The Hasselblad X1D Review, Part 2. Torture Test. High ISO, Low Light, Handheld. By Steve Huff

The Hasselblad X1D Review, Part 2. Torture Test. High ISO, Low Light, Handheld

By Steve Huff

X1D Review – Part 1Part 2 – Part 3Part 4

Here I am with part 2 of my Hasselblad X1D review, which will consist of four parts. Part 1 is HERE. This time, unlike part 1, I have the camera in hand, and have used it, and have updated the firmware to the latest and greatest. I found myself shooting a Medium Format camera in places where these cameras traditionally do not hang out. Low light, music clubs, and soon I will shoot it in the standard areas where a camera like this excels..portraits and landscape.

Some of the images here with narration in video form…

Only having one battery so far (did not order a 2nd but did get a free $350 bag, and an extra battery free with the current promotion, but have to wait for it to be shipped) I was nervous about even short travel with the camera, as I have been hearing about people getting only 200 shots per charge. While I normally shoot VERY few frames compared to most, 200 is not that much. I was hoping for better with this seemingly power hungry camera.

There was a 4-5 hour wait for the 1st charge on the battery, and realizing the charger that came with the camera is not the best (plug it in and stick a cable into the battery, instead of a battery “lay in the charger” kind of charger) I feel one would need 3 batteries for this camera if you were taking a day trip, just to be safe. I wish Hasselblad included a tray type dual quick charger. But it is what it is.

In case you did not know,  this is not a 35mm full frame mirrorless or DSLR. It has a whopping 51MP MF sensor, made by Sony. The same one used in the new Fuji GFX yet the Fuji can go to a reported 1000 frames on a charge. Hmm. Anyway, I did not buy the camera expecting 500 shots per charge, nope, I knew all of the warts and issues I was potentially getting into. I like a challenge, so away I went with my X1D, single battery fully charged and the single lens I now own, the 45mm f/3.5, which gives almost a 35mm equivalent in full frame terms, and only with about an equivalent f/2.5 aperture (in full frame terms) for DOF.

As I sat and pondered on that before I headed out the door with Debby to the 1st location I would test this at (The Lost Leaf in Phoenix AZ), I figured I could get similar results with my old Leica SL and a 35 f/2.4 Summarit lens, and that kit, brand new would cost me a few grand less than this Hasselblad and offer more versatility. OH MY, WHAT HAVE I DONE? That is what I asked myself. But then I pulled out that X1D from my bag and said “THIS IS WHY I HAVE DONE THIS”. Besides, the SL struggled to shoot in this club even with a 50 1.4 Summilux as by ISO 6400 it would get noisy due to the extreme low light scenario. We all know that if there is good light, high ISO looks better. In low light, it gets much more noisy, much quicker. This is why I never understand those websites that test high ISO performance in studios with lighting. Makes no sense as we will never use ISO 12k with studio lights.

But this X1D..Man.

It’s a beauty. It’s like a sculpted piece of art. Of course beauty does not a camera make, as I am not displaying this as an art piece (though it could be one, kudos to the designer here) but rather trying to up my game over my SL and Sony A9…to see if this camera can do what they do, and possibly even better. I do not and never have needed speed. I never needed fast start up times and I never needed quick shot to shot times. If this can beat what my Sony does in this club I would be thrilled. But I had serious doubts about that. The Lost Leaf is a 365 Day per year music club in the arts district of Phoenix. We love going there to see local musicians, and enjoy great beer (they must have at least 100 beers available).

But back to the camera..I am a “one shot and done” kind of guy, and thats my reputation among those whom I have worked with. So the speed and shot to shot speed (FPS) and the wake up time does not bother me. I suppose it would if I were out trying to capture a decisive moment, or a sports performance, or some kind of action. If you shoot that type of scene, this is not your camera but then again, no medium format is.

I sold my Leica SL (again) to help fund this camera, the X1D. Also sold a few bags, a few lenses, and as I was heading out the door for this test shoot I was hoping I would not regret my choice by the morning . If that happened, well, I would sell it for a loss, and at least I could say “I finally owned a Hasselblad”, lol. I will learn a lesson to never make such a silly move ever again. But if it does make me a happy photographer, well, I will be thrilled.

So all of this was on my mind before I shot with the camera. Before I headed out. Will shooting it in challenging areas for a Medium Format camera confirm these fears or wipe them clean? I was about to find out.

