CFV-50 Nightmares

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by timlayton, Nov 17, 2011.

  1. I am hoping to connect with CFV-50 owners to see if I can understand why I've had so many issues with the CFV-50 and 500 series bodies.
    I received an evaluation unit from Hasselblad to review for consideration of purchase. I've had nothing but issues all day with the setup. I was using it on a 503CW and a 500C/M (both of which are known good cameras).
    I could go through the mountain of issues and random problems but that is not what I am hoping to resolve. I am wondering what others experiences have been with the CFV-50 on a 500 series camera? Is my experience today a one-off random day of horrible luck, or is this the norm for this gear?
    My impression based off a 14 hour day that was one frustration after another is not very good. There is no way I could rely on this configuration for any type of production job based on my experience today. The thing that concerns me is that I have had nothing but perfect performance out of my 500 series bodies shooting film over the years and I find this experience today to be shocking and unlike any other Hasselblad experience I have ever had. When I think of Hasselblad, I think of high quality professional equipment that is reliable, but unfortunately I am left with an aching back and a headache based off a long day of frustration.
  2. It would help if you selected two or three examples from that "mountain" of issues. For starters, how do you synchronize the CFV-50 to the camera?
  3. Per Hasselblad tech support I used the sync cable as well as the 500 series options. Everything from misfires to magenta casts to severe under exposures. I literally would take a couple exposures and then for no known reason couldn't get a valid exposure again for many tries or in a couple cases, for hours. I was running 361 on the firmware which was the latest release until later today 365 was released. This is my second round of testing with the CFV-50 backs and the first experience wasn't much better. I discounted the first test as a fluke and so I tried again.
    I had so many different issues that I didn't want to dive into the specifics because of the amount of time it would take to type it all out and provide the necessary details. At this point I have it packed up and have no interest in troubleshooting. I was looking for some general feedback if owners and users of the back have a reliable experience compared to my two very poor experiences. I am just shocked that a $17,000 piece of equipment would have this much trouble and on two different times. I am hoping my two experiences are an isolated incident.
  4. Are you using slower shutter speeds? Some of the older V lenses do not always work well with digital backs, I was using a phase one back with 500cm and 503CW cameras and had really good results with the newer CFi and CFE lenses. But with the older ones especially Compur shutters I had a lot of magenta issues. The problem was unless the contact of the sync was on for the entire exposure, the back would turn off before the shutter closes and cause this intense magenta cast.
    It is hard to tell if this is the actual issue you are having or not, you are not giving a lot of detail. But I would suggest trying some other lenses or faster shutter speeds and see if that helps. If that is what is happening You can try putting an ohm meter on the sync post on the lens and make sure the contact is on for the entire exposure.
    another thing, is to make sure the little blade or pin that sticks out of the back of the camera and normally triggers the film back, is clean, some digital backs use that to know when the shutter is open and if it needs to be clean, an eraser will do it.
    Maybe this is not the issue for you at all but it was my experience with the phase back.
  5. David, thanks for the reply. Yes, I was using slower shutter speeds (anywhere from 2s to 30s). I was doing some macro studio work. I tried several different lenses (80 CF, 120 Makro CF, 50 CFi) with and without extension tubes and on two different bodies (503CW and 500C/M). I came to the conclusion, not sure it is right, but based off of two different tests I could never get the CFV-50 to operate reliably when using slower shutter speeds. This alone was a deal breaker for me because of my style of photography. To test my theory I stepped outside and fired off several exposures at f/8 1/125 to f/11 and 1/500, etc and had no problems. Unfortunately for me that isn't what I needed to work on.
  6. On my CFV-39 I have to tell the back if the exposures are longer than one second by changing an option in the setup menu.
    I expect the CFV-50 is the same in this respect, but I don't know for sure since I don't have one.
    Did you set that parameter correctly?
