Medium format legacy lenses: sizes and specs

Sea garden hotel

Last time we talked about legacy lenses for the 35mm format. Now it’s time to step up the game, size-wise.

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Review: Hasselblad Zeiss Distagon 50mm f/4 C T*

Hasselblad Zeiss Distagon 50mm f/4 C T*

This lens gets a lot of bad press.

From the moment its younger sibling, the FLE version, hit the shelves the older version became regarded automatically almost as if it were trash.

Don’t get me wrong, the CF FLE is better, just look at the MTF charts. The FLE has two more elements – 9 vs the 7 of both the C and the CF models, which share the same optical scheme. Thanks to them the FLE manages to gain one full MTF point at the borders, and supposedly it is better at close distance.

Now, especially if you do a lot of handheld or fast, reportage style, work (but then: why you use an Hasselblad for this?) sure go for the FLE. Quality aside, the focus ring of the newer style Hasselblad lenses is way faster to operate, and it may well justify the steeper cost alone. If you use a digital back go for the FLE as well. For crying out loud, after you spent 30.000€ or more on a Phase One, you don’t want to cheap out on the lenses!


Hasselblad Distagon 50mm - massiccio del pollino sopra Frascineto

Instead let’s say that you use your Hasselblad, as I do, mostly for landscape work, on film, tightly screwed on a tripod thanks to an awesome ClearSight Arca-compatible replacement foot.

If that’s the case you will find the older model not only a bargain, but a real jewel.

From f/4 to f/22 this dense chunk of glass will give you pictures really really sharp border-to-border. The only details “mushy” will be the ones out of the focus zone (obviously).

But they will not be very numerous, because other that being sharp this lens has a really extended depth of field too, and it reaches infinity pretty fast.

Frankly, the only drawback I can think of is the focus ring, pretty tight as usual for the C series. If you are concerned by this just buy a CF for a few bucks more and you will still be saving big money compared to an FLE.

How much, you’re asking? Well, I paid for mine 150€, and the more modern – in body shape, not optics – CF doesn’t change hands usually for more than 200/230€. In comparison the CF FLE variant starts around 500€ and goes only up from there, depending on personal luck, period of the year, astral connections etc.

Hasselblad Distagon 50mm - massiccio del pollino sopra Frascineto

My version, the C T*, should use some weird 63mm filters, kept in place by a special ring. But, thankfully, you can use plain 67mm filters and they will screw in all the same, just not very smoothly – the pitch is different – or up to the end. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference, though.

The only filter I use is a pretty thick Leitz yellow-green – Leica, Zeiss and Hasselblad, a threesome made in heaven! Even with this one the vignetting is limited to just a bit of a corner – yes, corner not corners. It seems to affect only the upper left side, I frankly don’t know why. Probably this has something to do with how beaten up my sample is… Anyway, dodging or cropping the affected bit in post is trivial.

Summing up: it’s a Zeiss for Hasselblad, you were really believing the people saying it was unsharp, the very same people who treat photography like it was optical engineering instead of art?

And if you don’t believe me: just try for yourself. It has become a really cheap lens nowadays. If you don’t like it you can always sell it later for pretty much the same money.

Rating: ★★★★½ on film


DIY Hasselblad flash shoe adapter

Hasselblad diy flash shoe adapter

An Hasselblad is a terrific camera for portraits – well, for almost everything really.

But if you want to shoot with a flash, connecting the syncro cable to the lens, you will be left with no place to put the wireless remote trigger body – because you are using the flash off-camera, right? (If not: come on, you’re using an Hasselblad, don’t light your pictures like you’re using a point and shot…)

To be able to attach the remote trigger or a flash to the camera you’d need the Hasselblad flash hot shoe adapter, that I’ve seen going anywhere from 30 (rarely) to 60 or more euro.

Now yes, I’m sure it is well crafted and ingegnerized, but for crying out loud: 60 bucks for an hot shoe adapter??? No way!

Luckily you can make your own version pretty easily, in just a couple of minutes work.

You will need:

– ideally a piece of rail of the same size of the Hasselblad accessory shoe mount (8mm wide x 35mm long)

– if, like is most likely, you don’t have one of those handy you can just make your own with a piece of aluminum sheet

– a flash shoe. I found one in my junk bin, but you can buy those for 1 euro top

– cyanoacrylate glue / superglue / liquid metal glue (whichever you put your hands on first)


Hasselblad accessory shoe

Hasselblad accessory shoe with flash shoe adapter in place


All that you have to do is:

1a) if you have the rail of the correct measure: just cut it to the right length and bend slightly one of the ends, so it will not slide out of its socket

1b) if you have to make do with the aluminum sheet: bend it in a “letter C” shape – check the picture under the post title -, then bend slightly one of the ends like in 1a

2) glue the flash shoe on the rail. Let it rest a few minutes to give the glue enough time to properly set


Now go spend on film what you just saved, or put it in the saving jar for a digital back 🙂


Hasselblad lenses 5c DIY unjamming tool

Hasselblad DIY unjamming tool
I don’t know if I have to explain this…the picture pretty much speaks by itself.


1) pick a 5 euro cents coin

2) using a stepped bit – easier – or a normal bit drill a hole in the center

3) pass a piece of cord trough the hole and make a node creating a loop – I used a bit of paracord (parachute cord) I had laying around that it is worth more than the coin 🙂

4) attach it anywhere you want: your keys, the Hasselblad strap, your backpack.


The important thing is that you will have this object with you if (when) a jamming should happen.

Hell, this thing is so cheap and easy to do that you can also make tens of them, and spread them everywhere!