Hasselblad's 200-megapixel camera: $45,000

The most serious pro photographers out there now have a new option, the H4D-200MS, which combines six frames into a single 600MB image.

Hasselblad's H4D-200MS
Hasselblad's H4D-200MS Hasselblad

The new top-end model from medium-format camera maker Hasselblad is now on the market, and it's not cheap: the 200-megapixel H4D-200MS will set you back 32,000 euros, or about $45,000.

The camera actually uses a sensor with a mere 50 megapixels, but with Hasselblad's multishot technology combines six shots into one. That means moving subjects such as fashion models need not apply. But a lot of this very high-end photography involves static subjects such as jewelry, watches, cars, and paintings for reproduction.

Hasselblad announced the H4D-200MS last September at the Photokina show. At the time, the company said it hoped to release the camera in the first quarter.

The multishot technique isn't as crude as taking a bunch of shots and stitching them together. Instead, it works with a piezoelectric motor that moves the camera's image sensor a tiny amount before taking each photo.

The six-shot extended multishot mode augments an earlier option, the four-shot multishot mode. The multihsot modes offset each frame by a half or a full pixel width, an approach that compensates for the fact that each sensor pixel captures only red, green, or blue light. The four-shot mode takes about 20 seconds for a full photo; the six-shot mode takes about 30 seconds. Yes, you need a tripod.

The multishot technology works by moving the camera's image sensor a tiny amount and taking a new photo.
The multishot technology works by moving the camera's image sensor a tiny amount and taking a new photo. The process compensates for the fact that each pixel on the sensor only can capture red, green, or blue light. Multiple shots are combined into one. Hasselblad

Photographers can also send their H4D-50MS cameras back to Hasselblad for an upgrade for 7,000 euros, or about $9,800.

The camera's sensor measures 36.7x49.1mm and takes shots with 6132x8176 pixels. When the six shots are combined, each with 16 bits of color depth per pixel, a single raw photo is about 600MB. No doubt that file size is why Hasselblad lets photographers attach a hard drive, though CompactFlash cards are supported.

The camera can shoot at ISO sensitivity settings between 50 and 800.

Another feature you won't see in your average point-and-shoot is True Focus, a technology to get around the problems of focusing an image on a particular point then moving the camera to recompose the shot. The initial focus point--a model's eye, for example--is at the center of the frame when focusing. But moving the camera--to show the model's entire body, for example--can make that eye go out of focus. To deal with this geometrical difficulty, sensors in the the H4D cameras measure the change and adjust the autofocus setting in real time.

Expensive luxury products are a core market for medium-format photography.
Expensive luxury products are a core market for medium-format photography. Jonathan Beer took this shot with an H4D-200MS in its highest-resolution configuration. Hasselblad/Jonathan Beer

Tech Culture
About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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