The First Shots – The First Thoughts and a Bug

Before I delve in, let me say I did find a bug that some others have reported. Before I left the house, earlier in the day I shot two images outside just to check it out. When I activated the menu, and used the front and rear dials to move around (instead of using the touch screen) the dials seem jumpy. Menu items were jumping around and it would take a second for them to settle. I then saw the aperture go to the left, as if I was moving the dial, but I wasn’t. Hmmm. I researched and it does seem some of these cameras have this issue, and it requires a hardware fix according to Hasselblad, new dials. So I assumed I would be returning this to B&H Photo for an exchange, but I wanted to see how it did in real world shooting. If it persisted, it would go back in the AM. I am happy to say I could not replicate the glitch all night last night. Odd, as most reports say once it happens, it stays. But I could not replicate it. If it happens again over the next few days I will have to exchange it with B&H Photo, but they are great with customer service, so no worries here.

Before I go further, I have to show you this image. Shot in insane low light the camera had to resort to ISO 25,600 using Auto ISO. I assumed when shooting that these images would be unusable, horrible. But boy was I surprised. Click the image below to see a much larger version, and if you have a large display, you will see the beauty in the rendering, the smoothness and the B&W tonality. I converted it to B&W using Phocus (Hasselblad Software) and for ISO 25k, I was blown away. Below the image is a 100% crop you can click on to see the full crop. These are the kind of tones that medium format brings.  f/3.5 at 1/60s

Check out the 100% crop below, it’s amazing IMO for ISO 25,600. You must CLICK it to see it fully as WordPress downsamples these previews.

I know what you are saying. Yea, but you converted to B&W to avoid all of that nasty color noise…I would be thinking the same thing if I were you. So below is the color shot, from RAW, processed in PHOCUS, with a 100% crop to click on.

CLICK ON THIS to see larger. Color, ISO 25K. The Lost Leaf only uses a very low power red light to illuminate the small intimate stage

And the crop (click it to see full crop) – Handheld, 1/60s

SEE AND CLICK BELOW FOR A FULL 100% CROP that I ordered as a metal print in 16X20. This is a crop of the full frame, and is beautiful in its tonality, and delicateness when viewed at 100%.  No camera in the last three years has motivated me to order a print. Remember, this is ISO 25,600!

Once I saw this? I knew right then and there that I made the right choice with this camera (well, assuming there are no more bugs that creep in) as the IQ, the portability, the beauty and design and lightweight means I can take this ANYWHERE, EASILY. It fit in my small Wotancraft RAVEN bag. THIS to me, was pretty special. But this is my 1st few shots and only my 1st day with the camera. I am making or coming to NO CONCLUSIONS until I shoot MUCH more with it. I will be shooting this for the next several weeks, months and will be writing about my experience with it as I feel it deserves it. But make no mistake, I will write the good and the bad, and if I have to exchange it, I will say so. So stay tuned for part 3, and 4 which will come in a week or two.

Back to Shooting

If you can not tell, I am excited. It has been a long long time since I was truly this excited about owning a camera. Sure, I love my Sony A9, My Olympus EM1 MKII and PEN-F but this is something entirely new to me, and different. I never would have imagined that I would buy a Medium Format digital and use it for walk about handheld ISO 25k shooting. THIS camera is the only one that makes this possible. Sure, we have the Fuji but I would not have attempted this with the Fuji. It’s large, fat and these musicians would have wondered what the hell I was shooting with.

This camera is so sleek and thin and small, it is a true game changer in the world of large sensor mirrorless. But let’s talk about the speed, ease of use and challenges in a situation like I had here at the lost leaf, namely NO LIGHT! 

An Orange blossom beer illuminated by Candle Light. ISO 12800, 1/50s, 45 f/3.5 – Click this to see a MUCH larger size and the amazing quality of this file for the high ISO

This camera was getting a few negative remarks in some reviews but I am not sure why. Were they comparing it to DSLRs for speed? If so, why? Were they expecting blazing fast card write performance like a fast Sony A9 or DSLR? If so, why? Sure, the Fuji may be the bigger, faster, stronger model in this class of camera, but that is where the comparison ends for me with the Fuji GFX. Maybe it has a joystick, which would have been great to have here on the X1D. I mean, I am not sure how this was missed though I think it was to keep the slim design that many of us appreciate just as much as the IQ. The Fuji battery system is obviously better, so again, with the X1D you will need at least 3 IMO. The Fuji may have faster processing, but for me, I could care less for what and how I shoot.

For anyone considering an X1D or Fuji GFX, if you desire speed, a joystick and in reality a more advanced UI, go for Fuji. If you desire small size to take anywhere, and use in situations like I am showing here, if you desire light weight and sizes not much larger than a Sony A9 or SMALLER and LIGHTER than an A9 if using a G Master lens on the Sony, and if you desire Simplicity in the UI with a gorgeous touch screen that is smooth as silk, then consider the X1D. For me, I could not go to the Fuji, even if this X1D turns out to be a buggy POS in the end. It just is to large and would be more at home in a studio environment or tripod landscape environment.

This X1D can do handheld, slow shutter speed and very low light kind of shooting, areas where medium format never existed really. I can use the Hasselblad like I do my normal mirrorless cameras, though at a slower pace. (which I enjoy).

