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Hasselblad Lens Guide

For Hasselblad 500C, CM, CX, CW and EL cameras

Side view of Hasselblad 500CM medium format camera

When I set out to purchase my first Hasselblad film camera, I only knew three things about the brand; they took this camera to the moon, modern digital versions are more expensive than my car, and they may be the best film cameras ever made with some of the sharpest glass known to man. Even after 30-40 years and the mass abandonment of film these cameras still come with a luxury level price tag, so in a futile attempt to be a somewhat disciplined budget-conscious amateur photographer I realized I'd have to choose my purchase wisely. I easily narrowed my body search down to the 500 C or CM, as this was the simplest, most popular, and reliable option. After choosing a body, I realized the difficult part would be deciding which lens to buy. 

Hasselblad Vsystem 500CM with 80mm lens

With approximately 50 different lenses to choose from, 15 different focal lengths, and 4 lens variations, it can easily become overwhelming to make a decision. There is a wealth of technical information on the internet, as well as opinions galore, but what I really wanted to know was which lens would be right for me, my budget, and my style of shooting. This review is meant to be a starting place for someone who is new to Hasselblad and trying to decide on which lens to buy. I will try and pick out some important information that I wish I had known prior to starting my search. I will also try to avoid getting bogged down in technical details. To see the photos from my lens comparison test (80mm C, 50mm CF, and 150mm CF) you can jump to the results here.


Lens Models:

C, CF, CB, CFE, & CFi 

Lens Models

The C in the lens model designates that it has a leaf shutter built into the lens and is the one you are looking for if you are purchasing or own a 500 series V-System Hasselblad camera. The F in CF models indicates that the lens is compatible with focal plane shutter bodies such as the Hasselblad 2000FC, but the lenses for those cameras are never compatible with the 500 V system so avoid any lens that has a F, FE, or FLE only designation. 

This article will primarily focus on C and CF style lenses as they are the most commonly found, cost effective, and best suited for today's average film photographer. Before moving on, I will briefly touch on the CB, CFi, and CFE lens models. 


From 1996 to 2006 Hasselblad created a slightly redesigned, cheaper kit lens for the 501C & CM bodies. The intention was to attract new users to the Hasselblad system by reducing the price to a range more people could afford. Along with the 80mm CB kit lens they also produced a 60mm and 160mm CB style lens. Hasselblad literature states that this lens has improved ergonomics on the setting rings, more precision in focusing, and a more durable camera connection bayonet.  People on the internet disparage this lens as a cheapening of the Hasselblad brand and quality, particularly becuase of its 'plasticy' appearance, and optical redesign with the elimination of a lens element. This may or may not have an effect on image quality. I have never used one, so I cannot say either way. I would recommend avoiding these lenses simply because they tend to be extremely overpriced online. This is most likely due to their new age and therefore better condition, but the market is flooded with these things and a quick view of the previously sold page on eBay reflects that the price way more than it should be. People are asking $500-$1500 (sometimes twice as much as their C and CF counterparts) and for example, only one or two 80mm CB lenses are being purchased per month compared to the 40 or so 80mm C and CF lenses being sold. 


From 1998 to 2013 Hasselblad released an improved ('i') version of its CF lens lineup.  There are CFi/CFE versions for all their focal lengths with the exception of the 105mm UV lens and the 500mm telephoto. Optically speaking, the number of elements and design are the same as the older models. Improvements listed in the Hasselblad  literature  include:

cfi and cfe lenses.PNG
  • New anti-reflective coatings

  • Improved main shutter spring for longer life and better precision.

  • PC-socket with positive lock

  • Redesigned focusing mechanism

  • Reinforced rear bayonet

  • New front bayonet made of 'non metallic material' (plastic?)

