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Author Topic: Why Hasselblad?  (Read 8565 times)

Quasimodo

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Why Hasselblad?
« on: September 19, 2012, 03:28:18 PM »
Disclaimer: This is not a thread meant to trash other manufacturers, nor do I hope that the thread develops in that direction. It is a question I pose out of genuine interest in the logic and motivation for buying into these medium format systems.

My main question is: Why would people buy a digital Hasselblad? In what situations would you need what a Hasselblad can deliver? Are there work situations where a Hasselblad or other medium format systems are required? (for instance do high end magazines require images captured with these systems?).  Is the cost of a Hasselblad justified in terms of qualityrequirements anywhere? In Norway a Hasselbad H5D - 60 cost 312.031 NOK (41.988 Euro, http://interfoto.no/nettbutikk/kameraer/hasselblad/h-serien/Hasselblad-H5D-60-hus--3013662-p0000037293.aspx), while a 1DX cost 54.995 NOK (7.400 Euro, http://www.fotovideo.no/Produkter/Systemkamera/Canon/Canon-EOS-1D-X-Hus-18,1Mp,-12b-s,-Full-HD-127617-p0000148151.aspx) and a 5D III cost 24.499 for the body (3.297 Euro,  http://www.fotovideo.no/Produkter/Systemkamera/Canon/Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III-hus-22Mp,-fullformat,-6-b-sek,-DIGIC-5-pros-129195-p0000151276.aspx)

Background for my questions:

I have myself most of my gear in Canon. I am, apart from approximately 10 paid jobs pr. year, foremost an enthusiast. My bread and butter comes from my job as a lecturer in Marketing and marketing communication- related courses. I have in several of my lectures used quite a bit of time on the DSLR and compact camera market. Hence, both professionally and from a hobby point of view, I am very interested in hearing your answers to my questions.
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Why Hasselblad?
« on: September 19, 2012, 03:28:18 PM »

Drizzt321

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2012, 08:01:43 PM »
Something else you're forgetting is a very high shutter sync speed due to leaf type shutters, which can really help balance bright ambient light with strobes. Also megapickles. The MF digital backs tend to have quite a bit more, although with the D800 and rumored 3D 35mm digital cameras are certainly entering the low MP MF backs. Another thing is likely image quality, which MF manufacturers likely put even more of a focus on than even the Canon/Nikon flagship models since their customer base is both smaller, and much higher demanding. And last, see the last point. It's a smaller customer base who are used to paying more, and so they can charge more as well.
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RuneL

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2012, 08:12:09 PM »
Speaking MF in general now, not Hasselblad (Hasselblad are, IMO, more or less dying, they closed down their main office and lost one of their very high ups to the competition. The force to be reckoned with right now is Phase One)
1/1600 sync speed is a gift from the gods.
The level of detail and the colour that comes off those 80 megapixel backs is amazing, try one out, you setup your lighting properly it's more or less possible to do an out of camera image that doesn't need processing. The people who use the MF cams are, most likely: Commercial shooters, fashion, products, landscapes, where speed and high ISOs aren't needed, but plenty of detail and resolution are (billboard etc etc). An MF camera starts to stutter around ISO 400, most will probably be shooting around 35, 50 or 100.


Of course, you enter a different world of hurt when it comes to stuff like diffraction, speed, DOF, post processing equipment needs, storage, price and so forth.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 08:32:03 PM by RuneL »

CharlieB

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2012, 08:43:25 PM »
Cant say specifically for digital Hasselblad, but for the most part, you're getting better dynamic range, as well as stunning IQ.  Thats what MF does for you.  It also cuts your depth of field by a good amount.

Of course if you want detail, use silver images on 6x6 or 6x7 and good optics... you've got detail. 

jondave

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2012, 09:41:52 PM »
MF uses a much bigger sensor, so the answer to your question similarly applies to those asking why FF is better than APS-C.

