Get your hands on a Hasselblad!
Why Hasselblad? Why even medium format? A top specification 35mm DSLR seems
to capture perfectly good images, so why should anyone ever consider medium
format, especially when the cost of medium format is deemed to be substantially
higher than that of 35mm DSLR’s?
The answers to all these questions are subjective, differing for each
individual photographer, depending on the type of photography the photographer
generally shoots, whether they demand a certain level of quality in their work,
and whether their business model justifies it.
Put simply, 35mm DSLR’s and medium format cameras might appear to be the
same, in that they both enable photographers to capture images – just like how
petrol and diesel engines both propel cars, and how a sportscar and a 4×4 truck
will both get you from A to B – but under the skin, they are very much
different beasts, with slightly different ways of working and providing
different pros and cons in different photographic situations.
The main difference is in the sensor technology. Generally, 35mm DSLR’s use
CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensors, whilst medium format
cameras use CCD (Charge-Couple Device) technology. The qualities of the two
different types of sensor are generally quite balanced – CMOS is fast and
flexible in low light, but not as good in quality, and CCD is slow and not so
good in low light, but boasts a very high level of quality in optimum
Therefore, a sports or paparazzi photographer wouldn’t necessarily use a
camera with a CCD sensor – it would be too slow in capturing rapid-fire images,
they sometimes have to work within low light level environments, and the image
quality and resolution would be excessive for the typical image usage associated
with these types of photography.
However, for a photographer who is mainly studio based, has the flexibility
to manipulate set-ups to provide creative and optimum lighting, where speed of
shooting isn’t an issue, or the resulting image needs to be printed large, a
CCD sensor will provide the ultimate in image quality.
The reasons for these characteristics, without wanting to get too technical
and in-depth, is about the amount of data involved. Not only do CCD sensors
generally have more pixels, which equals more data, but each individual CCD
pixel also captures more data, and more data results in a slower processing
Typically, CMOS pixels will capture 25% of the light that hits it, leaving
75% for the camera or software to interpolate or ‘guess’. On the other hand,
CCD pixels capture 75%, leaving only 25% as guess work.
This is what allows CCD sensors to have a massive 12-stops of dynamic range,
and why images captured with CMOS sensors cannot be pushed much in RAW editing
software without producing noise or patchy areas of detail. The RAW data just
isn’t there within the file, so the software is having to guess what the detail
should be, whereas CCD sensors do contain a higher level of detail, and it is therefore truer RAW data held within the file.
For the same pixel quality reasons, CCD cameras are generally better at
reproducing colours too, with Hasselblad’s H-Series cameras renowned for their
fine skin tones.
Whatsmore, with Hasselblad’s medium format cameras boasting leaf shutters,
the flash sync speed is only limited by the 1/800th second shutter speed, and
not the typical 1/250th second limit caused by using focal plane shutters, as
in most DSLR’s. This helps photographers kill ambient light in flash lit
images, helping to create moody skies or help draw attention to the main
It is as if all photographers should ideally have at least one 35mm DSLR and
one medium format camera in their camera bag – providing flexibility in the
tools needed to shoot a variety of photographic genres. Just like how a builder
would have a screwdriver and a hammer – they would use the right tool for the
job, in order to achieve the best results.
But this all comes at a price, right? Well, yes and no.
The Hasselblad H4D, the latest generation of Hasselblad’s H-Series digital
cameras, comes in 31 MPixel, 40 MPixel, 50 MPixel and 60 MPixel variants, and
the entry level H4D-31 kit with an 80mm lens retails at around €10’000 – just a fraction more than a top of
the range 35mm DSLR with a top of the range lens.
This is still quite a chunk of money in most people’s book, but it is far
from the costs most photographers associate with Hasselblad medium format
digital cameras, and for professional photographers who rely on quality tools
to do their job to the highest standard, it is more than just a good
Article supplied by Hasselblad UK Ltd
All these facts and figures are all well and good though, but the ‘proof is
always in the pudding!’ This is why DML will be holding FREE Studio events,
which will be designed to allow photographers the opportunity to pop along and
play with their latest medium format cameras, in a relaxed, informal and
non-sales pressure environment.
If anyone ever wondered how image quality could possibly be better than that
of their top of the range 35mm DSLR, then going along to one of our future
studio events, taking your own images with the Hasselblad H4D camera and seeing
the results will soon make them wonder no more!
We are planning upcoming events in the near future and will keep you
informed of the next event taking place in DML through our website and Facebook
page, so look out for them!, If you want to be added to our mailing list then
drop us an e-mail, give us a ring or call into our new look Showroom in Dublin
12, we look forward to seeing you!