Hasselblad has updated their website for the Lunar mirror less camera (a glorified Sony NEX-7 which they swear upon Victor’s grave contains many innovations). The site update has users register themselves for more Lunar news and allows them to “pick their Lunar”. I selected the zebra wood model. Hopefully, as the Lunar exits the prototype phase, Hasselblad could reveal that the innards are that of the next-generation NEX-7 instead of the released model. This could be wishful thinking on my part considering that the specs on the website are exactly those of the currently released NEX-7.
Hasselblad executives, in an interview with BJP’s Oliver Laurent, defend Lunar’s concept and pricing.
“This is not a NEX 7 camera, just because we are buying components from Sony. “The hardware is just a small part of the whole. It’s not because we’re using a Sony sensor that it makes the Lunar a Sony camera.” says Luca Alessandrini, Hasselblad’s new business development manager.
The Lunar uses the sensor, electronics, controls, displays, viewfinder, firmware, lens mount, lenses and even the stupid piece of shit Alpha hotshoe (that Sony just got rid of on the NEX-5R, the NEX-6, and the Alpha SLT-A99 in favor of a standard ISO hotshoe). If waddles, flies, swims, quacks, and lays eggs that hatch into ducklings, it’s a duck.
And, as if this wasn’t a big enough insult to our collective intelligence, they have the unmitigated gall to think that by encasing the erstwhile Sony NEX-7 components in some Italian-inspired, hand-crafted, ergonomic orgy of design and mismatched exotic materials, that professional photographers (100% of the Hasselblad demographic) would be willing to part with over $6000 USD for this “innovation”.
Words fail me at this point. Hasselblad wants to succeed the way Leica has, except nothing that they are doing even remotely resembles the Leica model. Leica has developed their digital cameras two ways: in-house for the high-end stuff and with a partner (Panasonic) via rebranding. Yes, the consumer-level digital cameras from Leica are really rebadged Panasonic Lumix cameras! Weirdly enough, those Lumix cameras, regardless of branding, sport Leica designed lenses. And, IIRC, the Leica branded ones have their firmware tweaked by the Boys from Wetzlar. Yes, the Leica rebranded Lumix cameras cost more:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-L7 = $499.00 (B&H); Leica D-Lux 6 = $799 (B&H); Markup = 60%
but not what Hasselblad is planning:
Sony NEX-7 Body Only = $1,198 (B&H); Hasselblad Lunar Body Only = $6504.99 (Estimated); Markup = 543%
Leica’s high-end cameras (M & S Systems) are all built in Germany and are made by Leica to their ridiculously high standards. Lenses are hand made and hand tuned. Camera bodies are solid metal designs and both the new M & S bodies are weather sealed. A lot of effort goes into the construction of their cameras, hence their prices ($6,950 & $21,950 respectively) and their lenses command prices as high or higher. If I had the money, I would get myself a Leica M kit with the Grip, Visoflex EVF, and a nice set of lenses. I could not see myself spending that much on Lunar.
Images courtesy of LensRentals
At Photokina Day 2, medium format camera maker Hasselblad and Sony announced the joint development of the Hasselblad Lunar. I say “joint development” because, quite probably, many were smoked to dream up this idea.
What Hasselblad and Sony have done is take the innards of a NEX-7, replace the sensor with something slightly newer, wrap the whole thing in an ergonomic orgy of design and mismatched luxury materials, slapped the H Logo on it and charge 5 times as much. At least when Leica rebadges a Panasonic, they load up their own image conversion algorithms and provide lens designs.
Now, to be completely honest, I have never seen one personally and therefore have not held it in my hands. Who knows, the ergonomics may be so awesome that I would be willing to overlook its appearance. Except that the NEX-7 was never a heavy camera to lug around. Sure, my hands were too big for it and I might find a better fit with the Lunar, but if I am going to lay down the amount of money they are asking for this camera (€5,000), I am willing to spend a little more and get the new Leica M.