Street portrait at 10:30 at night, ISO 25,600. 45mm f/3.5 at 1/50s

The photo above of Debby reminds me of when I was shooting a Fuji Medium Format FILM Camera years ago, with 3200 film. But this is 25,600 ISO. It has a quality about it that I just do not see with 35mm. This was AUTO FOCUS, at night, low light and it nailed it.

THIS IMAGE BELOW IS WITH A MEDIUM FORMAT FILM CAMERA, from my review of the Fuji GF670 in 2010. See the review HERE. This Hasselblad delivers better IQ, Greater Dynamic Range, more versatility (higher ISO) and is built much better as well. 

As for that Auto Focus Speed

After watching a few YouTube reviews of this camera I was expecting horrible auto focus. Some said it was like the 1st days of mirrorless, which to be honest, was indeed awful. So when I was seeing the X1D nailing focus in low low light, and in a way that was not slow or hunting at all I was a little shocked to say the least. I could not understand what some were talking about. Again, were they comparing to a D810 or A9? If so, why? This will never have the speed of those speed demons, and it shouldn’t really.

There is a special feel that comes when shooting with medium format, a special appreciation for what you are doing. You are focused and you should know that the process is not to fire off 100 shots at a time, but to frame that shot, taking your time, and to press that shutter once, hearing the click of the shutter. Then knowing that you may have captured a great slice of time, a memory that may put a smile on your face in 10 or even 20 years. Photography is special to me, and to some it is about shooting 1000 frames in sequence to nail the shot. To me it is much more satisfying to nail a shot in one frame. THAT is what this camera is about. But the AF, gave me no issues. It’s pretty quick actually.

I will say for the performance shots I used manual focus as I did not want to use the AF Assist and WITHOUT the AF assist in low light, it will get difficult I am sure. (I did not even try).

ISO 25,600 – f/3.5, 1/13s

Using Manual Focus? Yes, and it was fantastic. Here is why. 

Yep, this camera uses a focus by wire system that seems to be so prevalent today, so gone is that special weighty feel of the physical lens and it is replaced by a light non satisfying feel. But I wanted to give it a go. I set up the MF assist to zoom in, so when I turn the focus ring on the lens, the camera automatically zooms in on the subject so I can easily and precisely nail focus. Since I have bene spoiled by the EVF of the Leica SL, I was expecting it to be tough, as this EVF is nowhere near the SL EVF. It is more like the Sony A7RII. Which I used for years without issues I must say. But in a camera at this price level you would have thought Hasselblad would have wanted “the best”. I wish they did put in a SL style EVF but how was using the one they chose?

Not bad.

Using manual focus, and the zoom feature I was easily able to focus my shots without fail. No problem at all. While I did not have that huge picture window style SL EVF, what I did have was plenty “good enough” to nail manual focus shots without fail. While shooting I had NO IDEA how these shots would come out. I even told Debby “I think these will not come out great due to the high ISO and low shutter speeds”. I was expecting all of my images to be blurred due to hand shake as with a sensor like this, so many say “A Tripod is a Must”! Well, after seeing the images I disagree.

So using manual focus was a breeze and enjoyable.

ISO 12,800 “Seeing Red” f/3.5 – 1/50s

Just to be clear and to stress again, you must click the images to see them correctly. If not they will look soft and not very good as WordPress lowers the quality for these previews. They will also be most appreciated for the file quality when viewed on a larger display. I have never seen any 35mm full frame camera deliver this smooth quality at these ISO’s at the Lost Leaf.

So my 1st night of shooting comes to an end. 

Wow. That is all I can say. As I stated, I was expecting the worst. I was thinking there was no way this camera would work for shooting in this venue. NO WAY, but I had to try… and I am glad I did. It showed me that yes, you can use the X1D anywhere. You can use it at Max ISO, handheld and slow shutter speeds. You can venture into areas where medium format usually never ventures. The only issue I have found so far with the camera, and it could warrant an exchange, is the strange moment with the dials making the menu jumpy when using them. But it happened once and never again. Strange but if it did happen once, I am expecting it to happen again. If so, I will send it back for a swap. If not, I will keep it as is.

The Hasselblad X1D has surprised me, and even shocked me a little. I guess since I am a medium format newbie, really only shooting with a handful of MF cameras, with very little use, I was not aware of the huge step up from 35mm, ESPECIALLY in a situation like you see here. You never hear of someone going to shoot ISO 25k handheld in a low light venue using a Pentax 645. At least I never have. This camera opens up some amazing possibilities, and it’s a shame that Hasselblad had so many bugs with it when they launched it. They should have waited, and made it as good as they could before release. Now they are trying to fix that by releasing many firmware updates, and they have fixed a lot. They added an electronic shutter that allows 1/10,000 of a second. BUT max ISO in this mode is ISO 3200, or else I would have used it for this test shoot. But even so, it has an electronic shutter when you want to be quiet (there still is a quiet snick in this mode).

