Sunday, February 21, 2010

Upcoming Presentations

I just updated my web site with a new section on upcoming presentations and workshops - here is the link.



Friday, February 19, 2010

Is Handheld Medium Format Becoming A Reality?

Alaska Fine Art 14
Denali - Handheld From Airplane with Hasselblad H3D 

As a landscape photographer I primarily shoot with a tripod in low light (sunrise & sunset) conditions, usually at the very low iso of 50 on my Hasselblad Medium Format H3d-39. I have only used the H3D for handheld work with very bright daylight conditions that allow me to use a high shutter speeds with a low iso (usually no higher than iso 200). The image above of glaciers on Denali in Alaska was shot with the H3D handheld from an airplane in very bright conditions.

Last week I went to Calumet in San Francisco to check out the new Hasselblad H4D-40 megapixel camera. The Hasselblad video presentations on the camera seemed to really be promoting it as a handheld shooter. You can see the videos at this link:

http://www.hasselbladusa.com/about-hasselblad/h4d-40-films.aspx

I was able to shoot a few frames outdoors with this new camera at various isos, ranging from iso 100 to 1600. I was very pleased with the quality of the 40 megapixel files at high isos, and found that iso 800 could easily produce a large exhibition quality print. With more agressive noise reduction the iso 1600 could produce a good print. At iso 800 I could shoot at 1/400 of a second at f16 outdoors in overcast conditions.  1/400 vs 1/20 shutter speed at a lower iso is  the difference between getting a good depth of field wildflower scenic shot on a breezy day versus getting nothing usable. I prefer handheld shooting for photography overseas and in more developed urban areas -  it is really a pain to set up a tripod in urban areas or really anywhere there are people around.  Tripods really create unwanted attention. With a very usable iso of 800 that can be pushed to 1600  I think the H4D 40 can realistically be used for handheld photography, and most importantly produce wonderful high resolution 40 megapixel files that can make 30" wide large prints with no upsampling, and can go up to 10 feet or more with upsampling such as Genuine Fractals. Given that the H4D is really no more of a burden to carry than a large DSLR like the Nikon D3/D3x, I think the H4D is now viable for me to shoot with as a handheld system. The Nikon D3-D700 is still supreme for super high iso shooting (above iso 1600), but it is difficult to make fine art prints larger than 30" with these cameras.

Hasselblad's new True Focus technology will also be very useful for me since I do a lot of landscape compositions that require focus on a very close foreground in the lower portions of the frame. I have an upgrade order in for an H4D-60 which has true focus. The H4D-60 has a different sensor than the H4D-40, so I will plan on testing its high iso capabilities before determining which H4D system to upgrade to - the H4D-50 would also be an option if it's high iso performance is similar to the H4D-40. 

Here is a link to download a small crop of an H4D file at iso 800 - no sharpening or noise removal has been applied to this file:

Download H4D40iso800crop

You can judge for yourself the image quality. This image was developed in the Hasseblad Phocus 2.0 software - noise removal and sharpening were de-activated.

Comments and contributions on this topic are welcome - I will share any future comparisons and test files here as well. 



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is Handheld Medium Format Becoming A Reality?

Alaska Fine Art 14
Denali - Handheld From Airplane with Hasselblad H3D 

As a landscape photographer I primarily shoot with a tripod in low light (sunrise & sunset) conditions, usually at the very low iso of 50 on my Hasselblad Medium Format H3d-39. I have only used the H3d for handheld work with very bright daylight conditions that allow me to use a high shutter speeds with a low iso (usually no higher than iso 200). The image above of glaciers on Denali in Alaska was shot with the H3D handheld from an airplane in very bright conditions.

Last week I traveled to Calumet in San Francisco to check out the new Hasselblad H4D-40 megapixel camera. The Hasselblad video presentations on the camera seemed to really be promoting it as a handheld shooter. You can see the videos at this link:

http://www.hasselbladusa.com/about-hasselblad/h4d-40-films.aspx

I was able to shoot a few frames outdoors with this new camera at various isos, ranging from iso 100 to 1600. I was very pleased with the quality of the 40 megapixel files at high isos, and found that iso 800 could easily produce a large exhibition quality print. With more agressive noise reduction the iso 1600 could produce a good print. At iso 800 I could shoot at 1/400 of a second at f16 outdoors in overcast conditions. At iso 100 I was 1/20 of a second at f14. 1/400 vs 1/20 shutter speed is  the difference between getting a good depth of field wildflower scenic shot on a breezy day versus getting nothing usable. I prefer handheld shooting for photography overseas and in more developed urban areas -  it is really a pain to set up a tripod in urban areas or really anywhere there are people around.  Tripods really create unwanted attention. With a very usable iso of 800 that can be pushed to 1600  I think the H4D 40 can realistically be used for handheld photography, and most importantly produce wonderful high resolution files that can make large prints. Given that the H4D is really no more of a burden to carry than a large DSLR like the Nikon D3/D3x, I think the H4D is now viable for me to carry that as a handheld system. 

Hasselblad's new True Focus technology will also be very useful for me since I do a lot of landscape compositions that require focus on a very close foreground in the lower portions of the frame. I have an upgrade order in for an H4D-60 which has true focus. The H4D-60 has a different sensor than the H4D-40, so I will plan on testing its high iso capabilities before determining which H4D system to upgrade to.

Here is a link to download a 22 megapixel size crop of an H4D file at iso 800 - no sharpening or noise removal has been applied to this file:



Monday, February 1, 2010

New Panorama Tools / Free Pass to PMA 2010

I have been working on a project that will require me to stich together about 10 frames of 16-bit full resolution Hasselblad H3D 40 megapixel files. I have not had the best luck using the photomerge feature in CS4 for this - it seems that I am asking the program to do more than it is capable of and end up with weird results that are not at all a seamless panorama - more like a jumbled mess. I researched some other alternatives and found a great tool called PTgui, short for Panorama Tools graphical user interface. This program is amazing - I fed it 10 of these high res 16-bit image files and it processed them into a perfect panorama at full native resolution in a minute or two, with almost perfect results. I just needed to do a small amount of cloning in some areas. I recommend this program to anyone who needs to process very high resolution panoramas. Here is a shot that I was working on, this Sunset Panorama of Lake Tahoe is 10 frames stitched together. This is a test image for a project I am working on that will eventually be printed 150 feet long and 10 feet high, although this is not the print I will be using (still waiting for a better sunset). This is of the Sierra crest along the west shore of Lake Tahoe. 

LT-sunset-feb2010_0090-Panosh-cropclr 

PMA 2010 is just around the corner. This is a great event to see what is happening with the photo industry and the picture framing industry as well. It will be in Anaheim CA this year. If you want to go you can try to register with this link, it could save you the $100 trade show entry fee (courtesy of DryTac). Olof and I are planning on going if the weather is not bad for traveling.

http://registration.experient-inc.com/showpho101/Default.aspx?ExInvite=EVITEA&ExId=2042


 



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