Hasselblad Announces New Products, New Technology and New Directions
At photokina 2008, Hasselblad is introducing a new pricing strategy and exhibiting a range of new high-end products, including a new flagship camera, the H3DII-50, a versatile zoom lens in the HCD 4.0-5.6/35-90mm, and the HTS 1.5 Tilt and Shift adapter.
Two new Hasselblad cameras put the world’s largest sensors into the hands of the pros
Hasselblad’s new H3DII-50 is the first camera on the market to feature Kodak’s 50 megapixel sensor, measuring 36×48mm and twice the physical size of the largest 35mm DSLR sensors. The H3DII-50 provides full 48mm coverage and has been designed to provide an ideal solution for commercial shooters, who demand the highest image resolution, and for any photographer who demands both creative flexibility and ultimate image quality.
Christian Poulsen, CEO of Hasselblad, says, “The H3DII-50 features the largest sensor currently available in the 48 mm segment and takes its place as the flagship of our H3DII line. Nevertheless, to show that we’re not going to rest on our laurels, we’re also announcing the forthcoming H3DII-60, an even higher end camera that we’ll launch in 2009. The H3DII-60 will feature a 60 megapixel sensor that provides 94% full-frame,
645 coverage. We feel that it’s important to emphasize the 94% coverage, because, although we hear the phrase 'full-frame' being used quite frequently, no manufacturer has yet achieved true medium format full-frame.”
Hasselblad HC/HCD lens line expands its leading market position
Hasselblad is also launching a new versatile zoom lens, the HCD 4.0-5.6/35-90mm, to join its expanding HC/HCD lens line. The HC/HCD lenses equal or outperform even the legendary Hasselblad/Zeiss lenses, including the iconic CF 3.5/100mm and CF 5.6/250mm SA, considered by most experts to be the finest lenses ever made for professional photographers.
“As part of our constant efforts to produce the world’s best lenses, our engineers have combined our advanced optical design models and the H System’s unique ability to digitally compensate for any aberrations with a new aspheric lens element design. The result is what we think will prove to be the highest performing zoom lens on the market today,” says Poulsen.
New HTS 1.5 Tilt and Shift Adapter brings new control and creative possibilities
A revolutionary new tilt and shift adapter, the Hasselblad HTS 1.5, is also joining the Hasselblad line-up. The HTS 1.5 allows photographers to use tilt and shift functionality with most of their existing or new HC/HCD lenses. “The result,” says Poulsen, “is the ability to be more creative and flexible with your photography and a level of image quality that is unmatched by any other product currently available. The addition of digital sensors that read and record all movements and Hasselblad’s proprietary digital lens correction mean that we can offer photographers both a unique level of quality and maximum ease of use.”
Revitalizing the medium format industry
Following the launch of the H3D camera line at the last photokina, Hasselblad has continued to drive the medium format industry towards a more integrated and complete camera solution.
“We’re very pleased with all the new products,” says Poulsen, “and with the general direction the photographic industry is taking. Four years ago, we paved the way for the medium format industry’s move towards truly integrated DSLRs. At the time, we were criticized for this move and even accused of killing off the medium format segment. We knew, however, that this move was key not only to the further advancement of high-end
image quality, but also to the survival of the medium format industry itself.”
Poulsen sees the developments of the last four years as proof that Hasselblad’s strategy has been a sound one: “Now, four years down the road, all our competitors have followed our lead. Every one of them is hurrying to launch their own integrated solutions, which, for us, is a clear indication of a revitalized and evolving medium format segment. Hasselblad will continue to lead this segment, just as we’ll continue to drive the future
development of high-end photography, as I’m confident our offering at this year’s photokina will show. We’ve been very busy over the past four years, developing new technologies and new products, further refining our existing product range, and addressing some of the issues that have kept a number of photographers from adopting the Hasselblad system.”
Hasselblad launches a new price model for all digital products
“Hasselblad’s success with our classic film based cameras was partly due to pricing true professional products at a level that was high, but still affordable, for both serious pros and enthusiasts,” explains Poulsen. “In these early days of large sensor DSLRs, our initial high pricing has been one of the main barriers to entry, keeping many high-end 35mm photographers from making the leap to the superior quality of a Hasselblad
Therefore, in addition to the range of new products, Hasselblad is also announcing a significant price reduction for all of its camera products, enabled by the increased production volume of Hasselblad’s fifth generation DSLR series, combined with streamlined manufacturing costs and production synergies, and by following a long-
established business model taken from the 35mm camera market.