The leaf shutter of the X1D is unique as well because you hear two clicks. One is when you take the shot, the next is resetting it for the next. It has a metallic snicker to it and is louder than my SL or M or A9. But its not obnoxiously loud. Again, for how I shoot, and what I enjoy shooting there is (so far) noting about this camera that turns me off. Instead it does the opposite. So before you listen those who trash it (mainly Fuji fans it seems), know what it really is if you are considering it. Auto Focus is decent, and fast for a camera of this type but it will never do action. Single shot is its forte. NO joystick, so changing focus points is not easy, but doable. I use center point all the time with all cameras (focus and recompose, even when using f/0.95 lenses on a Leica). This camera will not thrill you with card write times or start up. Nope, it’s no speed demon.

If you missed my unboxing and 1st handling thoughts, see it below

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BUT it will thrill you when you use it, hold it and shoot with it because it offers simplicity. The menu system is fantastic and not full of nonsense fluff as many cameras are these days. It’s a beautiful thing and it did indeed speak to my heart.

Now, in part three I may be saying “I found all of the glitches and bugs and I hate this thing”. Who knows. All I can say now is my 1st use last night impressed the hell out of me in almost every way. Again, I would never own the Fuji as it’s just too big for my uses, though with gorgeous IQ as well. It’s just not a walk around camera like this one is. THAT makes all the difference to me. I could compromise without a joystick, without faster start up and write times for the portability and design and of course the color and IQ. It’s stunning.

Of course one can use a full frame camera with a faster lens, like a 50 1.4 and get close to the medium format vibe with some lenses and cameras but low light, color fidelity (of which the X1D is 16 Bit) and subtelties in tones will be superior with medium format every time. Medium format does give you that “look”, and it’s a look I chased after for 20 years. Now it’s here in my hands.

ISO 12800 f/3.5 1/80s

ISO 3200 – 1/80s

ISO 25,600 – 1/30s

I hope you enjoyed part 2 of this real time, real world Hasselblad X1D rolling review. Part 3 may be a week or so, as I have to head to Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon to shoot some landscape and portraits. In daylight this time ; ) If it does as good as I think it will I may have found “THE” camera for me and my tastes. Phew, only took 20 years. But again, who knows. If it gets buggy or has issues, that will not fly with me so we shall see.

So far so good.

Around 11PM at night, ISO 25,600

I bought my kit from B&H Photo. The kit I bought can be seen HERE if interested. 

($600 IN FREEBIES special promo now through Sep 15th)

I will leave you with a few more images, exif is all embedded. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below. Part 3 and a new video portion of the review in about a week!

 


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57 thoughts on “The Hasselblad X1D Review, Part 2. Torture Test. High ISO, Low Light, Handheld. By Steve Huff

  1. WOW!!!! Awesome Part 2 of the review. Frankly I’ve only seen low ISO photos from the X1D and they were spectacular but seeing the high ISO performance on the X1D is like a trip to the moon. The tones at high ISO look great and not washed out which is what tends to happen on 135 format. Steve, how would you describe the grain on the high ISO photos? Does it look more like the grain of like Ilford HP5 400 on like an older 500CM Blad? I’m really glad to hear that there is no color chroma noise on the X1D up at the higher ISOs like I would have immediately thought. I really like the comment about getting the shot in 1 shot instead of machine gunning because older MF would have never been used for running and gunning. The X1D looks to be the thinnest and lightest MF camera right now so it’s very exciting you are reviewing it from your creative viewpoint. I think most photographers will find your review valuable and soulful.

  2. I am enjoying the review but this statement lost me I am afraid…”Sure, we have the Fuji but I would not have attempted this with the Fuji. It’s large, fat and these musicians would have wondered what the hell I was shooting with”.

    Sorry, but this is nonsense. I get it you are a “passion” kind of guy and like the things you like, but the constant assertion that the Fuji is “fat and large” sounds like you are simply justifying your decision to yourself. I have spent time with both cameras. Put a lens on them and to be honest, your subject isn’t going to care which one you are using – the front element of the glass is still frickin huge, relatively speaking. The Fuji isn’t much larger than the Nikon D810 I am used to.

