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Thread: Advice on getting into Digital MF

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    Advice on getting into Digital MF

    Hi experts,

    I am considering getting into Digital MF. Currently, I mainly used Leica Monochrom and Leica M. Rangefinder Leica has been my companion and best tool for a while. Yet I have also been a little dissatisfied with the limitation of the 35mm sensor, especially when I try to make prints larger than 17x22. Driven by the search for better image quality, I took class in large format film photography, and have been shooting 4x5 and 5x7, but i find the workflow of film still more depressing than liberating. I am a generalist. I do not specialize in one genre. I am not a commercial photographer either, and I treat photography as art. All my projects are personal projects, some landscape, some urban places, people and street photography too.

    I am wondering which of the following would be a good start for me in digital mf:

    1. Leica S or S2.
    Pro: most versatile, best lenses
    Con: small sensor, less pixels, high price
    Neutral: 2x3 ratio

    2. Hasselblad CFV-39 or CFV-50 back with 500cm V system
    Pro: I already have the film body and 2 lenses. Large Sensor
    Con: some integration problems between back and machine
    Lens might not be adequate to resolve for the sensor

    3. Phase one p45+/p65+ with Hasseblad V system
    similar pros and cons to the CFV backs

    4. Hasselblad H5D40
    I am not familiar with the H system. Looks big and cumbersome.

    I know about the Pentax 645Z or Mamiya options, but I am not keen on them at all. I handled a Phase one 645df camera, but did not like it at all.

    I am most interested in the Leica S, but I am wondering whether it does have significant advantages in image quality over the 35 DSLRS such as Nikon D800e or D810. I also like manual focus, but I have no idea whether Leica S and its lenses are good for manual focus too.




    IF you can offer some suggestions, it will be great.

    Yours,
    George

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    After using a Hasselblad 500 C/M with a CFV 16 and an H4D60, I would recommend choice #4. Auto focus is so useful, and the ergonomics as well as the features of the H system camera can't be matched. Even so, I would love to have the CFV 39 or 50. Also,Phocus is a very powerful and useful program. It also corrects some of the shortcomings of the Hasselblad lenses. But, the Hasselblad lenses are very good in their own right.

    You may want to wait until after Photokina. There may be a new Hasselblad rangefinder that would use the new MFD Sony 50 Mega Pixel CMOS sensor. (Probably just wishful thinking on my part.) But, I did get inside information that led me to believe it was coming soon.

    Greg

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    Quote Originally Posted by yudafu2 View Post
    2. Hasselblad CFV-39 or CFV-50 back with 500cm V system
    Pro: I already have the film body and 2 lenses. Large Sensor
    Con: some integration problems between back and machine
    Lens might not be adequate to resolve for the sensor
    Hi George,

    I use the CFV-39 frequently with my full compliment of Hasselblad lenses, from 40mm to 500mm, with superb results.

    The lenses are certainly up to the task, although probably with little room to spare.

    I would strongly suggest using the 555ELD body, which was apparently designed for this back.

    There are no integration issues and no interconnecting cables needed.
    You must mount the back and use it exactly like a film back.

    There is one right-angle viewfinder that projects far enough rearward to be usable without any complaints.

    For software, you can't beat Phocus from Hasselblad, which is available for free.
    Not only does it give you all of the standard photo-manipulation functions, it also includes corrections of
    geometric distortion for all standard Hasselbad V-series lenses.


    - Leigh

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    Thanks Greg and Leigh. I am really grateful. I did not know that Hassy is going to have a rangefinder MFD... That sounds very powerful, but probably too expensive to afford. I am primarily looking at the second hand market.

    I am also wondering how the CFV backs work on the SWC. From a naive perspective, a SWC with a CFV back should make a perfect pair for scenery or street shots!

    In terms of image quality, is Leica S on par with the Hassy options, albeit with a smaller sensor?

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    Hasselblad recommends against using the CFV-39 with the SWC due to light fall-off and uneven sensor illumination at the corners.
    Whether this would be a problem with your shots or not only you can decide.

    A good alternative is the standard 40mm CF lens on a regular body. I have and use that lens with no issues. It works fine.

    The 40mm CF Distagon angle-of-view is 69.3deg horiz/vert and 88.7deg diagonal.
    The 38mm CF Biogon angle-of-view is 72deg horiz/vert and 91deg diagonal, so not much difference.

    Obviously the standard body is significantly longer and taller than the SWC.

    - Leigh

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    "I am also wondering how the CFV backs work on the SWC. From a naive perspective, a SWC with a CFV back should make a perfect pair for scenery or street shots!"
    *****
    IMO, that is a costly and limited system. I have a SWC and CFV back and they work OK together but that combination sorta misses the point of shooting full frame, ie 56 x 56 with 38mm Biogon. If you do decide to go that route, be aware that early SWC won't accept a CFV back without modification. It's been years since I researched it but, IIRC, SWCs that wouldn't take a Polaroid 80 back (pre-1981?) won't work, unmodified, with CFV. The SWC/CFV combo got me back into film and scanning.

    Steve

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    Yes, I did some research, and it seems the SWC has some unsolved issues with digital backs. I was thinking, with crop factor, the SWC is going to be a moderate wide angle in square format, could be perfect for street shots.

    Anyway, I did some research again, and it seems that reasonably priced second hand CFV backs are hard to find. Only a couple on Ebay. Very expensive for a relatively old equipment.
    In comparison, P45 phase one backs are much cheaper. Why is that?

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    The old adage "You get what you pay for" is every bit as valid today as when it was coined.

    - Leigh

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    There's also the Hy6/Leaf AFi to consider I guess. Either way, waiting till after photokina is probably a good idea.

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    bear in mind the CV-39 is rectangular format, not always a happy thing with the sq-format 500 series. you can always crop it down to sq, in the viewfinder as well, but you won't have the 39mpx or the same wide fov.

    woody re-labled he SWC as a WC in that circumstance

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    I think my choices are narrowed down to two:
    1. a used CFV backs, most likely the CFV39 . Since I already have a 503CX back with a metering viewfinder and two lenses, I only need to invest in the back.
    2. Leica S system. Probably a used S2p or S2, and one lens. That is still significantly more expensive than the CFV back. And I might be able to use my V lens via adaptor too.

    The CFV has a larger sensor, fatter pixels I believe. But the Leica might be easier to handle.

    Can anyone compare those two?

    Best,
    George

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    I figured out that since I do not use flash, and I go out a lot, Hasselblad H is not the best match. But either CFV backs or Leica S will serve my purpose.

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    Quote Originally Posted by yudafu2 View Post
    I think my choices are narrowed down to two:
    1. a used CFV backs, most likely the CFV39 . Since I already have a 503CX back with a metering viewfinder and two lenses, I only need to invest in the back.
    2. Leica S system. Probably a used S2p or S2, and one lens. That is still significantly more expensive than the CFV back. And I might be able to use my V lens via adaptor too.

    The CFV has a larger sensor, fatter pixels I believe. But the Leica might be easier to handle.

    Can anyone compare those two?

    Best,
    George
    Between those 2 the Leica S/S2 for sure. No contest for using out in the field.

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    Re: Advice on getting into Digital MF

    Hi Ken, thanks for the comment. Would you elaborate a little? I thought the CFV on a 503cx body should work well too?

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