503 CW with P30 or P45

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by jake_bryant, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. I'm looking to add a secondhand DB to my 503CW. I've done a fair bit of research over the years, and think the most affordable option would be a good P30 - 45 or a Leaf. However, I have learnt that the older CFE lenses can struggle with the BACK's or visa-versa. My 503 CW is abut 4 years old and the 80mm 2.8CFE lens is about 11 years old, buts its super clean and works great.
    Am I being too prudent, or is this combination good to go?
  2. Hasselblad cautions about timing issues with old, "C" lenses if you use the mechanical coupling for CFV backs, but I don't think there's an optical issue with any lens. You have to be extraordinarly careful about vibrations and focusing with a digital back. I generally shoot with the mirror pre-released. I use a sync cord with a CFV, and I don't think you have an alternative to a cord with other backs.
    When focusing, make sure your eye is focused on the grid. Otherwise, you tend to look through the ground glass and focus on a virtual image. It helps to use a magnifier, especially a stovepipe hood, which has a focusing eyepiece. I don't think the split image rangefinder screens are as accurate as the ground glass itself.
  3. The P45 (same 48x36 mm sensor as the CFV-39 back) is probably a better choice for a Hasselblad V than the P30 (smaller 44x33 mm sensor). Both have 6.8 micron pixels, but the crop factor is less on the P45, and I imagine that matters even more to a 6x6 camera user than it does to a 645 camera user.
    I would be surprised if the Hasselblad lenses struggled with modest-sized 6.8 micron pixels. If that really were an issue, then a P25 (same 48x36 mm sensor area, but chunkier 9 micron pixels) would be the solution.
  4. - CF, CFi and CFE lenses certainly do not struggle with digital backs, even with a 60Mpixels. I have used many different D backs and I would (like Ray) recommend a P45 or a CFV-39 as the crop factor of the P30 (1.3) forces you to use wider lenses. On a P30, a 50mm lens becomes a 65mm and your 80mm will become a 105mm.
    If you follow Edward's good advice, your lenses will not limit your digital back.
    - The age of your 503CW or lenses (CF, CFE, CFi) is irrelevant. What counts is how they have been used and maintained. A well maintained 500C/M will make pictures as good as a brand new 503CW, even with a 60Mp back.
  5. Thanks guys this is very helpful advice.
    The crop factor does concern me because I am used to shooting 6x6 film, and full frame 35mm . Although the current
    backs are fantastic quality, do you think we'll be looking at full frame backs soon?

    I travel a lot for my photographic work and am getting tiered of base fog on my films... Especially tri-x 400.
  6. "do you think we'll be looking at full frame backs soon? "

    No. I expect that nearly full frame 6x4.5, as we have now, is the most we can ever expect.

    The thing to do, i think, is use what is available. If that means keep using (and scanning) film because you want full frame 6x6 more than the convenience of digital capture, just do that. If the opposite, try to find an affordable way to use a smaller-sensor digital back, or even switch to more affordable (and even smaller-sensored) DSLR.
  7. Thanks Q.G.
    I use a D3 and a D800 as my work horses. The Hasselblad 503CW is more of a fine-art camera for me but I do use it occasionally for commercial work, mainly portraits. The thing is if I were to go 645 I'd probably get the H system or a Phase One 645. But as I already have the 503 Hasselblad, it seems arduous to swap it over... (its a lovely camera).
    I guess I could turn it into a 645 with a digi back of some kind and add a metered prism and maybe a side winder. But is it worth it? I have to say I'm getting fed-up with scanning film and as I've recently been asked for 1mx1m MF prints, I may have to get a Nikon 9000ED scanner....
    Taking into account the scanning upgrade costs, a good second hand digital back looks rather attractive.
  8. I use those Nikons, Jake. Scanning is still something you get fed up with. ;-)<br>Still... in the end, the results are what remains. The tedium is soon forgotten.<br>But it returns. And again. And again...<br>I think - as it always has been - a good mix of equipment (something for every thing instead of one thing for everything) is something worth having.
  9. Yes, the results are worth it, but the V600 scanner I'm using is the week link in the chain. I think I will have to get some
    drum scans done to see the difference.
    QC, what digital back do you use?
