The Hasselblad H4D-200MS has a sensitivity range of 50-800 ISO although multishot users will almost certainly keep it on 50 ISO and let the studio lighting do the rest. Admittedly, architectural photographers may dabble with the sensitivity a bit more though. All the features of the H4D camera range, such as True Focus including the new Absolute Position Lock processor, Ultra Focus and Digital Lens Correction are here too.
Studio session with Hasselblad's Nicky West and Catherine Monfils
Still from iPad 8mm HD camera app
The H4D-200MS can also function in three different capture modes to increase versatility. Apart from the 200Mp six-shot setting – intended for detail and accuracy – there’s a single-shot mode for portraits or moving subjects with a maximum output resolution of 50Mp. For still life shooting and increased colour accuracy at the same native resolution, the camera can be instead switched to the four-shots capture.
I tried the H4D-200MS for half a day in a third floor studio. The provided set up included Broncolor lighting, with the latest Scoro A2S 1600 J generator, tripod and a studio assistant to build the set and to lend a hand with the camera. Nicky West, Hasselblad's Sales Manager introduced me to the technical workings of the camera and after some experimenting we were ready for the first shot with the camera tethered using FireWire 800 to a MacBook Pro running Hasselblad’s Phocus software.
H4D-200MS tethered to a MacBook Pro with FireWire 800
Still from iOS app Hipstamatic
The promised marvels of the 200Mp medium format capture was something I couldn’t wait to see. Indeed, the first shots were spectacular and not far from the stunning images of the advertising showreel. Yet, unexpectedly the outcome of the following shots taken proved more of a challenge. In four-shot mode, the results were pretty amazing but when the six-shot capture was activated the images became fuzzy. With the assistant we tried everything we could think of and spent some time retaking the same shots, alas, with similar results.
In need of a break and a clear mind, we switched everything off for a while. Shortly after we realised that the monotone hum that had constantly accompanied our earlier session had suddenly disappeared. And then it dawned on us that the fan of the flash head could be the culprit. The breeze and vibration from this fan, mild as it was, could obviously be picked up by the alignment system guiding the sensor into position therefore upsetting the otherwise razor sharp mechanism and resulting in the blur we observed.
An iPhone 3GS running Phocus Mobile receives previews and camera controls over Wi-Fi
Enlightened, we switched off the modelling lights and proceeded with our shot: a miracle of definition, detail and depth took place right in front of my eyes. The images were not only sharper than sharp but they showed an impossible level of fine detail. Colour reproduction was superb and tonal gradation broad and smooth.
Next page: Sample Shots
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 ;)