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Thread: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

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    Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    Hi there,

    I'm try to read what I can from MF, to which I will take the plunge next month or so via a Hasselblad 500 C/M or 501 C/CM most likely.

    But one thing puzzles me : some backs are specific for each camera brand. For example Phase One makes the same back for V Hasselblad, H Hasselblad Series, Contax and so on.

    Can I get one back for one camera and later on, if I switch system, can I just get another mount of the back ? Or are they specific like camera lens mounts ?

    Ie, if I buy a Phase One 40+ for the Hasselblad V system ( 501 CX for example ) and later on I decided that I want AF so I buy a Phase One camera.. and I buy a new mount for my 40+ back and remove the V mount and get the Phase Mount ? Or do I have to switch the back completely ?

    Sorry if its an idiotic question.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    No it is a great question. You have to switch mounts on the Phase backs at a cost of about 2500. Now if you buy a P40+ today new with a Value added warranty it does include a mount swap for free, check with your dealer for sure on this type of warranty. But since you sound like you have nothing going in than I would try to decide today which system you like the best before the purchase of the back. Hassy backs are tuned to the body with purchase but I think you can send them in latter to the factory if you have to switch bodies , this is for the H series. Honestly if I was buying a new back i would not be buying a V series to start with. Although some great lenses in V you are really buying a generation behind. Now if you go Phase back with a Phase DF body you can buy a adapter to use V lenses and that is the route I would go if you wanted to use some V glass. I will let some Hassy shooters give info on using V lenses with the H series bodies but I think you can do that also. But rather someone in that area respond on that than me.

    I just would not buy any back thinking legacy bodies because if you do decide to switch it will cost you. Maybe the only system out there that i would do that is Contax but again the Contax is not made anymore so you are stuck with it's technology but they do have some nice glass and you can switch to a Phase mount later if you decided.

    Personally i would see what bodies you like first. Also remember if you go P40+ for a H series body than you can only use the H1 and H2 and there are some limitations there as well.

    This pretty much goes for leaf as well on backs think of them more like phase backs as they can use different body mounts as well. The Hassy H series backs are tied into the H3 and H4 bodies and can't be used later of like a Phase body.

    Okay i just confused the heck out of you sorry. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    Phase and Leaf backs offer mount switch options for a -realtively high- fee.

    At least for Phase, within the applicable period of time the Value Added Warranty (VAW) will allow you to get one free mount switch (new DB or used one until expiration of the VAW).

    Don't know if the VAW or similar system is availalble from Leaf.

    The exact charge for mount change depends on your location. For example in Europe you're facing something in the vicinity of 1500 EUR (again, to be checked with your local distributor).


    Just in case, AFAIK Sinar backs' mount type can be changed, too, except in their case it's a user changeable interface. Cost is a tad lower -but not by far. The bright side of the system is that you can operate two or more body types with the same actual DB. Sinar owners/dealers will have to confirm, though.


    edit: Guy answered in the meantime, oh well i'll leave mine...

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    Hi....Just my gear : Sinar 54M ( 22Mp ) . I use this back with : Hasselblad 500 CM, Mamiya AFD II, Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Ebony 45SU and Sinar x. I have plenty of fun with it.
    Sorry for my English.

    Luis

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    Yes Sinar sells adapter plates for different bodies and i would check the costs of them in your location for sure . They are not exactly cheap though so do check first. Also Sinar has seen some rough road with the Hy6 body and I am just not sure what they are doing now with backs if at all. I have not followed any of there latest ongoings but be sure to check on that before going that route. Maybe someone can give you the latest scoop on Sinar and what they are up too.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    With Hasselblad you have the option of going for the H3/H4 route. These backs you can only use on the supplied H3/H4 body. For a spare you need to order this seperately which needs to be calibrated in the factory (not sure what exactly will happen when you would try it on a different H3 body).

    You can also go for the CF backs which use an adapterplate system like Sinar. Adapterplates are about 500USD to 800USD. Advantage is that you can use the back on basically whatever you like and swap at will. Disadvantage currently is that it is kind of murky what will happen with these backs in the future (Which can be said of the whole MF market according to some).

    All H backs can be used on stuff like view cameras provided they have a H mount (or that you have the proper adapter plate for the CF back).

    For using V glass, you can get an adapter to fit the glass on the H body.

    I agree with the V being not my choice either. If I would have to make a choice now, it would be either Mamiya (Phase DF) or H3/4. Sound systems that are alive and kicking and provide you with enough flexibility not to feel stuck.

