Hasselblad CFV-39: 36 Eggs Later

Contact Sheet Using CFV-39 HasselbladCookware sessions are both mentally and physically draining. Firstly, there is the mental planning of ideas to bring out the best of the product, and then the actual execution of the work. Secondly, I need to actually shop for, cook and bring pieces to the set; in the case of this weekend, that means 7 separate preparations in 48 hours. My thoughts on whether the digital back would be worthwhile as a business proposition comes down to one thing: money. To buy into either Hasselblad or Phase One feels just so far beyond what is reasonable to consider as a working,  part-time professional.

The Hasselblad CFV-50 looks like it would be my cheapest, and highest resolution option available in medium format. At $16,995, it offers a high number of pixels, the option to shoot square, and would work with all of the Hasselblad lenses and bodies that I own. The drawbacks are that the cost is still high, the workflow is heavily taxing on time as the files range from 57MB for DNG and 117MB for TIFF, and there is no “wow!” factor when you pull out a CFV back; they look like all of the other Hasselblad film backs [might be a good thing]. For my own part, I would also need to add a used 503 body to ensure that if my 501 went down that I would have another option – it would be chrome to better match the CFV, too. Shooting without a 645 mask also made it impossible at points to properly line up the framing, especially in portrait orientation.

What do I love about the digital back? The files as DNG have so much dynamic range and information that exposure is not as stressful as it is with the Canon. Shooting tethered was a godsend in terms of knowing I had the shot because I could see it on the screen within seconds. I also felt like my investment in the Hasselblad V Series of cameras and lenses, which I have bought from KEH.com over the past two years have more relevance in a digital world than before. Yes, I usually use them on the Canon via an adapter, but with the CFv-39 I felt like I had a truly professional system that would meet all of my possible needs.

In my mind this was my best session in terms of end product, but a little lonely since V. was in Rome. I grew to love and appreciate the simplicity of the CFV-39, but truly hated how slow the supplied version of Phocus was on my Macbook Pro. Perhaps the latest version or Lightroom 4 would have been a better workflow option, but I had to stop learning and shoot before the rental was up. One cake left before I can go to sleep, then I have to return the CFV-39 tomorrow morning. It will be hard to let it go, but I know that I will probably start renting every time I have any substantial amount of work to do; the job would need to be financially worth the rental cost.



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