  • More comfortable external design

The CFi lenses cost a bit more than their C and CF brethren, however, you will only pay $100 or so more for a CFi compared to a CF. Beyond the improvements listed above, the only advantage would be in purchasing a lens that is perhaps in better condition and has a longer life ahead of it.  Other than higher cost the reason that many current Hasselblad enthusiasts stick with C and CF lenses is purely for the aesthetic of having an older style lens on an older style body,  


The CFE is simply a CFi lens with the electronic contacts that are compatible with the 200F series cameras. Although compatible with the 500 V-system as well, there is no particular advantage for a 500 series user to purchase this type of lens. The 200F series is completely different in that the shutter is in the body of the camera where as the 500 series body is a simple mechanical box with a mirror and winding crank. The 200F series body alone costs over $2,000 and thus prices its self out of most hobby photographer's budgets. Also it doesn't come with the same vintage experience that is drawing many of us back to film photography. 

What are the practical differences between C and CF lenses?

C vs CF

The most common lenses you will find on the used camera market, will be C and CF lenses. The basic difference is age and some minor improvements that come along with any sort of evolutionary process.   


C lenses were manufactured from 1957 - 1982 and CF lenses from 1982 - 1998.


Newer doesn't necessarily mean better especially in a world where even the newest lens is 20 years old, so your most important decision factor when choosing between C or CF should be based on the condition of the individual lens.




  • Optically C and CF lenses are the same per each specific focal length, including same number of lens elements and design.

  • Shutter speed ranges from Bulb to 1/500th second on both types of lens.

  • The aperture settings are the same per focal length.

  • They each have an orange EV scale that will correspond with your current shutter speed and aperture settings


The most significant difference between the two is in the shutter. The C lens has a Synchro- Compur shutter and the CF has a Prontor shutter. These are both 5 bladed leaf shutters, with the latter having a hardier spring and thus needing less maintenance and longer life expectancy. Some may caution buyers to stay away from the C lens due to the older shutter design, and lack of parts for continuing maintenance. Ken Rockwell even goes as far as to say "they almost always will be sticky and slow." and "I wouldn't buy one of these unless you are a repairman. Even if the lens sounds like it's working OK, unless its been recently overhauled by a specialist, it's unlikely to be running accurately."  I, on the other hand, completely disagree. My personal experience with my C lens is that the shutter works just as well as those on my CF lenses. Any time you buy something used, especially a 40 year old lens, you run into the risk of having it break and the cost of repair being more than that of the lens. Go into a purchase knowing this fact. Yet, if the C falls within your current budget, or you are purchasing from a trusted source, don't let others scare you away from a potentially phenomenal lens. There are many features including the chrome color option that are unique to the C lens and make it a special item to have in your collection. Following is a list of minor differences between the two styles and my personal preference for each feature.

Shutter/Aperture Interlocking

They both have a mechanism to lock the shutter speed to the aperture, thus allowing you keep the same EV (exposure value) while changing one of the two settings. The difference between the two lens styles is that the C model defaults to the locked position requiring a lever to be pressed for changing settings separately, and the CF version defaults to independently rotating wheels with a button that can be pressed to use the interlock feature when desired. I give the CF version the win on this difference due to the fact that I personally seem to change settings independently more frequently than I use the interlock feature. Also the lever to disengage the interlock on the C lens takes some finesse where as the button to activate it on the CF is simple and easy to use. 

Shutter speed and aperture interlock on C Carl Zeiss Lens

Tricky to manipulate small metal lever that will deactivate the interlock between shutter speed and aperture.

C model Hasselblad Lens

Shutter speed and apeture interlock on CF style Carl Zeiss lens

Easy to manipulate button that engages the otherwise unlocked shutter speed and aperture rings.

CF model Hasselblad Lens

Placement of the Preview Selector 

There is a preview selector on both types of lenses, but the placement and operation varies.  Winding the camera cocks the lens, sequences the film, and opens the aperture to maximum. Therefore when viewing your subject through the viewfinder you have the most amount of light as the lens is wide open. If you want to stop down the lens to see what it will look like at the aperture you have selected you can use the preview button. On the CF lens it is a large sliding button that is out of the way and takes an easy but deliberate action to use. On the C lens it is a tiny metal switch that is located right next to the settings interlock release button. I use the interlock disengage lever all the time and constantly inadvertently activate the preview button stopping down the lens and making the viewing screen much darker and harder to focus. It took me forever to realize what was happening and I still accidentally hit it all the time making focusing quickly a challenge. So, the win goes to the CF lens on a much better redesigned preview button.