And megapixels of course, because of the print sizes the photos are used in. Typical FF print sizes are only A3 up to A2. You didn't think those billboard ads were originally from 20MP files, did you?

dafrank

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2012, 11:55:12 PM »
I think I can answer this. First of all, the quality of images created by the upper-end (60-80MP) Hasselblad digital (Hasselblad camera + formerly Imacon digital backs) cameras, the Pentax and Mamiya cams, and PhaseOne produced backs with their open adaptability to many medium format cameras, is very, very good - superior to any 35mm sized sensor based camera. (DXO is smoking crack here as their rating system scores Nikony sensors ridiculously higher than most medium format digital because of the value placed on qualities not demanded by the market for medium format backs, like high ISO value performance). However, despite what I just said, the real question one should ask, with the Nikon D800E already here and the much rumored Canon 46 MP monster just around the corner, is just how much better are those MF images, and is the price differential worth it. For 97% of commercial shooters, and even for the vast majority of status seeking and well heeled photo-hobby-crazed orthodontists, the answer is probably a strong "no." The system lenses, ease of use, autofocus, environmental sealing, frames per second, shutter speed variation, accessories, auto exposure options, adequate to very good HD video output, and even the huge number of menu driven control options - not to mention image quality that is steadily creeping up to within a few histogram humps of reaching medium format territory - means never having to say you're sorry that you bought into a smaller format system.

When you can produce a great looking 3-page pullout in an offset magazine ad, create a standard-size poster, and inkjet output a great looking 20"x30" color print, all with a 35mm format digital camera (already do-able with the D800 Nikon for sure and, probably, with a Canon 5D3 as well), what real rationalization, except billboards and even bigger inkjet prints, is there for medium format? Well, there are at least two I can think of - one obvious, the other less so. The obvious one is much mentioned and, unfortunately, rings very true in my experience. It is that medium format, like a Hasselblad, is a very expensive status symbol, and the more expensive something is, the more status that can be attached to it. $40,000.00 and change buys a lot of status. And, that status can be used, if the model for this behavior holds, to impress the people who might want to spend great gobs of money on you taking some sort of pictures for them. In their minds, the more expensive are my photographer's tools, the better he (she) must be, and therefore, the more discerning that I, the client, must be. Plus, there is  a plethora of new kinds of assistants whose jobs also depend on the obscure software that attaches to these less popular cameras - the digital assistants - who will swear and attest to the wonderfulness of these very expensive tools that, as the keepers of their esoteric flames, guarantee them some much needed income. The less obvious reason for a commercial shooter to own one of these medium format devices is a matter of convenience to their clients. When one has a very lucrative photo job to let out, the universe of potential photographers who can actually do the job well is rather large - too large for the AD's, Creative Directors, Art Buyers, and Picture Editors to comfortably wade through with their complex bids and explanations. If they really considered the available talent pool, no job could ever get awarded in a timely matter - too much time spent away from the more pleasurable aspects of their jobs and just plain too slow a process. So, as in all such circumstances (think admissions directors at Ivy League colleges and Universities using 4.0 gradepoints and stratospheric SAT scores to weed out the students who could matriculate, but can't possibly all fit in the freshman class), it's very much easier and faster for them to, consciously or not, simply weed out those whose gear doesn't "measure up." This is not always how it works, but, unfortunately, it is how it mostly works. So, again, if you're angling after some really big buck jobs, medium format digital is a potential aid to help you catch some of them, and possibly a neceesity for entre into the pool from which the actual job winners are chosen.

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David

 
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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2012, 01:25:21 AM »
If you are in fashion business and work with the well known models of the world you need a camera with the best image quality. You can use a Hasselblad, PhaseOne oder Leaf. If you get between 3.500 - 4.500 bucks for a shooting day, the Hasselblad is not to expensive.

A lot of clients in fashion business and some clients (cars and other products) demand the use of a medium format camera. Lowepro products are shot with a leaf medium format camera.

Don´t believe in lab tests. The D800 delivers compared to the medium format cameras very unsharp images. But all cameras are only tools. If you want breathtaking and outstanding images, you have to take it. 

That´s what I can say now. But the new camera from Canon is going to attack the medium format, delivers outstanding images, is much better than the D800 but not better than the medium format cameras.



« Last Edit: September 26, 2012, 02:05:03 AM by M.ST »

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2012, 01:25:21 AM »

jondave

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2012, 01:45:59 AM »
Go rent one and you'll be able to answer your question yourself. The IQ is astounding.

Quasimodo

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2012, 02:29:21 AM »
Thank you all for your good and detailed comments. I will certainly try to get my hands on of Hasselblad, Phase One, Leaf or others. I have heard others say that you pretty much have to learn photography almost all over to be able to perform well with these cameras.

@ jondave. Interesting that you mention the billboards and that they are not shot with 20MP cameras. Interesting because I have read in other threads on this forum that several have shot exactly billboards with as low as a 8MP camera, and I have also been told by friends of mine who are graphic designers, that due to the distance that the picture is viewed from, this might actually work.