  10. Jake,
    The idea of full frame on a 503CW implies square format, so I guess that this is what you want (a square image). You can then use a CFV-50 or a P65+ with a mask on your focusing screen and crop the digital image. With the CFV-50 you will get 6132 x 6132 pixels and with the P65+ 6732 x 6732.
    I guarantee that this will beat any film available today (at least in definition) and you will not "suffer" from the crop factor (1.1 for the CFV-50, which is insignificant). Of course, the price is an issue and unless you need thousands of prints film will be less costly for a while.
    In addition, you will also get 6 x 4.5 for free.
    There is almost no chance to see a full frame (square) digital sensor in the near future.
    I use a Nikon 8000 (same as the 9000) scanner and had the opportunity to compare it with V600. Much, much better.
  11. How much will you put up in that guarantee, Paul?
    No available DB will "beat any film available today (at least in definition)".
  12. Q.G.
    I am ready to put up the size of your ignorance and your incommensurable desire to contradict other users in this forum.
    This is certainly is a sizable amount.
  13. Thanks Paul, the CFV 50 or P65 are my target backs for the not too distant future. The tiny crop is as you say not a issue
    and the near 6x6 frame is ok with me. Just don't want to only have a 645. So I think I'll wait a bit and get a second hand
    CFV 50 or P65 in a year or so.
    As the aim for me is to use this MF set up for portraits and landscape ( print size 1mx1m) I will definitely get stunning
    clarity for many years to come. Although the D800 ismmoremtha capable of producing exceptional results in 1mx1m
    prints, the MF has something special with the 80mm lens. Also it's nice to know that I could use the DB on a Horsman or
    another technical camera if I wish, that's an attractive option. ...;)
  14. You can then use a CFV-50 or a P65+ with a mask on your focusing screen and crop the digital image. With the CFV-50 you will get 6132 x 6132 pixels and with the P65+ 6732 x 6732.
    ...and you will not "suffer" from the crop factor (1.1 for the CFV-50, which is insignificant).​
    Just to clarify what Paul said above: the 1.1 crop factor is for the full uncropped rectangular CFV-50 format, and is with respect to 645 film. Cropped to a square, and comparing the resulting area to square 6x6 film, the crop factor is 1.5, which is rather large. In fact it's no better than a CFV-16, P20, or similar 16.7 MP square back. It's just more finely resolved into 6 micron pixels rather than 9 micron pixels. The situation is only slightly better with one of the 65MP or 80MP backs.
    The problem with all digital backs for 6x6 cameras is that the shorter dimension - the side that determines the square crop - is never greater than 37mm - 41mm, and one is comparing that to a 55-56mm dimension on film.
  15. Ray,
    Thank you for your clarification. You are correct.
    I was of course using the "standard" definition of crop as used by the manufacturers and they define it to their advantage!
    A small precision: the P65+ has a crop factor of 1.36 (not 1.5) in its smallest dimension (usually vertical). So, it is not perfect but not as bad as 1.5!
    It also gives something like 45Mpx when cropped square, which is not negligible for large pixels.
  16. So for the price of the CFV 50, may as well convert to a second hand H system?
  17. Its a real difficult one to decide on... because the H system is more versatile it seems. Something like the Hasselblad H3DII-39 goes for about £4k without the lens, which is attractive. But the D800 competes favourably with the H3D 39... so how do I justify it? Certainly the CFV50 would be outstanding though, and very suitable for Landscape and portraits.
  18. Its a real difficult one to decide on... because the H system is more versatile it seems. Something like the Hasselblad H3DII-39 goes for about £4k without the lens, which is attractive. But the D800 competes favourably with the H3D 39... so how do I justify it? Certainly the CFV50 would be outstanding though, and very suitable for Landscape and portraits.
  19. I own a D800e and have compared it to a CFV-16 and a CFV-50. I found even the CFVII-16 produces better images than the D800e. For landscapes, using a 40mm CF with a CFVII-16 and a D800e with the Nikon 14-24mm (one of the best from Nikon) each image with the CFVII-16 was more appealing than the corresponding one from the Nikon. The dynamic range is clearly better and with the Hassy, you get this "3D" look where the D800e gives a (flat) 2D look.
