The Journey from Leica to Hasselblad by Corné van Iperen

The Journey from Leica to Hasselblad

By  Corné van Iperen

For many years I was a convinced Leica user. After years of DSLR’s (from Nikon D1X to Canon 1Ds MKII) I was exited about the introduction of the Leica M8 in 2006 and I immediately sold all my gear for that first digital Leica M. After the M8 came M9 and went on to the M262. With the M262 and the Summilux 50mm, I visited some European cities (Rome and Paris a.o.) where my passion for street photography was born. Through my lens, I saw so much more than if I would just walk around and being oblivious of the many stories you see in small details. Capturing a story in one photo was my ultimate challenge.

I also owned a Hasselblad 501CM for years and because of that, I was closely following the introduction of the Hasselblad X1D, which had attracted my attention. The endless reviews from Steve convinced me to take the plunge (Man Steve, you’re costing me money! ;-). I decided to sell all my Leica gear, buy the X1D with the standard 45mm lens and took it to the test during my trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong last week.

My observations of the X1D are:

POSITIVE:

– Image quality (!!)

– High ISO (high ISO noise is film-like. I tried some noise reduction software, but the noise from the camera was better and more natural than after reducing the noise) 

– Design and weight 

– Weatherproof (walking in the rain for a whole day proved to be no problem)

– Interface (love the touchscreen)

– EVF with lighting response

NEGATIVE:

– Shutter response (feedback from the shutter. The feeling that there is a shutterlack which isn’t)

– Batterylife (min. of 2 batteries in 1 day needed)

– Lack of a fast 50mm lens (or equivalent). I am waiting to test the new 80mm f/1.9, but maybe that one is too narrow for a standard lens. I loved the bokeh of the fast Leica lenses.

I am very happy that I chose the Hasselblad. It’s growing on me and despite the negative elements, the image quality and user experience make it the right camera for me and makes me take my camera with me wherever I go.

Link: www.cornevaniperen.com

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28 Comments

  1. Hey, some really beautiful shots there, of course the X1D helped a bit for sure…. As someone mentioned, people and their phones make this a bit strange but also lifelike….
    I went through quite some reading, renting, and testing in the last half year to finally settle on the Fuji X-T3 for general use. I an still using the Nikon 1 series for wildlife reach and travel photography a lot though. And, had the X1D for more than a week, and it confirmed everything I read here. Beauty, simplicity, the “feel” and IQ I have never seen before. A slightly used 4116 kit is on the way to me now….probably adding the 80mm later. It will be the crown jewel to my APS-C kit and the even smaller sensor Nikon 1. No full frame – never thought I will end up without having FF at home….

  2. The photos have a nice look to them, but the biggest thing that struck me was that everyone seems to be looking in their phone most of the time.

    People sitting or standing 10 meters away with their heads drooped down looking expressionlessly at their phone… something always feels a bit off about those photos to me.

    I’m not saying constant phone use is good or bad for people in general, but street photos seem to be interesting when there’s interaction. People interacting with each other, interacting with the environment or even the photographer. For example, the photo of the worker smiling at the camera feels a lot more alive to me than the other photos.

  3. I enjoy youpictures and believe they vividly show off one capability of this fabulous camera. I too use an X1D with 45mm and 30mm lenses almost exclusively for urban and travel photography. I also do some night shooting at low iso with a tripod. It’s surprisingly light—I can carry it all day without a problem. I’ve not had the problem that some have described of the eye sensor not responding when glasses are worn. Mine works without any issue.

  4. Those are really lovely photographs. But for the same price one could get a Leica SL and one of their amazing zooms and get essentially the same IQ (and even more so soon with the widely anticipated SL2 with larger sensor). Not that that makes the SL a better buy, but just that it’s a viable alternative with a great deal of flexibility, especially now with the L mount consortium.

    • The SL with a native lens will be 2-3X as heavy as the X1D with a 45. Much larger, and not in any way a walk around kind of camera. Also, the X1D will produce better IQ than the SL, and offers much better low light shooting if one needs that. I own both ; )

  5. “But for many including me, 80% of the art of photography comes from enjoying the process, and using a great camera.” Steve, you are spot on, and you know your audience.