    The Fuji does a lot of things better than the Hassy. Not to put down your right to choose the things you choose, but your criticisms of the Fuji aren’t really justified or stand scrutiny. I just wanted to offer some counterbalance…

    Keep shooting and having fun. 🙂

    1. The Fuji is indeed fat and large. It’s fat, bulky and with a lens, much larger than the X1D which is just a tad taller than my A9. With a 24-70 G master on the A9, the X1d is smaller wit its 45. Lighter as well. THIS IS KEY for me.Not just me saying that, many many others do as well. Many others agree with me. The D810 is much larger than the X1D as well, which is why I would never buy a D810 or 850, for ME. It’s not made up, but fact. I do not buy cameras that are large bulky, so I would have never taken that Fuji here, or on a walk, or on a hike or bike. I would not take the Fuji with me anywhere unless it was for a model shoot, or specific landscape shot with my tripod (which I do not do). The facts are facts. Add the EVF, and a lens to the Fuji and its much more bulky, and yes, if we are honest, ugly. For what I do, MY scenario, I would not buy the Fuji if it were $1500 as I would just not use it, nor would it ever inspire me to do so. A camera needs to motivate, inspire and also do the job well for it to be worth big money to ME. The X1D does all of that, so far so good. Cameras like the D810, 850, Canon 1dx, etc do not do that for me nor do they attract me in the slightest. Again, as I have stated…if I were a pro, earning money for a specific photo job, it would be different as I would not be “connected” to my gear. It would have its purpose and that is all. For me to want to USE a camera, capture life, memories and the world around me AND have it do well in ALL situations, it has to be manageable in size, amazing in feel, simple to use (menus, minimalistic), be inspiring and deliver the results I like. Cameras like the Leica M, SL and yes, this X1D do just that. The Fuji, for me, does not. I am not alone, as I mentioned..many others feel the same. So no need too defend Fuji as I clearly state what my use and purpose is, and clearly the Fuji, for me, would never ever work nor would it be a wise purchase. For you and your purpose, sounds like it would be fine. Thank you for reading.

      1. We will have to differ. For me the Hassy AF and clunky interface is a problem – the Fuji is much much better in this respect.

        And the size difference isn’t THAT great IMO. The Hassy feels like a “Work in progress ” to me. I’d sure the second or third iteration will be much better but this version feels too half-baked for me.

        The Fuji on the other hand as AF that works and a UI that gets out of the way. I can forgive a bit more depth and height to the camera compared to the Hassy.

        Only advantage of the Hassy is the leaf shutter for flash. But I rarely shoot flash and shoot environmental portraits so it doesn’t matter to me.

        Good luck with the Hassy. I’m gonna wait for the X2 !

        1. What “clunky” interface are you referring to? My camera has a smooth as silk, simple, easy to understand interface. No issues. Basics, as it should be. Not 20 buttons programmed to do something. Easy, basic and simple. Nothing clunky about it. The size difference is great. With the Fuji EVF you are looking at a MUCH thicker camera, more bulk and size. Period. THat’s just a fact. It’s physics. The X1D AF is fairly quick, especially for what it is, snappy and has never missed a beat for me. Not even once. Using it I ever said “Damn, the AF is slow”, and I own an A9! I have read reports from GFX users complaining about it having AF hunting issues. Not here, not with my X1D. Again, do you own one with the latest firmware? I do. But the things you say here make you sound like a Fuji fanboy who is upset that the X1d is getting a positive review. Believe me, if it was clunky, slow, had bugs or issues or could not focus, it would have been sent back for a refund – and I would have saved a ton of cash. I have a 30 day return period. I can use it. But why would I when it is turning out to be the most satisfying camera for my needs and use that I have ever tested? Hmmm. So yes, we will have to differ.

  3. BTW, the little GPS module that is put on the hot-shoe connector is working without problems.
    Got a lock outside very quickly.
    Coordinates are imported automatically in LR.
    If you click on the map, the position is spot on (2 meters)!

    John

  4. Another of your reviews, Steve, which are the next best to actually (and impossibly!) owning the camera. Summary: a sort of semi-MF Q? Enjoy…..

    1. Thanks John. Hmm. Well. If it were a fixed lens camera, it would be Q like in use! Imagine a Q that is slightly taller, interchangeable lenses, larger sensor, but with a better menu and LCD experience. All the benefits of the larger sensor as well.

  5. You know what’s ironic? Up until the Nikon D3, 35mm film was the low-light king. It had been for decades up until the 12Mpx D3 and D700 (both long ago superseded). For a short time, FF35 was the low-light king. But now, it seems that medium format digital (MFD) is the low-light champion. Who would have guessed that this would happen?

    When I say that, I am taking into account not just noise, but detail. There are sensors out there which have less noise at ISO 25K, but the detail retained is quite impressive.

    It seems that mirrorless (CSC) is not stopping. DSLRs were already redundant, but the X1D is yet one more nail in the coffin. It’s not merely smaller than a D5, against which it is not competing: it’s smaller than a D850. And, as you say, the SL, which is indeed a unique camera in its own right.

