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Humber College

“Hasselblad is as excited to have us use the cameras as we are to be using them. Their initiatives have made our investment in the H3DIIs much more than a purchase. It is truly a partnership.”
Dean William Hanna

Girl With Snake
Photo: © Jen Plewes

Balance © Ryan Rogers

One Arm © Jason Matos


Humber College Invests in Hasselblad
H3DII Scores High Marks with Students & Faculty

Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning, located in Toronto, Ontario, offers hundreds of programs to its full-time and part-time students. Within the School of Media Studies & IT, the Creative Photography faculty, led by Dean William Hanna, trains students in the technology, business, and theory required to succeed as professional photographers. Dean Hanna, who began his partnership with Hasselblad in 2007, explains why he values the Hasselblad-Humber partnership, how Humber came to be the largest Hasselblad installation at any educational institution, and why the students are so taken with the H3DII.

In 2000, Humber College entered the digital realm, purchasing 90 Fujifilm S1 DSLRs for our Creative Photography students. To keep up with the evolving technology, every two years we have upgraded our equipment, buying Nikon D70s, then D200s, and most recently D300s.

To prepare students for digital photography, Humber began a major restructuring of the curriculum, which took about two years to complete. We also ripped out 42 darkrooms and built a state-of-the-art facility, where students do all their editing and printing.

H3DIIs Arrive on Campus
By 2006, we purchased our first two Hasselblad cameras. In 2008, Humber’s Creative Photography Department made a significant investment in Hasselblad, purchasing six H3DII-39s and one H3DII-50, which were a big hit. The Hasselblad inventory has since tripled; there are now 20 H3DII-39s and three 50-megapixel H3DIIs, plus an early 22-megapixel H2D. This makes Humber’s Creative Photography program the largest Hasselblad H3DII installation of any education institution.

In addition to use of the Hasselblad H3DIIs, all photo students are required to lease or own the 35mm DSLR we are currently supporting, along with an Apple Macbook Pro. The DSLRs are used on a daily basis, whereas the Hasselblads stay in a photo cage, where students can book them out as required for photo assignments. A training session on the equipment is a prerequisite to booking them out.

Unleashing Students’ Creativity
We all remember when the pros were saying digital would never make it in medium-format, because it would not be possible to make a sensor large enough to capture detail and resolution—but it happened. By 2006, striking images as good or better than any ever made with medium-format film cameras were possible. The industry, as a whole, and my staff, specifically, were absolutely blown away by the quality of these stunning digital images. And Hasselblad was in the lead.

Image file size and resolution, and the H3DII’s and Phocus software’s ability to do so much with the images after capture, are some of the many factors that make the camera extraordinary. The students love shooting close-ups of skin with it. They put glaze, powder, and sparkles all over the model’s arm and show us how the H3DII captures every single sparkle. It’s breathtaking. The detail with portraits is riveting.

More and more, our second-year students, who have been exposed to Hasselblad’s capabilities, are finding new ways to unleash their creative vision with the H3DII-39. As for the faculty, they are excited about the chance to use the H3DII-39.

The images shown here are all year-end shots taken by students who used Hasselblad cameras:

~ “Girl With Snake,” a mural project by Jen Plewes, was captured with a Hasselblad H3DII-39 and 50-110mm zoom lens.

~ “Balance,” a mural project by Ryan Rogers, was created with a Hasselblad H3DII-39 and 210mm lens.

~ “One Arm,” a business portrait project by Jason Matos, was captured with a Hasselblad H3DII-39 and 80mm lens.

Students are taken with both the level of excellence of the product and the iconic Hasselblad brand. Jen Plewes, the photography student and photo history buff who captured “Girl with Snake,” told me, “Hasselblad is a magic name. Having the opportunity to shoot with a digital Hasselblad was a thrill.” Other students were “blown away by the skin tone and resolution,” especially compared to the images they were used to with DSLRs. They said that the H3DII had given them “far more control over all aspects of the images.”

Faculty Feedback
Our Creative Photography faculty is equally as enthusiastic about the Hasselblad product line.

Greg Henderson, Coodinator of the Creative Photography program, tells me, "The Hasselblad H3DII has proven to be of better quality than the large-format film cameras the students previously used for commercial photography. The immediate feedback makes the H3DII invaluable for the learning process."

David Scott, Professor of Photography, concurred: “When I was working in the industry, Hasselblad was recognized as the standard for professional photographers. With two dozen H3D cameras available for students today, they provide a rare opportunity to train and develop skills for creativity and employability."

Creative Photography Professor Charles van den Ouden shared an amusing anecdote about standing in line at a photographic convention in Las Vegas recently. “I overheard the man standing in front of me proudly describe to his buddies why his DSLR was the best camera money could buy. ‘Why would anyone shoot with any other camera?’ the man inquired. He turned to me and smugly asked, ‘What camera do you use?’ When I replied that I capture with the H3D, after a moment of silence, he turned back to his friends and did not utter another word. I believe, in Vegas terminology, ‘I trumped his ace.’”

Hasselblad has been extremely supportive of us. They are as excited to have us use their cameras, as we are to be using them. They have been very helpful in making the cameras more affordable for us, and in providing opportunities such as this article, offering training options online, and tech support, etc. Together these initiatives have made our investment in Hasselblad much more than a purchase. It is truly a partnership.

Text: Alice B. Miller