@jondave, you make an interesting case on how the agency/adagency world actually works, but the reasoning that you recognize is partly to other attributes than IQ and the need for higher resolution, and,- or, IQ.

Neither was I aware that you could highspeed sync at 1/1600, which I would guess (of course having never tried it) would open up lightning to another level.

Thank you all for your input. Very interesting indeed.

BTW: I have for a long time had my eyes on a 1DX, but the recent rumors of a high MP camera has had a slight unsettling effect on my wishes, causing a dissonance between the wish for an outstanding camera with many FPS versus what I would suspect to be a brilliant camera with low ISO capabilities and an unparallelled (in Canon terms) resolution. Maybe Nirvana is on of each, until I win the jackpot and can supplement my Canon gear, with a MF + accessories ?:)
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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2012, 11:03:31 AM »
Bigger format's resolve finer details better, and If you ever decide to try an old film TLR or hasselblad. They are indeed very sharp.

Thats why serious landscape photographers still use 4x5 - 8x10 Sheet film. It can capture much more detail than 35mm ever could.

Medium format is great for portraits because you don't have to turn the camera, Its mostly a square format. 20mp MF camera will look better than a 20MP 35mm camera and that helps in print.

dafrank

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2012, 01:13:55 PM »

@jondave, you make an interesting case on how the agency/adagency world actually works, but the reasoning that you recognize is partly to other attributes than IQ and the need for higher resolution, and,- or, IQ.

I think you may have mistakenly attributed elements of my post to @jondave instead of me, "dafrank." As for your point about agency behavior being rooted in the reality of medium format digital's image quality advantage, here I have to conclude, from many years experience, that that is only very very slightly true and has much more to do with unexamined prejudices plus both the already explained ease of selection and attraction to the idea of expensive tools for expensive jobs.

I am speaking as a photographer who has owned and used medium format backs and all the related gear for many years, and, one who, before digital capture matured, often shot with 8x10 and predominantly shot 4x5 and large medium format - all to be scanned on my own drum scanners. I do know from direct experience that medium format digital yields better images than the equivalent shot on 35mm sized sensors, just like images from medium format film are technically better than those from 35mm film - and for much the same reasons. However, what I also know is that the uses to which these images are most often put are so much less demanding of the images "technical" quality than one might assume, that the superiority of medium format digital, as it is, is very unlikely to evidence any visible improvement in the agency's final product. When one sits slack-jawed at a 30 inch monitor, or in front of a gorgeous 40" x 60" inkjet print, staring at the output from an 80 MB PhaseOne back, it is indeed, a great thing to behold. But the cold fact of the matter is that in the latest fashion or car advertising campaign, the effect of all those extra beautiful pixels will be somewhere between extraordinarily hard and impossible to actually see with the human eye. Commercial print reproduction and web display practicalities are such that the advantages of the medium format IQ, as compared to the best of current 35-sized DSLR technology is just not likely to show up - period. That is what I meant in my previous post when I said that the real question is just how much the medium format advantage is really worth, and I figure, I think persuasively so, that the advantage to a working photographer - with the exception of "fine art" types who print very very big - lies much more in enhancing photographer's personal image rather than the quality of the images he or she may produce with their cameras.

In the end, the sheer talent, discipline, hard work and quality of the imagination of the photographer counts for exponentially more than the differences in image quality from one format to another that we've been discussing here.

And, by the way, the allusion I made previously to how the bigger files from medium format backs are best for even billboards is itself not entirely true. The crux of file suitability in that case goes to how far away the viewer will be to the billboard itslef when it is its installed position. It is true that a current high-end 35mm DSLR file that is well interpolated by a very good printer driver can easily suffice to make a great billboard if the subject and viewing distance is taken into consideration. Only if a billboard might be viewed at unusually close distance would the larger medium format file start to look significantly better.

Regards,
David
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Quasimodo

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2012, 10:06:50 AM »

@jondave, you make an interesting case on how the agency/adagency world actually works, but the reasoning that you recognize is partly to other attributes than IQ and the need for higher resolution, and,- or, IQ.

I think you may have mistakenly attributed elements of my post to @jondave instead of me, "dafrank." As for your point about agency behavior being rooted in the reality of medium format digital's image quality advantage, here I have to conclude, from many years experience, that that is only very very slightly true and has much more to do with unexamined prejudices plus both the already explained ease of selection and attraction to the idea of expensive tools for expensive jobs.

