In the latter half of the 20th century, photography technology entered a golden age. The age of the medium format camera. Mamiya. Bronica. Pentax. Few would argue the very pinnacle of design in this class of camera was the Hasselblad. So highly regarded was this maker's cameras they were chosen by NASA to be taken to the moon.
And there's a bunch of them still there. Because weight was such a critical issue in getting the astronauts safely back to earth, they returned with only the detachable film magazines, leaving their weight-modified Hasselblad shooters behind. You could fetch them for yourself, if you can find a way up there. Hasselblad recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the event and there's a terrific wrap here if you want to read more.
I share this story with you not because of a fascination with cameras abandoned in exotic places, though that's not a bad story idea, but because on a recent trip to my favourite camera dealer I was amazed to learn that a Hasselblad 500C/M with 80mm Planar lens and finder, much like the one pictured, passed through their hands recently. How much? $1000. Here's a camera that once was out of reach for all but the most successful photographers of the 60s and 70s but which now can be had for a song.
But here's the thing. These cameras are still working. Not only were they engineered and built to last but have been owned by photographers who cherished them.
What's that, you say? Film? Yes, these cameras shoot film, though some can be modified with a digital back. And yes, you can still buy the 120 roll film to load into them and, yes, you can still get that film processed. Why would you do this? If you're a digital photographer who has never used a lightbox to view a perfectly exposed, beautifully framed, cleverly conceived and perfectly executed colour photograph captured on roll film, you haven't really experienced the joy of photography.
This week, Gizmodo celebrates these cameras and their accessories. Incredible technology. Going for a song.
Any Gizmodians with tips on dealers in their own city who are still selling these cameras should share the knowledge with their brethren by hitting me up via the Tip Your Editors link at the top of this page. I'll start it off by nominating Photoco Camera House in Adelaide's Central Market. Link through to their home page, where they offer a downloadable Excel spreadsheet detailing the latest secondhand gear in stock.