As a passionate photographer fascinated by bird watching, Victor Hasselblad wanted to create a camera that could capture the beauty of nature and easily fit in his hand – a portable, high-quality piece of technology.


In October 1948, he introduced the world to the Hasselblad 1600F, the world’s first single lens reflex camera for medium format. With its sleek, innovative design and modular build, the 1600F was a truly groundbreaking feat of engineering and one of the most influential models in the history of photography. In preserving Victor’s legacy, the Hasselblad Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden has the very first 1600F (serial number 0001) and its prototype models on display at the Gothenburg Museum of Art. And to further the preservation of this momentous first camera, Hasselblad documented it with the H6D-100c.

The Hasselblad, as it was originally called before the introduction of the 1000F, is a historic example of photographic innovation. Not only was the 1600F smaller and lighter than most models of the time, but it was also a system camera, which meant it boasted a modular design. As the first of its kind, this gave extreme flexibility with interchangeable lenses and the ability to attach a viewfinder. Most importantly, this modularity allowed for removable film magazines; because of this, photographers today can attach a digital back in place of the film magazine and use the camera. It wasn’t until 10 years later that full frame producers adopted this type of modular construction. In addition, the innovatory choice to utilize a Fresnel lens in the focusing screen of the 1600F allowed for a much brighter viewfinder image. Using a focal plane shutter with a top shutter speed of 1/1600 sec, roughly 3000 1600F cameras were made between 1948 and 1952.

FIRST MODEL OF THE 1600F, 1945/1946

The original prototypes of the 1600F, made of wood and metal, were constructed in 1943 and 1945/46. Hints from Victor’s work with the HK-7 shined through in the camera’s design, in the form of interchangeable film magazines and lenses as well as its compact build. Sixten Sason, the Swedish product designer behind the designs of previous Saab automobiles, Electrolux vacuums, and airplanes, was part of the 1600F’s prototype design, styling the iconic smooth edges and rounded top of the boxy camera.

With the powerful 100-megapixel CMOS sensor of the Hasselblad H6D-100c, high resolution imagery of the very first Hasselblad 1600F, and in that, the very first SLR medium format camera and its prototypes, is digitally preserved for future generations of camera historians, dedicated Hasselblad users, and photography aficionados the world over.


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