The camera that went up to the moon! Hasselblad 120 Medium Format Camera

December 09, 2016

a schematic sketch of a Hasselblad V system photo from Hasselblad.com

A Hasselblad camera or medium format camera is probably the one of the main reasons I kept shooting film. If you ever been to our shop, FilmNeverDie in the city, you have probably seen 2 slides photos that I have taken back in 2011 in Japan, one is 'Night Long Exposure in Osaka' and the other one 'Man in Snow'.

Not to blow my own trumpet but more credit to this half a century old Hasselblad technology itself, the results are no less than breathtaking. (If you are really curious, you can see the two photos here at Gary-Wong.com, the first and the second photos respectively, but I encourage you to see them in person under a light box, the details and the colour rendering of the photo in real life is no digital technology can replicate at the moment).  

These two shots were slides also called transparency or 'tranny', a technology that was widely use back in the days where there was no digital projector. So back then people would shoot transparency or slides and project it out on to a wall to discuss photos. I still remember in my old lecture hall, anyone share my experiences?

Hasselblad is famous for their 6 x 6 cm (square format) shooting format, also called medium format (it is called 'medium format' because it's smaller than a large format, normally categorized by 4 x 5 inches or more, and bigger than a 35mm full frame format).

 

Vicktor Hasselblad and a Hasselblad camera

Arvid Vicktor Hasselblad initially started this photography division to allow individuals to take pictures for free or more importantly to feed his obsession for bird photography. He wanted a system that is modular, a system that is flexible, thus the Hasselblad camera system was born. 

Mamiya Twin Lenx Reflex (TLR) c3 camera 

During this period, 1950s the camera market were populated with Twin Lenx Reflex (TLRs) by the likes of Rolleiflex, Mamiya C-series and Yashica, mostly very rigid fixed lenses that is not very modular and 35mm was still seen as a hobbyist, amateurish format for photography. Undoublty partnering with Carl Ziess optic and with high precision mechanics Hasselblad was able to break into the market and really make a strong stand. It started with its HK7 and Ska4 military camera to the day NASA Apollo-8 carried one of it's 500ELs (V system) camera to the moon until todays digital system Hasselbald as brand and gone through some highs and some lows. 

It was during this golden period of Hasselblad, in particular the V system, we stock the camera in store. Currently we have the 500EL and the 503CX system in stock respectively.

You might ask what the differences are? So the 500 EL is the that is similar to the NASA system that went to the moon, of course with some modification, as they always do in NASA. 

The 500EL comes with a very nice portrait lens the Carl Ziess 150mm F4 Sonnar a bit beaten up and scratches (thus the lower price) but the image quality of the lens is superb. Yes we got this camera in stock :D

 

Hasselblad 500 EL + Carl Ziess 150mm f/4

Earth from space photo by @apollovii_xvii

The 503Cx on the other hand is a new model of the Hasselblad that has Through The Lens (TTL) flash (which is only useful if you use flash) and also comes with a super bright Acute Matte focusing viewfinder screen. It does not comes with a motor wider thus is lighter. The Carl Ziess 50mm F4 Distagon lens is useful for street and mainly landscape. 

Hasselblad 503CX Camera Body Acute Matte D Screen

Manhanttan in Dec 2000 by @argargy

 

If you have not seen these Hasselblad before I highly recommend you to come in and take a look at this amazing piece of equipment even better get it for Christmas present? 

History of Hasselblad

When Arvid Viktor Hasselblad, son of the company’s founder and an avid amateur photographer, established a photographic division within the company he is reported to comment, “I certainly don’t think that we will earn much money on this, but at least it will allow us to take pictures for free.”

Arvid Viktor was soon proved wrong about the area’s potential profitability, and the photographic department became a major part of F.W. Hasselblad & Co. Little could he know where his first tentative steps into camera and film import would eventually lead read more here.

Pinicle of Hasselblad

The camera equipment carried on the Apollo-11 flight was comprehensive. In addition to the usual TV and small-film cameras on board, there was a special camera for near-distance stereoscopic shots of the moon. And of course there were also the cameras which for this articlemare the most important viz., three Hasselblad 500ELs.

Two of the 500ELs were identical to the ones carried on the Apollo-8, -9 and -10 flights. Each had its own Zeiss Planar f-2.8/80 mm lens. A Zeiss Sonnar f-5.6/250mm telephoto lens was also carried. One of the conventional 500ELs, along with the telephoto lens and two extra magazines, was in the Apollo-11 Command Module throughout the flight. The other conventional 500EL, and two extra magazines as well, were placed in the lunar module. Also in the lunar module - and making its first journey in space - was a Hasselblad 500EL Data Camera, which was the one to be used on the moon's surface... read more here

 

References: 

http://www.hasselblad.com/inspiration/our-story/hasselblad-history

https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/a11-hass.html

http://www.hasselbladhistorical.eu/hs/hsbird1.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasselblad#Cameras




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