    - Leigh
  7. I am pretty sure now from what you say, is that the back is shutting off before the exposure is done. I am not sure how hasselblad handles this with their CFV backs, I have only used Phase. The phase depends entirely on the sync circuit to tell the back to stay on. I would check with hasselblad some more and see if they have a better solution. Like I said, I ended up switching to newer lenses, I had a 120CFi that worked perfectly at all shutter speeds. That little blade that sticks out from the body to the film back to block the dark slide from going in when the rear shutter is open, is also used by some backs, the phase I think has some sort of optical sensor for it. I had to clean mine so the metal was shiny, so I would not get two shot errors. It wakes up the back for the next exposure. A hasselblad camera that works perfetly for film sometimes needs a little help to work with digital backs. The other thing about the later lenses is, the sync connection is much more secure and will not come loose. If you had to replace all your lenses that would be a bummer, but if it is just the 120 it might not be so bad. I had one lens that would not work from 1/8th to 1 sec, but for some reason worked on B. Originally the sync circuit was only designed to set a flash off, so it did not matter if it was maintaining the circuit for the entire time. But with digital it must. By the way, it took me like a year to figure out what the problem was on mine.
    I would fiddle a bit before getting completely frustrated with it, other brands may have some of the same issues with your equipment, I was able to use digital backs with my V series for years.
  8. Ah , maybe Liegh B. has your answer for you. I do not know those backs, just what the problem with my phase was. I hope that works for you.
  9. Leigh, I was making sure my exposure time for each image via the camera settings menu. For example, if I was going to make a 5 second exposure, I set the camera to 6 seconds. When I talked to Hasselblad support he explained to me that is how they control the activation of the sensor.
    I literally spent 14 hours with the back and got 4 exposures that were valid. The most frustrating part of the entire deal was the fact that things would seem to change with no logic. For example, when I first setup in the studio I was getting some strange under exposed images so after about an hour I decided to take the gear outside and validate I could take some daylight exposures. I did and that worked perfectly as described in a previous message above. Then I went back in the studio and tried my 4 second exposure and back to the strange problems again. Then out of nowhere it started working and I got my first two images. I decided to go check them out in Phocus and they turned out great. I literally came back and inserted the CF card and the random problems started up again. I literally had not touched or moved the camera gear. I talked with support several times throughout the day and by 5pm I thought I had a solid setup so I went and purchased a bunch of flowers at my florist to photograph. When I got back I took the first two exposures without problem. After I worked with those in Phocus I came back to the camera and the random issues started all over again and I threw in the towel. I literally spent hours on the phone with support chasing down different scenarios using different body and lens combination in addition to connection modes (sync cable, 500 series, etc).
    I can only conclude from my two different tests that the back, for whatever reason, is unreliable for exposures longer than 1 second and it is a very touchy and volatile configuration prone to a lot of random errors. It was literally the most frustrating day I have had in years. I had really high hopes for the back, but there is no way I can fork out that kind of capital after having two different sets of bad experiences which is very disappointing to me. I had even purchased an adapter for my 4x5 view camera which I will have to return. The idea and concept is awesome for 500 series owners, but the reality of my two different experiences was not good. I was really looking forward to being able to add the CFV back to my film workflow for my upcoming extensive travel projects, but I will just rethink a potential solution to a remote film solution which will probably cost a lot less than $17k.
    I would still be interested in hearing from CFV owners to learn if they have a consistent experience with their equipment for exposures longer than 1 second. I may have received two bad apples for my testing, but at this point there is no way I can make a purchase based off of my experience.
  10. Tim
    I have the CFV-39, which is pretty much the same except for the sensor. I use it quite often for still-life work indoors on a tripod with an ancient silver 120mm S-Planar, with shutter speeds from 1/4 sec to 4-6 secs on 'B'. I don't use a sync able at all, I just let the 500 C/M body wake the back up with the little magazine tab. I set the back to a longer exposure time than the longest one I will be using. I've never had a problem, ever. So I really can't think what on earth is going on with your CFV.
