Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited


889 Excellent

1 Follower

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. This is another aspect of focus screens for medium format reflex cameras that can be very confusing to those who did not come of age back when they were in common daily use. While most of the focus screen chatter archived in discussion forums revolves around replacing the often dim dull standard screens of typical Hasselblad and Rolleiflex cameras, specific info re focusing aids like split image and microprism usually pertains to 35mm SLRs. These focus aids tend to perform noticeably better in 35mm SLRs, with their eyelevel prisms and wider-aperture lenses. Nikon, the leader in focus screen options, offered a staggering array of microprism and split image configurations optimized for different focal lengths, maximum apertures, and specialized photography tasks. When implemented in medium format 6x6 etc reflex TLR and SLR, focusing aids that were reliable wonders in 35mm SLRs fall somewhat short. Microprism spots, on average, are much harder to interpret. This is specially so in the Japanese camera brands that offered it for their systems: Mamiya, Bronica, etc seemed to just recycle the focus spots from 35mm format screens. The split image or microprism aren't usually scaled up to be proportionate to the larger format screen, resulting in small hard to interpret splits or micro-shimmer, both of which are also muddied by the slower f/2.8 or f/3.5 lenses. AFAIK, only Mamiya offered split and micro variations optimized for different lens apertures or focal lengths for their TLRs and SLRs: these are now super rare and hard to find. Then we have the ubiquitous gimmick of "split image surrounded by microprism donut collar" popularized in late '70s cameras, which enabled Nikon/Canon/Minolta/Pentax to pretend they offered "the best of both worlds" without the mfrg expense of a true interchangeable focus screen feature in their midrange 35mm SLRs (so users could choose what worked best for them: pure split image, pure microprism, or pure ground glass matte). This usually resulted in compromised, near-useless microprism functionality, where the microprism ring ended up just being an ugly distraction cluttering up the screen. When this dubious design is carried over to medium format cameras, its even more ugly and compromised (why on earth Hasselblad users compete on eBay to pay upwards of $500 for the split/micro Acute Matte D screen is beyond me: I tried one several times over several years and found the micro collar hopelessly unusable). The single most useful focus aid ever offered for any camera was exclusive to the Miranda DX3 35mm SLR: this was composed of a microprism dot surrounded by a microprism collar. Together, they could be used as one huge bright microprism aid, as you might expect. But in a novel twist, the center dot and ring also worked together to form a huge extra-bright split image that worked at any 360 degree angle! Wonderful concept that unfortunately died with the DX3 camera, Miranda's last ditch attempt to remain viable after the Olympus OM-1 upended the entire 35mm SLR field. The only medium format microprism focus aid I've ever seen that was truly helpful is the one built in to the old optional Hasselblad "bubble" screens. These were standard Rolleiflex-style dim ground glass matte, with or without a checker grid, which had an enormous microprism spot taking up the central one-third of the screen. Since it was so large, it often brightens the entire center subject enough to make focusing a breeze, and the built-in bubble magnifier makes the shimmering microprisms clearly reveal the exact point of focus. Oddly underrated today, they are probably the fastest easiest to focus screens available for 6x6 Hasselblads, aside from the recent Rick Oleson adaptions. Unfortunately nothing similar was or is available in Rolleiflex TLR size. All of this is subjective, of course: each photographer will prefer a different compromise. Broadly speaking, the most useful quality in a medium format focus screen is the "snap" or contrast in the overall plain matte portion of the screen. This is often more quick and easy to focus than the split image in the center, and crucial during the many occasions the split blacks out in low light. Compared to other currently available new options, the recent Oleson screens seem to offer the best plain matte contrast, so unless one absolutely needs the utmost blindingly bright screen I would probably default to the Oleson. For the longest time, he did not offer these for Hasselblad because Hasselblad requires a tricky metal frame, but 3D printing has now allowed Hasselblad owners to easily accurately reframe the Oleson screen. I'm going to try this alternative soon, hoping to dispense with my bright but funky Acute Mattes. Re fresnels: today this is a bit of a red herring, often irrelevant when replacing old screens with new tech screens. Separate fresnel plates came about during the original frosted ground glass era, as an add-on to reduce central hot spots and even out screen brightness to the corners. The fresnel does nothing to increase brightness, it just spreads it out more evenly across the screen. Up until roughly the late 1950s, most camera reflex screens were a sandwich composed of actual glass matte plate and a glass or plastic fresnel plate (and sometimes a third condenser plate added for Nikon, Canon, etc). By the late 1960s, advances in plastic molding led to the now standard single-piece focus screen with matte top surface and the fresnel pattern embossed on the bottom (any focus aids or grid lines are also molded in). The modern replacement upgrades sold today for Rolleiflex etc typically replace the entire original ground glass sandwich in the camera with a single plastic screen. The fresnel is embedded and finely etched in all of them, so there isn't really a "choice" of fresnels to concern yourself with (Hasselblad's nonsensical marketing blather about "superfine" fresnels in their Acute Matte notwithstanding). Aside from choosing your preferred brightness, contrast and focus aid compromise, the only screen "gotcha" you need to look out for is installation variations between various cameras. Most of the time, a new screen will replace the entire vintage screen system in your camera, but there are a few exceptions where you might need to retain a top cover glass or the original fresnel plate. You might also need to recycle exiting shims or add some that come with the new screen. Dedicated vendors like Maxwell or Oleson will supply this alert and special instructions when you order a screen for a camera model with such requirements.
