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Hasselblad H4D-31 Upgrade. So many options, so old technology.

Schotter

New member
INTRO, skip to tl;dr if you like

I am a frequent getdpi reader for 2 years since I started to get interested into medium format photography.

Because I am currently a bit stuck in my thinking about "the road ahead" I finally decided to get involved directly.

Profile: Hobby/Amateur Photographer and very into Gear and Design.
I shoot 80% handheld. Sometimes people, but most of the time just going from from one opportunity to the next one. I like to take photowalks with my partner.
Not really into street. We do have a bigger but portable flash setup for fancy stuff outside. No Studio.

2 Years ago, I decided that my current Nikon is not taking any better photos than my iPhone and I wanted something really special. Since I am into Gear and Design,
it didn't took long until I discovered Hasselblad Medium Format photography. I had a tough time deciding between a Sony A7RII and a Hasselblad H3d/H4D.

A lot of discussion around the Hasselblad being old, clunky and heavy and Sony so modern that it's almost replaceable and out of date in a blink of an eye. I decided that I want something "special" and since I also shoot film, I wanted a bit more of "technical" feeling. The quality I get from my H4D-31 really makes me happy. Sometimes.


tl;dr

I have a Hasselblad H4D-31 that I bought used in very good condition with 6k shutter count by now.
I do have the HC 80mm, the HCD 28mm and the HC 210mm lenses. All of them are prior firmware 18.

I do like the quality of the photos, but:

  • I like to crop and the files sometimes just do not have enough pixels as I would like them to have.
    On the A7RII from my partner, I almost never have that issue.
  • The camera needs a lot of light. Since I shoot 80% handheld and it's overcast all the time where I am, I feel like I am missing a lot of shots.
    Everything above ISO 200 is very compromised with grain. It's better than shaky/unsharp shots, but the quality is disappointing sometimes.
  • I really like to upgrade my gear and get new stuff.

Other gear in house: Sony A7rII, Hasselblad 500cm with 50mm and 150mm, Fujica 690. I shoot 2-3 rolls per month and develop/scan at home.



So I think I want to stay with Hasselblad. I really like the color-rendering, I like the aesthetics of their products. I have a good big bag for hiking and took my 500cm and H4D up to a glacier, so weight is not an issue for me.

My options currently:

  • H4D Digital Back Upgrade to 40MP. The newer CCD Kodak Sensor with Microlenses should perform 1-2 stops better than my 31 according to threads. Keeps 1,3x crop. Not a big upgrade?~1300€
  • H4D Digital Back Upgrade to 60MP. Dalsa CCD and full 16 bit - will not fix the light issue (?) but is hughe 1.0 crop and colors are stunning. ~3500€ for Camera with body.
  • H5D 50C Upgrade. I currently have the offer for a "new" 50c Wifi version for 5000€. I am afraid that I don't like the look of the pictures. Most of the time, I don't like the Sony A7RII color rendering, especially of skin.
  • X1D with XH Adapter. Has EVF (which I can't get used to on the A7RII but maybe it's just hard if you have the big bright glass of H4D in comparison). My lenses can't use auto-focus with the adapter and the new lenses cost a fortune. The camera itself is pretty "cheap" with 2500€
  • Wait for the 907x and get bankrupt. 7500€ for a X1D II with the option to mount it to my 500cm (which is really tempting tbh). Again: Lenses are an issue.


Looking at the H5D 50c, I don't know if it is wise to invest 5000€ into a 7 year old camera. It is basically the same sensor as the X1D, which is half the price and half the age.
The CCD vs CMOS discussion also bothers me, but that has been discussed way too many times. It's just taste. I just hope the files will not like the Sony ones...

The CCD Upgrades will be cheaper and keep/improve "the look". But they are even older and I still have the "missing light" issue.

I do have the feeling that the X System is the future for Hasselblad and the H system will be left behind. No updates for the H6D since 2018 and they don't even allow X1D Mark 1 users to use the new Phocus 2 App (I do have the latest iPad Pro for Lightroom and it's really nice). Since I do have a 500cm and like shooting it, the 907x came into my mind, but it's really expensive and has no viewfinder for "normal digital shooting".
Since I already have issues using an EVF, shooting on display is really not my thing - I guess. Both cameras don't have build in flash, which is usefull to me, sometimes. Since the H4D-31 needs so much light. Can the X1D/H5D 50c really shoot at 3200 and above without big issues?

So, what are your thoughts about upgrading from the H4D-31? Are you happy with your Hasselblad CMOS cameras?
Thank you in advance.
 

Boinger

Member
INTRO, skip to tl;dr if you like

I am a frequent getdpi reader for 2 years since I started to get interested into medium format photography.

Because I am currently a bit stuck in my thinking about "the road ahead" I finally decided to get involved directly.

