Photokina 2006: Hasselblad has announced the new H3D medium format camera system which Hasselblad is confusingly describing as 'the World's first 48 mm full-frame DSLR camera system'. The digital back part of the camera features a 48 x 36 mm sensor (which sounds to us like two full-frame 35 mm sensors stitched together) and will be available in either 22 or 39 megapixel flavors. The big controversy surrounding the H3D is that it no longer supports third party backs, only Hasselblad's own backs.

Press Release:

Hasselblad Launches World's First 48mm
Full-Frame DSLR Camera System

With a new, fully digital strategy, Hasselblad sets new benchmark in high-end DSLR camera systems for professional photographers.

Hasselblad is today firmly positioning itself as the pre-eminent provider of high-end digital cameras with the launch of the Hasselblad H3D, the world’s first 48mm full-frame DSLR camera system.  The H3D is the result of Hasselblad’s strategy of taking photographic flexibility and image quality to new levels, as yet unseen in any competing product.  When compared with high-end 35mm DSLRs, the H3D delivers unmatched pixel resolution, better colors and detail rendering and a new choice of viewfinders for creative image composition.  In comparison with digital backs, the H3D delivers image quality with a higher level of detail and true sharpness thanks to Hasselblad’s Digital APO Correction (DAC) and the advances of its new Ultra-Focus functionality.  The H3D’s full-frame concept offers unique control of image composition and with its new 28mm lens, the H3D allows photographers for the first time ever to take wide angle shots on a 36 x 48mm sensor.

Christian Poulsen, CEO of Hasselblad comments: “The digital revolution prompted many professional photographers to adopt high-end 35mm DSLRs as their back-up or even their main camera.  But as the most demanding photographers have become acquainted with the technology, the feedback we’ve had indicates that high-end 35mm often doesn’t offer the required image quality.  Many photographers also miss the high-end camera system’s additional photographic flexibility that is beyond the physical parameters of the high-end 35mm DSLR, which was originally designed for ultra-fast shooting environments.  Hasselblad has been deluged by requests from traditional camera back buyers for true wide angle photography and extended image quality.  We’re confident that in the H3D, a logical evolution of the H1D and H2D, professional photographers will find the complete photographic solution for these needs.  What Victor Hasselblad managed to develop with the classic V camera system, the H3D now extends into the digital age.”

Size matters

The H3D is currently available in two models, the Hasselblad H3D-22 and the Hasselblad H3D-39, offering image capture with a resolution of either 22 or an unsurpassed 39 megapixels on the largest image sensor currently available in digital photography – more than twice the size of a high-end 35mm camera sensor.  The system’s viewfinders and extra large and bright lenses enable extremely precise compositions and easy operation in dim lighting.

Ultra-Focus and Digital APO Correction boost lens performance

The H3D is built around a brand new digital camera engine, providing a new standard of image sharpness, ‘Ultra-Focus’.  In the H3D camera, information about lens and exact capture conditions are fed into the digital camera engine for ultra-fine-tuning of the auto-focus mechanism, taking into account the design of the lens and the optical specification of the sensor.  By then adding Digital APO Correction (DAC) – digital, APO-chromatic correction of the color aberration and distortion in the images - Hasselblad raises the performance of the full HC lens range to a new level of sharpness and resolution and, with perfect pixel definition, optimizes the basis for image rendering.

World’s first 28mm wide angle lens for 48mm DSLR camera systems

Hasselblad has designed a new 28mm wide angle lens especially for the H3D.  To achieve the necessary optical performance, the Hasselblad lens designers have taken full advantage of the Ultra-Focus and DAC functionality to ensure that outstanding images are produced by this extraordinary lens.  Photographers who work with the H3D and the HCD 28mm lens will be amazed by the full-frame composition and unmatched wide angle image quality.

New waist-level viewfinder

Taking the V System’s lead, Hasselblad is launching an interchangeable, waist-level viewfinder for the H system cameras.  The new waist-level viewfinder is a superb composition tool that allows the photographer to maintain direct eye contact with the model throughout the shoot, particularly important for fashion and people shoots.  The H3D thus offers a choice of viewfinders – eye- or waist-level – an important flexibility for the professional photographer.

Hasselblad Star Quality

To define the core parameters of optimal image quality, Hasselblad is introducing its Hasselblad Star Quality standard. Traditionally, resolution or the number of pixels on the sensor has been perceived as the most important quality factor in digital photography, but in fact other parameters have similar or even greater impact – sharpness, the definition of small details, color and low noise.  Hasselblad has spent the last two years developing the underlying technology to optimize these parameters:

Resolution:    – State of the art 39 megapixels
Sharpness:    – Ultra-Focus and DAC
Small details: – Single shot interpolation
Color:           – Hasselblad Natural Color Solution
Low noise:     – Digital noise reduction
With the introduction of the H3D, Hasselblad has produced a camera system that can deliver the highest image quality to date.

Photographic Flexibility

To allow the photographer to shoot the most creative and best composed images, the H3D has also been developed for maximum flexibility:

Viewfinder flexibility:          - The system offers a choice of viewfinders for image composition and is compatible with Hasselblad’s standard H System lenses and the new 28mm digital HCD lens.
Tilt and Shift flexibility:       - The digital capture unit can be used on a view camera with tilt and shift functionality.
Storage flexibility:             - The H3D also gives the professional photographer three options for image storage: on a CF card, to a Hasselblad Image Bank (a 100GB drive with a write speed of up to 60MB/sec) via FireWire, or the tethered operation with extended, special capture controls.
Film flexibility:                  - In exceptional circumstances, such as extreme heat or cold or extremely long or short exposure times, it is also possible to switch to film.

With these operating and storage options, the photographer is able to select a mode to suit their work, whatever the nature and whether in the studio or on location. 

Christian Poulsen concludes: “It has been a major achievement for Hasselblad to have implemented its new, fully digital strategy.  We are confident that the H3D, the first product resulting from the new strategy, will set new standards for digital photography, even when compared with the best 35mm DSLR cameras and digital backs.  In pursuance of our objectives, we will continue to focus on bringing to market digital products that offer flexibility and the best possible image quality, and on working with existing and new Hasselblad users to help them take full advantage of the potential that digital technology holds for them, both creatively and commercially.”

The new H3D is available immediately worldwide through Hasselblad’s national subsidiaries and channel partners at retail prices to be announced at Photokina.

An H3D upgrade program is available for current H1D and H2D users.