Preview selector on Carl Zeiss lens for Hasselblad film camera

Small metal switch used to stop down aperture to preview the shot, inconveniently located right next to the interlock lever

C model Hasselblad Lens

Preview button on Carl Zeiss CF Hasselblad film camera lens

Large easy to use preview selector that is out of the way so it won't be inadvertently activated

CF model Hasselblad Lens

Depth of Field Indicators

On the newer CF lens there is a standard depth of field scale like those commonly found on manual lenses, located between the focusing and aperture rings. This provides a scale of the distance range that will be in focus for the corresponding aperture. The C version lens has two red sliding indicators in the same spot that move in and out as you change aperture. I really enjoy the C version of this feature as it is very easy to read and understand this simple scale.

Hasselblad C lens movable depth of field scale

Unique movable depth of field scale

In this photo at f4 everything that's 10 meters to infinity from the photographer will be in focus. 

C model Hasselblad Lens

Carl Zeiss CF lens with standard depth of field scale

Standard depth of field scale

CF model Hasselblad Lens

In this photo at f11 everything that's 19-30 feet from the photographer will be in focus. 

Self Timer

The C model lens has a self timer feature which Hasselblad did away with when updating to the CF models. When buying an old used lens like these, there's a significant chance that the self timer may no longer function, and once they stop working it is unlikely you will be able to get it repaired. Because of this, I would not base a purchase decision solely on having a self timer. With that said, I am fortunate to have bought one with a working self-timer, and I occasionally enjoy having  this feature for self portraits or slow shutter speed stabilized shots. 

Bulb Exposure Suggestions

The C model lens has a scale of green numbers to the left of the B (bulb) setting. This scale is for reference only, but can be used to determine the number of seconds one must keep the shutter open for to achieve a particular EV setting per the corresponding aperture. 

Hasselblad Carl Zeiss 80mm C lens

Focusing Ring

The focusing ring on CF lenses has a wider textured rubber grip where as the C lenses have a thinner ring with gear like teeth. The problem with the CF lens is that the manner in which the rubber grip is glued on makes it vulnerable to coming unglued after 30+ years. Even though the grip on my 50mm lens came off, it does not affect the function of the focusing so instead of attempting to re-glue it I just use it without and don't even notice it missing. Although narrower, the grip on the C model focusing ring stands up better to the test of time. 

80mm Carl Zeiss kit lens for Hasselblad film camera

C model lens with gear tooth style focusing ring

CF 150mm Hasselblad lens

CF model lens with rubber grip style 

CF 50mm film camera Hasselblad lens

CF model lens with missing rubber grip 

Chrome vs Black:

The original C model lenses came in a chrome color which looks fantastic on the Hasselblad camera bodies with chrome trim. Part of the fun of using a Hasselblad is the vintage look of the camera, which can be a great reason to buy a C lens. Many people online caution against purchasing one of these lenses because they are older and much more difficult to get repaired, but realize this is the case for any C lens not just the chrome versions, and if the price is right and this is a look that you desire, I would say why not?! Any Hasselblad lens will be expensive to repair and I believe that you are equally likely to find a trashed CF lens or a pristine chrome colored C lens. Decide based on the condition of the lens, and if you are interested in the chrome, it may take longer to find one in the condition you are looking for, but they are out there. And don't pay more for the color of the lens, there are people out there online trying to 'bank' on the 'rareness' of the lens, they are not rare, and you should really be paying slightly less for a chrome than a black based on age.

Overall Opinion: 

These minor difference in features are mostly inconsequential because choosing between a C and CF lens should be primarily be based on individual lens condition above all else.  And although the C lens won on more of the features described above, if I had to choose between two of equal condition and price I would probably take the CF lens because the interlock feature of the C model gets on my nerves a bit. 

What does that orange T* on the front of the lens mean?

T* Multicoating

Now that we've discussed the difference between C and CF lenses lets take a quick moment to cover the meaning behind that red/orange colored T* that you will see on the front of most Carl Zeiss lenses. 

Starting in 1974, Carl Zeiss introduced a six layer coating to the lens elements to reduce flare and improve contrast. This multilayer coating is signified with the T* designation.  

