The new top-end model from medium-format camera maker Hasselblad is now on the market, and it's not cheap; the 200-megapixel H4D-200MS will set you back 32,000 euros, or about AU$43,000.
The camera actually uses a sensor with a mere 50-megapixels, but with Hasselblad's multi-shot technology, combines six shots into one. That means moving subjects, such as fashion models, need not apply. But a lot of this very high-end photography involves static subjects such as jewellery, watches, cars and paintings for reproduction.
Hasselblad announced the H4D-200MS last September at the Photokina show. At the time, the company said that it hoped to release the camera in the first quarter.
The multi-shot technique isn't as crude as taking a bunch of shots and stitching them together. Instead, it works with a piezoelectric motor that moves the camera's image sensor a tiny amount before taking each photo.
The six-shot extended multi-shot mode augments an earlier option: the four-shot multi-shot mode. The multi-shot modes offset each frame by a half or a full pixel width, an approach that compensates for the fact that each sensor pixel captures only red, green or blue light. The four-shot mode takes about 20 seconds for a full photo; the six-shot mode takes about 30 seconds. Yes, you need a tripod.
Photographers can also send their H4D-50MS cameras back to Hasselblad for an upgrade for €7000, or about AU$9,300.
Expensive luxury products are a core market for medium-format photography. Jonathan Beer took this shot with an H4D-200MS in its highest-resolution configuration. (Credit: Hasselblad/Jonathan Beer)
The camera's sensor measures 36.7x49.1mm and takes shots with 6132x8176 pixels. When the six shots are combined, each with 16 bits of colour depth per pixel, a single RAW photo is about 600MB. No doubt that file size is why Hasselblad lets photographers attach a hard drive, though CompactFlash cards are supported.
The camera can shoot at ISO sensitivity settings of between 50 and 800.
Another feature you won't see in your average point-and-shoot is True Focus, a technology to get around the problems of focusing an image on a particular point and then moving the camera to recompose the shot. The initial focus point — a model's eye, for example — is at the centre of the frame when focusing. But moving the camera — to show the model's entire body, for example — can make that eye go out of focus. To deal with this geometrical difficulty, sensors in the H4D cameras measure the change and adjust the autofocus setting in real time.
Hasselblad illustrates how extended multi-shot works. (Credit: Hasselblad)