Medium Format

HASSELBLAD H3DII-39 Review

hasselblad6

by Larry Lytle

Published Winter ’09

Studio Testing Medium-Format

Here in the beginning of 2009, some camera manufacturers are in the unenviable position of having to provide platforms for two media—film and digital. When you think about it, this occurrence is unprecedented in the history of photography. There have been changes—from Daguerreotypes to glass plate, from glass plate to roll film (for brevities sake I left out a few in between). Whatever the substrate, the “capture device” was always silver or dye-based and the means for printing either through contact or projection. So, except for the development of new bells and whistles to improve the camera, the technology remained essentially the same.

Hasselblad, along with many other camera manufacturers, are in a similar position. They have to offer two camera bodies, one for film and one for digital. Or, in the case of medium-format, they have a camera body that, by switching the back, accomplishes the change from digital to film. In the olden days with film, one could use the same body and change out the back to shoot either transparency or various print films. And, although the Hasselblad HD3II-39 accommodates either a film or digital back, I tested this camera using only the digital back.

Getting Acquainted

When I opened the case, I was impressed by its size. I had been used to a smaller medium-format camera. The weight of this camera comes in at just under five lbs. with the 80mm lens. A bit heavy for constant hand held shooting, but fine when mounted on a tripod or studio stand.

I turned on my computer and popped in the tutorial on Phocus, the new capture and conversion software that ships with the kit. It appears to be a great program for tethered shooting, and/or for browsing and converting downloaded files. After viewing the tutorial, in happy anticipation, I attempted to load the program and found that I couldn’t. With a brief phone call I found out that you must run system 10.5 for the Mac and have at least 4 gigs of ram. So I used FlexColor, the precursor to Phocus, and although the interface isn’t nearly as slick, it works adequately.

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