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Author Topic: Guidance on buying a digital back for 500CM  (Read 25004 times)
daleeman
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« on: June 30, 2010, 05:57:28 AM »
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Guidance on buying a digital back for 500CM

Greetings, Id appreciate any and all advice when it comes to moving into a digital back for my 500cm system. I acquired everything used and it is in fairly good to great shape.

Would like to enjoy going into nature and doing waterfalls, landscapes and such along with images of people, posed and candid images, as candid as you can be with a Hassy. Not looking for this to be costing an arm and a leg but wanting to be able to buy right and use it for some time to come.

So from an uninformed medium format digital wantabe, I imagine my criteria is something like this:

CF card, not tethered
Image review hopefully with histogram
Interchangeable batteries
IR filter on the sensor (I have an M8.2 and realize this can be an issue)
Square sensor preferred over 645 format
Able to fire from sync cord, or if I find a newer camera internal contacts, if there is such a thing.
Raw format that I can deal with (CS5 or Phase one ver 4 basic flavor)
No lower than 10 mega pixels, more the better 12, 16, 20+ gets bigger smiles ( I am looking for used)
Price: well that is the whammy. Im trying to save up to 2,700 to buy, but am about half of that.

So my criteria is all about growing slow and cheap but gathering up as best as I can for the money. No sugar momma taking care of this guy, so as I save I see things go buy on eBay and wish I could pull the trigger but am looking for other places to see and find informed sellers of used equipment that have integrity and will stand behind the used equipment. (I know, the check is in the mail and I really do have the deed to this bridge I will sell you)

So any guidance on how I might move into MF digital would be appreciated.

Lee

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BobDavid
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2010, 08:55:02 AM »
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Get a nice used Ixpress back. Something like a 96c or a 384c if you'd like to do multi-shot. I'd be more inclined to get it from a dealer than from eBay, unless you really  know what you are doing. Michael Ulsaker at Ulsaker Studio is reputable. You can find him by googling ulsaker studio. The abovementioned Ixpress backs use and ImageBank, instead of CF cards. But the ImageBank is fine. I think it stores 40GBs.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 08:57:18 AM by BobDavid » Logged
daleeman
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2010, 07:47:39 PM »
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Quote from: BobDavid
Get a nice used Ixpress back. Something like a 96c or a 384c if you'd like to do multi-shot. I'd be more inclined to get it from a dealer than from eBay, unless you really  know what you are doing. Michael Ulsaker at Ulsaker Studio is reputable. You can find him by googling ulsaker studio. The abovementioned Ixpress backs use and ImageBank, instead of CF cards. But the ImageBank is fine. I think it stores 40GBs.
Thanks, I'll take a look. Hope to find some others offering some guidance. I look forward to using my Hassy on digital as well as film.
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john milich
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2010, 05:03:53 PM »
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you might find a used  Hasselblad CFV-1 in the 3k range.  square, 16mpix, 9 micron sensor, cf card, perfect integration to the 500.  makes beautiful images, phocus software is free, uses Sony batteries, has all the typical LCD functions (histogram, image review, etc)
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AndrewMcD
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2010, 06:14:18 PM »
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I decided to jump into a digital back last year with my 500cm.

A few thoughts about what I've learned.

- works really really well for landscapes, product photography....anything that doesn't move and gives you plenty of time to focus.

- awful for anything that moves - ie: people. Impossible to focus. I felt like I'd gone back in time to the 19th century asking people to hold perfectly still while I attempted to get the focus point right.

I've upgraded my focus screen, tried different loupes, but basically use the WLF. With film, I can shoot all day hand-held with the 500, but with digital, there's no leeway for focus. It's like an on-off switch.

So, I went back to the Nikon for any shoots with people, and use the Hasselblad for still subjects. Expensive lesson learned. YMMV.
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2010, 06:50:16 PM »
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This is a really tough price range to work in. You will for sure find backs but they will all have some pretty significant limitations.

Phase One doesn't really have any products at that low-end of the scale but an Leaf Aptus 17 or Leaf Valeo 17 would be worth a look with their own sets of advantages and limitations compared to the options already mentioned.

