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Here is a list of photographic cameras used for Apollo 16.

There were two Lunar Surface Data Hasselblads equipped with a 60 mm lens for both astronauts to be used with chest mounts to the space suits. The astronauts had special training to use them without viewfinder. The astronauts were very successful in aiming with their cameras.

But what about the third Lunar Surface Hasselblad Camera with a 500 mm lens? Using a 500 mm lens without viewfinder would be difficult. The Camera was used with 70 mm film, the image size was about 53 X 53 mm. For 35 mm film and 24 x 36 mm format, the equivalent focal length would be about 288 mm.

Did they use the original waist-level viewfinder of the Hasselblad single-lens reflex cameras? Was this camera used only without helmet inside the pressurized cabin of the the Lunar Module or was it used also with closed helmet on the Moon's surface? Or was a special designed viewfinder for use in space added?

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  • $\begingroup$ I usually think of lens focal lengths in terms of the equivalent for a 35mm format camera. Did these cameras have 35mm film, or something larger? If larger, what would be the equivalents of 60mm and 500mm? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 24 '18 at 0:29
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh usually the 500EL is fitted with a 120 film back for 6x6cm medium format, but for Apollo use it was fitted with a special back to take 70mm film cartridges. So the crop factor should be somewhere around 0.35 to 0.4 relative to 35mm (not 0.5 because the "raw" film sizes include the perfs), and a 500mm lens would be around 175 - 200 mmE. $\endgroup$ – hobbs Sep 24 '18 at 1:28
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    $\begingroup$ (the 70mm film is mentioned by both links in the question) $\endgroup$ – hobbs Sep 24 '18 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ I've used your link here thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 13 '18 at 8:58
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh: It is a pleasure to me if my links are reused. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Oct 18 '18 at 15:18
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As it happens, on Apollo 17, Gene Cernan got a picture of Jack Schmitt using a handheld camera with the 500mm lens on the surface of the moon! At the Station 6 site, Schmitt braced himself against a boulder and took some "manual panorama" series of pictures of the area. This picture is from magazine 146/F.

enter image description here

According to the Apollo 17 image library:

AS17-146-22293 165:49:31 Station 6. "Locator" to the LRV, with Jack in the background taking photos AS17-139-21206 to 21211 and using Fragment 2 to give him some stability. Fragment 3 is the smaller piece of rock that is next to Fragment 2 and to the right of Jack.

Here is Dave Scott on A15 brandishing the 500mm:

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Jack Schmitt really looks like using an eye-level viewfinder. Definately not the waist-level viewfinder of an unmodified Hasselblad SLR. Does he wear also the chest mount data camera? $\endgroup$ – Uwe Sep 23 '18 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ In hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a17/AS17-146-22296HR.jpg taken 8 minutes later, Schmitt does appear to have the chest mounted camera with 60mm lens. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Sep 23 '18 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ Not sure whether he's using one camera body and switching lenses -- given lunar dust, that seems fraught. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Sep 23 '18 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ In this list, only the camera used in the CM is listed with three different lenses 80, 250 and 105 mm for interchangement. All lunar cameras are listed with one single lens only. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Sep 23 '18 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ Here is a long list with many images taken with the 500 mm lens. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Sep 23 '18 at 21:35
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This should be an image of the Hasselblad camera with the 500 mm lens.

enter image description here

The part at the right of the image (behind the film magazine) could be part of an iron sight similar to that used for firearms. The other alignment marker is at the left top of the image, the small black part above the lens. See the red arrows.

Using this viewfinder it was possible to align the camera to an object that should be in the center of the image. But it was not possible to see the borders of the image.

Another image of an astronaut training the use of the 500 mm lens:

enter image description here

No doubt anymore that the 500 mm lens should be used with a closed helmet during a moonwalk.

A datasheet of the Tele-Tessar f/8 - 500 mm lens. Another 500 mm lens for the Hasselblad camera, but not the one used for Apollo.

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The best location I know for the Apollo images are the hi-res scans put up at the Apollo Archive. Unfortunately, the images don't seem to be broken out explicitly by camera, but in the Hasselblad Magazines section for Apollo 16 there are some that explicitly have 500mm in their name. It doesn't mention how they were taken, but the few I looked at do not appear to be taken through the lander window.

Edit: You might find this resource useful. In Part I it lists the 500mm Hasselblad as a "handheld" camera. It talks about how Hasselblad removed the SLR part of the camera and replaced it with a straight-through viewfinder that was then modified to be used with a helmet on.

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  • $\begingroup$ I found three photo follwing your link, the AS16-112-18247, AS16-112-18254 and AS16-112-18254. I agree, these images dont look like taken through a window. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Sep 23 '18 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ Look at www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/alsj-reseau.html. The Hasselblad apparently was the 500EL. I think it took either the 60 or 500mm lens. $\endgroup$ – Dave Sep 23 '18 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ This list counts 3 Hasselblad cameras on board of the LM. Two of them equiped with a 60 mm lens and one with a 500 mm. No need to change lenses with pressurized space suit gloves and moon dust all around. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Sep 24 '18 at 12:40

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