Need to find alternative to Hblad V-system lenses + CFV back

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by missy_allen, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. Hey all--I could use some help. I've been shooting medium format for 30 years: first film withTLR Rolleiflex, then film with Hblad 500 C/M.
    I switched to the CFV16 back in 2006, pretty much the day it was released and it has worked well for me--I only shoot with a fixed 40 mm.
    Recently, in the past few months, I've developed a condition that makes my hands both painful (rheum. arthritis) and a bit clumsy. It will
    get worse. My very-heavy setup is now very much not working for me. I don't use a tripod--I actually carry it around like a massive point-
    and-shoot...and, again this has been my method for 30 years and I don't wish to change that (if possible).

    What I would like some help with is figuring out an acceptable, lower-weight alternative to my current setup. I would like to keep using my
    Hasselblad lenses, if possible. I can part with the Hblad body and CFV back. The lenses weigh a ton, but I have so many that I kind of
    want to try and keep them. And, I want it to shoot 1:1 image aspect--that is a requirement (I want to see it and shoot it as a square, not make it a square in post). What I really want is a digital version of my TLR Rolleiflex...but until that comes along I'm looking for
    something to use with my lenses. Fujifilm XE-2 with adaptor? Canon or Nikon something that is lightweight? Any suggestions would be
    much appreciated.

    Thank you!
  2. Hi Missy- sorry to hear of the progressive condition. My first thought is to transition to a camera system with shake reduction, either built into the body or in the lens(es). No medium format cameras offer this feature. So following this idea excludes your Hasselblad gear, and it seems this will be the mental barrier to overcome. Any dSLR with changeable focusing screens could have a mask inserted for square viewing, crop the captured image later to match.

    Good luck!
  3. If you want medium format quality in a light weight package, the best route may be a mirrorless camera. In a recent test, the 42 MP Sony A7Rii compared favorably to a 50 MP Pentax 645Z.
    If you like the 40mm with a CFV back, a 35 mm lens on the Sony would cover about the same field of view. I would recommend the Loxia 35/2 if you prefer manual focus, or the Sony-Zeiss 35/2.8, which is somewhat sharper at half the price, but AF with somewhat awkward manual focus capability.
    Even cropped from 3:2 to square, the Sony A7Rii has 25% more resolution than the CFV you are using (5350 v 4080 pixels), ISO useable to over 12,000, and a greater dynamic range (14 v 13). The older A7ii is half the price, with a 24 MP sensor (6000x4000), roughly equivalent to the CFV resolution (4080x4080) when cropped square.
    Since you don't use a tripod, you would appreciate the built-in 5-axis image stabilization, which gives about a four stop improvement. I've used mine, hand-held, with a 300 mm lens at 1/60 second with no visible shake. It's barely noticeable at 1/30, and still almost useable at 1/15.
    My go-to camera for landscapes has been an Hasselblad with a CFV back since 2007 (the CFV acquired). Since last December (the Sony A7ii acquired), I've only used it to photograph the Sony (in various applications), or to make comparison images.
  4. Missy,

    Sorry to hear of your hands. Dealing with advancing age is an issue for all of us (38 years on Hass 500cm). I agree that
    my 500cm, 40mm, and P1 P25v is a bit of a handful.

    That said, one option is an SWC/903. The 38 Biogon is reputed to be a better lens, but the 40 Distagon offers reflex
    viewing. I know several friends who use their SWC's hand held as a candid street camera with zone focus. It's less
    precise than a V with a 40, which might be an issue with your CFV39. But it allows you to keep your V system gear.

    Others have offered options are good as well. Eventually, only you can answer your situation. But don't give up.