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    And to confuse you more, don't forget that you can also use a digital back on different types of camera bodies/systems. For example, use a P40+ on the new Phase 645DF and then use the same mamiya mount digital back and use it on a technical camera like the Cambo RS, without having to make any alterations. Or buy a pricey adapter plate and use the same MFDB on an RZ67ProIID.....

    In reality, there really aren't too many choices in medium format digital. Find the platform you like, and the MFDB choices narrow significantly...

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    Sinar doesn't sell new backs any more, to my knowledge, but they have restructured the company and are continuing to support them fully. There was even a new firmware recently. The camera business continues, including the Hy6, although it is unclear what they will do with Hy6 production in case they run out.

    I actually have a Sinar eMotion 54LV with Contax adapter (but Sinar still sells the others I am almost certain; it should be checked to be sure), and I am considering selling it for around €5000. If this interests you, PM me and we can talk about it. There is still warranty.

    Another good option for multiple camera system support is the Hasselblad CF backs, which use an iAdapter to mount on multiple systems, just like the Sinar backs.

    The Leafs and Phase backs have a fixed mount, and swapping for one with the correct mount, when you change system, can cost a lot of money, as mentioned above. For the cheaper backs, this can easily be 1/2 the cost of a back (at least 1/2 the price of a Sinar 22MP back; the Phase backs are much more expensive, even used, and I don't know about the Leafs.).
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    Carsten,

    First of all thank you for your offer but I'll pass for now. Seems at a good price and can afford it but to be honest I have no MF experience and I should get some first before going directly to a MFD back in all its glory.

    If you still have the back in a couple of months I will might take it off you

    Guy and Dustbak : thanks for your answers. In reality I can see myself in the future with a Leica and a light lens for travelling and a MFD system for "pleasure" landscape and the like shooting. But since MF is completely new to me, V system seems a good entry system to get the grasps and at quite affordable prices - honestly my jaw dropped the last few days when I'm shopping around for a V system. I cant just believe how cheap these things are today. After a learning period and if I like the MF world, I will then sell perhaps some unwanted Leica items, the remaining liver and lung, entering the MFD world via perhaps a PhaseOne body ( seem to have the edge in the back world, the P45+ seems fenomenal ) or a H3DII ( very good at decent prices I can reach, a H3D39II complete goes for around 9500 british pounds used and there a few to choose from - not bad )

    But thanks again for the answers, I get the logic of the system now and as kdphotography says, seems the job get easier once you settle on a system and the back choice are then limited to a few.

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    No problem, it was just a suggestion. I am not even completely sure I want to sell it. It would leave a hole in my equipment which I would have to fill somehow. I might just find some time somewhere and figure out all remaining questions I have about MF digital and keep it.

    I also use the Leica M + medium format, and it works very well, as long as you don't need very high ISO or very fast AF. I enjoy MF tremendously.

    The Phase body doesn't have a waist level finder, by the way, which to me is a huge problem, as it is my favorite way of using my MF cameras. For others, they don't mind.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    As I'm also on this trip: rent one for a weekend or so. OK, some EUROs to spend here, but I hope to get an answer whether it's something I really want. It's a HY6 for me, no Hasselblad...
    As for the backs: I don't care - there is no guarantee, that any company is still there in, let's say, 5 years. And maybe Rollei is back then? Miracles happen... But if you want to be on safe side, go for Sinar - getting an adapter will be possible regardless the future of Sinar (though such adapters can cause other problems, bad contacts and such things). But don't forget - you need MAC then, there is no software for PC (that's why I look into AFI-II 7)!

    Andreas

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    i went with the V system... my main goal was arca fline and RM3D or MAX, i don't need AF, and like the fact that i was able to use the back on a second hand 503CW.
    I like waist level too much, and phaseone camera reminds me DSLR too much.
    I've bought a 50 CFi/FLE and a 100 CFi... all the kit in second hand cost me 3000 euros.
    The trouble is that the 40 exhibits a lot of distortion, and cost a fortune... but my wide angle needs will be covered by the RM3D anyway !
    But for most people, the phase camera makes more sense... or D3X for the others.

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Corlan F. View Post
    Just in case, AFAIK Sinar backs' mount type can be changed, too, except in their case it's a user changeable interface. Cost is a tad lower -but not by far.
    Last time I checked most of the adapter kits were around 600. A lot cheaper and easier than a mount swap.

