Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 03/12/2011

Bringing out the big guns.

Indian Elephant, originally uploaded by

Blank pieces of paper, even virtual ones, can be quite intimidating when you’re scrabbling around for ideas to write… thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration on the internet – I said inspiration not plagiarism! I have just been looking at the top medium format camera from the top medium camera manufacturer and if you thought Canon’s or Leica’s cameras were expensive, then you’re in for a big shock when you see how much Hasselblad’s H4D-200MS costs. To soften the blow, let me first give you a few details which may go to explain why the cost is so high. This camera isn’t for the average shooter, or professional or not, it’s a niche camera (hence the niche price) where image quality and clarity are everything. In “normal” cameras the sensor is made up of red, green and blue pixels, a bit like your old TV which are then combined to create the final image. This has it’s restrictions, one major issue is moire which occur when photographing any type of mess or set of parallel lines (take a look here) and as such manufacturers include a filter in front of the sensor to reduce this type of artifact in the final photo. Hasselblad have create a sensor where each of the pixels can record any of the colours (a bit like the Foveon sensor from Sigma), resulting in a sharper more natural looking image. This fancy technology produces a 200Mpixel image from a 60Mpixel sensor. So who needs a 200Mpixel sensor…. well, the advertising industry of course for things like cars, buildings, watches (Breitling, Rolex et al. not the £5.99 type from the local garage!). It’s a studio specific bit of kit and this is reflected in it’s ISO range – from 50 up to a massive 800! No, you read that right, ISO800 is the most this camera goes up to, but then it doesn’t really need to go up much higher if all it ever does is work in a studio as there will be ample light.

I haven’t got the price yet, I was trying to build it up so when I finally did mention it, it might not be so much of a shock.. it’s £6 ($10) under £35,800…. that’s the price of a Porsche Boxster! That doesn’t even include a lens (you’ll have to save up another £3800 for just one lens) – I hate to think how much batteries will cost for this behemoth of a camera. I thought the new 1D X from Canon, the new flagship, was expensive at over £5,000 (it IS expensive) but it seems almost like pocket change compared to the H4D. For the same price as Hasselblad’s flagship, you could buy Canon’s top offering, a 600mm, 100-400mm, 70-200mm, 16-35mm and still have change to go to the cinema, have a fish supper, dance the night away in some expensive night club and bus fare home… and then some. Eeeh And you try and tell the young people of today that ….. they won’t believe you.

I’ve had two nice surprises today to do with my photography; a friend of the family, who had recently travelled on a First Great Western train left us a copy of their magazine which had an article on Dartmoor Zoo, and more specifically the story of how Ben Mee bought the run down establishment fulfilling a life long dream. Along with the image of Ben and family, and a picture of Matt Damon who is playing Ben in the soon to be released movie based on Ben’s book “We bought a zoo” was the photo I took of their cheetah Sita. A lovely surprise I think you’ll admit. The second one wasn’t so much a surprise as a nice to see; the local library who are displaying some of my pictures are having a Christmas raffled and I said as one of the prizes a winner could choose one of the prints from those that are currently displayed. Well, I noticed today that there was a poster for the raffle which detailed just that along with my name. Not a big deal, but it did make me smile – let’s hope the person who wins that prize is as pleased.

Speaking of pleased, I’m particularly pleased with today’s image… when I saw mother, new born and 1 year old tagging along I wanted to try and photograph the three of them all together.  The new born kept walking between it’s mother’s legs, probably the safest place for the young one to be, but getting the older sibling in the shot at the same proved harder to get.  I spend 20 minutes with these endearing creatures, snapping away before I could see the creatures moving in unison (not the Union I hasten to add)  and I saw the chance I was after.  The image isn’t perfect of course, whilst the mother is well lit, her two children are a little dark being as they were in her shadow. I can, and even might, use a bit of photoshop magic on them to rectify this.  As a famous magician used to say “you’re going to like this.. not a lot



  1. Brilliant shot Andrew, I haven’t seen as many trunks since our return from Kenya and we were waiting for our luggage at Gatwick Airport.

  2. The photo of these 3 elephants is simply perfect. I love it.

    • Thanks I was pleased with that shot, as I described, I had it in mind and so was very excited when I saw the creatures all lining up.

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