“Two years ago at photokina, Hasselblad launched the H3D,” explains Poulsen, “bringing the advantages of 35mm system integration to the medium format segment. Now we are doing the same with regards to lower pricing. Most new high-tech products begin with a high price point and then, over time, increased volume and improved production techniques allow price reductions and more accessible products. Consumers are seeing
this everywhere in technology, from flat panel televisions to 35mm digital cameras. Now this is happening in our industry too, although we are at a more mature, technical level than two years ago, which allows both increased system integration and a different pricing approach.”
Until now, Poulsen states, there has been no serious medium format entry-level product at an affordable price. The new, lower price for the Hasselblad H3DII-31, along with the new products, will provide such an entry point, he claims: “In the H3DII-31, 35mm users finally have access to a serious, high-end system. The H3DII-31, combined with the complete line of HC lenses, the new, versatile HCD 35-90mm zoom lens, the HCD 28mm lens and our new HTS 1.5 tilt and shift adapter, provides a complete high-end package that can cover the needs of any serious photographer as well as providing access to all the advanced features and benefits of the H3DII system. Naturally, we’re very pleased to be able to lower the entry point to our system and to be able to bring Hasselblad quality to a wider range of photographers."
The new pricing strategy will also entail other changes in Hasselblad’s business model, so that most of the upgrade and trade-up programs of the past will become unnecessary.
“Our new pricing will mean that photographers can actually purchase a new camera for more or less the same amount that they would have previously spent on an upgrade,” Poulsen comments. “This has two primary effects: it removes the need for complex trade-up programs and it enables photographers to keep their previous camera as a back-up when upgrading to a newer model - a common practice among 35mm users.”
The H3DII-39 has a new price of $21,995 (H3DII-39 Multi Shot, $30,995) and the H3DII-31 a new price of $17,995. All three cameras are available for immediate delivery. Priced at $27,995, the H3DII-50 is also available for immediate delivery and the H3DII-60, which will be priced at $35,495, will be available in April 2009. All camera systems will ship in the USA with a Hasselblad 80mm lens.
“It’s long been understood,” concludes Poulsen, “that for most discerning photographers the only reason not to have a Hasselblad was that you couldn’t afford one. But now, with our new pricing, we’re bringing the Hasselblad world a little more within reach, enabling a whole new generation of photographers to use our products.”
Hasselblad Launches First Zoom Lens Optimised for H3D DSLR Camera System
Specifically aimed at those high-end 35mm DSLR users who are increasingly looking to buy in to the superior quality offered by a Hasselblad H3DII DSLR - now available at a far more attractive price point - Hasselblad today launches its HCD 4-5.6/35-90mm Aspherical zoom lens. Complementing Hasselblad’s existing HC 3.5-4.5/50-110mm zoom lens, the new HCD 35-90mm lens offers a wider angle of view to provide new Hasselblad users with a range corresponding to a 25-70mm zoom on a 35mm DSLR.
The HCD 3.5-4.5/35-90mm Aspherical, which can be used with all H3D camera systems, is also the first HC/HCD lens to employ glass elements with aspherical surfaces, allowing more compact designs with fewer lens elements. Compared with the HC 3.5-4.5/50-110mm lens, not only does it provide a wider angle of view, but it is also thinner and about one third lighter, while still delivering an image quality far superior to a zoom lens on a 35mm DSLR, without any loss in the flexibility.
To achieve its compact form, the light projection of the lens has been designed for the ‘48mm full format’ sensor of the H3DII-39 and H3DII-50. At the wide-angle setting, in particular, Hasselblad’s designers have balanced improvements in lens performance with a slightly greater distortion and vignetting as these are eliminated by Hasselblad’s Digital APO Correction (DAC) without any compromise on quality. The outcome is a powerful tool that zooms from an impressive 83 degree, wide-angle to just beyond the fringes of a normal lens.
