Hasselblad H4D-200MS medium format multishot camera
Just what does a 200Mp image look like?
Review Having an enviable reputation for excellence in the medium format film world, digital photography presented a whole new range of challenges for Hasselblad to maintain its position among commercial photographers. Yet after establishing its H-System digital cameras in 2002, the company has continued to innovate and adapt the system to every viable photographic sector.
Hasselblad's H4D-200MS combines six 50Mp shots to make a 200Mp image
And if you need evidence of innovation, then look no further than the Hasselblad H4D-200MS released this year. It boasts a monster resolution of 200 megapixels. This amazing, almost scary creature was created to meet the needs of high-end commercial studio photographers – a small but lucrative market niche that is willing to pay for uncompromising image quality and the finest detail possible. Think: cars, art, jewellery, watches and architecture. The H4D-200MS price tag of just under £35k is, in itself, a statement of the results the company believes this camera is capable of.
So how has Hasselblad achieved what appears to be an impossible step up in resolution from the flagship model, the H4D-60 and its 60Mp sensor? In a nutshell the H4D-200MS builds on the Multishot technology first integrated into the H3DII-39MS in 2008, and currently featured on the 50Mp H4D-50MS. With the latter, multishot capture is performed with four successive shots taken to compose a single picture. It’s a process where every individual pixel is separately and independently exposed to the red, blue and green.
A combination of separate RGB capture per pixel (left) and half pixel shifts (right) deliver 200Mp images from a six multishot capture
Typically, a single shot camera detects one colour per pixel when gathering image information and applies interpolation of adjacent pixels of different colours, together with advanced algorithms, to produce the final image. Moiré and colour accuracy issues that can be a problem with single capture cameras, are minimal as multishot capture does away with this interpolation process that usually generates these artefacts.
Hasselblad has refined the multishot approach still further, expanding it to six shots, thereby filling even the tiniest information gap in between pixels. In practical terms the Hasselblad H4D-200MS camera takes six composite that include half pixel movements to capture the full colour information of the scene at four times the resolution of the H4D-50MS delivering mind-blowing results. If you want a more technical explanation, you can read it here [1.4MB PDF].
The multishot digital back screen isn't the largest as tethering to a computer is the way to go here
In terms of camera body the H4D-200MS is virtually the same of the H4D-50MS, namely, a large and heavy affair made even bigger than other H4Ds by the bulky presence of the Multishot sensor unit at the back. The camera does have quite a sizeable and ergonomic grip extending out of the main body but, truth to be told, the H4D-200MS should live permanently on a tripod.
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You're paying £35K for a camera because, in part, of its 200MP headline feature. Why on Earth *wouldn't* you do pixel peeping? The individual pixels all contribute in some way; if all anyone wanted was some low resolution photos for a web site - or even A4 prints - then single digit megapixels would do. If you're not interested in the pixels don't buy the camera.
The 4x images are pleasantly reminiscent of Foveon sensor output and gives me hope that the rest of the camera market, based on Bayer sensors, might in time adopt similar technology at more "everyday" prices. Then we'd have proper per-pixel sharpness and that extraordinary sense of depth that Foveon images can give, without the drawbacks of excessive shadow noise and colour accuracy problems... And with more manufacturer choices than Sigma-or-nothing.
The 6x images, on the other hand, are just plain broken and surely, at *any* price, such messy, artefact riddled output would be considered a fault. At £35K, it's a bad joke. I don't care *what* the name on the body of the unit is - it's real, factual, forget-the-brand-mythology-nonsense performance that counts. At 4x and 1x the output looks great, but 6x is broken - perhaps the review unit was genuinely faulty?
OK; I've been doing a bit of pixel peeping. I know, it's a terrible habit, but anyway...
The original 50MP images look lovely at 100%, possibly a tiny hint of noise, but I'd be very happy with them.
The 4x images have occasional artifacts, but they do generally show more detail than the single shot files. Mostly not a problem.
The 6x files... At 100% they're not so nice in places. Lots of artifacts. Yes, you do get even more detail, but the artifacts just look odd in places. They do look better than the original when downsized to 50MP, but then it's not the promised 200MP image.
I wouldn't like to guess how bad they'd look if anything moved...
You're a good reviewer, but I would really would have liked a bit more of actual conclusion. I know it's difficult to find fault when you're under the gaze of the manufacturer's rep, but... In places your conclusion reads more like a finance advert than a critical conclusion and you don't really mention the image quality at all, which is truly bizarre for something costing over £35k.
Sorry if this seems harsh, it probably is, but I expected better from you!
Gorgeous piece of kit
I love the irony of taking the accompanying photos in this article with Hipstermatic on an iPhone ;)
You can hold a commercial camera steady enough that over 6 shots it doesn't move by a 1/10 of a pixel - and you are shooting a scene where nothing in the set moves by the same amount between the shots.
Still for magazine shots of lumps of granite it will be very very nice indeed.
Whilst 37 x 49mm isn't full frame 645, it isn't as far short as this. 6cm is the full width of the film not the frame width, the frame size of 645 is 41.5 x 56mm. Given the chip yield goes down with about the cube of the size, and given these sensors are already about $10,000 for just the chip, I think they can be forgiven for for the size.
I still shoot 645 film. £35,000 buys one hell of a lot of film, even at the ruinous prices charged now. On the other hand, there is no film around that can achieve the resolution described here. When I win the lottery I will be buying one.