    One of the advantages of the adaptable backs is that when it comes to sell the back, your sale is not tied to any platform. A Phase back owner, on the other hand, needs to find a buyer wanting that specific mount.

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    As already mentioned, the great advantage of the Sinar/i-adapter systems are that you are not tied to any mount, and can barely be compared to a mount-swap where after switching from one system to another, you are then stuck in the new system instead of being stuck in the old system... until you cough up another couple of thousand. If you are the sort of user who might use two systems with different mounts, there is no comparison. If you are a single-system user, this is a non-issue.

    Also, as far as I am aware, there is actually no mount swapping taking place. You send your used back to Phase, and they return a different used back with the desired mount. This means that they need to have your mount in stock for this to be relatively speedy. I do believe that they keep a few units on the shelf, but in the past they have sometimes run out, at least in the case of Mamiya mounts. Then there is a period of waiting until they get more again.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    Its an interesting question, and one that can work the imagination. I'd like to try and help sort out the answers from above, by grouping them:

    - backs that have interchangeable mounts, by the consumer: Hassy CF backs (was Imacon) with I-adapter, and Sinar. These may require a falsh synch cord to fire them, which is not a problem, but isn't the most integral of answers. The mount swap isn't terribly cheap, but it is effective if you have many platforms to work with.

    - camera adapters - mounting plates: the industry has made some adapters, where a mount made for one camera can go on another. These mostly serve the viewcamera market, but can be useful.

    - mount changing by manufacturer - Phase for example will change the mount, but you have to send it back to them. Good for if you ever seriously change platforms, but not for everyday.

    - some mounts are more ubiquitous (common) than others, and thus one can "cobble" a flexible system from combining several of the above: for example, a Hassy V mount, or a Mamiya mount, or even a Contax mount might be usable on those cameras, Alpa, Silvestri, or view cameras, thus allowing you to piece a more flexible system together. But you should scope that out before hand, as its not like everyone works off the same game card. in general, tho, some camera makers (like Alpa) make a range of different mounts.

    - there are some dead ends that are still useful: I have a phase back in a Rollei mount (Rollei made this just for their cameras). The back and mount won't go on anything else, but I can move it to another Rollei - and I think to an X-act view camera (also by Rollei). Even the Leaf backs for Hy6 (surprisingly) can go on Alpas, for example. Its a bit weird to see the little nuances of this. Mounts for V Hassy can be used on all the V system... which is large. It used to be with the Hassy H1/H2 you could bring your own back to the party, but they gave that up (more on that below).

    There is always the desire to have one back switching between different platforms. It seems to make sense, and thus the older CF Hassy and the Sinar backs are designed for this. There is no perfect solution though to this problem. Some will argue that back alignment is more critical than flexibility and the backs need to be factory aligned to the camera (thus not the flexible changeable mount system). Sinar addresses this with vey thin alum foil strips you fiddle with to get right. Alpa now has a shim system as well.

    Another reason is for electronic protocols - sometimes EXIF data is not shared when changing platforms, if that's important. That is probably the reason Hassy closed their system with the H3 (along with other issues), for just their own backs.

    In reality, the image of a common back (like a Hassy A12) swapping all around is compelling, but these digital backs are not quite used that way. They tend to prefer a stable home and mount.

    Some do swap them around with success. Get either a common mount type, and pick your platforms carefully, and you can meet this goal. The other way is to pick a system with broad flexibility and be happy developing within that structure.

    Hope this helps.

    Geoff

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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    Some will argue that back alignment is more critical than flexibility and the backs need to be factory aligned to the camera (thus not the flexible changeable mount system). Sinar addresses this with vey thin alum foil strips you fiddle with to get right. Alpa now has a shim system as well.
    Just to set the record straight, I have never seen a single post about a misalignment due to an adapter system. Furthermore, camera variation would affect fixed mount and adapted mount systems alike, but that doesn't seem to be an issue either.

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    Graham,

    I have had several but that is what shims are for. You can align the backs with adapters using thin foil stacks.

    In most cases I have found this not to be necessary and I have used quite a few different bodies. On one or 2 cases I needed to shim, but I could get away with varying the force I tightened the screws with

    I agree sofar this is pretty much a non-issue. Which might be different with the newer backs. I did find focus got much more critical going up the MP's.

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    Re: Are digital backs switchable between Camera Bodies from different brands ?

    You both have real experience with this, and you are likely correct. Have you seen the Alpa info on shimmed alignment of backs?

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