Hasselblad 501 CM — Quick Overview

It’s relatively compact for a medium-format SLR.

The build quality is excellent.

The lens is amongst the best out there.

This one has a spirit level accessory.

This is the later / Type IV A12 back.


Rear view of the CB 80mm Zeiss Planar. The slotted ‘Screw’ on the left of the lens is what cocks the shutter.


The 501CM has a ‘Gliding’ mirror, which eliminates vignetting with longer lenses.

Hasselblad decided to coat the interior and blind with a ‘Flock’-type material to minimise reflections. It tends to crack over time, though this is usually just a cosmetic issue.

Magazine insert. The numbers should match those on the back.

Front aspect of the magazine insert.

There’s a light seal under the face of the film back, on the right-side. The seals need replaced periodically.

There’s a sequence that has to be followed when loading film into the cassette. If you don’t do it properly, the film can tear or get jammed.

Left side.

Right-side / finder open.

Top view. The finder simply slides out once you have removed the film back.

Underside. Quite often the tripod mount plate will show wear but this one is pretty good.

The ‘T*’ script on the lens indicates Zeiss T* multi-coating.

Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar — Quick Review

This Rollei is one of my favourite cameras.


  • Great lenses
  • Compact for a TLR
  • Reasonably light
  • Great build quality
  • Appreciating in value
  • Plentiful


  • Old — 50 years or more
  • Lenses prone to haze / flare
  • Expensive for a nice one

I bought the camera you see below at an online auction a few months ago.

Cosmetically it’s very nice.

There were a few issues with it, which I knew about in advance, so I sent it to be repaired. Cost was reasonable. (There are fewer and fewer analogue camera repair guys out there. Not so few as to be a big problem at the moment though.)

This one is a late-model 3.5 F Planar. According to the internet, it was manufactured between 1966 and 1971.

The Planar lens on it has 6-elements. (Earlier ones had 5.)

It also has a yellow-hued anti-flare coating.

(I noticed some low-contrast areas in the first photographs I made with this camera. I believe the taking lens has some haze. I’m currently looking into getting it cleaned. I am learning that haze is a common problem with older lenses and easy to miss.)

Shutter speeds are 1 second — 1/500th plus B.

This camera is nice to use, though I would say the controls on my Mamiya 330 maybe fall a little more readily to hand.

The focus scale on this one is calibrated in both metres and feet. There is also a very nice depth of field indicator which takes the form of a white bar that expands automatically as you decrease the aperture setting.

A self-timer is built-in. I think the delay is about ten seconds.

The nearest focus is about 3 feet, though you can get closer with some add-on filters (‘Rolleinars’) which come in three strengths.

The viewfinder mask adjusts automatically to compensate for parallax error as you focus on nearer objects.

I think if I had to choose just one camera to keep and use, forsaking all others, it would be this one. It does everything well.

This particular camera has an anti-flare coating on both lenses.
The meter is useful if not 100% accurate. No batteries required.
Front view with the waist-level finder opened.
Late model Rolleis like this one have a 12/24 switch — visible to the right of the wind-on lever.
Rear view.
Left-side view.
The waist-level finder is easily removed.
I fitted an Oleson screen because the original Rollei screen was very dim. The Oleson one makes the camera much more pleasant to use.



Mamiya 330 Professional — Quick Review

The mamiya C330 was introduced sometime in the 1970s. Production ended in the 1990s.

There are 3 different models:

  • C330 Professional
  • C330 F
  • C330 S


  • Robust
  • Cheap
  • Plentiful
  • Interchangable lenses
  • It’s a TLR


  • Slightly heavy compared to some other TLRs
  • Also a bit bulky compared to, say, a Rollei


  • Various different focus screens. ( The last ‘S’ model takes different focus screens from the other models. They will not fit the ‘F” or the C330 Professional.)
  • Various metered / unmetered finders. (Porro Finder = a plain mirror / Prism Finder = Glass prism. The prism finder is brighter.)
  • Soft case


  • 55mm f4.5
  • 65mm f3.5
  • 80mm f3.7
  • 80mm f2.8 (Two versions)
  • 105mm f3.5
  • 135mm f4.5
  • 180mm f4.5
  • 250mm f6.3

Shutter speeds for all lenses are B plus 1second – 1/500th.

Some of the earlier lenses had a chrome face. These lenses are optically pretty much the same as the later all-black lenses as far as I can make out.

The lenses for this camera are generally pretty good. Lenses on other TLRs might be better, but you’ll pay for the difference. (At the time of writing, a nice 80mm lens can be had for about £150.)

The later version of the 80mm f2.8 lens had a better anti-flare coating, which is a purple hue. (The camera pictured here has this lens fitted.)

