Hasselblad H6D review

Hasselblad has a reputation for building high quality cameras that are loved by pros, and the latest version looks set to impress

Hasselblad H6D

In the past photographers, amateurs and professionals bought medium format cameras because the bigger film frame automatically translated into higher quality images that could be printed at much bigger sizes. These days medium format digital cameras don't usually have the same size sensor as medium format film, but the H6D-100C comes close with a sensor that is near to the 60 x 45cm of 645 format, especially when you allow for the rebate typically found around the 645 film/negative frame.

Cramming lots of pixels onto a sensor can be a recipe for noisy images, but high resolution 35mm full-frame cameras like the Nikon D6810 and Sony Alpha 7R II have proved that technology is advancing all the time. Medium format digital cameras like the Pentax 645Z and Hasselblad H5D-50C have also been found to deliver the superior image quality that many professional photographers require. It's entirely feasible that a larger 100Mp sensor can do the same, and it enables 98 x74cm (38 x 29inches) prints to be made at 300ppi.

Hasselblad H6D

Hasselblad has updated its software too. Phocus 3.0 includes localised image adjustments.

So far we haven't been able to shoot with the 100C, we'll have to wait until June for that. The images from the 50C look great, with a just the tiniest hint of noise at ISO 1600 and impressively wide dynamic range. Hasselblad claims it possible to record close to 15EV in one shot with the 100C.

The camera's autofocus system isn't a patch on the average compact system camera or SLR for speed, but it's fast by medium format standards. The clever True Focus system also adjusts for the slight shift in focus that's required when using the 'focus-and-recompose' technique when the AF point does conveniently lie over the subject.

Early verdict

For many photographers, even professionals, an image size of 50Mp is more than enough and the handling improvements as well as the likely image quality improvements brought by the H6D-50C may be enough to convince them to upgrade. However, I suspect that it's the H6D-100C that will be the bigger hit even if it costs $32,995/€28,900 or $25,995/€22,900 without 4K video.

Those looking to upgrade a H5D-50C or H5D-60CCD to a 100C will be given a trade in value of £8,750, which could be a very persuasive argument. Upgrading the same camera to a 50C attracts a trade-in value of £8000.

Traditionally the downside to using medium format cameras is that they are slow to use and heavy to carry. The H6D is still heavy but it's much faster than earlier medium format cameras. The touchscreen is also responsive and it's easy to check settings and make changes as you need.

Hasselblad H6D

Tantalisingly, Hasselblad is hinting at a lower cost medium format model for enthusiasts but is revealing no details yet.

Excitingly, Hasselblad's Perry Oosting tells us that the company will be turning its attention to the enthusiast sector of the photography market next. Could that mean that there will be a more affordable Hasselblad medium format camera in the near future? One things for sure, we won't be seeing a return of the likes of the Lunar that disguised Sony cameras with expensive woods and metal finishes.