Classic medium format Hasselblad film cameras could soon be adapted to accept the readily available Fujifilm Instax Square film. NONS Camera, an instant film start-up based out of China, has announced pre-orders for the Nons Instant Back, which converts modular Hasselblad film cameras into instant film shooters. The Nons Instant Back is compatible with Hasselblad 500, 501, and 503 series cameras.
The $279 NONS Instant Back uses Instax Square film, creating classic instant prints from a classy-looking camera system. NONS says that the camera will still have a full focus range and that the viewfinder and focusing screen don’t need to be adjusted to use the instant back. The instant film back will also use an electric film ejection motor, as well as a film counter and a display for the remaining battery life on the built-in li-ion battery.
Of course, some photographers will find using a pricey medium film camera to spit out small 62mm images blasphemous. In digital terms, that’s like trading a full-frame mirrorless for a smartphone. Medium format is loved for its larger size that helps gather more light, create bigger enlargements, and add softer bokeh. Hasselblad 500 series cameras typically have four-figure prices, while there are several instant film cameras for as much as $80. And it’s not like the 120 film the cameras use has gone out of production.
But, the draw with the Nons Instant Back is the ability to use Hasselblad lenses and still have a print available almost instantly. The Nons Instant Back will include a dark cover that makes it possible to remove the instant film before a cartridge is finished, though Nons cautions that the film should then be placed immediately into a light-tight bag or box. That allows photographers to capture a preview of the day’s shots before the actual medium format film is developed.
Will photographers that don’t own a Hasselblad immediately run out and drop a few grand in gear in order to pick up the instant film back? Well, no, probably not. But I can see Hasselblad owners getting excited about having more ways to use the beloved camera.
At one time, Hasselblad even made backs designed to use with Polaroid 100 series film. But, Polaroid doesn’t make 100 series pack film any longer, so without expired eBay film finds, the backs have limited use today.
The Instant Back isn’t NONS’ first product that opens Instax film to interchangeable lenses. The Nons SL660 — which I reviewed last year — is an Instax Square compatible camera body that accepts EF mount lenses, including vintage Canon optics, as well as other lenses using an adapter. The SL660 is an easier entry into film SLRs, allowing more control than a point-and-shoot Instax but still skipping the darkroom.
NONS isn’t the first company to try to bring instant film to Hasselbald — Escura funded a Kickstarter launch of an instant film back for Hasselblad V cameras in 2020, but the campaign just now lists first batches of the back being shipped out this month.
Hasselblad photographers that want to spit out instant prints will have to wait until at least September 2023, which is when Nons expects the first backs to ship. The pre-orders are $20 off the expected retail price directly from Nons rather than crowdfunding, making the instant film back $259 ahead of the full launch.