Hasselblad SWC

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The Hasselblad SWC started in production back in the 1950s and ceased manufacturing until recent years. The Hasselblad SWC is abbreviated from Super Wide Camera at present and the original names when the camera was first introduced were “Supreme Wide Angle” (1954-55) and “Super Wide” (1956-57). Below are the highlights of the Hasselblad SWC’s manufacturing history:

The Photokina in Cologne 1954 was used to introduce the Hasselblad Super-Wide with a fixed 38mm f4.5 Zeiss Biogon lens mounted in a Compur-shutter. Super-Wide SWC/M was introduced in 1979, allowing the use of the Polaroid film magazine. The Hasselblad SWC & SWC/M was introduced in1979 then follow by the 903SWC in the year 1988, as the new 903SWC had a minor body change and came with the new viewfinder with built-in spirit level. Finally the last version was the abbreviated 905SWC model released in 2001 with the compromised optics consists of 8 elements only.

Specifications Overview:

·           Fixed Zeiss Biogon 38mm f/4.5 lens

·           Body Colors available: Black or Chrome trimmed

·          Interchangeable 120mm film backs: A12 or A24 backs

·          Adoptable to Modern Digital Backs

·         Polaroid film backs available and optional

·         Filter size: Series 63 drop-in (Series VIII)

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·         The lens on the Hasselblad SWC is the legendary Zeiss 38mm f4.5 Biogon (equivalent to 21mm on the 35mm format) and it is probably the best wide angle made by Zeiss.

·         The Zeiss 38mm f4.5 Biogon is famous for its optical excellence, which is almost distortion-free and offers image perfection.

·         There are only two variations for this lens in terms of the coating, as one version with the T* coating and the other without.

·         The original Zeiss Biogon lens offers the 10 element design compared to the updated 905SWC with an abbreviated 8 element design.



There are seven versions of the Hasselblad SWC made throughout the years:

  1. 1959-1968: SWC silver lens barrel, all bodies chrome
  2. 1968-1973: SWC black lens barrel, but not T*, all chrome bodies
  3. 1973-1980: SWC black lens barrel T* coating, bodies can be either chrome or black
  4. 1980-1982: SWC/M-Polaroid back usable
  5. 1982-1985: SWC/M with CF lens and bubble level on body
  6. 1986-1988: SWC/M with CF lens and no bubble level on body
  7. 1989 to 2001: the 903SWC

There are also three types of Viewfinders made:

  • Type 1 1959-1969: standard "megaphone" finder
  • Type 2 1969-1985: standard finder with rubber at eyepiece
  • Type 3 1986-present: finder with built in bubble level

The latest version of the Hasselblad SWC is the model 905SWC, which was produced in the year 2001 and the optics have downgraded to 8 elements compared to 10 elements on previous models.


Practical Use:

The camera is relatively small and light, therefore it allows me to shoot up to 1/15 seconds without worrying about vibration. When shooting “street photography” with this camera, you will have to pre-focus to the distance that you anticipate the subject will be and shoot steady with both hands at waist-level. This strategy can be done in “blind” shooting since the depth of field is enormous.

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·         The lens offers almost distortion-free images.

·         The SWC is lightweight and small, so easily handheld-able.

·         The handling

·         The interchangeable film backs provide convenience when shooting on-the-go and allows quick swapping between b&w and colour films.

·         The build quality for this camera is rock-solid amazing.

·         It is easy to hyperfocus with this camera since the depth of field is great.


·         The lens is fixed as there is no option for interchangeable lenses.

·         The viewfinder is quite small and the older ones offer poor visibility due to its age.

·         There is no rangefinder system incorporated thus it is difficult for precise focusing.

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Mamiya vs Hasselblad Comparison:

When compare the Hasselblad SWC to the Mamiya 7 with 43mm lens that makes the SWC seems to be primitive, which is reasonable for a camera designed 50 years ago. 

The focusing system of both systems is different, whereas the Hasselblad SWC is scale-focus compared to the precise rangefinder on the Mamiya. In terms of optical design, it is suspicious that the Mamiya copied the same lens design as the Hasselblad SWC. However, the latest Hasselblad SWC model (905SWC) only consists of 8 elements in the optics, whereas the Mamiya still makes the original 10 elements version for its 43mm lens.

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