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CFV or H3D??


The recent price decrease announced by Hasselblad means that their really is not a significnt price difference between the 503CWD and the H3D. The question now really is, if one is to invest in digital MF - which system should one choose? Perhaps Marc could comment, as he has both systems.


New Member
I was at the exact same point. Personally I decided to no longer invest
in the V-System. Not that i don't like it, the opposite is true, I really enjoy
working with the 503. However, I believe at some point one must accept
that the days of the V-System are counted. I will not sell it and continue
shooting black and white film.
As far as digital is concerned i'd rather buy into the H-System and
eventually get a CF-Adapter. I had the chance to use a H3DII over a
weekend. All I can say, it's really nice working with that system. The camera
is easier to operate than the D200 of my wife ;-) Focusing the lenses is as
soft as with the Zeiss ones and overall it's a very sturdy combo.
Anyway, just my personal thoughts.
My personal opinion is that one does not usually invest in the past, but in the future.
However, for those like me who have owned V system equipment for decades, and have a personal connection with the equipment, the CFV is by far the least expensive way to continue using the beloved V equipment in the digital world.

However, if I were starting out fresh, with no Hasselblad equipment, I'd have to opt for the H system, if for no other reason than buying in to the future. Technology will only improve.
Here are some valid reasons for considering the V system -
1. you want a square image
2. your finances are limited
3. you plan to shoot film also
4. you want to use Carl Zeiss lenses.

Michael H. Cothran


The max you have to plan is 2 or 3 years. In 2 years any digital H and gear will be half price (or less) exept the lenses. (See about the H-31 annonced at photokina 2006 and the price now).

If you consider this you may chose the H ligne with the actual promo because the cost of H in tow years is resonable.

Now we are at an interesting point for MF digital. Not only big-agency and military cann affort it like it was 3 years ago

The S2, Leaf sinar Rollei give good chalengers. A digital back at 30% of actual price of the CFV for Hasselblad-V is a new market as the M8 open a new door 2 years ago.

To be sur to reach the marketing target. the the price of Hasselblad-H drop to 40%.

At the same time the CFV price did not move for 2 years now.
If you compare the price by pixel for a CFV, you will see that the actual price is realy bad.
The big difference beatween H and V is the fact that promo for H is calculated for non Hasselblad customers and V promo for custumers who allready have lenses and bodies.

We have to wait for Leaf and PhaseOne to get opportunity to break the digital entry ticket for digital Hasselblad V.

Till the end of 2008 I hope to discovers interesting offers from Leaf or PhaseOne for Hasselblad-V (Is there a market for Hasselblad-H for them ?)

BTW with the 39x42mm sensor we are close to the max of what the H line may offer. This sensor is good for H line and PhaseOne (or other) may produce for V. And I can imagine that one day a biger sensor will be possible.

In fact there is allready a tilting sensor 50x36 /30x50. That mean that it is possible to use it on V without restriction and with H with restriction.

When we will arrive at a 80Mpix digital back, perhaps 4.5x6 will be too smal.
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As much as it pains me to say this I'd go with the H-system. The reason is when I had the Kodak digital back for my V-cameras I found having to manually do EVERYTHING, though nice in the film world wasn't so nice in the digital world. One of the reasons why I sold my Kodak back was that one, I heard rumblings that there was going to be a full-sized sensor for Nikon and second, always checking exposure with a handheld meter wasn't as much fun as concentrating on taking a picture and just pressing the button.

Plus the v-camera series sounds like a dead end. I'll continue to use it for film, but for digital I'm going to move onto something more electronic.

Good luck.


New Member
Does anybody know how certain the future for the H series is?
Will there be H cameras five years from now?

The MF scene is about to be turned upside down by a newcomer in MF.
Leica has the knowledge and most of all the financial power to make that happen.
Any specific MF knowledge they need they will simply buy like they are already approaching key personnel for sales and marketing.

Marc Williams once said if a giant like Canon would enter the MF with a new MF camera Hasselblad and probably others will loose their share of the market.
This time it is not Canon but Leica that appears to be picking up de glove.
For various reasons I consider Leica an even stronger opponent.

Digital has become more and more a money game.
The player with the stronghest financial background will win the game.
If financial parameters are indeed to be considered as the most important Rollei and the Hy6 will be the first victim.

Never before has the financial side of photography played such an important role.
That goes for professional photographers that consider upgrading as well as for manufacturers that are planning a model change.

In these uncertain times it would have been better if it were something else.


Funny you write about Leica. We will wait about one year to see the S2 on the market.
For long time we only consider pixels number. The last "Victor" review gave long detail about optic quality of the H-lenses over V-lenses. The conclusion was not black or white. The last H-lens is....aspherical. Aspherical is realy Leica vocabulary.

Leica may enter the ring. Them lenses are usualy impressive (for 24x36mm till now); in MF format, they could force a new standard of quality.
Perhaps actual top quality lenses for4.5x6 are not good enought to give a meaning to justify more than 50Mpix.

