Hasselblad H6D-100c Comparison Review - Full Frame Out-Performs Medium Format

Hasselblad H6D-100c Comparison Review - Full Frame Out-Performs Medium Format

Hasselblad holds a special place in the photography community and is well known for making some of the best cameras currently available. I have been using the H6D-100c camera system for more than a year, and I wanted to see if it holds up to the perception. With its huge 100-megapixel sensor, this camera does produce some very detailed and beautiful images. The latest "orange dot" lenses from Hasselblad have all been rated up to and potentially even beyond 100 megapixels, making them very effective. With that in mind, it would seem nonsensical to compare this camera to a full-frame system, however after seeing some of the results, the opposite is true.

Medium Format Look

For the first comparison below I used the 100mm Macro from Canon on a Sony a7R II versus the 100mm f/2.2 on the H6D-100c. The immediate difference you'll be able to see is the wider angle of view from the Hasselblad due to the much bigger sensor. This is quite essentially the "medium format look," the wider angle of view but with the same shallow depth of field of a telephoto lens. The colors are also far more vibrant in the Hasselblad image with the yellows in the background and skin tones showing noticeably more detail. The Sony, on the other hand, has a much closer crop due to the smaller sensor and the colors are muted with less detail in the skin tones. Expressions aside, the image from the Hasselblad is more pleasing and interesting. Looking at this comparison, one could almost justify the massive price difference between both cameras and lenses.

It is important to note however that this above comparison is mostly demonstrating the difference in the angle of view only when using the same focal length. If a more equivalent lens is used against the 100mm f/2.2, such as the Otus 85mm or the Sigma 85mm Art, then the advantage would quite clearly be with full frame. A good 85mm lens will produce shallower depth of field and have more compression due to needing to stand further back to match the framing. Not to mention the fact that the full-frame 85mm lenses will be noticeably sharper than the 100mm f/2.2. 

Colors

The 16-bit color depth that many medium-format cameras possess gives a very compelling and great reason to upgrade. This is especially useful for portraits and the extra colors really do allow for better editing. Even when straight out of the camera, one can leave the vibrance and saturation sliders well alone and the images still look great. Having said that, if you don't mind spending a tiny amount of time on your images, you can very easily match the colors from the Hasselblad. Canon is known for having really good color science, and due to that, adding the tiniest amount of vibrance to your images can shrink the gap significantly to a point where they are difficult to tell apart. The Canon 5DS R is one of those cameras that produces incredibly accurate colors and if you use a ColorChecker Passport (which has not been used in these images), this is further amplified. In the examples below, you'll be able to see the differences in the colors between the Canon, Sony, and Hasselblad. Notice the yellows and oranges that are present in the Sony image, are not as well pronounced and somewhat muddy compared to the Canon and Hasselblad. Also, in the background, the greens and purples are far more pronounced in the Hasselblad and Canon images.

Canon 5DS R

Sony a7R II

Hasselblad H6D-100c

Even without the extra vibrance, Canon produces some incredible colors when coupled with lenses like the Zeiss 135mm f2 and even Otus lenses. This is because they have been designed to capture the most amount of detail without any compromises.

The Lenses

Unfortunately, when it comes to detail and sharpness the Hasselblad lenses really fall short and are incapable of producing the high level that they are presumed to be able to do. In every test completed, lenses like Zeiss, Sigma Art, and even some well-known Canon lenses out performed the Hasselblad lenses in sharpness and detail. Even with the extra megapixels, Hasselblad lenses simply can't render all of the resolution available to them. This came as a huge surprise to me and I'm certain many will doubt the results, however I can assure you very confidently that there isn't a single lens from Hasselblad that can outperform any of the best from full frame. These tests and comparisons were done in a studio with controlled lighting, using a tripod, and tethered shooting. Every image was double checked multiple times for focus and a large number of images were taken with only the best selected to prevent any faults and the full-frame lenses won every time. In the examples below the lenses used are the 150mm f/3.2 N and 120mm f/4 II versus the Canon 100mm f/2.8L and the Zeiss 135mm. No sharpening has been applied to any of the images and you'll notice a clear difference.

