Hasselblad film backs - C12 vs. A12

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by BradS, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Can somebody please give me the $5 education in Hasselblad backs. What works with what? Which are good? Are any bad? Why is there so much price variation for used film backs? What do I need to know?
     
  2. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    They all work with the 500 series cameras, and the newer H series too, I believe, and the 1000F forunner to the 500's.

    The Cxx backs have a window in the back with a cover, and you manually advance the film to frame 1 when loading. On the A backs, you align the arrow across the paper to a mark at the feed spool then close up the back and crank it, and it automatically stops at frame 1. From that point on, they work the same.
    Newer A backs have a darkslide holder.
    The film insert, and the backs are made with matched serial numbers, and are fitted to each other during manufacture. However, any insert for a given frame size will work with any back, at least according to David Odess the premier Indy Hasselblad tech. Backs that have their matched insert command more money. So do the ones with the darkslide holder, which is also available aftermarket. Those are the primary differences. The inserts for the A backs have an indicator that tells you if there is film in the back or not, and roughly how much remains, in addition to the counter. I don't think it's a feature for the earlier A's nor the C's.
    Beyond those things there are some minor differences in the way the frame counters work, but not in actual functionality.
    The backs with the newer features command the highest prices.

    There are 12 exposure backs (6x6 cm) on 120, and 2 kinds of 16 exposure backs, 6 x 4.5 (A or C16) and 4 x 4 "superslide" (A or C 16S). And 220 6x6.
    Additionally there are various 70mm backs, and sheet backs.

    They need various sorts of CLA's after a bit, and the light traps at the dark slide need replacement from time to time. Spacing problems are not uncommon and indicate a need for service, but they'll go a long time without it.

    Barry
     
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  3. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    As noted, A (newer) backs command a higher price than C (earlier) backs, all things equal. 220 backs seems to be significantly cheaper as the popularity of 220 film has declined. The shells and inserts are both serial numbered and the numbers should be the same; mismatched backs typically sell at a discount.

    There are 2 (AFAIK) non-6x6 backs. A 16 (C16 or A16) that provides a 6x4.5 negative with 16 exposures per 120 roll. My favorite. These typically sell at a premium. Also a 16S back that provides a 4.5x4.5 negative (originally for "super slide" I believe) with 16 exp per 120 roll. Not very useful and sell at a discount.
     
  4. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I've an after-market lindahl darkslide holder on my A12. I can't live without it.
    The newer A12's with the built-in holder are surprisingly similar.
     
  5. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    Oh, and my back and insert aren't matched but I haven't noticed any ill effects. I liked the price savings. Next time I buy a back, I might get a matched set just to see but so far i'm not worrying about it.
     
  6. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    They do not work on H-series cameras.

    The 1600 F and 1000 F cameras have a pin shooting out of the camera (upper right, seen from behind, above the gear) tripping some catch inside the back.
    For a back to work on these 1000-series cameras, they must provide that pin a place to go, so backs made after the 1000-series had been discontinued still had a hole.
    Hasselblad however stopped drilling that hole some 30-40 years after the discontinuation of the 1000-series cameras, and the latest backs (10-20 years old to now) do no longer have it, and cannot be used on 1000-series cameras.


    The thing about matched backs is about film flatness. The shells and inserts are paired up so that the position of the tiny rollers on the shell (above and below the film gate) is matched best to the position of the rollers on the insert, so the film runs over the rollers at a certain angle.
    It is a fine-fine tuning thing, matching tolerances to cancel rather than add up, and is not something to be worried about.
    But still, shells and magazines being paired this way, matched pairs are more desirable, and cost more.

    It is on the A's.

    You can find a manual explaining the operation of the later A-backs here.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2008
  7. K-G

    K-G Subscriber

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    With the old C-type backs it is also possible to use 220-film. Hasselblad made a special rubber plug to
    blind the window on the back. By counting the revolutions when loading the film you could position the
    first frame fairly good. You had to reset the counter after 12 exposures before continuing. I think Hasselblad have some old manuals as pdf on their website. Perhaps also the C-back manual, but I am not sure.
    The procedure was a bit complicated but if you had a 220-fim and no 220-back it worked.

