Edited and annotated by Eric Hartwell -
Last updated March 22, 2006
The Apollo 17 mission carried four 70MM cameras, and 23 magazines of film. A
total of 3584 images were taken, 1645 in black & white, and 1939 in color.
Apollo 11 Hasselblad Cameras
by Phill Parker
The camera equipment carried on the Apollo-11 flight was comprehensive. In
addition to the usual TV and small-film cameras on board, there was a special
camera for near-distance stereoscopic shots of the moon. And, of course, there
were also the cameras which, for this article, are the most important, viz.,
three Hasselblad 500ELs.
Apollo 11 Hasselblad 500EL cameras: CM (left), LM, Data (right) [Phill Parker
Two of the 500ELs were identical to the ones carried on the Apollo-8, -9 and
-10 flights. Each had its own Zeiss Planar f-2.8/80 mm lens. A Zeiss Sonnar
f-5.6/250 mm telephoto lens was also carried. One of the conventional 500ELs,
along with the telephoto lens and two extra magazines, was in the Apollo-11
Command Module throughout the flight. The other conventional 500EL, and two
extra magazines as well, were placed in the lunar module. Also in the lunar
module - and making its first journey in space - was a Hasselblad 500EL Data
Camera, which was the one to be used on the moon's surface.
The Data Camera, like the other two 500ELs, was a modified standard 500EL
camera but differed from the others in several ways:
Apollo 11 Hasselblad 500EL data
camera showing Reseau plate.
[Phill Parker Archives]
Data Camera was fitted with a so-called
Reseau plate. The Reseau plate was made of glass and was fitted to the
back of the camera body, extremely close to the film plane. The plate was
engraved with a number of crosses to form a grid. The intersections were 10
mm apart and accurately calibrated to a tolerance of 0.002 mm. Except for
the larger central cross, each of the four arms on a cross was 1 mm long and
0.02 mm wide. The crosses are recorded on every exposed frame and provided a
means of determining angular distances between objects in the field-of-view.
- The Data Camera was fitted with a new Zeiss lens, a
Biogon f-5.6/60 mm, specially designed for NASA, which later became
available commercially. Careful calibration tests were performed with the
lens fitted in the camera in order to ensure high-quality, low-distortion
images. Furthermore, the lens of the camera was fitted with a polarizing
filter which could easily be detached.
- The Data Camera was given a silver finish to make it
more resistant to thermal variations that ranged from full Sun to full
shadow helping maintain a more uniform internal temperature. The two
magazines carried along with the Data Camera also had silver finishes. Each
was fitted with a tether ring so that a cord could be attached when the
Lunar Module Pilot lowered the mated magazine and camera from the lunar
module to the Commander standing on the lunar surface. The exposed magazines
were hoisted the same way.
- The Data Camera was modified to prevent accumulation
of static electricity. When film is wound in a camera, static electricity is
generated on the film surface. Normally, this electricity is dispersed by
the metal rims and rollers that guide the film, and by the humidity of the
air. In a camera fitted with a Reseau plate, however, the film is guided by
the raised edges of the plate. As glass is a non-conductor, the electric
charge that builds up at the glass surface can become so heavy that sparks
can occur between plate and film - especially if the camera is used in a
very dry environment or in vacuum. Sparks cause unpleasant patterns to
appear on the film and can be a hazard if the camera is used in an
atmosphere of pure oxygen. To conduct the static electricity away from the
Reseau plate in the Data Camera, the side of the plate facing the film is
coated with an extremely thin conductive layer which is led to the metallic
parts of the camera body by two contact springs. Contact is effected by two
projecting silver deposits on the conductive layer. The Reseau plate, or
register glass, is not a new development in photography. What is most
remarkable, however, is that the group of Hasselblad staff working on NASA
camera projects in collaboration with Carl Zeiss was successful in applying
the idea to a small camera - like the Hasselblad 500EL Data Camera. This
camera is not only useful in space photography, it is particularly suitable
for all kinds of aerial photography. The special cameras produced in the
past for aerial photography were large and intended for a large
negative-format - frequently meaning high prices. The Hasselblad 500EL Data
Camera with its Reseau plate produced a small and comparatively low-cost
camera which gave satisfactory results in aerial photographic work.
