Hasselblad CFV II: an almost perfect system

I hadn't been so excited about a camera announcement since the Zeiss ZX1 (which by the way, hasn't been released yet -who knows if it ever will).

A few days ago Hasselblad announced the X1D II, the sucessor to their beautiful mirrorless medium format camera. New features and a greatly recuded price are always welcome. But for all purposes, it's more of the same. Just with a bigger sensor.

They also announced something else, though, something that got me really excited: the CFV II 50C.

The CFV II is basically the same sensor the X1D and Fuji GFX50S use, but mounted in a back that can be attached to pretty much every single lens Hasselblad has ever made.

It attaches to old bodies like the 500cm with no need for cables or adapters. It can use the new XCD lenses via a small body / adapter. It will be able to use H lenses as well.

For the first time, I could see myself spending such amount of money on a system (although not announced yet, I expect the CFV II to be at least $5k). One body and a few lenses for both digital and film photography. You only have to switch the 120 film back with the CFV II, or viceversa.

There's just one problem with this system: the sensor is 43.8mm x 32.9mm, huge when compared to APS-C or even full frame sensors, but much smaller than the 53.7mm x 40.4mm used in cameras like Phase One and Hasselblad's very own H6D 100MP cameras. All of these sensors are still smaller than the film an old Hasselblad 500cm exposes (60mm x 60mm).

Now, I get that using the cropped version of the medium format sensor will make this camera more affordable. And it's probably more than enough for years to come.

The problem is that different sensor / film sizes will produce very different results when using the same lenses, when it comes to angle of view and depth of field.

It's a big difference too: the crop factor from a 6x6 system to full-frame equivalent is 0.55; the crop factor for the CFV II is 0.79.

The standard lens for a regular Hasselblad 6x6 film camera is 80mm. That's around 45-50mm in full-frame equivalent. That same lens in front of the CFV II's sensor will be a 63mm full-frame equivalent. Not so standard anymore.

The widest lens (non fish-eye) ever produced for Hasselblad film cameras is the Zeiss Biogon C 38mm f/4.5. A 20mm equivalent when shooting 6x6, it becomes a 30mm when mounted in front of the digital sensor.

Depth of field is affected as well. Medium format lenses aren't very fast, but they are able to get a very shallow depth of field. The f/2.8 aperture of the standard lens is equivalent to a full-frame f/1.54 lens, approximately. Using the CFV II, "just" f/2.2.

All this means that the widest we'll be able to go using the CFV II and old Hasselblad lenses is 30mm, and the widest depth of field we'll get is f/2.2.

Probably not good enough for such an expensive system. But it's getting closer.

A CFV II using a fully fledged 100MP sensor like the one used in the H6D cameras would give us much more similar results to those we can get with the film cameras. But considering that a H6D costs around $30k, this is just a dream for now.