[Video] The Nikon D800 Vs Hasselblad H4D-40

The Nikon D800 is an impressive 36mp which puts in the same realm as SOME medium format cameras. The Camera Store decided to film a video comparing the D800 and the similarly equipped Hasselblad H4D which has a 40 megapixel sensor. The Hasselblad has the advantage of a much larger sensor and a better, sharper lens but the D800 censor is designed to shoot at higher ISOs. Which camera will win each test? You'll have to watch to find out.

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Sandy Phimester's picture

 Of course, it IS unfortunate, but it IS real, absolutely. People do not seem to truly understand this, it was an interesting comment to hear in the video, but it was also a very realistic thing to say. Roth and Ramberg are in the city below me, 3 hours south, they have a great reputation, and are pretty big in the commercial world. That has nothing to do with what camera is used, but at the same time when on those huge shoots, they need to stand out. For some it might be a minimal thing, but to some on set, just the sub-conscious mindset is there. It does matter, as sad as that is. But that will never change.

Michael Kormos's picture

9 out of 10 clients do not know, nor do they care what camera, what format, and what brand you use. A discerning client, be it commercial, fashion, or retail comissions you for your ability to communicate. Fashion and commercial photographers are commissioned for their ability to communicate the brand's message, and how effectively they can do so. Client relies on you to use the right gear for the job, and entrusts you with this task after reviewing your portfolio, reviewing your past campaigns, and consulting your references. Most clients know zip about photography. Most art/creative directors at major ad agencies recognize effective methods at communicating the right message to the appropriate audience, and know that the right photographer recognizes the same. I'm sorry to disagree, but I've worked at top NYC ad agencies and know this process through and through. A photographer's sole belief that a job will be secured based on their choice of photographic gear is... solely, in the kind of a struggling photographer.

"A photographer's sole belief that a job will be secured based on their choice of photographic gear is... solely, in the mind of a struggling photographer."

I don't think anyone here is saying that. If you're work isn't good, the best gear in the world won't secure you a job, but inferior gear (inferior in the eyes of a client) could cost you a job... could. We're talking about *photography* for *fashion* and *advertising*. Can we really pretend that appearances don't matter in the realm of photography, fashion, and advertising? All of those things are about selling some sort of illusion, at least to some extent.

I agree to some extend. But the perceived value/price difference is more about the photographers name/reputation than what camera he uses. Porsche and Kia cars use the same gas to drive. I (as a photographer) can use the same camera as anyone else, but because of my name and reputation can charge more than somebody who just started. Also your paycheck when shooting commercially doesn't go magicly up when you use a Hasselblad compared to a Nikon, since the buy-out would be exactly the same. You might only charge more for equipment expenses, but that's not profit anyway. 

You probably can earn more using a D800 for those kind of assignments, since the equipment budget might be fixed. And also because a D800 is much more versatile imho. You can get different type of shots, much quicker, or shots impossible with an Hasselblad (e.g. on location where the shoot is with strobes, but all of a sudden the natural light is beautiful, but requires ISO 400 or more).

I also shoot editorial with Fujifilm X100 jpegs. With that, even cheaper, camera I can get shots that would be almost impossible with a DSLR. And that's not because of ultimate image quality. But having the shots is the most important.

As a photographer you should choose the camera that you gets the job done the best way possible for you (the photographer), because that is also the best for the client. There are also situations where a very hi-res mediumformatcamera might be essential. And I don't think it is difficult at all to convince the client about your camera choice (although I never had a client request me to use a specific camera) when you assure them that camera is gonna get the job the done. What works best for me, is also best for my client.

Lee hit it on the nail. The scale of the perceived value is always present. You can walk into a meeting with a HB in hand with jeans and a T-Shirt. A well dressed photographer with a Canon 5D M2 can lose that job just from the cameras size and value. 

Commercial agencies are always forward thinking. A D800 will never be good enough for outdoor work and most agencies think of outdoor in every job. If they are hiring a person for a ad job, they want the best and will pay for it, hands down. I see it everyday.

By the way, I love the D800 and plan to have one in the future. I ultimately want P1 IQ system. Until then, The D7000 is my road warrior, and I love it.

censor? ;)

Regarding my earlier comments, though I have yet to be hired for a six figure or higher ad campaign business people always appreciate me having save them money on my end. The owner of a company, having the final yay or nay in a shoot, understands the bottom dollar. If I save that person even a few hundred dollars he/she appreciates what I've done. It's forward business thinking which many creatives lack but is necessary in business. I don't shoot weddings so "vanity" spending on a bride's part may exist. I sell businesses on my being a vital part of their success which always means quality at the best price possible. Yes, price is equated to value but I still won't show up with a Hasselblad just because it "looks good."

