Friday, November 16, 2007

The CFV Digital Back

After my less-than-optimal experience with the V96C, Hasselblad announced the product they should have created initially--the CFV. The photo shown at the left was taken with the CFV on a cold December night. The device is exclusively made to fit the older, original cameras--the 500 and 200 series models. There is also a newer series of models called the H-series which I don't plan to cover in this blog. The CFV has many desirable features. There is no imagebank so that the battery attaches to bottom of the back and images are stored on Compact Flash memory cards. Just what one would expect! However, the most notable feature could only be appreciated by the few owners of 203FE cameras. Hasselblad developed a special system board for the 203FE that allowed the CFV to be fired directly from the electronics of the camera--no one-shot cable release (see earlier posting)! Unfortunately, this required sending my camera to Sweden twice and considerable help from support people in Seattle. I now have the perfect medium format digital system and could very well be unique!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The 60-120 mm FE Zoom Lens

In addition to digital information, I plan to talk about all things Hasselblad, especially if they are a little unusual. The 60-120 mm zoom lens--shown at left--definitely falls into that category. The lens was--as it has been discontinued--almost 6" long and weighed almost 3-1/2 Lbs! The idea was good; one lens to carry instead of three. I haven't mentioned this yet, but the electronic 203FE has a shutter built into the camera--called a focal plane shutter. As a result, the lens doesn't need a shutter. The FE lenses are that way but cannot be used on any other standard Hasselblad cameras. However, these lenses do not have a PC post and couldn't fire the V96C. In addition, the lens is so heavy that it was extremely clumsy--impossible to use for handheld shots. The lens was not a standard Zeiss Planar design but was made in Japan. It turned out that the resulting photos were not up to usual Hasselblad standards and I had to sell it.

Using the V96C

Although, as I mentioned, the V96C digital back was cumbersome to use, I took some nice pictures around and about Leland, Michigan, my favorite place to photograph. At the left is Fishtown in downtown Leland. With the large 36X36 mm, 16 MB sensor I can easily enlarge my photos to the 20"X24" size that I like to use. Admittedly, the required cropping reduces the effective sensor size and as a result Hasselblad has now released a 22 MP sensor which is 48X36 mm but at an enormous price--more than an amateur photographer like myself can justify.

Getting the photos off of the imagebank was the trick. Firewire connectivity was not foolproof at the time I owned the V96C. Further, photos could only be accessed through the Imacon Flexcolor software and did not show up as a disk in Windows Explorer. I initially had much difficulty with the Firewire connectivity in my laptop until I was given a special cable by the folks at City Lights Digital where I bought the back. Due to the complexity of the device, I never would have gotten it to work without their help. After owning the V96C for a little over a year, Hasselblad introduced the CFV which resolved all of the difficulties with their initial attempt at digital. Unfortunately, the value of the V96C plummeted. But, that business model is common in today's world of digital photography. Gone are the days of owning the same device for 20 or 30 years, e.g., the Hasselblad 500.....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The V96C

The V96C was an amazing piece of electronic equipment--shown at the left--but with an astonishing number of shortcomings. The feature which possessed the best and worst qualities was the Imagebank external hard drive. The imagebank was the heart of the V96C. It contained an amazing 40 Gig harddrive which could hold 1000 of the large picture files. The battery attached to the imagebank so that the power button was there also instead of on the digital back. All communication to the back was through the imagebank which had to be linked to a computer as a device through a firewire port. The imagebank was heavy and tethered to the camera through a co-ax cable. I had a settup to hang it from the tripod. Since there was no removable storage media, the pictures could only be removed by hooking the imagebank to a computer. This was very cumbersome. Now, there's more to the Rube Goldberg-like story. I already mentioned that I have electronics in my Hasselblad. This was an experiment they undertook and then abandoned. However, the electronic Hasselblad is wonderful. Well, they don't like to adapt their digital backs to my model. So, it is necessary to somehow fire the digital back while the shutter is open--not an easy task. To do that a company called The Kapture Group has created a device--which costs about $400--to link the shutter realease, the PC post on the lens, and the digital back called the One shot cable release shown at the left. The PC post fires a flash so that signal is used for the back. I wish I had taken a picture of the tripod when all of these cables were connected--it was quite a sight! Next time I will talk about using the V96C.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My First Digital Back

I received my first Hasselblad camera as a Christmas gift in 1998. One of my first "keeper" photos was the old farm house--not a great scan--shown at the left. I shot with film for 5 or so years. Digital photography began to get popular around Y2K, but mostly of the point-and-shoot variety. One of the first digital backs was made by Kodak, believe it or not, but I thought it too expensive at the time. Unfortunately, Kodak got out of the professional digital camera business. The good news came in late 2004 when Hasselblad merged with Imacon and released a 16 MP digital back specifically made for the standard Hasselblad camera. By that time I had upgraded to the automatic 203FE which had an electronic shutter. I bought the new back--called the V96C--and the world of digital, medium format photography was opened up to me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Modernize your Hasselblad

Do you have a Hasselblad camera? If so, you know how great it is. You have the greatest camera ever made. It's like having a Rolls or a Rolex! Well, don't let the digital world pass you by. Your whole world can be changed by upgrading to a digital back to your Hasselblad. It opens up a new type of photo interest to you and exiting new technology. This Blog will deal with the information associated with digital medium format photography.