Profile: Hobby/Amateur Photographer and very into Gear and Design.
I shoot 80% handheld. Sometimes people, but most of the time just going from from one opportunity to the next one. I like to take photowalks with my partner.
Not really into street. We do have a bigger but portable flash setup for fancy stuff outside. No Studio.

2 Years ago, I decided that my current Nikon is not taking any better photos than my iPhone and I wanted something really special. Since I am into Gear and Design,
it didn't took long until I discovered Hasselblad Medium Format photography. I had a tough time deciding between a Sony A7RII and a Hasselblad H3d/H4D.

A lot of discussion around the Hasselblad being old, clunky and heavy and Sony so modern that it's almost replaceable and out of date in a blink of an eye. I decided that I want something "special" and since I also shoot film, I wanted a bit more of "technical" feeling. The quality I get from my H4D-31 really makes me happy. Sometimes.


tl;dr

I have a Hasselblad H4D-31 that I bought used in very good condition with 6k shutter count by now.
I do have the HC 80mm, the HCD 28mm and the HC 210mm lenses. All of them are prior firmware 18.

I do like the quality of the photos, but:

  • I like to crop and the files sometimes just do not have enough pixels as I would like them to have.
    On the A7RII from my partner, I almost never have that issue.
  • The camera needs a lot of light. Since I shoot 80% handheld and it's overcast all the time where I am, I feel like I am missing a lot of shots.
    Everything above ISO 200 is very compromised with grain. It's better than shaky/unsharp shots, but the quality is disappointing sometimes.
  • I really like to upgrade my gear and get new stuff.

Other gear in house: Sony A7rII, Hasselblad 500cm with 50mm and 150mm, Fujica 690. I shoot 2-3 rolls per month and develop/scan at home.



So I think I want to stay with Hasselblad. I really like the color-rendering, I like the aesthetics of their products. I have a good big bag for hiking and took my 500cm and H4D up to a glacier, so weight is not an issue for me.

My options currently:

  • H4D Digital Back Upgrade to 40MP. The newer CCD Kodak Sensor with Microlenses should perform 1-2 stops better than my 31 according to threads. Keeps 1,3x crop. Not a big upgrade?~1300€
  • H4D Digital Back Upgrade to 60MP. Dalsa CCD and full 16 bit - will not fix the light issue (?) but is hughe 1.0 crop and colors are stunning. ~3500€ for Camera with body.
  • H5D 50C Upgrade. I currently have the offer for a "new" 50c Wifi version for 5000€. I am afraid that I don't like the look of the pictures. Most of the time, I don't like the Sony A7RII color rendering, especially of skin.
  • X1D with XH Adapter. Has EVF (which I can't get used to on the A7RII but maybe it's just hard if you have the big bright glass of H4D in comparison). My lenses can't use auto-focus with the adapter and the new lenses cost a fortune. The camera itself is pretty "cheap" with 2500€
  • Wait for the 907x and get bankrupt. 7500€ for a X1D II with the option to mount it to my 500cm (which is really tempting tbh). Again: Lenses are an issue.


Looking at the H5D 50c, I don't know if it is wise to invest 5000€ into a 7 year old camera. It is basically the same sensor as the X1D, which is half the price and half the age.
The CCD vs CMOS discussion also bothers me, but that has been discussed way too many times. It's just taste. I just hope the files will not like the Sony ones...

The CCD Upgrades will be cheaper and keep/improve "the look". But they are even older and I still have the "missing light" issue.

I do have the feeling that the X System is the future for Hasselblad and the H system will be left behind. No updates for the H6D since 2018 and they don't even allow X1D Mark 1 users to use the new Phocus 2 App (I do have the latest iPad Pro for Lightroom and it's really nice). Since I do have a 500cm and like shooting it, the 907x came into my mind, but it's really expensive and has no viewfinder for "normal digital shooting".
Since I already have issues using an EVF, shooting on display is really not my thing - I guess. Both cameras don't have build in flash, which is usefull to me, sometimes. Since the H4D-31 needs so much light. Can the X1D/H5D 50c really shoot at 3200 and above without big issues?

So, what are your thoughts about upgrading from the H4D-31? Are you happy with your Hasselblad CMOS cameras?
Thank you in advance.
I would go for a used X1d with a suite of used lenses. No point taking the hit on purchasing brand new equipment.

Decent used X1d's go for $2700, lenses are generally another 25% - 40% off depending on your luck and condition.

What is your budget?
 

robmac

Active member
We use an H5D-40 and Fuji GFX50S with the H-GF adapter. Pushing a CCD to 3200 would be a long stretch, so lets say stick to CMOS. The H5D-50c is sweet, but I agree the future is mirrorless, they're lighter, have no mirror-slap and the ability to see the ambient exposure while composing is a big plus.

My 'vote' would be either the X1D with adapter and add used XCD glass when able - or a Fuji GFX with its' adapter. I love the Hassy colours, but Fuji is very, very nice. HC/D glass does a great job on the Fuji as it would on the X.