  2. Two failed camera bodies? You've had an unusually bad run with the Nikon AI coupling!! It almost never fails like that on most classic AI film cameras. The only coupling issues I've ever experienced were with the goofy AI-retrofitted Nikon F2 DP-11 or DP-12 meter prisms: these use an entirely different inverted coupler/track which is more vulnerable to impact damage, bending, or seizing. Re aging eyes: I recently had best-laid plans disrupted by vision changes myself. My myopia had been fairly stable for the past decade, so I decided to splurge and track down diopter correction lenses for all of my dozen classic Nikon film cameras. This took all of 2021 to acquire at a cost of about $150, since I needed the somewhat rare 0 or +0.5 diopters. This made all my Nikons much easier to focus, until they suddenly began getting blurry again a few months ago. To my vast annoyance, I was diagnosed with rapid-onset cataracts in my viewing eye: after corrective surgery all my diopters will be useless, and they're difficult to resell so thats $150 and a lot of acquisition effort wasted. While I didn't like the plastic feel or handling personally, the viewfinder of the FG really is stunning: the most enormous I've ever seen (a bit larger than even the huge Olympus OM or Pentax ME finders). A shame Nikon couldn't find a away to upgrade nicer bodies like the FM, FE or F3 with the FG finder: its so much larger, brighter and contrastier than those it almost embarrasses them. This alone might be worth the risk of FG reliability issues in your case: if you don't pay too much and get at least a couple years use from an FG, just discard it if/when it breaks. I don't remember the viewfinder of the N2000 or N2020: it may or may not have been carried over from the FG. The built-in motors and crude plastic bodies were a big "no" for me during the film era, although I did rather like the later more-refined N8008 (which is now finally getting the respect it always deserved: prices seem to be going up sharply).
  3. Once out of their warranty period, the 18-55 kit lenses retain so little cash value they essentially become disposable. So no, proper professional repair won't be cost effective unless your friend just happens upon a really good repair shop that just happens to have a spare bayonet and is willing to replace it for almost no money. That being unlikely, I'd recommend simply buying a second hand replacement from eBay or another marketplace. These are very common plentiful lenses, very inexpensive to replace vs repair. The VRII version typically sells for approx $90 in mint condition, the identical earlier non-VR can often be had for $50. The non-VR that came bundled with my Nikon D40 nearly twenty years ago still works flawlessly: they are surprisingly durable unless they take a tumble off a loaded tripod as happened to your friend. Tracking down a spare lens bayonet for a DIY repair would be cheaper still, but require great care not to disturb or damage the electronics and ribbon cable when swapping the bayonet. OTOH, these internals may have already been damaged by the fall from the tripod. Given the inexpensive cost of a total replacement with this particular lens, it makes more sense to do that than waste time/effort trying to repair one that may have suffered hidden damage in a fall.
  4. If you cannot get this Nikkormat FT3 to work for you, and want to replace it with another classic era manual Nikon body, I would suggest you look for something other than an FG20. The FG series were great little cameras in their day, with fantastic huge bright viewfinders, but they haven't aged well and many are developing electromechanical issues today. Instead, look for a Nikon EL2 (autoexposure sister of the FT3) or the first generation Nikon FE (autoexposure) or FM (manual exposure). These three are affordable, easy to find in good working condition, and notably more reliable than the smaller EM/FG bodies. The FE2/FM2 are also good choices but much more expensive due to their cult followings: if you don't need 1/250 flash sync or 1/4000th top shutter speed, the earlier FE/FM are identical and much cheaper.
