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Hasselblad H4x camera hands-on review:

back to open architecture!

This past weekend I had a great opportunity to play with newest Hasselblad model, H4x (x for extended) medium format camera. As you know (if not, check here) I own an old PhaseOne P25+ digital back for H mount, and I use it with a H1 Hasselblad.  It works great and I love the system, but I was locked form any camera upgrades as hasselblad had stopped accepting non-Hasselblad digital backs since the H3D camera, when they went from “open” to “closed” architecture.

I’m not sure what made them re-think this, but now (and I can only appreciate such changes) they’ve released the H4x camera (which is almost identical to a latest H4D) which works with non-hasselblad backs. I was one of the first who got to play with this new device:-) Here we go:


So, what the advantages H4x has over the old H1/2 cameras?

Full list of features can be found on the H4x press release, but I can tell you what’s the most important for me:

The most valuable feature is the True Focus technology. Because Hasselblad cameras only have one center focusing point, in many cases you have to recompose the shot after setting the focus. This inevitably leads to getting your subject slightly out of focus. Here is the illustration from

Hasselblad H4x camera hands-on review

True focus by Hasselblad

For the full description of the process: True Focus and Absolute Position Lock. In short, True Focus adjusts the lens when you rotate the camera up and down or sideways. The camera monitors the angle that its being moved at and adjusts the focus accordingly. Sounds easy:-)

 As you’ve seen in the video, I’ve used both cameras with my P25+ back to compose similar shots.  Both sets were done with the HC 80mm lens with a wide open aperture F3.5, 1/800 sec shutter.
If you’ve ever taken a handheld shot with a medium format camera you know how precise you should be able to get the focus after recomposing the shot.

Here are my results:


Hasselblad H4x full shot

Hasselblad H4x camera hands-on review

hasselblad H4x review, re-sized


Hasselblad H4x 100% crop

Hasselblad H4x camera hands-on review

Hasselblad H4x (with true focus), 100% crop

Now a similar shot with my old H1:


Hasselblad H1 100% crop:

Hasselblad H4x camera hands-on review

Hasselblad H1 (without true focus), 100% crop

I can say that True Focus definitely helped me in this shot: on about 60% of the H1 shots I’ve managed to get model’s eyes in a precise focus after re-composing the shot, and it was about 90% shots in a focus with H4x camera.

Upgrade option (with trade-in of your h1/2 camera) will cost somewhere around $5-$6K (my guess), so it is not bad considering prices of  new H4D camera.




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