    The only time recently I have had a problem with the CFV-39 (not on long exposures) the cause turned out to be a low battery.
  11. I just think what ever the exact problem is, you would have it with other brands of digital backs as well. Maybe more so even, as I think the others rely only on the sync connection to time the back. I am sorry you are having such a frustrating time of it. That back should produce some beautiful files.
  12. David, I appreciate it. I am not worried about it any longer. I am just more curious if others have had a reliable experience with the CFV backs or not. It is a testament to engineering to say the least, however it has to be reliable at that price point. Maybe I am the exception, rather than the rule hopefully.
    The few images I was able to successfully capture were awesome, however you know the rest of the story. I have two 500 series that could benefit from it as well as a 4x5 view camera, so it was terribly disappointing to say the least. I am going to probably just monitor the net for a used setup and try again at a later time.
  13. The maximum time setting has no effect on exposure if you use the PC sync port on the lens. The back remains active for however long the shutter is open, up to 32 seconds. It is only used when you use mechanical synchronization. There is a different setting in the back for each method. However, the maximum time setting affects the minimum time between exposures. If you set it to 15 seconds, you must wait 15 seconds before shooting again. If you rush it, you get effects like you describe - underexposure, purple streaks, etc.
  14. Tim, It sounds like you made up your mind about not going any further. May I ask why you didn't call Hasselblad for help? I have found their tech support to be very good. And if you couldn't get to the bottom of it, they would have been able to tell you if it just wasn't going to work.
  15. I am just more curious if others have had a reliable experience with the CFV backs or not. It is a testament to engineering to say the least, however it has to be reliable at that price point. Maybe I am the exception, rather than the rule hopefully.​
    Well, Google was not able to find one single example of this problem posted by anyone else.
    Given that I've not experienced any problems in two years of using the CFV-39, and others have reported similar experience, I'm forced to conclude that it's an operator error of some type.
    In your original post you said:
    ... I've had so many issues with the CFV-50 and 500 series bodies.​
    but you've only discussed one.
    Could you please discuss three or four other issues, not related to underexposure, that are included in your "so many" description?
    - Leigh
  16. Michael, thanks for the reply. I did mention in the above thread that I spent hours on the phone with tech support (two different sessions). They suggested sending in the camera bodies in for a spec check. You are right, they are responsive and professional, however after a 14 hour day and the endless "random strangeness" I just threw in the towel. I am intimately familiar with the configuration and operation of CFV backs at this stage of the game and I also fully understand the mechanical workings of the 500 series cameras. It really should not be this hard.
    I have been a photographer for about 30 years and I am a very technical person as well. My logic is that if I was having this much trouble then I would likely be in for a lot of future frustrations and troubles when trying to use the equipment in a production manner. At a price point of $17k that isn't very desirable to me. I just want to take photos and make prints, not become a troubleshooting engineer. It really was a huge disappointment.
    My suggestion for Hasselblad would be to post some getting started or "how to" videos on YouTube for potential buyers and those working with Hasselblad reps. I think that would cut down on most of the issues or obvious obstacles. It really shouldn't be that hard and for me to have such issues on two different tests (one a few months ago and then this current one) this tells me that these backs are either very touchy with the 500 series cameras or I received two faulty units and I have really bad luck. Either way, I am done with it for now.
    I am just going to take Tetenal C-41 kits on the road with me and develop my color film that way and doing my Tri-X and T-Max on the road is easy. The advantage of the CFV back for me was the elimination of the developing and scanning steps while on the road, but reliability is much more important than a faster workflow. My goal was to never replace film in my photography, just leverage the CFV back in cases where time was an issue. I never got to the point in the testing process to see if I could even come close to matching the look of my film images with the CFV back or not. That will have to remain a mystery I guess. The great news is that my 500 series bodies with A12 backs do exactly what I need them to do and they do it flawlessly.