The 330 can focus pretty close — a red bar in the viewfinder automatically corrects for parallax. Note that you need to have the lens selector dial set to the correct lens for the parallax correction to work properly. You’ll need an accessory called a ‘Paramender’ for extreme close-up work.

So that’s it. A great medium-format camera with interchangable lenses for not a lot of money.

I’ve taken some of my favourite photographs with one of these and though I have more modern / more expensive medium format cameras, I won’t be selling this one any time soon.


The blue dot on the shutter cocking arm signifies the later shutter type.


Be sure to adjust the outermost ring on the blue dial to match the lens you have on the camera, else the parallax correction in the viewfinder won’t be right. Here it’s set to 80mm — you can just see the red mark at the ’80’ position. (Note that I forgot to set the focus scale to the correct focal length here — it’s set for a 135mm lens.)

Mamiya RZ 67 — Quick Review


The Mamiya RZ67 was introduced in 1982.

The RZ is a modular system — you can change the film back, lenses and viewfinders.

Originally a camera for professional photographers, it is now mainly used by film enthusiasts. (Though there are notable exceptions, Clare Hewitt for example.)


  • Razor-sharp lenses
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Quite robust
  • Good availability


  • Bulky when compared to Rollei / Hasselblad
  • Quite heavy
  • Contains electronics

I bought my first RZ in 1992. It was expensive, to me anyway, at that time.

Now you can pick them up for relatively little money on eBay.


The lens range is extensive for a medium-format film camera.

The most common lenses are:

  • 50mm f4.5
  • 65mm f4
  • 90mm f3.5
  • 110mm f2.8
  • 180mm f4.5

The longer lenses are pretty cheap. The 65mm and especially the 110mm go for more, though they’re still a fraction of the price of Hasselblad glass.

(There are many other lenses including rare and specialty versions but I won’t list them here. )

All of these lenses are capable of producing great results.

As with any older lenses though, be careful to check for haze, fungus, scratches and dust.

You can also fit RB lenses to the RZ, though my own experience of doing this was that the RB lens got stuck onto the body and wouldn’t come off until I’d tried firing it / winding on randomly for about half an hour.

Note: More recent version of the RZ lenses have a ‘W’ suffix printed on the barrel after the focal length. These lenses have a click-stop halfway between each F-stop. The older lenses don’t have this.

Film Backs

The film backs can be revolved to give either landscape or portrait orientation.

There are 5 commonly available backs:

  • 120 / 6×7*
  • 220 / 6×7*
  • 6×6
  • 6×4.5*
  • Polaroid

*There are two versions of the 6×7 and 6×4.5 backs : the second version has a second film counter so that the frame number is always visible, even when the back is rotated.

(The camera pictured here is my own and it has a 6×6 back. Note that this back originally came bundled with a viewfinder mask but these are often missing. However, with the advent of 3D printing, you can now get a good 6×6 mask for not much money.)


These cameras most commonly come with the waist-level finder.

There were also various other finders:

  • Prism / unmetered
  • PD (Photo Diode) Prism with basic / LED indicator metering
  • Auto-Exposure prism
  • Chimney finder

Dioptres are available for the prisms and the WLF.

Model Range

  • RZ67 Pro I
  • RZ 67 Pro II — Adds secondary / fine-focus knob; improved electronics / shutter-speed half-step adjustment capability.
  • RZ67 Pro II D — Adds digital back capability.
Left-side view.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review / Left-Side View
Right-side view.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
Front view
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
Rear view.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
Top-rear view. This is the 6×6 back. These tend to be quite expensive.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
Waist-level finder. The dioptre is replaceable.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
This camera is fitted here with the basic 65mm lens. There’s a fancy version with a floating element which is reportedly better, but the basic one is excellent too. Version 2 of the RZ lenses will have a ‘W’ after the focal length.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
Left-side view. Shutter speeds are 8 seconds – 1/400th. If the battery dies you can still shoot but only at 1/400th.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
Top-left view. The Rz Pro II has a second focus wheel, inboard of the main one. (This is a Pro I.)
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
6×6 Back.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
Film cassette.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
Film cassette, camera-side.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
Film back / door. You can see the foam light seals around the door. These need to be replaced periodically.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
The blue ring is the depth of field indicator. The switch marked ‘T’ is for time exposures.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
Underside of the RZ76. The electrical contacts and the two holes either side of the tripod mount are for a motor drive.
Mamiya RZ 67 Review
View of the focus screen. The electrical contacts are for the prism finders. The focus screen is held on by three spring clips, two of which you can see either side of the electrical contacts.
The 3D printed 6×6 mask is visible here. It has a cut-out portion so that the LEDs are visible.



“A micromort (from micro- and mortality) is a unit of risk defined as one-in-a-million chance of death.” ~ Wikipedia

Yesterday I was reading John McPhee’s excellent “Draft No. 4“.

