Moving on

The short: I have elected not to renew my contract with Hasselblad/ DJI, which ended on 30 September 2018.

The long: the reasons for my departure are myriad. They mainly come down to a) increasing time demands of my watchmaking venture and family, and b) a difference between the company’s intentions for my role and where I believe I can add value/ what I feel passionate about.

I have spent the better part of the last few years fighting for things users want, need and find useful (thank me for electronic shutters, fast lenses and drone color later). But it’s been met mostly with internal resistance and a daily assortment of complaints, blames, demands and such from the user community. Worse, many insinuate that I am personally responsible for whatever grievance that individual has – which almost always could not be further from the truth. Some even get threatening. Bottom line: it isn’t worth my time or stress levels anymore.

However, I continue to remain in the Hasselblad family as an owner and user, as I believe the product still delivers the best image quality I’ve seen to date. A lot of the right roadmap was put into plan over the last two years (which you’ve already seen some of), and hopefully we’ll all get to see the rest of it.

Practically, this means I will of course no longer be representing either Hasselblad or DJI. For enquiries and service/ support going forward, please contact customersupport@hasselblad.com. My @hasselblad.com address is no longer active as of today.

In any case, I suppose it was a fun ride while it lasted – nearly three years since first signing as an ambassador at the start of 2016 – and there have been some truly memorable moments in my career that wouldn’t have happened without it.

One last thing: unsurprisingly, I have quite a number of cameras here, some of which I will be letting go of. Currently available:

  1. H5D-50c wifi body and back, complete (overhauled in March, including a new sensor), condition excellent, including extra battery; US$5,900 inc. Paypal, shipped via DHL or best offer On hold pending funds
  2. HC 50/3.5 II, as new, complete, US$2,200 ($5,150 new) inc. Paypal, shipped via DHL Sold

Please email me if interested.

Drone diaries: slices of green (more from the Mavic 2 Pro)

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In my previous post I posted a flight report/review/extended test of the new 2018 DJI Mavic 2 Pro, with 1″ Hasselblad L1D-20c camera module. As promised, today’s post contains additional images I shot around Malaysia during the testing and calibration period – and yes, there’s a forest in there. I see a new project (or rather an extension of an old one, with previously inaccessible perspectives) emerging… Enjoy! MT

Shot with the Mavic 2 Pro and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Drone diaries: the 2018 DJI Mavic 2 Pro review

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I’ve been flying the Mavic 2 Pro (Hasselblad version, of course) for nearly two months now – both for color/tonality tuning and flight testing. Yesterday, DJI announced two versions in an update to the highly successful original Mavic (which is what I’d been flying up to this point). The Mavic 2 Pro carries a 1″ sensor camera, 28mm-e f2.8 lens, and Hasselblad imaging pipeline; that camera module is designated as a Hasselblad L1D-20c. The second bird is a Mavic 2 Zoom, which carries a 2x 24-48mm-e zoom on a 1/2.3″ sensor. Everything across the board is significantly improved – we’ll go into the details after the jump. In short: it’s a Phantom 4 Pro in a Mavic’s clothes.

Disclosure notes: I work for Hasselblad/DJI, I was involved with the development of the Mavic 2 Pro, and this report was made on the basis of my experience with prototypes at various stages of development. Small image thumbnails are clickable for larger versions, and there are full sized samples where noted.

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Photoessay: Convergent shadows

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This set is a delayed curation that I wasn’t aware existed: a year had to pass and the other curations removed for it to reveal itself. As usual, there are elements and geometries we see subconsciously that do not always make themselves known until you look; yet we find ourselves executing somewhat on autopilot and our unconscious minds extracting repeating patterns. Perhaps it was the light, perhaps it was the urban wimmelbild elements, or perhaps the combined tension created by the presence of both – very hard shadows defining solid zones within the image, offset by colourful messes outside. One parting thought: how much of a final curation is the result of the initial (and probably most strongly felt) one – plus a desire not to repeat the use of images? Food for thought…MT

This series was shot in Istanbul with a Hasselblad H6D-100c, 50, 100 and 150mm lenses, and post processed with Photoshop and LR Workflow III. Get more out of your voyages with T1: Travel Photography.

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Major firmware updates for X1D and H6D

You asked…we listened. V1.21 brings quite a few extra features, and is available immediately for download here. The changelog of major items is as follows:

For the X1D:

  • AF support is now present for all HC lenses (except the 120 macro) – firmware is lodged under individual lenses on the download site
  • Interval timer
  • Bracketing
  • Manual eyedropper WB tool
  • Auto ISO shutter speed limits (with both 1/fl multiple and 1/shutter speed options, of course)
  • Custom button options now include interval timer, manual WB, bracketing etc.
  • Long press of the AF-D button during playback goes to 100% actual pixel view at the focus point
  • During EVF playback, the rear display acts as a touchpad to scroll/browse images
  • During rear screen playback, LV now starts immediately when switching to the EVF to reduce capture time.
  • Tethered image import for Phocus over USB

For the H6D (all three versions):

  • Manual eyedropper WB tool
  • Setting profiles
  • Tethered image import for Phocus over USB
  • Audio notifications – H4/5 users will remember this as confirmations that an image is shot, camera ready, over/underexposure etc. in addition to the usual focus beeps
  • Long press of the True Focus button during playback to go to 100% actual pixel view
  • Use of rear screen as touchpad for browse/scroll when a HDMI monitor is connected

I think you’ll agree this is a solid set of additions – auto ISO limits, playback functions and manual WB are particularly useful. Lastly, yes, I am testing an XCD 21mm at the moment… MT

