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Author Topic: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D 50 as a portrait photographer  (Read 36392 times)

Eddie van der Walt

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Ok, I fully expect this to be controversial.
And yes, I am sticking my neck pretty far out as a first-time poster on Luminous Landscape.
But I have been reading the site for months and months, and it was a key part of my research earlier this year when I decided to come back into photography and strated looking at gear.

Specifically, I spent about a decade working as a photojournalist. Then, three years ago, I branched out into pure written journalism, taking a complete break from photography. Then this year, with my journalism credentials ensured, I decided to revive my photography career, specialising in portrait photography while also doing the interviews for those pictures.

But my new role will be freelance, while all my previous roles were either in the employment of newspapers or news agencies. So, for the first time in about 15 years, I have to buy my own camera.

Now, I studied photography in the final days before film, and large and medium format cameras were a cornerstone of my training (we used Mamiya bodies for medium format, but I don't recall which brands we used for large format).

So when I decided to return to photography, I took a long hard look at medium format.  I read all of the arguments - that clients take you more seriously; the unarguable fact that larger sensors provide physics with a better canvas; that slow frame rates encourage better composition.

And I was on the very verge of ordering my first Hasselblad H5D (or perhaps a H4x) with three lenses. In fact, I went to the Birmingham (UK) Camera Show for a final check and a chat with the Hasselblad reps before ordering.

Now this would have been a massive capital outlay for an unproven business plan, but I really didn't mind. I was sure I could make it work.

But then, at that show, something made me stop and think. I'm not sure whether it was the crammed interest at the Nikon and Canon stands with the relative sparcely visited Hasselblad stand or the fact that Phase One was hardly even represented - but I started wondering about R&D money.

I don't think it is up for argument that fewer professionals today use medium format than back in the days when I trained. I know many bread and butter photographers - and almost none of them use this format. So where is the money going to come from to keep pushing lenses further? Few amateurs can afford these systems.

And then another seed of doubt was sown. If the market had shrunk so much, isn't it just possible that at least one of the producers will at some point have to look very hard at the bottom line and throw in the towel, leaving fewer feeders for a smaller stock of buyers?

Now, buying a brand new system is a pretty painful thing to do. I don't want to do it more than once in 15 years. And if I can't be relatively certain that the manufacturer will be able to provide me with ever improving glass and sensors over that period, well then that is just one question mark too many.

With all this in mind then, I just ordered my D810 and a handful or prime lenses. It has been a painful decision, and I want to thank the Luminous Landscape community for all the info you have posted that helped inform my decision.

I wrote a bit more about this in my blog here: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D
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kers

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On the one hand you were thinking of maybe buying a Hasselblad, on the other you choose very cheap lenses...
like the ridiculous cheap 50mm 1.4G Nikkor-
Cheap and a sheep... tlll 2.8 at least.  
The Sigma art 50mm is so much better...
I do not understand...


« Last Edit: September 20, 2014, 08:38:45 am by kers »
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Paul2660

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Hello:

Actually it shouldn't be controversial as both product sets are excellent.  You found a solution that worked for you, within your budget.  The D810 to me is a great camera and I use in my landscape workflow when I feel it's a better fit.  I still lead with a Phase One IQ260 and Arca rm3di, due to the fact that I feel there are benefits to that solution for me.  However I fully recognize that there are situations where I can't use that setup.  

Don't be ashamed that you did not choose Medium Format, but do continue to share your experiences with the camera solution you picked.

Congratulations on the new system

Paul
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Paul Caldwell
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Theodoros

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Ok, I fully expect this to be controversial.
And yes, I am sticking my neck pretty far out as a first-time poster on Luminous Landscape.
But I have been reading the site for months and months, and it was a key part of my research earlier this year when I decided to come back into photography and strated looking at gear.

Specifically, I spent about a decade working as a photojournalist. Then, three years ago, I branched out into pure written journalism, taking a complete break from photography. Then this year, with my journalism credentials ensured, I decided to revive my photography career, specialising in portrait photography while also doing the interviews for those pictures.

But my new role will be freelance, while all my previous roles were either in the employment of newspapers or news agencies. So, for the first time in about 15 years, I have to buy my own camera.

Now, I studied photography in the final days before film, and large and medium format cameras were a cornerstone of my training (we used Mamiya bodies for medium format, but I don't recall which brands we used for large format).

So when I decided to return to photography, I took a long hard look at medium format.  I read all of the arguments - that clients take you more seriously; the unarguable fact that larger sensors provide physics with a better canvas; that slow frame rates encourage better composition.

