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?
Landscape Shoot Handling
I had spent some time familiarising myself with the menu system and function locations of the camera and back so I would be ready to shoot fluidly in the field.
I am glad I did, as the ‘pushing porridge’ process of moving between features would have been too frustrating to learn on the job. Being used to instant reactions, and buttons and dials with a positive response, I stepped back at least eight years to buttons that require domination to activate and a menu system that hides its features. It is an amazingly old-fashioned and slow system.
In the dark of the pre-dawn the viewfinder of the H4D-40 is bright enough that you can easily check the focus point found by the AF system, and then adjust it if needed.
I found that the camera focuses surprisingly easily on distant subjects and, with their bright wide apertures, the lenses I used made clear what would and wouldn’t appear sharp. The depth of field button takes time to find, but it provides what it should. Neutral density graduated filters are so much easier to use through a large finder.
The screen on the rear of the camera is good enough to let you know you have recorded an image, but it falls some way short of indicating whether the exposure is anywhere near correct, whether you have chosen a suitable colour temperature and whether your focus is accurate. I ran the whole day with the histogram display as reassuring company.
Although, theoretically, the magic of digital imaging means there is no restriction on the number of pictures one can record in a session, CompactFlash cards only hold so much. With file sizes of about 50MB, for now at least we might be almost as restricted as we were with 120 film.