Finding More Dynamic Range

This is not going to be a run down of the H3DII-31, 39 or 50 cameras. They are not something I shoot with on a daily basis — weekly or monthly either. But I learned long ago that even if you don’t use a company’s equipment, if they are at the top of their game you can still learn a lot from them. And today I learned a three things:

If you want to show dynamic range you can pull up images side-by-side on a computer screen or talk about bits, but if you want to make an impact how about setting up a stage which poses a difficult scene to shoot. That is exactly what Hasselblad did. With more light than just about any other booth in the whole Photokina show, reflecting on a surface of newly fallen snow that is lying on top of bright white Plexiglas.

(Okay, so it was fake snow but it was driven fake snow.)

Then lets add a model wearing black. At first you think, this is a nice scene to shoot. You grab your SLR and take a quick shot and it looks pretty good, the model is posing for you, the snow gently falling in the background among the birch trees.

But then the Hasselblad booth person hands you a H3DII to take the same picture. The difference is dramatic. I have never seen a better live demonstration of pushing the dynamic range limit of a camera. It quickly showed how the 15-bit output from the Hasselblad sensor can help capture stunning images.

The next thing I learned is that there are focus corrections going on when you change aperture. A gentleman in front of me asked about this, and I wasn’t too sure what he was asking. It was explained that when you change aperture there is a slight change in how the light travels through the filters in front of the image sensor — more at an angle. Since focus is adjusted with the lens wide open, when the aperture is closed down to the exposure size, focus needs to be adjusted. (This is not a depth-of-field thing.)

This adjustment is done automatically and it is an extremely fine adjustment — 5 microns.

And the last thing I learned is how being straightforward in front of a gaggle (or should that be flock?) of photography journalists can be impressive. During the Q&A the question everyone was going to ask was asked: “How do you think the Leica announcement of a medium format camera will affect your business?”

With other manufacturers you might hear some hemming and hawing (at least in a public forum) but with Hasselblad, the answer was given without hesitation. They don’t think there is enough room (or market) between the full frame sensor cameras like Canon, Nikon, Sony and Hasselblad. Regardless of whether you agree with it is a respectful yet straightforward response to a question on everyone’s mind. Nice.