The Hasselblad CB lenses

Hasselblad and Carl Zeiss jointly introduce the CB line, a new basic (that’s what the B stands for) set of three lenses that should allow the professional photographer to successfully fulfill at least 90% of all the day-to-day assignments.

Every CB lens is equipped with a new Prontor central shutter (that’s what the C stands for), so it can universally be used with all Hasselblad series 500 and series 200 cameras. And the best thing is: Hasselblad can offer this set at a very favourable price.

The CB line consists of the famous Carl Zeiss T* Planar 80 mm f/2.8, plus a high performance wide angle Distagon 60 mm f/3.5, and a telephoto Tessar 160 mm f/4.8. With these new lenses comes a wealth of improvements like higher image contrast, low-friction focusing, better legibility of scales, permanently black smooth-action front bayonet, heavy-duty rear bayonet with three-dimensional structure.

Of course Carl Zeiss had cut costs somehow to make the favourable price possible in the first place. But the savings were not achieved at the expense of optical or mechanical quality. Rather Carl Zeiss left out the F-function from the shutter. So, a CB lens used with a focal plane shutter Hasselblad of the 200 series will work perfectly, but acts only in the C-mode which means: Upon tripping the shutter the viewfinder image will disappear until the photographer winds the film thus re-opening the shutter – just as with any central shutter Hasselblad since 1957 – nothing to worry about at all.

The scales got the new and larger “Frutiger” type face. White color is used for all scales and marks, not white, red, orange, green and fluorescent red as on CF-lenses. The new heavy-duty rear bayonet with three-dimensional structure is built in. Although it took a high initial investment to produce complex parts like this, on the bottom line it saves considerably on assembly and logistics costs, because it replaces roughly 15 or more parts with a single one.

The smooth action front bayonet is injection molded from a permanently black material, which again needed a high initial investment for the mould but will generate savings over the CF-line’s milled and black anodised part with increasing numbers of CB’s produced. To a certain degree, the new front bayonet can even serve as bumper.

In spite of the savings, three important things remain unchanged:

  • All the lens elements are made from carefully selected batches of highest qualtity optical glass. No plastic was used nor even considered!
  • The shutter is still a Prontor precision mechanics masterpiece from the Black Forest (Prontor Works have been an essential part of Carl Zeiss for decades).
  • The CB lenses are made by the dedicated workers of Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen along with the new Tele-Superachromat T* 5,6/350 CFE and all the CF lenses for Hasselblad.

Source: Hasselblad News, Autumn 1997.

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