It is said by some that no difference in quality will be noticed between the T* and non multicoated lenses unless shooting in conditions where sources of flare are present, in which case the T* lenses will far out preform the previous version. Others say that using the lens hood on the non multi-coated will compensate for flare well enough. I do not own an older non coated lens so I cannot offer my opinion. But, if you have the option I would go with the T* , because these Carl Zeiss, Hasselblad lenses are incredible at handling flare. 

T* multi coating on Carl Zeiss lens helps reduce flare an creates a well balanced contrast

To attest to the quality of this 1974 multicoating technology, here are three examples with three different camera/lens combinations all shot with the same settings.

example of sunflare using T* multicoating on Carl Zeiss Lens

Hasselblad 500CM 50mm lens with T*

example of sun flare using Nikon lens with Nano Crystal coating

Nikon D810 DSLR 70-120mm with fancy modern nano crystal coating 

example of sun flare from a minolta autocord twin reflex camera

Minolta Autocord Chiyoko Rokkor 75mm lens

Sonnar, Planar, Distagon, Tessar:

What do these things mean?

Optical Design

When I first entered the world of medium format photography, these labels stood out to me as a clear indication that I was in over my head . When shopping for a twin reflex camera I spent hours on old forum posts where people purposed to know that Tessar was far superior to Planar and visa versa, so when I started looking at Hasselblad lenses and saw these labels I thought 'oh boy here we go again.' 

Luckily, after some brief research, I realized these terms were referring to the shape, layout, and number of glass elements within the lens and that there is a preferable design for each focal length. In Carl Zeiss lenses, these designations are specific to the focal length of the lens, and therefore no extra decision making or in depth knowledge on optical design is required when making a purchase decision. The designs and number of lens elements can affect distortion characteristics and tendency for flare as more air to glass surfaces are added within a lens. However, anyone who is interested in purchasing a Carl Zeiss lens can trust that the quality is going to be above and beyond almost any other lens ever made. (I'm a bit biased, as I am deeply passionate about these lenses and their incredible quality.)  

The wider angle lenses from 30mm to 60mm will be Distagon or Biogon, normal focal distances such as 80mm and 100mm will be Planar,  105mm to 250mm will be Sonnar with a few excpetions, and anything greater than 250mm will be Tessar.  

Deciding on which lens/ focal length to purchase:

Which focal length to Buy

Choosing the 'best' Hasselblad lens is going to ultimately depend on your own personal preferences and shooting style. Your budget and rarity of some lenses will also come in to play during your search. My favorite lens actually found me, rather than me actively searching for it, as I stumbled across it among a pile of other stuff at a swap meet rather than a search online. The following is a quick assessment of the three lenses that I own and my advice toward choosing the right focal length for your shooting style. 

80mm Planar f/2.8

Equivalent to 50mm in full frame/35mm cameras 

This is the Hasselblad kit lens and by far the most common lens being sold on the used market. If you want to have complete control over the customization of your Hasselblad setup, buy the body, film back, lens, and viewfinder all separately, otherwise it is easier and more cost effective to find a bundle deal which will most likely include the 80mm lens.  

80mm C Planar f2.8 Carl Zeiss Hasselblad kit Lens

Price: $250-$800 with the average falling around $300-$500, but for the premium price you can find some mint condition lenses being sold from Japan. 


  • At f/2.8 this is the fastest/widest aperture lens that Hasselblad made for the V-system bodies. This makes it great for all around shooting, easy to hand hold even when the light conditions get tricky.

  • Focusing distance ranges from 0.9 meters (~3 feet) to infinity 

  • Being equivalent to the 50mm prime in full format/35mm photography, it offers the field of view that photographers consider 'normal'.

  • It is  small and light weight (465g)

  • Unfortunately my specific 80mm lens is not the sharpest Carl Zeiss Hasselblad lens that I own, but this may be due to it being my oldest lens as it compares to the other. It only performs slightly better in sharpness than my Japanese TLRs. 