    Al Bowers
  5. The Fuji x Pro 1 (and perhaps other Fuji x bodies) allows 1:1 in camera and the zoom lenses have vibration control but the experience of shooting is going to be worlds different from the Hassy even if the end results may be as good. Their wide angle zoom (10-24) is a killer lens and when shot at 1:1 is equal to about a 38-60 range on 6x6. I also have and love the SWC - a great light weight alternative which might fit you needs but again the shooting experience is very different from the 500 series. I'm unsure how well it would work with a digital back.
  6. I'm sorry to hear of your arthritis. To save some weight but retain medium format sensor qualities, you could shoot your Hasselblad lenses with a "dumb" adapter (manual aperture stop down) on a one-piece digital medium format camera - Pentax 645D or 645Z, or one of the Leica S series.
    And, I want it to shoot 1:1 image aspect--that is a requirement (I want to see it and shoot it as a square, not make it a square in post).​
    I'm not sure if the models I listed can be set to record a square format in-camera, but the Pentax would win out since its 44 x 33 mm sensor produces a 33mm square image, while the Leica's 45 x 30 mm sensor produces a 30 x 30 mm square image. Both are smaller than your current 37 x 37 mm back, but not by much.
    I only shoot with a fixed 40 mm.
    Fujifilm XE-2 with adaptor? Canon or Nikon something that is lightweight?​
    The Fuji X cameras are brilliant, but the sensor is only APS-C format, so the crop factor is enormous with a Hasselblad V lens...especially if you shoot in square mode (15.6 x 15.6 mm); your 40mm lens would no longer be a wide-angle like it is on the CFV back, but rather a short telephoto. It gets better with the full-frame 35mm cameras from Canon, Nikon or Sony; but even then the sensor square crop is just 24 x 24 mm, on which the 40mm lens is a long-standard. The mirrorless Sony A7 models that Edward described do have a winning combination of light weight and high quality full-frame sensor.
    So I think that much depends on how important it is to you to continue being able to shoot a wideangle image; versus how important it is to continue being able to shoot with your Hasselblad V lenses; versus how much weight you need to shed.
  7. thank you all so much--this is ENORMOUSLY helpful!

    my current thought is that i need to try on the idea of leaving hasselblad entirely. i love it for many reasons, i feel like it is
    an integral part of the "look" of my work...but it doesn't do me any good if i can't use it. y'all have raised so many
    excellent points--i really can't thank you enough--and your technical advice is invaluable. i think now i need to figure out
    what will get me close to what i want: square format, wide-angle lens, lighter-weight, manual a simple digital
    package. perhaps leica...?

    i'm very grateful to you all!
  8. I know it's hard to part with a system as nice as the Hasselblad, but it's time to move on. There are few effective ways to adapt those lenses to other bodies.
    If you insist on using Hasselblad lenses, Novoflex makes adapters to various other camera bodies. You could stack adapters to fit them on a Sony A7Rii, for example, and use them manually in DOF Preview mode. The quality wouldn't be as good as with a dedicated lens, but perhaps good enough.
    Hasselblad gear has an high resale value, which would pay for part or all of a newer system. Mine will go to my children, all of whom are intensely interested in photography.
  9. Missy, you didn't explain what your subject matter tends to be, why you shoot hand-held, or what shooting conditions you most frequently face.
    Like you, I used a Hasselblad V system for decades, including moving to a CFV digital back around the same time you did. Along the way I also adapted many V lenses to other cameras via dumb adapters … including Canon, Nikon and Sony 35mm DSLRs … even a Leica DMR. Why not? I had the V lenses and getting more use out of them seemed smart.
    Also, like you, I faced some physical limitations that progressed enough as I aged to seriously call the use of the V system into question.
    In short, no DSLR medium format gear will solve the size/weight issue, and adapting the large V lenses to other smaller cameras doesn't really reduce the issue as much as one would like. So either one finds an alternative method of using MF gear, or moves on to a smaller format and all the consequences that entails.
    While smaller format cameras have significantly increased resolution, (36 meg, 43meg and 50 meg), many photographers feel that the look and feel is not the same as MF, including me. So, that is one possible aesthetic consequence.
    One considered solution is to move to something like a ALPA 12C to use with your existing CFV digital back. The view lenses are considerably smaller/lighter than V lenses (especially W/As), and easily equal or significantly surpass them in IQ … and it all makes for a compact package. Whether it would be a real possibility depends on what and how you tend to shoot, and your means to buy such a camera. It also may be to "fiddly" in use if you have less hand dexterity due to arthritis. So, I'd try it first.
    My current kit consists of a Leica S system, which is still large compared to mirror-less cameras, but it has extremely well thought out ergonomics and is simple to operate even with limited hand movement. I've adapted my shooting approach to make it easier to take with me, and to shot hand-held.
    I also was an early adopter of the Sony mirror-less systems and currently use a Sony A7R with an A7R-II on order. I am not a fan of these cameras and use them only in limited applications. The array of buttons and controls are the very definition of "fiddly" and the Sony menu system is a dog's breakfast of confusion and bewilderment. I can't imaging operating these cameras with progressively deteriorating arthritis of the hands. Also, while I do like the fact that "what you see in the viewfinder is what you get", the electronic view finder is a shock to those who are used to a big bright optical view-finder of MF cameras. After years of mirror-less use, I still do not like it and the experience of making photographs is significantly diminished IMHO. I would say it is important that you actually experience one of these cameras to see if the consequences are tolerable.
    - Marc
  10. I would recommend a camera body that has built-in shake reduction (usually abbreviated IBIS, in-body image stabilization). That way, no matter which lens you attach, you get the benefit of IBIS.

