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Thread: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

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    Member VICTOR BT's Avatar
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    Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    hi all, a couple of weeks ago i have asked on the forum a few questions about the 40mp MFD prior to testing them. the information on the forum and the replies to my previous thread were very enlightening. so here are a few remarks...

    i have just had the initial test of the Hasselblad H4D-40, and a hassy guy from denmark was there to show and help, which was not only friendly but just great fist step with hassy h4d.
    the overall impression is very positive, many things mentioned/described on the forum were clearly confirmed with the real thing in hand, and some quick tests on the monitor.
    i have to say that my test was not some "methodical/scientific", but just an initial impression about how the camera feels in the hand and in work (which i think is more important, especially knowing that all the 40mp options are good on paper)... and another thing, how the hts1.5+phocus does it.

    - in the hand the camera is really great. secure, very well balanced. actually, i think this is the best balanced eye-level camera together with leica M. it is not really big, nor it is small, but i think ergonomic feels better than mamiya camera. the thumb position and the shape that holds the thumb on the hassy body is just great, makes huge difference in comfort (be it holding, photographing, vertical, horizontal). the buttons seem to be easy, although, it takes some time to get familiar to all of them since there are many. initially, enough to know iso on the front and true-focus on the back with aperture and shutter wheels and the camera is actually ready to do everything basic. the shutter click position is also great. i know it is personal and depends on hands etc, but basically, the ergonomics is just great no matter how u see it. the fact that it is not clean and has lots of buttons is a matter of digital camera, and i think on hassy it works nice, lets say, different, but in practice, at least as good as leaf touch screen option.
    - the auoto-focus / menual focus.... two things: great auto-focus, but manual focus is not as pleasant as on traditional top quality cameras (rollei, or even hassy-V). right from the beginning, i had some issues with focusing the camera manually. i was not as confident as with rollei, and in fact, when looking on computer screen i was missing focus just a little bit (kind of being more on nose than on eyes at half-body model photos at aperture +/- f4 on 80mm). i would not say mamiya is better, it has these issues too, but i really would like to have a snappy manual focus.
    on the bright side, the auto-focus is amazingly good. fast, super accurate, and the true-focus is so easy (at least in common situations) and worked great. now, i dont photograph with pro-nikon (which is concidered one of the best auto-focuses??!!), but the hassy is certainly the best i have used. one that i would trust for sure, although i still would like a snappy manual focus ability. the lens themselves, although not rollei, feel very good for manual focus. just some issue with the screen/viewfinder. the viewfinder itself is good, it had the higher magnification version, again, a little downgrade in the feel compared to rollei cameras, but still very good.
    now, it has to do with my little discomfort with manual focus on hassy, but the fact is that auto-focus (and true-focus) always worked so good and so easy, and better than i made it with manual. in short, initial impression is that it does just as good as i do it manually on rollei. another important thing is that i felt no delays in focusing processes. auto-focus can focus faster than man, but since this is passive process for photographer, it feels irritating if it feels there is some delays. with hassy i had not felt almost any delays, in more or less normal working pace. for example, i did have feeling of delays with canon 5d-ii alot, especially if there was not enough light or something complex...
    - next issue is digital artifacts, namely, moire and color issues in hair, or with fine lines on bright place.
    for moire, which was important to me, i took one of the most challenging dresses (semi-transparent, with fine net-like texture, white to nude color etc). i have photographed this particular dress/costume for fashion campaign just a while ago on film (no issues of course on rollei-provia). i have "recreated" lighting on that dress to mimic the original photo on film. a torture test for digital camera (although doing it exactly as on film with that type of look and lighting would be even more chalanging to the digital camera). as expected, lots of moire all around, especially on gently curved fabric. but the big surprise was that the hassy guy simply removed it with remarkable ease. the artifact has been removed, and the texture (the feel of the fabric) was preserved even when looking at 1:1 magnification on screen. so, there is issue with those artifacts, which is inherent to digital thing i guess, but the elegance in which it was resolved in Phocus was impressive. the thing is that there was nothing complicated that the hassy guy made there, he just moved the sliders (of moirse in that case) in Phocus and we inspected in on screen. that was it. now i know these problems can be solved in many cases, but i have never seem it done with this ease and such satisfactory results.
    - over-all integration... and from here, it was clear what is the real advantage of overall integration, over-all digital solution. the camera does great on its own, the files out of the camera are not as impressive as slide film on light table, but with such a high quality file, a few touches on tone/color correction makes it live quickly, and from then lots of room for creative issues. when the camera+back get in trouble, i understand all the information is there to solve the issues with easy to use software and with satisfactory results.
    - HTS1.5... i was glad to have this thing for initial impression, thanks to the hassy dealer in israel and the hassy guy. it is small, after a couple of minutes very easy to use. quality and feel is very good too, same as the over all camera. range of capabilities is more than enough (unless some one needs really extreme stuff for technical or creative photography). i have tested it with 28mm lens, cause this is what interested me most.
    so, of course the focal lenght gets "longer" and the image gets darker a little bit. the first thing is that in this combination, one has to do manual focus... so back to the manual focus issue - the viewfinder is not as snappy as rollei. now another thing is that with any movement, and even more so with tilting the lens, one needs a big picture to evaluate the effects. this is why 4x5 size is ideal, with naked eye or loupe. the fact that it gets darker is ok, but then 4x5 simply has much more generous space for composition and tilt-shift play. yet, the hts1.5 accessory is really good and still easy enough to work with, and the important thing is that it gets the results.
    the results are done thanks to the Over-All digital Integration of hassy. without that integration (all the correction Phocus does based on the info it gets from the camera) the hts1.5 with 28mm lens in almost not usable or one would need tons of time to correct it alone.
    bottom line, with hassy+hts+28+phocus seems that the photograph is not 4x5 quality (here, alpa+35mm would get much closer), but very satisfactory. no issues using the results i saw from test photos unless there is a need for the really best quality. i felt that photo is not not as crisp/deep/rich as with 4x5 (some of it could be solved with further processing). but out of the camera, the result after all those correction in Phocus (vigniting, distortion, including shift calaculations etc) is without artifacts etc.

