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[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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50 Comments

what they're missing is the use of highlights/whites, shadows/black in lightroom - just the adjustment of exposure doesn't justly show the capabilities imho....

the other critique is not having ISO numbers of the shots they "edited" (or did i just not catch them saying it?)

nonetheless very cool to have a full on comparison :)

george washington's picture

 im still waiting for canon fanboys to start complaining how fstoppers isn't posting comparison reviews between canon 5dmarkiii and medium formats

George canon 5dmk3 is for different market that Nikon d800. And there is no point to compare canon with Hasselblad.

Ghislain Leduc's picture

Wondering why Canon Fanboys read any website that talks about anything other than just how Canon is the best, cuz we all know they know that Canon outbest E V E R Y T H I N G !!! :)

James Atria's picture

These types of idiotic statements serve no purpose whatsoever except to incite or what we call flamebait. I bet you are the same type of person that thinks that "that picture is amazing it must be the camera". It is sad that people are so focused on the gear that they forget that the photographer is the number 1 tool in the arsenal. Of course I blame Fstoppers for fueling this sort of attitude with their articles.

Sandy Phimester's picture

True. It's pretty strange to see people arguing like teenagers on a video game forum, making statements like that. No one mature, serious or professional would bother with such silly questions. It's like talking to a child, more or less. Take some photos, stop blaming gear for ANYTHING, and then talk to us like a normal adult human being. Please, and thank you.

 I am a teenager*on*a*video*game*forum and I am offended.... :)) Seriously now , I agree with you, the tool is rarely the problem, and if it is, one shouldn't whine about it; try something different or learn how to overcome it's problems.

Sandy Phimester's picture

Yes, it's too much of a generalization, but you know what I mean. Apple vs. Android, Mac vs. PC, Nikon vs. Canon. As if any of it matters. I really feel like these people who come and say comments like the ones above, are just being extremely immature and only make themselves look foolish.

I find it strange that anyone who wants to focus on being creative would want to post anything with such childishly negative behavoir! And you're right, I've met plenty of 15 year olds who act more mature. :)

Fanboy this or fanboy that. I'm not a fanboy. I'm a photographer! Many of us are. Let's forget about this stupid internet fanboyism behavior. It's so stupid! Haha. Because I own any system doesn't make me a fanboy.

matt bresler's picture

     To a certain extent, the camera does make the photograph.  I'd call myself a semi-professional photographer.  I supplement my income with my photography work and have been published in several international magazines and newspapers.  I shoot Nikon, but this summer I'm switching to Canon because of their color rendition, especially with skin tones.  
     I know I am on the one who sees and makes the shot, and I know how to use Lightroom and Photoshop to tweak the colors to be the way I want them.  But I also know that if the hardware I use can more easily give me an image I want, then that plays a part too.  I will miss being able to switch my focus point with only one button press and will hate relearning a system, but at the end of the day it truly is the right tool for the right job.  Looking at and learning from my peers' works has helped me decide (without going to 'which is better?' flamers) that one system is a more useful tool in my hands than another and not that 'one is better than the other because of blah blah blah.'  The tool does matter to an extent.

I assume, you haven't seen the color profile menu setting in your Nikon and shot with original "Normal" profile, which is, by default, cooler than slightly over-saturated Canon default profile. 

Chase Anthony's picture

Nikon fanboys are no better than Canon fanboys. It's like the Democrat/Republican argument.

Hasselblad H4D-40isn´t that much better than Nikon and i will not mention pricetag. And a good photographer will not let overexpose a skin if He/She doesn´t want that.

Nursultan Tulyakbay's picture

Anyone else catch their comment of how important it is to have a "better" (more expensive) camera then other people on the set? Anyone seen their work? I'm curious about how much of a gear investment the work is.

http://www.rothandramberg.com

Appearances matter... it's like a realtor showing a two million dollar home and driving up in a Ford Focus. Not that I'm equating the D800 to a Focus, but people look at these things. These two shoot pretty big ads and don't want the person who hired them to see them using a camera you can get from Best Buy. Also, many people will rent a Hasselblad when they need it instead of shelling out the $30,000 or whatever.

Nursultan Tulyakbay's picture

I don't know what Best Buy you are shopping at, but the ones around me you will not even see a D7000 let alone a D800. If I can satisfy a client with a $3000 camera and they need 10X that, then I guess I have a better profit margin.

Pixyst's picture

I agree that often ignorant people control money and there is the need to pander to them, because we need to get paid. That said, I wonder if there aren't other ways to convince your client of you ability to deliver in every case without having to waste money on needlessly expensive gear. Take Chase Jarvis for instance, he makes some extraordinary videos that clearly demonstrate his capability for excellence. If after watching those, a person still needs to see expensive gear as a measure of ability then that goes beyond ignorance into the realm of stupidity... and there is no cure for that.

Niklas Carlsson's picture

Being a photographer myself I can say that it does matter what kind of camera you're using. Having a client say "oh, thats the same camera that I'm using" is pretty damaging. And I could try to educate my clients as much as I want to. But even though I could technically take a lot of pictures with just a basic camera like the most inexpensive Canon DSLR or even my Lumix GX1, the fact is that you're selling more then the image when you're a professional photographer. You're selling confidence in what you do, and to do that, you need gear thats the average guy or girl isn't able to get. I know this is silly, but it's still a fact that I can't change.

John MacLean's picture

Terry Richardson used to shoot major ad campaigns and show up with a 35mm point and shoot film camera!

