I have been looking at getting a medium format camera for a while, and I particularly want a Hasselblad (I know it's a brand thing).

What are the pros and cons of the V series (e.g. 503CW) vs the (older) H series (e.g. H1)?

So far I can think of the following points:

H series:
- Auto focus
- data embedding onto film
- get 16 shots on a roll of 120mm film

Cons: - battery reliance - expensive lenses
- non-square/smaller image format
- more electrics to go wrong

V series:
- simple operation
- larger square frame
- lots of parts and lenses available a reasonable prices

- None found yet

For a good (late) V kit or a used H1, the initial costs are similar (£1-2K) Are H series cameras likely to depreciate more (quickly) than a V?

So which makes more sense as a portrait camera? (I don't intend to buy a mass of lenses or kit, just as a decent film camera).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you actually interested in the investment value, or the utility? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 17:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ erm..... well both really! I am not after a work horse / commercial camera so want it to retain value as well as offering the best usage \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 19:30

2 Answers 2


Cameras and cars retain resale value in the same way: badly. The good news is that second-hand cameras that are already a couple of decades old won't have much farther to drop unless something tragic happens: it breaks or film takes another significant hit to its availability.

Buying new, of course, is a vastly different proposition that involves much higher costs and lower proportionate return if you sell the gear later. The advantage is that it's much more likely to provide trouble-free operation. I have bought one film camera new because I expect it to be a life-long companion, but that's also true of a film SLR that I bought used for a fraction of its original cost. I have also bought and later sold a Hasselblad V-system kit for essentially what I paid for it.

As for utility, either H or V system will produce excellent results, and if you can wear one of those cameras out then you will have achieved so much with it that replacing it would be a trivial concern. And that's true of a number of great cameras, so pick what you'll enjoy and what will let you concentrate on the more important tasks of making photos and creating art.


Don't buy either if you are looking for investment value. You would do better to put your money in a proper investment vehicle.

In terms of utility, I've owned both (Hasselblad H2, Hasselblad V/500-series and Hasselblad V/203FE) with Phase and Hasselblad digital backs.

Overall, I found the V's unfamiliar ergonomics took some getting used to. In the end though, it grew on me and I preferred it to the H.

I also found the V glass to be generally more pleasing to my eye than the H's Fuji glass, but remember, V glass is all manual focus. H glass is optimized for studio work/portraiture, while V is optimized for work at infinity.

It's worth noting that the H does not have a vertical grip(!); so for portrait work you will be holding the (heavy) camera in a vertical position from above. If shooting 645 with the V, you would simply rotate the film mask to shoot in portrait orientation.

Hope that helps, Brad

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Brad (i have actually owned a 500EL briefly, probably should have mentioned that) Question regarding your last comment - I'm not sure what you mean, as the V backs only mount on one orientation, and its a square frame anyway, so makes no difference??!! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 23:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've just sold my Rollei 6x6 so perhaps I have projected a Rollei feature onto the Hasselblad platform, but of course you're right about not needing to rotate (if you're shooting 6x6). I didn't assume that, though, so if you're shooting 645, I do know that the Rollei's allow you to mount it in portrait orientation; The A16 (210) and A32 (220) backs for Hassy V are 645. I assume they have an equally elegant solution for portrait orientation. Operating a V sideways would be a nightmare (esp. with a waist level finder). \$\endgroup\$
    – U007D
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 23:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually Im fairly sure they dont, its 6x6 on the v, and 645 landscape on the H. on the H digital its a smaller frame which puts me off the H3D (which i was offered recently at a VERY good price) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can see some here: ebay.com/bhp/hasselblad-645-back \$\endgroup\$
    – U007D
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ yes as i remembered - the advance winder and locking clips only work in the one orientation. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 0:11

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