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Depreciation of Digital CFV back

Thought this may make interesting reading in regard to the cost of purchasing digital backs and cameras only to find that the price had dropped within a few months. This is another side to digital that not a lot of discussion is covered and yet I know of many photographers that spent a small fortune only to find that their investment? dropped in value very quickly.

Appreciate that this may be painful to some but would make interesting research for a paper that is being done. If you do not want to contribute on the Forum please contact direct.

This has recently happened with the CFV recently being reduced in price together with the 503CWD. Has anyone stories to share?

best wishes, Carl

Digital backs have more in common in the economical sense with computers than with photo equipment.
They follow the same fast lines of depreciation.

You should not see these as an investment but as a tool to make money with.
Due to fast depreciation it is important to buy the right back so it can serve you long enough to earn back what you paid for it and some extra of course.
You also need volume to do it fast enough otherwise it is obsolete and
can not compete with later and better backs.

The first generation DB's for Hasselblad cost about 40.000 GBP with a spec that we laugh about now.
Only 18 odd years old they can be had for 400 GBP now.
Quite a few people earned a healthy income with these backs.

I think it has evolved. The DSLRs and MF Digital Backs have gotten to the point that even major leaps forward are incremental and often specialized.

In other words, the pressure is off to buy the next better thing out there. They could come out with a 60 meg MF back, and unless I needed that level of capture for everyday work, I'd skip it without a second thought.

I'm not rushing out to replace my G5 dual processor Mac either. I can wait, and don't feel "behind" in the least.
Marc, Paul.
You seemed quite versed about Dback issues.
Let me ask you this:
When do you think that, let's say... a dback with a 37X49mm/22mp sensor could be found in the used market below 10 grand?

The reason I'm asking is because the wait for the dback I could afford, has become a sort of tornado chasing. Predictions, wishful thinking, knowledge, patience, courage and luck.


Yes it is possible Eduardo.

Last month I purchased a mint H2D/CFH 22 kit with an extra film back and extra battery and a HC120 macro (rather than the standard 80mm), in a custom Pelican case ... all for $15,500.

I sold the 120 macro for $2,500. ( I already had one), and could sell the film back for $1,000. So basically I ended up paying $12,000. for the camera, CFH/22 back and finder.

If I just wanted the back, I could have sold the lens for $2,500. and the camera with finder, batteries and film back for $5,000. ... so the back alone would have cost me $7,500.

I immediately used that kit to upgrade to a new H3D/31 for a total sum less than buying one outright.

You can find a good used 22Mp back for around 7000 USD now.
I was offered an Imacon 132 back for that price.
This came from a trader who certainly will accept a fair offer so the actual price to pay will be less.
With guarantee and everything you need to get started.

Send me a pm if you are interested in something like that and I will keep you informed when something turns up again.
Eduardo, how will you use a digital back?

Do you want a lot of mobility or will it primarily be used in studio?

Do you want ISOs up to 800, 400, or will 200 be enough?

What camera will you use it on? Do you already have the camera and lenses, or are you starting fresh?

The reason for these questions is that there are a lot of excellent choices out there, and others that will be available in the next year to two years on the used market.

Imacon, Hasselblad, Phase One, Leaf and Sinar all made/make backs in the category you are interested in. Phase One and Imacon/Hasselblad backs are more plentiful on the used market, followed by Leaf. The Sinar backs tend to be low volume sellers, at least in the US, and are more rare.

Many of these backs are made specifically for certain cameras and can't be used on other cameras without major factory alterations.

Some have a maximum ISO 200, 400, or 800.

Some shoot directly to a Compact Flash card as well as tethered to a computer using a firewire connection. Phase One backs use a CF card, Hasselblad backs with a "CF" in the name shoot to Compact Flash cards, Leaf Aptus backs use a CF card ... all of which are highly mobile, or can be used in the studio.

Others like the Imacon 132 Paul mentioned above do not take a CF card and require the use of an Image Bank, a hard drive about the size of a Quantum Turbo battery that has to be tethered to the camera when shooting on location. Others yet have no storage ability at all and cannot be taken mobile unless tethered to a laptop ( they only shoot to a computer and were designed for studio capture).

I have owned or used all of these brands except the Sinar ( which is just as good as any of the others ).

My advice is to set down your requirements for shooting, and don't vary from them even if you have to wait awhile. This stuff is to expensive for it to come up short for what you need to shoot.

If, like me, you need a high level of mobility and freedom, then hold out for a back that uses a Compact Flash card and provides at least a maximum of ISO 400.

If you are mostly a studio shooter and you do not need that level of mobility, there are a number of solutions at much better prices than digital backs that take CF cards.
Here's something I've slapped together for my own reference when comparing backs.

I've made 2 simple charts:

One shows the actual sensor sizes in relationship to one another ( attached to this post)

The other shows the effective pixels in relationship to each other to get an idea of the difference in file size when actually making an image ... which I'll post next.

Now the "effective Pixel" relationship you get between a 16 meg back, 22meg back, 31 meg back and a 39 meg back :

"Here's something I've slapped together for my own reference when comparing backs. "

Thanks Mark, most interesting and useful, there is also another parameter on the size of each pixel which on the CFV is 9 microns, it is different on the other sensors, is it thought this is going to make much of a difference?

thanks, Carl
Great charts Marc, thanks.
Paul, Marc:

I am opening a studio by the fall to get ready for the high season. I did a lot of portrait photography for 12 years, but then, 10 years ago, I moved to another city.
My studio and outdoor workflow is always on the slow pace.

I usually shoot with a tripod. I do besides studio work, architecture, interiors, urban and natural scapes, etc.

Nowadays, I do everything with a 5D. I am sold on this camera. It can do everything. But since I'm opening my studio soon, I'd like to have an edge. I have too a 500Cm with 4 optics. This is a camera that marked my work 15 years ago. If I manage to buy a dback for this system, it might well be the first MF dback in town.

I certainly like the CFV, but the massive 1.5x crop factor turns me off. Certainly,I'd like to have one with a CF card. If I do it during the fall, this dback might well be for some years. (not)??

I understand that the P25 for V cameras can be attached either vert. and hor. I understand it takes a Cf card too. I've seen at eBay only (so far) used backs to fit the H system. today , this back is my first choice, but everytime I see a picture of a 500 with the CFv, I drool.

Thanks for all the input.
All of the rectangular digital backs can be positioned in the portrait or landscape position on a V camera. It is the adapter that allows this, not the back itself.
So, the adapter is a different physical item, like it can be interchanged with an adapter for a Mamiya?
Yes, they are separate items. Not exactly sure in all cases, but for Leaf Universal backs, Imacon Xpress and Hasselblad CF backs, you can use different adapters. The current Hasselblad CF adapter system is called i-adapter. These adapters aren't inexpensive, but do extend the range of cameras you can use with the back ... including view cameras like Sinar and Rollie.

Backs dedicated to cameras like the Mamiya 645, Hasselblad H1, H2, & H3, as well Contax 645, often can only be used on those cameras ... and a view camera.

My Leaf Aptus 75 fits directly on a Mamiya 645, and using an adapter works on the Mamiya RZ ... but cannot be adapted to the Hasselblad 503CW without factory alterations ... and then it won't work on the Mamiyas.