And I was on the very verge of ordering my first Hasselblad H5D (or perhaps a H4x) with three lenses. In fact, I went to the Birmingham (UK) Camera Show for a final check and a chat with the Hasselblad reps before ordering.

Now this would have been a massive capital outlay for an unproven business plan, but I really didn't mind. I was sure I could make it work.

But then, at that show, something made me stop and think. I'm not sure whether it was the crammed interest at the Nikon and Canon stands with the relative sparcely visited Hasselblad stand or the fact that Phase One was hardly even represented - but I started wondering about R&D money.

I don't think it is up for argument that fewer professionals today use medium format than back in the days when I trained. I know many bread and butter photographers - and almost none of them use this format. So where is the money going to come from to keep pushing lenses further? Few amateurs can afford these systems.

And then another seed of doubt was sown. If the market had shrunk so much, isn't it just possible that at least one of the producers will at some point have to look very hard at the bottom line and throw in the towel, leaving fewer feeders for a smaller stock of buyers?

Now, buying a brand new system is a pretty painful thing to do. I don't want to do it more than once in 15 years. And if I can't be relatively certain that the manufacturer will be able to provide me with ever improving glass and sensors over that period, well then that is just one question mark too many.

With all this in mind then, I just ordered my D810 and a handful or prime lenses. It has been a painful decision, and I want to thank the Luminous Landscape community for all the info you have posted that helped inform my decision.

I wrote a bit more about this in my blog here: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D
I think you should learn more and try more of both before you do such an ignorant and provocative post... I do have a D800E myself.... which is a piece of rubbish when compared to my (10 years old) 22mp MFDB on my Contax 645 if used for what my MFDB is designed to do... But this is own experience out of professional use... not just web trolling like your post...  ;)
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eronald

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. The vendors will hopefully listen. An interesting fact is that for years Canon told us 35mm didn't "need" hi high pixel counts. And then the D800 became a bestseller.

Edmund
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Doug Peterson

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If you're primary fear was financial stability of the manufacturer then you don't really need to wonder. The annual reports and financial disclosures of the major medium format vendors are fully public information.

Phase One for instance is up year-over-year for every year since 2008 (when the financial crises hurt nearly every global company). Increased revenue, increased profit, and increased spending on r+d.

Now if the d810 is a better camera for what you need/want that's one thing; there is no right or wrong answer to that question. But if you're worried about financial stability then some of the players in medium format can provide you very strong assurance of that.

Most interesting of all to me is to compare phase ones growth to the annual reports and industry-group reports from/on canon and nikon regarding their sales of mid and high-end dSLRs.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2014, 08:51:55 am by Doug Peterson »
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Eddie van der Walt

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Kers,
Cheap does not equal bad.
For instance, the Nikon 58mm f1.4 is ridiculously expensive - but the optical perfomance is poor.
I looked at one thing and one thing only - optical quality.
And yes, I know the Carl Zeiss lenses are better - but AF is a pretty basic requirement for portrait photography.
And yes, the Sigma delivers quality to match the Nikon 50 f1.4G, but it does not better it.
See the attached technical test.
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Theodoros

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. The vendors will hopefully listen. An interesting fact is that for years Canon told us 35mm didn't "need" hi high pixel counts. And then the D800 became a bestseller.

Edmund
Since this is going to develop to another "mp-count" conversation (trolling in reality) ...I will excuse myself!

P.S: It has become the most boring "subject" on sites when people compare irrelevant products on Mp counting... Why don't you guys buy a 48mp cell phone and save us from your trolling?
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Eddie van der Walt

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Well, yes, I think that pixel count is highly overated. Even for wall-mounted prints. The viewing distances tend to dictate that we have passed what we need.
That was not a point I cared much about.
But I DID care about colour depth, and this is something medium format still leads the way on, by quite a long way.
However, the 35mm-style bodies are catching up fast.
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Eddie van der Walt

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Paul,

Thank you.

Am not ashamed, but part of me is disappointed. I would have loved to get back to medium format gear. Maybe I'll add a film medium format body...
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Theodoros

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Re: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D 50 as a portrait photographer
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2014, 08:58:16 am »

Well, yes, I think that pixel count is highly overated. Even for wall-mounted prints. The viewing distances tend to dictate that we have passed what we need.
That was not a point I cared much about.
But I DID care about colour depth, and this is something medium format still leads the way on, by quite a long way.
However, the 35mm-style bodies are catching up fast.
My favourite album of Billie Bragg... is called "Talking with the taxman about poetry"... Well.. you can't really, can you?
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Eddie van der Walt

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Re: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D 50 as a portrait photographer
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2014, 08:59:00 am »

Since this is going to develop to another "mp-count" conversation (trolling in reality) ...I will excuse myself!