  17. Leigh, I agree with you in that I was not able to find any google hits as well, hence the reason for the post here. My goal with the post was to query owners/users of CFV backs like you to see if this is reliability is a common problem or not. You have not had problems so that is good to know.
    I do not believe that my issues were a result of operator error as you suggest. I suspect that the demo back I received was probably flaky and I think that is why support suggested sending in my bodies for a spec check to eliminate them as a variable. For me, that is not an option at this time because I use my 500 series bodies almost on a daily basis.
    I have seen you post a lot of quality threads here so I respect your input and comments. I am just going to let this cool down a little and then review my options again in the future. I would also like to use the CFV back on my 4x5 view camera. I actually bought an adapter and I am planning on keeping it for a potential future purchase. I think if I am patient I will be able to find a quality back at a good price in the future. For now, I just need to get my work done and research this at a later time when I am less busy.
    I have a friend that has an anniversary edition 503CWD with the original 16MP CFV back and chrome 80mm F2.8 CFE for sale. He lives about 800 miles from me, but he says it literally looks like new and has all the original packaging, manuals, cables, etc. I verified the serial number to be a 2006 model. Do you or anyone here have any idea what that system may be worth? He is asking $6,800 for the entire kit but I have no idea if that is a fair price or not. I know what it sold for new, but that doesn't mean much.
  18. Tim
    It's too late now, but the one thing I would have done in that situation would have been to swap out the battery. And the CF card, too, but one at a time. My CFV is very sensitive to battery condition, and unfortunately starts doing weird things well before you get a low battery warning. And you need to try a clean CF card, re-formatted in the camera.
  19. Tim, why are you doing this alone?I would expect that your Hasselblad rep should be there to make sure that you are off and running. That is their model, not dump and let you sort it out.
  20. Personally Tim, I would say stick with film for the 500 series and if you are dead set on a digital back, look at one of the modernized systems -- H series, Pentax 645D, Phase One DF or Leica S2. As great as the V series cameras and lenses are, as you discovered, their integration with digital can be perfect, but it can also be a huge nightmare. If you are interested in using your V lenses, the H series has a CF adapter, and V lenses are mountable on the DF, S2 and Pentax as well. Better to get an integrated body more suited to digital and use one that was invented in the 50s for film. Again, just my opinion. I use a 203FE and an S2...I gave thought to the CFV, but my experience with Hasselblad's service led me to look for another brand for digital.
  21. I've been following this thread based on my own interests. I think Stuart has an excellent point. Stuart, any thoughts or comments about the S2 worth mentioning?
  22. Well, it's not my intention to turn this into an S2 thread, but I have been extremely impressed with the S2 in almost all aspects -- handling, image quality, lens quality (best I have ever far), color, dynamic range, weather sealing, customer service etc. I am sure that the other makers can provide this if you have a good dealer or local distributor relationship. I live in a small country, so one thing that swung me in favor of the S2 was Leica Germany's willingness to deal with individual customers. Hasselblad insists that all communication and service be through its official distributors, which might be fine in a large country, but leaves you high and dry if you are in a small country (or at least this small country). I think choosing a digital back is not a simple decision, and you need to evaluate more than just the cameras and backs themselves -- the whole support network is very important.
  23. I agree wholeheartedly with Stuart. As much as I'd love to own a CFV digital back for my Hasselblad I found that it was more hassle than it was worth with. I used to own a Kodak DCS Pro Back Plus and though I loved the pictures it took, it was really a lot of work for something that a digital SLR would give me. Not only that I ran into focusing issues, like others have, and I found it kind of annoying taking a meter reading with the viewfinder or hand held meter and transferring the exposure to the camera. I know I had to do that with film, but it was just different with a digital back. I think my mindset of a digital back was one of convenience and speed and what I ran into with the Kodak back (that was my first ever digital camera) was that it was quite the opposite. Plus the Kodak back required me to carry a battery pack, so that was a little inconvenient to be tethered to a brick on my belt.
