I bought a CFV back a couple of months ago. I love it.
The most important thing to understand is that the 16 megapixels of the CFV are not the same size pixels as those on the smaller sensor 35mm format DSLRís, such as the Canon 1DSMII or the D2X. The pixels of the CFV are larger pixels that contain much more information, which translates into tremendous dynamic range, shadow detail, and detail in general.
Along with the exquisite image quality that the Zeiss glass delivers on the CFV, the back is a snap to learn, feels like a slightly deeper film back, shoots square (not 645) and can be used on any of the V system Hasselblads. I have used it on a 503CW, a 903 SWC, a 553 ELX and a 205 TCC (which required a small modification to be fully functional on that body).
If you want to see a really excellent thread that thoroughly explores what the CFV is capable of, go to http://www.hasselbladinfo.com/discus/messages/4/26201.html
, in which Marc Williams, the Detroit creative director and photographer, did a long illustrated posting on Hasselbladinfo.com with lots of back and forth interaction with other forum members about the back
Regarding my personal experience with the CFV, like you, I was a little concerned about the crop factor, but to my surprise I donít even notice it . The CFV back comes with an etched screen that shows the coverage area so itís a little like looking through a leica with frame linesÖand it works just as well). Whatís also surprising is that it seems always to cover more area than I thought it would, and I am constantly surprised at how much I pick up with my SWC and with the 40mm and 50mm lenses on the 503 and 205. By the same token, I donít find that I am on top of my subjects even using the 110 f/2 on the 205. In fact, I like the working distance better with the CFV back attached than with a film back.
Regarding comparing the CFV to a smaller sensor camera like the Canon 1dsMII in terms of the size of the prints that can be made from its files, in my opinion (and I think Marc Williams agrees) itís no contest. I donít have a D2X, but I have a Canon 5D and I used to have a Canon 1DS MII, until I sold it when I got the CFV. Even the 5D is hardly ever used now, except for long telephoto shots. I print up to 24Ē x 24Ē on an Epson 7600 and I canít tell the difference between the prints I get from CFV files and prints I get from scanned 120 transparencies, and since I scan on an Epson 848, that's saying something, I think.
If you didnít own a hasselblad and some V lenses, I would still say what I have said above, but given that you already have a Hasselblad and some beautiful Zeiss lenses, this should be an easy decision for you. . . .
Did I mention how easy the back is to learn and use?
I am slightly surprised at the lack of posts relating to the CFV back. This is the cheapest way to get into MF digital and I am wondering if this would suit me. Sure I can rent and test, but renting costs money so I am looking for any advice that would justify the initial outlay for even tests (or persuade me that it is not worthwhile) on this back.
I am not a working pro and so client concerns do not enter the picture. I do exhibit and I do sell prints so to some extent I can justify additional expenditure but not to the extent of the £20,000 or so that a new H2 system with backs would cost. I can probably run to the £5,000 or so that a CFV back would cost or even to a Mamiya Zd but am reluctant to give up on the lenses I have in the last respect.
I have an old V system including 50mm, 80mm and the 120 Makro Plannar lenses. The body and the film backs are now not worth very much but I have put significant money into the lenses which I love. I scan velvia and Ilford HP5 and FP4 through a Polaroid Sprintscan 120 and now print on an Epson 3800. I would like to print bigger on some images and am considering an HP Z3100 or and Epson 7800. I love the square format and the waist level finder. I have pretty much given up on the wet darkroom.
I also have a Nikon D2x with various lenses. I do mostly landscapes (slightly quirky and close up rather than wide) and some portraits and still lives. The D2x files hold up well up to A2 but not beyond.
So would a CFV be of any use for my purposes - i.e. larger than A2 prints or even at A2 - compared to the D2x? The crop factor is a pain (not just as regards the lens but also as regards format) but I might be able to live with that. Or should I just give up the ambition of printing larger than A2.
Anyone got any thoughts?