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Help with exposures with 203F and CF lens


New Member
Hello, could anyone offer some suggestions for using my 203F with a 120 Makro CF lens? The manual is not too helpful. I want to have metering for general photography. I set the selector to M (manual)and lens to F and took an incident light reading with my Sekonic studio 125 ASA and got an EV of 10.5-11 or about f 4-5.6 at 60th. But the meter in the camera LED only gives me a 0 EV or match needle effect at about 500th. I have programmed the proper film speed into the camera but do not have an E back. So I don't know what to trust, my Sekonic or the camera. Am I doing something wrong in not setting a reference exposure first using the Mode dial? What is the best way to use the 203 camera meter if you don't have an E lens? Many thanks in advance.
I've the 202FA and one CF lens but it's the same in this case:
You put in D ou M mode, then you close the lens to the value you need. Then you push the exposition button to memory the exposure. Then you cann open the lens or not, but the exposure is correct.

If your lens is a F:4.0 and you want to use it at 8.0 the display must show +2.0 EV

At the begining I put number on diaphragme ring: 1; 2; etc.. on 5.6 8.0 etc..

In french here!
Merci a vous

Je vous remercie. Votre anglais est tellement claire et parfait. I have tried to compare that 0+ - value with what I get from two hand held meters, one incident and one reflective. They seem to match up indoors but not out of doors. Mais je pense je suis sur la piste! Should I trust the camera meter out of doors more than the hand held ones?

An explanation of the measuring system may help to understand how the light meter in a 203 camera works.

To measure a certain light level the meter needs to know what the largest aperture of the lens is.
Lenses with data bus are identified by their electronics and report this aperture to the camera.

If the 120/4 Macro Planar is of the CFE kind it will report F4 to the camera measuring system as max aperture.
It will also report the preset aperture for instance F8.
The electronics of the lens informs the camera that although light is measured with max aperture the picture
will be taken with two stops closed so the shutter speed has to be 4 times longer.
Lenses without data bus can be used "stop down".
Close the aperture to the desired value and let the camera calculate the correct shutter speed for that aperture.

The measuring system of the 203FE is centre weighted and is remarkably accurate.
Of course the photographer is responsible in the end for the correct exposure.

All light meters are calibrated using a standard grey card reflection as reference.
This means the system "thinks" it always sees a grey reference.
In snow it will try to make snow grey resulting in under exposure.
The interior of a building that is black after it was burned down will also be seen as grey resulting in over exposure.
BTW, at the begining my films were uderexposed when I was outside. Then I noticed that I had not the eye in the viewfinder when I pushed the exposure button. So the sun or sky help to gave light in the viewfinder.
Now I use to put my eye as close as possible and help with my hand to control light invation (by the sides) when I put the button.
In fact I often use a different point of view to mesure light than to focus and to take the picture; my eye was close to the viewfinder only when focussing.
Get an E back

If you have a 120/4 lens and shoot it at f/4 and at F mode then it is simple. Leave the lens at f/4 and the camera on auto. But say if you want to shoot at f/8 your lens does not have the contacts to relay to the body that you are stopping down. If you have an E back then you can compensate with the iso dial. iso400 @ f/4 = iso100 @f/8. You are adding back +2 EV to the -2 EV from stopping down. This removes the extra step of physically stopping down the aperture and makes faster shooting. You'll make mistakes at first and will probably ruin a roll or two but it'll become second nature. After ten or twelve rolls you realize it is not necessary to buy CFE lenses at all.
This method is fine as long as you keep the lens at the same preset aperture, in this case F8.
As soon as you change the chosen aperture you need to change the setting at the E film back as well.
Believe me I ruined plenty of film by forgetting to reset the E12. In the heat of shooting I am changing apertures and not always remembering. I don't know why Hasselblad never updated their choicest lenses to CFE. Why 40, 80, 120 and 180 but not the 50, 60, 100 and 150? For fast street shooting with a 60mm and 203FE I tend to leave it at one aperture.
I don't know why Hasselblad never updated their choicest lenses to CFE. Why 40, 80, 120 and 180 but not the 50, 60, 100 and 150?

The reason is quite simple:
Hasselblad updated a number of lenses from the CF series as the lenses for the F series with databus were being phased out.
The first FE lens to suffer this faith was the 80 mm FE.
It was superceded by the 80 CFE lens.

At that time the excellent 50FE, the first Hasselblad lens to receive FLE, was still being supplied.
The same goes for the 150FE.
Keep in mind cameras with focal plane shutters were meant to be used with faster lenses i.e. 50 mm 2.8 and 150 mm 2.8 against the F4 versions with leaf shutter.

The 60 mm and the 100 mm were never available as FE lenses and were not upgraded to CFE.

The 40/120/180 mm CF lenses are exceptions.

To summarise for the 200 series the following lenses were at one time available as lenses with databus:


A special mention deserve the Superachromats: 250/300/350

All CFE versions are now being phased out.
The first victims are the 80 mm and the 120 mm lenses.