Since you specifically mentioned you wanted a back which is supported by CS5 or Capture One you should be aware that many backs in this price range are not supported in CS5, and only Leaf/Phase are supported in Capture One.

If you could up your budget a few thousand more you would open up a much larger range of possibilities.

Doug Peterson
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vandevanterSH
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2010, 10:23:50 PM »
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So any guidance on how I might move into MF digital would be appreciated.
*********
At that price point, get a Epson 750 scanner and shoot film.  I would be very concerned that if you find a digital back at your price point,  you may be buying trouble  and may have thrown money down a rat hole.

Steve
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K.C.
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2010, 12:03:52 AM »
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I have a couple of 503s and a 500ELX, a 40, 60, 100, 150,180 and 250 sitting here. Love them. Made a good living with them for years.

But my 5DII surpasses the quality I'd get with a low end digital back on any of the above.

For your budget you also want to be cognizant of what that back will be work in another year. Not much.
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John R Smith
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2010, 02:56:51 AM »
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Quote from: AndrewMcD
- works really really well for landscapes, product photography....anything that doesn't move and gives you plenty of time to focus.

- awful for anything that moves - ie: people. Impossible to focus. I felt like I'd gone back in time to the 19th century asking people to hold perfectly still while I attempted to get the focus point right.

I've upgraded my focus screen, tried different loupes, but basically use the WLF. With film, I can shoot all day hand-held with the 500, but with digital, there's no leeway for focus. It's like an on-off switch.

This is exactly my experience. With any decent digital back for the 500, you will have to completely relearn your shooting technique. Forget depth of field, with digital there suddenly isn't any. So you may be alright for landscapes, still-life or whatever, but shooting candids or moving subjects will be impossible. With those kinds of subjects and MF digital, you have to have auto-focus. It's not a luxury, but a necessity. The old Zeiss lenses are just too slow and stiff to manually focus quickly. With film you can pre-focus and use the DOF scales to bracket your subject, but this approach simply will not work on an MF DB. This effect will be less pronounced the fewer megapixels you have - so, for example, a CFV-16 will be somewhat easier to deal with. But then you have the 1.5x crop factor to consider, and all your wide-angles are suddenly not wide anymore. If you get a 40 or 60 MP back for big money, you are shooting with equivalent of a 4x5 or larger view camera in terms of DOF and critical focus, but without the ability to judge it on a big ground-glass screen with a powerful loupe. You can get fantastic results with a 500 with a 39 MP back, and I have myself (far better than on film), but only with extreme attention to every detail of capture.

The second point would be that a (relatively) cheap digital back for the 500 is really not worth messing with. The quality will not be great, and if it goes wrong, it will cost way more to fix than it is worth. As someone else pointed out above, you would be better off spending the money on a decent scanner instead.

John
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 03:17:03 AM by John R Smith » Logged

Hasselblad 500 C/M, SWC and CFV-39 DB
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fredjeang
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2010, 03:22:30 AM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
This is exactly my experience. With any decent digital back for the 500, you will have to completely relearn your shooting technique. Forget depth of field, with digital there isn't any. So you may be alright for landscapes, still-life or whatever, but shooting candids or moving subjects will be impossible. With those kinds of subjects and MF digital, you have to have auto-focus. It's not a luxury, but a necessity. With film you can pre-focus and use the DOF scales to bracket your subject, but this approach simply will not work on an MF DB. The second point would be that a (relatively) cheap digital back for the 500 is really not worth messing with. If it goes wrong, it will cost way more to fix than it is worth. As someone else pointed out above, you would be better off spending the money on a decent scanner instead.

John
John,

I will add another perspective to your statement. Not that I'm saying that you are wrong but I have a slightly different experience.
Don't know if this is a 500's exacerbate issue that's involved.

When I first hanged the Contax and focus manually, my rate of well-focussed frames was extremely low, as you point.
Then I started to examinate the files and realised that the manual errors where always similar and start to apply little corrections in the field.
Using a reduced range of focals, you finally get used of, let's call it a sort of 6th sense and your brain automatically "understand" the idiosyncracy of one particular gear.