  5. The automatic indexing (AI) mechanism senses the widest aperture of the mounted lens, the smallest aperture just follows along for the ride. So you may not really have a significant problem as long as the system is still correctly recognizing the maximum aperture when you change lenses: you may just have the minor inconvenience that it won't let you set a smaller aperture than f/16. Not perfect or proper, but still quite usable for most normal photos (many Nikkor lenses only go to f/16 or f/22 anyway, and f/22 or smaller will trigger diffraction issues diminishing sharpness). Compare meter readings of your FT3 against your other cameras, aimed at the same subject, over the range of f/1.4 thru f/16. If your FT3 reads close to your other cameras, it is accurate up to the point it won't move past f/16. You can use it normally and not worry about having it repaired. If your FT3 readings are significantly different from your other cameras, something is more deeply defective in the meter coupling so you won't be able to rely on the meter. You could still use your FT3 unmetered if you use another camera or a handheld accessory meter to get light readings: just transfer the settings to your FT3. Alternatively, check if your Nikkormat read error is consistent with varied lighting and shutter/aperture settings: if it is reliably off by one or two stops, you can easily compensate by setting a false film speed to fool the meter into correct readings. The Nikkormats are wonderfully sturdy cameras, but unfortunately if they break down they are almost never worth the cost of repair. They are very tedious and tricky to disassemble for servicing compared to other Nikons, which means technicians must charge higher labor fees for repairs than most Nikkormats are worth today. The final FT3 is scarce and somewhat collectible, worth the repair cost if you intend to keep it for many years. But if you don't have a special feeling for it, I'd sell it and look for another that works properly. Do note these older Nikkormats often suffer from dirty or corroded internal electrical meter coupling rings (carbon resistor): this can also cause inaccurate, jumpy or dead meter readouts. Probably half the surviving Nikkormat FT series bodies suffer from this malady, and/or CdS meter cells that have worn out. The Nikkormat meters either work fine, or are way off/unresponsive. Other than the meter, Nikkormats are almost indestructible and as rugged as an F/F2.
  6. Those appear to be custom made from raw materials, similar to what Rick Oleson currently does but apparently employing a more labor intensive process resulting in more brightness. The website confusion stems from a combination of language translation and MagicFlex trying to obscure the fact that they do sometimes accept returns/refunds if the customer is sufficiently strong willed (hence the offerings of "slightly used or B-stock" screens). As I noted previously, decades ago during the original BriteScreen era a couple of vendors did commonly recycle the original camera maker screens for their product: they would modify existing screens to be brighter but did not usually fabricate their own screens from raw materials. The option of buying raw materials from China to establish a custom independent focus screen business was a fairly late development, which came toward the end of BriteScreen dominance and made Rick Olesons first and second generation of screens possible. His later and current screens involve a secret sauce of custom mfrd raw materials enhanced by proprietary patents he licensed from the estate of the BriteScreen founder. Bill Maxwell screens are highly unusual made-from-scratch items, which partly explains their extraordinary high price. Unless his production process changed recently, AFAIK each Maxwell screen is individually crafted to order from fairly fragile materials, not the usual mass produced China-sourced fresnel sheets that form the basis for all other camera-brand and independent screens. Acute Matte is the random outlier in the mix, developed in the mid-1970s by Minolta as a selling point for their then-new XD-11 luxury 35mm SLR. AM is radically different from any other screen concept: instead of a textured surface capturing a viewing image, the entire AM screen is composed of tiny cones or microprisms that funnel a type of aerial image directly to the eye. This is notably brighter, and wonderful when implemented in 35mm SLR eyelevel prism finders. When used in larger cruder medium format waist level viewing systems, problems arise. it can be difficult to consistently identify the correct focus plane vs what seems to be the focus plane. Many Hasselblad photographers soon complained of more frequent missed focus with the Acute Matte, prompting Hasselblad to install split image focus aid versions as standard in their newer cameras (vs plain Acute Matte). They also developed the Acute Matte D update to dampen the aerial image issues, but it isn't dramatically more successful than the older Acute Matte in this regard. Both D and non-D have a tendency to trap moisture from the air between their thin layers, causing characteristic cloudiness or fresnel stain rings: not a fun discovery in your $500 screen when it happens. Hasselblad enthusiasts have developed a near-comical cult for the D version in recent years, but few photographers can truly verify the D as significantly reducing their missed focus issues. Acute Matte "is what it is" and a tad overrated: bright as the sun, but a pain to focus accurately/quickly. Many of us 'blad users take advantage of the easily interchangeable screen feature to swap back to the old type screen in good outdoor light: its more instinctive and quicker. Acute Matte (D or non-D alike) can give you a headache when you're in a hurry to nail precise focus. Minolta cut a deal in 1988 to give Hasselblad the medium format exclusive on Acute Matte, so it was never available in sizes for other camera brands: only Minolta 35mm SLRs and Hasselblads. So Acute Matte is irrelevant if you don't own a 'blad. Vintage customized BriteScreens, current Maxwells and perhaps the MagicFlex fall somewhere between standard construction matte screens and Acute Matte high tech: they can be super bright, don't have aerial parallax issues, but can still stumble a bit in focus ease. You really do need to try different screen techs and settle on the one most suitable for your eye/brain coordination. None is perfect in every aspect.
