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The Capturing Capital of Culture - part 1 of 1 2 3



By Paul McMullin

Paul McMullin gets to work in The Capital of Culture using 5x4, Nikon D3, Nikon D2x, and Digital Hasselblads along the way. McNamee acts as bag carrier!

This is a reduced scale, partial crop of an image from the Hasselblad H3D39

Plunge in at the deep end - high end capture examined by Mike McNamee and Paul McMullin

High-end camera gear is something we look at infrequently in Professional Imagemaker. For many of our readership, the investment is out of reach, but it is something you might aspire to, should the lottery numbers come up! We thought it relevant to examine some of the older Hasselblad models, as the arrival of the latest H3D Mk II has caused a number of these older models to come available, as pre-owned gear.

There are three things to consider in regard to high-end digital. The first is how much extra quality do you get, the second is the value of that additional quality and finally how are you going to get your money back? A straight 'return on investment' calculation would be hard pressed to make a cogent case for the outlay around £25,000, bearing in mind that you need back-up gear as well, if you are a wedding shooter - a Hasselblad will fall from your hands as easily as a 35mm D-SLR (perish the thought!).


Faced with a choice between a 35mm D-SLR and a Hasselblad system we need to compute the overall package cost. To keep a common baseline, we have assumed that you need a body, a wide angle, a standard and a short telephoto lens to complete your kit. This is slightly unlikely in the '35mm' kit - you would more likely go for a zoom, but we will let that pass. The figures are computed in the table below.

It is not a good way to go about valuing a camera but we have calculated the price per megapixel to provide a benchmark. In general terms the 35mmm D-SLRs are about half as much per pixel as the latest Hasselblads. If we compare the identical 22 megapixels of the Canon 1Ds MKIII and the Hasselblad H3D 22 then the leap in cost per pixel is more than two-fold.

Considering area though, the Hasselblad is providing 1.69 times the area of silicon to the scene compared to the D3 or 1Ds MkIII, but the price premium is near two-times. Or to put it yet another way, does the increase in cost of the Hasselblads, over the Nikon D3, of either 3.91 times or 5.60 times, justify the increase in image quality that you get?

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last update 18/07/2022 16:31:42

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Updated 18/07/2022 16:31:42 Last Modified: Monday, 18 July 2022