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Author Topic: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back  (Read 27705 times)

John R Smith

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Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« on: July 13, 2011, 11:53:44 AM »

I was thinking about adding a rather elderly Hasselblad SWC to my classic Blad collection. Ive always rather fancied that 38mm Biogon, and the early silver lens model would round off my case of elderly kit rather well.

However, there may be a snag. I would want to use it with my CFV-39 digital back, and I see that Hasselblad do not recommend the SWC for digital capture. They say that image quality will be compromised with soft focus at the edges and odd colour casts. Now the colour casts are not an issue for me, because I always work in B/W, but soft focus seems like it might be a deal-breaker. Has anyone here actually tried this combination of an SWC with a digital back of any sort (Phase or whatever), and if so, did you encounter these problems?

John
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Hasselblad 500 C/M, SWC and CFV-39 DB
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henrikfoto

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2011, 01:05:50 PM »

I have used the SWCM with the Leaf Aptus 12, and I like it a lot.
The look is the same as it used to be with Velvia film.
It's not as clean as the newer lenses but has a lot more caracter :)

Henrik
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John R Smith

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2011, 02:00:04 PM »

Thank you both.

That does sound quite encouraging, and makes you wonder why Hassselblad issue these caveats about the SWC. The only way to find out for sure will be to try it for myself, of course. How about masking the viewfinder for the 645 sensors? Will a home-brewed solution do?

John
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Hasselblad 500 C/M, SWC and CFV-39 DB
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pgmj

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2011, 04:15:45 AM »

I have a Hasselblad SWC/M with a black (T* coated) C lens, and an old Imacon 132c (49x37mm, 22mpix). Haven't had time to use it much yet, but I haven't seen any problems except somewhat soft corners at some distances. I would recommend getting a SWC with T* coated lens, for better flare control.

The optical viewfinder actually represents the smaller sensor area fairly well. Usually these finders show a bit smaller area than what the camera will see, so it works well with a smaller sensor. The old optical finder isn't very good, though (but the mirror for the bubble level is nice!). I have a Ricoh 21/28mm finder that I think will work ok, but haven't had time to test it properly yet. My back is at Hasselblad for CCD cleaning right now, but I will try to get back to this thread in a few weeks when I have done some testing.
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John R Smith

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2011, 07:11:34 AM »

Well, in for a penny . . .

The SWC is ordered and should be with me tomorrow, so we shall see. I have a ten-day no quibble return period on it, so the risk is not too great. I am not very bothered about the T* coating, I know it's nice to have but a lot of my lenses do not and I can live with it OK. You just learn not to shoot too tight into the sun.

The one I have on order is quite special, in that it is very early and # 100 from the very first batch in 1959. This appeals to the collector in my soul  ;) If the shutter is still frisky and the glass is clean then I am sure we could learn to get along. And the nice thing is that I already have all the accessories I need - strap, filters, lens hood etc.

John
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ced

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2011, 07:13:01 AM »

Superb and fun to work with along with a Leaf back the images were razor sharp.
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Peter Roberts

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2011, 10:20:19 PM »

I put a Leaf Aptus 22 on SWC/M and get very sharp and decent quality pictures.
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Terence h

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2011, 02:30:41 AM »

And get a Laser Tape measure to assist with focusing.
I had a SWCM and shot it with my Aptus 75 worked well.
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Terence Hogben. Durban. South Africa. http://www.terencehogben.co.za

Paul Barker

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2011, 08:43:08 AM »

I use a P25 with a CF based SWC/M with no problems. It does have colour cast, but easy to dial out with a LCC file in C1, but as you say, no problem with B&W.

I seem to remember some talk of later ones not being as good as they stopped using lead and arsenic in the glass, I believe that was from the 905swc model onwards from 2001.

I have no problems with sharpness across the frame with mine. Due to it's small form, I often use it as a walk around camera, or just throw it in my saddlebag if I go cycling, a great 'compact'. Enjoy!  :)
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John R Smith

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2011, 03:48:24 AM »

Well, the best laid plans . . .

Sadly, it didn't work out. I got the early (1959) silver lens SWC on trial, the idea being to use it with my CFV-39 digital back. However, the back will not fit the camera because on the backplate of the SWC (the part that has the serial number engraved on it) there are the usual two raised light baffle ridges - however, the inner one is much thicker and wider than on the 500 series cameras and the CFV back will not fit over it. It looks as if the later black lens SWCs from about 1970 onwards do not have this thick inner baffle ridge, but a thinner one like my 500s.

So the camera has gone back, and I am going to have to re-think this. As I have a fairly complete collection of the early silver lens period I am not so keen on getting a black lens SWC instead - yes, I know it's silly and cameras are to use, not ornaments, but there you go.

John
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ced

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2011, 07:04:57 AM »

If the price is low enough, why don't you get it milled away so the back can go on?
On some Arcbody and Flexbody cameras this ridged light trap could be pulled out so the back was not impeded.
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John R Smith

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2011, 09:05:18 AM »

If the price is low enough, why don't you get it milled away so the back can go on?

That's a good idea, except that finding a good machine shop is not so easy here in rural Cornwall. However, the camera also had some serious shutter problems as well - the low speeds were very hesitant and the aperture/speed rings were incredibly stiff and seized up - so all in all, it was not a good deal.

John
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eronald

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2011, 01:36:35 PM »

Hasselblad told me that a mod is necessary to the base of an old SWC for their backs to fit
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John R Smith

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2011, 05:41:02 AM »

Well, the story did not end just there.