What you point is also true in FF 35mm if you use manual focus, but it is magnified in MF.

I completly agree that there is a big difference between film age, digital does not forgive.
But if an AF can get the correct point, is that correct point exists and can be trained.

IMO, not contradicting your experience on that matter, I think that most of the time, (or we are in times when) taking this training into account and
accepting a learning curve is what is also missing.

Many times I just want to focus quickly on a part of the frame that I just feel more "creative" and if I had to relly on any AF, I just miss the shot on moving objects.
So, yes, manual focussing is more complicated in digiland, but like it or not you have to train this sort of 6th sense (don't know how to call it).

If not then you are just chained to the machine. Because let's say you focus first AF then reframe very quickly. You will have to apply anyway a little correction manually.
If you don't train yourself in manual focussing, the way you will apply this correction will be hazardous.
That's also the case with any dslr.

You can not relly on the viewfinder really, but you end to learn in what sense the viewfinder is fooling you.

I also use a lot MLU on field and that also makes differences.

Again, I'm not contradicting your point and your experience, but adding a "yes but" that IMO has to be taken into consideration.

All I can tell you is that having taken the time to deal with that (insisting on focussing manually despite the issues), my rate of
well focussed images has increased dramatically on moving subjects, and I feel more free to frame and choose my focus point by myself.

Cheers.

Edit: Mr Reichmann pointed in some articles that when it comes to the P65 sort of backs, forget about brain training for focussing. I've never tryied such a back and I suppose it is logical.
But he also stressed that this not relly only on the AF but all the elements on the chain: tripod, MLU, exposure, lightning...
It happens that the AF of manual focussing has been correct but one element of that list where missing.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 03:29:01 AM by fredjeang » Logged
John R Smith
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2010, 03:34:22 AM »
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Fred

I agree with you completely. My manual focusing has improved remarkably over the past six months    But I was thinking about this from the perspective of the OP, who has a 500 C/M, like me, and therefore also probably has the old Zeiss C lenses, not even the CF series. Now these lenses (lovely though they are) have a really stiff, thin little focus ring which is a bear to use even with film. They were so bad that Hasselblad themselves sold an add-on focus lever for them to give you a bit better chance. I have dismantled all my C lenses and cleaned and re-lubricated the helicoids, which has helped.

I did write a piece on this topic for the Forum a while back, where I analysed the problem and proposed a method of focusing which actually does work for me - Focus From The Front.

John
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fredjeang
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2010, 03:51:00 AM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
Fred

I agree with you completely. My manual focusing has improved remarkably over the past six months    But I was thinking about this from the perspective of the OP, who has a 500 C/M, like me, and therefore also probably has the old Zeiss C lenses, not even the CF series. Now these lenses (lovely though they are) have a really stiff, thin little focus ring which is a bear to use even with film. They were so bad that Hasselblad themselves sold an add-on focus lever for them to give you a bit better chance. I have dismantled all my C lenses and cleaned and re-lubricated the helicoids, which has helped.

I did write a piece on this topic for the Forum a while back, where I analysed the problem and proposed a method of focusing which actually does work for me - Focus From The Front.

John
Thanks for you repply John.

I think you did well to write this topic, it is a fascinating subject. I remember it and re-readed just now.

Yeah, the fashion guys where not convinced and we can understand them: too risky.

Actually, if I where shooting fashion and had to choose one gear, that would be the bloody D3xxxxxxx (if Bernard read this he will be happy  )

Also, the Contax seems to do a decent job on that matter compare to others, I have zero experience with the Hassy 500 but it seems hard.

Cheers.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 03:52:48 AM by fredjeang » Logged
John R Smith
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2010, 04:10:37 AM »
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Quote from: fredjeang
Also, the Contax seems to do a decent job on that matter compare to others, I have zero experience with the Hassy 500 but it seems hard.

Cheers.