    This is their web-address http://www.hasselblad.se/
     
  8. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Or just look here.
    :wink:
     
  9. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Member

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    At some point with the A12 backs they made a small change of putting spring tension on the source side film holder. Apparently, some Hassie users had an issue with the film buckling slightly at or near the rollers on the source side of the film gate due to the roll of film essentially free to uncurl slightly in the back. This anomaly caused slightly out of focus areas along one edge of the image. As a matter of fact, I remember that Hasselblad at the time recommend winding on a couple of frames before you started shooting if the loaded film had been just sitting unmoved in the back for too long. I have both styles of A12 backs and never had an issue with out of focus areas. It may be something you want to look for though...you can tell one from the other by looking at the source side pin where the roll sits; not the upper spring bar the spans the insert. The one with no spring tensioner will have a simple stud; the other will have "wings" on the stud as you've probably seen in other MF cameras. Also, when you're loading the back it's very easy to feel the tension on the roll if you have any experience with the earlier style insert.

    Oh, and btw...just my opinion, of course, but contrary to what some others have stated in this thread...I'd highly recommend sticky with used backs having matching serial numbers! You very well could luck out and get a non-matching back that works fine, but I've heard enough stories to know that it doesn't always work out that way.

    Good luck!
     
  10. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    This matching-numbers thingy really does not involve anything that would impact function of the back as such.

    It is about the thing you mention the spool brake is about:
    "to provide an arrangement by means of which [the bulges produced by the idle rollers] will be greatly reduced. [... The] guide rollers which lie against the sensitized side of the film in a substantially tangential relation to the focal plane are situated one between each edge of the pressure plate and the adjacent idle roller, [...]"
    The trick is that by adjusting the relative position of the rollers on insert and shell, the film can be made to run between these rollers at a certain angle.
    "It has been shown that by means of [this] arrangement [...] the size of the bulges formed will be reduced by a very great extent."

    There however is not much to play with.
    It really is a fine tuning of an already finely tuned construction.
    It will be very hard, if possible at all, to see the effect of using non-matched inserts and shells.
    And rumours are that for many years already, all the 'matching' process really involves is that they put a sticker bearing the last three digits of the shell's serial number on the insert. :wink:

    The largest impact being unmatched has is on price: matched pairs fetch more. Just because they are supposed to be matched, no matter whether that has a discernible influence on image quality or none whatsoever.
     
  11. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Member

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    Yeah, having only ever had matching inserts to my A12 backs I have no idea if it really makes any kind of discernible difference. My guess is, as you've said, we're looking at such finely crafted hardware that matching or not probably doesn't mean a hell of beans! Don't know if it's true, but I heard years ago through a reliable source that Hasselblad did use some sort of laser alignment or something to match the insert with the back. Not sure if it's simply that they put a sticker on the insert revealing the last 3 digits just so they match to fetch higher prices. But, hey, whadda I know...
     
  12. Stewart Skelt

    Stewart Skelt Member

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    If you are taking your Hasselblad on a trip and expect to go through a lot of film, I thoroughly recommend the A24 (220) back, as you will save a bit of room. 220 is a bit harder to find in shops but I buy all my film over the net these days so it isn't a problem.
     
  13. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    The matching may have only made much difference on the older C backs. In a professional working environment the older "C" backs with their requirement of watching the film roll on thru a window to get to the first frame slows down the reloading somewhat, thus making the A-12 or variants more desirable. You can reload an "A" series back considerably faster. When using a "C" back with the rubber plug for 220, frame spacing (particularly on the last 12 frames) is less than ideal, and can get really wide towards the end of the roll. A more modern A24 back designed for 220 has perfect frame spacing. The first of the roll may have a slight bit of frame overlap. In the late 1960's I worked for a studio that shot Hasselblad with 220 film in "C" type backs and he cut his negatives into singles, with each one in a separate glassine sleeve...so spacing wasn't an issue. I like to cut my medium-format negs into 3-strips of 4 frames, and if I used a "C" type back for 220 I would not be able to get some strips of 4 into a page sleeve without the film sticking out the end of the sleeve.
     
