Hasselblad CFV-39: First Day On the Set

Chocolate Easter Bunny from Soma

It is a little after midnight, and I am just wrapping up my first day of sessions for the Paderno Spring new editions. If life could get any stranger, then I would see absolutely no point in trying to plan for anything. V. has left for a week in Rome, I wrapped the Littlejohn session, which through the blog appears to have unexpectedly connected to Base Camp X: a photo shoot for the company sounds like it will happen. I am beyond stoked. Then, an old friend called about the possibility of V. and me doing a series of photographs for his upcoming book of fiction; the project sounds twisted and artistically liberating on all fronts.

Mingus, my dog, ate my entire Easter bunny from Soma chocolate. He ruined my day, and I felt like Uncle Monty from Withnail and I, shouting and blathering about how he ruined Easter once again. At the end of all of this insanity we had to walk over to an art supply store to pick up black and white foam core for today’s shoot, and about $145 worth of food so that I could begin taking pictures. The triptych below are slivers of the photos I took today with the CFV-39; I can see the difference, even in this scrunched up lo-res pdf to jpg file.

CFV-39 Food Photography

As I mentioned in my initial reaction to the Hasselblad CFV-39, I was not thrilled about the digital back. It felt clunky, hard to use, and not worth the $15,000 damage deposit I had to put on my credit card for the rental of $250 per day. Everything can change in 24 hours, I suppose. Once I began, the workflow I was shocked at how smoothly the CFV-39 fit into the studio. I abandoned the idea of shooting with the CF card and decided to just tether to Phocus. No need to worry about the fact that I have no 645 mask to help me frame the shot, because now I see everything on my laptop in a few seconds of pulling the shutter. Using the PM5 viewfinder made seeing the shot easier than my Canon viewfinder did as it is just brighter and easier to see through.

The real reason to use a medium format back has always been the quality and size of the files, or so I have been told. I am afraid that I have to concur: the files from the CFV are far above anything else that I could pull out of the Canon. I mean I feel like I could be shooting for Williams-Sonoma tomorrow without any excuses or fear of not having the right equipment. The files are superb, and make the lack of frills or portability superfluous.

There are a few caveats to consider before one runs out to buy the big brother to the now discontinued CFV-39, the CFV-50. My experience is wonderful, because I own 6 Hasselblad prime lenses, an SWC,  and all of the accessories you would need. If I had not, then shooting a series of photos would be frustrating without a zoom. The Hasselblad V series has no real zoom of quality, and that might prove a problem if one shoots a wide variety of work. Secondly, food does not move. I can take my time focusing and working on framing. If this were with a live model, then I might get frustrated do to the slow frames per second speed and the manual focusing. Oh, and did I mention the $15,000-17,000 of cold, hard cash? Still, a rental of $250 per day on a bigger shoot makes perfect and reasonable sense, especially if the client understands the difference in the files and will foot the rental.

So would I buy a CFV digital back from Hasselblad? Hard to say…tomorrow is another day, and who knows what challenges or opportunities it might bring. Happy Easter, and I hope your dog does not eat your bunny.

 

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