If you have a well known name you can do anything even show up with a point and shoot. But not as a Joe Average pothographer.

Alex Sheridan's picture

I really wouldnt say a Hasselblad is for beginners haha

I don't like
how they came to the conclusion that the skin tones aren't as good...
you can't just white balance a file and expect the best results. Now,
I'm not talking about tweaking the heck out of the colors to get there,
but some cameras work better with different raw converters and some
color profiles are better for skin than others. They just threw the
Nikon into their existing workflow, and that isn't a valid comparison.

From what I've read so far, including someone who shoots medium format
almost exclusively, the D800 is right up there in terms of skin tone.

John MacLean's picture

I agree with Mike, and I'm surprised no one else said anything about this. I guess everyone is too caught up in the Ferrari mentality bullshit. 

I feel like I wasted 17 minutes of my life watching this. When are these comparisons touting top gear going to get more scientific? I want to see a damn X-Rite 24 patch chart in both frames under the guy's face. I want them both WB to the light gray patch and custom calibrated in ColorChecker Passport, so they're using apples to apples Camera Calibrations in LR4. Then show me skin tones.

Then and only then will I feel like they're creating a fair and even playing field. And I would hope for that c@$h the Hassy is still going to kick some ass! 

https://www.facebook.com/JohnScottMacLean

Ghislain Leduc's picture

Nikon created the D800 not to compete against any of the current Canon, their main goal was to compete MF ~40MP. 99% of the world will not see the small difference between the DR from HB and D800 and the DOF won't really be a big factor as we saw the difference. 

The only difference that will remain is that lots of amateurs will buy he D800 and not the HB. Lots of photographer lately are starting to believe that you project a better work when you show up with a bigger camera, I think it's true in some way but it always depends what kind of work you do...

johnbp123's picture

Having the "appearance" of being professional because of the size or brand of the camera is silly. The quality, for the price difference, is negligible. Having used both DSLR & MF (owned one MF with 16 megapixel back) the bottom line is $. I'd much rather spend $3000.00 on the D800 than even rent a MF for 4 or 5 days and spend the same amount. The savings can be passed along to the client.  

Mr Blah's picture

I find that too.

the industrie is fueled by the ignorance of clients. If the clients sees you coming up with a "good-but-not-top-of-the-line" camera, he suspects you're no good. So you have to pay more just to shut up the critisism of stupidity....

Companies like Profoto, Elinchrom, hasselblad must be hella-happy but it's sad to see the cost of being a photog go up, simply because of miss information on the clients part...

(Note: I'm not saying that those companies are overpriced piece of shit, just that the extra price tag and over the top performance isn't justified in the eyes of a client... not always at least.. :S

johnbp123's picture

By the way if you want to impress clients with size show up at a shoot with a 4x5 view camera I still use mine once in a while and it always gets respect!

Michael J Traynor's picture

I thought it was a great review. I was thinking of getting a medium format camera and part of that plan was to sell off our second vehicle. Now, I can simply sell my backup camera (D700) and with a little cash I am in the game. The other benefit for me is that overall it's more versatile than any medium format camera I would have purchased. I thought the face recognition feature would be especially useful for flash photography.

Lee Morris's picture

To everyone that is saying that "appearance" is a silly reason to spend all of that money you are right that it is silly but at the same time it is very real. Clients that care about what camera you shoot with don't have budgets so saving them money isn't going to sway them. In fact, offering to save them money will make them find a more expensive photographer.  Let me explain it to you this way. 

Let's say you are a car salesmen and someone comes into your dealership and says they want to buy a Porche. You explain that they will probably never drive the Porche over 100 MPH so speed and horsepower isn't  relevant in their decision. Instead they should buy a Kia Rio because it's actually a smoother ride, gets better gas mileage, when it breaks it is way cheaper to fix, AND they will save $70,000! Guess what, you just lost a client. They will just go to another dealership to buy the Porche. 

The same goes for wedding photographers. If a brides father gives her $10,000 to spend on a wedding photographer and your highest package is $8,000, it doesn't matter how good your pictures are, you are perceived as "not good enough". She is going to spend every bit of that $10,000 because it isn't her money. 

As men, we should totally understand this. Why would we be proud to drive a Carrera  and embarrassed to drive a Rio? Why would we prefer a Rolex watch over a Timex when they both do THE EXACT SAME THING? Perceived value is silly but it is very real. 

Chad Andreo's picture

^^^ What he just said. Its sad but true. 

Mr Blah's picture

Perceived value is real....because consumers/clients are uninformed and not willing to do the research.

The laziness of the masses is what creates idolsl. Any first comer with 80k$ that drives off the Porsche dealer is a disaster waiting to happen. Why? Porsche jave very particular handling and if pushed to the limit...they bite. The customre didn't read or informed himself before hand. He should have bought a sports car that is within is driving limit....

Same here in photography. How many dumbass charge 2000-3000$ and don't deliver? Alot.
Why people still lend their money to stranger and surprise them selves they lost it all to a scam?

People don't read anymore... they just beleive headlines and salesmen bulletpoint. If they didn't, we would have "perceived" value...

Ranting off.. :S

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.

Ilja Meefout's picture

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.

David Shepherd's picture

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.

João Almeida's picture

censor? ;)

johnbp123's picture

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?

Kurt Stevens's picture

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).

freakyfritters's picture

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

Mike Jimenez's picture

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!!!

Jacob Schneider's picture

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??

James Duffy's picture

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...

Robert Park's picture

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.