    The differences are even greater with the CFV-50: even my wife who is not a photographer immediately sees the clear advantage of the Hasselblad. Regarding ease of use, it is not obvious to me that the D800e has an advantage: to get a good image you have to go through very complex settings, poorly documented by Nikon (Example: what's best auto-iso, Program mode, Aperture priority . . .). You can use it as a "point & shoot", but you get . . . "point & shoot" results. The CFV's (or Phase's) are much easier to use for quality results.
    I also had an H4D for a while, did not like it and went back to a good 503CW. I never got a good landscape with the H4 and hated that it is not modular (you cannot change the back). No wide angle lenses on the H's come close to the good old Zeiss.
    To conclude, for my use and to my taste, a 503CW and CFV-50 comes way ahead of both the D800 and a H system and it can do film!
  20. Paul... I'm sold... thank so much! Yes its clear that there are large differences between all three mentioned cameras. I've just been doing research into the H system, and couldn't find many advantages, especially for the price. Its very appealing that the CFV backs can be used on technical cameras... and also that the feel of the images is different from the H system.
    Tell me, do you use a CW winder for handholding/shooting the 503? And how do you find the accuracy rate shooting handheld below 125?
  21. Since we're on the subject of digital backs for the V system, I would very much like to hear the opinions of you all. Suppose one had an extensive V system setup consisting of several bodies in perfect condition (503CW, 555 ELD, 501 CM, 903 SWC and most of the Hasselblad Zeiss lenses from 30 mm to 250) and money was no huge problem, which digital back would you get? And no, HD system is not an option.
  22. PhaseOne P65+.<br>Big sensor. Good image quality.
  23. Carlo, I'd get the Hasselblad CFV-50.
    The CFV is the only DB that preserves the look of the V cameras, and it is the only one that works without resorting to use of a sync cord from the PC port on the V lenses to the in port of the digital back ... something that all other non-CFV backs require.
    The CFV/50 does a very good ISO 800 without resorting to resolution reducing pixel binning. It also does up to 240 second exposures without having to shoot an equal time black reduction frame after each long exposure. The only better long exposure DB is the P45. The P65+ is a Dalsa based sensor and doesn't have a very good long exposure ability.
  24. Marc,
    Thanks for that info, it is certainly the CFV50 or 39 for me. I think the overall options far outweigh alternative backs. I'll hire a CFV back shortly and try out the performance using my CFE 80mm. Its interesting that you mentioned the CFV backs preserve the look of the V cameras.... you meant, I assume the output image rather than the aesthetics?
  25. The CFV backs are styled (the exterior) to match the black with chrome trim look of the V-System cameras.
  26. To me, looks are not of paramount importance. As I see it, the main failing of the CV backs is that they cannot be mounted in portrait mode. I ask myself, what was the Hassblad team smoking when they put form before function? QG's vote for the P65+ sounds good. It is available refurbished at a reasonable (for DBs) price from reputed dealers that extend warranty and support critical for such an investement. Now the question is, why Phase instead of Leaf?
  27. For me I couldn't give a F*** about the aesthetics of the look of the back... as far as the portrait mode goes, I guess the image could be cropped very effectively but its a square frame sensor for a square frame camera, 645 is just gravy. Of course, I've never wondered about my 503CW not being able to shoot in portrait mode.... because its a 6x6. The CFV back having the option to be square or 645 is great..... I don't think anyone was smoking when they designed it.. they thought it through.
  28. Well, yes and no.<br>The CFV shooting square is the same as any 645 back cropped to "superslide" format, except that the cropping is done in the back's firmware.<br>It makes tilting the camera unnecessary. But it also reduces the effective sensor size ('crop factor' comes into play again: about 1.5x compared to 'full frame' square) and output resolution. You can crop the output of any 645 DB and then equally not have to tilt the camera. So a big difference?
  29. Also, backs by Phase and Leaf can be mounted in portrait mode. As Q.G. rightly comments, there 's a crop factor and a loss of sensor size.
  30. I join Marc and Jake to vote for the CFV-50.
    I used both a CFV-50 (still have one) and a P65+
    For me, a BIG advantage of the CFV is that it does not require an extra cable like the P65+
    Yes, you can turn the P65+, but it is no so easy because of the cable.
