I like how they are all very different from each other. The poppy ‘field’ shot is just lovely.

  • Avatar
    September 15, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Lovely pictures, which I suspect are in large part a reflection of your photographic skills.

  • Avatar
    Sergio Palazzi
    September 15, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    very fine the poppy and the panorama

  • Avatar
    JKeith Lockwood
    September 15, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    A Masterclass of Square Format composition. Framing, and not cropping the 6×6, takes great effort. These images are all excellent examples. I should know. I used Hasselblad V-Series commercially for many years.

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