Finally, The film used on Apollo-11 was the same type carried on the other
flights - a Kodak special thin-based and thin emulsion double-perforated 70 mm
film - which permitted 160 pictures in color or 200 on black/white in each
Apollo 11 Hasselblad 500EL 70mm camera magazines: CM magazines with Zeiss Sonar
f5.6/250mm telephoto lens (left);
LM double-perforated film magazine - 160 color / 200 black-and-white images
(center), Lunar Surface magazines (right)
[Phill Parker Archives]
70mm Hasselblad Electric Camera (HEC)
Apollo 16 Flight Summary:
Apollo 16 Photographic Equipment
The 70mm camera is primarily used for high resolution still
photography and is hand-held or bracket mounted. Camera features include
inter changeable lenses and film magazines. The standard lens is an 80 m
f/2.8, and 250 mm f/4 and 500 mm f/8 telephoto lenses are provided for
photography of distant objects. Two types of 70mm film magazines are
provided, one for standard-base films, the other for thin-base films.
Camera accessories include filters and a ring sight.
Some specific uses of the camera are as follows:
- Verify landmark tracking
- Lunar landmark and mapping
- Record Saturn IVB separation
- Photograph disturbed weather regions (hurricanes, typhoons,
etc.), debris collection on the spacecraft windows, SLA separation,
LM during rendezvous and docking, terrain of geological and
oceanographic interests, and other space equipment in orbit
- Act as a backup to the 16 mm sequence camera
- Record in-cockpit operation, e.g., normal positions of suited
A built-in 6.25-vdc battery-powered,
electric-motor-driven mechanism advances the film and cocks the shutter
whenever the actuation button is pressed. An accessory connector permits
remote camera operation and shutter operation indication for time
correlation. The weight of the camera, with 80 mm lens and 2 batteries,
without film magazine, is 4.04 pounds.
The camera accessories are:
80 mm f/2.8
Lens. Standard or normal lens for the 70 mm camera with
2-1/4 x 2-1/4-inch film format. Used for general still photography
when a wide angle or telephoto view is not required. Focuses from 3
feet to infinity. Has built-in shutter with speeds from 1 second to
1/500 second. Field of view, each side, is approximately 38 x 38
250 mm f/5.6
Lens. A telephoto lens that is primarily used for photography
of terrain and distant objects. It produces a 3X magnification over
the standard 80 mm lens. The relatively narrow view of this lens
necessitates careful aiming of the camera to ensure that the desired
scene is photographed. A mount is available for mounting the camera
and lens at the right rendezvous window to view parallel to vehicle
X-axis. The lens focuses from 8.5 feet to infinity, and has built-in
shutter with speeds from 1 second to 1/500 second. The field of
view is approximately 13 x 13 degrees. The weight of the lens is
Cable. The function of the remote control cable is to
actuate the shutter from the left couch while sighting targets
through the COAS in the left rendezvous window. The cable is 48
inches long with a handle, button, and control knob at one end and a
connector at the other. The control knob has settings of TE (time
exposure), 1, 6, 12, and 24 fps.
70 mm Film
Magazines. Two types of film magazines are used, one for
standard-base film, the other for thin-base film. Either film
magazine attaches to rear of camera and is locked in place by a
lever-actuated clamp. The type 100 film magazine is for
standard-base film and its capacity is 100 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 inch
frames. The type 200 film magazine is for thin-base film and its
capacity is 200 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 inch frames. Each film magazine
contains gross-film indicators for frame count.
70 mm Film Magazine. The lunar surface 70mm film magazines
are standard 70 mm magazines that have a thermal protective coating.
They are stowed in the 70mm magazine LM transfer bag.
