Hasselblad is a premium brand selling into the professional photography market, so its medium-format cameras are way beyond the budget of regular enthusiasts. But after a few years where it's looked like high-resolution full-frame DSLRs like the Nikon D810 and Canon 5DS might take over at the top end of the market, medium format is fighting back.
We've already reported on the 100-megapixel Phase One XF 100MP, and now Hasselblad has joined in with its own 100-megapixel monster.
Full frame DSLRs have sensors measuring around 36 x 24mm, already twice the size of the APS-C sensors in most consumer DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, but medium-format sensors are twice as large again, bringing a substantial boost in resolution, dynamic range and visual clarity.
Hasselblad's new H6D cameras may cost as much as buying a car, but if you're a busy professional user, it's no different to buying a van or a lease on a studio.
It's clear too that the medium format world is catching up with the latest advances in sensor and camera tech. Hasselblad's new cameras have been 'completely rebuilt', with 'new technical components and an all new electronic platform'.
Compared to the previous H5D series, the new models have a wider range of shutter speeds, from 60 minutes to 1/2000 sec, an increased ISO range, faster continuous shooting speed and faster USB 3.0 file transfer. Both models come with a 3-inch touch-screen display, dual CFast and SD card slots and Wi-Fi built in.
The cheaper H6D-50c has a 50Mp 43.8 × 32.9mm CMOS sensor which looks similar to the sensor in the existing H5D. This has a slightly larger pixel pitch of 5.3 × 5.3 μm than the H6D-100c, so the photosites are larger and more sensitive and allow a maximum ISO of 25,600. The H6D-50c can also shoot full HD video and has an HDMI port for connecting an external monitor. It will sell for 22,900 euros (about £18,500/US$26,000).
The real headline-grabber in this story, though, is the H6D-100c. This comes with a larger 53.4 × 40.0mm 100Mp CMOS sensor shooting images measuring 11600 × 8700 pixels. It's twice the resolution of the H6D-50c and although the sensor is physically larger too, it still means a smaller pixel pitch of 4.6 × 4.6 μm, which is no doubt why the maximum ISO is one EV lower at ISO 12,800.
But the H6D-100c shoots 4K video, a major advantage over the cheaper model for commercial videographers, and it shoots stills in 16-bit colour with a 15-stop dynamic range – Hasselblad only claims 14 stops for the H6D-50c. The H6D-100c will sell for 28,900 euros (about £23,400/US$33,000).
It's a lot of money, but it's a lot of camera. You shouldn't expect pro medium format cameras to become anything like affordable any time soon, but it's exciting to see these big sensors and big resolutions appearing on the market, and now that medium format camera makers are raising their game it should keep the prices of full-frame DSLR and mirrorless cameras in check.