    In addition, believe me, the P65+ is heavy and each time you turn it you have a good chance to damage the sensor. I know by experience: when you remove it, you have to fiddle with the cable and the camera becomes unbalanced due to the removal of the heavy back. The camera's two small legs on which the bottom of the magazine rests suddenly move up as the camera tilts due to the imbalance and scratch the sensor which has no protection. It did happen to me and was a $1,600 repair, back needing to be sent to Denmark. It has happened to many people. So, yes, you can turn the back, but it is hard and potentially expensive.
    I also dislike that you have to remove a cable and put it back each time you want to change a lens. For me, this was a good enough reason to prefer the CFV-50.
    As far as quality of images, I found very difficult to see situations where the P65+ would show an advantage.
  31. Thanks Paul, very interesting to know! I'd hate to be stuck out on assignment in the Amazon with a scratched P65+ back!
  32. If you are going to avoid having to change orientation by cropping the sensor CFV-50 style, you can do that using any 645 DB. There is no difference, no deciding factor, there.
  33. Good responses. Thank you for your input. Paul has a point about scratching the sensor, but as QG says, you don't need to remove it because with the P65+ you get the same square format by cropping and without rotating the back. Price wise I can get a CFV-50 cheaper new than a refurbished P65+. The P65 has sensor plus that goes up to ISO 3200 (is the quality any good?). I read somewhere that the CFV works better when the synch cable is connected. LCD: any difference between the two? Battery: CFV hangs below, P65 fits internally. Any comments on this?
  34. The only advantage of using a cable with a CFV is that you do not have to change the settings for long exposures on the menu. This only applies to long exposures, so, unless you use long exposures very frequently a cable is not needed. I never missed a pic with a CFV because I did not use a cable. I have also read some rumors, don't believe them.
    ISO 3200 sensor+ is a marketing trick not very different from the "digital" zooms in low cost point &shoots. In fact, you might as well carry in your pocket a good point&shoot, it will do better than your P65+ at ISO 3200.
    I personally think that using a multiple $10k back at any ISO higher than 400 makes no sense with today's technology. Even at 400, the P65+ has already lost most of its advantages over different solutions.
    LCD's are very similar, not really part of the decision.
    The battery of the CFV is easier to remove (the P's batteries are tight, you need both hands). Disadvantage of the CFV: if you plan to use a motorized camera like the 555ELD you need a special extender (were included with my CFV's).
  35. Thanks Paul. Very important information you are sharing with me. Info that will help me make an informed decision; which I plan to make around March next year (I will be away for the winter). Other points of interest for me are the pros and cons of the different sensors: Kodak vs Dalsa, and the size. The P65+ sensor is larger by 5 mm both sides but I am wondering if that makes such a big difference in practice.
  36. Two more questions on the CFV. The supposed bad circuitry/ rechargeable battery that causes the back to lose its Time/ Date. Was this ever fixed? The other is the battery connectors. I read some complaints that they are dodgy, sometimes causing the back to fail on power on etc.
  37. Carlo, none of the Dalsa sensors do long exposures. This includes the Dalsa sensor in the Hasselblad H4D/60 (which I use) and H5D/60. The P45 is the king of long exposures, but requires a dark subtraction shot of equal length after each long exposure ... i.e., 10minutes, then another ten minutes before you can shoot again ... which, depending on the conditions, builds up heat ... the enemy of IQ. The Kodak based sensors in the Hasselblad backs do a reasonably long exposure without a dark subtractive frame. The H4D/50 does something like 4 minutes, so I'd assume the CFV/50 does the same.
    I never had an issue with the battery connector on my CFV ... not once ... including cold weather shooting and in some pretty hot climates.
    IMO, using a sync cord to fire other backs is the weak link to be concerned with in terms of reliability while in the heat of shooting. It is a clumsy solution. I've been there, done that with other backs including older Imacon ones ... almost every issue I ever had was traced back to the sync cord while shooting, or a FW cord when shooting tethered. Cords, I hate them!
    The issue of cropping or not is a personal one. When you get to 33 meg on up with MFD, you really have to be printing large for it to make much difference ... depending on the subject matter of course.
    The only real solution to avoid cropping is to get one of the Leaf backs with the rotating sensor.

    BTW, the CFV backs are the only DB that can be fully used on a 200 series camera (with a slight modification). I used a CFV on a 203FE, and it was one of my favorite cameras of all time.

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