Sandy Phimester's picture

 Right, but like me, you aren't doing 50'000 (or more) marketing campaigns working with art directors and 20 crew members... I don't believe it should matter, but I'm just saying that it does, and that's just the reality.

Pixyst's picture

I found it interesting that they couldn't get tethering to work with the D800. I did some cursory testing and tethering works just fine with my D800 into Aperture. The main issue is that I have an older machine with USB 2.0 so the file transfers were kind of slow but that did not slow down the shooting speed. In addition in spite of my gripes with Aperture's performance, I must say I have found the raw conversion to be spectacular and have never had a problem with skin tones. In fact the skin tones I get are way better that what I could see from that video. I think if they had a workflow optimized for the D800, the outcome may have been somewhat different.

Garrett Graham's picture

I have to admit the skin tone differences are stunning on the "H" that really makes me wonder how we can remain satisfied with the punchy colors on our DSLRs?

This guy is a total nikon fanboy, trying to sell them obviously on the nikon when you can clearly see the h4n winning.  yes the price is different but each camera has a different application.  >:|

Pixyst's picture

So I installed LR4 and imported a folder for a project I had in Aperture. The folder contains NEFs and TIFFs which resulted from processing in PS. The difference is night and day. LR4 does a pathetic job of processing the NEFs - they look way better in Aperture. The contrast can also be seen between the NEFs (which LR4 is rendering poorly) and the TIFFs (which LR4 of course displays accurately - no surprise) right next to them. I had been complaining about Aperture's slow performance but now it seems I am going to stick with Aperture because not only is the performance in LR4 just as bad or worse (I have old hardware) but the raw conversion in Aperture is far superior. I noticed this for D300 and D800 files but particularly for D800 files since they have such excellent skin tone (when properly processed).

 Pixyst, thanks for that.. i will have to re-investigate Aperture again.. im still using LR4 beta... :(

It has taken me a long time to realize that everything Lee said in his post is 100% true.  I didn't want to believe that notion in the beginning, but I have come to realize that high-paying clients know a hell of a lot more about equipment than I ever thought possible.  In fact, many out right ask what cameras and lenses I routinely use for weddings.  When I have answered, they knew exactly what I was talking about and one groom-to-be even came out and said that he had a Canon 5D Mark II too that he "putzes" around with "when he has time".  Typical guests of high-paying weddings know their equipment, as well, and when we consider that many of those guests are potential clients for their own weddings some day, it all starts to make more sense.

Appearance matters, whether I like it or not.  It's just business, as they say, I suppose...

Thanks for posting the video!  Very interesting.

Great Job, Thanks for sharing!!!

i cannot wait until muppets stop drawing the line at megapixels for fucks sake

If the should be a even fight they should use Nikon D800E...whit this filter of??

Interesting comparison.. somewhat.  I know such tests are very difficult to make "fair".  And, I see why the 50mm was chosen for the Nikon to match the 80mmm on the Hassy, BUT....even the top of the line Nikon 50mm is a VERY poor performer compared to their 85mm or say a Zeiss 100 f2.  And...it looked like the Nikon 50mm 1.8 was used which is a $100 lens!!!!

The D800 will satisfy my MFD lust for quite some time  :)

Ken Yee's picture

Seemed like a pretty fair comparison to me.  Run the D800 under Capture One and the skin tone issue will be fixed.  LR4 isn't great w/ skin tones at all and tends to push everything a bit reddish.

And LOL at the people appalled at the gear comments.  Reminds me of a photographer show said he bought an old medium format Hassy and just left it in the studio w/o any film.  Customers would walk in and go "oooohhh...you shoot Hassy?" and be impressed.
Customers are stupid...they don't appreciate talent usually is more important than gear nowadays unless they want to print wall sized images...

Very good review. It was apples to apples which is important.

I have the H3dII-50 and purchased the D800 weeks ago. I would have to
say that I agree with the findings except for 1 major issue. I did the
similar tests with the 50 vs 80mm prime and on that measure the Nikon
was close to the Hassy only in the center of the frame.
When I tried the 24-70 Nikkor vs my 35-90 HCD is was all over. The
Nikon zoom is in no way near the ball park in comparison. Granted the
35-90 is 4x the cost and enormous but the Nikon just falls apart with
any of the zooms I tried. Being a landscape shooter corner performance
is important to me especially when I am stitching for a pano.

This is an issue that can be fixed by Nikon with improved glass
however I would assume that people are not going to want to pay the dues
for a zoom that is in the class of the 35-90 HCD.

Now if Hasselblad could lighten this tank of a stainless clad workhorse I would be ecstatic.
For the price it could be titanium.