Hasselblad’s ‘next generation’ H System camera will be showcased at the Hasselblad press conference at photokina, Cologne, Germany (Tuesday Sep 18: 2pm-3pm). The H5D features a modernized design and a complete new electronic engine to pave the way for ultimate quality imaging, for print ready JPEG files, and for a smooth and intuitive user interface. The camera is billed by the Sweden-based company as ‘the latest step in the evolution of the best high-end camera system in the world’.
Hasselblad today announced an agreement with Adobe Systems Incorporated that, beginning on the 12th March 2012, all newly purchased medium format Hasselblad H4D cameras will include a fully functional copy of Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® software at no extra charge. Under this agreement, Hasselblad is creating new opportunities for all lovers of medium format photography as well as for aspirational 35mm professionals, advanced amateurs and enthusiasts to perfect, search, process and organize their images in a single solution regardless of their experience or skill level.
Hasselblad is offering customers who buy a new H4D-40 camera with an 80mm lens the chance to buy a second HC/HCD lens of their choice at a massive 50% discount.
The exclusive Christmas/New Year deal means that a photographer opting for an HCD 4-5.6/35-90mm zoom lens could save up to GBP 2,397 / USD 3,747 overall on the purchase. Explained Chris Russell-Fish, Hasselblad Global Sales and Marketing Director: “There has never been a better time
to invest in the cutting edge Hasselblad H4D-40. We have just announced excellent free firmware upgrades on all new H4D-40 and H4D-50 cameras including:
- one-click instant digital focus check,
- two directional electronic spirit level,
- an improved high resolution display and
- a brand new rear display with grip info on the back
And from now until the end of January photographers buying an H4D-40 with an 80mm lens can get half price discounts on any H line lens from the HCD 4/28mm wide angle upwards.” Any photographer keen to take advantage of this promotion should visit the Hasselblad website at
www.hasselblad.com/h4d-40-lenscampaign or contact their local dealer for more information.
With 35 mm digital sensors (full frame and cropped) now encroaching into image sizes once reserved for medium format digital (MFD) systems, photographers are going to have to change the way they examine their images for picture quality. With the introduction of the Sony SLT-A77 and NEX-7, cropped (APS-C) sensors have now surpassed the 22 megapixel mark, entering into the medium format image zone. Before anyone runs out to saddle up the high horse, please understand that I am not saying that 35 mm sensors of any flavor are better or worse than medium format digital sensors, just that the image sizes are now starting to overlap.
Full frame sensor cameras from Canon, Nikon and Sony have been in this region for several years now, but the cameras that housed those sensors were relatively expensive (~$8K for Canon/Nikon and Sony ~$2800, roughly) so only professionals and really affluent amateurs had access to them. (By comparison, MFD systems start around ~$10K USD.) Sony’s offerings are a harbinger for what is going to be a new wave of ultra hi-res sensor cameras that are more affordable and thus, more mainstream. On an interesting note, if you scale the sensor technology used to create the 24 mpx sensor in the SLT-A77/NEX-7 up to full frame, you are talking about a sensor in the 36 megapixel range, putting it almost on par (size-wise) with mid-level MFD systems.
The funny thing is when images get that big, everything about them gets magnified too, in a way.
A common practice of the more advanced photographer is to open a file in their favorite photo editor and zoom the image in to 100% view, allowing them to examine images at the pixel level. This practice is called pixel peeping. This is fine,and dandy, but when you are talking about mondo big files like the ones mentioned above, looking at the images on the pixel level can be a bit disappointing. Images look can quite grainy and noisy, especially in poor light/high-ISO conditions. MFD systems, as a rule, rarely shoot above ISO 1600, with ISO 50-100 being preferred for maximum image quality. Phase One, using their Sensor+ pixel binning technology allows for relatively clean ISO 3200 images, albeit at ¼ the resolution of the sensor (i.e. a 40 mpx sensor records 10 mpx images in Sensor+).
