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  1. #1
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    Hasselblad film backs - C12 vs. A12

    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?

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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
    Last edited by bdial; 08-10-2008 at 08:57 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
    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.

    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.
    It is on the A's.

    You can find a manual explaining the operation of the later A-backs here.
    Last edited by Q.G.; 08-11-2008 at 01:43 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #7
    K-G
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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/

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    Quote Originally Posted by K-G View Post
    With the old C-type backs it is also possible to use 220-film. [...]
    This is their web-address http://www.hasselblad.se/
    Or just look here.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by BradS View Post
    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?
    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!
    Regards,
    Alan Huntley
    www.silverscapephoto.com

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan9940 View Post
    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.
    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.

    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.

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