    The Panasonic LX100, truly tiny in comparison, has the ability to set 1:1 (square) mode, though you lose a few pixels in resolution - some reviews say 3088x3088, others say 3400x3400 . With the ability to look at the big image on the LCD screen, it may prove useful for you, as it will be approximately the same size as what you would see via the WLF.
  11. Hey all--still searching for the right combo! I have decided Hblad is just no longer going to work (then, unfortunately, found out my back had developed a fungus inside the sensor--I will be eBaying it for parts, which is more painful than my hands at the moment), and I am going to try and start anew. I am still looking for that native square...because I am just that stubborn. Anything wonderful crop up in the last six months since we first discussed this?
    Thank you all so very much again for all your help--I am determined to figure this out!
  12. Unfortunately few digital cameras provide the 1x1 format.

    Micro four thirds do, but they are 2 times crop factors - one quarter of the area, of a 35mm sensor.
    Which is much smaller than you are used too.

    The closest is the new APS/C sensor in the new Fuji camera. This is Fuji's newest camera, and its a
    new sensor - many more pixels than previously. However, its format in standard form, 3:2. You want
    1:1. But, there is a 1:1 available. Instead of the camera's 24 MP resolution in 3:2 mode, you would
    get in its 1:1 mode, a 16MP resolution. Because the camera is mirrorless, you would see just the
    1:1 preview on the camera's viewfinder, or on its fold out LCD screen.

    An alternative might be to get a DSLR with a fold out screen ... but there are few in Full Frame. Just
    the 24MP Nikon D750.

    The Sony has been mentioned - the latest is the A7R-II. There are several Zeiss made manual
    lenses available for that camera.

    With either of the above cameras, you could use the fold out LCD screen, and look down onto the
    screen from above, or view the screen while holding the camera. Use tape or a cardboard square
    frame on the LCD screen, to provide a square image.

    You would still have to "crop" the image in a software program. The A7R-II provides 42 MP - it is
    high resolution.

    There are only two camera formats that provide a square format - Micro Four Thirds, and Fuji
    mirrorless, also referred to as a 2x cropped sensor.

    Micro four thirds sensors has one quarter of the surface area of a 35mm sensor (which are lots
    smaller than yours). Fuji use a 1.5x cropped sensor (35mm is the reference standard, i.e. 1x crop),
    and has about half the area of 35mm. However - these area calculations do not apply to square
    film, because with 3:2 sensors such as the Fuji and 35mm, when it is square, more of the sensor
    area is lost with the 3:2 shape than with the 4x3 shape of Four Thirds.

    Then there is the pixel density issue. Pixels provide better resolution.

    I think the Sony A7R-II is worth thinking about, by using a frame over the fold down LCD screen.
    The resolution of its sensor is high - 7,952 x 5304, in its highest "Large" 35mm format. So, you would end up with 5304 x 5304
    pixels, or 28MP, which is lots of resolution. The camera can also run many manual lenses from
    other camera formats. While it will take V lenses too, they will be "Cropped" down to the 35 sensor

    Comparing format and pixels, I think your setup has been 16MP from the square 38x38mm sensor.
    That means 4000 x 4000 pixels. While lower technology, those pixels are CCD pixels, and many
    think them more accurate. Still, sensors have improved, but many are tailored for combinations of
    work, such as the Sony sensor mentioned.

    The Sony or a 35mm "Frame Sensor", when cropped to square, would be about 24mm x 24mm.

    My understanding is the Medium format comes in two square sizes: 33.00mm = 0.79 crop;
    Larger Medium format 40.40mm - 0.64 crop.

    However, I think that your device is more likely the higher end. Probably its around the 0.64 crop.
    Or bit more I think.

