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Thread: MF considerations, input appreciated

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    Question MF considerations, input appreciated

    I did take a short detour into the world of MFD when I bought a used H3dii-31 a few months ago. The performance was not as convincingly better than the D3x that I call my own, so I sold it. The only remainder of the H set is the 50/3.5.

    Now, after establishing a profound interest in landscape pictures and the desire to print big, I am (yet) again obsessing over the thought of taking the super high resolution MF route. Now, my conundrum that I am seeking to resolve with your help is to see which route to take.

    Over time I have added a 503CW to my collection, as well as a Contax 645 (which I love to shoot 120 film with). As far as I can tell, my options are plentiful and it's making my head hurt.

    I could get a MFDB for the Contax 645, I could get a digital back for the 503CW, or get a H4D-50 (just because I love me some shiny new toys, I mean tools). CVF-50 is a contender, P1 backs for the 645.

    Oddly, B&H sells H4D kits with one lens for the same price they sell the body only for, which makes little sense to me, but I'd take it.

    Help me make sense of the options on the basis of your experience, please.

    Thanks!

    Vlad

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    Re: MF considerations, input appreciated

    The only advice I can offer is to consider buying a system that is 2-parts, camera body and digital back. My thinking is that you're have the back much longer than the body. The other thoughts on having a separate back is they are so much easier to clean and keep clean and that with a little preplanning they can also be used on a technical camera.

    Best of luck!

    Don
    Don Libby
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    Re: MF considerations, input appreciated

    I'm with Don. Separate components are much more flexible and versatile.

    I'm using a Hasselblad CFV-39 on a 555ELD body, and I'm very pleased with it. This combination (or the 503CW body) enables you to use the Zeiss lenses from the 500 series, rather than the newer HCD lenses from ???.

    Good luck with it, and Happy New Year (two hours away as I type).

    - Leigh

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    Re: MF considerations, input appreciated

    Thanks for the input Don and Leigh. I do like pretty much everything about the H system and I had been considering going down that route. My only concern is that the performance is on par with the latest H offerings. The lenses are a little older, not sure that they are "digital optimized" as some of the HCD lenses promise to be. Guess I will have to do some detailed research in that regard.

    Do you know if I can get adapters for a (for example) P1 P65+ MFDB that will fit both Hassy H and the C645? I kinda doubt that but would still welcome it.

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    Re: MF considerations, input appreciated

    Oh and Happy New Year 2011 to you as well!

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    Re: MF considerations, input appreciated

    Quote Originally Posted by Vlad View Post
    Thanks for the input Don and Leigh. I do like pretty much everything about the H system and I had been considering going down that route. My only concern is that the performance is on par with the latest H offerings. The lenses are a little older, not sure that they are "digital optimized" as some of the HCD lenses promise to be. Guess I will have to do some detailed research in that regard.

    Do you know if I can get adapters for a (for example) P1 P65+ MFDB that will fit both Hassy H and the C645? I kinda doubt that but would still welcome it.
    Since you already like the H system there are a few updates you should be aware of.

    The H lenses with a D in the name are already optimized ... i.e., HCD28, HCD35-90. The 50mm has been recently replaced with a new reformulated HC50/3.5-II with improved resolution, corner-to-corner illumination and better close up performance ... and the 150/3.2 was replaced with the 150/3.2N last year. The 120/4 Macro has been tweaked ... but the jury is still out as to whether it is worth the cost to switch to the HC120/4-II. The 100/2.2 and 300/4.5 are already fine as they are.

    Contrary to popular misconceptions, the Zeiss optics from the older V system designed for film use aren't all up to today's mega resolution backs, any more than legacy optics from other systems are. However, there are some that can be used like the newer 40IF CFE, and the 180/4 CFE still holds its own. These can be used on any H body via the CF Adapter, and if CFE versions are used, they are automatically indexed on the H camera ... otherwise you manually select which lens is mounted in the grip LCD menu that automatically appears.

    This provides the option for manual focus legacy V lenses, or AF HC lenses at will. With the advent of True Focus/Absolute Focus Lock on the H4D, any part of the frame can be AFed and it remains in "true focus" when you recompose.

    As far as I know, the only back systems that allow easy user swap of medium Format platforms are Hasselbald CF backs and backs from Sinar. I have a CF/39 Multi-Shot back that can be used on any MF camera mount or view camera mount by simply changing the iAdapter. I have iAdapters for my Hasselbald H2F and Mamiya RZ ... if I wanted one for a Contax I'd get it. These backs use clip-on batteries battery just like the CFV does, and are totally mobile in the field.

    The H4D backs are matched to their bodies, and as such are less mobile when used on a field camera compared to other solutions. The Image Bank-II is then used to redundantly store images and provide power to the H back. The H4D/60 is supposed to have a port for a new power source (TBD).

    IMO, a really nice combo for the Contax 645 is the Phase One P65+ ... which seems like it was designed to be together. How all the Contax lenses do with that kind of resolution I have no idea ... but I'd be suspect rather than just accepting anyone's word for it. In other words, get a demo and see for yourself.

    Frankly, the notion of separate elements is odd to me. Phase backs have to be modified at the factory to work on a different MF platform ... then they only work on that platform (and view cameras ... which any back will do).

    Pick a system and run with it. A Hasselblad H4D/60 and current lenses, or Phase One 645DF with a P65+ and Schneider digital Optics are both pretty good bets I think.

    -Marc

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    Re: MF considerations, input appreciated

    Maybe the issue is in two parts:

    - the "shooter" typically looks from the body and lens combo, as to what helps them take better pictures. This is our typical focus as photographers.
    - the "user" deals with the back:body interface. There the issues, especially in MFDB, are how the backs combine with the camera and the processing workflow. Unlike the days of film, the second half of the setup (back and its requisite work flow) are not secondary or independent. They are now just as important as the front.

    A more integrated setup has a lot of advantages, but only if you like the whole setup (camera, lenses, back and workflow). Separates have a different strength. The trick in MFD work is balancing all the parts satisfactorily. Each system has their own setup, where the solutions to the lens/camera/back/software are an integral part. They all have some restrictions. The trick is sussing those out (by testing and using) and seeing what matter most for you. The fine print really does matter here.

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