The Hasselblad H6D-100c is the first 4K UHD RAW medium format camera you can officially buy, and the ALPA lens plate lets you shoot with the full history of medium format lenses.
Medium format digital cinematography is coming. Well, it's technically already here with the Alexa 65, but unfortunately that tool isn't in the normal rotation for most of us quite yet. If larger digital sensors are going to make it to us independent filmmakers anytime soon, it looks like it will come from the still camera manufacturers like Hasselblad and Fujifilm, which have robust experience dealing with larger sensors and larger format lenses, rather than the traditional cinematography companies.
While the sub-$10K Fujifilm GFX-50S now looks to be a 1080 camera—which feels like a missed opportunity in 2016—we are going to be getting 4K RAW video from a medium format camera this year. Unfortunately, it's the $32,000 Hasselblad H6D-100c. While it's still priced as a rental item, it does offer full 4K and UHD RAW recording to CFast 2.0 cards, and that's a start.
It's the 5D Mark II all over again, where the biggest frustrations came from trying to use L series still photo lenses effectively within the demands of a film set.
We've known that the H6D-100c was coming since April, but it hasn't been that exciting since the glass available for the camera primarily comes from Hasselblad's HC line of lenses, which are all modern designs primarily intended for auto-focus use. While the glass quality is high (they are rehoused for the Alexa 65, for instance), the ergonomics are poor from a filmmaker's perspective. Infinite focus without hard stops, small focus rotations that make pulling focus with external follow focus difficult, no aperture ring since it's designed to be controlled by the camera body. It's the 5D Mark II all over again, where the biggest frustrations came from trying to use L series still photo lenses effectively within the demands of a film set. It's just not a good fit. Of course, with the 5D, many users adapted the camera to other lenses, but the focus distance of the HC mount makes an adapter for the popular PL mount impossible.
Zurich company ALPA of Switzerland aims to fix that problem with a new front for the H6C back that should allow filmmakers to use any of the wide variety of medium format lenses available, including Hasselblad F, Pentax 645, Mamiya 645, and Contax 645, in addition to adapting to familiar old PL mounts. However, most PL mount lenses don't cover the full area of medium format. This is likely to be less exciting to filmmakers than the ability to use older, still medium format, photo lenses—which should have the optical quality, aperture rings, and smooth, long-throw focus to make for effective motion picture work. De-clicking old lenses appears to be a business that has a few years left in it. You can also, if you like, set up the H6C for large format bellows lenses. This product is the result of a close technical collaboration between Hasselblad and ALPA and we hope to see more results of this collaboration in the future.
These are good first signs that larger sensors are coming to the rest of us eventually.
With the 1080 Fujifilm and the $30K price tag on the Hasselblad it seems like this still won't be the year for medium format digital cinematography to become a viable indie option. But these are good first signs that larger sensors are coming to the rest of us eventually. Then again, Sony manufactures this sensor for Hasselblad, so we can always hope that they might sneak in and surprise us all with a last minute, sub $10K 4K medium format stocking stuffer before Christmas. Until that happens, and considering the rental expense of an Alexa 65, I can see this combination of ALPA and Hasselblad showing up on certain special purpose shoots—especially in the world of commercials, music videos, and fashion filmmaking—relatively soon.
Tech specs for H6D-100c
- Video requires CFast 2.0 cards
- 400Mb/s data rate
- UHD 4K and Full HD RAW Video at 30 fps
- CinemaDNG with Phocus software
- 100MP 53.4 x 40.0mm CMOS Sensor
- 16-Bit Color, 15-Stop Dynamic Range
- ISO 64-12800, Shooting Up to 1.5 fps
- Shutter Speeds: 60 min to 1/2000 sec
- 3.0" 920k-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor
- Dual CFast and SD Memory Card Slots
- Built-In Wi-Fi, USB 3.0 Type-C
- Includes Body, Back, HVD 90x Viewfinder