All these features make it great for street photography, travel, and casual shooting. This is the lens I bring along if weight and size really matter, such as when I travel for work where photography is not the main focus of my trip,  going out for some casual street shooting, or if I think I might encounter conditions that may be a bit rough on the lens. If I am going on a trip where I want to bring home my best images to print and hang on the wall, this lens usually gets left behind. 

street photography shot with hasselblad film camera on Fuji pro400h film

Example of street photography shot with 80mm lens in Aguas Calientes MX. 

50mm Distagon f/4

50mm hasselblad carl zeiss lens for medium format film camera

Equivalent to 30mm in full frame/35mm cameras 

Price: $250-$900 with the average falling around $500 for a decent condition lens.


  • With f/4 as the widest aperture, you have to start thinking about using a tripod in lower light conditions.

  • Focusing distance ranges from 0.4 meters (19 inches) to infinity 

  • Being equivalent to the 30mm in full format/35mm photography, it starts to enter the range of what most would consider to be wide angle yet does not exhibit any noticeable barrel distortion. 

  • It is significantly larger and almost twice the weight of the 80mm lens. (800g) 

  • My specific 50mm lens is the sharpest Carl Zeiss Hasselblad lens that I own, possibly the sharpest lens that I own all together, including my Nikon and Sigma art lenses. 

For my style of shooting, which is primarily focused on travel, aviation, and street photography this is my preferred lens. Other than being incredibly sharp, the reason I am willing to carry a heavier lens is that I like to get in really close and fill the entire frame with the subject. The minimum focusing distance of 19 inches allows my to step in closer to an aircraft, or landmark and capture crisp details while simultaneously composing a shot that includes a large part of the subject. This is my favorite lens, but despite my bias, you can see in the results in the next section that it is sharper than the 80mm in the center of the frame, but vastly loses when it comes to corner sharpness. 

medium format photograph on Ilford Delta 100 film taken with hasselblad 50mm CF lens
Spanish mission shot with 50mm CF Hasselblad lens on Ilford Delta 400 pro

Example of travel photography shot with 50mm lens in Santa Fe NM. 

Close up of film photograph using shallow depth of field taken with Hasselblad Carl Zeiss 50mm CF lens

Example of shot with 50mm lens at 19 inch focal distance and shallow depth of field.  

150mm Sonnar f/4

Equivalent to 93 mm in full frame/35mm cameras 

150mm CF hasselblad carl zeiss lens

Price: $150-$400 with the average falling around $300 for a decent condition lens.


  • With f/4 as the widest aperture, you have to start thinking about using a tripod in lower light conditions.

  • Focusing distance ranges from 1.4 meters (4.5 feet) to infinity 

  • Being equivalent to the 93mm in full format/35mm photography, it makes for a good portrait lens.

  • It is also large and heavy (785g). 

  • My specific 150mm lens is very sharp but not quite as crisp as my 50mm. 

  • Most common and affordable portrait lens in the Hasselblad line up.

I am not a portrait photographer, so this lens stays at home on the shelf the vast majority of the time. It is too heavy to make it worth adding to my travel bag for the amount of use it would see. I got this lens as a bundle purchase with my body, the 80mm, and other accessories. I found such a good deal that this lens was virtually free and I will most likely sell this lens to buy the 120mm macro due to my style of shooting. Speaking with portrait photographers, some will attest that this is the best all around portrait lens to buy, others argue that the 180mm is sharper and gives better framing and background blur. The 180mm is only available in the CF model and is harder to find so it may run a few $100 more for a lens of equivalent condition.

mobile pegasus shot with hasselblad 150mm lens on Kodak Ektar 120 roll film

Example of travel photography shot with 150mm lens in Dallas TX. 

Side by Side Comparison:

Side by Side Test

I ran my three lenses through a few side by side tests and discovered a few surprises. Its amazing the ways in which you become personally invested or attached to one thing or another without any scientific evidence. I would have sworn that my 50mm would be significantly sharper than the 80mm. But the tests revealed that this was not the case. The 80mm turned out to be much sharper than I expected and actually sharper in the corners than the 50mm. I am going to repeat some of these tests in the near future, as my comparison for the shots at wide open apertures failed and I want to see if I can repeat the same results only this time using a tripod to eliminate camera shake errors. But here are the results from the tests that were successful.

