This past Friday I attended the Hasselbald Dealer Summit for the Americas in Santa Monica, CA.
This is a hands-on report from my experience with the camera and my discussions with Hasselblad management:
H3D Camera Improvements
*New 3" Screen
I compared this to the screen from a Canon 40D outside. They are very similar. Similar brightness, similar feel and texture. The 40D seems to have a wee bit more resolution. This could be due more to the generated preview file itself, rather than a screen limitation, in fact I am told by Hasselblad this is the case. I haven't looked at the data sheet of the 40D, but they could indeed be the same screen. If not, they could be mistaken for each other. UPDATE: Both screens are 230,000 pixels.
There are actually very few manufacturers of screens in the world. It is much like the production of Blue Jeans or Flat screen TV's that get re-badged. This makes the task of buying these screens even more difficult. You can imagine Hasselblad calling up Dupont Screen Makers and trying to order 2,000 screens and being told that the minimum order is 15,000,000.
*There is a new and improved IR Filter.
*The Firewire port has been enhanced to make it easier to plug in the 800 firewire (via guides) and also more difficult for it to fall out (via additional gripping).
*The CF Door has been replaced by a sturdier version and the clasp has been significantly reinforced.
*The rubber covers over the flash and sync ports are a more robust material.
*Ultra Focus is now in it's second iteration.
Killer App 1
*GPS capability is now enabled with the GPS unit, which plugs into the left side of the camera body. While some may yawn at this feature (thinking aerial photography), there are actually quite a number of different applications for this feature. Scouting is an obvious one. The ability to GPS search for that street with the cool door you used as a background comes to mind, and I imagine users will find new uses for this feature. From the new Phocus software, Google Earth automatically launches from the software and the location can be mapped and all files shot with those coordinates can be brought up with a simple command. Very cool. The GPS unit is compatible with H3DII and backward compatible with the H3D, H2D and any Hasselblad CF or CFH on H2 camera. Pricing is not yet set but should be announced shortly.
*Enhanced menu access is now available by double clicking the release button. This enables complete control of the digital back menu in the back via the thumb-wheel dials surrounding the camera grip. Very nice. This is backward compatible to the original H3D. Also, the Drive button has been replaced with ISO/WB, so you can set ISO/WB directly without any menus. Not sure where Drive settings went. This function is backward compatible with every Hasselblad digital capture unit combined with any H camera.
*You can now display battery status by double clicking the light button on the camera. Not only does it show a graphical view of remaining battery life, it gives you the actual percentage. Yeah!
I spent some time with Phocus. Like Capture One, it has also adopted a very Lightoom/Aperture look and approach. This, I think is a good thing in some ways, one being that learning curves for these software packages should be reduced due to familiarity with the latter applications.
Most of what you can do in Flexcolor seems to be present in Phocus. What is different is obviously, the interface, the ability to rez images 100% in preview mode, ability to compare multiple images, much more intensive metadata input mode, ability to operate from multiple folders, ability to drag -n-drop thumbnails to those folders, ability to freely re-size thumbnails just by grabbing and pulling, etc.
*Killer App 2
I was shown a new Anti-Moire tool. If this tool works the way that I saw it on all images with the problem, this is a true killer app for Hasselblad. What I saw was amazing in how color moire and pattern moire were eliminated. This is accomplished directly on the raw file - before any raw conversion takes place. What's more, this tool will be able to be used on any legacy .fff files from any Imacon/Hasselblad capture unit.
*Niche Killer App
With the new Phocus software, an H3D camera can be manually or auto-focused from the software. This then becomes a great solution when combined with Live Video for complete control of the camera from the software.
Phocus will enable exposure times up to 64 seconds and extend the ISO range by one stop on all Hasselblad products going back to the iXpress series. It is likely the lack of noise will be superior in the newer H-based product, but the fact that someone who bought an iXpress 132C four years ago now has ISO 800 and 64 second capability FOR FREE is, I think, very significant.
Spare backup bodies are now an option for H3D-II, H2D. I assume H3D, but the data is unclear. Not sure why there would be available backup body for H2D and not H3D, so for now, I am assuming H3D too, but it is not confirmed.