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Hasselblad launches the H5D-50c medium format CMOS sensor camera


March 5, 2014

The H5D-50c is the first medium-format camera from Hasselblad to use a CMOS sensor

The H5D-50c is the first medium-format camera from Hasselblad to use a CMOS sensor

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After teasing the H5D-50c in January, Hasselblad has now officially launched its first medium-format camera equipped with a CMOS sensor. This means the new 50-megapixel – and US$27,500 – camera features improved high ISO performance, better capture rates, and faster Live Video than its predecessors.

When the H5D-50c was initially announced, it was due to be the world's first medium-format CMOS sensor camera. But, since then, Phase One started shipping the IQ250 medium-format camera back, which also boasts a CMOS sensor. As such, the H5D-50c officially launches with the slightly long-winded title of the "world's first fully integrated medium format camera system to use CMOS sensor technology."

At the heart of the camera is a 50-megapixel CMOS sensor which measures 32.9 x 43.8 mm. While this is almost twice the physical size of that in 35-mm DSLRs, it's still considerably smaller than most other medium-format cameras, including the CCD-sensored H5D-50 it's based on. That said, the adoption of a CMOS sensor brings a number of benefits which are likely to be welcomed by medium-format shooters.

One of the key improvements is lower-light performance. An ISO range of 100-6400, up from ISO 50-800 in the H5D-50, means the H5D-50c will not have to be confined to the perfect lighting conditions of a studio. Shutter speeds also now range from 1/800 sec up to 12 minutes, where they previously maxed out at two minutes. The H5D-50c can shoot at 1.5 fps compared to the 1.1 fps of its predecessor.

Improved read-out times of the CMOS sensor also allow for a faster Live Video frame rate (10-15 fps), which should make it easier to use when setting up shots with the Phocus or Phocus Mobile Hasselblad image processing software. The H5D-50c also has an impressive high dynamic range (up to 14 stops) for preserving detail in shadow and highlight areas of images.

Measuring 153 x 131 x 205 mm (6 x 5.2 x 8 in) with the HC 80-mm lens, and weighing 2,290 g (5 lb) with the HC 80-mm lens, a battery and a CF card, the H5D-50c features a familiar design. It consists of the new 50c sensor unit, the H5D camera body, and the HVD 90x viewfinder, though others are also compatible. On the rear there's a three-inch screen with 460k dots and, being part of the Hasselblad H System, the H5D-50c takes those lenses.

The Hasselblad H5D-50c is available now for $27,500, or $30,000 with the HC F2.8 80-mm lens. While that might sound like a lot, it's still pretty much the same as the current price of the H5D-50.

Product page: Hasselblad H5D-50c

About the Author
Simon Crisp Simon is a journalist and photographer who has spent the last ten years working for national UK newspapers - but has never hacked a mobile phone - and specializes in writing about weird products and photography technology. When not writing for Gizmag, Simon is often found playing with LEGO and drinking far too much coffee. All articles by Simon Crisp

"When the H5D-50c was initially announced, it was due to be the world's first medium-format CMOS sensor camera. "

I think by now everyone knows that it was never "due" to be the first!

Hasselblad knew that Phase One were months ahead of them, and were planning to announce on January 24 that the IQ250 would start shipping to customers on Jan 27.

So in a desperate grab to get some headlines first, Hasselblad put out a press release on Jan 21, pre-announcing a back which "will go on sale in March".

At first, we were impressed. Then we saw the Phase One announcement (with image samples from the actual camera) a few days later, and we realized the sick stunt Hasselblad had tried to pull.

Hasselblad: that is really low carry-on. Pitiful that a once great camera company would stoop to PR sabotage.

BTW, it's now March, and we have yet to see a single image from the Hasselblad CMOS camera.

But should we be surprised? Regretably, no. Hasselblad have form in this area. They pre-announced the H4D-60 as being "on the horizon" and then took over a year to deliver it!

Readout Noise

Not being a photographer in any meaningful sense of the word, I am not able to comment on the specifics. But I do wonder how much the great mass of photographs taken by mobile 'phones and then used in the media will increase the public's tolerance of images that, while not first-rate, are perfectly acceptable for publication, especially in the field of reportage.

I imagine that computer software could be built in to a modern smart 'phone that stored all the necessary data in the image file that, providing there was room for cropping, would allow any half decent image processing technician to produce a result that is well composed and comes as close to excellence most of the time. (Such data might already be available.) Certainly an image that's as close to perfection as makes no difference to the vast majority of a magazine's or newspaper's readers, especially with the exodus away from print media to online versions.

In the light of the above, $30,000 worth of camera is a lot to lose compared to a smart 'phone, or bottom of the range DSLR, that can be treated as a consumable, especially when their relative prices are compared. Perhaps the only realistic market for a $30,000 camera is to be found in the studio for portraiture and for advertising artwork.

Mel Tisdale

Mel, in the good old days of Kodak, KodaChrome, & the mighty Instamatic camera, millions of perfectly acceptable snapshots were taken, printed, and valued. This is what kept Kodak people in Rochester, NY in new cars, toys, pools, & more toys for years. And all the time Hasselblad still made the very best in cameras. There is a market at both ends of the scale.


@ StWils

True! I suppose the difference today is that getting your photo into a newsroom is only a couple of clicks away. In the days of Instamatic cameras, it was a much less convenient process.

Mel Tisdale

The Pentax 645z announced 3 months ago as an update for the 645d is a much better buy with the same size CMOS sensor and much better integration and usability for less than 1/3 the price. It also shoots twice as fast, 3fps and you can push the ISO 8 stops further, out to ISO 204000, plus the screen has over twice as many pixels.

The engineering is just so much better on the Pentax that it's embarrassing for Hasselblad. Weather-sealing, interval/ time-lapse shooting, video, 27 AF sensors, 84,000 exposure/white-balance sensors, you name it, the Hasselblad doesn't have it.

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