Last fall, Hasselblad asked me to evaluate advance copies of the CFV 100C and 907X. This review is based upon that evaluation. At Hasselblad’s request, I have delayed publication of this post until the public announcement of the camera, which occurred today.
The CFV 100C is a back for a V-series Hasselblad based on the X2D 100C technology. The sensor is the same. The toppings appear to be the same. The menus and features are similar. The image quality is the same. There are a few important differences. There’s no IBIS and the functions that piggyback on that are therefore MIA. There’s no EVF, either.
The 907X is an adapter to use similar backs in conjunction with Hasselblad XCD lenses. The combination of the two is much smaller and lighter than a Hasselblad V-series body with the Zeiss V-series lenses, and offers autofocusing, which is not possible with the older bodies and lenses.
The CFV 100C can be used in three ways:
- On a legacy Hasselblad V-series body, with the Zeiss lenses made for that body. Manual focus only, of course.
- Attached to the 907X adapter, with X-series (XCD) lenses, with the same autofocus ability as the X2D 100C.
- On a tech camera like a Cambo Actus, Arca Swiss, or Swebo, allowing the use of short lenses that you couldn’t adapt to the X2D 100C.
There are some other use cases that I consider less useful and therefore less likely:
- Attached to the 907X with adapted lenses.
- Attached to the 907X with a tech camera on the 907X.
- Attached to a V-series ‘blad with adapted lenses.
There’s another piece to the system: a grip that attaches to the 907X (there’s no tripod attachment fixturing on the CFV 100C). The grip provides an ergonomic grip that’s designed for eye-level use. The grip has a shutter release button with a crisp, strong detent at the end of the first part of its travel; you won’t accidentally take a picture while trying to autofocus with it. It also has controls for the most frequently used functions. If you’re using the camera on a tripod, it will be very handy.
Let’s get one thing out of the way up front. If you are going to use your camera entirely with XCD lenses, you will almost certainly be happier with the X2D than the CFV 100C. You’ll get a better handling camera, IBIS and the prospect of pixel shift in a future firmware release, and also the X2D’s EVF, which are not advantages to be pooh-poohed.
If you’re familiar with the X2D 100C, you know all you need to know about the image quality, the functions, the performance, and the menu system.
To review the similarities with the X2D:
- The camera has a streamlined menu system that is easy to learn and easy to use. Part of the simplicity stems from a more limited selection of features and options than, say, the GFX 100 II.
- There is no continuous autofocus. I think this is mainly a problem for the X2D rather than the CFV 100C, a problem given the likely uses of the two cameras.
- The autofocus system is entirely adequate for most studio and landscape use. It is not as good as the GFX 100 II when the finder image is dark or low in contrast. Focusing is slower than with the GFX 100 II, at least with the two XCD lenses I’ve tried, the 38V and 90V. Given what I anticipate to be the best and most common usage of this camera, that’s not a problem at all.
- The V-series XCD lenses are small and light and offer a mechanical helicoid that is very nice for manual focusing. The lens designers have made optical tradeoffs to obtain that compactness. The result is a series of lenses that is delightful for handheld photography, but those advantages are largely lost when the camera is used on a tripod, as I expect the EVF-less CFV 100C likely will be.
For tech camera users like me, this camera offers a lot:
- Great tethering via Phocus
- Ability to use short lenses
- Modern, dual conversion gain sensor
- A much lower price than the Phase One alternative
For Hasselblad V-series lens owners, the camera offers a useful upgrade in resolution and a more modern sensor than the old 50-megapixel version. The only Hasselblad V series lens that I found could keep up with even a 50 MP 33x44mm sensor was the Zeiss 250mm f/5.6 Superachromat (I didn’t test the 350 mm SA lens), so if you don’t have any V-series Zeiss lenses lying around, don’t go running out to buy some; you’ll be better off with the XCD lenses.
For people who are using XCD lenses with an X2D 100C and don’t want to go with a tech camera approach, I don’t think that this camera offers much.
Bottom line: if you’re a tech camera user – or want to be a tech camera user – or have a V-series Hasselblad and a collection of V-series Hasselblad lenses that you’d like to use with a digital back, this is an excellent camera for you. Top-notch build quality, great tethering, a modern sensor, ability to use your XCD lenses in a pinch, and a great user interface.