I’ve been lusting after a Hasselblad for at least a decade now, and having had several medium format 6×6 cameras over the years. I stumbled across the Salut C a couple of months ago on eBay, so I decided to take a chance on it since it was listed as “in working condition”. Without really testing it first, my son and I set out to the White River Falls State Park in Eastern Oregon and quickly discovered that neither of the film counters on the two backs work, but the film seemed to be advancing, so we just sort of went for it. Well, the pictures didn’t really turn out, so I decided to set up and test the camera, the backs and the two lenses to see how they stack up for sharpness and exposure.
After a little bit of looking around online, I settled on this chart that I downloaded from B&H Photo, modified it a bit, and shot two rolls of JCH Streetpan 400 to test the backs and lenses. The first roll I used the 80mm lens, and the second roll I used the 65mm lens and the second back. Starting at f/22, I incrementally stopped down keeping the exposure the same down to f/2.8 and then bracketed the exposure for the remaining couple of exposures.
I developed the film using 1:1 XTOL at 17 minutes and it turned out just fine. I love this film actually, it’s wonderfully flexible with a good range, rich tones and tight grain even though it’s 400 ISO (which is faster than what I generally use since my preferred film is Ilford Pan F 50). It’s pretty much my goto film for 35mm these days, and it’s nice having some 120mm around too for the days I don’t want to be shooting 25 or 50 ISO, which I normally shoot.
The exposures turned out to be pretty consistent through all of the shutter speeds, starting at 500th/s. I stepped down to 250th, 125th, 60th, 30th, 15th, 8th, 1/4s and 1/2s. The only speed I didn’t hit was 1,000th at the high end, but honestly it’s unlikely that I would shoot it at that speed anyway and given the other results, I’m sure it would be fine.
As you can see from the test shots, the exposure is decent, and you can even see the scratches in the sliding glass window from my dog, so I’d say the focusing on the camera is accurate and the lenses are sharp. Not bad for $180.00 for two lenses, a body, and two film backs. These images aren’t scans though, since my scanner isn’t cooperating right now I shot the film using my iPhone on an LCD panel, but they did come out pretty well, even if what I have shown isn’t great resolution.
The camera itself shoots just like any other 6×6 film camera with not too many differences. The film speed is adjusted on the winding knob, which is a little odd to get used to as it is possible to accidentally change it while your advancing the film and cocking the shutter if you pull out on the knob a bit. I also find it a little odd that the aperture ring is not always at the back of the lens depending on the lens, but both of the lenses the aperture ring has solid detents so the probability of it getting accidentally “adjusted” is pretty minimal. There isn’t a lot of technology built into the cameras though, so you can still take a picture with the dark slide in place. Luckily, all you have to do is remove the back and cock the shutter again so you don’t just waste that frame. The film advances smoothly on both backs, and there is a trap on the back so you can line up the film with the first exposure before you get started, which is handy since the counters don’t work, but you have to be careful here as you are letting light into the film back when you open up the door and it will expose a nice round spot on the film in direct light.
The Salut uses the same lens mount as the Kiev 88, so lenses are easy to come by, and they did make a nice wide 30mm lens too, but it can be pretty pricey. I’ve got everything I need so I don’t really see me getting anything else for this system unless I come across something really cheap, but for the money it’s a solid medium format camera, and if you can find it with decent shipping costs, there are a lot of options coming right out of Russia.