Digital Back advice for 503 CW

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by sami_palta|1, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. Hello All,
    Proud to have a 503 CW. Its pictures (was) never comparable with any other cameras I have owned.
    In the country where I live, it is not possible to find 120 films and develop them. All are history now.
    It is not a question what to do with 120 backs.
    It seems there is only one way : to have a digital back, which is compatible with my 503 CW and my lenses.
    I need your advices about digital back. I don't prefer it to be more expensive than 5-6 K usd.
  2. The Hasselblad CFV 16 megapixel digital back will be within your budget. I've sold two within the last few months. Both sold for around the usd $4700.00 price range. The CFV uses CF cards.
    Hasselblad/Imacon also made the V96C digital back which probably sells in the price range of $2500 to $3000 now. It is also a 16 megapixel but instead of CF cards it uses an image bank which stores the photos. If I remember correctly it can hold around 1200 photos. Someone can correct me on that if I'm in error. The image bank looks like a battery pack and my personal opinion is that you would appreciate the CFV digital back more than the V96C because of this reason.
    You can also consider the old Kodak Pro Back Plus digital back. They should be selling in the 1500 to $2000 range these days I would imagine. They use CF cards as well but will have some age on them at this point. The last one I sold was brand new ( old stock ) and I sold it for $5000 but that was several years ago. They've not made them in a while so be careful if you buy one. On any digital back for the Hasselblad ask them if they have any dead pixels or any calibration problems. I've ran into these two problems on more than one occasion. They also made a "non-plus" version as well. Here is a former thread where they speak about the differences:
    You can also consider the Phase One backs but others here can provide more information for you on those I'm sure.
    Lastly, you don't sound like you have any interest in doing so but you can order 120 film online and have it shipped to your country. I'm confident places like will ship overseas. Or if you need some help acquiring the film I am glad to be a source for you. Just write to me privately and I'm glad to help secure some for you any time. I hate to see your film backs become a useless item for you. I'm sure you could also find someone to process for you as well and ship back to you but, again, others here might help you in that area more than me.
  3. Thanks so much Ken for your contribution.
    I think digital back seems more sensible solution than posting films and develops back to me all the time. But I will think about it.
    What about Leaf backs ? I heard they are also good. Can I use any digital back easily with my 503 CW? Or I need an adapter for that?
    And these digital back are controlled/fired from camera button or by Live View computer program?
  4. I used to have a Phase One P25 that I used on my old 503CW, it was a good back for that camera, the lens angle factor was only about 1.1 and the back could be rotated vertical to horizontal (although you had to take it off and reattach it.) The disadvantage from the CF back is that yo have to use a cord from the back to the sync connection on the lens. If you have the newer type lenses with the locking post this works pretty well. Probably in your price range these days. although I am sure people will be pointing out the possibility of going to the Nikon D800E, something to consider too, but there is a lot to be said for medium format. Some of the Hassleblad CF and Phase one backs like the P20 have the smaller square format sensor, which makes your wide angle lenses not so wide. Also the medium format digital backs do not have very good High ISO performance if that is a factor for you.
  5. Most of these backs can be fired either by the shutter release on the camera, or by the computer if tethered. Most of the backs can be used without a computer except some of the earlier digital backs like the Phase One H-20 and H-25, these backs are actually pretty good in the studio but have to be used tethered and have no CF card, battery, or view screen. If you are looking to shoot only in the studio though, they can be had for very good prices.
  6. If your camera has a motor drive, it is possible to fire the back and camera remotely. For example, there is a short adapter cable which connects an Hasselblad CFV back to an ELD-555 camera body. If you don't have a motor, the best you can do is to automatically download images to a computer, while tripping the camera manually.
    The CFV back is still quite useful, having only 16 MP image size. The dynamic range is incredible, and the resolution adequate for most applications. It is square in format, whereas higher resolution backs are rectangular. It is not easy to turn a V body between horizontal (standard) and vertical formats. The image size is 39x39 mm, which makes long lenses seem longer and wide angle lenses seem "normal." You will need a 40mm lens to have anything close to wide angle. My "travel kit" includes 40mm, 60mm and 120mm (Makro) lenses.
  7. @ Ken: Sending post including films which are x-rayed on the customs all the time, developed under no control and quality is not my thing. It seems, best way is to go having a good digital back.
    @ David: I already have a 5dII and would like to switch to D800 E soon. Having D 800 doesn't mean not to use medium format system. Pictures are not comparable. I will have D800 for daily use but 503 for serious landscape and portraits etc.
    > Nobody ever mentioned Leaf backs. I met some 64MP Leafs on E-bay for less than 10 K usd.
    For a medium format system it doesn't seem logic to have a back 16 or even 20, D800 already has 36. 16 seems useless for a Hasselblad owner.
  8. I don't think anyone makes a back more then 39 or 40 megapixels that can be had for under 10K even used, I might be mistaken. I think Leaf has one at 60 and 80 megapixels but those are 20 -30K. You might consider the nikon or maybe canon will come out with something similar soon.
  9. So David I need to way some time for prices to fall...
  10. I hope you won't mind me asking but is there any digital back that shoots square format on a Hasselblad?
    I too am looking for my first digital back for my Hasselblad but will stick to film if I can't find one that is square format.
  11. So David I need to WAIT some time for prices to fall...
  12. "The disadvantage from the CF back is that you have to use a cord from the back to the sync connection on the lens. "

