H6D-100c and the HCD lenses

It has now been a little more than a month since I received my new Hasselblad H6D-100c and I have got to test it out properly, at least in the field. One of the things I was most curious about was how my lenses performed on this new, physically larger sensor.

Most H-system lenses (denoted HC) were designed for full frame medium-format which corresponds to medium format 120 film. Often called 645, referring to the full size of the film of 6×4.5 cm, the true image area of the film most often is around 42x55mm. Thus, the HC-lenses image circle covers this area and are designed to be sharp in the edges and don’t make too much vignetting even on a sensor this size. However, more recent H-series lenses were made to work optimally for a slightly smaller sensor (37x49mm) that was widely used in the early days of digital medium format. These lenses, (denoted HCD), makes a slightly smaller image-circle than the HC-lenses and are the 24mm, 28mm and the 35-90 zoom. I own, and have grown to be very fond of, the hcd 28 and the hcd 35-90. Little has been known about how these HCD-lenses performed on the new full-frame sensor, and concerns have been raised regarding both sharpness and vignetting.

So, I have now tested my new full-frame H6D-100c with the HCD 28 and the HCD35-90. Basically I am happy with the results. The short message is that the there is no real cut-off of the corners. The vignetting is pretty significant, but easily corrected in both Phocus and Lightroom. Sharpness is good but not excellent in extreme corners, but very good in corners. As a landscape-photographer, the sharpness and vignetting does not represent any problem at all in most real-life situations as long as software profile-correction is used. However, this is just my opinion. You can have a look at the images below and judge for yourself.

All images are taken from a tripod, mirror lock-up, manual focus in live-view. Iso 64. Daylight temperature. Aperture as denoted and shutter-times from approximately 0.5-2 sec. Images are processed in Lightroom, raw-conversion only, no raw-sharpening, no other corrections. Standard lightroom lens-profile correction¬† where this is noted. Images are not cropped and are all 11600×8700 pixels. Exported as 3000×3000 max quality jpgs with medium output-sharpening for screen. The lightsource is a huge window with slightly overcast daylight from the left. I wish I could have found a scene more evenly lit by daylight, but that is not very easy in Norway this time of year…

1.Vignetting

28-f-4-uncorr

HCD 28, f4. Uncorrected. Rather heavy vignetting fully open, but no real cut-off of corners.

 

28-f-4-corr

HCD 28 f4, profile corrected in Lightroom. Vignetting is well handeled.

28-f-8-uncorr

HCD 28, f8. Uncorrected. Much less vignetting compared to uncorrected f4.

28-f-4-corr

HCD 28 f8. Profile corrected in Lightroom with an excellent result.

35-f-4-uncorr

HCD 35-90 @35mm, f 4. Wide open, there is rather heavy vignetting on the zoom without correction.

35-f-4-corr

HCD 35-90 @35mm f4. Same image as above but with Lighrooms profile correction yields almost no trace of vignetting.

35-f8-uncorr

HCD 35-90 @ 35mm f8. Uncorrected

35-f8-corr

HCD 35-90 @35mm f8, profile corrected in Lightroom.

35mm-f8-uncorr

To compare to my HCD zoom, I took this image with my HC 35mm @f8. Uncorrected. Less vignetting compared to the zoom uncorrected, two images up.

35mm-f8-corr

HC 35 @ f8, corrected.

 

2. Sharpness

28f8-100

HCD 28 @f8. 100% crop from extreme upper left corner. Notice how small this area really is by comparing to the two first images. 100mpx is really quite stunning. Profile-corrected but no raw-sharpening was employed.

35f8-100

HCD 35-90 @ 35mm f8. 100% crop of extreme upper left corner. Profile-corrected but no raw-sharpening. Sharpness is compromised in the very extreme corner. As I knew my zoom had a slight issue in the upper left corner used at 35 mm f4-f8 on close distance i made another 100% crop a little bit more centrally in the left corner, see next image.

35mmf8-100-2

HCD 35-90 @ 35mm f8. More central left corner. Profile-corrected but no raw-sharpening.

35mmf8-100

HCD 35-90 @ 35mm f 8. Extreme upper right corner is sharper than extreme upper left at this aperture, but still not perfect.

35mmf8-100

HC 35mm @ f8. 100% crop of extreme upper left corner using my HC-35mm lens to compare it with the zoom @35mm (see two images up). Sharpness is significantly better in extreme corners with this lens compared to the zoom.

