back to article Hasselblad CFV-39 digital back

In a world constantly upgrading and adding new innovative features to tempt users into buying a new piece of gear; it is truly refreshing to come across a product that not only raises the bar on quality, but reuses old camera systems - giving them a new lease of life. The CFV-39 digital back is something of a revelation, because …


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  1. EddieD


    That's just beautiful.

    I never could afford a Hasselblad, nor would I ever need one, but that is artistry.

  2. Steve K

    Exclusively film? What about the H-series?

    "In fact, it’s that striving for excellence that has kept an exclusively film-based medium -format stills camera manufacturer in the game well into this century"

    Exclusively apart from the H-series...


    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Staying in the Game

      The only thing that's kept Hasselblad in the game for the past decade or two are the repetitive buyouts by investment firms who think they've solved the riddle of making the yet-again-bankrupt company profitable in a shrinking market (medium format).

  3. Thommy M.


    if it wasn't for this, £10281...

  4. Code Monkey

    Alfredo Hernandez

    Is that the great Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, Yawning Man, too many others to mention) on the bottom of page 4?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The rhythm man

      on the bottom of page 4 you have Frank "the rhythm man" Benbini, of the Fun Lovin' Criminals. mighty good drummer too!


  5. Radelix


    I as well may never have a need for such gadgetry. But that does not stop the "want!". Plus I think my family has a body and lense sitting around not being used

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Very nice. Very nice indeed.

    Now can I have one for my 1940s 5*4 please? Preferably with one fewer digits in the price?

    It's such a *pain* scanning the negs at 2400dpi for 115Mpixel images...

  7. Adam Williamson 1


    ...just checked the back of the sofa and my piggy bank and I'm *still* 9,995 short. Curses.

  8. Dazed and Confused
    Thumb Up

    Depth of field control

    To me one of the beauties of medium format was the ability to control the depth of field so much more than with 35mm. You can decide what you want in focus and the rest then just drops out. Sure you have to think a lot more about it, but then that always improves the results anyway.

    I'll second the opinion of I have no need for one, but Oh boy do I want one.

    Great review BTW. Nice to read a review that goes beyond "how many pixels"

    1. Joe 37

      Agreed entirely

      What other reason would you have for not using digital? Tonal gradation depends on film size, nothing else. Can still tell the difference 40 years later. Gigapixel resolution may show it, but nothing I've seen yet will

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Superior DoF control to 35mm? Not any more.

      The lens on this MF digital back that would get you equivalent DoF control to, say, Canon's 85mm f/1.2L would be 120mm f/1.7. Such a lens does not exist for MF.

      The fact is that none of the fastest 35mm system lenses have an equivalent in medium format. There's no 34mm f/2.0 (equivalent to 24mm f/1.4 on 35mm), 71mm f/1.7 (50mm f/1.2), 191mm f/2.8 (135mm f/2.0) or 280mm f/2.8 (200mm f/2.0). The longest lens available for the V-System, the 350mm f/5.6, can be replicated by a 250mm f/4.0 lens on 35mm.

      The multiplier used above is the ratio of the sensor diagonals, which by coincidence is almost exactly SQRT(2). DoF is a function of aperture diameter and image magnification, so multiplying both focal length and f-stop prevents those two variables from changing, and DoF in the output image remains the same.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge


        Magnification is of course independent of format, as it relates to the relative size of the object compared to the image projected onto the imaging plane (sensor, film etc.) In this context I should have referred to angle of view.

  9. jake Silver badge

    I've had a CF-39 for a couple years now.

    No, I didn't purchase it for myself, it was a 10th anniversary present from my Wife. To say I was floored would be a gross understatement.

    I bought the body & lenses used, right out of college, and still use it for B&W film photography. Most of my nieces & nephews are fascinated by the "ancient" technology, and I trust the older three with the enlarger, unsupervised (my darkroom's a converted walk-in closet here in the office).

    Adding new tech to this old hardware was really a brilliant idea. I actually use it more now than I did when it was film-only.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Without any doubt, the best

    Canon, Nikon, Sony, et. al.... None of which could ever hold a candle to my 501c. If it weren't for Hassy equipment I would have stopped dreaming a long time ago!

  11. Joe 37

    Still won't replace the Sinar

    Once it can do what a view camera can then I might be interested. My 40 year old Sinar F still does better.

  12. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    View camera

    Linhoff and Sinar both make digital backs for their view cameras.

    You can use 50Mp 6x45 backs with a shift mount or there are scanning backs that (if you are doing still life) will give you 12000x12000 pixel images.

  13. henryd

    Speed Camera Sign - geddit?

    Most road speed camera signs around the world have a Hasslebad profile on them, totally foreign to most people under the age 50, or thereabouts.

    Sadly, in spite of my valuable contribution to todays history and road safety lessons, I can't afford one.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Having used 'Blads extensively in some very uncomfortable situations (MoD), I thank the day I finally put the unreliable film backs, the flaring lenses, the overlapping frames on the film, the sheer weight and noise of the thing and the plaster dust from the ceilings where I'd pressed the shutter, all behind me.

    Overpriced, overweight, overhyped and underwhelmed 'Blads be!

  15. fattybacon

    2Gb Compact Flash

    Isn't the supplied card a bit of an insult? You can pick up a Pro grade 64Gb CF card for less than £500, if you are paying £10k I'm sure they could find a bit of wiggle room to include something decent?

  16. tanj666

    Sample's show a pro at work

    Looking at the sample photo's with this article it is obvious that they were taken by a professional photographer. Wonderful focus and contol of light, even in 'snaps' like these.

    These just go to show the quality of medium format over the more 'snap-happy' 35mm sized cameras. The real difference is in the superb lenses as well as the amount of light captured with the larger sensor. Using a manual camera system, checking the light levels and making you 'work' for the image like this does improve your skills no end as you learn to look beyond the click of the button.

    Just look at how tight the zone of focus is on these pictures, incredible. I'm going to get my precious out and play with her (Bronica SQA 6x6 film camera - I'm not rich enough to afford a digital back, but I do still have my own darkroom ;-) )

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      "Snap happy" 35mm?

      Fanboyism in professional photography systems, who knew that was even possible?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only £10k?

    drool ......

  18. Anonymous Coward


    As a visual communicatoins professional I find the sensor lens factor a pain and very limiting. It does not allow you to use the lenes for what the were designed to do. My 40mm lens wide angle becomes a meduim wide and my 150mm lens becomes a much longer effective focal length lens. A full frame 6x6 sensor with 15mb @ 24 pixel bit depth would be perect, especially if it were in the $10k-15K USD price range. The Hasselblad V system is a fabulous platform but the sensor size greatly limits it use and functionality. Better off buying a complete Nikon D3s system at the same price. Digital back manufacturers are missing the boat by not making a 6x6cm digital back that is resonably priced; there are thousands of Hasselblad V systems out there just begging for this!!!

  19. Bob Merkin

    Yes, but . . .

    will it blend?

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