Fred

Not just the Contax, but I think almost any other MF camera is easier to focus than an early Hasselblad 500. Rollei 2.8F TLR, Mamiya 645, RB67, Pentax 6x7, Pentax 645 - I've used all of those and they all have better focus rings and "pop" into focus more clearly on the screen.

John
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fredjeang
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2010, 05:12:46 AM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
Fred

Not just the Contax, but I think almost any other MF camera is easier to focus than an early Hasselblad 500. Rollei 2.8F TLR, Mamiya 645, RB67, Pentax 6x7, Pentax 645 - I've used all of those and they all have better focus rings and "pop" into focus more clearly on the screen.

John
Actually, I support and confirm your "focus on the front". FOTF ?
That is a great trick, and at least you did some research on that matter.

I still think that brain is a much more incredible tool than any robot, maybe it just have to be trained the right way.
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John R Smith
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2010, 05:44:36 AM »
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I don't want to flog this topic to death, but by way of example -

I went on a canal holiday about three years ago, and took my 500 and the 80mm Planar. I shot two or three rolls of film, and I didn't focus the camera on the subject once. Because the boat was moving all the time, and I was shooting from the bow, I knew I didn't have a hope of focusing fast enough to keep up. I just set the lens to hyperfocal at f11 or whatever, so that infinity was inside the DOF scale at one end and at the other was around 20 feet or so. It all worked just fine and I got a series of good clean, sharp frames on Ilford HP5.

Now I know that with the digital back, that approach to focusing would have been a complete disaster.

John
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fredjeang
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« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2010, 05:57:08 AM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
I don't want to flog this topic to death, but by way of example -

I went on a canal holiday about three years ago, and took my 500 and the 80mm Planar. I shot two or three rolls of film, and I didn't focus the camera on the subject once. Because the boat was moving all the time, and I was shooting from the bow, I knew I didn't have a hope of focusing fast enough to keep up. I just set the lens to hyperfocal at f11 or whatever, so that infinity was inside the DOF scale at one end and at the other was around 20 feet or so. It all worked just fine and I got a series of good clean, sharp frames on Ilford HP5.

Now I know that with the digital back, that approach to focusing would have been a complete disaster.

John
John, I understand your cautiousness.

It is a very interesting topic IMO, but a sensitive one with all the possibilities to be loaded for another WW.

So I may affirm that with digital it is almost impossible to acheive moving objects in manual focus. (but will keep going using manual focus)

 

Anyway, thanks for the time you spend on those testings.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 05:58:55 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Anders_HK
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« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2010, 09:08:42 AM »
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Out of curiosity,

Above refers to the O.P. regarding 500CM. Per following that camera was fabricated 1970-1994 and thus before digital tolerances as we know were known.
   http://www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCam....html~mainFrame

Same website states that the more recent 503CW and 501CM were produced from 1996 and 1997, respectively.

Thus, speaking of the Hassy V system in general and indeed to shed some light of it in general, could it be assumed that for these newer cameras that there will be far more easier to focus with digital back, even a high resolution one such as Phase-One P65+ or Leaf Aptus-II 10?

I realize this is outside of O.P. query, but it would be interesting to hear of some factual experience on the matter. Likewise, it would be interesting from point of view or experience of that a Hassy V series from 1950s per say was not made to same tolerance and requirements as one that is made new today.

Thanks.

Regards
Anders
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John R Smith
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« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2010, 12:41:52 PM »
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Anders

All of the V-System 500 series cameras were manufactured to the same (very high) tolerances. The same collimation tools are used to set them all up. You won't get a better result from a 503CW than a 500C just because of the age difference per se. Which is not to say that the older camera might not be a bit out of spec just due to use and abuse over the years, but here in the UK Hasselblad will set your old girl up as good as new for a very reasonable cost. The problem we are talking about here is not really anything to do with tolerances or design of the camera as such, I believe. If you mount the 500 on a nice big tripod, level everything up, focus extremely carefully, and use the mirror pre-release with a long cable release to fire the shutter, you can get a pin-sharp result. I have two 500 C/M bodies, 1971 and 1973, and on a tripod with the 120mm S-Planar I can find no difference between them. I have also used a recent 503 CW and there was no improvement. The snag is, the 'Blad is so neat and handy that it begs to be used handheld too. And then, with a digital back, the troubles start.