  7. Had no idea another aftermarket focus screen specialist had entered the scene: its been a closed circle of Oleson and Maxwell for at least the past 20 years. Upon checking this new "magicflex" website, I have a strong suspicion you would not find a significant difference between his screen performance and your Maxwell, but if you can afford the risk to experiment it may be worth a try. How long have you been using a Rolleiflex, or any other vintage medium format reflex camera? If you are relatively new to them, it can take quite awhile to develop an instinct for focusing them quickly and/or accurately. Especially if you were previously using an AF camera or a 35mm SLR with reasonably modern screen: the magnified shielded eyelevel prism experience (and faster f/1.4 - f/1.8 - f/2.0 standard lens) can be quite a bit easier to manage. Since you have been somewhat disappointed with each of the screen alternatives you have tried, be aware you might be chasing a unicorn that does not exist. All medium format focus screens entail a compromise or tradeoff, which interacts with the visual sense parameters of each individual photographer's eyes. If you are hoping for a screen that is bright to the corners but also has a definitive, predictable "snap into focus" performance: you may never find one. If you do, you may discover performance annoyingly variable depending on the subject and environmental lighting. Back in the heyday of film when Rolleis, Mamiyas, Bronicas and Hasselblads were in wide professional use, there was one primary aftermarket screen vendor: BriteScreen. This company would purchase the camera maker screens in bulk, polish and coat them via proprietary means, and resell them at a premium. The screens were very bright indeed, but often harder to focus than the standard dimmer ground glass. This disparity between increased brightness vs ability to decisively "snap into focus" persisted thru several generations of screen technology and continues today: you cannot have your cake (brightness) and eat it too (snap). After a period of years, business for BriteScreen began to wane. Hasselblad owners migrated in droves to the new Hasselblad-branded Acute Matte screens, no longer interested in third-party alternatives. Mamiya and Bronica upgraded their standard screens to a brighter contrastier version: not as bright as Acute Matte or BriteScreen, but a good enough compromise that most owners did not feel an urgent need to replace. Ditto 35mm SLR mfrs, who had also stepped up with significantly better standard screens (i.e. Nikon K3 and the custom version of Acute Matte fitted to Minolta 35mm cameras) Bill Maxwell then appeared and almost immediately cornered the market for premium Rolleiflex TLR screen upgrades. BriteScreen eventually folded, and its owner unfortunately died some time afterward. During most of this era, Rick Oleson became the default budget or midrange alternative for those seeking a nicer screen that cost less than their entire camera. For many years, he sold a decent screen roughly comparable to the newer native screens sold with later-model cameras. These screens evolved over time depending on supply chain shifts: when Oleson could source improved plastics, his screens got incrementally better (and somewhat more expensive). A few years back, Rick Oleson acquired the rights to the final BriteScreen tech from the estate of its inventor, and began supplying his current screens which most people seem to feel offer the ideal compromise of brightness, snap, durability and affordability. These are less bright than the pricey Maxwells, but certainly bright enough for almost any normal use case, with reasonably good contrast/snap. So if you were disappointed by the Maxwell, and only liked the Oleson slightly better, I'm afraid you're out of options. My suggestion would be stay on the Oleson screen and learn to like it: chances that the new MagicFlex will be any better are fairly slim. At the prices asked, it appears MagicFlex is aiming for the Maxwell market and probably offers similar performance. I'm highly dubious of MagicFlex claim to have achieved the holy grail of blinding brightness AND high contrast snap. Perhaps search other photo forums and Reddit to see if anyone has purchased a MagicFlex and can personally rate it vs Oleson and Maxwell. Re Acute Matte: this is not an option for Rolleiflex or any other medium format camera. The AM screens are sized specifically for the drop-in screen compartment of Hasselblad bodies, which is barely the size of a 6x6 film frame. Most other brand cameras require a larger screen size to mechanically fit, Rolleiflex TLRs even larger due to their parallax correction feature. Fun fact: the Rolleiflex screen size is so large that it was trendy to buy and cut down the huge Mamiya RB/RZ67 screens as a budget alternative (this was such a popular idea that it wiped out the worldwide supply of modern Mamiya screens, leaving many Mamiya users stranded and furious). In any case, the Acute Matte is not a miracle cure: it is super bright, but displays odd viewing artifacts (rainbows, blobs, patterns) depending on eye position at the finder. Its also much harder and slower to focus than standard screens, even the ones with a split image aid. When using the slower wide angles like 40mm or 50mm f/4 Distagon, the Acute Matte becomes near useless for focus and is merely a bright framing device. The standard issue screen that came in the final run of Mamiya TLRs and RB/RZ runs rings around the Acute Matte: not quite as bright, but much better contrast and no artifacts. My understanding is the most current Oleson screen is somewhat improved above that standard: if you found that unsuitable, that leaves only the MagicFlex to audition. If that doesn't make you happy, you'll have to choose the best compromise among available screen types.