    so...
    with this initial test, i becomes clear to me what is the over-all Integration of the system with 40mp potential for art or commercial print. it just works. easy and satisfactory... out of the camera. from then it is all a matter of taste and creativity in the processing.
    and here is a little issue. even when starting to realize what is probably the best digital system, i still have an emotional issue with hy6. i now understand more that hy6 with any kind of digital solution is not the wisest choice, especially having on the other side such an accomplished digital system like hassy h4d. but talking about camera alone, with all the due respect to this good hassy shape and build quality, the rollei vibe is missing. actually, i dont really know to explain it, maybe it is just the eye-level vs hy6/fx/6008 viewing and the design form that camera gets because of it ?!
    anyway, there was no wesit level finder accessory for the hassy over there, which might be the answer in many cases... and anyway, with hassy it feels as theres no way to go wrong if an accomplished digi system is wanted.
    Last edited by VICTOR BT; 23rd June 2010 at 05:41. Reason: typo

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    Thanks very much, very in-depth.

    Always a challenge to migrate (or contemplate migrating) to another body (in your case Hy6 -> Hassy) after getting to know the former and developing an attachment to it and intimate feel (almost like muscle memory) of how it works.

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    I'm Guessing the guy from Hasselblad was David G?
    Re your manual focussing issues, did you adjust the diopter on the viewfinder (until the lcd readouts are sharpest)?
    Nick-T

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    @ robmac
    certainly a migrate issue here... but i dont have hy6. it is the "dream" camera - a refined/modern version of 6008 etc. when rollei/leaf/sinar came out with this one, i was thinking to myself that this is what i want when i decide to go digital. and now i find it is not really possible (or if still possible some how, might not be a wisest move/investment).
    so all in all, if about two+ years ago i wanted to make a kind of "migration" from small impulsive leica to a more "staged/composed" rollei, in this case i dont really want to change my attitude as that, i just want a color digital for its convenience, knowing that the quality is very good.

