Can Hasselblad 2003FCW take digital back?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by pavelkupcik, Mar 13, 2020.

  1. I vaguely remember reading long time ago that 2003fcw needs a modification in order to work with digital backs. I tried searching but can’t find anything relevant. Can you help. Do certain backs work better than others on this body. Is any mod needed? Thank you.
  2. You may be thinking of the 203 and 205 models, which had incredibly complex electronics and internal metering. Hasselblad offered a modification for them that involved a new circuit board and sacrificing a couple film-related features in exchange for ability to use the dedicated shutterless F/FE lenses and focal plane shutter to shoot digital. This modification was ONLY effective with Hasselblad-branded CFV backs: the more common Phase and Leaf backs were not compatible at all with F and FE lenses.

    Your 2003FCW is compatible with many digital backs, including the CFV series, but ONLY when using lenses that have their own leaf shutters (CF, CB, CFi, CFe), and you must have a cord connecting the lens flash port to the digital back.

    Nice as they are for film, the 2000 series focal plane shutter 'blads aren't as well suited for digital back use as the leaf-shutter-only 500 series. It is next to impossible to use the lovely fast shutterless F/FE lenses or the fast focal plane shutter. The camera basically reverts into 500cm, so you absolutely need leaf-shutter lenses if you don't already own any. Also you get stuck with the annoying sync cable, which the 500 bodies usually don't need with CFV backs (only Phase/Leaf).

    Nutshell version: your 2003FCW is OK for digital if you only have leaf shutter glass, but if you want to shoot the F/FE shutterless glass your best option today is to skip the digital back for the Hassy and buy a (much cheaper) Fuji medium format mirrorless body with focal plane shutter that can shoot your F/FE lenses with a mount adapter. The Fuji sensor is almost identical to the one in the CFV50c. (The Hasselblad X1D mirrorless body is currently more optimized for its own subset of leaf shutter lenses: adapted V lenses don't work so well on it.)
  3. Re recommended digital backs: the most 'blad-centric is the new Hasselblad CFV50cII, which looks just like an A12 film back and preserves the classic body appearance. Unlike the first CFV50c and earlier CFV backs, the new mkII uses a completely internal battery pack (so there is no clumsy snap-on camcorder battery that spoils handling or appearance). At the moment, Hasselblad does not sell the CFV50cII as an independent back: it is available only as part of a set with the new, bizarre 907x "mirrorless" body that only accepts new X1D electronic lenses. This two piece kits currently retails for about $7500 brand new: a lot of money, but put in perspective the previous CFV50c sold for $15K, only dropping to $10K as it neared discontinuation. You might be able to sell off the unwanted 907x body to shave some cost off acquiring a new CFV50cII, but I can't imagine who would want to pay serious coin for that thing unless they plan on running a dual V series and X1D outfit.

    The biggest advantage of Hasselblad CFV-series backs, aside from matched appearance to the camera body, is they can (usually) operate without a sync cord connecting the flash port of the lens to the back. All other back brands will require a cord, and even the CFV backs sometimes work better with one. Aside from the CFV50c and 50cII, which have the relatively modern 50MP 33x44 CMOS Sony sensor, all the earlier CFV backs have CCD sensors. These can give beautiful color and stunning files, but are severely ISO-limited (optimized for ISO50-100, at 400 they start falling apart). They were available in 16MP square, and 39 or 50MP rectangular, all crop sensors (36x36 or 37x49). The most flexible Hasselblad-brand back for most users today would be the CMOS 50c or 50cII, despite their smallish 33x44 sensor size.

    Phase One backs are the most common second hand options, you can find nice ones with CCD 37x49 sensors for about $3K today. They require the lens sync cord, but have the great advantage of full Capture One software support. Phase backs can usually be mounted in either landscape or portrait orientation, so you can use the WLF at all times (Hasselblad backs attach in landscape only). Similar Leaf backs are also Capture One compatible, and some have rotating sensors so you don't need to remove and re-attach to change orientation. These are all fairly old, however, and service can be frightfully expensive or unavailable if anything goes wrong. The oldest Phase, Leaf, Sinar and Imacon backs that have no LCD display can be had very cheap, as little as $1500, but are too crude to be practical for non-studio use today. They need to be tethered via FireWire to a laptop, usually Mac.

