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Author Topic: Hassy H4D vs Pentax 645D  (Read 17061 times)
db8121
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« on: December 10, 2011, 06:09:33 AM »
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Hey all, I'm in the market for a MF digital system (coming from Leica M digital and film and Nikon) and I'm considering the H4D-31 and Pentax 645D. I've done pretty extensive message board research and have checked out both cameras at a dealer, but I wanted to get everyone's input. I'm a grad student with a budget of $10-15k.

First a bit about what I'd be doing: Mostly travel/landscape, some architecture. Some editorial fashion, some in studio, some location. I personally prefer handheld, but of course for things like landscape and architecture I'd be using a tripod. I've considered the Leica S2 (which I frankly think would be perfect) but it's well beyond what I'm willing to spend.

So here are my questions:

1) Of the Pentax and Hassy, which yields a better overall file? I'm aware that the Pentax has the newer sensor, but, ALL THINGS EQUAL (aside from lens and camera body of course), does that translate to a higher quality overall photo?

2) Is the H4D difficult to travel with? How does it handle in the field? (as I've said i've handled it at a dealer but don't have extensive experience with it)

3) Anyone have any experience with the Pentax 645D in studio? How does it handle skin, etc.

I'm of course going to rent/demo the equipment when I'm ready to buy but I wanted to get Lu-La board member thoughts first.

Thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 06:22:54 AM by db8121 » Logged
theguywitha645d
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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2011, 06:48:53 AM »
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1. The camera both have the same sensor. Pentax has made the sensor perform at ISO1600 and really well at that speed. Which is better? That would come down to the way each company processes the image and your personal taste.

3. The Pentax handles skin tones very well in the studio with strobes.

Why do you need a tripod for landscape and architecture? I do those with the Pentax handheld all the time. The Pentax is great to travel with and works well with street photography both with AF and manual focus.

I think the choice come down to personal connection to the camera. And maybe the budget for the lenses you want.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 07:14:45 AM by theguywitha645d » Logged
BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2011, 08:45:08 AM »
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What exactly are you expecting from MF compared to top end DSLRs?

That might help provide a relevant advice.

Cheers,
Bernard
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db8121
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2011, 02:20:48 PM »
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I'd like the ability to print huge. Does that mean I will frequently? Probably not. But I'd like the ability to, and with a lot of detail/microdetail.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2011, 02:30:34 PM »
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What exactly are you expecting from MF compared to top end DSLRs?

That might help provide a relevant advice.

Cheers,
Bernard


How? Both the H4D and 645D are medium-format digital cameras. All the question pertain to a comparison between the two.
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John.Williams
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2011, 04:42:45 PM »
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db -

Are you in an area where you may be able to check both out on the same day (or shoot?) - not so obvious things like the weight of the camera, or the way it feels in your hands are important, non-technical aspects of your evaluation. Does the autofocus respond as you imagine, or how quickly can you change exposure (or how easy/difficult.)

The workflow is another area that encompasses the end-to-end experience for your specific type (and styles) of photography and I recommend getting a qualified demonstration by another power-user or expert so you can gauge the capabilities of the system, rather than just the separate components (Software / Camera / Digital) It is a big deal, and getting as much experience as possible before making the final decision is a real benefit.

Good Evaluating!

John
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db8121
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2011, 04:57:53 PM »
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Thanks for the responses so far guys. Yes I live in NYC, and I'm planning a trip to Photocare.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2011, 07:30:49 PM »
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How? Both the H4D and 645D are medium-format digital cameras. All the question pertain to a comparison between the two.

If the answer is higher resolution for larger prints, then I would advise to wait until January 2012 since high end DSLRs will soon be in the same ballpark resolutionwise at 1/3 the price in a smaller, lighter package more suitable to landscape work. They will also offer less of a headache in terms of DoF control. This might be part of the reason why Pentax is starting to offer cash back campains in Japan by the way.

If the answer is a certain look, particular lenses, impress customers,... then MF is IMHO a relevant option.

Between the pentax and the Hassy:
- The pentax is rugged, waterproof and has a good cold weather battery life -> it is the preferred option for landscape work away from the road for a certain amount of time,
- The Hassy has the option to provide T/S so it could be the better choice for some type of less extreme landscape work. It has a brand name that will impress more some customers also.

Cheers,
Bernard
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sbay
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« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2011, 07:53:17 PM »
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How much are you planning on spending for lenses over the years? With a 10-15k initial budget, I don't think you can get much more than the body and 1 normal lens. I think accessories like the tilt-shift adapter run something like 5-6k. Personally, I would price out not only the initial purchase, but the most likely lenses that you will want to grab in both systems.

Hasselblad is nice in that they have built in digital lens correction that is specific for each lens. I don't know if the pentax has this as well. Also, in my limited experience with the H4D, the battery life just sucks compared to 35mm dslrs. Personally, I wouldn't use the H4D for travel as I found it hard to handhold, there is no image stabilization, and with the lenses the system is just gigantic compared to a 35mm setup. Also if you are going to travel remotely, you should consider what will you do for backup.
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Brian Hirschfeld
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« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2011, 08:43:38 PM »
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3. The Pentax handles skin tones very well in the studio with strobes.


