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40mm CF FLE with digital back


I recently used a newly purchased 40mm CF FLE with a Phase One P45 digital back and was very disappointed in the results. The contrast was not great and it did not seem sharp compared to the H lenses. Your thoughts? I have heard much about the new CFE/IF version. Will using this lens make a significant difference?
If you are seeing significantly degraded image, you are well advised to look into it because these CF lenses are simply excellent. They do not have issues of softness or weak contrast (relatively speaking of course) etc etc. While I do not have a CF40, but have the CF50 FLE instead, the only performance difference between the 2 lenses is that the 40mm has relatively higher distortion at the edges - but when shooting on a digi-back that would likely be cropped out (assuming a level camera angle of course).

So other more technically minded members here may offer you some tips on what to look into, but here are my lesser informed tips:
1. softness - are you correctly setting the FLE focus ring? Many first time users get that wrong (although I would have thought any softness from that would only be obvious under a very critical eye);
2. if this was a used purchase, have you had the focus accuracy checked? Some of us always have "new" used lenses inspected before we begin using them (along with a service);
3. maybe your camera setting is out thus causing contrast issues. While I find Hasselblad/lenses of a nice medium contrast to my eyes; maybe you are expecting that very high contrast sometimes along the lines of some Japanese lens makers. Did you have a hood on it? What was the light source like?

Sorry I cannot be of more help. I am also mindful that some members have posted s&le CF40mm FLE images on various threads, taken on digital backs and they have always impressed me. But the "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"!

Finally, IMHO, no you do not have to go to a CFi version to get excellent quality results with the 40mm.
Thank you for your response.

I did purchase this lens used, but in excellent+ condition. I should also mention that I am using it with an H2 via a CF converter. I do rely on the focus assist ability of the H2.

I am well aware of the fact that you must set the FLE focus ring before achieving final focus with the main ring.

What kind of testing can I do to determine how accurately the lens is focusing?
Use the lens on (reversal) film.
If contrast is bad then too, the lens may indeed be a bad one.

Sharpness/Focusing is more difficult to test, since you'd be testing the lens' performance as well as your ability to set focus accurately.
All you really can do is focus as good as you possibly can, to rule out 'user error'. Then, if the results are disappointing, it would be the lens' fault.
When you say a "bad one," I hope you mean it simply needs to go in for adjustment.

The apparent lack of contrast may be due to the raw files/white balance.Tranies may sort this out.

Any comments on this lens vs. the H35mm? Once again, is the CFE IF really a vast improvement as indicated in other posts on this forum? Thank you.
Like Q suggests, get some Ektachrome and try your CF40 with film.

I own a CF40 myself and I cannot related to the problems you describe.

Not owning a digiback I have only used it on film myself. If you want I can post some TIFFs from images taken with the CF40. There are some on the forum but they (for reasons of image & file size) do not do the lens justice.

Have you tried another lens, keeping the camera & digiback the same? If yes, what were the results? For sharpness problems the problem can lie in the camera itself. Things an improperly aligned ground glass, incorrectly aligned mirror position or a bent camera (yes, that is possible, I have had one that was diagnosed with a couple of hunderdths of mm of 'warp'. A competent repair person can fix all that for you. But that person then also needs the proper alignment / measurement fixtures.

Another test might therefore be to take the lens plus digiback onto another camera and test what that produces.

More on the CF40: mine has been serviced by a retired Hasselblad repair guy then the FLE ring 'locked up'. While he inspected it he found another lens element which was slightly loose. His suspicion was that this might have been the case since day 1. I never noticed it in image quality ;-) The CF40 is a complicated lens (the FL elements do not help there) to work on, so only allow a skilled person to work on it. The FLE group being sort-of 'loosely attached' to the lens also makes it a bit sensitive to abuse, e.g. forces acting on the front of the lens. So always handle it with care, never store it on its front lens group etc.

As for the latest CFi40: I've been told by a number of people that the design limits of the CF40 can be shown using the top of the line digibacks currently available and shooting a suitable subject. I have not had the opportunity to verify this myself.