  8. It depends on your use case: the 105 and 150 are similar in some ways, different in others. Your primary photography preferences would favor one or the other. The 105mm in 645 or 6x6 format, like 127mm in 6x7, is considered a "long normal" or "studio" lens. Bronica offered 105mm for both their ETR and SQ systems, Mamiya had 105mm for their 6x6 TLR and 110mm for their 645, Hasselblad had their legendary 100mm, and so on. This focal length offers a slightly flatter perspective and longer working distance than the standard 75/80 "normal" lens, while maintaining fairly close focusing ability: often ideal for a range of studio tasks. These lenses are often better corrected for distortion and other aberrations as well: the usual 75/80 entails a slightly retrofocus optical compromise to clear the large SLR mirror. The 105mm also pairs nicely with a 50mm wide angle as a versatile small kit for travel and street work. Choose the 105mm if you feel your photography would benefit from these features over your "normal" 75/80. Do note, however, the Bronica ETR 105mm is fairly uncommon (discontinued early on): available examples will be quite old and should be tested thoroughly upon purchase for shutter, aperture and glass integrity. The 150mm is easier to grasp: its simply the bog standard "portrait focal length" offered by every 645 and 6x6 camera system. It gives more flattering perspective for human subjects than 75/80/105 (tho care must still be taken when moving in close). Rather annoyingly, most 150mm lenses have close focus limitations due to the built in leaf shutter, which kind of defeats the purpose of a portrait lens. So if you plan on a lot of head-and-shoulders work, you will need an extension tube to get close enough. The 150mm pairs nicely with a 60mm wide-normal as a two-lens field kit. Some photographers prefer 200mm as a dual-purpose portrait + landscape-detail lens over the more common 150mm. In the ETR lineup, the 150mm f/3.5 is the oldest version, replaced by later iterations of an updated (but slower) f/4. If you'd like the newest possible example, look for the 150mm f/4 PE.
  9. EDIT re the Nikon Df and split image focus screen: aside from the metering changes needed to accommodate such a screen, I should have mentioned the more significant conflict with the AF display overlay inherited from the D600/D7000. This came up in discussions during the old DSLR days when aftermarket geniuses like KatzEye were offering K screen upgrades for the D3, D700, D300 etc. The AF targeting display doesn't play nicely with the optical split image/microprism center aids. While an individual owner would understand and work around this messiness if they had such a screen custom installed, it would have been a marketing headache for Nikon with a production camera. In a special model with split image screen, the AF target overlay would need to be deactivated/omitted, which might be perceived as an unacceptable downgrade by buyers who wanted to use both AF and manual optics. Or Nikon could probably have made the AF targets more user-customizable at some expense, but they'd still look funky with the split when operational. Such a feature paradox would be a tough marketing challenge, likely why they didn't do it in the end. You could spin such a camera as manual-optimized with an AF option, or omit the AF altogether, but it would be tricky: the mfr would need to tolerate a low volume halo model. Stressed out Nikon of 2013 was far from king-of-the-world Nikon of 1973: in no mood for such a gamble. Retro-styling the D600 to retain existing Nikon customers tempted by the Fuji X system was the safer bet. Understandable, but disappointing.
  10. Re the electronic rangefinder: the revelation that Nikon (and perhaps other AF brands) reduce the precision when non-AF lenses are mounted was first mentioned here by one of the really plugged-in Nikon experts (I don't remember who). It was later verified by some photographers known for their work with manual Nikkors. AFAIK, this only applies to lenses with no electronic contacts, tho I suppose its possible the module was programmed to do the same when it detects a totally manual but electronic coupled lens like the 45mm pancake of 2001. Dumbing the module down for expensive specialty lenses like the PC-E series seems counterproductive: I imagine those get the precision rangefinder mode, but perhaps not? Maybe the precision mode is simply unfeasible when AF is disengaged? Haven't checked the Dandelion scene in awhile: the idea is nice but I don't have the chops to pull off the extensive hackery required for my favorites like the 35mm f/1.4 AIs. Sources for the chips in Nikon format seem to have dried up: they're on backorder everywhere I checked tonight. Canon seems more available.
  11. Shhhh! Saying that out loud around does not go over well! Those who love the Df seem to really love it, either despite the quirks or because of them: they'll politely listen to fair criticism, then usually dismiss you as a knuckle dragging heretic. I thought it an overpriced hodgepodge of missed opportunity when new, but for the right price I'd consider a used one just to try the bespoke sensor and some other features. The biggest issue with the Df was Nikon's lack of guts in delivering on the initial concept: offering a DSLR take on the Leica M9 (a body optimized for legacy lenses and fans of classic designs like the FM2). Alas the overall camera market had begun its precipitous decline, and Nikon got too spooked to spend dwindling resources on something so niche that wouldn't share significant parts with their mainstream models. Instead of a camera truly optimized for manual focus, we got a tricked out D600 with retro styling, semi-retro controls, the ability to safely mount and meter pre-AI lenses, and the unique D4 sensor. Everything else was off-the-shelf Nikon midrange AF DSLR, which undermined the whole point. For the rather high introductory price, it was a bit anticlimactic to those anticipating a "digital FM2". Especially disappointing was Nikon's refusal to at least compromise on the viewfinder: it was a specialty camera for a niche market that would have understood and welcomed an emphasis on legacy. All the other Df quirks and D600 derivations would've been taken in stride if the thing had the FM3a updated split/micro K focus screen. But this would have required reworking the metering system to account for the split image focus aid, perhaps simplifying or dropping the matrix meter for center weighted. Nikon apparently thought such a meter change would be perceived as a downgrade, or too expensive a parts revision for just one model. So we got what we got, take it or leave it. Piling on, the Sony A7 mirrorless upended the FX camera market right around the same time, offering both the sensor frustrated Canon EOS AF users wanted and the manual-focus improvements desired by legacy Nikkor glass fans, plus ability to mount nearly any random lens one cared to adapt. Any chance the confused Df had was blown into the weeds: in retrospect, Nikon would have been much better positioned if the Df had a proper K focus screen after all. They could have owned the small but adamant segment who dislike electronic viewfinders, and would pay a premium for a superior manual-focus OVF. By being over-cautious Nikon lost potential sales at a critical time, when they desperately needed a distinctive bridge model to tide people over during Z mirrorless development.