70 mm Magazine
LM Transfer Bag. The 70 mm magazine UI transfer bag is made
from Beta cloth, has a capacity of three magazines, has and a flap
cover to restrain them. The magazine bag with exposed 70 mm
magazines is transferred from the LM to the CM for return to Earth.
Mount for 80 and 250 mm Lens. For the purpose of
photographing parallel to the CM X-axis, the camera mount is used.
It is T-shaped, the stem being 7 inches long and the bar 6 inches.
The stem inserts into a socket mount along the right or left side of
the hatch frame, marked EHC MOUNT ATTACH (80 MM/250 MM LENS,
approximately 7 inches from the TV socket mount. The T-bar portion
has two quick couplings (lower and upper) that attach to the camera.
The lower quick coupling is for use of the camera with the 250 mm
lens and will align the camera parallel with the X-axis. The upper
quick coupling is for use of the camera with the 80 mm lens and is
pitched upward 12±2° from the CM X-axis during pre-launch alignment
to give the camera an unobstructed view. The couplings are labelled
on the back of the mount.
To use the mount, the 70mm camera is assembled, adjusted and set.
The camera can be attached to the appropriate mount quick coupling
by sliding it to the stop and locking by rotating the (flag) lever
90 degrees. Failure to position the camera all the way to the stop
before locking may result in the window aperture obstructing the
camera view. The stem is inserted into the socket mount near the
hatch frame until the latches snap in. The intervalometer cable is
then attached. The camera is sighted by using the COAS and orienting
the CM X-axis toward the target. To use the 80 mm lens, the COAS
elevation scale is set to +12 degrees. The camera can be momentarily
displaced (swung out of the way) by pressing the latch levers and
rotating until the latches reseat.
(Hasselblad Camera Adapter) for mounting a Hasselblad camera in the Command Module.
Allowed a camera with 250mm telephoto lens to be aligned with the spacecraft +X
axis (looking forward). A camera with 80mm normal lens would be aligned 12
degrees above +X to get a clear view through the forward window. Attached to a
socket next to the hatch frame. Credit:
Historic Space Systems
The intervalometer is a remote control device for taking sequential
pictures. It is extremely useful for making a strip map (vertical
stereo strip from rendezvous window, oblique stereo strip from side
windows, etc.). Its control box is 2.5 x 2.5 x 1 inches and has an
ON/OFF switch. A 120-inch cable connects it to the camera accessory
connector. The intervalometer is preset at 20-second intervals and
is powered from the Hasselblad electric camera battery pack.
Cable. The function of the HEC timing cable is to route the
HEC shutter activation signal , generated by the intervalometer, to
the RHEB panel 227 which is then routed to the PCM junction box. The
HEC timing cable is 41 inches long with a 3-inch tee in the center.
A large connector on one end is labeled P1 and connects to RHEB
panel 227. The tee connector is labeled J1 and connects to the
intervalorneter cable. The HEC connector is labeled P2. When not in
use, the cable is coiled, secured with a utility strap, and stowed.
HEC Operation. During
preparation for lunar orbital photography the HEC, cable, and mount are
unstowed. SC1 INST PWR switch on panel 227 is verified OFF and HEC cable
(P1 connector) is connected. The HEC and the intervalometer are mounted.
The HEC cable (Ji) is connected to the intervalometer and the P2
connector to the NEC battery pack. It is not necessary to turn the panel
227 switch on. The intervalometer switch is placed to ON to begin
photography. When photography is completed, the intervalorneter switch
is turned to OFF, HEC timing cable is disassembled in reverse order, and
Selections from Ulli
Lotzmann's Apollo Sketch Book
Lunar Surface Journal Contributor Ulrich Lotzmann has been a close
friend of both Pete Conrad and Alan Bean. He is co-editor of the
Gallery and writes, "It was Al's artwork that motivated me to
buy an easel, brushes, and acrylic paints - I had never painted
before." An example of Ulli's Bean-inspired paintings can be found
In December 2002, Ulli began to produce sketches which, for us,
capture the spirit of Apollo better than any body of work other than
Al Bean's paintings.