Lens Size:

Hasselblad with 80mm lens is about 8 inches long
Hasselblad wih 50mm lens is about 9.5 inches long
Hasselblad with 150mm lens is about 9.5 inches long




Sharpness Test:

F/11 and 1/250 sec

Same roll of film, same scanning settings

Brick wall sharpness test taken with 80mm carl zeiss lens


brick wall sharpness test from 50mm carl zeiss lens


brick wall sharpness test taken with 150mm carl zeiss lens


Crop from center of frame:

Center of frame 80mm hasselblad sharpness test


Center of frame 50mm hasselblad sharpness test


Center of frame 150mm hasselblad sharpness test


Crop from corner of frame:

Corner of frame sharpness Zeiss len comparison
50mm Corner of frame sharpness Zeiss len comparison
150mm Corner of frame sharpness Zeiss len comparison




Closest Focusing Distance Test:

I like to be able to get in close to my subject, so close focusing is important to me. Here are three examples where I stood as close to the object as the focus would allow. This is one reason why the 50mm is my favorite lens, the 150mm telephoto lets you get close as well. 

All shot on same roll, same exposure, development, scanning, and post processing

f/11 1/500th sec

Closest focal distance test Hasselblad 80mm lens
Closest focal distance test Hasselblad 50mm lens
Closest focal distance test Hasselblad 150mm lens




Field of View Test:

I did this test to show the field of view and composition that you get from each focal length. In this test I stood in the exact same spot and shot one photo with each lens.

All shot on same roll, same exposure, development, scanning, and post processing

f/11 1/500th sec (The light leak on the third shot is most likely when I forgot to insert the dark slide during lens changes.)

Field of view wih 50mm focal length medium format film camera


Field of view with 80mm focal length medium format film camera


Field of view with 150mm focal length medium format film camera


Other Lenses

Other Lenses

These are lenses that I personally do not have experience with, but can pass on a few thoughts from my research. 

30mm Distagon f/3.5 Fisheye:  180° field of view, this is a fish eye lens for the Hasselblad V-system and it's going to cost you $1,000-$4,000!

40mm Distagon f/4:  Almost equivalent focal distance to the Hasselblad Superwide (38mm), yet doesn't require a special body so it can be used on the 500C, C/M etc. Comparing this to the 50mm is like comparing the 80mm to the 100mm. This lens is more expensive and harder to find than the 50mm yet people say if they found one for a good price they prefer the 40mm. I need to keep an eye out for one of these to try considering that I love wide angle and the 50mm is my favorite lens. 

60mm Distagon f/3.5:  A bit harder to find, a bit larger, and heavier (645g vs 400-500g) than the 80mm, but lighter, smaller than the 50mm. It is about $200-$300 more than an 80mm of the same quality, and about equivalent in price to the 50mm yet harder to find on the market. Closest focusing distance is 0.6 meters vs 0.9 on the 80mm, but still not as close as the 0.4 meters of the 50mm. Most say that if you find a good deal on this lens that it is a better purchase than the 80mm but for general shooting there is no need to have both. If looking for something on the wider end, most say that 60mm will not be wide enough. 

100mm Planar f/3.5:  An optically superior lens to the 80mm the 100mm will be much more expensive, ranging from $500 to $1,000+.  It is still light and compact being only slightly heavier and larger than the 80mm. Hasselblad states that this lens is free from distortion and has superior sharpness throughout the entire frame even when shooting wide open. Most users consider the quality difference to be negligible in relation to the vast difference in price. Unless you are planning on making large prints, doing gallery shows or just have lots of excess cash, the 80mm should suffice for most analogue geeks today. 

105mm UV-Sonnar f/4.3:  This is a specialty lens that captures light perfectly though out the visible and UV light spectrum designed for technical and scientific photography. I found a CF version on sale on ebay for $30,000. Thats all I will say about that.