Wanting to know more about him, I found a 2017 interview in the NYT, where they reported that he was cycling 15 miles every other day. This at the age of 86.

You have to be in good health to cycle 15 miles, even on the flat. I studied the photos of McPhee and decided he looks remarkably good for his age.

This led me to thinking about my own health — I realised that I need to be more active. Maybe cycling was the answer.

Looking at the Brompton Bicycles website (I’ve had Bromptons before and liked them), I saw that they have a new colour — Cloud Blue — that appeals to me:

As it turns out though, they’re not taking new orders due to high demand, so that was that for now.

Getting back to John McPhee, I discovered that he tore a rotator cuff after falling off his bike. Various other well-known people have been in the press recently having had bicycle accidents.

Being a cautious person, I wanted to quantify the risks of cycling: according to Wikipedia, cycling 10 miles incurs the same risk — one micromort — as travelling 230 miles by car.

However, everything you do has a risk attached to it. I can sit here in my office chair all day today and probably nothing bad will happen. Long-term though, being as inert as I currently am greatly increases my risk of vascular disease, diabetes and other horrors.


The NROL-108 Mission’s Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad this morning.

SpaceX launched another rocket from the Kennedy Space Center today. It was the 102nd launch of their Falcon 9 ship.

The first-stage booster landing safely at Kennedy Space Center today.

The first-stage booster on this mission was making its fifth landing — the booster is apparently the most expensive part of the rocket.

Watching these launches live on YouTube is something that’s always interesting.

The payload for this mission was a ‘Spy’ satellite of some sort — the customer (The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office) asked SpaceX not to broadcast its deployment.

Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX, has set his sights on getting to Mars. The Falcon 9 can deliver about 4,000 Kg to Mars. The far larger StarShip, which is in part designed to get humans to Mars, made a test flight last week which Musk described as a success. (It exploded on landing but they got good data.)


Fonts interest me. Not to the point where I can identify different typefaces at a glance, but I like messing about with them now and then.

This blog is built on WordPress’s Twenty Seventeen theme, which comes out of the box with one font only (Some sans-serif or other). Whilst the default font is reasonably easy on the eye, I wanted a serif one.

There’s a plug-in for WordPress that lets you change the typeface to one of many offered by Google, so now this blog is set in Times New Roman, (Edit 29th December: it’s now in Garamond) which I prefer. Google offers hundreds of fonts, including classics like Palatino, which I tried but found lacking.

The world of typefaces is huge — there are websites from tiny to giant where you can browse innumerable fonts.

There are also various degrees of font creator out there, from lone designers working out of a bedroom to big corporations like Adobe.

I might play around with the fonts here again when I get bored or decide I want something better.

(There’s a great documentary by Gary Hustwit about Helvetica, the typeface designed by Max Miedinger.)


Currently Reading

Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall.

Update, 19th December 2020.
This book was quite enjoyable for me. He writes well (Hall was a poet and journalist for most of his life). It’s a brief read at 144 pages and the price is pretty steep (£9.39 for the Kindle edition) but I didn’t feel short-changed. Full of sharp-eyed observations, unusually frank, and good on the problems that come with ageing.


A few years ago my mum’s brother, who’s 83, was diagnosed with dementia.

Dementia is quite widespread — it affects about 7% of over-65’s in the UK. It’s definitely on my list of Diseases I Never Want to Get.

Thinking about Alzheimer’s today, I remembered a recent study that found a link between Alzheimer’s and a bacterium called Porphyromonas Gingivalis.

I was thinking that if one half of a married couple developed Alzheimer’s, the other should be at higher risk if the disease is in fact caused by a bug.

A quick Google search turned up this piece of research from 2010. It says that if one half of a married couple develops dementia, the other half is 6 times more likely to develop it than the average person.

Talking about dementia, today I watched a documentary called ‘Dick Johnson is Dead’. It’s about an ageing psychiatrist whose memory is fading.

I found it quite moving: he’s an engaging character who seems to have a cheerful nature. There are many poignant moments.

The piece as a whole is a little quirky: she throws in some fantasy scenes which break up the sad reality of what’s happening to Mister Johnson.

Here’s the trailer:


A couple of years ago, I needed something warm to wear for the winter.

I decided that I wanted a natural fibre, specifically wool.

I found a shop selling knitwear made from Donegal yarn. I selected one that I liked and paid up.

Over the course of the following two years, I found myself wearing this jumper almost all the time, regardless of the weather.  I liked the look and the feel of it, so why not?

Last week I noticed a hole in the left elbow. Luckily, my mother offered to mend it. The jumper is now once more wearable in public.

I hadn’t had to spend money on a replacement and I had helped preserve the planet’s finite resources.

With this in mind I was pleased to read about the EU’s ‘Right to Repair‘ legislation — a giant step in the right direction.