Professional photojournalist Simone Zeffiro discusses the merits of the Hasselblad H4D-40 Camera
A few weeks ago, I received a wonderful surprise from Hasselblad who delivered one of its powerful professional cameras, the Hasselblad H4D-40, complete with one of the best lenses available for the Digital H Systems, the Hasselblad HCD 35-90 mm.
As a photographer, I was really thrilled to have the opportunity to use one of the most well-known and powerful photographic systems on the market today. I already knew the main differences between a professional high-performance medium format camera by Hasselblad and the professional full-frame camera I usually work with, but when I started working with the H4D-40, there were some unexpected surprises. Amateur photographers have the habit of choosing a camera for its general characteristics that are usually (just to give some examples): photographs per second, the ISO range and the number of autofocus points. Unfortunately, excluding specific cases, a professional photographer would never shoot at ISO 12800 and would never utilise automatic focus points, but he would manually set the focus looking inside the viewfinder. Furthermore, only a few photography fields really need to take a large number of consecutive photographs such as those working in sport (i.e. motorsport). These are usually and simply common myths and commercial strategies to convince those less in the know to buy “the latest camera”.
The Hasselblad has an absolutely different concept of power. The H4D-40 is designed with an ISO range that goes from 100 to 1600, a shutter speed from 1/800 to 256 seconds and a TF focus control (True Focus). High resolution (40 MP with a 4:3 frame), and high luminosity of the lens returned details with a quality never seen before. In particular, the HCD 35-90 zoom lens (directly produced by Hasselblad for the H3D and H4D Series) is one of the most flexible and powerful actually on the market.
Before I received the H4D, I was working on HDR Photography (High Dynamic Range) so I immediately decided to test it in this specific photographic field just so that I could become more familiar with Hasselblad medium-format. In HDR Photography, effective resolution, exposure and light control are really important, probably more so than in other photography fields.
After a few days, I left Italy and spent my holiday travelling on the south-west side of France, starting from the Pyrenees, and covering more than 2,300 kilometres. The Hasselblad H4D-40 complete with the HCD 35-90 lens has been a fantastic travel companion and day-by-day i’ve been able to appreciate its performance and unquestionably understand the reasons why the Sweden-based producer is still today as a century ago the best manufacturer of professional medium-format photographic systems worldwide.
Over the vast chain of Pyrenees, I had the opportunity to photograph wonderful natural landscapes in different light conditions. In any case, the Hasselblad medium-format sensor generates better detail and results than a full-frame sensor from competitor brands.
Moving from the Pyrenees to Carcassonne, a wonderful medieval fortified city located in the Aude region of France, and other towns in the Camargues, I had the chance to test out the camera and take different architectural and landscape photographs. Even in this case Hasselblad has no limits. The management of the perspective view is brilliant, even without a particular tool called Tilt & Shift System (normally used to reduce the lens distortion and for other artistic applications).
I took a few portraits with natural light as well and simply converted them from the RAW files (Hasselblad .3FR Image) to black and white jpeg image files using the Hassleblad Phocus 2.7 software.
The Hasselblad H4D-40 with its 40MP sensor (7304×5478 pixels) generates RAW files with a weight that can go from 55 up to 85 Megabytes (around 150-250 Mb TIF images). I thought this would have slowed down my PC system but I pleasantly discovered that Phocus 2.7 can easily manage the files with no particular delays. Just for my personal curiosity I tried to open the same file with Photoshop CS6 (Hasselblad patch for Camera Raw included) and the processing speed with Phocus 2.7 is about two times faster.
I came back home after ten days with a large number of photographs to check and process, so I decided to select what I thought could be a representative series of images. It’s just a sneak peak of the pictures I took using the Hasselblad H4D-40 and I hope our readers will enjoy watching them all.
My really special thanks goes to Mr Paul Godbold, Publisher and Owner of Luxurious Magazine, who decided to give me the amazing task of using and testing one of the best photographic systems a photographer could ever dream to work with.
In the coming weeks and months, whilst I wait for the opportunity to personally test the latest camera made by Hasselblad, the H5D, I will undertake shoots that will include still life, advertising, portraits and fashion.
In the meantime, I would also like to thank Ms. Michele Channer, Hasselblad’s International Sales Director and, in particular, Mr. Paul Waterworth, Hasselblad’s Global Photographer Relations Manager, for his kind support and for providing me with this fantastic camera.
Hasselblad H4D-40 – Where and how
For more information on the Hasselblad H4D-40 : www.hasselblad.co.uk