120mm Makro-Planar f/4 CF (120mm S-Planar f/5.6 C):   This is the Macro lens of the Hasselblad line up although people use this for portraits as well. The better CF version runs around $500-$600, while the C version can be found more much cheaper averaging $200-$400. The minimum focus distance is 0.8 meters which provides a ratio of 1:4.5, an extension tube is available to get you as close as a 1:2 ratio. At close range it is reportedly very sharp across the entire frame even a f/4, but for portrait or landscape photos one needs to stop down to f/8 or more to achieve high image quality. Due to the focal length being a little too short (75mm on a 35mm camera) this lens isn't a first pick for portrait photographers.

180mm Sonnar f/4 (CF only):  This is the choice lens among portrait photographers which gives around a 100mm equivalency compared to a 35mm field of view. Many say this is the sharpest lens in Hasselblad's lineup, so much so that when photographing women, to get the 'dreamy' glow effect so popular on instagram today, photographers use a softar diffusing filter along with this lens. Although it is only available in CF versions it is a very popular lens and not hard to find on the used market. Prices reasonably range from $400-$800. 

250mm Sonnar f/5.6:  Hasselblad advertises this lens for portraiture, sports, and stage photography.  It is equivalent to roughly a 150mm on a 35mm camera.The people I have spoken with often use this lens as their landscape telephoto. Many say that this is a difficult lens to hand hold and keep sharp even at the maximum shutter speed 1/500th sec. It is a heavy (1kg) lens and combined with the need for a tripod, many people seem to be disappointed by it, yet others say it is highly underrated. The good part of this is that a C or CF 250 lens can be bought for around $100-$300.  There is also a 250mm Sonar-Superachromat that Hasselblad developed, which is said to be tack sharp and optimally designed to achieve an unsurpassed correction of chromatic aberrations. This lens was geared toward high level professionals when it was released, and is today still highly priced starting around $1,300. If you find one of these in good condition for under $1,000 it is a steal.

350mm f/5.6 and 500mm f/8 Tele-Tessar:  These two lenses round out the Hasselblad telephoto lineup. With today's image stabilization technology that we have now become accustomed to, the results from old telephoto lenses seem to underwhelm. The 35mm equivalency is ~ 200mm and 300mm respectively. These lenses will only appeal if you have a very specific need for a telephoto on your Hasselblad, as well as the willingness to bring along a good stable tripod. The 350 weighs 1.4kg and the 500 2.1kg. In the 1970's they came at a very high price just as professional telephoto primes still do today in the digital market. Although not commonly bought and sold, today you can find one of these for a reasonable price of $300-$1,000. 

Now that you have all this information, which lens/lenses should you buy?

Which Lens is right for you

Many people will say to purchase a group of lenses that cover an equal range of focal lengths such as a set comprised of a 40, 60, 100, 150, 180, or 50, 80, 120, 180 etc. I think that it is more important to consider what type of photography you do and which lenses you will use the most, combine that with your budget and the best condition of lens you can find and you will be a happy Hasselblad shooter! Also as many will recommend, it is always safe to start with the 80mm and after shooting for a few months you will have an idea of what additional lenses will compliment your shooting style.

General Photographer on a Budget:

  • 80mm 

Portrait Photographer on a Budget:

  • 80mm 

  • 120mm or150mm

Portrait Photographer with money to spend:

  • 80mm 

  • 120mm 

  • 180mm

  • 250mm

Travel Photographer on a Budget:

  • 50mm

  • 80mm 

Travel Photographer with money to spend:

  • 40mm

  • 60mm 

  • 100mm

Macro Photographer

  • 50mm

  • 120mm 

Hasselblad 500 C/M with 50mm Distagon Zeiss Lens

List of Resources:

  • Hasselblad Lens Guide This links to a great pdf article online that has a wealth of easy to understand information.

  • Hasselblad Historical This is a must visit site for anyone shopping for Hasselblad lenses, You can enter the serial number of the lens to find out the year it was made. It also includes a selection of actual data sheets on almost every lens.

  • The Hasselblad V-System Master Guide. This is another great resource for Hasselblad lenses, a very well written article with tons of great information in a well laid out and easy to understand format. 

  • Ken Rockwell Hasselblad Review. Ken Rockwell's site is one of my first stops when deciding to purchase any camera equipment. I do not agree with some aspects of his Hasselblad review, and think some of the information may be inaccurate, but I referenced him above so it is only fair to reference him. 

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