  12. It can be annoyingly difficult to find a good affordable lens (esp wide angle) that performs nearly as well on DX digital as it does with FX sensors and/or film. In the early days of 4MP to 12MP Nikon DSLRs, there was a huge crowd of photographers recycling older manual focus and AFD Nikkor glass. But after the 16MP D7000, Sony's 24MP chip became the default DX sensor, and interest waned (24MP DX is about as forgiving as 42MP FX: i.e., not much). You really need to have a taste for "character" over eye shredding acutance to enjoy older non-DX-optimized glass on a camera like D7000. The DX-optimized, excellent 35mm f/1.8 AFS is going to be hard to beat as a "normal" lens on DX vs other 35mm lens options that can also double as wide angles on FX and film. The f/2.8 PC Nikkor may be among the least suitable: it was engineered to have good film-era performance across a huge image circle (vastly bigger than a DX sensor). On film, for the perspective-correcting use case it was made for, most examples PC Nikkor remain remarkably good performers even today. Works a treat on the 12MP D700 and 16MP D4/Df, but may falter on some DX and newer high-res FX sensors. What passes as amazing performance across a huge image circle can be a lot less impressive when you carve out a fractional chunk of that circle with DX. The same phenomenon occurs when we compare "legendary" medium format (120) and large format (4x5) lenses to, say, a Leica rangefinder lens: the Leica lens will seem dramatically better because all its performance is concentrated on the 24x36 frame. OTOH, try covering 6x7 with that Leica lens, and things will fall apart real quick. All the Nikon-made film-era 35mm are controversial for digital deployment. The manual focus f/2.8 non-PC is blah and meh, the f/2 can be good or bad depending on specific lens sample, the 1.4 is more of a wacky unpredictable artistic brush than an exacting razor sharp modern optic. The AFD 35/2 can be decent on film, performance on digital varies widely by sensor size/type and the subjects you shoot. If you need unquestionably stellar performance akin to your DX 35mm 1.8 AFS for film or FX, you'll probably be forced to jump up to a modern AFS FX model like the FX 1.8 or 1.4 (paradoxically, either of those might still disappoint you vs the DX 1.8 on a DX camera). Or, you'd need to choose a non-Nikon lens like the Zeiss ZF.2 35/2, 35/1.4, or Sigma Art 35/1.4. These are all larger, heavier, and very (very) expensive options.
  13. Preaching to the choir, brother: I was so happy when I finally got my hands on an "affordable" FX Nikon DSLR, only to immediately face crushing disappointment when I learned the unique "KatzEye" company had gone under the week before. I bought the camera with the express intent to send it to them for their exclusive split-image screen upgrade. Unfortunately the introduction of the Sony A7 gutted their business model: everyone and his mother who likes using vintage glass dropped DSLR for the Sony en masse by 2014. If you couldn't afford to jump on the Sony bandwagon, you were stuck with no good replacement source for the useless AF-centric screen in your DSLR. KatzEye was the only mfr that was accurate and worth a damn, all the others were/are junk knockoffs.
