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Hasselblad 40mm F4 CFE or CFE IF ?

darr

Well-known member
Contemplating adding a 40/4 to my Hasselblad kit. I currently use a 60/3.5 but want to go wider.
Do I seriously look at the CFE IF, or do I save ~ 2k and go for the CFE?

I would enjoy reading about your user experience with either lens, and please share photos made with your 40/4 if you can.
The lens will be used with film and a 33x44 CMOS digital back.

I understand one difference between these lenses is how you focus. The CFE has two focus rings, whereas the CFE IF has only one.
Since I shoot my Hasselblad work using a tripod, I do not know if this makes a whole lot of difference with a shooting checklist, so please set me straight.

Thank you in advance!
Darr

Edit: I am not interested in a 903/905 SWC, so we can skip talks about how wonderful that camera is - I know it is, but I want just the lens this time around. 🤣
 
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anyone

Well-known member
I had the CF 40mm FLE (should be optically identical) and upgraded to the IF version. I did not do any direct comparison, but while I never particularly liked the outcomes of the 40mm FLE, I'm quite pleased with the IF version.

Edit: The 40mm IF is a very sharp lens, but has also a rather pronounced distortion. Digitally a non-issue due to correction. It's also a heavy lens. Nevertheless, it's one of the best V lenses around.
 
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darr

Well-known member
I had the CF 40mm FLE (should be optically identical) and upgraded to the IF version. I never made any direct comparison, but while I never particularly liked the outcomes of the 40mm FLE, I'm quite pleased with the IF version.
Thanks for replying!

Was focusing the CF 40mm FLE any harder than the IF version?
What did you not like about the CF 40mm FLE performance/outcomes ?
 

anyone

Well-known member
I'm a landscape shooter, so I rarely use any other setting than 'infinity'. It's a mystery to me why Hasselblad made the separate FLE rings - in other designs (e.g. the 50mm 2.8), they coupled the FLE mechanism with the focusing ring. But that's more a detail.

The CF 40mm FLE was not as good as my SWC, so it often stayed home. It lacks the crisp sharpness of other V lenses. While it's not particularly bad, it also is not really good. Perhaps best compared to the CF 250mm: a solid performer, but nothing spectacular. The 50mm is just quite a bit better, so I took that one or the SWC instead, and the 40mm stayed home.
 

darr

Well-known member
I'm a landscape shooter, so I rarely use any other setting than 'infinity'. It's a mystery to me why Hasselblad made the separate FLE rings - in other designs (e.g. the 50mm 2.8), they coupled the FLE mechanism with the focusing ring. But that's more a detail.

The CF 40mm FLE was not as good as my SWC, so it often stayed home. It lacks the crisp sharpness of other V lenses. While it's not particularly bad, it also is not really good. Perhaps best compared to the CF 250mm: a solid performer, but nothing spectacular. The 50mm is just quite a bit better, so I took that one or the SWC instead, and the 40mm stayed home.

I read the FLE design was for improving image quality with retrofocus-type lenses at closer distances. The two step focusing of the CFE lens makes it so you can screw up focus until you get the steps down correctly, mainly "setting the focus calibration ring first to one of the click stops based on subject distance, then focus the image in the normal fashion by turning the regular focusing ring. Do not focus the image first and then set the calibration ring afterward. The image will be out of focus." (Hasselblad Manual 7th Edition)

I appreciate your feedback greatly!
Unfortunately the book I have does not mention the IF version.
 

docholliday

Active member
The IF is definitely the way to go with digital. The CFE/FLE isn't bad to use, except at close range, having to remember to adjust the FLE ring and then guestimating the distance to set the ring to. However, even forgetting the FLE ring doesn't do much except for adjust sharpness at the corners very slightly. The 50CF/FLE was the same way.

The FLE was designed for film usage and the IF specifically for digital, less mechanics, and improved sharpness specifically at the infinity end. There was a posting at some time many years ago when I first got my IF by Kornelius Fleischer of Zeiss that explained that as he was one of the principle designers behind the IF. I remember that he also explained he wanted a lens which was even better than the 38 Biogon (which is one of my favorite Zeiss lenses after the Luminars).

I had the FLE specifically because of the contacts for my 203FE. The IF was much, much better.
 

docholliday

Active member
Found it...it was on an old post at photo.net:
In addition to his comments, there is information on those 3 superwide alternatives in the Hasselblad system on the zeiss website www.zeiss.de/photo in the Hasselblad series 500 section and in the Camera Lens News (CLN)archives.

In addition to this, I am preparing a web representation of my test photos from the Zeiss prototype testing a few years ago, which compare distortion, close-up sharpness wide open and stopped down, as well as vignetting.

Within Zeiss, I was the driving head behind coming up with an improved 40 mm lens for the SLR viewfinder (even though I like the Biogon 38 very much). Compared to the previous 40 FLE, I wanted significantly more sharpness at infinity for landscape and "citiyscape" shooters, sharpness on the level of the 50 FLE - at least. I wanted to get rid of the FLE mechanics with its confusing two focus rings. I wanted a single one. And I wanted it to operate smoothly, similar to the great focusing mechanism in the Tele-Superachromat 350, which I consinder the best focusing mechanism anywhere in the photo industry. On top of that I wanted a good offering for professionals who use digital backs and enjoy the Makro-Planar 120 for their commercial photography, but needed something significantly shorter in focal length. All of this has materialised in the new Distagon 4/40 IF - the first super wide angle lens for the SLR which can sucessfully challenge the Biogon 38.