The V-series is just an old design, and there are certain features common to all the models over the years which in the digital age are rather less then desirable. Such as big mirror recoil, and very old-fashioned stiff focus rings which work against you rather than with you when you are in a hurry. But once you have set the focus, it certainly won't shift accidentally! The lenses themselves are wonderful pictorially, and draw with a great deal of character. But by modern standards the old wides in particular do not have tremendous bite and the corners are somewhat soft. I would say that there is probably no point at all in going beyond 39 MP with a 500, and that 60 MP would simply reveal more of the lens imperfections without gaining much additional resolution. Save the mega-bucks zillion megapixel backs for the modern cameras which can make use of them. What we really need for these old cameras (and what we will never get) is a sensible 25 or 30 MP back but with a full-frame 6x4.5cm sensor and a decent usable 800 and 1200 ISO.

John

John
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 01:24:29 PM by John R Smith » Logged

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daleeman
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« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2010, 01:32:18 PM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
This is exactly my experience. With any decent digital back for the 500, you will have to completely relearn your shooting technique. Forget depth of field, with digital there suddenly isn't any. So you may be alright for landscapes, still-life or whatever, but shooting candids or moving subjects will be impossible. With those kinds of subjects and MF digital, you have to have auto-focus. It's not a luxury, but a necessity. The old Zeiss lenses are just too slow and stiff to manually focus quickly. With film you can pre-focus and use the DOF scales to bracket your subject, but this approach simply will not work on an MF DB. This effect will be less pronounced the fewer megapixels you have - so, for example, a CFV-16 will be somewhat easier to deal with. But then you have the 1.5x crop factor to consider, and all your wide-angles are suddenly not wide anymore. If you get a 40 or 60 MP back for big money, you are shooting with equivalent of a 4x5 or larger view camera in terms of DOF and critical focus, but without the ability to judge it on a big ground-glass screen with a powerful loupe. You can get fantastic results with a 500 with a 39 MP back, and I have myself (far better than on film), but only with extreme attention to every detail of capture.

The second point would be that a (relatively) cheap digital back for the 500 is really not worth messing with. The quality will not be great, and if it goes wrong, it will cost way more to fix than it is worth. As someone else pointed out above, you would be better off spending the money on a decent scanner instead.

John
John,
I see where you are getting at. It will be almost a run until it drops used piece of equipment. Works until it is broke the first time than not worth repairing. Budget does not allow for more of an investment, but I do appreciate the slower shooting with the 500cm. I do also agree with what you mentioned and others too about it being not great for anything that moves or with blinking breathing people.

What I do not get is this depth of field issue. I guess my perspective is a lens delivers what it can for shutter speed and iris. There must be something I am missing here in my understanding about this, any deeper explanation?

Certainly am all ears and thank all who are contributing.

Lee
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daleeman
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« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2010, 01:38:02 PM »
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Quote from: John R Smith
Fred

I agree with you completely. My manual focusing has improved remarkably over the past six months    But I was thinking about this from the perspective of the OP, who has a 500 C/M, like me, and therefore also probably has the old Zeiss C lenses, not even the CF series. Now these lenses (lovely though they are) have a really stiff, thin little focus ring which is a bear to use even with film. They were so bad that Hasselblad themselves sold an add-on focus lever for them to give you a bit better chance. I have dismantled all my C lenses and cleaned and re-lubricated the helicoids, which has helped.

I did write a piece on this topic for the Forum a while back, where I analysed the problem and proposed a method of focusing which actually does work for me - Focus From The Front.

John
Fred,
I do have the luxury of buying all this stuff used so I have a 80, 120 and 150 CF. The only C T* I have is a 40 and yes its like rowing a boat in tar to focus it, but almost everything is in focus at f8.

Lee
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