NB: short of all this: send me the digiback and I will test if for you. Heck, I might even return it. At some time :cool: :cool:
G'Day Martin:

I'm sure this isn't the problem - BUT just in case...

Where I am right now, with humidity at ~90% and temps at ~95F, if I don't let my cameras and lenses 'thaw out' from my "inside the house/office/car" environment, they get slightly fogged up surfaces (some not visible) and the result is a soft (well focused) image. Like shooting with Softar, or through a bit of panty-hose. (Through, not between. That's when my glasses fog up). I generally allow at least an hour for defrosting, and if I drive between locations, it is "windows down AC off".

Other than that, I'd agree with others, shoot film (no filter), and cross check.



PS Galbers ... we never either humidity problem on the Birdsville Track, right. :)
"I recently used a newly purchased 40mm CF FLE with a Phase One P45 digital back and was very disappointed in the results."

What camera are you using? How old is it? I ask this because your back may not be perfectly calibrated to the camera used and be in need of shimming ( see the other thread on focusing ).

The contrast was not great and it did not seem sharp compared to the H lenses.

How are you making this comparison? And how experienced are you at using Capture One processing software? Do you have your custom profiles all set up for this camera? Digital work isn't a matter of shoot, look at the photos ... it's virtual darkroom work, and has to be mastered just like the darkroom was.

" I have heard much about the new CFE/IF version. Will using this lens make a significant difference?"

I've not used the 40 IF version. I'm sure it is better in some regards. Whether it is better in your specific circumstances compared to the expense can't be determined until you get your current 40 working correctly.

The question is: Is the 40 the only lens not performing well? Are you satisfied with the files you get with other lenses?

"One other question: How does the 40mm CFE IF compare with the H35mm?"

Can't speak to the 40 IF, but can concerning the H35. This lens is one that greatly benefits from the Flexcolor DAC corrections when used on a H3D and the files are processed in the latest version of Flexcolor. Of course this is not applicable when shooting film or with any other back like your Phase One P45.

So, I would speculate that the 40IF may well outperform the H35 unless using a H back on a H3D using Flexcolor. How they would compare then I have no idea.

But I can say that the 35 is spectacular on both my H3D/39 and H3D/31 when DAC corrections are applied ... and is generally better corrected than my 40/4 CFE when used on these cameras via the Hasselblad CF adapter.
I've owned the 40CF and used it with a digital back. It is a bit soft for i nfinity landscape, but good close up with the FLE function. I rented the 40 CFE IF and shot it head-to-head with the 40 CF on a rainy February day in NYC. I could not see a difference between the two lenses, even though the 4 0 CFE IF should be a lot better. It may have been the rental lens was beat up. In the end, I sold the 40mm CF since I'm primarily a landscape shooter and have largely moved on to view cameras, which don't have the retrofocus wide-angle impediment.
Marc - I'm using an H2 with a CF converter. I'm also using C1 for raw conversion. I have no custom profiles as yet. I am happy so far with the performance of the H35 and H50 Fuji glass. I guess I did expect more spectacular results with the Zeiss glass.

Larry - In thinking more about it, the infinity focus may be what is disappointing me. I need to shoot some more images. Can you elaborate a bit more on this problem? I'm surprised that both lenses performed the same in view of what has been said in other threads on this forum. Landscape is also my main interest. I particularly like shooting close foreground objects of interest using small f-stops and hyperfocal distance.

Wilko - It may very well be that a 39 megapixel back is taking this lens beyond its design limits.
My observation is that infinity is not that sharp. The key test was tree br anches at infinity (during winter). I don't know what the 40mm CFE IF was n ot better. It could have been low contrast in bad weather. Close in results will be good with FLE. Small F-stops will definitely lead to diffraction. I would use f11 as a minimum.
Larry, when you say use f11 as a minimum, do you mean close down the lens more when you can (f22)?

Another thought: Someone in another forum commented that looking at a transparencey on a light table with 6-10x loupes is a lot different than viewing a high resolution digital file on a monitor at 100% in terms of sharpness.