If you have the opportunity to use it with your best tripod on landscapes with very fine detail at a far horizon, the result will stunn you.
 

darr

Well-known member
The IF is definitely the way to go with digital. The CFE/FLE isn't bad to use, except at close range, having to remember to adjust the FLE ring and then guestimating the distance to set the ring to. However, even forgetting the FLE ring doesn't do much except for adjust sharpness at the corners very slightly. The 50CF/FLE was the same way.

The FLE was designed for film usage and the IF specifically for digital, less mechanics, and improved sharpness specifically at the infinity end. There was a posting at some time many years ago when I first got my IF by Kornelius Fleischer of Zeiss that explained that as he was one of the principle designers behind the IF. I remember that he also explained he wanted a lens which was even better than the 38 Biogon (which is one of my favorite Zeiss lenses after the Luminars).

Thank you Doc!

During my research, I read an old forum post from photo.net where Kornelius Fleischer of Zeiss talked about the IF lens, and how he designed it for what he wanted.
I appreciate your feedback as always.

Edit: I think you were posting when I was posting!!
 

docholliday

Active member
Thank you Doc!

During my research, I read an old forum post from photo.net where Kornelius Fleischer of Zeiss talked about the IF lens, and how he designed it for what he wanted.
I appreciate your feedback as always.

Edit: I think you were posting when I was posting!!
Ha! Talk about timing! When I was very, very involved with shooting 500/200 bodies and Zeiss glass, I spent a lot of time researching Luminars and other ultra-high resolution optics. Dr. Fleischer was *the* person to ask questions to and had the ultimate in knowledge about the workings of them. The IF was noticably easier to use, sharper, and actually had more Zeiss microcontrast "magic" about it's optical configuration.
 

darr

Well-known member
Ha! Talk about timing! When I was very, very involved with shooting 500/200 bodies and Zeiss glass, I spent a lot of time researching Luminars and other ultra-high resolution optics. Dr. Fleischer was *the* person to ask questions to and had the ultimate in knowledge about the workings of them. The IF was noticably easier to use, sharper, and actually had more Zeiss microcontrast "magic" about it's optical configuration.
Between the phone texts and a beautiful big tiger cat that insists sitting on my lap while at the desk, I do not know how I get stuff done sometimes! 😹
Thank you for sharing Doc, always appreciate your replies.
 

docholliday

Active member
Between the phone texts and a beautiful big tiger cat that insists sitting on my lap while at the desk, I do not know how I get stuff done sometimes! 😹
Thank you for sharing Doc, always appreciate your replies.
I know the feeling...on both. Currently supporting a code platform I built as today is a "release day" and dealing with a Norwegian Forest cat who thinks she's a child. Getting things done is definitely impossible!
Here's the look I get most of the time:
_NMX1449.jpg
 

TimoK

Member
They still have the MTF curves for historical lenses on public sites. That's great! According to the MTF curves, the Cfe if version is much better than the Cfe. Better resolution in the corners, maybe more microcontarst too.
Really? Did you scroll down to read Dr. Fleischer's comments, as he was one of the designers of the IF?
I really only found a discussion about sharpness of some Zeiss made Hasselblad lenses. I did not scroll down enough. I have never heard about Dr. Fleischer. My bad, sorry. It's time to stop posting here or anywhere.
edit. added missing word: scroll
 
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darr

Well-known member
I know the feeling...on both. Currently supporting a code platform I built as today is a "release day" and dealing with a Norwegian Forest cat who thinks she's a child. Getting things done is definitely impossible!
Here's the look I get most of the time:
View attachment 176899
Oh my goodness, she is beautiful!

Here's Joey gazing out the backdoor at me (from a blog post) ...
This guy has a goatee !!
Okay so we could talk about our kids all day, BACK TO WORK!!

 

ggibson

Well-known member
If you decide the 50/4 CF FLE would suit your needs instead, I have one for sale:
 

mristuccia

Active member
Hi Darr,

I once had the CF 4/40 FLE, it was great with film.
Once I tried it on my CFV-50c I immediately noticed poor performances out of the center area: sharpness and a bit of smearing.
I've sold it and bought the IF and have no regreets at all. It is way sharper till the corners.
The only problem, as "anyone" has already pointed out, is the distortion, very noticeable especially when doing architectural works. However it can be corrected with Phocus when no shift is applied or with the Alpa tool when shifting it (I use it with my Cambo WDS too), at the expense of a very little amount of sharpness IMHO.

Long story short:
- if you want to use it on film, avoid the extra money and go for the FLE.
- if you need tack sharp corner-to-corner digital images out of your CFV-50c, go for the IF.
 

FloatingLens

Active member
In my experience, digital files from the CF 4/40 FLE can be very usable.

Obviously, raw images will not be bitingly sharp as some more recent optics and the wide-angle effect is limited at 40mm, but with some mild sharpening and compensation for chromatic aberrations added (only really apparent at very high contrast borders), the files render beautifully. Macro and micro-contrast are there.

Actually, the post-processing steps on the CFV II 50C raw files and V lenses remind me of working with scanned film. Even considering said properties as shortcomings of the old FLE formulation, the lens shines when using color and B/W film.
 
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