Canon 5DS, Zeiss 135mm f/2

Hasselblad H6D-100c, HC 150mm f/3.2 N

Not only is the Zeiss less than a third of the price but is it significantly sharper and the Hasselblad suffers from more chromatic aberrations. Chromatic abberation was a major problem for the first version of this lens however it hasn't been fully corrected in the latest version. The Zeiss will also have shallower depth of field compared to the Hasselblad due to the focal length and wider aperture. Also, the Zeiss was shot on a Canon 5DS meaning that if it were on the 5DS R, the Canon image would be even sharper. 

The second set of images below are comparing the two macro lenses on the Hasselblad and the Sony a7R II. The macro from Hasselblad was the best performing from lens from Hasselblad, but even with that, it wasn't able to produce more detail compared to the Canon. The differences between the two are negligible with neither demonstrating better performance. This also means that if you were to use the Zeiss Milvus or even the 90mm from Sony the results would be much better for full frame.

Hasselblad H6D-100c, 120mm Macro

Sony a7R II, Canon 100mm Macro

The worst performing lens from Hasselblad was by far the 24mm f/4.8 N, this lens even when stopped down to f/14 is incredibly soft, especially in the corners. In fact the performance is so bad that even the telephoto lens from the iPhone 7 Plus is much sharper in the corner versus the Hasselblad. You'll be able to see the difference below. 

Hasselblad H6D-100c, 24mm

iPhone 7 Plus

Ultimately, Hasselblad lenses are by far some of the worst lenses available on the market and do not perform at the level they are stated. This is especially true when you consider the price difference between each of the lenses and the fact that an iPhone can produce sharper results in certain areas is very disappointing. The lenses from Hasselblad have been rated up to 100 megapixels, but based on the results that rating can be put to question.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is often discussed as being a major advantage for medium format, however in my testing with various medium-format cameras I have not found this to be completely true. For the most part current medium-format cameras tend to be better at recovering highlights, yet when it comes to recovering shadows they produce noticeably noisier images even when shot at their respective base ISO. With the example below, you can see the difference between the Hasselblad and the Sony a7R II. The images were properly exposed and then over exposed in post to exaggerate the shadows. The Hasselblad is demonstrating more noise in the shadows compared to the a7R II. If the Hasselblad was compared to a camera such as the Nikon D810, this difference would be more pronounced. 

The difference may not seem significant, but when you consider the price it becomes significant enough. For dynamic range, medium format is not automatically better. It depends entirely on which camera it is being compared to because there are several full-frame cameras that perform better. It may also be worth mentioning that the Phase One produces cleaner images compared to the Hasselblad due to it being able to shoot at ISO 50.

Camera Features and Performance

The camera itself does have some very redeeming features. True Focus is a great addition, and although it's not a perfect implementation of a focusing system it does allow for very quick and accurate focus. The menu system in the camera is quite possibly the best menu system I have ever used. The touchscreen is very intuitive and allows for seamless and effective navigation throughout the camera. Changing settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO can be done very quickly reducing the amount of time fiddling through menus. Wi-Fi is also a huge advantage in this camera and being able to tether to a mobile device means that you may not always need to tether to a laptop. This makes the camera far more effective if you are to use it outside and away from a studio environment. The most useful feature I enjoyed with this system was the leaf shutter in all the new Hasselblad N lenses. The sync speed has been increased by double to 1/2,000 s allowing far greater control of lighting and shooting conditions. High-speed sync isn't necessarily required due to this and this expands the kind of flashes and studio heads that you can use for your shoots.

The viewfinder in this camera is also incredible and looking through gives you this massive and very comfortable view of the world. Hasselblad is known for making some amazing viewfinders and this one does not disappoint. 

The most surprising feature in this camera is the ability to shoot 4K raw using the full width of the sensor. The fact that it does not crop the width of the sensor means you can use the medium format lenses to their full capabilities and getting the right composition is made much easier for video. That unique look is a very interesting and compelling feature for this camera. Lastly, having dual storage card slots gives this camera a major advantage over its main competitor, Phase One. 

Although True Focus is a great feature, the camera does struggle quite badly to gain focus in many scenarios. In general, shooting away from a studio environment, I found myself switching to manual focus far too often due to the camera failing to find focus. This isn't a major issue but does need to be noted. The menu system is fantastic, but the camera does suffer quite consistently from bugs and glitches. After having several discussions with other Hasselblad shooters it would seem that this is quite a prominent thing across the board for Hasselblad and not discussed very often. A camera of this value should not require regular shutdowns just to make it work even in less challenging environments.

Build Quality

The build of this camera is a real let down. For a camera that costs almost $33,000 to have such shockingly bad build quality is unacceptable. The camera feels like it's mostly built out of a cheap creaking plastic that in no way represents the high-end camera it's supposed to be. The top LCD screen feels like plastic too and unlike the Phase One, it's still the old Casio watch type screen which makes it difficult to see in bright light. What's worse are the buttons on the top screen which include the much-used power button. These buttons remind me of a cheap remote control where if you press the buttons too much, eventually they get stuck in. In fact, the camera I had actually did have the power button slightly pressed in due to regular use. To have this kind of a build on a $3,000 camera is unacceptable and I can't think of a reason as to why they would assume this would be sufficient. It feels as though this is simply a rehash of the old H5D without many (if any) updates. This is quite possibly the worst built camera I have used in a very long time.

What I Liked

  • The colors this camera produces are beautiful 
  • 4K raw recording
  • The perception this camera gives
  • Hasselblad customer service
  • The leaf shutter
  • Wi-Fi features 
  • Touchscreen and menu layout
  • Cheaper than the Phase One

What I Disliked

  • Poor performing lenses
  • Terrible build quality
  • Consistent bugs and glitches
  • Slow and lacking focusing system
  • The price in no way reflects the performance

Final Thoughts

It seems the perception and brand of Hasselblad are keeping them afloat within the market and users still presume this system to be the best available. It's a shame that Hasselblad hasn't been able to create a fully developed system with properly updated lenses, instead of rehashes of old hardware. Due to its bugs, glitches, and poor performing lenses, it's difficult to consider this a professional system. Hasselblad has been going through some problems with managing their finances and this could be the reason behind their under develops systems. Their initial agreement with DJI turned sour which resulted in their CEO being forced from the company and Hasselblad being bought out by DJI. Even the X1D, which was poised to be a great leap into the future, was reviewed as being an under developed system. The H6D is supposed to be their flagship, however the performance is mediocre at best. It's disappointing, to say the least. Hasselblad is in dire need of a proper update, because this does not feel like the same company that went to the moon.

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86 Comments

Sorry Usman,

But I have to agree with your many detractors here. This test just shows that you don't shoot regularly with medium format and don't appreciate the different technique needed. I do, and have for over 25 years (Yes I am old, and started on film, but I have been digital for my commercial work for 15 + years).

I will give you an example. You make a point (in one of your responses) of stressing the importance of shooting wide open to asses the quality of a lens. I can't remember the last time I shot "wide open" with my H1/Leaf AptusII. I have attached a beauty image, where the eyes are in focus, but the ears are not. f/13 @ 110mm.

I also have a DSLR system and use it where appropriate. These types of articles are just tiresome. As a working professional it never ceases to amuse me that people seem to feel the need to "prove" that one is better than the other, and who only has one system anyway, jeez. Different tools for different jobs, why is that so hard to grasp?

Jason Berge.

Usman Dawood's picture

Just to clarify I think you misunderstood what I said. I'm not stressing the importance of shooting wide open. What I'm saying is that shooting wide open is a fairer way to compare equivalent lenses as is shows the maximum optical performance of any lens.

Also I'm not trying to prove one is better than the other I'm simply looking at the claim made by medium format shooters and manufacturers and trying to determine how true it is.

Medium format shooters and manufacturers make the claim for having the best lenses and best cameras for image quality but whn you actually test that claim it's false.

If you can provide evidence to prove those claims I'd be very interested.

"What I'm saying is that shooting wide open is a fairer way to compare equivalent lenses as is shows the maximum optical performance of any lens."

That is just silly. Shooting wide open is a very rare occurrence, even with a DSLR. And it will most certainly NOT show it's maximum optical performance, that would be two stops down from wide open.

A "fairer" way to judge the quality of a lens is to see how it performs when used in the real world, doing actual work. The example I shared above would have had ludicrously thin depth of field at f/4.5 (wide open for that lens at 110mm) but at f/11 ½ (f/13) it is both critically sharp and has the desired falloff from the face. It was shot in studio with strobes obviously, so I had control of the light and could tailor it to the f/stop needed for the result. Looks very nice printed at A0.

Jason.

Usman Dawood's picture

You exaggerate the shallowness of the 110mm f4.5 when shot wide open. It's not that shallow relatively speaking. Canons 100mm macro at 2.8 will produce shallower DOF, so will an 85mm f1.4 and a 135mm f2. All of these lenses are very usable wide open and gaining focus isn't extremely difficult.

A question for you, do you honestly think that any of the Hasselblad lenses even when stopped down would be better in performance against the Zeiss 135mm, the Otus lenses, Milvus, Sigma Art and possibly even some well known Canon and Nikon primes?

I'd wager it may beat some, but definitely not all meaning that the best from full frame will beat the best from Hasselblad.

"You exaggerate the shallowness of the 110mm f4.5 when shot wide open. It's not that shallow relatively speaking. Canons 100mm macro at 2.8...."

Well since I own both, I guess I will take your word for it.

Usman Dawood's picture

Nope, you don't need to take my word for it, you can compare the two and find that my statement is correct.

Sensor size does not change DOF, f4.5 is still f4.5.

Look Usman,

You seem to be taking this all bit too personally.

The point that I and several others are trying politely to make, and that you are obviously missing, (or choosing to ignore) is that your test is at odds with many years of experience of daily use of these tools.

I have personally owned a Hasselblad H camera for over 10 years (as well as a Hasselblad V system and a Fuji GX680III system) all of which I use with a couple of Leaf Digital Backs. As well as a DSLR system, with Zeiss lenses.

But you seem to be convinced that you are right, so I guess that is that. But I will try to explain one more time my points, that you missed, just to be nice.

To be clear, I would never shoot ANY lens wide open, unless I had to due to other considerations such as low light that I could not overcome with supplemental lighting, regardless of format, 135, 120, 4x5 anything. Period. Why?

Because that will not give you the best "quality" which you seem to be quite fixated on. If you want the best results from ANY lens, stop it down 2-3 stops. The second point that I was alluding to, is that shallow DOF and Bokeh are not the be all and end all and I don't really get your obvious obsession with it. Like I gave in my example, eyes in focus ears soft, f/13, go figure.

Usman Dawood's picture

Jason, I'm honestly not taking any of this personally. I'm sorry if it comes across like that, it's not at all my intention. I really do believe in the points I have made as it is based on evidence and can be demonstrated.

Having said that, I'm genuinely interested in other peoples thoughts and if someone makes a good point I'd be happy to take it on board, but, it does need to be backed up by evidence. This is one of the main reasons I'm replying to so many of the comments because I'm interested.

I completely agree with you about any lens being better stopped down which also means that all of the lenses I compared including the full frame ones were at a level disadvantage. Remember, all of the full frame lenses were shot wide open too.

Your personal preferences are completely respectable for me and are not in any way being put to question. I have absolutely no problems with that but they also do not counter my points in the article.

Lastly, I don't have an obsession with bokeh, I shoot architecture if anything I much prefer deeper DOF.

Jared Wolfe's picture

re: Sensor size does not change DOF, f4.5 is still f4.5.

My iphone shoots f/2.2 why am I not getting some killer bokeh like your h6d shot? f/2.2 is f/2.2 right man?

Your statement is true only if you have the same distance to subject and same lens length. As your sensor size increases at least one of those has to change to create the same image.

For an 85mm working distance I have to use a 120mm on my Hasselblad with its 49x36 sensor. This makes f/4 give me f/2.8 DOF. If you place my 120mm on a Sony A7 at exact same distance you are correct that it would it have the same DOF but you no longer have the same image - its much closer. To get the same image they have to back up which changes the DOF or they have to switch to an 85mm which changes the DOF.

So for equivalent images at equivalent f/stop medium format will have shallower DOF by about 1-stop on most modern digital medium format cameras.

Frank Withers's picture

Why do people not understand this? It is what gives the medium format "look"- the ability to obtain shallower DOF at equivalent FOV. The comparisons between my Phase one/Schneider/Leaf Credo back and Sony A99-II/Zeiss lenses shows obvious differences, the better results obviously from the phase system...

Usman Dawood's picture

"My iphone shoots f/2.2 why am I not getting some killer bokeh like your h6d shot? f/2.2 is f/2.2 right man?"

Purely because the actual focal length is different. Focal length on the iPhone is 3.3mm. Wider angle lenses produce deeper DOF compared to more tele lenses.

"So for equivalent images at equivalent f/stop medium format will have shallower DOF "

If they are equivalent then the DOF will be the same. Hence the word equivalent.

A few examples below or shallower DOF for full frame.

50mm f0.95 vs 80mm f2.8,

50mm f1.2 vs the MF lens 80mm f2.8

135mm f2 vs 150mm f3.2 (similar FOV on the 50mp sensor)

Also, the majority of full frame lenses will focus much closer than medium format lenses so the greater potential of shallower DOF is with full frame.

Jared Wolfe's picture

Wow, way to miss the point.

50mm f0.95 vs 80mm f2.8 both shot at 2.8 with same framing will result in shallower DOF for the medium format shot.

IE f/2.8 != f/2.8

Usman Dawood's picture

Due to difference in focal length not sensor size. Focal length changes DOF regardsless of sensor size.

Frank Withers's picture

You honestly believe sensor size has no impact on DOF? ... Well alllllrighty then.

Usman Dawood's picture

I'll demonstrate and prove my points in an article.

Frank Withers's picture

I figured this is just the beginning of the crusade.

Usman Dawood's picture

Not a crusade it's enlightenment :-).

Usman, you are very defensive. Consider first that there maybe a reason that people who shoot and own both systems are saying that you are not correct.

Usman Dawood's picture

I'm defending my points with evidence, I ask the same from others.

Doug Peterson's picture

But not of Phase One :). Continual investment by Phase One over the last decade has widened the gap between it's lens line and the rest of the medium format field.

Usman Dawood's picture

I have to agree with that. Phase one lenses are better than all of the other medium format manufacturers.

Shooting wide open is one measure of a lens but I can't think of anyone claiming it is the optimum way to show the maximum performance of a lens. The maximum performance of a lens has always been measured stopped down.

Usman Dawood's picture

The full frame lenses were shot wide open too, they also sharpen up more as you stop down. This is not unique to medium format. The argument against shooting wide open would have been effective had I stopped the full frame lenses down but not the medium format ones.

I, too, am a professional photographer who shoots both in the studio and on location. I use and own Hasselblad systems (the H5D and H6D), Sony (A7S and A7RII) and Fuji (XT-2 and X-PRO2). I have also owned and used extensively various Nikon systems, including every D pro body as well as the D800 & D810. I have vast experience with all these system's lenses, as well as all three of the Zeiss Otii, several other Zeiss lenses, including the 135 APO, all of the Sigma Arts...well you get the picture, no pun intended.

At one point, I found articles such as this unfortunate bit of misinformation very distressing. Now, I realize it is the price we pay for an information vehicle (the internet) that has no meaningful barrier to entry—anyone can post an opinion, not matter how wrong headed or ill conceived. Normally, I don't take the time to respond—poor analytical and expository writing such as this doesn't deserve more of my time, wasted in an attempt to rebut. But... I fear this review is so adamantly and authoritatively stated and yet so completely off the mark, I can truly see it leading to poor product choices for anyone who has the misfortune of trusting Fstopper and this addled writer. These are views clearly born of the hubris of the profoundly ignorant, and should be dismissed and ignored. But I know that it will indeed mislead some of the budding photographers reading it. Unfortunate.

The tests are irrelevant in that they in no way reveal the relative merit of any of the systems, let alone the distinct advantage of medium format. It's therefore not at all surprising that Usman's POV runs completely at odds and afoul of the conclusions of literally every pro (many dozens) I know who has any experience with Phase, Hasselblad, and even the Pentax 645Z, and now the Fuji GFX system. But's not just us blind, dopey pros who disagree with Usman, credible writers such as, among many others, Ming Thein and Lloyd Chambers', both of whose reviews, analysis, images, technical analysis, etc. etc. reveal conclusions that are nearly at the polar opposite of what is blithely put forth here. Chambers is about as thorough and as thoughtful—not to mention in possession of a profound understanding of photographic technology—as any equipment reviewer I know. Lloyd does not suffer fools or foolish equipment gladly, and is not easily tempted or persuaded. He hates bullshit, in other words. He'd hate this article.

You ask for proof, but as photographers it is not our job to prove you wrong. It's your job to be correct and thoughtful in your writing and analysis. It's our job to make great images. In fact, our income depends on it. In any event: What would proof truly mean to you, since your entire article is nothing more than a logical straw man. I fear you wouldn't know "proof" if it bit you in the ass. To paraphrase Swift: "it's foolish to attempt to reason a man out of an idea he wasn't reasoned into in the first place."

Now, see, I do regret wasting my time.

Usman Dawood's picture

Medium format manufacturers and shooters made the initial claim which is that their cameras are the best in terms of image quality and they have the best optics. The claim was theirs to begin with, I have now provided evidence to counter that claim.

Anyone can sit and make claims, prove your points, I'm genuinely interested and open to it.

Also, can you deny the bad build quality of the Hasselblad or that it suffers from allot of bugs glitches and requires the removal of the battery to make it work again? Is the Hasselblad cleaner in recovered shadows? Does Hasselblad have lenses available that can beat the likes of the Zeiss 135mm or the Otus lenses? Does the Hasselblad have better autofocus?

The only demonstratable advantage that Hasselblad has is resolution and if we go by what most professionals say then, resolution is wholly overrated. Even then, due to poor performing lenses resolution isn't really an advantage.

Usman... you've gotta stop. You wrote a bad article that was poorly considered and poorly executed and should probably never have been published at all. It's garnered an extremely negative reaction and should probably be retracted at this point.

People aren't upset that you said something negative about medium format or Hasselblad. Yup they're buggy, slow, awkward, and they need to be stopped down. it's completely true. No they're upset because you appear to have either intentionally from malice or though sheer laziness and ineptitude written an extremely shallow and misleading article and we have come to expect better from fstoppers.

Usman Dawood's picture

Why is it shallow and misleading, please explain I'm happy to take on constructive criticism but you must quantify your points.

Have you not read the comments yet?

Usman Dawood's picture

I've noticed that everytime you make a claim I ask you why/how but then you never follow up with a proper answer to that.

Thanks anyway.

Alright. I suppose I'll bite....

When you go to write a comparative article like this grab a notepad and head over to your nearest coffee shop. Bring some money you're going to need a lot of coffee.

On that notepad you're going to start by making lists...

1.What do I think this equipment is likely to be good at?
2.How are people using this equipment in the real world?
3.What do their clients look like?
5.How do the ergonomics fare in various situations?
5. You can take this from here. It's going to be different for every review but you should probably have at least 10 of these lists. Think of them as ready answers to questions you'll have later.

Then... and here is where your article falls a little short. You need to take a look at your answers to number 2. How are people using this equipment in the real world? Pick three or so and build tests based on those three things. Sooo...
1. Fashion studio photography
2. Landscape work
3. Food photography
Whatever you think is appropriate to actual use. You likely wouldn't pick sports but maybe you'd pick architecture. This is the core of your article. The part you'll hang everything else off of. When you talk about color you don't just say it's good you talk about it in relation to one or more of your tests. Your whole objective should be to figure out the best this system is capable of just like a real user would because that's what a potential buyer really needs to know. I don't care how it performs at f/2.2 or f/64 I do care however how it performs at f/4-16 where I'll probably use it. It's interesting to know it sucks at 2.2 and diffraction makes it soft at 64 but it's not a core and defining trait of the hardware because the use cases for that are rare commercially speaking.

Once you have your core and you've picked a similar piece of equipment that falls into the same relative niche and you've compared them using your tests you're ready to add in tests like your duck. This is information that's nice to know but not strictly relevant but if you feel it's important you should include it.

Finally write your intro and conclusion and once all of that is done create your title.

An important note on titles. Write something that is relevant to your article and don't use sweeping generalizations unless the article is about something general... your article was specific and your title used a generalization which was misleading and feels like click bait.

Your article lacked any real core. Thus it was shallow. You claimed to test the camera but really you didn't test it in any way that was meaningful to real users and you then made sweeping statements about the fitness of the equipment to perform its job thus it was misleading.

Again I'm not sure if you failed to do your due diligence because you have a chip on your shoulder or if it's simply because you're incompetent. But you could hurt a corporation and future photographers because they trust fstoppers to do a good job and you didn't.