50mmf8-100

HCD 35-90 @50mm f8. Extreme upper left corner is better @50mm compared to 35mm on this lens.

To summarize, I would say that vignetting is not a significant problem as long as you use profile correction. I have tried out both Phocus and Lightroom. Phocus does a slightly better job, with a little bit more evened-out result after my taste, but nothing that will make me change my standard workflow from Ligthroom. The only concern is on severly underexposed images (more than 2-3 stops) at iso 1600 and upwards, where I have found that the vignette correction may give some slight color noise (not shown here). This is not unexpected at all, but should be known when shooting with these lenses on very high iso. Regarding sharpness, I am happy with the HCD 28, at least from f8 and upwards where I usually shoot (f 11 – 16 is my go-to aperture on these lenses). The sharpness in extreme corners using the HCD 35-90 @35 is somewhat compromised at f8. It is better at longer focal lenghts and good in the not-so-very extreme corners. I know my lens has a slight issue from f8 and wider on close distance of the upper left, but this is very rarely a concern as I mostly shoot landscapes on longer distances and wider apertures.

I have also done some testing using filters, both a regular UV-filter that I use for my Lee 100mm push-on holder and a slim polarizer from Nisi. I will try to process and post these images sometime during next week.

Hope you found this helpful. Let me know if there are any specific tests you want me to do, and I will try to make room for it within a week or two.

Wallpaper, anyone?

Morning shores

 

This image was captured the same morning as the image in a previous posting, “perspectives”. I specifically composed this image for wallpaper-use on my new iPhone 6. The wallpaper-version is cropped slightly different from the image above, and optimized for the iPhone 6 screen-resolution, but is otherwise basically identical. In my humble opinion, it worked out quite well on the phone. So now I’m considering making a gallery on my homepage with this one and a few other images that I think could work well as wallpapers. For a limited time, I’m planning to give them away as free downloads. What do you think? Is this a good idea, would you consider downloading this? I’ll give it a thought for a few days, then we’ll see. In the meantime, I hope you like my image, have a splendid weekend! I will soon be back with more posts, so stay tuned!

 

Dag Ole

Behind the scenes – Bavaria

IMG_1182

I had planned an autumn-trip to Bavaria and the German Alps since early summer. Besides the magnificent mountains in the area, I also wanted to capture some archetypical countryside and cultural landscapes. I could probably just as well have gone to Austria, Switzerland or the Italian Alps, but Munich turned out to be easiest to access for me by air. As I always do before I embark on a photographic adventure, I carefully studied maps and guides for the area. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, only about one hour drive from Munich, stood out as a perfect starting-point. Near Garmisch is Germany’s highest peak, Zugsptize, numerous beautiful lakes, small picturesque towns and lots of typical alpine countryside. A car is essential and was rented at the airport in Munich. I stayed in Garmisch the whole week, and can highly recommend Hotel Obermuhle! (no affiliation!).

Geroldsee is one of the photographic hotspots in the area. Only about 15 minutes drive from Garmisch, I had the opportunity to visit several times during my stay. After my first three visits, I was somewhat disappointed. The place was nice enough, a beautiful small lake, a wonderful field with numerous old barns and the spectacular Karwendel-Alps as a backdrop. However, the light and the weather did not cooperate and I did not feel that my images did justice to the place. I decided to give it one more chance on my last day. My plane didn’t leave Munich before 17:30, so I basically had the whole day for shooting. I got up at 5 a.m. to catch the best light. The receptionist at the hotel gave me the usual “are you raving mad” eye when I left in pitch dark at this early hour. When I parked by the road near Geroldsee minutes later, a weak red glow was barely visible in the eastern sky, behind the Karwendel Alps. This was promising! And from what I had seen on the way up from Garmisch, I had hopes that there could be some fog over the lake too! After a short walk from the parking I arrived at Geroldsee to find the place still dark and shrouded in a dense fog. As daylight slowly emerged, I walked up the fields to get above the fog and have the barns in the foreground. The morning glow of the emerging sun slowly appeared behind the Karwendel mountains. After having studied the landscape and considered the composition, I rigged up my gear and did the usual metering. Because of exposure differential I decided to use a ND grad to avoid that the skies were blown out or the valley was pitch black. The image below is one of my favourites from this morning and was captured at 06:57, only minutes before the sun appeared over the mountains. I returned to my hotel for breakfast a few minutes later, happy with finally having gotten what I wanted from Geroldsee. Hope you like it too!