  14. It seems that you haven't yet actually sold off your 501cm: somehow I got the impression it had left your hands. No one understands the economics of "too many cameras" better than me, so I empathize that current circumstances may be pushing you towards a sale. But I would caution you to consider all the ramifications of letting it go: depending on your present (and projected future) camera needs, it may be advisable to hold onto it if at all possible. The 501cm is a glorious camera, the apotheosis and perfection of Hasselblad's fundamental crank-wound mechanical leaf shutter concept. Unfortunately, it came very very late in the game, making it much scarcer and pricier than any other (non-electronic) 'blad camera body. Aside from the ridiculously overhyped 503cw and 503cwd, anyway, which merely add an inane winder option (cw) and digital back contacts (cwd) to the root 501cm. If you don't anticipate carrying a gigantic and slow motor winder or buying a $12K digital back, they're irrelevant vs the splendid 501cm. The 501cm has three big advances over earlier 500 series V bodies: the latest internal mechanical upgrades, the larger mirror that eliminates annoying finder cutoff with the >250mm teles or macro work, and the revised mirror construction employing durable metal positioning springs vs the 3 rotting foam pads that often cause focus accuracy drift in aging 500, 501c and 503 bodies. As more and more factory trained Hasselblad techs retire and pass on, any mechanical advantage that eliminates a failure point becomes increasingly desirable. The lenses and film backs being intractable money pits of maintenance cost are bad enough: choose (or hold onto) a later, trouble-free body cube if you can possibly afford to. The 501cm (along with 503cw/cwd) became stupid expensive recently: they were always about double the cost of a 500cm but now they've blown past that into Leica collectible territory. This trend shows no sign of abating, despite the price of 120 film skyrocketing in tandem. As long as 120 film is available and people want to shoot it, your 501cm will become ever more expensive to replace should you change your mind later. Such regrets aren't limited to Hasselblad: many of us who let go of systems that were commonplace ten years ago now find it virtually impossible to replace them locally at any cost. Literally overnight, North America completely emptied itself of good condition Mamiya RB/RZ67, first-gen Mamiya 645, Pentax 67 and Bronica SQ gear: astonishingly, the entire global stockpile of popular medium format is now in the hands of Japanese eBay dealers (and a handful of German dealers). Of course, one could also make the reverse argument that your 501cm has probably achieved peak value this year, so if you need to sell it its fortuitous timing that we're in a sellers market. Depending on what you paid for yours, a resale could result in minimal loss or even a tidy profit. This seems to be your reasoning: sell the white hot 501cm now, knowing its easily replaceable with a similar system later as long as you're willing to "settle" for the older, less advanced, but far more available and affordable 500cm. Much as I would like to replace my own three 500cm bodies with 501cm, the price difference is absolutely ludicrous: I can't justify the outlay, as I can't justify the beyond stupid money people are asking for the latest version A12 film backs. When looking for a replacement body, you may want to keep a few subtle points in mind. Two great non-mechanical advantages of your 501cm are the late version WLF (black pull up tab, totally sealed hood/round magnifier when open) and Acute Matte focus screen. While sellers at this point know they must include these items with any 501cm or 503cw/cwd, they are often stripped from all other Hasselblads for separate accessory resale at much higher pricing. The newer WLF easily sells for $250 by itself, and you can pretty much name any price you want for an Acute Matte D screen (the split image with microprism donut can set you back a cool $500, and even the plain cross version hits $250 for the D). Don't forget the large modern winding crank: most older 500 bodies come with the plain knob or older smaller crank (if you need to replace the old knob with a new style crank, thats another $125 outlay). All this stuff can add up fast. So shop carefully and examine listing photos closely. The older WLF with silver button is fine if you don't wear eyeglasses and don't often shoot with the sun blasting you. The newer WLF is better sealed against stray light screen reflections and its larger round eyepiece is more hospitable to eyeglasses (making the screen corners more visible). Focus screen type is difficult to determine from a listing photo, unless it has the two little semicircle cutouts in the metal frame indicating an Acute Matte D. Earlier non-D Acute Matte can be hard to identify in a photo unless very large and clear. The AM standard cross screen has very thin fine translucent cross bars vs the commonplace dim ground glass with its thick black painted cross. Anything split image, microprism, or checker grid with a raised bubble over it is the old dimmer ground glass type. These can be OK if you mostly shoot outdoors: they are actually easier to focus than Acute Matte in good light. The 42234 screen with huge central microprism is particularly nice, as is the 42250 which adds a checker grid. The early split image/groundglass screens are not as nice, and most cheap third party knockoff split screens are terrible (worse than the'blad originals for even illumination and focus accuracy). Choosing among the various iterations of 500 body style can be confusing and tricky: each has advantages and drawbacks. I personally cannot stand the now-useless (and ugly) flash ISO dial of the 503cx and cxi. The 501c is a "cheapened" version of the 503cx, omitting the flash system and the body cocked indicator, and only available in black finish: nice if you like the black finish, but its harder to find matching film backs and WLF in black. The 500cm comes in a slew of versions, as it was updated over the decades. I prefer the late-70s era: fairly fresh and up-to-date, but before the questionable yucky crack-prone dust-generating "palpas antireflection" glop got slathered all over the body cavity and barn doors around 1982. Between the "who asked for this $@!&?" palpas nonsense, plus the self-destructing plastic trim rings and rub-right-off cheaply painted numerals on the $2K+ "new improved upgraded" CF lenses, Hasselblad really lost the plot for a minute in 1982. Pre-1982 bodies have nice clean black metal barn doors and body cavities, less messy to own, nicer to look at and a bit easier for techs to pull apart for repair. Later 500cm bodies have the potential advantage of being newer, more refined and perhaps less abused, but across fifteen or so 500cm I've bought and sold since 2006 I haven't seen a particular trend either way. Some older bodies are flawless, and I've had the worst headaches from funky late-80s CMs that seemed mint in every respect when purchased. For a long time, bargain hunters have searched out the last production run of the earlier 500c model, which was actually updated to CM before Hasselblad decided to rename the body as such. Nowadays the secret is long exposed, so sellers often don't give much of a discount on them, but you can still find one occasionally at an excellent price. They are internally and functionally equivalent to first-generation 500cm, including mechanical upgrades from the 500c and user-changeable focus screen. You can identify these "stealth" CMs by the focus screen: if the 500c listing pics show the typical removable screen, its an early CM.