    @ nick-t
    yes, david, very friendly and knows his stuff and work, we've met for relatively short because i was very busy, but it was real pleasure and, since it was not an extensive all day long test but more like having the impression about the system... he surely contributed to my confidence in the camera.
    yes, i have immidiatly took off glasses, because i photogrraph without (rollei has an interchangable loupe that is fixed there with eye-correction). done the correction on the side of the prism, the lines were perfect, but the screen was still abit moody for manual focus. well it is not to say that the viewfinder is bad or dramatically inferior... maybe a couple of days would make it feel better, but that does not mean it will become as good as on rollei :-)
    seriously, maybe i miss some tech issue here, but why such a supreme photographic tool will not have the best viewing experience possible ? the know-how is there right?!!
    auto-focus? but rollei has exact same screen for 6008auto as for 6008integral/fx, only with different markings in the middle (auto focus indicator, or, spilt center + matt assitance in the middle... but in any case the screen is identically good) ...

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    I'm no expert, but maybe the screen was dimmer or not as snappy because it's of the higher magnification viewfinder? I'm assuming each different viewfinder magnification matched for each size chip would be or slightly different brightness?

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    @ tjv
    yes the viewfinder was of the h4d-40, which means, higher-mag - full view = 50mp, while bold lines = 40mp chip crop.
    im not sure it was brightness issue (but them im not an expert too)... i think it is more an issue of the screen. rollei for example (and i know so is hassy for classic V) has several screens that are different. one is super smooth, great when theres lots of light and super accurate focus is desired because the image created on it is so clean... but rollei also has the super-bright screen, i use it, it is really super bright, and still so easy to focus with it immediately, cause everything still looks very smooth even if u do see those rings (fresenel-like)... on hassy it looked not here and not there. it even reminded for a moment a bit of the moodiness in dslr-screens.
    the hassy guy said that different screen exist, but they are exact same, just with added grids etc.
    again, nothing really wrong about the viewfinder (be it the prism+magnification or the screen)... but this camera is such a fine tool that it felt a little bit disapointing that the viewing system is not match to the best possible or to the overall feeling of accomplishment of this camera.
    just to notice, rollei made those viewfinders for decades, so there should be nothing super-innovative involved in making a super viewing experience that the hassy h4d deserves (at least the way i see it:-)

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by VICTOR BT View Post
    @ tjv
    yes the viewfinder was of the h4d-40, which means, higher-mag - full view = 50mp, while bold lines = 40mp chip crop.
    im not sure it was brightness issue (but them im not an expert too)... i think it is more an issue of the screen. rollei for example (and i know so is hassy for classic V) has several screens that are different. one is super smooth, great when theres lots of light and super accurate focus is desired because the image created on it is so clean... but rollei also has the super-bright screen, i use it, it is really super bright, and still so easy to focus with it immediately, cause everything still looks very smooth even if u do see those rings (fresenel-like)... on hassy it looked not here and not there. it even reminded for a moment a bit of the moodiness in dslr-screens.
    the hassy guy said that different screen exist, but they are exact same, just with added grids etc.
    again, nothing really wrong about the viewfinder (be it the prism+magnification or the screen)... but this camera is such a fine tool that it felt a little bit disapointing that the viewing system is not match to the best possible or to the overall feeling of accomplishment of this camera.
    just to notice, rollei made those viewfinders for decades, so there should be nothing super-innovative involved in making a super viewing experience that the hassy h4d deserves (at least the way i see it:-)
    Bright Screen makes a H focusing screen with a nice diagonal split microprism. I use that screen in my H2F studio camera where I tend to manually focus 90% of the time ... mostly with the 120 macro or HTS/1.5 + lens.

    http://www.brightscreen.com/styles.html

    I rarely manually focus the H4D/40 because the True Focus AF is so fast and accurate, and the off-center ability basically eliminates the need to manually focus.

    Yes, the WLF helps. It's a direct view of the focusing screen rather than through a prism.

    -Marc

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    thanks marc, will look into it ...

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by VICTOR BT View Post
    thanks marc, will look into it ...
    I highly recommend it Victor. In my experience, few AF screens are optimized for Manual focus. I also installed a Bright Screen Split Diagonal with Micro Prism collar in my Nikon F6 when I had that camera and used the Manual Focus Zeiss ZF lenses. It was a big help, and increased my keeper ratio.