    If you mostly have leaf shutter 'blad lenses, get the CFV50c or 50cII. If you only have shutterless F/FE lenses, forget a digital back and buy a Fuji GFX body and V mount adapter instead (this is basically like getting a CFV50c housed in a "free" body with electronic viewfinder and focal plane shutter).
  4. I will add a addendum to orsetto's comment.

    The 2000 series will work with a digital back from 1sec to 1/90th using the sync cable (although 1/90th will still give an uneven exposure). For the faster FP speeds, the back need a 12ms pre-release signal (ie: the back need to be triggered 12 ms before the shutter opens). This is what the modification to the contact on the 200 series cameras allow.

    However, you "can" use all the fast shutter speeds with a CFV back by setting it to trigger using the release pin (the pin that presses into the back when you press the shutter). The back is set to 1~2 sec exposure integration, which is started when the pin presses into the back - whence you have the 1~2 sec to complete the shutter actuation, and you have to wait for the 1 to 2 second integration to complete before you wind to the next exposure. This only works with the CVF backs as they are the only ones that can trigger with that pin, and it is prone to error if you do not complete the exposure in time (ie: press the shutter too slowly).

    CF lenses work better, and work fine on 2000 series cameras, so that is the recommended route.
  5. Thanks for the thorough explanation. Since I have primarily FE lenses: 50/2.8, 110/2 and the Superachromat CF it doesn't look like digital back is a viable option. I had no idea you need to have leaf shutter lenses. I also looked at X1D, but since it doesn’t heave focal plane shutter I would have to use electronic shutter, which I’m not too excited about. So, just as suggested, Fuji is likely the best option for digital medium format with my lenses, or just stick with my current solution which is using Canon 5D and works nicely, just with a fairly large crop factor.
  6. If you prefer optical viewfinder to EVF, another option for the F/FE lenses is mounting them via adapter to a Pentax 645 digital body. The body, focal plane shutter and sensor are integrated as with the Fuji but you have a more traditional (albeit larger/heavier) "cube" camera with built-in eye-level prism finder. The Pentax was made in two versions: original 645D with 33x44 Kodak CCD sensor, and the later 645Z with 33x44 Sony CMOS sensor (almost identical to the Fuji and 'blad CFV50c back). The first 645D was the last camera ever marketed with the lovely Kodak sensor, which still has a following despite being older CCD technology.
  7. I have an un-modified 205FCC body, and the focal plane shutter cannot be used with a CFV16 back at any speed, whether using the body flash terminal or the mechanical coupling. It can only be used with a C or CF lens and the lens shutter, with a sync cord. Likewise you cannot use the convenient self-timer of the 205 body, which will trip the lens shutter, but out of sync with the focal plane shutter (which serves as the auxiliary shutter). Nor can you use the internal light meter except with the electronically-controlled focal plane shutter. It can, however, be used with a compatible electronic flash. Frankly, a flash with a built-in photocell works just as well as the internal meter.

    While 200 series cameras have an instant-return mirror, it is useless with a lens shutter, which blocks the light until re-cocked. One of the great features of the 555ELD is that it needs no sync cable, and the camera/lens/mirror automatically re-cock after each shot. However it is massive and sounds like a subway train leaving the station.

    The necessary modification costs about $500, and the last time I checked, could be done in New Jersey rather than Sweden, with a 5 day turn-around. I've been often tempted but never to the point of action.
  8. I just reread this post. Few questions:

    Do all the CFV backs support triggering by release pin? Is this a Hasselblad supported feature or just something people figured out works?

    Is triggering by the pin something that you configure in the CFV menu/settings?

    Regarding pressing the shutter too slowly problem - how does that work?
    Is it that you start pressing the shutter (1), that triggers the pin which triggers the back (2) to start exposing for 1-2 seconds, but no light is falling on it yet. Then as you complete pressing the shutter (3) the body actually opens the curtain (4), sensor is exposed to light (5), curtain closes (6), sensor continues to expose, but with no light (7), and then after total of 1-2 seconds the sensor stops exposing (7) ? I'd imagine that the problem would be if the time between step (2) and step (4) is longer than the time between step (5) and step (7) minus shutter speed? In other words step (7) occurs before step (6). Is that correct?

    Btw, I have found a thread on flickr where a user (Jared Wolfe) is using 2003FCW with Zeiss 110/2 FE and Phase One P45 and says this:
    "The Phase one back works with them [2000 series] fine. My main workhorse camera is my 2003fcw. You do need to do some 'modifications'. the firing pin that comes out of the body needs to be scratched a bit so it has some reflective metal showing. After that it should work flawlessly."