Now MFD manufacturers have had to deal with this issue for years and they have perfected their RAW converter software to optimize the images captured by their systems to minimize noise and maintain high levels of dynamic range and astounding color depth (over 281 trillion colors – that’s trillion with a “t”, 12 zeroes, also known as “thousand billion” outside the U.S.) and MFD know that the proof of image quality does not lie at the pixel level, but in the final output.
To wit: I have gathered several examples of images from various ultra hi-res cameras and produced a series of images comprised of 100% crops (pixel level) and images reduced for web consumption. Why web consumption? Simple, even a 24 mpx image would require 12 HD monitors in order to display the image completely at 100% and no one outside of a Nokia engineer’s mother has the bandwidth to see images that size with any speed.
I understand that this comparison is highly unscientific. The images are captured in a variety of lighting conditions, different lenses, and various ISO levels (one at ISO 50). The point is, when the image is prepared for its final output, all of the horrible details we have been seeing at 100% crop go away.
Here a shot from Leaf Aptus-II 8 MFD back (40 mpx) on a Phase One 645DF camera at ISO 50:
and now the ill image reduced to 1000 px high for web viewing:
As you can see the image is very, very clean and sharps with tons of details in the cactus.
Next we have a Hasselblad H4D-40 shot with a 100 mm f/2.2 lens at ISO 800. First the crop:
Now the full image reduced to web size:
Even at ISO 800, the Hasselblad H4D-40 and the Phocus software do an excellent job of mitigating noise. The HC 100mm f/2.2 is a frighteningly sharp lens.
Next up is an ISO 200 shot from a Pentax 645D – first the crop:
and now the web scaled full image:
A little bit of grain can be seen in the crop but it vanishes entirely in the full image. It should be noted that the 645D can only 14-bit capture as opposed to the Aptus-II, H4D-40, and (below) Phase One IQ180 which can capture 16-bit color.
Next is the IQ180, Phase One’s top of the line 80 megapixel back – first the crop:
and now, the web image
These were shot at ISO 100. Please note that the above images were all shot in the appropriate RAW format and the native RAW converter was applied except for the Pentax 645D where Lightroom 3.5 was used. The software has been optimized to reduce noise in each case while maintaining a high level of detail. Another mitigating factor here is lens quality. The H4D-40 + HC 100mm f/2.2 has lens correction data stored in the lens and transmitted to the digital back to be encoded into the image for later processing. The Phase One image was shot with a Schneider Kruzenack 110mm LS lens (arguably one of the sharpest lenses on the market). I do not have lens data for the Aptus-II 8 or 645D shots as I did not take them. I will update this document if that information becomes available.
Now shots from the Sony. It would have been better to compare images from MFD systems of similar resolution, such as the Phase P25+ and the H3D-II/22 but neither of those cameras were available to me. Also, these shots were taken with a pre-release camera and prototype firmware, and processed with Lightroom 3.5 (which has first gen support for the A77).
First the crop:
and now the web sized full image:
The crop is a bit noisier than the crops from the MFDs, it is also the lowest resolution image in the bunch with the smallest pixel pitch. It is, however, at twice the ISO of the highest possible in the MFD. Be that as it may, when you reduce the image to the intended medium (web, in this case) the image is perfectly usable with a pleasant grain effect. It would probably make a great B&W print.
And what was the point of this exercise?
To show that pixel peeping isn’t quite as useful at these ultra hi-resolution sizes. The proof is in the final destination for your image, be it print or online.
Thanks for reading!
- One click focus check that zooms into 100% and takes advantage of the camera’s updated ability to utilize every pixel of the monitor’s resolution.
- A bi-directional spirit level that puts an end to skewed horizons.
- Quick access to a new rear info screen to display top panel information on the rear display.
- Live video view mode via Phocus when working with the camera connected to a computer.
- Schneider and Rollei electronic shutters are supported by H4D-40, H4D-50 and H4D-60 for accurate work on technical cameras.