Which one shall I use? The Hasselblad or Rolleiflex?

Ah! Choices, choices.

It’s nice to be in such an enviable position, having to make a choice between 2 of the most renowned cameras in the world, isn’t it?

That is the dilemma I was faced with a few days ago, when I wanted to go on a shoot with a new group of students. There were 6 of us, including myself and it had been decided from the start that this would be a medium format shoot.

Everyone turned up with their own pet cameras; some had Rolleiflex, one guy had a Hasselblad, another had a Pentax 6×6, others with Yashicamats and one young lady with a chinese Seagull even, so it was an eclectic mix indeed. The subject? Street shooting!

That immediately evokes a look of incredulity from the vast majority of people. How the hell can you take these over-sized monsters on a street shoot, where low-key and candid are the buzz words? Well, I am living proof that you can take vintage cameras on street shoots, and come back with astounding results to boot!

Anyway, back to the point in question. Which one did I decide upon in the end and why?

Firstly, let me qualify once and for all, that I’m not at all aligned with any one make of camera, any camera. Just that one statement should astound many readers. No, I mean it; a camera is a camera is a camera. It matters not a ha-porth as the English say; it’s not the instrument you use, it’s what you do with it that counts (stop sniggering at the back there…!).

I can safely say that I have used and handled every single camera in my life; some I have with me even now. In that time, I found that it was dependent upon how I used those cameras to an extent, which decided what sort of results I was going to get.

Extreme analogy–hand a camera to an ape, and what do you expect?

The Rolleiflex has the upper hand against the Hassleblad in this particular  scenario, as nobody wants a camera that has a ruddy big mirror slapping up and down every time you take a shot, thereby advertising to all and sundry you’ve taken a shot. As far my experience goes, the Rolleiflex and Yashica cameras have superb, quiet shutters and are also slightly less bulky than Hasselblads.

Another bug point; what do you actually need to use your camera for? Will it make any difference if your camera has a changeable back? Do you need to look at your subject all the way through to pressing the shutter button and perhaps even afterwards? Quite obviously, for the changeable backs, it has to be a Hasselblad and for the subject viewing capability, it has to be a Rolleiflex/Yashicamat, as neither of these two have a mirror which has to swing out-of-the-way before the shutter fires, during which time you lose sight of the subject, however momentary that may be.

For me, depending on the situation, I can either use my Hasselblad, Yashicamat or Rolleiflex. All are of superb quality, even if the price differential between them is huge. Far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t care less about fashions or the cachet of owning a world-famous name — if someone made a camera that totally eclipsed the Rolleiflex/Hasselblads of this world, but named it the Gungadin 128T or something, I would be the first one to buy it; who cares about the name?!!

Cut to the chase; I chose my Yashicamat this time and off we jolly well went! And what a great day it was, too; no sunshine, but reasonably bright, ideal conditions. And yet again, we drew large amounts of onlookers, who thought we were actors in some kind of vintage film, as vintage cameras were everywhere.

By the way, I have had quite a few emails since the last post I did about street shoot tours I did. As many of you will know, my stint in England is almost up now, so I will not be planning any more group shoots in this country — when I’m back home in Van city, BC, I’ll restart the groups there, so if you happen to be there at that time, please do give me a call and we can arrange for you to join the next group.

I will be posting the results of our street shoot as soon as I get the time!


enough to have both but it really is comparing apples to pears. I slightly prefer the Rolleiflex because it is easier to carry around and it does not advertise to the world that you have made a photograph by making a big noise with the mirror slap and barndoors snapping open and closed.

About filmcamera999

ME & MY PASSION! ok, you probably looked at the length of this "about me" page and thought, god, what's wrong with this guy!....does he have to start telling us his life story or something!!? well, youve come here now anyways, so why not hear what im like as a person, eh? ive been using film cameras for well over 30 years...my first one being the family yashicamat twin lens! over the years, ive both bought sold and collected film cameras...too many to tell the truth! in fact, ive been buying and selling cameras well before the internet came on the scene, so anything you purchase from me is backed by my self-styled moneyback promise.....if you dont like what youve bought, send it back within 14 days and you get all your money back...no arguments!! WHERE I STAND ON THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION! yes, i do use digital as well, but only as a ready-reckoner...i try and take most shots with my simple 2megapixel digicam....if the shot looks good, i pull out my film camera and shoot! i most defintely do not believe in digital manipulation of photographs....that in my eyes is not photography...its cheating! WHERE I USED TO LIVE, WHERE I AM NOW & WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO DO! i used to live in Ontario, Canada, but moved back to the UK a little while ago (its a long story..!)...but now i'm living in the one place i always wanted to be...Vancouver, BC..the next best thing to paradise on earth! as i work as a freelance writer as well as other things, i often find hat my work takes me to europe for short spells, so i get to travel a lot...not a blessing, as i just hate long flights! im a qualified Quality Assurance guy (you know...ISO 9000, auditing, documentation etc) ....99% of my skill-set is transferable so i can handle any admin or documentation-related roles....see you in BC! otherwise, i specialise in ISO 9000 auditing and documentation. my dream? to have my own thriving camera shop in Vancouver BC, whilst living in the mountains somewhere.....the best of both worlds!
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10 Responses to Which one shall I use? The Hasselblad or Rolleiflex?

  1. I’d choose the rollei.
    I have a rollei sl66 which an slr like the hasselblad – as you say the thought of the mirror slapping up and down (shiver).
    Some time over the last 3 or 4 months I’ve heard an old ‘great’ explain that he could frame with his rollei ( for this I read TLR) and then just stand there without moving it and wait for something to happen in the frame.

    • yes, i can well believe that! in addition, the tlr cameras, for some reason, dont seem to draw too much attention in the street…possibly people may think that they are not being photographed, as you are not pointing the lens in their faces as with an slr…or maybe they equate a tlr with derision, and conclude it could never produce anything worthwhile…all the better for us! tnks for reading.

  2. Though question but probably I would choose the Hasselblad. 😉

    Hasselblad 500 C/M: http://filmphotographyisnotdead.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/hasselblad-500-cm/

    • whatever, ricardo! i just posted it for fun…its what you do with a camera that counts…not really which one!

      • If it is for real, both cameras are great… Anyway, nice article and as I said before though decision to choose one of them. 🙂

      • yes, it was a real scenario, ricardo! i really do have a very, very big collection of cameras…my wife has said many times that she will leave me one day as i have too many cameras and no space for her dresses…but she has said that for more than 25 yrs….;)

  3. So your wife, will not fulfill that promise was made to You. Glad to know that.

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