Ulli writes, "The sketches are my personal tribute to the men and
women of International Latex Corp. and of Hamilton Standard Devision
of United Aircraft Corp., who designed and manufactured the most
special 'spaceships' ever built - the Apollo Space Suits with their
portable life support systems (PLSSs)."
Drawing Copyright by Ulrich Lotzmann. All rights reserved.
Sketch completed 25 May 2003
The lens on each of the Apollo 12
lunar surface Hasselblads is a German-made 60mm f/5.6 Zeiss Biogon.
133:09:11 Bean: Is the front of my lens clean?
133:09:12 Conrad: Relatively speaking. Nothing else is.
[Bean, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "I would like to say
something about the camera. We got a lot of dust on ourselves
and also on the outside of the camera. We kept looking at the
lens to see if there was any dust on it and to see if it was
going to degrade the pictures. Neither Pete nor I could see it
on each other's camera (lens), although the other parts of our
cameras were covered with dust. We'll have to take a look at the
pictures that we returned (which look okay). If it does turn out
to be a problem, we're going to have to come up with some sort
of brush we can use to dust off the lens, because I don't see
any other way (to clean them). We were trying our best to keep
the equipment clean; but just moving around, trenching, leaning
over, and all the other things tend to get dust on the
[Later crews tended to be even more active than Pete and Al and,
consequently, fell more often and otherwise covered themselves and
the cameras with dust. They carried a small, soft-bristle brush for
lens cleaning and regularly put it to use on the Hasselblads and on
the Rover TV.]
Drawing Copyright by Ulrich Lotzmann. All rights reserved.
Sketch completed 10 August 2003
Ulli writes: "The sketch shows
Neil rescuing the one and only EVA Hasselblad magazine (Mag S, PN
SEB 33100082 SN 415) used during the EVA."
From the Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal:
111:31:04 Armstrong: Uh oh! The camera came off. I mean
the film pack came off. (Long Pause) 111:31:30 Aldrin: Okay.
Just ease it down now. Don't pull so hard on it. All right, let it
[With the SRC (Sample Return Container or rockbox) up to the
porch, Buzz asks Neil to ease the tension in the line so that
the rock box will drop down enough to come through the hatch and
into grabbing range.]
111:31:46 Armstrong: While you're getting that (rock box out
of the way), I've got to get this camera (actually, the film mag,
which dropped at the foot of the ladder).
[Armstrong, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "Concerning the
LEC (Lunar Equipement Conveyor), I had neglected to lock one of
the LEC hooks, which normally wouldn't have caused any trouble.
You would expect to proceed normally whether that was locked or
not. However, for some unknown reason, when I got the SRC about
half way up, the Hasselblad pack just fell off. I can't account
for that. I just took the pack on up and attached it, and
ensured that it was locked when I put it on the SRC the second
time. When it fell onto the surface, it was covered with surface
[Aldrin, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "I'm sure there is
a lot of inertia with any package like that and, with that low
gravity, it tends to swing back and forth; and if there is some
tendency to reach an unlocked position, it will."]
[Armstrong, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "There was no
problem (picking up the film magazine) because the ladder was
right there. So I just leaned over and down to the ground and
picked it up. I had the ladder to hold on to."]
111:33:53 Aldrin: Roger. How's it coming, Neil?
111:33:56 Armstrong: Okay. I've got one side hooked up to the
second box and I've got the film pack on.
111:34:01 Aldrin: Okay. Good.
Drawing Copyright by Ulrich Lotzmann. All rights reserved.
Sketch completed 9 February 2003
Ulli writes "The motif - dealing
with something that happened sometime between
134:03:59 GET - is a true nightmare for every Hasselblad and
Pete threw Al's Hasselblad camera away (Grrrrrrr).
I have drawn the camera without the magazine - that they removed
and put on Pete's camera at
133:32:05 - and the broken camera handle - that was removed at