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Still have 501CM and want to go digital


New Member
I'm back and I still have my 501CM, but I'm really serious about going digital now. After seeing all the comments, I'd like to clarify some things. This is just my hobby. I'm not a fashion photographer and I've never photographed a wedding. I mostly go backpacking with my 501 and think that seeing my shots while I'm still up there could be good. I have most of the equipment for a darkroom but still need some things like a good timer, an easel, and a way to flatten fiber prints. I'd like to decide if I'm going digital soon so I can sell off my darkroom equipment before nobody wants it. Also, I'd really like to be able to print out some large prints (16 x 20 on average). I already have a computer, Photoshop, Aperture, etc. so I already have a digital darkroom.

I got a demo of the CFV the other day and I thought it was really simple. I've had demos of the Nikon and Canon cameras and the back with all the buttons seemed confusing and could possibly get in the way when shooting.

Is the CFV the best choice for me? I'm thinking of renting one from my local camera shop for a day.

How come I never hear people talk about the Phase One backs? A P20+ could be used on V-series and H-series cameras.
Since photography is just a hobby do you want to spend $10000 on a digital back? If so then the CFV will be perfect. If you were like me then the 7-year old Kodak DCS Pro Back Plus was the one to get since it cost less than $3500 and is 16MP. If you want to see what this back can do look under the "553ELX" forum and see my posts with ex&les.

The Kodak 16MP back differs from the CFV in that you need to carry an external battery and external cables to trip the shutter on your camera.

Hope that helps a little.

Hi Mark,

You have me wondering. A ballpark price for a new CFV is in the $9000 range. For "just a hobby" this appears to be quite steep. That amount of money buys you a lot of film & processing. But, like you remark already: no instant looking back at the little LCD to get an idea of the shot.

Only you can answer if you want to spend that amount of money of course.

You will really like the 500+CFV and a Macbook and a MacPro and an Epson R3800. It will do exactly what you want and you only live once and it's only money. Go for it.

So I rented a CFV from the local camera shop. The guy at the store demoed it for me at the store and I ended up taking some test shots outside with it. But when I got it home to try on my own, it didn't work. I think it's not meant to be. I think I'm supposed to continue to shoot film. Perhaps I'll go with a scanner.

I was going to plunk down $9k for the CFV, but could a Flextight be worth the money?
Or maybe $55/hour to use a Flextight at the camera shop would be more worth my while?
I've tried a Nikon Coolscan and I didn't like how it couldn't find the individual frames, plus I thought it was really slow, and the software was clunky.

Thanks for all the advice so far. It all helps me out in this decision process.

Don't give up . Don't
I had big trouble with my first CFV back and got it replaced .
Now , as I am still in the learning curve , and as Mark says , it's a steep one , I am getting more and more experience , and I am very happy with that CFV back .
A good decision I made .
HI Mark,

Can you say dust and noise(scanned film grain and other goodies) :) if you are going the scanner way. You will get lots of practice with the spotting tool and healing brush (provided that you use photoshop) Speaking of which, Photoshop is a great program, but it too takes alot of effort to learn if you don;t already know so.

I shoot digital 35mm, and lusting for a CFV like you. Though for me the MF (H'blad) is currently just play.

As for the Flextight, unless you get one of the highend models you will find them slow too, and if you can afford one of them, well then you could also afford a much larger digital-back. ...but with the flextight, you can also digitise you whole back catalog should you find pleasure in doing so (read. Have the time).

What is great about digital, is its instand feedback and no smelly chemicals and you can find your corkscrew with the lights on, without stabbing yourself. With the instand feedback, you can start to play and experiement in ways not $$$ possible with film. You can sit in comfort, well at least after you have paid off the thing :) and work on your images.

However, digital is not a cheaper way of photographing, if you don't already have all the equipment, then there is a big surprice. Your computer equipment needs frequent upgrading, software updates, color calibration equipment etc etc... this can become very costly too.

Unless ofcourse, you don't mind sitting and waiting for the computer pushing all these beautiful pixels around (I mean you can get really pist with all the red wine you end up drinking). ...:) you are buggard no matter which way you go in photography...just make sure you are having a great time.

just my $.02


PS: You can also experience noise in the digital-back files if you push your ISO too high, but probably less so with a digital back then with DSLR and hopefully less then a scan