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First impressions with the H1



The H1 is the newest product of Hasselblad, introduced on the Photokina in September 2002. Since it is not available yet, it is hard to find any reviews about it on the net.

Medium Format with 6x4,5 is new for Hasselblad. Also AF is a novice. Lenses are from Fuji, not from Zeiss. The question is, whether HAsselblad is seeing the H1 as a step into diversification and broadening the customer base, or whether this is the first sign of a fading out of the 6x6 V-System because of a decreasing demand.

Til now I only read excellent experiences with Digital backs on 645 cameras. Maybe the difference between 6x6 and 645 are getting too small with these digital innovations? Or the digital backs for 6x6 will be in the long run too expensive for a healthy future of the V-System?

Time will tell...


There is a French magazine that has made a review, print 5 pages, not on web, it is :

Reponses Photo
N° 129S Dec 2002

They conclude 86 on 100 note level :

Build : 12/20
Handeling 18/20
Technical capabilities : 19/20
Lens : 18/20
Price/quality : 12/20

They vote "BUY"

I trust this magazine they vote 84/100 for the 501cm for ex&le.

For me the price is really an issue. If I want to spend that amount of money, I would almost prefer a Hassy with 6x6 or a Rollei 6008. I do not know the Fuji lenses, but the Zeiss lenses never let me down - neither with my Rollei, nor with my Contax.

On major criticism for me is the grip of the H1. I prefer that one of the Rollei and the Contax 645 over the H1.

I am surprised that the french magazine rated the handling of the H1 with 18/20. I had one at the photokina in my hands and it did not convince me at all for a all-day shooting.

I was on the phone the otherday with Hasselblad in Sweden, asking for a manual. The person I spoke with, very kind, told me that the H1 was a demand of professionals, they were compeled to make this model by them.

I have held the H1, find it kind of plastic if you want my personal opinion. The 645 format does mean that you will have to chose the framing, this being the other way around compared to 35mm, one advantage with 6X6 concentate on what is is the frame not the way round....

If one is not one of those "pros" who seem to need this, and are in photogarhy for pleasure and makin aa visaul memory of ones path in life, then set for 6X6, a nikon F100 or F5 for "fast", a leica for the "feel" and discret moments, back the whole issue with a good medium format scanner, or stay "wet" with BW....take pictures and maybe one day get a second hand H1. I doubt they will ever have the "unique" atmosphere like the 6x6.

The right hand grip has an "odd" feel which isn't quite right for a Hasselblad(I picked up the camera Monday). The real question is it is an odd feel just because a Hasselblad always had a certain feel.
By the way,nobody in my office had ever picked up a Hasselblad before but they had all taken my Contax 645 off the shelf and they all noted how much faster the Hasselblad focused and they loved the LCD panel in the grip. I'll comment after I shoot this weekend.

I did. I've shot about a dozen rolls since then and I love it. The lens is razor sharp and has been wonderful outdoors and indoors by available light. It will pick up EVERY little blemish on portraits so be prepared. The colors reminded me of Fuji slide film shot in the late 70's with the original 85 1.4 that I had for the RTS. Perhaps Hasselblad was smart enough to know that if they couldn't get Zeiss lenses could they at least get Fuji to imitate the color schema. All in all very impressive.
I can hand hold the H1 at 1/15 of a second. A feat I haven't done comfortably in over 20 years. Maybe its because I have a fairly large size hand - I'm not a pocket person, i.e. I have trouble with my little T3, but I believe its more the grip and balance of the camera than it is me.
I hadn't found any flash which seemed to yield the right color saturation - it was as though flash on auto and the H1 were meant to cause aggravation so last weekend I took out my Contax 360 flash and it turned out they worked perfectly together so that problem ended. Also, despite the grip being on the side DON'T rest the camera on the left side while travewling (bouncing)assuming that you'll readily pick it up with the right hand grip ready to shoot. Three times I've had the computer lock-up and I've had to release the head and reattach it to reset the camera -this seems to be the cause because it has only happened when traveling and when storing sideways so I am going to contact Hasselblad momentarily on this issue. Lastly, I'm looking to rent the digital back soon to play with that and then I'll really know if I'm going to be miserable a/k/a impovershed.

