The Hasselblad 503CW camera is an excellent medium format camera ideal for wedding, portrait, and fine art photography.
The camera's biggest asset is its Carl Zeiss lens system. The lenses render superb clarity, tones, and bokeh effects, giving its images a truly unique and aesthetically pleasing artistic quality. Very few cameras can match the aesthetic quality of this camera. Modern wedding photography continues to draw its inspiration from this camera and the incredible photographers that have mastered it; check out Jose Villa and Johnny Patience's work if you get a chance.
The Hasselblad 503CW's viewfinder is unique. It's something every photographer needs to see and use. Bright and 6x6cm in size (the same size as the camera's mirror and film negatives), a scene through this Viewfinder has a surreal, 3-D look. Looking through this viewfinder makes you want to shoot everything. The viewfinder sits atop of the camera; as a result, the camera is held at waist level while looking down into the viewfinder.
The camera is completely manual. The first time user is often jarred by no on/off button, no light meter, and a complete reliance on a light meter or the sunny 16 rule. You'll get your light metering 101 lesson in quick with this camera.
The camera isn't for everyone. The camera is not very portable, nor is it easy to set up. I don't recommend it for travel photography. Its heavy weight and oblong shape makes it uncomfortable hanging from your neck. If you're using the camera for travel or on-location shoots, a backpack will be required for transportation. Setting up a shot requires taking the camera out of my backpack, opening the viewfinder, pulling the dark slide out, and pressing the shutter. I haven't even mentioned the time it takes to load film with a Hasselblad film back. If you're looking for a medium format camera with portability and speed, check out the Mamiya 7 rangefinder system.
At slower shutter speeds, the camera's large mirror creates creates a slight camera shake, enough to require a tripod at 1/60 or below. Again, this camera wasn't built for speed or portability.
You can find a used Hasselblad 503CW on Ebay for around $1,700. Considering the image size and quality, this camera is a great bargain. Even though this camera has been taken out of production, there's still quite a few for sale.
Few cameras in this world are as iconic as the old Hasselblads. Take this camera out for a try and you'll find people stopping to admire it and reminisce about the good old days of film. Whether this camera is right for you, it's a camera I recommend that everyone try at least once. I promise, you won't regret it.