What I often read in the net is that Hasselblad-V is realy a comfortable way to take pictures... for the photograph. Perhaps for this reason Hasselblad should care about V future.

Leica enter the MF but any way continue M line (more than 3 new lens every years) and let know that R line should continue. It's safe to hear custumers, and to give them what they wants.


New Member
I am glad you mention the future of the V system.
Some people think V series cameras are on the way out.
That would only be true if people stop using these cameras.

Right now there more V series cameras used daily than H series cameras.
Or am I wrong here?



To me, the H system is plastic crap, just try both and you'll see the difference...

Now, from a business perspective, it is as risky investing on H as it is on V, it all comes to the actual camera and quality TODAY, and which one you prefer.
I don't expect the H system to be a legendary system. But something replaceable, that was the point (i think) for hasselblad to discard the V system and introduce a completely "modern" system...

rmueller said: "I believe at some point one must accept
that the days of the V-System are counted"

They are as counted as anything that is well made, and non-cheaply built is in todays world... so I guess they are.. or are they?

I think there is just no comparison...


I think one key difference is autofocus vs manual focus lenses. There are many types of use where autofocus is a BIG plus. Not for the type of photography I do, but I can see where this could be a significant factor.

For those of us who are not professionals.....whether someone already has a collection of V-sytem lenses or not is also a major consideration.

Gary Benson
Eagle River, Alaska
503CWD-II etc....all V-system and not "dead", as best I can tell :)


New Member
The quality of the V system speaks for itself.

All comments on the so called jamming that come up time and time again mostly from people who do not own or use a V series camera are hear say.

A properly maintained V series camera belongs to the most reliable MF cameras in the world.

Prices for film cameras have come down dramatically. Hasselblad cameras have also been affected by that trend.
Still it is the only MF camera that is worth some money.
It is the only MF camera that is being sold in quantities in shops that specialise in used cameras.
Some models are even getting more money than a few years ago.
Try to find a decent 203FE for less than 1500 euro (2200 USD) and you will have to look long and hard.


Active Member
"Perhaps Marc could comment, as he has both systems."

I'd be glad to comment. In my case, the question would be if I had to give up one which would it be?

I would give up the 503CW/CFV. If buying new, I'd select the H3D-II/31.

The H can be fast, or it can be used slow. The Zeiss lenses can be used on the H, the HC lenses cannot be used on the 503CW/CFV.
The H3D/31 is a 1.3 lens factor ... the CFV is 1.5X ... so the HC/28mm is about a 36mm field of view (wider than a SWC film camera), the Zeiss 40mm is about 60mm field of view.

When we discuss hypothetical questions, and fret about whether something will be around 5 years from now, it's just rhetorical since we need to shoot now, not 5 years from now.

If we want to think in terms of investment, then the answer is invest in yourself as a photographer by getting the tools you need to express your vision. If the tool doesn't do that, don't invest in it. If it does, then that will still be a good investment 5 years from now. There are many working pros using older Imacon, Phase One, Leaf, Sinar and even Kodak ProBacks that are doing just fine.

The Leica S2 is a nice camera (depending on price) ... but it is NOT modular. The 503CW/CFV and H1, H2, H2F and H3D cameras are modular.


New Member
Leica clearly developed the S2 camera with other users in mind.
Depending on the price that camera will have a good piece of the pie.


Active Member
Peace and Love Paul : -)

I'm not sure who the other users are, but I'm sure Leica reseached the positioning of the S2 before spending so much money on it.

All the best to them.


New Member
Hi Marc,

You are absolutely right about the S2. Like you said Leica will have done some research to find out whether there is a market for their S2.

Keep in mind that Leica, in this case Mr. Kaufmann, does not call the S2 a medium format camera.
MF in digital needs to be redefined now that there are a number of 35 mm based DSLR cameras that have considerable larger amount of pixels than for instance a CFV back.
Just pixel count does not make quality as in MF.



If we use the film analogy, might we think of medium format digital as anything with a sensor larger than a full frame 35mm sensor (but smaller than large format film), regardless of the pixel count or camera design? Just as the 645 film format was accepted as "medium format", so might the new Leica S2 sensor format...or maybe these categories are not that meaninful anymore. After all, my Pentax 67 is not modular (just like the S2)....although I wish it were.

gary benson
eagle river, alaska

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Hi Paul. I'd like to hope it will blow over in 6-12 months, but I have my doubts. Maybe you folks in Europe are in better shape than us here in America. 10+ trillion dollars in debt, more to come no matter who is in charge on November 5th. Many folks like myself who were hoping to retire in the next 5-15 years. Personally, I'm not real optimistic that it will be sorted out that soon. Glad I bought my 503CWD-II when I could "afford it"! :)

Gary Benson
Eagle River, Alaska