    So it looks like even P45 works with 2000 series and F lenses. Anyone here using this combo and triggering with the pin?

    Thank you.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  9. AFIK, all CFV digital backs can be triggered by an extension of the shutter release button. There is a long flat piece of metal which extends through the camera body. It is connected directly to the shutter release button, and protrudes out the back when pressed. Its original purpose was to prevent an exposure if the darkslide were inserted in a film back - the slde would stop the shutter release button from fully depressing. CFV backs have a switch which is triggered by this extension.

    This feature only works with 500 bodies, ostensibly the latest 501cm and 503cw versions. However it works well with my 500cm (c1982) body, which was reconditioned in 2003. There is a complex sequence of events which occur in the body when the shutter release is pressed, initiated before the shutter release is pressed far enough to engage the CFV back. The back must be set to an option which allows time for those operations to complete. It doesn't matter how slow or fast you press the button, as long as the camera is in good condition and responds consistently.

    This will NOT work with a 200 body, even though the shutter release has the same mechanical extension. The FP shutter also serves as the auxiliary shutter for a C lens. The timing of events is different, and cannot be accommodated by the back. Nor can you use the FP shutter with the flash terminal on the body. You must use the PC contact on the lens with a cable, in C mode only.

    If you want to use the FP shutter, the camera must be modified in the factory so that the electrical contacts between the camera and F back will fire the CFV back. They no longer communicate with those special film backs after the modification. This is the ONLY way you can use the FP shutter for exposure, but you still need a sync cable for C operation.
  10. Put it this way: if it worked for that person, they're in all likelihood one of few who ever got away with it, or news of this simple DIY trick would have spread like wildfire thru the Hasselblad community and been posted all over forums and threads by now. This question of "I want to use my fantabulous fast shutterless 110mm f/2.0 on my focal plane 2000-series 'blad body with a digital back" is probably the single most-asked technical question in the topic of digital Hasselblad, and the answer has universally been "forget it: not happening unless you use the lens on another brand integral-sensor MF camera (Pentax, Fuji) or with a back on a focal plane body (Mamiya) thats supported by Phase One etc".

    So you're basically at the decision point of: can you afford to gamble the money on a digital back to see if this anecdotal hack works reliably for you, and if it doesn't take a sizeable (at least a couple hundred dollars) loss when you re-sell the back? IOW, how much is it worth to you to conduct your own test? Because this is the kind of underground unsupported combo that you can't assume will work as you want until you put it thru your own use case testing. For the majority of 2000-series owners, it hasn't been feasible.

    The Hasselblad has an extremely convoluted sequential mechanism that worked for film, but just barely slid into digital compatibility by dint of its leaf shutter lenses having their flash sync being a fairly reliable final timing trigger for digital back capture (and even with that, its far from problem-free, and some lenses require tedious sync tuning). This mechanical ballet more-or-less succeeds with the 500-series leaf shutter blads because their rear two-blade auxiliary flap shutter opens instantly and does not affect exposure. The 2000 series bodies are an evolution of this concept, but ironically their advanced focal-plane shutter is more difficult to integrate with a digital back triggering sequence. While in theory it should work, Hasselblad felt it wasn't reliable enough to "authorize" except in the narrow configuration of leaf shutter lens plus shutter>back trigger cable (no F or FE lenses, no cordless triggering via the dark slide pin).

    The last, hyper-engineered, ultra-advanced 200 series focal-plane 'blads with built-in metering employed electronics that could be tapped reliably to coordinate their FP shutter with a digital back, so Hasselblad did eventually offer an electrical contact modification that allowed cordless triggering, as described above by Ed_Ingold. But this again was only intended for use with Hasselblad's own CFV backs, functionality with Phase One and Leaf can be inconsistent (with those, the modification facilitates some studio convenience features but may not be as effective for field triggering). The modification is not available for the earlier, meterless 2000-series bodies that have no pre-existing rear panel electrical contacts.
  11. The 2000F series was designed to be able to use it's FP shutter with the oldest C series lenses, This required timing in the FP shutter to delay the first curtain until the C shutter was open in "B" mode. Although I no longer have any C lenses, I have successfully used my 2000fcm with several C lenses in FP mode. There is an issue that if the C lenses are sticky or slow (ie: out of spec) they will not open in time for the FP shutter. I understood that this timing allowed them to be used with the CFV-16.

