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Thread: Is CFV-50 good for a noob?

  1. #1

    Is CFV-50 good for a noob?

    Dear forum

    This is my first post so let me introduce myself: I work full-time as a photojournalist, but I also do some fine art/architecture projects in my spare time. For work I have a complete set of canons l-lenses, and for my private projects i am using a Leica M9 with various lenses.

    The reason I am posting here is that the M9, while delivering incredible image quality, just doesnt have the resolution to make the larger prints I desire for my personal projects. And since leica has started charging 8000 dollars for a normal lens, and including video and other features I do not need in their bodies, I am seriously thinking about jumping ship.

    I am not a fan of up-ressing too much and hence I am in need for a system that can deliver 40-50mp at least. Since I pay for my own equipment and since the fine art bit is not bringing any money for the moment, options are somewhat limited.

    I have never used a digital back before but I have used medium format (most brands and formats) before. I no longer shoot film (I live in the boondocks), even if I realize that a large format camera would be a shortcut to high resolution.

    However, I think I might be able to scrape together enough funds to to afford a Hasselblad CFV-50 plus a body and a couple of lenses.

    So, dear forum, If you could contribute some insight about wether the CFV-50 would be a good solution for me.

    Here is what I view as advantages:
    - Small and light
    - Good sensor (essentially the big brother of that in my leica)
    - Uses good and cheap sony batteries
    - Large and bright waist level finder
    - Lenses are good, reliable, abundant and inexpensive (compared to leica)
    - Relatively inexpensive (it seems I can get a whole set for less than $20K)
    - No winder-grippy-protrusion thing helps keep it small.
    - Almost full frame 645 but still crop in regards to 6x6.
    - Ability to mount on a view camera.

    And here is what I think of the disadvantages
    - ISO. I rarely shoot my leica above base ISO. Always tripod.
    - Focussing issues. As with all digital cameras. (canon is the worst!) I usually shoot at F8 or above for DOF and maximum image quality.
    - Discontinued bodies might not be serviceable in a few years time.
    - Lack of live view. I never used it with my canons and never missed it on leica.
    - Slow. I would not shoot sports and fashion with such a camera. However, portraits in natural light would be nice to do.
    - Portrait orientation. 99% of my shots are in landscape orientation.

    Here are my questions:
    1 - Am I in any way misinformed in the assessment of pros/cons? are there any other major issues with this setup I need to be aware of?
    2 - Are there any other systems which offer similar image quality at a similar price?

    Thanks for any input!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Feb 2009
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    Re: Is CFV-50 good for a noob?

    H1/H2 then ask for upgrade to H4X and buy a cheaper digital back such as P40+

    CFV could be a good option, but i recomend you to be in newer technology of True focus in Hasselblad since H4 models, even higher ISO is a bit finer or better than H3 series.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Re: Is CFV-50 good for a noob?

    I have the cfv39 and highly recommend it. I've had it nearly two years and no regrets.

    I always work from a tripod and almost always work at ISO 50 although higher ISO is good. Dynamic range, color and sharpness are fantastic.

    Focus is critical and I use the 4x 90 degree prism designed for 70mm. The one area where Hasselblad could improve is a high power 90 degree prism designed for critical focus.

    The Zeiss optics are stunning. I especially like my 40 FLE, 50 FLE, 100, 120 and 180. These are exceptional lenses.

    I shoot with mainly a 501cm and occasionally a 500 elm. I do both documentary and mainly commercial work. For studio product work and architectural work I use it on a Linhof Technikardan 23. Works great but focus is extremely critical. When shooting on the Linhof I use a seperate electric release to wake up the back before making the exposure. In read an article regarding excessive noise in the shadows if using a copal shutter plus sync cable to the back to wake it up. I found in about 50% of my exposures using the copal/ sync Cabot method that shadows were very noisy compared to waking it with a seperate release. With a seperate release waking the back a second before exposing I've never had any noise. I understand compur and prontor shutters do not have this issue. My understanding is its due to conflicting or late signals coming out of the shutter sync.

    On a V body the back integrates perfectly and couldn't be easier to use.

    I used Canon for years but this year went back to Nikon with a D800 and also use a M9. My Canon gear was all L glass and 1DsII equipment. While the Canon was good neither the L glass or images came close to the cfv39. The Nikon is closer but the Hasselblad is much richer and more depth to the images and as good as the new G lenses are the Zeiss glass walks all over it. The M9 is a closer match as far as look to the image but the dynamic range of the M9 isn't even close to the Hasselblad back although the new asph optics compare very favorably with the Zeiss. I would say the Zeiss are a bit smoother in tone and just as sharp.

  4. #4
    Super Duper
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    May 2011
    Maine, USA
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    Re: Is CFV-50 good for a noob?

    How large have you actually printed your M9 files?

    Why do you "need" 40–50MP? I have made 40"x50" prints from my P25+ 22MP back without upressing.

    Having done portraits and documentary work with medium-format cameras, I would say you can do this with the Hasselblad. It really is about the photographer coming to terms with the equipment.

    I guess with portraits under bad light, ISO can be a really important factor--lenses are going to be slow compared with 35mm. Since funds are important, why not a D800? It would be a more flexible platform.

    For under $20K, there is Phase/Leaf/Mamiya and the Pentax 645D. I have use a Phase back on a Linhof and a Pentax 645D.

    I think your assessment is fairly good, but one thing is missing. The photographer by far is the most important contributor to image quality. And in that regard, the system is rather secondary. You really need a system that is going for you and not against you, and that is really a personal thing. Can you rent an MF system to see what it is like?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Geneva, Switzerland
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    Re: Is CFV-50 good for a noob?

    As a hobby it's not just a question of "reason", but pleasure. So the system is not "rather secondary": you have to use a system you love! It's the "artistical" quality of your images (as judged by others) that is secondary ;-)

    'Bought a CFV-50 this August so I could use my beautiful and "pure" 500C/M camera, and enjoy medium format look (better micro-contrast, smaller DOF) without having to mess with film again.

    'Haven't had much time to use it (' 20 months old daughter... ;-), but I must admit that I find the cropped - even not - 6x4.5 (49.1x36.8mm = only 2 times the surface of ff 35mm) sensor too small: it's not giving the same life-likeness as full 6x6, but when wanted: stitching 2 or 3 images together to get a large square image gives pleasing (to me) results.

    e.g. see my getdpi post on
    Last edited by edouard; 25th October 2012 at 02:44.

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