The only benefit of the Fuji over an X1D is that the Fuji also has a mechanical shutter. With a push of a button you can use Hassy lenses with their leaf shutters up to 1/800 sync or the Fuji shutter at up to 1/4000 with sync at 1/125 or 1/4000 with HSS. You can also use Mamiya 645 or other lenses via adapter. With the X1D, adapting non-Hassy lenses means using the slow e-shutter. Fuji GF lenses are also exceptionally nice.
 

Schotter

New member
I would go for a used X1d with a suite of used lenses. No point taking the hit on purchasing brand new equipment.

Decent used X1d's go for $2700, lenses are generally another 25% - 40% off depending on your luck and condition.

What is your budget?
I totally agree on buying used. I only consider the H5D „new“ because the 5k€ is actually below the usual used price in Europe!
That leads me to an issue with the XCD lenses - in Germany, there is literally ONE used lense on craigs list/eBay.

I don’t have a fixed budget, selling my H4D should recoup some cost, but I am able to invest up to let’s say 5k.

What makes you prefer the X series over the H series? I spent a lot of time watching YouTube reviews and things like Shutter delay, weird bokeh or Viefwinder issues are inexistent on the H system...
 

Schotter

New member
We use an H5D-40 and Fuji GFX50S with the H-GF adapter. Pushing a CCD to 3200 would be a long stretch, so lets say stick to CMOS. The H5D-50c is sweet, but I agree the future is mirrorless, they're lighter, have no mirror-slap and the ability to see the ambient exposure while composing is a big plus.

My 'vote' would be either the X1D with adapter and add used XCD glass when able - or a Fuji GFX with its' adapter. I love the Hassy colours, but Fuji is very, very nice. HC/D glass does a great job on the Fuji as it would on the X.

The only benefit of the Fuji over an X1D is that the Fuji also has a mechanical shutter. With a push of a button you can use Hassy lenses with their leaf shutters up to 1/800 sync or the Fuji shutter at up to 1/4000 with sync at 1/125 or 1/4000 with HSS. You can also use Mamiya 645 or other lenses via adapter. With the X1D, adapting non-Hassy lenses means using the slow e-shutter. Fuji GF lenses are also exceptionally nice.
Thank you for the recommendation! I wasn’t aware that the Fuji works with my H lenses and shutter flash sync! That’s super cool.
Ambient exposure is indeed an argument that I totally see.I do often redo the shot to adjust exposure.
I am really concerned about the X1D tbh. I know the H system has quirks, but every button does what it should and no shutter delay. What I heard/read about the X1D really isn’t as reliable as the H series (with its peak at the H4/H5 I guess. Heard about a lot of quality issues of the H6 as well).

I hear a lot of good stuff about the Fuji and I actually considered getting a X100v for family stuff. But the “look” is really digital and not really special compared to the fast Sony A7rII. I do have to do research if the image quality has that special thing going to justify the slower handling of medium format.
 

Schotter

New member
So I got in touch with the Hasselblad support and want to share some information with you:

1. I can upgrade my HC lenses for 1350€ each. After that, they will have a shutter speed up to 1/2000 (on X and H6d, 1/1000 on older H) and can be used with autofocus on the X system.
2. The RD team is looking into making file import avaiable for older Hasselblad cameras, not only for X1D II. Import via USB-C from iPad Pro.
3. They expect to build a new H system camera. They focus on X system now, so no release in 2021. But H system is not dead.

With firmware update, the H5D is able to do a live-view with current exposure settings, is that correct?
Can I use a H4D CCD back on a H5D body? This way, I could think of having CCD for portrait/controlled light and CMOS for day to day (on the veeery long term).
The H5D CCD backs I almost never see them on ebay or similiar.
 

Schotter

New member
So after long research and thinking what the advantages of the H system really are, I picked up the X1D for 2,5k EUR in very good condition. I ordered a XH adapter for to use my HC lenses.

Today, I did a direct comparison a couple of seconds after each other with a light underexposure to keep the highlights alive.
Same HC 80, same settings at ISO 100 f4 800

Hasselblad H4D-31
https://web.500px.com/photo/1014501230/8F2AAA3B15D44E5D943AF5B9D9A92D04-by-Julian-Schotter/

Hasselblad X1D
https://web.500px.com/photo/1014501229/8923F603217E4F408BDF8949BF9B19FB-by-Julian-Schotter/

Sadly focus is not 100% identical but you get a good impression. I exported via Lightroom Mobile. The color rendering of the H4D is different and a bit softer overall. Of course the 31 vs 50 megapixel come into account.
Getting the same picture with the EVF in direct comparison is not really fun to the bright big analog viewfinder (I wear glasses so the EVF is even smaller).

I will do a lot of testing the upcoming days.
 

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