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Shooting Hand-Held Documentary Photos with a 100MP Hasselblad


Photographer Ming Thein recently did something most photographers would consider crazy: he shot a dimly-lit festival, held in a cave outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on a 100MP Hasselblad monster.

The challenges of this kind of photography are obvious. The conventional wisdom regarding reportage/documentary photography like this is “the smaller the camera the better.” Not only will a small camera help you blend in and capture candid moments, it’ll also spare your back and shoulders since this kind of photography has you on your feet, moving around, and shooting hand-held for hours at a time.

All of this is true, but there’s something those small camera don’t have: a 100MP medium format sensor. And since the advent of CMOS medium format sensors, these massive cameras can finally handle low light, dynamic environments, like the Thaipusam festival, in a way previous MF cameras simply couldn’t dream of.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out the behind the scenes video above to see how Ming did it, and then scroll down to see a few of the photos he captured while he was out there. Given the incredibly challenging lighting conditions, and sheer weight of this camera to boot, the final images are incredibly sharp and well-composed:

So what conclusion should we draw from this? Should street shooters, documentary photographers, and photojournalists trade in their smaller cameras for a 100MP Hasselblad? Not necessarily. But as Ming points out, they could if they wanted to. The bottom line:

“Using a camera like the H6D-100c for this kind of work is not only possible, but delivers results we could only dream of not long ago,” writes Ming for Hasselblad. “We are very much in the realm of not just conveying our observations and impressions, but now have the transparency and resolution to able to put our audience in the position of being there, under a huge range of circumstances.”

To hear all of Ming’s thoughts on using the H6D-100c for reportage, watch the video above or click here to read his thoughts on the Hassleblad blog. And if you’d like to see more of Ming’s work, head over to his website.

Image credits: All photographs by Ming Thein and used with permission.