Flash sync = 1/125th of a second....probably a bit limiting, Hasselblad kindof has an edge there with much more expensive leaf shutter lenses with flash sync speeds at almost all shutter speeds....
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2011, 09:00:51 PM »
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If the answer is higher resolution for larger prints, then I would advise to wait until January 2012 since high end DSLRs will soon be in the same ballpark resolutionwise at 1/3 the price in a smaller, lighter package more suitable to landscape work. They will also offer less of a headache in terms of DoF control. This might be part of the reason why Pentax is starting to offer cash back campains in Japan by the way.


You mean the same number of pixels. More to resolution than pixel resolution. DoF is no problem. Besides, I have not seen a press release of a new camera for Jan 2012, perhaps you can give us the link?

Well, no company offers discounts to cameras that have been on the market for a year. And the prices are not much different from when I bought it in Japan this March. And market pricing is not uniform around the world. Camera companies base local prices on the national distributor and conditions. This goes as well for discounts. Since the camera is manufactured overseas, Pentax Japan could also be taking advantage of a strong Yen.

Link to current prices in Japan:

http://kakaku.com/item/K0000095422/

That is quite a spread...
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 09:23:16 PM by theguywitha645d » Logged
theguywitha645d
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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2011, 09:09:22 PM »
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Flash sync = 1/125th of a second....probably a bit limiting, Hasselblad kindof has an edge there with much more expensive leaf shutter lenses with flash sync speeds at almost all shutter speeds....

The flash sync speed is not limiting at all. In the studio, the flash duration is a little more important. Pentax has made two LS lenses if you really want to use a lens shutter.

I do not believe this was a comparative question. The Pentax 645D works really well in the studio and does a nice job with skin tones. Is there anything in that statement that is not true about the 645D?

You will notice I did not answer the question (#2) about the H4D. I have no experience with that camera and have not offered any opinion.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 09:27:23 PM by theguywitha645d » Logged
theguywitha645d
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2011, 09:12:45 PM »
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How much are you planning on spending for lenses over the years? With a 10-15k initial budget, I don't think you can get much more than the body and 1 normal lens. I think accessories like the tilt-shift adapter run something like 5-6k. Personally, I would price out not only the initial purchase, but the most likely lenses that you will want to grab in both systems.

Hasselblad is nice in that they have built in digital lens correction that is specific for each lens. I don't know if the pentax has this as well. Also, in my limited experience with the H4D, the battery life just sucks compared to 35mm dslrs. Personally, I wouldn't use the H4D for travel as I found it hard to handhold, there is no image stabilization, and with the lenses the system is just gigantic compared to a 35mm setup. Also if you are going to travel remotely, you should consider what will you do for backup.

Just to add to this.

I bought a 645D with a D FA 55m, A 120mm Macro, A 35mm, and FA 300mm f/5.6 and the cost came in under $13k, just for reference.

Battery life with the 645D is the same as any smaller DSLR. And batteries are cheap and plentiful.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2011, 09:46:37 PM »
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You mean the same number of pixels. More to resolution than pixel resolution. DoF is no problem. Besides, I have not seen a press release of a new camera for Jan 2012, perhaps you can give us the link?

If I were to buy a new camera the price of a small car now, I'd be interested in listening to rumors of imminent releases, even if there is no official "link". Would you not? As an informal adviser I believe it is my duty to provide such information because they are extremely likely to be accurate. Especially when the budget of the OP points to the obvious fact that MF is not the right answer for him all things considered.

Resolution is for sure impacted by more than pixel count:
- accuracy of focus - nothing beats live view here,
- lenses quality over the full frame - a great image in the center with weak corners is poor landscape style knowing that all the stitchers around will come up with perfectly uniform images down to the very corners,
- sensor characteristics - although it is a clear heresy from a signal processing standpoint, many landscape photographers seem to prefer AA filter less sensors. True or not, like it or not, the rumors I am refering to point to an AA filter less DSLR sensor,
- lack of cropping/sufficient reach - this means having the right focal lenght at hand, high quality zooms available for DSLRs help a lot here in landcape situations where lightness and compactness are key. Tele lenses of high quality that remain reasonnably light also open up great possibilities for distant landscape, not an option for MF because of the weight,
- suitable sharpening, ideally tuned to the local weaknesses of the lens - only DxO can do this today at a reasonnable cost, and is only available for DSLRs,
- working state of the camera - a back up of suitable performance is mandatory for some landscape endeavours with once in a lifetime opportunities. Oops... that means a second car if you go the MF route as well as a sherpa to carry the gear. Smiley

Like it or not, most of these things point to a superior image quality with the DSLR.
 
Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 09:49:27 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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larkis
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« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2011, 12:43:04 AM »
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Interesting... I hope you are right and smaller sensors will be better than medium format when it comes to image quality. I will buy a Nikon D4x or whatever they come up with when that happens. For some reason all of this sounds like the bumble bee theory though.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2011, 01:24:48 AM »
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I will buy a Nikon D4x or whatever they come up with when that happens. For some reason all of this sounds like the bumble bee theory though.