I am very much interested in H1, however I have been very concerned with the Fuji lens. I am pleased with your finding.

I can't wait for your feedback on the digital back.

I am very much interested in H1, however I have been very concerned with the Fuji lens. I am pleased with your finding.

I can't wait for your feedback on the digital back.

Hello, been test shooting the H1 and only have one question - shooting film, how long will the batteries last? This is important as I work in remote places. Thanks! Ken
Just reading Dirk's comments on the write up in Responses Photo. I too trust this ,magazine. It is a disappointment that they rate the "build" as only 12/20:that's 60%! I've not held one and don't intend to buy one, but a build quality that low for a price so high, is a concern.
A "price" rating of only 12 is not a concern. Leicas typically rate low in test reports when it comes to price/value,yet out of the 10 Leicas I've owned, I've sold 9 for more than I bought them for!!!
Steven, I don't know. I was quoting from Dirk's posting at the top of this column (March 19th 03)
There have been some reports in various magazines(Pop.Phot,etc)
In regard to the quality and ease of use for the H1. I have shot weddings, portraits, products and "things" for over 40 years now. I have gone through the rangefinders, 35 slrs, and hasselblads. For over 15 years i have shot with the 500 c/m with the 50/80/250. If possible i have been a tripod shooter with poses. Forget about much action shooting with the 500 c/m. Needless to say the H1 eliminates this constraint. It is by far the fastest AF in 645 that I have seen. I can now take pictures of people on the move. It works for sports as well. The feel? It is comfortable - very comfortable. The grip is solid and allows you to hold the camera very steady straight or upright. Does it feel like the "Hasselblad"? Of course not - should it? I should think not. It is new and incorporates so much more than the old that its design had to be knew. I can give up the "feel" without any problem for the advantages. And the lenses. I have blown up sections up to 16 x 20 and I don't believe that anyone could find a dot and point of difference between the old lenses and the new. I did debate a long time before spending 5000+ since i no longer make my living in a studio but i do not regret spending the money at all. I don't have to bother with the focus and most of the time with the exposure. I can concentrate more on composition and seeing. And after all isn't that what it really is about. The other stuff is mechanical. I could go on about a lot of other features but that is for another time. I'm sure that there are some shortcomings which others might find - but as for me, the boys did a wonderful job.
I guess I’m a bit late to this thread...

After 6x6 and 35mm I'm about to add a 6x4.5 to my roster (no, I’m NOT a collector, I DO photograph...), so the other day I was fiddling around with a Mamiya 645AFD, a Contax 645 and the H1 at my preferred photo dealer. And I must say that I was impressed both with the C645 and the H1. The Mamiya was way too plasticky for my gusto and it had a rather aggressive, although quite fast AF. One out.

Next was the Contax. Now this was a camera to hold! Every dial and button was on it’s place, and I think I grabbed the camera -- mentally -- in about 15 seconds. Also a fast AF. A good contender.

Next the H1: I couldn’t help but foolishly smile the moment I took it in my hands -- this was a camera I instantly and urgently wanted to have! But the high price tag froze my smile. Since I didn't want to sell all my belongings for calling an H1 my own, I finally settled for the Contax.

Funny how we judge on first sight?

Disclaimer: I really love Hasselblad (own two 500 C/M), and I also love Contax (own NX, G2, even a T2, owned RX before), so I believe I was not prejudiced in my judgement. It was based purely on the high street price of the H1.
Jaques, I know you wont be disappointed.
I bought my C645 back in 1999 and it was the first my dealer had sold. Since owning this camera it has become my primary tool. I also own a Leica M6 and Contax S2b. There is just something about the 645 that encourages me to use it. I know others will comment, but I just cannot fault this machine. Maybe matrix meeting would be nice(maybe!) and perhaps longer battery life, but really I can't complain.
I'd be interested in learning how you like it after some experience shooting with it.