Hi all, HAPPY EASTER! to those that celebrate it.
Well, I took deliver of my new H4D/40 yesterday and thought I'd share a few initial impressions.
Now, my perspective will be different from some other MFD users here on Get Dpi as I am not a landscape shooter. My application of an MFD kit is oriented toward Environmental Portraits (about as close as I get to landscapes), Urban Portraits, and above all Weddings ... with some detail work both in studio and on location.
The other aspect that may differ from others considering this camera is that I am very familiar with use of the H system having use one for many years now. I can work with it as quickly as a DSLR, and can usually adjust controls (like both exposure and flash compensation) without taking my eye from the viewfinder. I have the camera custom set to my needs ... for example, I have the much used Manual White Balance function assigned to the stop-down button on the grip (I rarely use stop down). It is very fast to just click off a MWB shot of the Bride's dress and get to shooting. No menu stuff to deal with at all.
Criteria: most of my work is done handheld, with little time to fiddle with controls ... more spontaneous and intuitive than planned or contemplative. A lot of it is also done in lower ambient light.
So, three things piqued my interest in this new camera: True Focus, an improved Focus Assist light, and better ISO performance. Eventually, I will be trying the long exposure without the need for a second black calibration capture for some of the tripod bound urban stuff at night.
My objective is similar to Guy's ... narrowing my gear to do more with less. Eventually using a Leica M and this camera for a majority of my paying work.
True Focus: what can I say ... amazing. I focus-recompose almost all of the time, and when using lenses like the 100/2.2 up close and wide open with its paper thin DOF, it isn't easy to nail it using just the center focus point and recomposing. So that was the first thing I tried ... the 100/2.2 @ 2.2 close up.
This TF innovation is much faster in practice than activating multi-AF point selection and wheeling the point to the subject on a DSLR ... also, DSLRs do not have the AF points out toward the edges enough for some compositions forcing you to focus recompose anyway. Plus these outer AF points are often less sensitive than the center point. True Focus allowed me to select an AF subject further toward the edges than any DSLR I've used to date while retaining the sensitivity of the center AF point. You do have to take care not to sway while recomposing ... as usual, a good technique is essential.
Actual TF/AF operation is assigned to a rear thumb button and is used to do the focusing, (the TF symbol appears in the viewfinder). Once AF is locked , you recompose and shoot. Very fast to use right away with no practice needed.
ISO: so far I haven't shot anything below 400. Most of my initial test shots were done at 400 or 1600. I also deliberately underexposed a 1600 shot by a stop as a torture test. For my applications, I think ISO 1600 is highly usable for wedding work and Urban Portraits, where the print size won't exceed 11 X 14 with no crop. However, I need to actually try printing a 1600 shot at 17 X 22 since print noise looks better than on screen images.
Shadow noise is pretty good at 1600, some very slight discoloration in subtile areas of flat colored surfaces on files where I lifted the exposure ... I saw very slight banding in OOF areas with only one 1600 shot that I pushed pretty far.
On Camera AF Assist Light: this is now white and quite bright with a pretty hard edged pattern .... it literally allowed me to focus on a flat wall with no edges. What remains to be seen is whether this will prematurely alert candid subjects. If so, I will assign a user button to toggle it on or off if possible.
Here are some snaps from around the house. Hand held, available light indoors (it was raining outside yesterday, and the interior lighting was gloomy). All shots done with the HC/100/2.2 @ f/2.2. Everything was processed in LR ... I'll try them out in Phocus later, but I often do the Leica, Sony and H stuff all in LR ... so I wanted to see how the files looked using LR.
The two pillow shots were done ISO 400 & 1600 (marked one @ ISO 400, the other unmarked one @ 1600). True Focus was on the knotting on the end of of each pillow. The candy bowls show TF on the candy eggs bottom right corner. The little tea cup used TF on the red ball. The bedroom shot was @ 1600 and underexposed by a little over a stop and pulled up in PS ... the TF was on the ceiling fan. I added an extreme crop of the fan to show the noise structure. (some shots were done at questionable shutter speeds for hand held, but I did it anyway.)
More to come as I get a chance to use this pup ... especially to shoot people rather than knickknacks As with any new camera with a different sensor, I'll figure out how to get more from the files as I use it. I should blow the dust of my Mono Pod and start using it