As with any large trade show, there is bound to be mix-ups, and so due to a double booking at the Hilton, Hasselblad was forced to find a new venue at the last minute for its PMA press event.
Those of us that were able to juggle our schedules and high-tail it over to the Hilton Suites were rewarded with breakfast and an opportunity to shoot with the new H4D. Yes, we're all aware of the advancements in 35mm photography, but not everyone is up on the developments in medium format DSLRs.
According to Tom Oldesson, president, Hasselblad USA, the company isn't trying to convince photographers that the H4D is a better camera than a 35mm. He even admits it can't do some of the things a high-end Nikon or Canon can do. But it can perform in ways they can't—one being superior image quality (the H4D's sensors have millions more pixels than 35mm sensors).
Photographer Michael Grecco says the H4D is great to hold and run with, especially when using the camera's True Focus feature. “I can describe the camera in 3 words,” he says. “Quality, big, and reliability. I love it.” Guest speaker, photographer August Bradly, who's used a wide variety of brands and formats notes, whether you're a purist or you do extensive manipulation, Hasselblad is the ultimate tool. “I get great skin tones out-of-camera and the files are very robust. They can take much more abuse and stretching. I can push, pull, and manipulate them into a super fantasy image, etc. That's huge to me.”
Perhaps even more unique than the camera is the viral marketing strategy the company is using to promote the H4D. The Hasselblad Owners' Club (not just for Hasselblad owners) provides a place for photographers to garner some attention for their work and to learn from other members. Hasselblad has also developed the “Hassy” Community Project—where localized communities of photographers can communicate with, and inspire each other. The first community was launched in NYC with three photographers who were given H4Ds to try (one of them will win the camera after the online community votes whose pics they like best). The photographers then shared their images and thoughts online. In the future, the company plans to have a program that allows photographers in these communities to use a camera for 30 days, then pass it on to another photographer. Oldesson stated, “We think it's important for someone active in the community to talk about the quality of the camera, and we think we can do that in a fun and viable way.”
The camera, which retails for approximately $16,000, was surprisingly easy to use. Yes, it is big, but comfortable in-hand. With the touch of a button, I focused using the True Focus feature, then shot a number of pictures before re-focusing. This allowed me to switch up the composition and keep shooting without having to refocus. A nice feature that allows you to work “in the zone.” For more details about the H4D (bundled with easy-to-learn Phocus 2.0 imaging software) and online programs, visit www.hasselblad.com.