  15. At some point or another, I've owned every version of the 80mm Planar (C chrome barrel, C black T*, CF, "New C", CB, and CFe). Short version: theres almost no chance you'll detect the slightest difference when replacing your 80mm CB Planar with the earlier CF Planar, aside from barrel appearance (and firmer focus ring turn on the CF). Long version: All but the CB (which you had on your 501CM) are optically identical aside from the coatings: single coating on the initial chrome barrel C, with all the others having T* multicoating. Presumably like other mfrs, Zeiss made slight updates to their T* coatings between 1973 and 2001, but no one has ever reported a significant impact. The most important differences for most users would be the ergonomic changes. The original all-metal silver or black C lenses are the most compact, the most nicely made, but have the least popular ergonomics: sawtooth serrated control rings, focus so stiff and fine you need a pipe wrench as a handle, the love it (or mostly hate it) always-locked EV system of conjoined aperture and shutter settings, and conflicting filter sizes (Bay 50 for 80mm thru 250mm, Series 8 for the SWC 38mm, 50mm and 60mm, insane large and rare 104 bayonet on the 40mm). The Cs also have the sticking-prone oldest Compur shutter mechanics. Next came the CF, which ranged thru the 1986 era in question. These have nicer ergonomics: diamond grip rubber focus ring, default uncoupled aperture and shutter rings, shared Bay 60 filter size on all the common focal lengths (60mm thru 250mm). Shutter is the newer Prontor design. Includes the "F" shutter setting (missing from CB) for enhanced convenience with focal plane bodies in the 2000/200 series. Focus feel is noticeably stiffer and harder to turn than CB, but much less painful than the old metal C. Optically different from your CB: 7 elements vs 6 (see below for details). The short-lived "New C" came next, a transitional design midway between CF and CB, and my personal favorite version. Looks much like the CF, but slightly more compact, with much softer focus feel similar to CB. Like the CB, omits the special "F" shutter setting. Also omits the EV locking feature altogether: the only Hasselblad "CF" lens that ever dispensed with it. Again in common with CB/CFie, the "New C" ditches the vulnerable detachable plastic CF focus ring for a single-cast, non-removable all-metal focus ring. The "New C" came about when the 500 series split off into the premium 501CM/CW and base 501C/503CX: it was offered only as part of a "budget" starter kit with the base cameras. A couple years later Hasselblad bizarrely came up with the idea of offering a complete alternative "budget" lens line, the CB series. The discount over CF barely made an 8% dent in the retail price, rendering the idea pointless, but the lenses were quite nice and introduced the final evolution of barrel mechanics. The 60mm Distagon was carried over with identical optics to CF, the rare 120 CB Makro was alleged to be slightly altered but nobody has nailed down definitive proof. The 160mm Tessar was entirely new and exclusive to CB, as was the 80mm CB Planar. Your 80mm had all the CB barrel updates (softer focus feel, better paint durability of the markings, better rubber inserts, elimination of fragile plastic trim rings but addition of more vulnerable plastic DOF and flash controls), and a simplified optical formula from the decades-unchanged original C/CF Planar. The CB was newly formulated to 6 elements vs 7 in the CF: this was the subject of hot debates during the film era, which have quieted down considerably in recent years. Examined with a perfectionist geek eye, there are minor differences, mostly concentrated in a single aspect: the C/CF Planar has more even performance across the frame at the cost of a slight sacrifice in center sharpness, while the CB has enhanced center sharpness but sacrifices the corners a bit to achieve that gain. In actual use almost nobody can detect a difference on film between the 1986 (or so) CF and the "simplified" CB. If anything, the CB became the preferred choice for use with digital backs: since these crop the center of a 6x6 frame, the enhanced center performance of the CB was desirable (if mostly theoretical). Unless the CF you buy to replace your CB is grossly defective, its highly unlikely you'd see a difference in performance. The "pro" version of CB was named CFi, replacing most of the CF lineup. CFi has the CB barrel, but adds back the "F" shutter setting, optional EV interlock, and same optics of the CF series (tho the 40mm was reworked significantly). CFi also adds better blackening of internal surfaces to minimize flare, and an upgraded extra-durable Nivarox mainspring. Being the newest version, the CFi are highly sought after and considerably more expensive the CF or CB, but no different optically. The very last V lens iteration was CFe, which is identical to CFi but adds electronic meter coupling contacts for the excruciatingly expensive automated 200-series focal plane bodies. CFe remains ghastly expensive due to newness and comparative rarity: there is no advantage whatever to choose CFe over earlier versions unless you truly need the electronic metering contacts. Or, you stumble across a fantastic deal on one: I unexpectedly acquired my 80mm CFe from a distressed studio for just $395 a few years ago, less than a third the usual second-hand price.
  • Create New...