    But I also think that the SL and the M can and will get larger sensors in the future. We’ll see. 😉

    Now that the X1D will be accepting third party lenses (thanks to its electronic shutter) it’s going to be almost as adaptive as other CSCs. The large sensor will be a challenge to fill, but there are some good, cheap SLR shift lenses that will work very well. Not to mention any lens attached to a teleconverter. Adapted lenses are going to be very, very interesting on this system.

    1. I do not think the SL or M can get larger sensors. Maybe sensors with more MP but larger? Would need a new mount, and that would be suicide for the M series lenses that many own and love. So I do not see that happening unless they release new versions, but Leica has the S system, which is their medium format camera. I also remember back when Medium Format was not so hot at high ISO, and to be honest, I had no idea they were so good today at this. I reviewed the original Leica S2 many years ago and at ISO 640 it was noisy. Amazing IQ nonetheless, and experience but that camera was over $25k if I remember correctly. But I do see more cameras like this in the future and I would not be surprised is Sony is not working on one right now. They are probably going to do a 100MP version (just a guess) to blow everyone out of the water. If not, they should.

  6. Damn you, Steve. I had almost forgot how I loved the look of this camera when it came out. As a Swede, I had also been longing for a camera that made me feel as proud, as the V-system did, to be of the same origin, lol.

    Now, because of the price, this remains a dream camera for me. But I am soo happy they decided to go this way after the Sony-debacle… Before it was done it made no sense, but in reality, they are doing a true Sony here, getting the format into a ridiculously small body. That the design in contrast to Sony is gorgeous, completes the aesthetic legacy of the V. 🙂

  7. Beautiful photo of the musicians. It’s a topic I love – used to shoot jazz gigs with film years back .
    This certainly is the camera for intimate jazz trad and such other gigs
    What happens if you find you need a short tele? Are they prohibitively priced ?
    Looking forward to some portrait photos and landscape images.

    1. Thank you. For the long term I would buy the 90mm next. Gives around a 70mm FOV and the aperture is f/3.2 vs f/3.5 of the 45. Price is not cheap at $3195 but cheaper than most Leica glass. I hear the 90 is more beautiful than the 45 (according to emails I have been getting). I may rent the 90 in a coupe of weeks to give it a go and see how it does. There is also the 120mm f/3.5 on the way which gives a 90mm and is also a macro lens. Then a 30mm which gives a 24mm FOV.

  8. i’ve wondered when part two would come, steve. thanks!! i bought the X1D a few months ago and after a little adjustment (i have an omd-em5 which i still utterly adore) i fell in love. i found that i started to be very deliberate in my picture taking and discovered that, so far, i don’t agree with many of the reviews. i have been afraid to try the camera out in low light but have plans to do this, exactly, over the next month or so.

    as you say: “This camera was getting a few negative remarks in some reviews but I am not sure why. Were they comparing it to DSLRs for speed? If so, why? Were they expecting blazing fast card write performance like a fast Sony A9 or DSLR? If so, why?” there is no comparison. they are different animals. plain and simple. so thank you for this review which is affirming (re: low light) and i look forward to your next couple of reviews!!

  9. Very nice ! i can’t wait Steve going ” emotional “, selling his umbrella, armchairs, and boots, and finally get an ALPA 12 STC 🙂

    joke apart, it’s very nice to see you happy as a child !

    not having the mooney, i went six months ago for Pentax 67, build like a tank, looks like a tank, sounds like a tank, BUT soooooooo deliciously refined when it comes to the final result of an image

  10. Enjoy reading your reviews as always. The Hassy is a very attractive camera. I just wish for the price it was better than the Fuji in all ways. Now with wide support for HSS (High Speed Sync) there really isn’t much that the Hassy has over it. However, as we know, this is only round one and the real key is the glass – and Hasselblad makes some really terrific glass.
    Right now I shoot with the Leica M9 (nothing will remove this from my grasp – not even the M10). The images just are something else entirely.
    I also use the Fuji XT2. While the Sony’s take great pictures, there was nothing in the system over the smaller Canon and Nikon bodies for me. The lenses were just as big if not bigger and the body was only smaller by a “hair”. The XT2 allows me to travel light with a camera and six lenses – when two would be about the same in Canon/Nikon/Sony land.
    I am really happy to see the move to MF and am anxious for the future 100mpixel sensors and the even greater DR that is coming. I am getting great images from the Fuji GFX.

    Just don’t let the allure of the MF image pull you from Leica. Nothing is like shooting with a Leica (any Leica RF). There is a place for everything and everything in its place as they say. BTW: try the “M” lenses on the GFX – magic!

