The big picture
The H4D-200MS will mostly be used for tethered shooting with Phocus and the Phocus Mobile iOS app certainly broadens the flexibility of such set-ups. From an iPhone or iPad you can access a range of functions such as focusing, live view, shutter and aperture. It can also trigger the shutter, for an ever growing number of remote capture operations. Besides preview images being conveyed to the app, there’s also a virtual camera view giving you all the shooting and setting information showing on the actual camera display.
Hasselblad's HC 120 Macro f4 MkII lens used on the shoot
Naturally, given the little time I spent with the camera, its full potential and likely limitations could not be fully explored. However, what I could easily establish from my photo session is that the Hasselblad H4D-200MS is certainly state-of-the-art for still-life and studio photography and, in the right environment, is difficult to fault.
With four and six multishot images notching up file sizes of 314MB and 1.22GB respectively, you’re going to need a fast computer with plenty of RAM to handle the camera’s output in a busy workflow situation. Incidentally, Adobe’s Lightroom supports Hasselblad’s .FFF image format and has a growing range of profiles for H-system lenses too.
An eye-watering price, but a tempting investment for commercial photographers
Also, beyond the studio, using Phocus on a Core i5 iMac turned out to be workable, if not exactly swift, with image rendering taking 20 seconds or more when zooming in to 100 per cent resolution. It was reminiscent of running Photoshop 2 on a PowerBook back in 1993. Still, outputting native four multishot images to other formats took around a minute or so, which was bearable, but six shot captures took five minutes to deliver a TIFF, which goes to show why you shouldn't really be doing this stuff on an iMac.
All in all, it is difficult to fault the H4D-200MS or Hasselblad’s effort to raise the game in commercial photography arena. If you’re already a Hasselblad user, then the company has trade-in deals that could put this system more easily within reach. And if you’re tempted, Hasselblad has leasing deals, typically over three years, that turn out to be very tax efficient – you can even add the computer to the list and you get to keep the gear at the end of it all. Just make sure your sessions diary is looking busy but then again with a Hasselblad H4D-200MS installed as your studio shooter, you could get busier by default. ®
Catherine Monfils is a professional photographer specialising in portraiture, lifestyle and fashion.
More Camera Reviews…
Hasselblad H4D-200MS medium format multishot camera
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.