First Look: Hasselblad’s New Medium-Format H6D Camera

Hasselblad’s new flagship finally brings the storied camera system back to the cutting edge.

Jonathan Beer Photography

Every segment of the camera industry seems to have a prizefight-style bout going on right now. Sony and Fuji are competing over the mirrorless interchangeable market, Canon and Nikon are fighting for the power-users of the DSLR trade and Leica is fighting a slowing Chinese economy so it can keep selling $25,000 rangefinders designed by Lenny Kravitz. But the real heavyweight, Foreman/Ali fight right now is going on between Phase One and Hasselblad to see who can make the best medium-format digital camera system. This is the major battle to decide who can make the best camera on earth.

Early last year, Phase One debuted the XF, a modular and hyper-powerful system that can support their flagship 100MP CMOS sensor. This morning Hasselblad hit back with the brand-new H6D ($26,000+).

On first look the H6D doesn’t seem like much of an update from the four-year-old H5. The shutter button is now a fetching bronze color and the buttons on the back are in a new place, but otherwise it’s the same Hasselblad H-system ergonomics that we’ve seen since 2002. The good news is that the update is much, much more than skin deep. The big change comes with two new CMOS sensors, a 50MP offering that should be enough for most users and an absolutely insane 100MP back with 15 stops of dynamic range that brings Hasselblad back in direct competition with Phase One’s XF. Aside from that new sensor (did I mention it’s 100MP?) the H6D boasts better high-ISO performance, USB 3.0 connectivity (firewire is finally dead), wi-fi, a touchscreen LCD on the back with revised user interface (another godsend) and dual card slots (CFast and SD) to help store all those gigantic raw files. As for the “one more thing” feature, it’s the 4K video capture, which will record in “Hasselblad RAW” — though there’s no mention of frame rates. Regardless, this is one thing that the Phase One doesn’t offer and, depending on the quality and flexibility of the raw files, could be a really interesting leg up.

Jonathan Beer Photography

In terms of medium-format product evolution, the H6D is somewhere between a big step and a giant leap. It brings an aging system back up to the bleeding edge and, given how revered the Swedish company is in the medium-format space, it could be a big hit once it gets in the hands of pros worldwide. We’re looking forward to getting some more hands-on time with the H6D, but for now, it looks like Hasselblad has landed a solid jab in the fight for medium-format supremacy.

The H6D-50c is priced at €22,900 ($26,000). The H6D-100c is priced at €28,900 ($32,860).

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