    I must defer to Ed about the 200F series. And my 203fe's manual says not to use the C lenses with the FP shutter, so that may be related. Too bad, I was interested in getting a digital back for it, and it has not be converted for digital (but it'll still work with CF lenses).

    I recall using the 2000fcm with a CFV-16, but I'm not sure if we were using it in F or C mode. The 2000 was bought for the faster lenses, primarily with film. Most portraits were done with 500's with CF lenses, the shallow DOF look was not what people wanted then (or now). The CFV was mostly used for product photography due to the crop factor, and I spent most of my time in the darkroom. And the whole cordless trigger thing was somewhat hit or miss, not reliable enough for paid. I worked there for 2 summers, and didn't have much time on the CFV, and I/we were more into film. I have not used a CFV since, so I suggest you listen to Ed.

    The article about scratching the shutter interlock pin is because the Phase backs use an optical sensor for the wake-up switch, whereas Hasselblad used a mechanical sensor. The 500 series pins were chrome, the 2000 and 200 series were blackened, and thus did not trigger the optical switch reliably.
  12. Good news for 2000/203 owners. The new CVF50 2 does not require any modifications. Use the CFV50c on the 500s and get the CVF50-2 for the 2000FW and 2003FCW.

    Hasselblad CFV50C ll:
    (Page 53)

    5.11 THE CFV ON A 200 OR 2000 CAMERA
    Previous generations of the CFV required a small modification to the camera to work. This is no longer necessary but if
    you have a modified 200-camera you should use the 200 Modified setting. Unmodified 200-cameras must use the 200 setting. A 2000-camera requires the 2000 setting.

    A camera that has been modified is identified by a label on the left side as shown in (A).

    The camera cannot read the ISO value set on the CFV. If using any automatic mode on the camera, please set corresponding ISO value also on the camera.

    You can release the camera even if the CFV is not ready for a capture. Please make sure the status LED on the CFV is green before releasing the camera.
    The basic operation is described in the quick start chapter on page 16.
    ● Depending on your camera, set camera body type to 200 Modified, 200 or 2000 as described on page 73.
    1 Set B mode on the lens. If using an F type lens, no special setting is required.
    2 Use a lockable cable release and set it to lock mode (B).
    3 Activate live view from the Control Screen (LV).
    4 Release the camera with the cable release.
    5 Press the Menu Button or Play/On-Off button to end Live
    6 Open the cable release lock.
  13. Ron_Sawl, thank you for the interesting find, would be nice if someone who actually owns the CFV50C II tried it and let us know how well it works.
  14. I picked up the CFV50c II (with 907x) last week. Can confirm that F/FE lenses work on 200 series bodies without modification with the focal plane shutter and inbuilt metering. It appears that Hasselblad have achieved this by way of a little hack: when you activate the meter in the body (i.e. half press the shutter) the digital back starts the exposure, then you of course fire the shutter, and when the shutter release is no longer pressed the back stops the exposure. The downside to this is that you end up with lots of blank frames if you half press the shutter release to get a reading but don't actually take a shot.

    I *don't* know if the back works with older 2000 series bodies due to them not having any internal metering, and it's possible that it's not actually the meter but instead the firing pin slightly going into the back that starts the exposure - which would make more sense as the manual mentions the tolerance of older cameras means this feature is not guaranteed to work (and if not a CLA is required).
  15. Confirmed. I picked up my 907x/CFV50 ll from Cameras West last week. I tested the new back on:
    2000, 2003 and the 203 (as well the 500cm). Will be using it on a SWC and a flexbody. So far, it works as advertised. Anybody interested in a mint CFV50 l?
  16. Does it work reliably in the full shutter speed range? Up to 1/2000s ?
  17. 1/2000, yes. This digital is manual as it gets. The camera shutter or lens shutter controls the exposure. Once you trigger the shutter this is what happens:

    1. mirror springs up, the sensor starts to record, shutter opens.
    2. Shutter closes
    3. Sensor stops recording when you release the shutter button.

    The sensor is recording about a second. The only light it sees is limited by the 2003 for 1/2000.

    Shorter exposures are no problem. The long exposures require more coordination on the release of the shutter button. An alternative procedure is to use the bulb setting on the camera and use live view with the electronic shutter.

    It works fine. Great fun.

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