Hasselblad H3Dii-39MS and 80mm f/2.8 Lens

Originally published: April 3, 2011

This is my first medium format digital camera. It is truly a step up from DSLR cameras. You cannot use this camera in the same way that you would a DSLR. You cannot carry this around. Well you can but you look very strange. to prove this, I give you exhibit A – in Monaco at the Royal Oceanographic Institute I saw a gentleman carrying one of these. He had some H series camera with digital back and the 35mm-90mm lens. Now this would be ok if he was alone, it would mean he was a photographer doing something. However he was there with his wife and kids and was pushing a stroller. Now this looks stupid and weighs a ton. This camera will out preform anything that you have ever seen from a DSLR. See example 1 below.

This picture (Sample image 2) is one of the first pictures I took with the camera. Here it looks nice enough, Nice colors, well exposed, no grain. It looks like a technically good image (not talking bout subject matter or composition) but when you look at it at 100% the magic is revealed.

And there you have it, that is 100% crop of the center flower. That has total detail and is ridiculously sharp. This is amazing and along with the massive amount of data recorded with the raw files you can imagine the flexibility that this gives you.

It is very well built especially the back. I would say it is built more like a PhaseOne then a Leaf (see my reviews for comparison) It works well and all the buttons are easily accessible. Although it has more removable parts this is not an issue with one exception.

When meeting with Haselblad as well as other MDB manufacturers, I have been unable to fully articulate this point, however I will try again here. The grip on this camera, the part that you hold with your right hand doesn’t feel secure. I am NOT saying I think its going to fall out or is not properly made on my example, I am saying it just doesn’t feel secure. If you are not familiar with the Hasselblad H system (or Fuji GX645) then you need a bit of backstory to understand my perspective. The grip where you hold the camera, is the battery. This means it is removable, via a latch. For some reason this makes the camera feel less sturdy to me. I have talked about this problem further in my Mamiya and PhaseOne reviews, however I will say again here that I feel they are much more secure. Their grips (alone with the Leica S2’s) are secure and part of the body. Short of dropping the camera out of a second story window, nothing could detach them. However this is not the case with the Hasselblad. The H series camera has been (and arguable still is) the standard for professional photographers today. BUT you still have to find the camera that is right for you and I am less then pleased with the grip of this camera.

Otherwise all I can say is that this camera is quite pleasurable to own and use. It has some of the seem “issues” associated with medium format cameras such as smaller ISO range (a

nd poorer performance), bad screens and slow frames per second (FPS) fastest currently being about 1.5 FPS. But these are things you get used to quickly. You understand how to use the screen and are able to evaluate things from it. The simple solution to the lower ISO range and slower lenses is using a tripod. This means its one more thing you have to have in the car, or carry. But again its something to get used to. Anyway most of the time you will be using the camera for something you have planned making it easy to use a tripod. Another reason to use a tripod is even at higher shutter speeds there is still this risk of camera shake. Overall this is a very good medium format system, and I am glad I have the opportunity to own and use it.

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