    So, yes, Stuart is right. If you're going to get a digital back, get a modern body to put it onto and get auto exposures and a good autofocusing system. You'll be happy you did in the long run. Sorry to say all that after the OP had already purchased his 50MP CFV.
  24. i know i am a day late and a dollar short but i have had the cfv-16 before there was a 39 or 50 and i had the magenta problem until tech told me about the menu for long exposures and from then on it has been the most enjoyable experience. shooting both digitally and with film, having the best of both worlds. with the fun i am having i will trade up to the 39 or 50 and use the 16 as a back up. i have no fear of either on on my 501 body.
  25. I just now ran across this thread also. I am so sorry for your frustrating experience with, what should be, a quality piece of equipment. I have owned an original CFV (16) since 2008. My only bad experience use to come when I forgot to change the shutter speed on the DB to match the lens' speed. Then I got awful images, with a strong magenta cast. However, all this can be avoided if you sync the CFV to the lens with the provided sync cord (which is what I do now).
    I am currently deliberating between purchasing a new CFV 50 back OR upgrading to an H4D-40 system. I strongly agree that for $17,000 you should expect more. Makes me think a little more towards the H4D-40. Hmmm...
  26. Dear All,
    I have the exact problem when using my old beater 1967 C 50mm lens on 500cm and 553 ELX with CFV-39. Anything under 1/60 second gives me problems. It works fine with my CF-80, CF-150 and C-250 lens.
    Comparing it to the lenses that work properly, and this is where it gets weird. Depending on how quickly I push and release the shutter button, I can get different results with the back. I notice that the shutter fires after the protective back on the 500 CM shuts! This is why I the CFV can't get the image. I don't know why it does this. I've found a sweet spot by trial and error with finger pressure to push and partial release the shuter before the protective back closes. There must be some weird mechanical sequence out of whack.
    When I get time I'll bring it into my local hassy rep.
  27. I had the same kind of problems with CFV on my ELX and Flexbody didn`t fire at all the back. Our hasselblad service guy in Finland explained the problem is in "grounding" the connection of lens to back
    With ELX i cleaned the mating surfaces of the lens bayonet and the back to body connections and with flexbody I used a metal covered flexible release cable to ground the lens and back. The flexbody has a compendium of non metallic fabric. After these measures, no problems. The old lenses with "dirty" connections cause nothing but headaches.
  28. I had the same kind of problems with CFV on my ELX and Flexbody didn`t fire at all the back. Our hasselblad service guy in Finland explained the problem is in "grounding" the connection of lens to back
    With ELX i cleaned the mating surfaces of the lens bayonet and the back to body connections and with flexbody I used a metal covered flexible release cable to ground the lens and back. The flexbody has a compendium of non metallic fabric. After these measures, no problems. The old lenses with "dirty" connections cause nothing but headaches.
  29. I also tested the S2 and admit it is a great camera for many uses. being a hassy system owner with 553ELX, 2002 and 500C bodies, plus Flexbody and a custom SWC I must say I don`t switch systems. S2 is great with leica glass, but not yet (autumn 2012) Does not have menus for lens corrections for hassy v series lenses. the hasselblad CFi lenses with Phocus software are on par with leica lenses, Dynamic range of CFV 32 is on par with S2. with so much added versatility, I think hassy and CFV is still the winner.
  30. Yes Voltage stability would seem to be an issue on this one .... Charging batteries for the full 16hrs on first charge with Lithium cells is important . In fact I wonder if Gel cel Batteries might not be better . But With your Studio work I guess you may have had the Unit tethered to the power as well . One Thing the Rep emphasised with me was that you could not go bang bang bang with the shutter using the 500 series cameras with the Digi backs . He was at pains to ask type of Photo's I take answer being Land Scape answer .
    I also considered trying and buying a digi back for my 500elx But in the end considered that rather a large amount of film could be purchased and also follow up processing ok time lag etc but also add to the mix some Polaroid Film as well and you have a reasonable quick confirmation of the shot you are trying to get on record ...

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