Hasselblad H4D-31 at a glance:

  • 31-million-pixel CCD sensor (33.1×44.2mm)
  • 3in, 230,400-dot screen
  • Lossless 3FR raw shooting (around 40MB)
  • ISO 100-1600
  • CompactFlash memory
  • Street price £9,500 (body including sensor back and HVD 90x viewfinder)

Hasselblad H4D-31 review – Introduction

There is a definite divide, a line in the sand as it were, between those who shoot medium format and those who choose a 35mm-type camera: both formats are used by professional photographers for their different merits, but the mindset appears to be different. The 35mm users were quicker to swap over to digital imaging as they are often driven by the speed at which they can take an image over the quality.

However, as high-end professional DSLR models with full-frame 35mm sensors reached higher resolutions, even some medium-format users traded in their cameras and made the switch. For sports and press photographers the benefits are obvious, but even landscape photographers opted for the more compact form of the SLR over the larger bodied medium-format models.

Medium-format cameras essentially offered an easier upgrade to digital imaging than their 35mm-style cousins. This was due in many cases to the film back being a separate part, which meant that a digital back could simply be fitted in its place. However, this came at a huge cost and often produced images of much lower resolution than was possible by scanning a negative. Digital SLRs also added more than just the sensors, with advances made to metering, autofocus and burst modes that improved the performance and usability of the cameras.

Hassleblad offered the first digital version of its H1 camera in 2004, and although still a modular system, it included a 22-million-pixel back. The latest range of H4D cameras was introduced in 2009, initially with a 50-million-pixel or 60-million-pixel back. At the photokina show in Germany last year, the company announced the 31-million-pixel H4D-31, pitched as an entry into the Hasselblad system and in direct competition with Pentax’s long-awaited digital medium-format 645D.

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