Hasselblad H6D-100c Review – Shooting Medium-Format Video

April 6th, 2017

In this guest review, Vienna-based filmmaker Christoph Tilley takes a close look at the Hasselblad H6D-100c – a 100MP, 4K Raw-capable medium format camera. Intrigued? Read on for his hands-on impressions.

Hasselblad H6D-100c

Christoph Tilley reviews the Hasselblad H6D-100c

Shooting Medium-Format Video

Not too long ago DSLRs revolutionized the way we make films. These days, we are seeing the emergence of the first medium-format stills cameras capable of shooting video. What would it be like to shoot video on an such an extremely large sensor? 

Enter the Hasselblad H6D-100c, a 100 Megapixel Full-Frame Medium-Format Stills Camera. The resolution is absolutely incredible on this thing – each Raw image has a file size of 216,3 Megabytes. But why in particular is this interesting for us filmmakers? Well, this thing can also shoot 4K Raw video.

But what kind of results will you get when shooting video? And how does this large sensor compare to Super35 in the real world? To find out, we shot a typical interview scene on the RED Dragon with a 50mm lens wide open at f/1.4. Right alongside we had the  Hasselblad H6D-100c with a 100mm lens at an f-stop of f/4.

Note the difference in background blur and depth compression

When comparing both shots side by side, the first thing we notice is that the background is much more out of focus on the H6D, even though the lens was stopped down three full-stops more than the lens on the RED. We also notice that the image looks more compressed.

It’s a subtle difference, no doubt, but medium format certainly produces a really beautiful look by expanding the field of view.

But why would anyone want to shoot video on a sensor more than twice the size of traditional Super35? In fact this means that your 85mm – a rather telephoto lens on the average camera – would be more or less equivalent to a 40mm on a sensor this size, making it quite wide.

Hasselblad H6D-100c Hands-On

But enough about the why, let’s talk about the how. You turn on the camera on the top, wait for it to boot up, and then switch to video mode by pressing and holding a button on the top. You can switch into live-view mode and from there you can start your recording. The shutter button starts and stops recording as well.

You can choose different qualities for your recording in the video settings, giving you a choice between recording in Raw or H.264. When choosing H264, you have the option to shoot in 1080 or 720, while Raw is always 4K. It is not possible to choose different frame rates or bit rates: the camera always shoots 24fps, though you can change ISO and color temperature. Just like the Alexa Mini, the camera shoots 4K Raw only on CFast memory cards, so put one in and you’re good to go.

Post Workflow

The camera records Raw video to an unorthodox file-container with an .3fv extension, so you need to convert these files in Hasseblad’s own Phocus software. Simply navigate to the desired clips, where you can get a quick preview of what you shot, although you can’t change anything like white balance or ISO. Your only option is to export the clips to a CinemaDNG sequence, but you can choose some naming presets.

This process takes some time, but once it’s finished, your converted shots will be split into folders along with a small .mp4 proxy. Since this proxy is called audio.mp4, I suppose this is the way you get reference audio out of the camera.

Limited file naming options for the .dng sequences in the Hasselblad Phocus software

Though the export process allows you to choose naming presets, this just applies to the parent folder of all the single .dng frames. This is too bad, as all the single frames are named the same, making it extremely difficult to re-conform and link the clips in a grading software like DaVinci ResolveNevertheless, we somehow managed to grade the footage but we discovered something very disturbing. Hiding in the shadows we found some serious artefacts and strange noise. It seems as though the sensor data gets heavily compressed when shooting video. Not good.

Compression artifacts in the shadows?

Levels boosted for demonstration purposes

Verdict

Some people say medium format mimics how your eyes actually see the world better than the smaller Super35-sized imagers thanks to being able to shoot an extremely wide scene but still have the “real-world” look of a lens with a longer focal length. The subject remains flat and not ‘stretched’ out.

The large sensor is clearly the one and only reason why anyone would want to shoot video on the Hasselblad H6D-100c. Well, that and the absolutely incredible performance of the Hasselblad lenses. They offer pleasing colours, nice bokeh and great contrast.

The downside? Well, this is not a videocamera. It is just a stills camera which takes 24 images a second, and downscaled, compressed images at that. Also, before receiving the camera, I thought that rolling shutter on a CMOS sensor this size would be really awful, and I was absolutely right. The Hasselblad H6D-100c has the worst rolling shutter I’ve ever seen. This is not something you would ever want to shoot with, unless you really are after the medium format look… which is quite nice to be honest.

Above, Hasselblad H6D-100c 4K footage

What do you think about the Hasselblad H6D-100c? Will medium-format sensors be the next must-have in video camera tech? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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 N M
N M
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December 18th, 2017

The background blur and depth compression test is wrong. In fact in terms of DOF it should be the opposite.
What I think happened is that they used the Red sensor on 4k mode which crops the hell out of it and gives a crop factor closer to M4/3 compared to the almost FF crop factor the sensor has on full resolution.

So yeah, it is 4k vs 4k but for the scope of this comparison resolution should not matter and the test as it is done is TOTALLY missleading.

Put a FF DSLR with an f/1.4 and it would give much smaller DOF. …and you can go to f/1 or wider with FF nowdays.

 John Schultz
John Schultz
Member
April 7th, 2017

The Medium Format sensor size has no intrinsic effect on the final image over full frame, Super35, M43, or any sensor size where equivalent optics and settings can be used. The reason your MF and Super35 examples don’t have matching DOF and compression is you didn’t set both cameras up for equivalence. Here’s how to do it: https://brightland.com/w/the-full-frame-look-is-a-myth-heres-how-to-prove-it-for-yourself/ (I did those tests).