I am speaking as a photographer who has owned and used medium format backs and all the related gear for many years, and, one who, before digital capture matured, often shot with 8x10 and predominantly shot 4x5 and large medium format - all to be scanned on my own drum scanners. I do know from direct experience that medium format digital yields better images than the equivalent shot on 35mm sized sensors, just like images from medium format film are technically better than those from 35mm film - and for much the same reasons. However, what I also know is that the uses to which these images are most often put are so much less demanding of the images "technical" quality than one might assume, that the superiority of medium format digital, as it is, is very unlikely to evidence any visible improvement in the agency's final product. When one sits slack-jawed at a 30 inch monitor, or in front of a gorgeous 40" x 60" inkjet print, staring at the output from an 80 MB PhaseOne back, it is indeed, a great thing to behold. But the cold fact of the matter is that in the latest fashion or car advertising campaign, the effect of all those extra beautiful pixels will be somewhere between extraordinarily hard and impossible to actually see with the human eye. Commercial print reproduction and web display practicalities are such that the advantages of the medium format IQ, as compared to the best of current 35-sized DSLR technology is just not likely to show up - period. That is what I meant in my previous post when I said that the real question is just how much the medium format advantage is really worth, and I figure, I think persuasively so, that the advantage to a working photographer - with the exception of "fine art" types who print very very big - lies much more in enhancing photographer's personal image rather than the quality of the images he or she may produce with their cameras.

In the end, the sheer talent, discipline, hard work and quality of the imagination of the photographer counts for exponentially more than the differences in image quality from one format to another that we've been discussing here.

And, by the way, the allusion I made previously to how the bigger files from medium format backs are best for even billboards is itself not entirely true. The crux of file suitability in that case goes to how far away the viewer will be to the billboard itslef when it is its installed position. It is true that a current high-end 35mm DSLR file that is well interpolated by a very good printer driver can easily suffice to make a great billboard if the subject and viewing distance is taken into consideration. Only if a billboard might be viewed at unusually close distance would the larger medium format file start to look significantly better.

Regards,
David

Hi David.

Sorry about the misattribution of points and quotes. Trying to answer a post in here to several depends on a persons memory, since you cannot see the other post while answering.

I truly appreciate your detailed answer on both the technology and from the sociology of Ad Agencies :)

Gerhard.
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dafrank

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2012, 11:43:24 AM »
Gerhard,

You're very welcome. It's very nice when people acknowledge one's contribution; sometimes it does take a while to craft a real and thoughtful answer to a sincere question.

By the way, I love "Enter!" on your website. I've shot things that are similar (not on my website), but your's is better still. I'm not sure that if I did "enter," that I'd be headed for Elysian Fields, Hades or just a nice swim. Could be any, or even all.

Regards,
David
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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2012, 11:43:24 AM »

Radiating

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2012, 12:32:34 PM »
With current lens technology the maximum limit for resolving power of a lens is 28.3 megapixels on full frame with a prime lens only between f/4.0 to f/8.0.

A 1Dx costs 5  times what a 7D. A medium format camera costs 7 times what a full frame costs.

APS-C is limited to around 19 megapixels with current lenses.
Full frame is limited to 28.3 megapixels with any current Nikon Canon or 3rd party lenses (including super telephotos, tilt shift, ANY lens)
Medium format is limited to around 60 megapixels with current lenses.

So in reality the cost to benefit difference between medium format and full frame is actually better than the cost to benefit difference between the 7D and a 1Dx.


Quasimodo

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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2012, 12:35:27 PM »
Gerhard,

You're very welcome. It's very nice when people acknowledge one's contribution; sometimes it does take a while to craft a real and thoughtful answer to a sincere question.

By the way, I love "Enter!" on your website. I've shot things that are similar (not on my website), but your's is better still. I'm not sure that if I did "enter," that I'd be headed for Elysian Fields, Hades or just a nice swim. Could be any, or even all.

Regards,
David

Thank you for your kind comment on my shot Enter. I like the ambiguity in it myself :) (a friend of mine argued that it could be called Exit, too:) I love your shots on your webpage, both of people and your elegant capturing of cars with the sun settling in the horizon. The woman through the windshield is a classic!

Gerhard.
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Re: Why Hasselblad?
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2012, 12:35:27 PM »