I am not sure whether there will be a D4x, most probably a D800. But the 5DIII or A1000 will be similar.

Sorry, I am not familiar with the bumble bee theory.

Cheers,
Bernard
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« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2011, 01:47:17 AM »
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Hi,

There is a rumor saying that bumble bees having fixed wings would not be able to fly. Bumble bees don't have fixed wings, however, and they can fly.

Best regards
Erik


I am not sure whether there will be a D4x, most probably a D800. But the 5DIII or A1000 will be similar.

Sorry, I am not familiar with the bumble bee theory.

Cheers,
Bernard

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« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2011, 02:14:16 AM »
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Hi,

Latest rumors are about a D800 having 36 MP sensor. A 16 MP APS-C sensor has the same characteristics as a 36 MP full frame sensor, so we can essentially know the kind of performance such a sensor will offer. Regarding Sony the rumor is right now that first A9X camera will be a 24 MP one, followed by a Nikon D3 styled camera with 36MP. Canon will probably wait until D800 or Sony shows up before presenting next version of 5D.

- I'd say that there is a merit to having a larger sensor, it collects more photons makes less demands on lens performance.
- Live view is a great advantage
- Mirrorless and fixed mirror designs in combination with electronic first shutter curtain reduce camera vibration a lot

In my view, the Alpa approach makes a lot of sense. A very high precision technical camera with truly excellent lenses.

Best regards
Erik




I am not sure whether there will be a D4x, most probably a D800. But the 5DIII or A1000 will be similar.

Sorry, I am not familiar with the bumble bee theory.

Cheers,
Bernard

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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2011, 07:12:48 AM »
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If I were to buy a new camera the price of a small car now, I'd be interested in listening to rumors of imminent releases, even if there is no official "link". Would you not? As an informal adviser I believe it is my duty to provide such information because they are extremely likely to be accurate. Especially when the budget of the OP points to the obvious fact that MF is not the right answer for him all things considered.

Resolution is for sure impacted by more than pixel count:
- accuracy of focus - nothing beats live view here,

Something you constantly like to overstate. I get perfect focus with the 645D.

Quote
- lenses quality over the full frame - a great image in the center with weak corners is poor landscape style knowing that all the stitchers around will come up with perfectly uniform images down to the very corners,
You don't read LuLa very much. The great MF shoot out throws a Canon DSLR in the mix and the corners were worse in the Canon optics.
Quote
- sensor characteristics - although it is a clear heresy from a signal processing standpoint, many landscape photographers seem to prefer AA filter less sensors. True or not, like it or not, the rumors I am refering to point to an AA filter less DSLR sensor,
The 645D has no AA filter
Quote
- lack of cropping/sufficient reach - this means having the right focal lenght at hand, high quality zooms available for DSLRs help a lot here in landcape situations where lightness and compactness are key. Tele lenses of high quality that remain reasonnably light also open up great possibilities for distant landscape, not an option for MF because of the weight,
There is a Pentax 600mm telephoto. I just bought a 300mm f/5.6 telephoto that weighs in at 700g.
Quote
- suitable sharpening, ideally tuned to the local weaknesses of the lens - only DxO can do this today at a reasonnable cost, and is only available for DSLRs,
Can you show actually data with all the RAW processors including the software given for free with the 645D. But if I can afford the 645D, I can also get Photoshop which does a splendid job. And ACR is in Lightroom too.
Quote
- working state of the camera - a back up of suitable performance is mandatory for some landscape endeavours with once in a lifetime opportunities. Oops... that means a second car if you go the MF route as well as a sherpa to carry the gear. Smiley
Sorry, there again you have missed the target. I carry my Pentax 645D and four lenses all day through the mountains plus the other gear I need for climbing. There is actually no proof that this mythical camera will be lighter or smaller.

Quote
Like it or not, most of these things point to a superior image quality with the DSLR.
 
Cheers,
Bernard


Your distain for MFD has been shown in other threads. Your lack of experience and knowledge about it is shown here. I am sure the OP has looked at 35mm DSLRs and he/she has concluded that MFD is a better fit. His/Her experience is in the OP. The questions are clearly aimed at cameras he/she has researched and is looking for experienced users to give feedback--and you certainly have no experience in MFD nor this "new" camera that has been yet to be announced. Funny, when Canon released its flagship X model, it only put 18MP in it. Rumors were much greater, but perhaps they will leave that for the amateurs.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2011, 07:37:45 AM by theguywitha645d » Logged
theguywitha645d
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« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2011, 07:17:52 AM »
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In my view, the Alpa approach makes a lot of sense. A very high precision technical camera with truly excellent lenses.

Best regards
Erik





An excellent option as well. Unfortunately, I think that is out of the OPs budget. I have never priced the Cambo tech camera and that might be closer with a 22MP back. Still, having done a far amount of documentary work with a Horseman SW612, it might be intimidating for travel photography--most photographers gravitate to AF for that.
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