Medium Format is useful in getting more resolution with bigger pixels- that’s why the Alexa 65 is cool, not the sensor size by itself (which does nothing physically/optically/mathematically). We’ve debated this in depth + Brian Caldwell (designer of the SpeedBooster) stated he didn’t have interest in a MF SpeedBooster because MF has no advantage over FF in terms of sensor size or available lenses (FF lens quality is now very good; MF used to have an advantage in lenses).

Bart van der Gaag
Bart van der Gaag
Member
April 10th, 2017
Reply to  John Schultz

It’s not only about DOF. And you’re so wrong that sensor size doesn’t physically/optically/mathematically change anything.

 John Schultz
John Schultz
Member
April 10th, 2017

Prove it.

 Reuben Evans
Reuben Evans
Member
April 13th, 2017
Reply to  John Schultz

Very interesting test. When I see the following:

“You can use this math to do these tests yourself. Let’s do one using the A7S in FF and APS-C (Super 35) crop mode. The crop factor is 1.5. We’ll set up the camera as follows using the Canon 70-200 F2.8L II and the Metabones IV Smart Adapter:

Super 35 (APS-C mode on): 70mm, F2.8, ISO 800
Full frame (APS-C mode off): 70mm*1.5 = 105mm, F2.8*1.5 = F4.2, we’ll use F4, ISO 800*(1.5*1.5) = 1800, we’ll use ISO 1600”

I immediately think, “that means on FF with the same lens I can get shallower DOF” So shooting in full frame, with a camera that is clean at ISO 1600, I can get the same results on smaller, slower lenses. But it also means that with a f/2.8 lens I can get shallower DOF on a FF camera.

Practically, that would make a difference if I had 2 cameras and 1 lens in front of me for the “look.” A different look would be achievable on the larger sensor. that wasn’t on the smaller one. f/2.8 on the FF at the same distance from the subject would look different. And practically f/.95 lenses are not in abundance.

Anyway, very interesting article.

 John Schultz
John Schultz
Member
April 14th, 2017
Reply to  Reuben Evans

Voigtlander has a bunch of F.95 lenses available, and with a SpeedBoster, M43 can provide sufficiently shallow DOF for just about any filmmaker’s needs with a practically unlimited selection of lenses. Sensor size by itself does not provide any special properties or looks other than DOF if one doesn’t have access to equivalent lenses.

 Fernando Menendex
Fernando Menendex
Member
March 2nd, 2019
Reply to  John Schultz

Well, speedbooster produces a loss of a certain amount of resolution, so this is a difference. Another big difference is that shooting at f4 normally produces more definition in the resulting image than shooting at f1.4. Lastly, there is the size of the pixels related to light sensibility, which depends on each camera processing technology as well, but certainly help to overall camera sensibility. Is it possible to get similar results from both sensor sizes? Yes, but sensor size does makes a difference.

 John Schultz
John Schultz
Member
March 2nd, 2019

SpeedBooster improves MTF (a focal reducer does the opposite of a teleconverter) and increases resolution / quality: https://www.metabones.com/assets/a/stories/The%20Perfect%20Focal%20Reducer%20(Metabones%20Speed%20Booster%20ULTRA%20for%20M43)%20-%20Whitepaper.pdf . F4 vs. F1.4 depends on the lens design re: quality. How does the Zeiss Otus at F1.4 compare to other lenses at F4.0 (or their best MTF)? Acknowledgment already given re: pixel size and noise/sensitivity (that’s pixels size, not sensor size). Note the new Fuji X-T3 doing very well for noise and overall image quality against full frame cameras even though it’s Super35. Sensor size *by itself* intrinsically creating a better image is marketing spin. Pixel size and sensor design are a different discussion. In the future tiny sensors (that fit on a cell phone and smaller) using computational photography techniques will provide superior quality to the large sensors available today. Consider your own eyes and the eyes of birds of prey for examples of small biological sensors that are vastly superior to current cameras and lenses today. Concepts from quantum physics & entanglement will provide incredibly tiny sensors with quality that far surpass biological sensors.

William Koehler
Member
April 7th, 2017

I’m confused. The article says the camera shoots 24 fps. When I follow the B&H product link, the specs listed are 30 fps. When I check Hasselblads product page, it says 25 fps.

William Koehler
Member
April 7th, 2017

I dug into it a little further. Hasselblads owners manual for the camera says the LiveView refreshes at 30 fps (page 10) but the camera actually records at 25 fps (pages 11, 12).

 Misha Engel
Misha Engel
Member
April 7th, 2017

Is the size of the sensor also a reason everybody loves the ALEXA 65?

Dean Nazz
Guest
April 6th, 2017

Fixed lens at 33 grand ! WTF

 theo antoniou
theo antoniou
Member
April 6th, 2017
Reply to  Dean Nazz

Yep, that kind of cash can buy a lot more – a LOT MORE!!!

Gum Bum
Gum Bum
Member
April 6th, 2017
Reply to  Dean Nazz

Fixed lens? Where?

Alessandro Rufino
Guest
April 6th, 2017

awesome descriptio Christoph Tilley . Thanks

Adam Loretz
Guest
April 6th, 2017

Very interesting. Nicely shot and edited video

Davide Fiorentini
Guest
April 6th, 2017
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