Christian Poulsen, Hasselblad’s Chief Executive Officer, comments, “As well as providing existing customers with the finest photographic instruments to create the finest digital photographs, we’re also obviously eager to help new customers, who feel they are reaching the limit of the image quality of 35mm DSLRs, to move up to a Hasselblad and experience the full range of additional benefits provided by the medium format DSLR. We’ve therefore significantly reduced the prices of our H3DII camera systems to make them more attractive and financially viable propositions and are introducing accessories, such as the new zoom lens, to appeal to the high-end 35mm user.”
“Like all HC/HCD lenses,” he continues, “the new HCD 4-5.6/35-90mm Aspherical zoom lens has been designed to generate the highest optical quality, but the use of aspherically surfaced glass elements has, for the first time, also allowed us to design a lighter and more compact lens. The zoom range of the lens also lends itself to universal usage to such an extent that photographers may well find that it covers all their needs - we like to think of it as the Swiss Army knife of zoom lenses!”
The Hasselblad HCD 4-5.6/35-90mm Aspherical zoom lens is priced at €4,990/$6996/£4,050 excluding tax and will be available from January 2009.
Hasselblad’s Revolutionary Tilt and Shift Adapter Expands its Scope
Following the overwhelmingly positive response from the professional photographic market, Hasselblad has extended the tilt and shift capabilities of its lenses by developing its ingenious HTS 1.5 tilt and shift adapter, originally designed for its HCD28mm, HC35mm, HC50mm and HC80mm lenses, to work with both its HC 2.2/100mm lens and its set of 13mm, 26mm and 52mm HE extension rings for macro photography. Staying true to its philosophy of camera integration, Hasselblad has also introduced digital feedback from the HTS 1.5 to the H3D camera and Phocus software by logging in the metadata of the image files all adjustments of the HTS. On the H3D camera this feedback adds on-line control of the exact tilt/shift movements, and it enables the automatic execution of Hasselblad’s digital lens correction to optimise image quality, eliminating color aberration, distortion and vignetting. When photographers subsequently browse through the metadata, they can see the exact tilt, shift and rotation applied for each shot.
While maintaining the optical excellence of Hasselblad HC/HCD lenses, the HTS 1.5 delivers corrective and creative image control to the users of the H3DII series of cameras and opens entire new segments of photography to this exciting form of photographic expression. Hasselblad will be demonstrating the exciting potential of the HTS 1.5 on its stand (Hall 2.1, Stand A020/B029) at photokina.
Christian Poulsen, Hasselblad Chief Executive Officer, says, “We are extremely excited about this product. Thanks to its extreme portability, the HTS 1.5 will not only bring creative image control to demanding applications such as architecture and landscape photography, but opens the doors to a wide range of exciting new creative application areas. This means more creativity for all photographers in their current shooting style as well as the opportunity to enter into new areas of photography.”
The HTS 1.5 is also a telephoto converter, extending the focal length of a mounted lens by a factor of 1.5. The lens’s image circle is enlarged by that same factor, which creates a big enough margin for tilting and shifting, while also preserving the character of the lens. The shift ranges up to 18mm and the tilt up to 10 degrees, while rotation either left or right extends to a maximum of 90 degrees.
Expanding on Hasselblad’s camera integration strategy, the HTS 1.5 delivers a new groundbreaking level of image quality and precision, never before achieved with a tilt and shift camera. The HTS 1.5 is equipped with integral sensors on all axes that tell the camera exactly where the lens is positioned and what its optical axis point is, so that correct perspective and lens alignment are obtained automatically within the camera. The sensors also communicate key data to the camera in order to enable Hasselblad’s digital lens correction for optimal image quality. Certain lens movements require that the image be re-focused, and with the HTS 1.5 solution, this occurs automatically too. These superior results are achieved by integrating superior digital technology with the benefits of superior optic movements.
Poulsen concludes, “The continuing need for optical image control is clear from the large number of photographers who use some form of hybrid camera for movement shots. These ‘mix and match’ capture systems don’t provide the optimum format or performance gained by integrating superior digital technology with the benefits of superior optic movements. At Hasselblad we don’t want to talk about view cameras or large- or medium-format, but rather of an integrated professional image capture system, designed to offer the maximum flexibility and benefits to its user. Today’s technology should deliver a system that will satisfy the most demanding photographer with any project they are undertaking and I believe that the H3DII and accessories such as the HTS 1.5 have gone a long way towards helping photographers to achieve that goal.”
