All mod cons
The modularity of medium format systems has always been a sticky issue, as the integration between camera body and the sensor in the digital back was always less than perfect, and certainly no match for the flawless integral whole of a one-body DSLR. In the case of the H4D though, the integration is so fine-tuned that the system works as smoothly as the best DSLR, letting you control settings like ISO or White Balance directly from the camera body and showing information and histograms on the body display as well as on the main LCD.
The H-series is modular system with easily interchangeable accessories
This level of integration is a hugely important step forward in the medium format world especially when classic modular MF models are challenged by one-body MF cameras such as the Leica S2 or the Pentax 645D, which use the same or similar sensors without facing the challenges of modular calibration.
Unification comes at a price though. Since 2008 Hasselblad has used a proprietary system, so its backs cannot be used on any other manufacturer’s body nor can any back other than Hasselblad’s be mounted on its camera bodies. Hence anyone considering buying into the H4D system will not be able to combine it with any other medium format body or digital back they might already own.
To compensate for the lack of 35mm-style multi-point Autofocus system – something that has always been a bit of an issue with medium format cameras relying on one centred AF point – Hasselblad has come up True Focus, a feature on all H-series models.
True Focus is a gamechanging technology, as it allows to lock focus on the desired area of the subject, like the eyes for example, when reframing for composition. True Focus relies on the camera’s Absolute Position Lock (APL) processor that, once focus is first established, is able to log the camera movements during reframing and communicate these changes to the lens’s focus motor for the necessary adjustments.
The jewel in the crown: True Focus
The system is extremely accurate even when the focused subject is pushed to the corner of the frame but will not work at all if the subject and/or the camera move significantly from the original position. In bright daylight the Autofocus system is fast enough, but in reduced lighting conditions it begins to struggle, which can be an issue for location work. The impressive thing is, that despite all the additional work True Focus has to do, I couldn’t detect any actual delay when focusing on stationary subjects.
Next page: Sample Shots
Looking for noise in all the wrong places
This isn't a phtojournalist's camera, therefore, higher ISO is there more or less for show. Camera manufacturers do have e-pen0rz as well, and must wave them mightily in order to attract those who buy it for prestige alone.
Compare the Hassy to the Nikon D3s. The Nikon has absolutely SUPERB noise performance, but compare the tonalities of the two at base ISO, and it'll be like comparing a 1990's MIDI file to a live performance.
Basically, you buy the Hassy for its ability to capture really bloody minute tonal nuances at a staggeringly high resolution under very good lighting, and you buy the Nikon for its ability to focus on and capture a berserk black cat in a coal mine with almost no visible noise.
Therefore, the only noise that matters in the Hasselhoff is that at base ISO - and there's precious little of it.
Testing high-res sensors like these is far more difficult to quantify, therefore, most measurebating sites tend to avoid them. Or penalize them for having loads of noise at high ISO, which is much like penalizing cars for their inability to float across the English channel.
That's perfectly true. But sometimes the clients want a higher MP count. Do they need it? Probably not. But they pays their money, they makes their choice.
These MF cameras are really pro - their primary purpose is to generate income for the photographer, and if they generate it by allowing the photographer to say to the client: "40 Megapickles? I can do that," then they do their job perfectly.
Out of context quote of the day
"...I split the rubber..."
"Shiny special edition for the pros"
If there is a pro who needs one of these cameras they will be buying the basic model. They are in business to make a profit if possible. The SS and Ferrari models are for posers with more money than sense but good on you Hasselblad if there are people who will chuck money your way.
Hasselblad are Chinese owned now. A lot of development of this camera was contracted to Fujifilm.