Review: Hasselblad 500c/m with a Phase One P30+ Digital Back / by Ferry Knijn

Last week I had a Phase One P30+ digital back on loan from the people of Eyes on Media Amsterdam. To start, I love working with my analog Hasselblad 500c/m camera and a Carl Zeiss 80mm 2.8 lens. But the only downfall is the speed, and not the working speed, but the time before you have your work back. So I started looking for a digital back. Since they are quite expensive (over 8k) I was glad I could loan one from Eyes on Media.

Shot with: Hasselblad 500c/m and Phase One P30+ ISO 100, 1/200 at f11

The P30+ Back

First for the spec lovers, the Phase One P30+ Was released in 2007 and has a 31.6mp, 16-bit sensor with a 100-1600 ISO range. It has a 1.25x crop factor which makes 60mm eqv on 35mm.  Storage can be on a CF card or done by Firewire directly to your computer using Phase Ones Capture One. The back has a 2.2-inch 230,000px TFT display. To connect the display with the camera you need to plug a cord between the lens and the P30+ back. The V-mount back is also designed to have a seamless fit with the design of the Hasselblad 500c/m, but not as beautiful as the Hasselblad CFV-50c. Another nice thing is that you can turn the back 90 degrees to portrait mode. 

Working with the Phase One P30+ back

Working with the Phase One P30+ Digital back is pretty easy, it has only5 buttons. I am not going to explain all the buttons, but believe me if I say they work intuitively. 

I did two sessions with the back, the first was on location, but I didn't like the images. That was not the P30+ backs fold! I used a new Hasselblad 500c/m (another one then the one I use normally) which I did not had tested enough. The photo's where OK, but the photo's from my Nikon D610 where better. The first thing you have to learn that this is not a speedy set-up, especially with focussing. Checking focus on the back is possible but I really think the Screen is not great. Like it's there but I don't really like it. 

Between the first sessions and second session I had some time to do some extra testshots to learn the system. Have the laptop to check the focus was really nice and made the proces a lot easier. 

The second session was in the studio. This is where the set-up starts to shine. I did a few regulair portraits and dance portraits. The first portraits where taken on a Storm Grey background with the standard small Elinchrom Softbox with A Elinchrom RX One flash head. 

After the regular portraits we started with the dance portraits. We changed the light set-up to the Elinchrom Rotalux 150cm Deep Indirect Octa with a Elinchrom Quadra RX and the A-Head. 

The Verdict

After the learning process I loved the images coming out of the Phase One P30+ Back with V-mout. But there are some cons working with the camera and back.

First the screen is really bad for a 8k+ camera back. Secondly I really disliked the cable from the lens to the back and then having to add another for triggering the flash. And lastly the focussing, although this is not the backs fold, but the body has to get a check-up. I had to slightly unfocus to get in focus. 

What I liked was the old and relaxed feel of working with the camera and the image quality between ISO 100 and 400 is really lovely. The compression with working on medium format cameras is so nice! 

So to finish it, will I buy it? Well no, I will keep working with my Hasselblad 500c/m but keep it analog with Kodak Tri-x, Tmax and Provia film! In the mean while I am going to save up for a digital medium Format camera this year!

FYI: All the editing was done in Capture One Pro 8 Only!

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