500 C – 68/99
The Swedish revolution

Posted on

Sweden 1963 – Reflex SLR – 120 film – Infrequent.

Few cameras can claim to be icons of generations more than the Swedish-born Hasselblad 500 C.

With multiple prototypes in the works in 1953, the final Hasselblad 500 C was launched in 1957. Modified throughout the years, the 500 series cameras represent the pinnacle of Victor Hasselblad’s V System.

Hasselblad’s history began with photography enthusiast Victor Hasselblad’s provocative challenge to produce a better, more flexible medium format camera. The resulting Hasselblad V system was a revolutionary open architecture designed to take multiple lenses, magazines, and viewfinders. When it came out, the Hasselblad was a modular Swedish machine which used Kodak, Zeiss and Schneider lenses, in a package that was positively minuscule compared to the large format cameras of the day. 

This revolutionary totally modular approach, which was made possible by placing the shutter in the lens instead of the camera body, is probably one of the most significant camera innovations ever. Every single component of the camera can be stripped out and replaced with something else to suit needs. Over the decades Hasselblad has manufactured dozens of different variants of these parts. And compatibility is exceptional, if not universal. 

It comes at no surprise the Hasselblad immediately took traction among professional photographers and became the absolute reference in the field, leaving little space to sometimes be better designed but less adaptable medium format competitors like the Rolleiflex SL66.  

The list of iconic Hasselblad images is endless, spanning from The Beatles crossing Abbey Road to the iconic portraits of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and multiple celebrities of the Hollywood golden age such as Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, and Elizabeth Taylor. Astronaut Walter Schirra took it with him on the Mercury rocket in 1962, making it the first camera to properly document space

Approximately 77000 bodies of the 500 C were produced between 1957 to 1970. Most of them are still in use today. 

Leave a Reply