Falling prices mean it might not be too long before medium-format photography is back on the agenda for enthusiasts, but what can we expect from a digital medium-format camera?
For many photographers the most important fact about the H4D-40 is its asking price, so let’s get it out of the way first. A kit with an 80mm lens can be bought for around £13,000. It is a lot of money, but much less than a digital medium-format setup would have cost a few years ago.
The H4D-40’s modular construction means that, while it is a digital SLR camera, the viewfinder, sensor (or back) and lens can be removed and swapped for alternatives. It also makes the camera more future-proof as the back can be upgraded. In fact, Hasselblad offers two other cameras in the H4D line, among which the only difference in specification is the back. While the H4D-40 has a 40MP sensor, the H4D-50 and H4D-60 have 50MP and 60MP devices respectively.
The Kodak-manufactured sensor in the H4D-40 measures 33.1×44.2mm and has 7303×5478 pixels. Only raw file output is possible (Hasselblad 3FR format) and lossless compression sees the 16-bit files weigh in at around 50MB.
Tethered shooting is possible via a FireWire 800 (or 800 to 400) cable, but as the camera back contains a processing engine and UDMA-compatible CF card slot, the photographer can shoot without connecting the camera to a computer. However, like many medium-format models, the H4D-40 isn’t designed for quick-fire photography: each capture takes 1.1secs. Low-light shooting is also restricted, as the camera has a maximum sensitivity setting of ISO 1600.
The H4D-40 has one cross-type AF point, and features Hasselblad’s innovative True Focus system. This uses level sensors to detect the angle the camera is held at and automatically adjusts the focus to compensate for changes in subject distance when focusing and recomposing.
The 3in LCD screen is not Live View-enabled so images may only be reviewed and not composed on it. It also has quite low resolution with just 230,400 pixels.
The HVD 90x eye-level viewfinder with -5 to +3.5 dioptre adjustment is supplied, but a surprise inclusion, perhaps, is an integral flash (GN 12m @ ISO 100) in addition to the hotshoe.
While it may not have all the technology of a modern APS-C-format DSLR, the H4D-40 has all the modern essentials covered with autofocus, metering and automatic, semi-automatic and manual exposure modes.