    1. Thanks Peter. I gave up on a Leica RF righty after the M10. My aging eyes or something was giving me issues with focus. I prefer the SL to an M these days for that reason. Wearing glasses with an M also just doesn’t work for me. As for the Hasselblad vs Fuji, I’d never buy eh Fuji just due to size alone. That is key for me, so the Fuji is not a option. If I can not take it with me everywhere, fit it in a small bag like the Raven or even Camslinger, then it’s a no go for me to own, which is why I do not go for DSLR’s these days. The bulk. So while the Fuji may be technically superior in ways, and I understand it is, just is not something I would consider, and I know a few others who feel the same after handling or even owning both. This is the 1st MF camera of its kind, and still only of its kind, due to size and weight. Thanks for reading.

  11. Hi Steve

    Curious….and who knows? Maybe a future crazy comparison ?

    One of those sigma fixed lens quattros vs this bad boy for a daylight shot?

    I know….jumping ahead

    Imagine one of those sigma foveons in MF ….hmmmmm

    1. Ahhhh, the Quattro is like shooting MF but it’s actually quite a but slower with AF than the X1D, lol. Really. But same slow process indeed. Could be a great crazy comparison.

  12. Congratulation for your latest purchase! Must be really a thing to give away your SL for that. For me the only reason to buy this Hasselblad is to use my Hasselblad HC-lenses, which are almost impossible to sell. I find the suggested X90 lens to short and to slow for portraits. So I would be delighted if you can get this adapter for a test with some of those HC lenses..

  13. OH man….why oh why do you make my life so difficult, Steve?? LOL….just kidding!

    Those high ISO photos are incredible!! WAY better than I thought they would be. Just when I was happy with my Sony A7Rii and the Leica M9, and the leica glass and the GM lenses, now you have me wanting this Hassy !!!

    What stops me is the limited choice of lenses for the Hasselblad. Is this a concern for you too? Would you be happy only shooting with the 45mm?? You think you would miss the blissful bokeh of a fast Leica lens?

    So, let me get this straight….you sold all of your cameras and glass for one camera and one lens? That is what I would have to do too….you are a brave man, but from what I have seen so far, I think you made the right move….now, I have to decide if I want to do the same….ha!!

  14. I am very excited that you bought this camera. It looks very tempting, but I have decided to keep shooting film with my Fuji GF670 for now. I just went on a ten day trip and I shot 5 rolls very deliberately. Between the film, processing, and high quality scans, the cost was still under $150. I used to have a P25 back for my Contax 645 and ended up selling it because I just didn’t get that much use out of it. I realized that I use Leica M cameras for all of my “fast” shooting and so the back sat most of the time.
    I agree that the IQ and high ISO capabilities of the X1 far exceeds the Fuji 670, but you have to mention that 6×7 is much bigger than the sensor in these cameras, and in good light, the rendering of a large negative is special. I also feel that this sensor size may just be an intermediate step to even larger sensors. Will the lenses cover a full 645 sensor like the one used in the new PhaseOne backs?

    1. As from firmware 1.17.2 onwards that was released in the beginning of September, the X1D has an electronically shutter.
      Adapters will soon be available manufactured by third parties that will allow the use of lenses without a leaf shutter.

      John

  15. I’ve been using the 4116 X1D (if you love the silver version, imagine the black 4116 edition, which is gorgeous) with mostly the 90 mm since this summer for my location fashion shoots. The files are amazing. I switched from my Nikon D810 to the X1D for fashion shoots. I admit that the first shoot was a struggle work flow-wise as I was used to shooting at a much more dynamic pace. After my first shoot, I wanted to send the X1D back, but the files just drew me in that I couldn’t resist going back to that camera for my subsequent shoots. After several shoots, I finally found my rythym with it, I think.

    I am not so much a bokeh person. I almost never shoot wide open and like stopping down, because I generally pick interesting backdrops for my fashion shoots and like to work them into the image. Even though the X1D has the medium format look, the XCD lenses are relatively slow, so you won’t get the wide open bokeh look that you’ve been getting with you Leicas. I hope this won’t disappoint you.

    Between the X1D and GFX, for me it was a no-brainer. Shooting with strobes almost 100% of the time, I value greatly the leaf shutter lenses and being able to sync up to 1/2000.

    For landscapes, the X1D is amazing. But I actually prefer using my Phase One XF for that 🙂

  16. Hi Steve,
    Can you elaborate on this comment: “In case you did not know, this is not a 35mm full frame mirrorless or DSLR. It has a whopping 51MP MF sensor, made by Sony”.
    How much bigger is the X1D sensor compared to a 35mm full-frame sensor?
    Thanks, Walt

  17. It all comes down to keeping it compact doesn’t it? Put great image quality in a beautifully designed and built COMPACT package and you get a favourite camera. Leica IIIf, Rolleiflex, Sony RX1, did it for me in years prior. I find it disappointing to see the likes of the Leica SL with 50 / 1.4 or Sony G Master Lens series, and hope suppliers remember to put their science in creating compact camera and lens masterpieces. Fortunately the options out there are better than ever.

