Skip to content

Hasselblad 500 EL/M Adventures

Well, I just finished putting my 500 EL/M together after almost completely taking it apart.

So as usual I went to use it one day and the $150 batteries were dead. It stopped mid-stroke, and I was in the boonies, so I cocked the camera manually to remove the lens. BAD IDEA.

As far as I can tell, that forced something past something, and the result was that the front gear train (which cocks the shutter in the lens) ended up being out of phase with the rest of the camera. I took the whole thing apart, referring to the service manuals, which although detailed are a pain to read as they frequently refer to parts by the part number which may or may not be shown in the adjacent figure.

In any case, after taking the whole thing apart and re-synching it I realized I had also stripped a threaded shaft which threads to a gear connecting the winding motor with the body. Saying “what the hell” and deciding I could easily convert it to a manual in the worst case I epoxied the shaft to the gear, which so far seems to hold up.

But anyway. I should have taken pictures to post, but I didn’t have time to take any. The point of this is that at the time I wrote “My First Post” I couldn’t find the DIN connector used for the electric Hasselblads anywhere. It is a 5-pin DIN, with the pins at 270 degrees (see this link). It turns out some refer to this connector as “240” degrees and I just found out they also refer to it as “60” degrees (denoting the angle between adjacent pins for a total of 240). In short, I found it on Mouser for $2.66.

Cool thing is that I think you may be able to power the camera from there—via external battery pack or AC adapter. Also, I’m going to try to find out how much voltage that thing can take. Seeing as how everything is pulsed in operation, it shouldn’t be a problem to double or even triple the voltage as all there is is a solenoid (to release the camera) and a motor which is controlled via limit switch in on-off fashion.

I’m definitely going to get rid of these damn batteries.


  1. Hi,

    I have a 500 el/m with the mirror locked up. When I turn the shaft with screwdriver, it comes down and the curtain closes but they don’t lock. I’m turning it fairly hard at the point where it stops turning. Any ideas on the problem or where I can find a service manual?

    Malcolm Campbell

    Friday, November 7, 2008 at 9:35 am | Permalink
  2. Donkeypuss wrote:

    Hi Malcolm,

    Your best bet is to contact the guy who runs and see if he has the service manual.

    Friday, November 7, 2008 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  3. Donkeypuss wrote:


    If I understand your mirror will not stay down (as in it won’t stay in the position at which you could see through the lens from the viewfinder). The ELM’s as you probably know have the switch (in place of the winding knob) that selects between different winding modes. Two of these settings will prevent the mirror from staying down so that the camera is “ready to shoot”. If that knob is missing, maybe you can just turn its actuating shafts to different positions and see if that fixes it.

    It may be handy to hook up a power supply to the body for testing as detailed at this site:

    Friday, November 7, 2008 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  4. you make the comment \I could easily convert it to manual in the worst case\ my question is could you really? would it be practical convert an EL/M to manual operation. I am thinking of piecing together a sort Frankenblad from whatever bits and pieces I can pick up cheap. EL/M bodies seem to be the cheapest ones going, I assume that is because a good lot of them either have or are likely to have motor problems so converting a dead motor drive model to manual seems like a possible way to go. thanks

    Sunday, March 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  5. Donkeypuss wrote:

    Hi Don,

    I never actually converted the 500 ELM to manual. You can completely remove the motor module. But that would leave nothing covering the bottom of the camera (some leatherette surgery would suffice, probably). Maybe with a couple of 500 CM parts, you may be able to replace some gears so you can easily attach a winding handle, or you can drill into the ones there if you’re courageous enough. The shutter could be activated with something as simple as a properly bent paperclip. All the guts are a 500 CM; all you have to replace are the electric actuators.

    In short, I think it’s doable, but I haven’t done it myself. If you see 500 ELMs cheap, especially when people say they don’t work, it’s
    not a bad idea to get them. Sometimes you can transplant parts between them and 500 CM’s. Also, I bought a “broken” one whose battery was
    just dead; I wired it up for power and it ran fine.

    With some dremmel surgery on 4xAAA battery holders, you can cram 8 AAA batteries in there and run the camera that way. The original batteries are 6 volts; people run them off 9 volts and it’s probably no big deal. I bet you
    could run it off higher voltages, too. The only issue would be overheating the winding motor (if you’re doing fast shooting, which is unlikely), or, worse off, overheating the shuttering solenoid—when you take bulb type exposures, that solenoid is powered the whole time.

    I don’t like the idea of the 9V adapter because 9V batteries are expensive. It is possible to cram AA’s in there, too, but it’s so tight that it would be difficult to wire them in series to get the right voltage, and it would also require taking the camera apart to remove the springy battery contacts.

    Sunday, March 29, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
  6. forrest wrote:

    How can I convert the 500elm to the grip-handle drive used on the 503

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink
  7. Donkeypuss wrote:


    Your best bet is to contact the guy who runs and see if he has a service manual. Then you should be able to see how different the two really are. As I’ve said it looks possible to convert a 500 ELM to manual winding, but it wouldn’t be easy. I have no idea about the pistol grip winder because I’ve never handled one.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] In continuation to my first post in the series…. […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *