Hasselblad's H1 is the most advanced medium-format SLR ever. But at $5,700,
is it the best?
Camera: Hasselblad H1 6x4.5cm AF SLR. Approx. street price: $5,700 with 80mm f/2.8 Hasselblad HC lens, standard film magazine, and eye-level reflex meter finder.
Focusing and viewing: Automatic focus using passive phase-detection system with central cross-field sensor, electronic-focus confirmation in manual mode, single-shot and continuous AF modes, instant manual-focus override; AF range EV 1-19 at ISO 100; infrared focus-assist beam in grip rated to 6 meters (about 20 feet); spherical Acute-matte finder screen shows central AF-zone rectangle and spotmetering circle; lightable dot-matrix finder LCD displays exposure mode and pattern, aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, frame number and film status, and flash and warning LEDs; eyepiece adjustable from -4 to +2.5 diopters.
Shutter and exposure controls: Electromagnetically controlled leaf shutters in each lens provide speeds from 18 hours to 1/800 sec plus B and T; adjustable program, aperture-priority, and shutter-priority autoexposure, plus metered manual; exposure compensation ±5 EV in 1¼3-EV steps; programmable autobracketing up to five frames in 1¼3-, 1¼2-, or 1-EV steps, intervalometer programmable from 2 to 32 exposures and 1-sec to 24-hour intervals, 2- to 59-sec self-timer, multi-exposure mode, IR remote connection.
Metering: Through-the-lens metering with Hasselblad HC lenses; shiftable program modes allow instant equivalent-exposure or exposure-compensation settings; Pv mode includes lens focal length in exposure calculations; average (70% of image area),
centerweighted (20%) and spotmetering (2%) modes, zone system mode, AE lock; metering ranges at f/2.8 and ISO 100: Average, EV 1-21; centerweighted, EV 1-21; spot, EV 2-21.
Loading and winding: Interchangeable film backs or
optional digital backs. Manual film loading with auto wind-on and first-frame positioning, auto film length and ISO setting with bar-coded film, manual settings with non-bar-coded film, back settable to count frames exposed or remaining; single frame, or continuous advance to 2 fps; manual ISO settings,16 to 6400.
Flash: Built-in, manual, pop-up autoflash (footage Guide Number 40 at ISO 100) covers field of 80mm lens, makes through-lens and off-the-film readings, with adjustable fill ratio; TTL centerweighted flash system can be used with Metz SCA 3002 flash system and SCA 3902 adapter via dedicated hot-shoe; PC contact; in flash-metering mode, camera operates as a flashmeter; X-sync at all speeds; rear sync option.
Other features: Integral tripod socket and quick-coupling plate; programmable data-imprinting function includes date, time, settings, modes, or user-input data imprinted outside image area; user button and profiles mode allow quick selection of specific groups of user-input settings; with compatible digital backs, LCD on grip displays histograms and controls, which can be used to set gray balance, delete images, etc.; 21 custom settings; true exposure mode corrects for deviations due to shutter characteristics; powered by three 3-volt CR123 lithium cells in camera grip or eight Ni-MH AAA cells in optional cassette.
How does the Hasselblad H1 stack up against competitors?
($4,000 street with 80mm f/2 Carl Zeiss Planar T* lens, meter prism and film back) A beautifully made modular SLR, the Contax features an optically excellent line of Carl Zeiss lenses, built-in motor drive with speeds up to 1.6 fps, multimode (but no program) metering, and a dedicated TTL autoflash system that provides preflash metering. Its pentaprism viewfinder is very bright and contrasty, and has manual focusing aids plus excellent finder readouts. It also has data-imprinting capability. The 645's six-sensor (no cross sensor) autofocus system is adequate in bright light but less reliable in low light or with low-contrast subjects. Sync speed at 1/90 sec; 1/125 sec with TLA-series units.
($2,500 street with 75mm f/2.8 Pentax-FA lens) Much less expensive than the H1, the 645nii is the most compact camera in its class, handles very well, and has a fine line of AF lenses. AF performance is quite good, but it has no cross-field sensor. It does have motor drive with speeds to 2 fps, excellent finder readouts, a fine-performing six-zone multipattern metering system with all the usual modes (including spot and metered manual), mirror-up function, comprehensive on-film data imprinting, and ten custom functions. However, the 645nii lacks interchangeable film backs (and, therefore, easy digital compatibility), the viewfinder is not as bright or contrasty as its rivals, and its focal-plane shutter syncs at a slow 1/60 sec.
Mamiya 645 AFD
($3,750 street with 80mm f/2.8 Mamiya AF lens) Distinctively styled, the 645 AFD is comfortably contoured, very well-balanced, has a bright, contrasty viewfinder (fixed prism; screens are user-interchangeable), and good three-sensor, H-pattern autofocus system that focuses very quickly but has no cross-field sensor. Its metering system, providing centerweighted, spot or dual-zone evaluative readings, performs well and has all the usual modes. It has interchangeable film backs with dark-slide storage slots, and, based on our tests, its lens line is of very high quality. Considering its overall performance and relatively moderate price, the 645 AFD is the H1's top competitor, in our opinion.
Want more info? Call Hasselblad at 973-227-7320 or go to www.hasselbladusa.com.