The Hasselblad HTS 1.5 adapter is priced at €3,600/$5,395/£2,950 excluding tax and will be available from January, 2009.
New Phocus 1.1 for Mac and Phocus 1.0 for Windows Extend the Functionality and Appeal of Hasselblad’s Image Processing Software
Hasselblad today offers new image processing capabilities to its Mac users with the launch of Phocus 1.1 for Mac and brings the world’s most powerful image processing software to its growing numbers of Windows users with the launch of Phocus 1.0 for Windows. Windows users of the Hasselblad H3DII – the world’s most advanced DSLR – now have access to a processing toolbox that is both intuitive to use, having been modelled on popular workflow software, and that is capable of extracting the best images from the world’s most advanced digital camera system and the world’s largest raw image files.
Both new versions of the software introduce international language support, enabling the Phocus interface to be run natively in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese. Further increasing the integration of the H3D with Phocus, both versions can now also interpret the feedback from the Hasselblad HTS 1.5 tilt and shift adapter, which logs all movements as metadata, enabling the automatic execution of Hasselblad’s digital lens correction to optimise image quality, eliminating color aberration, distortion and vignetting. When photographers subsequently browse through the metadata, they can see the exact tilt, shift and rotation applied for each shot.
Phocus 1.1 for Mac offers users a number of other additional capabilities:
Free rotation tool, allowing users to correct any imbalance in the level of the horizon in an image;
Overlay functionality in main viewer and live video mode enabling greater precision in setting up creative shots;
Custom white calibration tool, ensuring a perfect neutral balance over the whole image and eliminating color casts;
H3D camera firmware upgrade functionality, so that once customers have downloaded the latest firmware from the Hasselblad web site, Phocus will make sure that the firmware is correctly uploaded to the camera system;
Series of workflow support functions, introduced at the specific request of customers and incorporating shortcuts to make Phocus even easier to use.
Christian Poulsen, Hasselblad’s Chief Executive Officer, says, “By modelling it on popular workflow, such as Aperture or Lightroom, we tried to ensure that the first version of Phocus was as familiar and appealing as possible. The great reception it received proved that this was the correct approach and so we’re now extending the powerful software toolbox, which provides seamless integration between the H3D camera and the computer system, to our growing customer base of Windows users, while increasing the functionality in the Mac version of the software to enable professional photographers to get more from both their images and their photography in general.”
While Phocus has been enhanced and its performance optimised, the fundamental attributes of the software remain the same:
- Uncompromising Image Quality and Moiré Removal Technology
Phocus RAW processor delivers perfect colors through the Hasselblad Natural Color Solution, and includes digital lens corrections for color aberration, distortion and vignetting (DAC I, II and III). Designed to save hours of post-production work, Phocus’s leading edge moiré removal technology also allows image detail to be preserved, even on extremely high resolution images.
- Camera controls
Phocus provides extended controls for the operation of Hasselblad cameras, including live video for easier shot set-up and workflow, and the ability to control the lens drive for focusing when the camera is in a remote position or when the digital capture unit is mounted on a view camera.
- Flexible Workflow
The Phocus GUI allows photographers to benefit from the ability to customise their set-up to suit their workflow and work with multiple high resolution images simultaneously.
- Additional Metadata
Phocus extends the metadata included in all Hasselblad images and facilitates accurate and detailed cataloguing and indexing as well as the easy management of images. Also included is GPS data functionality, allowing a host of new functions, such as linking GPS data directly to Google Earth for simple geographic reference, making image storage and retrieval much easier.
- Perfect Viewing Quality
The Phocus Viewer allows users to enjoy image viewing quality equal to that found in Photoshop and provides photographers with the capability to customise layout and composition to suit their current or desired workflow.
Hasselblad Phocus 1.1 for Mac and Phocus 1.0 for Windows are immediately available for registered users to download from www.hasselblad.com and includes a comprehensive user manual and training tutorial video in QuickTime format. Phocus comes free of charge with all Hasselblad digital camera products.