    This is not true with the Hasselblad CFV backs ... but is true for every other back you can put on a 503CW ... from Leaf, Phase One or anyone else. The CFV is the only digital back that does not need a sync cord from the lens to the back.

    The CFV can be had in 16 meg square, 39 meg or 50 meg rectangle. The only one currently made is the 50 meg. The other two backs have to be secured used. The rectangle versions can be configured for square shooting and set as such with a corresponding loss of resolution equal to the cropping of the rectangle, but are still pretty high resolution. There is a focusing screen for your 503CW that has the square taking area etched on it for composing to the square format.

    The crop factor is 1.5X with a square ... so effective field of view from a Zeiss 40mm would be like a 60mm (roughly equivalent to 35mm in 135 format, which is a very useful field of view) However, doing something a lot wider is pretty easy these days ... a 2 or three shot panoramic technique yields a massive file that can be printed quite large and can be done in post quite easily.

    The CFV/16 is in your price range and its "Fat 9um Pixels" are still considered a terrific match with the Zeiss optics.

    Here is my take on the original CFV/16 I used for years, and still available on the Hasselblad website:
  13. i got my DB from ebay, sinar emotion 75 LV (33MP) kit , 5800USD. Leaf CCD DB also good too.
  14. I hope you won't mind me asking but is there any digital back that shoots square format on a Hasselblad?
    I too am looking for my first digital back for my Hasselblad but will stick to film if I can't find one that is square format.​
    All of the 16MP digital backs are square format, and all use the Kodak KAF-16802 sensor. None is available new anymore. There were many DB manufacturers using this Kodak CCD (Kodak themselves, Sinar, Imacon/Hasselblad, Phase One, Jenoptik, Megavision...i.e. all the major ones except Leaf).
    If you're looking for one, be aware that the older ones were computer tethered-only (no LCD, no memory card, no battery), and sometimes relied on specific SCSI or PCI controller boards [although the later ones have the much more universal Firewire interface], and many only work with the Apple Mac OS
    ....then came what might be called "semi-portable" ones (cabled to an image-bank or a bulky external battery)
    ...then came truly portable, self-contained ones.
    Used prices increase as you move up this progression. Best (and most expensive) of the bunch are the Hasselblad CFV-16 and PhaseOne P20+. The former doesn't require a lens-to-back cable and integrates seamlessly with the camera styling, while the latter is bullet-proof and can shoot much longer exposures.
    No other DBs but the 16MP are natively square, but as Marc says, some can be set to save a square crop. If you do this with the 39MP or 50MP backs, you don't gain a larger image size (no improvement in crop factor over the 16MP backs), but you do have a finer subdivision of that image into smaller, more numerous pixels.

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