    Also purchasing something like a Hasselblad X1D makes one wonder. Would I ultimately be happier, if I sold off all or most of my other equipment and put all my eggs in one basket with an ultimate photo machine and slow down, get back to basics, quality over quantity?

    Look forward to more reviews on this.

    1. Thank you, and yep I agree. While the Sony’s are. fantastic the lenses have gotten huge, and while I understand the “why” of that (ultimate IQ) as many have said, it doesn’t fit in with the whole mirrorless promise. Thebody is smaller than a D850 (The A9) but with G Master lenses, it doesn’t matter really as the lens are huge. We can get the smaller glass at a sacrifice of quality, though some smaller Sony lenses are quite nice. I have though the same as you..puttig all eggs in THIS basket. I just want it to be reliable, so after 2-3 weeks I will see how it goes in the reliability, and “buginess” dept.

  18. Steve, good to see how this performs in low light, but would be nice to see some daylight pictures too. I tried this briefly with 90mm lens, which has a funny octagonal bokeh. Unfortunately colours and white balance were off when I tried this a few months ago in a shop. Looks like they might have fixed now.

    I was exactly thinking of getting this instead of M10 because of the value but then I never bought any of these. These days I am playing with a new dinky Fuji XA3 and a small 27mm lens. – Sony A7ii and sonnar 50 and RX1R are having a bit of rest 🙂

    1. Part 3 will have daylight shots, as stated. Landscape and portraits ; ) Daylight. I want to use it in all scenarios, not just where MF usually shines. Thanks for reading. More soon.

  19. Steve,
    I have relied on your reviews because we tend to shoot in the same deliberate manner. I have a M10, 28mm Lux and APO 50 but I also have a Fuji XT2 and 16-55 zoom. I have been thinking about either the X1D of GFX for the past month. I gave up on the Nikon D850, decided it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go.
    I think you description of the X1D and GFX and who they are for was very insightful and fair. My head says Fuji but the heart says Hasselblad. Now we wait for the rest of your reviews to see what part of the body is going to win. But either way, Ken might have a used Leica kit for sale soon.

    1. Thanks for reading and stay tuned. But yes, heart is Hasselblad. Head may say Fuji but again, portability is with the X1D so if that is what one wants it really is the only choice. Though from what I see, the Fuji has beautiful output and is better in a few areas technically.

      1. Steve, you’ve just given me a great line of reasoning for how I can justify this expense! Your shots in the club made me feel like this would be a really awesome tool for what I do. I like the idea of slowing down from my ridiculously frenetic pace. Can this rig take the old lenses, or is there any reason one might want to do so?

          1. Well that’s no problem, as I have no Leica lenses. Nor Hasselblad lenses. But I’m a Fuji X-T2 shooter who dreams big. And just discovered vintage lenses, adapters, and focus peaking. I love the pure joy of photography you express here on your site. This series of articles in particular have been a great reminder to stop and reflect a bit.

    1. If you use your Sony for action, or fast continuous AF then the Hasselblad would be a let down. The AF is plenty fast for single shot, but it’s no Sony when it comes to speed and response. It’s slow compared to Sony or Olympus or DSLR’s. It’s fast when compared to what one thinks of Medium Format cameras of the past and as I said, can go into territories that Medium Format has traditionally not gone into before.

  20. … so if review #3 is similar in it’s conclusion… do I sell the MD or M10 to start funding this? Does it actually replace something like an SL?

    1. Well, yes and no. Here is my opinion on that so far. All depends on how you shoot and what you shoot. For me, this will be able to replace the SL and M. I normally used those with M lenses (of course I did with the M) so I always shot at a slow pace. High FPS never was attractive to me, as I never shot that way. I have always been a one shot at a time guy, maybe two. I value low light use above almost all other things. This has it, best I have used. I value design and size, this is the best I have seen or used in that area as well considering the sensor size. I value color performance, dynamic range…this has bested all 35mm formats before it. It’s not an action camera. But it is indeed something that I see as a step up from an M or SL. For those who shoot slow, take their time, and love the richness of medium format.

      1. Wow… haven’t seen a statement like this from you since the existence of your site (ie. “I could see myself completely without Leica for this”) – sure, I remember occasional “This is IT!” moments, but they were usually an AND decision, not an OR (as in I keep this AND that).

        I love to take my time and think about the shot… something that’s hard to do with young kids running around (which is where the XT2 comes in)… and had some unfortunate timing when being intrigued by the MD (know what you’re doing, take the pic and continue to live in the present, rather than checking whatever the LCD in the back is telling me to do), then the M10 came out and I thought it was a worthwhile change from the 262 (still not sure about that)… and now this… it’s great to see someone with a positive review (that is not a Hasselblad ‘ambassador’) in the midst of all the negative press…

        I’ll see what happens at review #4…

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