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  15. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    It's the same for all backs, A or non-A.
     
  16. Brandon D.

    Brandon D. Member

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    Backs in the fridge

    I have an off topic questions about backs. Has anyone ever loaded a back with film, and then left that back in the fridge? I have a few rolls of film loaded into a couple of backs that I haven't shot yet. And I'd like to keep the film as fresh as possible. Just wondering... thanks!
     
  17. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    Haven't done it but.. Are the backs in sealed ziplock backs? And these bags in a freezer?
    If you, I would place the still sealed bags in the refridgerator for a few hours, and then remove.. Just so you don't go from frozen to condensation-everywhere.. not cool.

    I've done this with 4x5 film holders. I don't do it much anymore these days but you just have to seal it well, and let it cool down slowly. Don't open the bag until the condensation is gone or the bag is warm..
     
  18. Brandon D.

    Brandon D. Member

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    re: Phillip

    They're not in a freezer; I really don't freeze my film. So far, I have all of my individual film rolls in ziplock bags in a small fridge in my basement. The fridge is chilled at a low-moderate level. As for the backs, they're loaded with film, and they're just sitting in my camera bag next to the fridge. I'd say that on average, my basement is about 70 deg. Fahrenheit or so.

    So, I'd be alright if I just left the backs in a ziplock bag in my small fridge (i.e., just like my individual film rolls)?

    Okay, thanks a lot!
     
  19. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    It keeps longer if you do. :wink:

    As long as you indeed keep the bag shut after removing it from the fridge until the content has warmed up to ambient room temperature.
    You do not want condensation to form inside the magazine, on the film and mechanism.

    Unless you are planning to store a loaded magazine for months, it would be easier to just keep the back with film at room temperature. Nothing bad will happen to it. Certainly not at 70 degrees F.
     
  20. Brandon D.

    Brandon D. Member

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    Awesome! Thanks for the help, guys!
     
  21. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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    I doubt if Freezing is that good for the lubricants in the transport/counter mechanism, who knows?

    Philippe
     
  22. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    This time of year, at least here in the north, the air you seal in the bag isn't so dry. You could possibly get condensation just from what's in the bag after you put it in the fridge. With things like unsealed rolls of film, you can at least exclude most of the air. But you can't do that with a back unless you use one of those vacuum gadgets. Refridgerating or freezing a back doesn't seem like a good idea, unless the film in it is really sensitive to degrading at room temperature.
    That said, I have put film holders loaded with color in the fridge occasionally, I chill the holder first, then quickly take it out, bag it, and put it back in. But it's not something I'd consider for a MF back.
     
  23. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    BTW - Zeiss of all people did a study on the matching insert issue and found there to be ZERO difference between matching and non-matching inserts vis-a-vis sharpness - most concluded it was hasselblad hype to get people to buy new backs rather than 2nd hand ones.
     
  24. edtbjon

    edtbjon Member

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    The bad thing about storing backs with film in it is that the film warps, so that the next frame becomes useless (read: "non-flat"). This happens to the film regardless of being stored cold or not. This is the flipside of the convenience of having the backs loaded and ready to shoot.
    The "short" 12-frame film is an advantage to me, as I find myself often shooting around that number of frames on any given subject. Then I can develop the film to match that scene.
    (I do understand that you most probably use slide film, which is more sensitive to temperature and storage. But the same thing applies to slide film. It looks terrible when a part of the slide is unsharp, which can happen if the film have been sitting in the back for too long.)

    //Björn

     
  25. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    So how long after the film is cut and subsequently wound rather tightly around a small diameter spool in the factory are you using your rollfilm...? :wink:
     
  26. Goodman5390

    Goodman5390 Member

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    polaroid back for HASSELBLAD 1000f

    ok so i've got a 1000f. it has two backs, all is well. but i'm looking to get a polaroid back for it.

    can someone educated on the subject please give me a rundown on the whole thing?

    what backs (if any) will fit the 1000f? what polaroid film type should i use? is polaroid film still available enough that it would be worth it to get a back? where is a good place to buy from? et cetera....

    please let me know! i'm looking to make a purchase soon.

    thanks,
    b.a.g.