    -Marc

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    yes, had a look and bookmarked it...
    seems the brightscreen+WLF will bring back the familiar viewing experience :-)
    they also can put crop lines etc...
    one question... u say u use it for studio etc... why ? does it effect the auto-fuctions of the camera ? (like auto-focus, or like light metering) ???

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by VICTOR BT View Post
    yes, had a look and bookmarked it...
    seems the brightscreen+WLF will bring back the familiar viewing experience :-)
    they also can put crop lines etc...
    one question... u say u use it for studio etc... why ? does it effect the auto-fuctions of the camera ? (like auto-focus, or like light metering) ???
    No, nothing like that ... I mostly use manual focus in the studio, and the H2F camera has a CF39 Multishot back mounted ... MultiShot is a tethered to a computer only function. When I use film backs, or single shot with the H2F, I can auto focus or manual focus at will.

    -Marc

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    with the V series, the WLF offered more magnification than the prism finder; is this the case for the H series?
    also i believe you lose the metering when the prism finder is detached from the H3, but am not sure

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    Thanks for posting up these Tests! very helpfull.
    www.williamophuis.com

    Hassy H4D-40.

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    with the V series, the WLF offered more magnification than the prism finder; is this the case for the H series?
    also i believe you lose the metering when the prism finder is detached from the H3, but am not sure
    Yes, just like the V system, there is no metering in the H WLF.

    It does not magnify, it is a direct view of the screen ... which is why it is brighter. The V WLF finder doesn't magnify either unless you use the pop-up.

    I would guess that if you wanted a magnifier for the H WLF you could get a flip finder mag and adapt it. I've never seen a need, it's pretty bright.

    -Marc

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    There is a magnifier loupe inside the HVM finder, just like there is in any standard V-finder. Works perfect for critical focussing.

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    took the trouble to look it up:

    the V waistlevel finder has a 4.5 mag pop-up magnifier, no diopter correction
    the HVM finder is 3.5 mag (it has a folding lens), no diopter correction, but Hasselblad makes a "holder" for your custom made diopter
    the HV90X prism (for H2) has 2.7 mag
    the HVD90X (supplied with H3, H4) has 3.1 mag

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by H3dtogo View Post
    There is a magnifier loupe inside the HVM finder, just like there is in any standard V-finder. Works perfect for critical focussing.
    Well, it's the viewer itself that flips up out of the way for a straight WL view ... but you can still see the whole frame.

    For a really mag view for critical focusing you'd need additional X power ...maybe a 3X mag diopter replacement in the flip part? I think Hasselblad recommends seeing an optometrist for any diopter needs, so maybe they could make one?

    -Marc

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    yes, just downloaded the HVM product sheet from hassy site... it is COOOOOL, the magnifier flips, so both the direct viewing and magnified viewing (for accurate focusing) are possible at the twist. i like both, one is great to outline the graphic elements of the composition, the other is great for details.
    pity this viewing options does not work for vertical composition, but still, great it exist...

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    took the trouble to look it up:

    the V waistlevel finder has a 4.5 mag pop-up magnifier, no diopter correction
    the HVM finder is 3.5 mag (it has a folding lens), no diopter correction, but Hasselblad makes a "holder" for your custom made diopter
    the HV90X prism (for H2) has 2.7 mag
    the HVD90X (supplied with H3, H4) has 3.1 mag
    FYI, the V WLF does offer diopters for the pop-up mag in various strengths from Hasselblad. The existing one slides out and can be replaced.

    On the HVM finder, what do you mean it has a folding lens? The whole top portion flips up and out of the way ... is that what is meant by folding? The HVM diopter holder would be one way to have a stronger magnification lens made, but you'd lose the full frame view.

    -Marc

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    yes, that is what I meant. my guess is the same lens used in the V finder, 4.5 mag, would show 6 x 6 if fitted to the HVM

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    Re: Hasselblad H4D initial test, first impressions

    Marc - thanks for posting - and an interesting read.

    I am sure the new body and focusing system works really well..and I wish I could muster the enthusiasm to trade up..

    all the best with the system and I hope it does everything you need it to do.

    PS - love the shot of the two girls looking up

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