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Phase One Vs Hasselblad Part 3

June 20th, 2017

Following on directly from a previous post from some time ago… Phase One Vs Hasselblad Part 2

100mp CMOS Fantasy Becomes Reality.

In January 2016 Phase One finally announced the IQ3-100, the medium format digital back with the 100 megapixel CMOS sensor, the one I had been waiting for.  I had heard that Hasselblad were only a short way off announcing their 100mp camera system, and I wanted to see that before making any decisions.  Meanwhile I researched the Phase One system a little more.

Phase One Vs Hasselblad comparison Phase One XF camera & IQ3-100 digital back

Phase One System Support.

One of the things I found that I liked best was that Phase One has a program of continuous improvements to their XF camera and IQ back system through firmware updates.  They were at the time up to firmware version 3, and had introduced a revised UI, better auto focus, plus a whole swag of completely new functions such as automated focus stacking, and many more useful refinements.

Firmware upgrades and the Electronic Shutter

The best new feature of all for me was the electronic shutter.  The IQ3-100 already had electronic first curtain shutter, but with the fully electronic shutter this means the IQ3-100 back can be used on a technical camera without the need to tether the back to the flash sync port on the the lens and without using the clockwork lens shutter.  This electronic shutter in the IQ3-100 back  means you now have access to a full range of shutter speeds from 60 minutes down to 1/4000 sec in ⅓ stop increments, as apposed to technical camera lens shutters which are limited to 1 sec – 1/500sec.  And since the IQ3-100 backs have the battery built in they are completely self contained, meaning no external power supply is needed.

Once again the negative becomes a positive.  More on Technical cameras and the IQ3-100 electronic shutter in later entries.

Meanwhile Hasselblad delays…

Hasselblad announced their 100mp back shortly after Phase One, but the difference was that Phase One were actually shipping theirs, whereas Hasselblad were yet to have an actual functioning example.  It took Hasselblad another 6 months before they supposedly had it working, and yet another 6 months before they began shipping to Australia.


Hasselblad’s Answer to the XF-100.

It seemed Hasselblad had finally realised they had serious competition in the medium format market, serious competition that was beating them!  So when I finally got a look at the H6D-100 it looked like they had completely revised the digital back’s design.  The new one had a modern UI that was very well thought out and nicely implemented, with a big, bright, colourful touch screen with great image reproduction.  It (finally) had live view and 60 minute maximum exposure time just like the Phase One, it also went up to ISO 12800 just like the Phase One.

The H6 is totally new… Honestly

As for the camera… well they told us at the launch that the H6D was completely new on the inside, totally different, totally redesigned (even though it looked identical to the H5 on the outside)… But then that’s what they said about the H5 too, until they admitted afterwards that it wasn’t actually true, and the H5 was in fact just an H4 re-painted.  So it appears the H6 is just the H5 with a paint job… which was just the H4 with a paint job and so on…  Don’t get me wrong, I think the Hasselblad H is a fabulous camera, but for the money I think it’s time for a revamp.

Hasselblad Rep needs better sales skills

Hasselblad should also choose their Reps for camera launches a little better.  At the official launch for the Hasselblad H6D-100  (where they didn’t actually have a working H6D-100!) in Perth I asked why the camera looked exactly the same as the previous model and the model before that…   I was told very bluntly that…” We at Hasselblad don’t care what the camera looks like…”  Meanwhile me, and everyone else in the room were thinking “Well, for that obscene amount of money I care what the camera looks like!”  That seems like a small thing, but it shows company attitude to users and it can influence big decisions, like which camera system to buy, which was exactly what I was contemplating at the time.

Continued in the next Post Phase One Vs Hasselblad Part 4

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