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Head-2-Head Digital Camera Field Review: Hasselblad H3DII-31 vs. Nikon D3s vs. Canon EOS 5D Mark II
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posted on Feb 11, 2010 at 10:03AM

Head-2-Head Digital Camera Field Review: Hasselblad H3DII-31 vs. Nikon D3s vs. Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Introduction: The Matchup

By Ted Dillard


The closing review in our Fashion & Portrait Series looks at the impact of resolution and sensor size among top digital cameras. We paired Nikon's FX-format D3s along with Canon's Full-Frame EOS 5D Mark II up against Hasselblad's H3DII-31, a low resolution camera by Hasselblad's standards.

The testing for this article was done in a 'real-world' shoot environment, using one model, a few changes of clothes, and two basic sets. We had a daylight set with strobes, and a full background where we shot full-figure as well as tight headshots. We then moved to a tungsten-lit set with a tight headshot, simulating work with available light, requiring an ISO of 800.

The Matchup
The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is one of the most popular DSLRs released to date for the enthusiast & professional markets. Sporting a full-frame imaging sensor and HD video, and weighing in at under $3,000, the 5D Mark II is a high-quality workhorse for nearly any situation. The Nikon D3s is an interesting DSLR by comparison. It sells for $5,200, almost twice the $2,700 retail price of the Canon 5D Mark II. The D3s supplies a little more than half the pixel count, at 12.1mp compared to 21.1mp on the same size sensor. Where the D3s steps out is in the frame-rate. The maximum shooting speed for the camera is 9fps, compared to the 3.9fps of the 5DM2, and then there’s the ISO. The Nikon D3s features a maximum ISO rating of an ISO 102,400 equivalent the Extended setting, compared to the rather tame, by today’s standards, 6400. If you’re thinking an ISO of 102,400 is some kind of a joke or marketing drivel, you owe it to yourself to try it out some time. If you’re thinking it’s a game-changer, right down to how we make photographs, you’re right.

The Hasselblad feels like, compared to these cameras, it’s in a different world. To be fair, it really is. The frame rate of the camera is 1.2 seconds-per-capture. That’s not frames-per-second, that’s seconds-per-frame. There is no video, HD or otherwise. High ISO shooting, that is, anything over 800, is probably not going to make you happy, and it’s rated at only ISO 1600. The sensor, at 31mp and a physical size of nearly twice that of 35mm sensors, has pixels that are physically 6.8µm (microns) and an Analog/Digital converter that works at full 16-bit. If you’re into cars, this is kind of like putting a smaller turbocharged four-cylinder car up against a big, heavy V8. They both have a lot of power, but it’s a different kind of power.

Read on to see how they stack up in the field.  

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