    For your 40mm lens, if the crop is as large as 40mm, then the equivalent lens for a 35mm digital
    camera, would be 0.64 x 40mm lens = 25.6mm lens. If the crop is actually 38mm x 38mm, then it
    would be a bit higher ... so let me guess at a 10% difference, so 0.64 crop x 1.1 = 0.7 crop, which
    would make a 40mm require for the 35mm sensor a 28mm lens (0.7 crop x 40mm lens = 28mm
    35mm lens).

    For the Sony, there is no Sony FE bayonet mechanical manual lens that is 28mm. The closest with
    the Sony mount is the 21mm Ziess Loxia 21mm F/2.8, or the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*.
    While there is quite a low cost 28mm F/2.0 Sony lens available, its manual focus is electrically
    operated, and you may not like it. It auto focuses too, which I think you will not like. There are many
    non Sony lenses available though that would work on a Sony A7, including your Hasselblad lenses,
    but your Hasselblad lenses will all be cropped.

    Note too, that the depth of field will be considerably longer on 35mm equivalent sensors. The
    depth of field might need faster lenses to make up for the smaller cropped (compared to medium
    format) sensor.

    Note too, that changing cameras would have various flash issues. The flash setup you use
    currently, might need some work to get it to fire, or perhaps your flash gear may not be compatible.

    Also one other thing - I have read that the controls on your gear, is very heavy to use. Is it possible
    that a newer setup might be both lighter and easier to use? Just thinking about your issues ...

    Perhaps too, you need to talk to a supplier, who might suggest something for you, and allow you to
    test it first.

  13. Note - unfortunately, the Fuji mentioned above, the X-Pro II camera, does not have a fold out LCD
    display. I could not edit the previous post, apologies.
  14. this is a wonderful response--incredibly helpful! thank you so much. i am so appreciative that you took the time to compose such a thorough, excellent response. thank you.
    i actually hated the crop factor that the CFV created with my 40--it is one thing that is making me eager to try film again after a decade. maybe i am justifying its sale, but i'm starting to think i've been forcing a square peg into a round hole with the use of the CFV and losing an integral part of the look of my work (the wide angle part). i don't know.
    for now i think i'll just up my ibuprofen/naproxen dose and make do with the hasselblad for a bit longer...!
  15. You might post and ask what is the lightest medium format setup you can get. I did read that your setup can be very heavy to operate ... perhaps other gear is both lighter, and easier to operate?
    I know little about medium format ... the 60 Hasselblad has a large sensor though, it costs $25K with an 80mm F/2.8 lens. I don't even know if your lenses are compatible. it weighs 2.5 kg I think. Standard its sensor is not square, bit its bigger than your original film. I presume it has a square mode. Which would be 40x40mm. You need to talk to the people who service your gear, or you bought your gear from. They may have a solution, and its better if someone who knows you directly, and understands your physical issues, your gear, and how you work with it - they are the ones to advise you, and who understand your budget - then they can advise you better.
    Good luck!
  16. i actually hated the crop factor that the CFV created with my 40--it is one thing that is making me eager to try film again after a decade. maybe i am justifying its sale, but i'm starting to think i've been forcing a square peg into a round hole with the use of the CFV and losing an integral part of the look of my work (the wide angle part).​
    Perhaps you could look at it this way - the CFV is still a pretty big sensor; 50% more area than a 35mm full-frame. So what's really preventing you from getting the wide angle look is not so much the digital back as the Hasselblad V SLR lens range, which hits its rectilinear wide limit with your 40mm lens.
    Other digital medium format systems go substantially wider: Mamiya and Hasselblad H both have 28mm rectilinears, Pentax and Leica have 24mm rectilinears, and Mamiya has a 24mm fisheye which can be converted to rectilinear in software [I do exactly that with the fisheye & my Kodak DCS645M back , which has the same sensor as your CFV-16; see my examples below]. I understand that you hate big crop factors, but in these cases, there is either a lower crop factor than with your CFV setup [crop is from 645-native lenses rather than 6x6-native lenses], or the lens was designed from scratch just for the cropped digital sensors.
    BTW when I de-fish my 24mm images, I call it "my digital Biogon", because it matches (actually exceeds) the image field of view of the legendary 38mm Biogon on 6x6 film in the Hasselblad SWC, and both are square format. The optical performance of this Mamiya lens is particularly excellent too.

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