What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

Our new Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back is big, expensive, perhaps a little scary, and worth every penny if using it for the right assignment. We encourage renters to take advantage of Phase One’s training program if you are not already familiar with working with this system. Here’s some advice we’ve collected after using it ourselves. Stay tuned for sample images here on the blog!

Difficulty Level

Any reasonably seasoned shooter can handle the awesome power of medium format. The settings are just what you’d expect from a camera: AF/MF options, metering options, shutter/f-stop/and ISO control, etc. Working with the RAW files can be a challenge if you don’t have Capture One software. Handling the camera can be a challenge without an assistant because of its delicacy and bulk. In the right environment and with some patience, this camera will definitely introduce you to another level of imagery and is worth getting familiar with.


The 80MP Phase One IQ280 sensor right of the Nikon D800E 36.3MP sensor.

What it Can Do:

• Produce 10328 x 7760px images with the massive 80MP sensor.

• Sync with strobes and flashes up to 1/800th of a second.

• Maintain your focus point throughout camera position changes thanks to True Focus technology.

• Shoot at the very low ISO 35.

• Make you a sandwich.


Only 1 CF card slot – tethering for backup advised.

What it Can’t Do:

• Video.

• Be super reliable when not tethered. This camera only has 1 CF slot so tethering for image backup is a good idea. Also, the LCD preview isn’t a great visual guide – the Histogram is your friend here if you don’t have access to an external monitor.

• Be easily hand-held. It’s a bit of a beast.

• Shoot at ISO higher than 800 unless you are in Sensor+ mode. Warning: Sensor+ mode means you will be shooting at an effective 20MP, reducing your output to 5162 x 3878px-sized images.


This is what it looks like when you remove the digital back from the body. Do NOT do this yourself!

Important Things to Know:

• Almost everything has a lock button, from the battery to the digital back to the protective cover for the tripod mount. Please take care when making adjustments – don’t force it!

• Do NOT remove the digital back. The sensor is huge and beautiful and tempting to look at but for the cleanliness of both the sensor and your images, do NOT expose the back. Think of it as the eyes of Medusa – not to be seen!

• You know how lenses will register as “longer” on crop sensor cameras? This works in the opposite direction. The sensor is so large that the Hasselblad lenses will register as effectively “wider” than they state. A 100mm lens will read more like an 80mm (approximately).

• The RAW files coming out of the IQ280 are Intelligent Image Quality format which is completely lossless and can be read with Capture One. They can be processed into a 16 bit TIFF, though they will only end up being half the size of the traditional RAW. Capture One is available for free for 60 days.

• There is a separate battery for the Hasselblad grip and for the IQ280 back. Both need to be charged!

• The bulk of the settings, including shooting mode, metering, flash, and custom functions, are located in the Hasselblad grip/body. Basic settings such as white balance, ISO, and playback settings are available on the touch screen of the IQ280 digital back.

If you have any further questions about renting this item, please contact us.


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Alexandria Huff's photography and lighting tutorials can be found on 500px and her blog. She is a Marketing Coordinator for BorrowLenses.com and also writes for SmugMug. She learned about lighting and teaching while modeling for photographers such as Joe McNally and has since gone on to teach lighting workshops of her own in San Francisco. See her chiaroscuro-style painterly portraits on her website.


  1. Hi! Tell me pls wich CF cards need to use with the IQ280? I mean speed

    • The camera is not very buffer-intensive because it shoots so relatively slowly. Your biggest concern will be capacity since the files are so large. I suggest something along the lines of the 64GB 400X card: http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/memory_cards/64GB_CF_udma (which is what I used to shoot the examples). Don’t go too high, though! We have heard that the 128GB 1000X cards do not currently work properly in Hasselblad Medium Format DSLRs.



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