P.S: It has become the most boring "subject" on sites when people compare irrelevant products on Mp counting... Why don't you guys buy a 48mp cell phone and save us from your trolling?


Hahaha, sorry, that was not the can of worms I was trying to open!
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Theodoros

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Re: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D 50 as a portrait photographer
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2014, 09:06:33 am »

Hahaha, sorry, that was not the can of worms I was trying to open!
What was it then? what is different of D810 than other DSLRs? ....and you choose THIS DSLR (the highest mp count one) against an MF system? (please mention the MF system you compared it with and the environment the two were compared...).  :-[
« Last Edit: September 20, 2014, 09:09:04 am by Theodoros »
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Paul2660

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Re: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D 50 as a portrait photographer
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2014, 09:23:36 am »

Paul,

Thank you.

Am not ashamed, but part of me is disappointed. I would have loved to get back to medium format gear. Maybe I'll add a film medium format body...

I agree ashamed was not a good pick of words.  But anyway, welcome to the forum.

Paul
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Paul Caldwell
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eronald

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Re: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D 50 as a portrait photographer
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2014, 09:30:38 am »

The 35mm guys knew what they wanted: More pixels, better lenses. Nikon gave them the D800, Zeiss and Sigma the Otus and Art, both became bestsellers.

I don't think we should argue with success, or patronize people who are probably as passionate as we are about their art, and who also look at the bottom line. Not everyone has access to the big city fashion and trade markets for their business.

Edmund
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Torbjörn Tapani

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Re:
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2014, 09:36:00 am »

Might I suggest you also look into the Sigma Art series 50mm. They also have a 35 mm Art.
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Theodoros

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Re: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D 50 as a portrait photographer
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2014, 09:37:20 am »

The 35mm guys knew what they wanted: More pixels, better lenses. Nikon gave them the D800, Zeiss and Sigma the Otus and Art, both became bestsellers.

I don't think we should argue with success, or patronize people who are probably as passionate as we are about their art, and who also look at the bottom line. Not everyone has access to the big city fashion and trade markets for their business.

Edmund

Access is different to "compare"... With "access" one doesn't have to write a page... he only says... "my budget...." ..."although I would like to try..." ...but "why did I choose THIS against THAT" ...is after one has compared, experienced, ...and came down to a conclusion... its down to simple logic actually (by definition) ...its a comparison!
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Dustbak

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Re: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D 50 as a portrait photographer
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2014, 10:28:25 am »

Well another dslr user that found it necessary to post x vs z on the large and medium format forum. Why not post stuff like this on the DSLR forum?

Each format has its place and the mine is better than yours or the I don't see the purpose of larger format over smaller rant is getting truly boring.

BTW, I use Nikon too and have actually been using the 58/1.4G for a while now. I find it a lens that absolutely draws lovely and everytime I use it I am stunned by the results. I kind of don't care what statistics or chart readers are trying to tell me but let my eyes be the judge.
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Eddie van der Walt

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Re: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D 50 as a portrait photographer
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2014, 10:34:17 am »

Ok, I have to say, I dismissed the Sigma lenses out of hand.
I have worked with other models professionally over a number of years, but have been sorely let down.
This 50 f1.4 Art was not on my radar though, and I want to thank the community for bringing it to my attention.
I am going to seriously investigate it and perhaps request returning the 50mm Nikon in favour of it.
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Theodoros

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Re: Why I chose a Nikon D810 over a Hasselblad H5D 50 as a portrait photographer
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2014, 10:37:51 am »

Well another dslr user that found it necessary to post x vs z on the large and medium format forum. Why not post stuff like this on the DSLR forum?

Each format has its place and the mine is better than yours or the I don't see the purpose of larger format over smaller rant is getting truly boring.

BTW, I use Nikon too and have actually been using the 58/1.4G for a while now. I find it a lens that absolutely draws lovely and everytime I use it I am stunned by the results. I kind of don't care what statistics or chart readers are trying to tell me but let my eyes be the judge.
People posting subjects under impression and not under experience may most certainly create the wrong kind of conversation... Such a conversation may be both misleading and dangerous...
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