Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Series: Response to Inquires - Today's Topic Hasselblad H3D vs Nikon D3X

I receive many questions from people who visit my website / blog who are looking for advice on photography gear etc. This most recent question fits in with a topic I have been dealing with this past week, so I thought I would post my response for blog readers. I will be selecting a question to respond to from the many I receive each week - I do ask forgiveness since there is no way I can respond to every question that I receive, but I hope this blog will help somewhat.

Question/Comments: 1.  How do you achieve the DOF in your landscapes?
 I'm having a difficult time getting DOF like that - used to with my
4x5 but not with my H3DII-39.

2.  Were you pleased with the Nikon D3X enough to consider it adequate
for your primary camera?  I'm thinking of moving from H3DII-39 to the

1. As far as DOF, I do stop down to about f22 on most of my shots. I have found that stopping down lower does introduce some distortion that can negate the increased DOF.  I have used some DOF bracketing if I am doing a very near to far composition, this can be tricky though since it requires bracketing not just the foreground and distance but also the middle  ground area, so that you do not end up with a fuzzy mid ground. I would love if one of the camera makers would develop software that would do this in camera, a custom DOF bracketing function that composites the pictures automatically would be great. I have not had much luck with the photoshop DOF merge feature, maybe they can perfect that. I tend to rely on layering the images in Photoshop and using masking to reveal the most in focus areas. Hasselblad has a new tilt-shift adapter that I am looking forward to trying out at some point, that could be a solution as well.

2. The D3X is  a great travel camera and was easy to carry around Italy in a smaller pack that fit easily in airplanes and busses & the metro. Now that I have had a chance to analyze my images from the trip, I do find the picture quality very different from that of my Hasselblad H3D 39. The resolution difference is very noticeable to me, both on screen and in prints. The D3x produces lovely images but there is a slight painterly quality to them when enlarged, not as crisp and photographic as the H3D. I also noticed that there is less of a definition between colors - it is hard to describe but the H3D seems to produce images with more color variation and depth to them. The main area I notice a difference is when I really enlarge the image with Genuine Fractals 6.0, my preferred enlarging software - the H3D files always hold together even up to 8 foot wide prints. The D3X files can look a little stressed at that type of enlargement. If all I needed to do was make 16x20 prints the D3x would be adequate, however I find it necessary for my work to have a certain quality to it I need the larger file sizes of the H3D. I would not convert over to the D3x as my only camera, but it is very good for magazine images, smaller print work and low light handheld shooting, or inclement weather shooting, which the H3D is not really designed for. 

I am looking in to upgrading my H3D 39 megapixel system to the 50 megapixel system, which will require me to sell both the D3x body and the H3D 39 body and a few lenses - if anyone is interested in either of these send me an email at and I can give you more details. The H3D 39 will come with a one day Lake Tahoe field training session on the system by me. 

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