Photoessay: XPAN-eriments, part I

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…Or, evolutions of a scene. I admit to having more than a passing curiosity towards the original XPAN cameras* – mainly because of the very unusual panoramic format, and the relatively accessibility compared to say a 6×17 with movements. Whilst I work a lot in 16:9 for a more cinematic feel and a perspective that perhaps matches natural human vision more closely than the taller 3:2 and 4:3 formats – going wider is rare and either requires stitching or throwing away so many pixels you are limited in your printing options. The latter is less of an issue with the latest generation of 35mm cameras and MF, but one simple problem remains: it’s very difficult to compose for this aspect ratio if you have no means to visualize it. Few cameras have 16:9 previews or lines, and almost none have wider. My H6D-100c has 16:9 and Cinema 2.4:1, but only because I sacrificed a focusing screen and scored it with a razor blade. Other than that, it’s pure guesswork. Given that focusing screens are not readily available for any of my other cameras, I didn’t want to add any more confusing lines to the H6D’s finder, and scoring lines on an EVF is probably a bad idea, experiments had not really progressed further – until recently, when we got a whole slew of aspect ratios with the most recent firmware. This of course means it’s time for some experiments.

*For those unfamiliar – a 35mm rangefinder in two versions co-developed with Fuji and also sold as the TX1 and TX2, but with a 65x24mm film gate for a 2.7:1 aspect ratio; close enough to 6×17’s 2.83:1. There were native 30, 45 and 90mm lenses – no coincidence we also have these on the X1D. It took normal 35mm roll film to give 20-21 panoramic frames per 36 exposure roll, and could also shoot normal 24x36mm frames – but why on earth would you buy the camera to do that? They are fairly rare now and finding a lab to do the development, even rarer. Of course there’s always DIY, but for reasons explained earlier here it’s no longer really an option for me.

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Photoessay: last of the Icelandic singles

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I have a slightly embarrassing confession to make: there are images that I can’t let go of, but probably should. They are remnants from my trip to Iceland nearly a year ago, but standalones that really didn’t fit in with any of the other series. It’s a sort of artefact of the site setup that posting single images is tricky because it breaks pattern too much unless there’s a whole thought catalog to go with it; the unfortunate result is that I’ve got a whole graveyard folder of images that work independently, but can’t really be curated into a photoessay or series. Some find life again as featured images, others land up illustrating specific posts, and yet others still – like this one – are held together tenuously enough by some rather weak thread that perhaps I can still post them. I admit it: I couldn’t curate these anywhere, nor could I let them go, but there’s still some emotional attachment. I’m sure somebody will use it to beat me over the head to remind me of curation discipline, and I’d probably deserve it. In the meantime…MT

Shot with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Photoessay: From the mountains

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Following on in the series of Icelandic landscapes, today we go inland a bit and bring you a series from the volcanic mountains. Strongly directional light, unfiltered by clouds, plus ‘sharp’ underlying topology that’s relatively new (and thus in places uneroded) in geological terms leads to some very interesting textures. I found the challenge when working in this kind of landscape to be one of context: interesting textures and shadows only remain interesting when seen against other elements to gauge relative ‘hardness’ and size; isolate one element and you somehow the whole thing doesn’t work; yet often light wasn’t dramatic enough to really make a single small element clearly pop against a much larger canvas. 90mm (about 70mm-e) turned out to be the most useful focal length here; mountains are relatively far apart, so some compression is required to avoid emptiness; yet some width is also required because of sheer scale. I kept wondering if some shift might be useful to give the mountains a bit more weight, but to be honest – we’d probably need far more than possible without a technical camera and large format lenses. MT

Shot with the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit and processed with PS Workflow III.

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Photoessay: Urban plants of Istanbul

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Today’s photoessay is a little whimsical: on a previous trip to Istanbul, I noticed myself photographing a lot of urban-texture type vignettes, drawn to the juxtaposition of textures and colors. But the common theme I failed to consciously register at the time was that almost all of these images had some elements of nature hiding in the frame – as though a second level of metaphysical contrast also somehow made its way into the frame. Ironically, in most of these cases – the plants have survived time much better than their environment and seem to be thriving in a way that contrasts quite dramatically with the patina in the rest of the city. I think maybe I was just pleased to see signs of nature still extant amongst the concrete. The set itself is a sort of ‘second pressing’ curation – a lot of singles that didn’t obviously fit any of the other sets previously published, at least until I noted the plant theme. There are of course a few surprises in the images if one is to look closely… MT

This series was shot in Istanbul with a Hasselblad H6D-100c, 50, 100 and 150mm lenses, and post processed with Photoshop and LR Workflow III (and the Weekly Workflow). Get more out of your voyages with T1: Travel Photography.

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Leica M mount lenses on the X1D

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f1.4, medium format, comparable size and weight to ‘pro’ M4/3. What’s not to like, other than the price?

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been shooting with the rather unorthodox combination seen above. I’ve found it answers two questions/ solves two problems for me: firstly, the desire for something that operates in the way you want (i.e. transparently) and that makes you want to shoot with it; and secondly, the small/light question. (There’s also a whole separate discussion on the concept of practical equivalence and envelope that I’ll discuss at some later point). But the journey getting here wasn’t quite so straightforward, unfortunately, and this combination is not a Swiss Army knife – it’s got some pretty big limitations. But when it delivers, I find that it delivers something quite special by the truckload.

Additional X1D coverage is here: long term review; assessment with Nikon F mount lenses; field use in Iceland.

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