I am now the owner of yet another vintage SWC, and trials are ongoing. A full update will follow shortly . . .

John
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John R Smith

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2011, 10:14:27 AM »

To continue the SWC saga -

Despite searching around the internet for ages, I failed to turn up a nice silver lens SWC at the right sort of price. I did find out one useful thing however, which is that the silver lens SWCs from 1966 onwards (serial numbers TTW) to 1969 (TEW) have the later style backplate which will take a CFV digital back. So that is a handy thing to know. With all of these non-/M models though, there will be a problem with the tripod mounting plate, which will either have to be removed, or be spaced out, /M style, or be shortened in order to clear the CFV battery.

In the end I decided to get a black lens SWC and see how I liked it. In the past I have avoided the black C lenses because they wear so badly the black finish wears off rather too easily and the metal below shows through, making them look really tatty very quickly. Whereas the silver lenses carry their scars rather more gracefully. The SWC I eventually tracked down turned out to be a little beauty see the pic below (with the CFV-39 back attached). The black finish is almost pristine, the focus ring is smooth as silk, the shutter is lively at all speeds, and most importantly the glass is perfect, with not a mark on the front or rear elements. This one is from 1972 (UHW), and it has certainly been looked after very well indeed for a Hasselblad which is almost forty years old. As you can see, the CFV back integrates perfectly with the camera and the whole kit looks all of a piece.

Over the past few years I had been collecting SWC bits and pieces when I saw them, so I already had lens caps, filter retaining ring and UV filters, lens hood and the 645 mask for the viewfinder. I have only had a couple of days to get some test shots, but so far things are looking more hopeful than the prophets of doom at Hasselblad and photo.net would have you believe. There are a couple of odd quirks -

* Very occasionally when the camera shutter fires, it does not trigger the CFV back, and I have to re-take the shot. This has never happened with my 500s.

* The CFV back has settings in the setup menu for the various Hasselblad cameras, view cameras etc. Strangely, when it is set to SWC (as it should be), it malfunctions the images are underexposed with a horrible magenta cast. If I set the back to 500 instead (which is what I normally use) it functions perfectly. Very odd. And again, worth knowing.

As far as the test shots go, I cant say I have noticed any great problems at all. The 38mm Biogon is one nice (and very wide) lens. Yes, it is a little bit soft in the corners, but absolutely no worse than the 50 and 60mm Distagons on the 500. Seeing how close the rear element is to the sensor, Im amazed how good it is. Ive shot a few frames of blank sky and I do not see the awful magenta/cyan colour casts that were prophesied either, and as I work in B/W anyway this is a non-issue. One thing that surprised me is that handheld shots are rather prone to camera shake I need to keep the shutter speed at 1/125s and upwards. Probably I need to work on my technique. Anyhow, I attach a couple of test shots just for fun nothing artistic, just buildings next to my cottage which make handy subjects.

When I bought this SWC, I was thinking that I would play around with it until a nice silver lens one came along, grab that instead and sell the black one on. I might still do that, but I must say that I am already rather fond of it its hard to find one as nice as this for a sensible price.

John
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 11:59:23 AM by John R Smith »
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amsp

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2011, 10:38:10 AM »

It's a wonderful thing that these old beauties can keep on doing their thing in this digital age.

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rolad

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2011, 10:31:18 AM »

many thanks for all the interesting input here so far - as i am evaluating an SWC + used digi back as an alternative travel / street camera currently.

seems to me that a "full size sensors" (24*36mm approx) without microlenses (P25 most likely for me, else cfv39, p45) should perform well when corrected for color casts, but not as stellar as an alpa tc with a 35/40.

any first hand experience on how a smaller sensor with microlenses (P21, p30,...) actually fares on i.e. a SWC?
can the smaller sensor size offset detrimental effects of microlenses closer to the image edges? or are those sensors unusable on a SWC?

many thanks
roald


 
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Rob C

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2011, 10:50:07 AM »

I've never investigated 'blads with digital backs, neither new nor venerable.

However (and because of that), I'm sort of mystified about the sensor size. Am I reading the post below/above? correctly, and the area of image circle covered by an old 'blad with a sensor is only 24mmx36mm approx? If that's so, what's the point? I understood it was a smaller-than-film area, but that much smaller seems sort of crazy; I think that all you would be buying are the drawbacks and a little self-satisfaction of ownership. Period.

I did own and work with both 500C and 500CM from new, and for many years, so I am perfectly aware of Hasselbad film reality.

I'm sure I must be missing something important, so if you know what it is, let me in on it too!

Rob C

eronald

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Re: Hasselblad SWC with a Digital Back
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2011, 11:13:21 AM »

I've never investigated 'blads with digital backs, neither new nor venerable.

However (and because of that), I'm sort of mystified about the sensor size. Am I reading the post below/above? correctly, and the area of image circle covered by an old 'blad with a sensor is only 24mmx36mm approx? If that's so, what's the point? I understood it was a smaller-than-film area, but that much smaller seems sort of crazy; I think that all you would be buying are the drawbacks and a little self-satisfaction of ownership. Period.

I did own and work with both 500C and 500CM from new, and for many years, so I am perfectly aware of Hasselbad film reality.

I'm sure I must be missing something important, so if you know what it is, let me in on it too!

Rob C

Rob,

You are missing half the frame. It's 36x48.

Greetings!

Edmund
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