Part of Apollo astronaut training was learning to be a pretty good photographer without a viewfinder. The Hasselblad 500EL Data Camera used magazines with 160 color/200 B&W exposures on 70mm film.

Once the magazine was expended, were the astronauts able to change it while on EVA, or did they have to wait until they were back in the LM?

  • $\begingroup$ I ran across this site with a lot of information about the Hasselblad 500EL ehartwell.com/Apollo17/BlueMarblePhotography_Cameras.htm $\endgroup$
    – user11890
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 3:00
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    $\begingroup$ Long ago I inherited a Hasselblad camera. You could detach the film holder from the camera, change film whenever you wanted with no issues of fogging it. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 0:12

2 Answers 2


These cameras had magazines that could be exchanged in the middle of a roll (and that was one reason NASA chose them).

Here's a photo of John Young exchanging a magazine during an EVA on Apollo 16:

So, no need to wait until they were back in the LEM.

This long PDF has more detail on the film change process. A standard Hasselblad magazine has a darkslide: a metal sheet that forms a light-tight seal over the magazine. This means a photographer can swap magazines in the middle of a roll without exposing any film to light. Insert the magazine, then pull out the darkslide and you're ready to go.
The cameras NASA used were modified: they included a reseau plate. This was a glass plate with cross markings to help gauge distances and sizes from a photograph. The presence of this plate meant that the astronaut had to remove the darkslide before attaching the magazine to the camera. So some film was exposed during a camera swap, and astronauts routinely took some blank shots to get any exposed film out of the way (and test the film transport).

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the extra information about the Réseau plate forcing the darkslide to be removed. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ I remember being fascinated by the little crosses on those photos as a kid. At first i thought maybe they were composites and the crosses were where they'd been aligned. Then i guessed that they must be on a lens or something attached to the camera. To me those little crosses will always be associated with ultra cool human achievement. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 15:44

The site you provided states that there were 9 magazines of film used on the Moon for Apollo 11. The astronauts did not return to the LEM until the EVA was complete. Thus, they must have changed the film periodically during the EVA.

  • $\begingroup$ That's a good point about Apollo 11; I was thinking about Apollo 15 which had 5 EVAs. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ But they may have used 9 magazines and never changed film within a magazine. There was no camera assistent doing film change in the magazines. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 20:55

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