Design Knowledge Intermediary
1600F Camera

1600F Camera, 1948
Hasselblad, Sweden


Sixten Sason


Type: SLR Film Camera
Film Size: 120 roll
Picture Size: 6X6cm (2 1/4 x 2 1/4 ")
Shutter: Focal Plane
Shutter Speeds: to 1/1600s
Marketed: 1948 to 1952

The first series of production cameras (“the civilian camera”) made by Victor Hasselblad was a challenging project. To bring engineering drawings and ideas of what, for the time, was a very complex camera into a functioning machine suitable for professional use must have been an extreme challenge. Two prototype bodies had been made in 1948 and one of these was used in the introduction of the Hasselblad camera in New York in October 1948.

Manufacturing the cameras destined for public sale probably began in 1948 but with modifying and troubleshooting the parts and function took months and the first cameras were shipped to the US distributor in June 1949.

The cameras all bear a distinctive four digit serial number engravings ranging from 0001 to 0308. These first series cameras have a number of distinctive features that make them interesting technologically and historically. They are technical and historical equivalents of the 31 Barnack designed nullserie cameras made by Leica in 1923. These cameras were all essentially hand made with individual parts being fitted and modified to each camera. This makes repairs extremely difficult and extremely time consuming. Master Hasselblad repairman David Knapman reports that these early cameras can take 120 hours of his time to overhaul, clean, lubricate and adjust. To put that in perspective that is sitting at his workbench for three weeks working on one camera body to get it to function as it should!

Because of this delicate and difficult mechanical design, many of these early cameras were returned to the factory for repairs - often within days of the new owners receiving them. Over the first few years of these cameras being sold, the majority (153 of 269 actually assembled) of these cameras came back to the factory for repairs and in many cases if the repairs were deemed too time consuming or parts were not available, the customer was simply sent a new camera.

Many of the early cameras served as a source of parts after the series 2 cameras (1950-1953) with their modified internal mechanisms when they were being produced.

However there are a number of the Series One cameras that have received a number of apparent upgrades that make them distinctive. It is assumed that all of the Series One cameras were assembled with their most distinctive feature – a polished aluminum wind knob – in contrast with the black wind knob that all Hasselblad except this first series have. The shutter speed engravings on the wind knob are also different from the series two 1600F and 1000F cameras that follow as the shutter speeds are engraved with shorter exposure times running counter-clockwise as viewed from the right hand side of the body.

- www.hasselblad.com, www.hasselbladhistorical.eu

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