Tech stuff: Nikon d800E, nikkor 24-70, f 13, 1 sec exposure. 2 step ND grad. Processed in Lightroom only.

Bavarian dawn

Morning light, Riessersee

Ok, I promised that my next post was going to be about equipment. However, I just returned from my trip to the German alps and have started to process images, so I wanted to share this new release in my gallery first. Bavaria has so much to offer the landscapephotograper, and I was really lucky with both weather and the autumn colors which seemed to peak last week. More images from the Alps in the weeks to come!

This is a new release in my gallery: Nordhaugphotography.com

Dag Ole

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About vision, technique and gear…

What camera do you use? Is this photoshopped?

That is by far the two most common questions I get when people see my images. I guess any of you other photographers out there know everything about this. You make good images, ergo you must have a great camera and/or be very good at photoshopping. I can understand why people are interested in these things, but frankly, does it really matter? Well, to many it obviously does. When I visited Grand Canyon this summer I got several questions and comments regarding my gear. At one time (sunset at Mather Point, a very crowded experience!) a lady looking over my shoulder pointed me out to her husband and stated “ohh, if you only had purchased a camera like this guy has, I’m sure you could take some wonderful pictures!” Her husband, carrying a very good point-and-shoot, seemed to agree. I turned around and smiled at them and said “well, a camera have never made a picture by itself”. I don’t thing they understood that they actually insulted me, because they just stared somewhat offended back at me, turned around and left.

As G Dan Mitchell says: photography is about photographs, not about cameras and lenses. And to paraphrase one of Cole Thompsons favorite quotes: You should complement the chef for his/hers stove as much as you should complement the photographer for his equipment. Every single camera sold today has a great potential to capture fantastic images. But it doesn’t do it by itself. The photographer makes the image, not the camera.

When it comes to postprocessing (“photoshopping”), there seem to be an opinion in the public that this also makes good images all by itself. Often, “photoshopped” is said with a negative tone, as almost frowned upon. Painters start with a white canvas and make an image from scratch, and most people don’t have a problem with that. However, there seem to be a misconception that photography should equal documentation. Unaltered reality. What if a photographer should just alter an image? How can we document the world then?? What if a photographer could just change “reality” with software? What are we left with then???? …..well, art? A RAW-file needs processing. The eye is an amazing instrument with phenomenal dynamic range, resolution, angle of view and sharpness. No camera is even close to replicate human vision. Psychology is also a very important part of what one sees and how one see it. A personal experience can never be captured by any sensor. Regular straight out of the camera-files are often .jpg, and these files are already “photoshopped” in the camera software with increased saturation, sharpening etc. Straight out of the camera .jpgs are no more real than a “photoshopped” raw-file. The only difference is that when processing a raw-file, the photographer is behind the wheel, not a software programmer. So what can a photographer do? Well, we have to use postprocessing to make the image to look the way we want it to. According to our vision.

Oh, and there is that word. Vision. What is that? Well, in my mind, vision is how I interpret a scene. How I see the world. And that is of course very much influenced by me. The sum of all my memories, all my experiences, my mood and my feelings, always filters and influence how I understand a scene. And that is my vision. How I see the world. And then I have to use all my experience and technical knowledge to try to make an image of the scene according to my vision. Both when capturing at location and in postprocessing where I do the finishing touches.

Techniques and equipment are only tools a photographer use to express his or hers vision.

And therefore, techniques and equipment may be somewhat important, and I will discuss this thoroughly in future blog-posts. But it is far from being the most important factor in the creation of an image. Vision, on the other hand, is.

Have a nice weekend!

Dag Ole

The intimate landscape

Fern and cascade. Yosemite Valley, 2014.
As a landscapephotographer, I love a grand vista as much as anyone. However, as years has gone by, I find the more intimate landscapes more and more appealing. Working for hours in a small forest or by a waterfall can yield numerous rewarding compositions. Also, the light may be more forgiving, or at least not as crucial as with a grand vista, making it possible to make nice images also on grey and dull days. This is a composition from a day like that. Yosemite valley is always wonderful, regardless of weather, but this was my best image from that day. Hope you like it too!
This is a new release in my gallery nordhaugphotography.com Prints available from today!
fernandcascade

New blog!

Thank you very much for visiting my blog!

After a couple of years down, my landscape photography blog is now up and running again. I have decided to go back to WordPress due to its easy accessibility, user-friendly interface and high level of customization.

As you see, the blog is not finished yet, but I will start adding content after a little bit more preparation, before the end of september.  Hang on!

 

Dag Ole