    Hobby is an activity one spends money for fun experiences. People seek experiences which mass-produced products will not give, being exclusive (expensive), doing a few things better than mass-produced products, being involved in the process. Leica, X1D and GFX all tick these boxes.

    IMHO, the values of Leica M, (and it’s derivative Q in some extend), are from great lenses, range finder focus system, and legendary brand name. Leica lenses were way ahead of mass-production. But, in recent years, computer added design made lenses as good as Leica’s if not better. Leica lovers have to defend their lenses by “character”, i.e. flaw. Just like diamond miners have to use imperfection in naturally formed diamond to fight against cheaper man-made diamond. The manual focus system in Leica’s range finder camera also faces some challenge. Many Leica owners are relatively old (have savings), and getting older. The eye sights are getting worse. It’s getting more and more difficult for them to keep the image in focus.

    On the other hand, MFs (X1D and GFX) provide better IQ than mass-produced FF camera, amazing lenses, beautiful design. The slow auto focus, for some, is not an disadvantage, but rather gets them involved. Recently announced GFX 50R made the MF more accessible than ever before, but still retains the exclusiveness. I guess more and more hobbyist will buy into MF system. 50R (with a 32-60mm zoom) is only 20% or so more expensive (at sales price) than A7RII (with a 24-70mm F2.8 GM zoom). the price of X1D is comparable to the price of a Leica. A quite look at B&H, you will find 50R and many of GFX lenses are “#1 seller” and back ordered.

    For me, I will simply smile looking at the huge sensor. MF is the new Leica.

  6. As nice as the files are from the X1D, snapping a shot is slow, and any kind of movement is difficult to manage. Great for static objects, but the clackety clack, clackety clack, clackety clack of the shutter seems like an eternity!

  7. As nice as the files are from the X1D, snapping a shot is slow, and any kind of movement is difficult to manage. Great for static objects, but the clackety clack, clackety clack, clackety clack of the shutter seems like an eternity!

  8. The initial X1D posts by Steve and comments from other photographers I respect convinced me to purchase the X1D kit. I had to sell all of my Nikon gear to do it. After two weeks, I am convinced that I made the right decision.

    The X1D is just the tool I needed to take my landscape photography to a higher level. Still learning to take full advantage of it. Found I needed a lot more disk space on my computer. I’m also developing my work flow. Have settled on doing the initial raw processing in Phocus then saving the file as a TiF or PSD. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    BTW, I held on to my M10 and lenses for street photography.

  9. Very nice photos,
    I wouldn’t sell my Leica gear for a Hass. I simply love Leica gear.
    I also prefer the rangefinder and the optic VF
    But if you are happy with your new gear than you did the right thing 🙂

  10. Your pix are nice, but nothing here would cause me to go “Medium Format”!
    One I simply don’t have such funds, nor would I, IF I did!
    The images do though look very “Film” like!
    That begs question why didn’t you use your original Hasselblad?
    Film available, Imacon scanners for rent in many major cities..
    I recently shot some photos with film and compared to a few on a digital camera.
    The Monochrom was no sharper and no better than my film when i cranked up the resolution of scanner!
    Yes film does take longer but i no longer do jobs needed yesterday!

    • Good question ! Film Hasselblad slows me down, more than the X1D compared to Leica M. Before I got the X1D I shot more with the Hassy 501, but since I have the X1D I shoot mostly with this camera. I think because the X1D gives me the same feeling as the 501 and like you said: it also gives me a film- look.
      I like to shoot in the evening where high ISO is necessary. The X1D is more flexible in that circumstances.

  11. While there are some differences, the top cameras today are all capable of producing great image quality under a wide variety of conditions. Perhaps the criteria for choosing one camera over another should be weighted more toward the USER EXPERIENCE than slight technical differences. If you dream of shooting medium format and can afford it, then that itself might be part of the user experience that makes photography rewarding. The camera I shoot the most is the one that I most enjoy shooting even though the IQ is slightly less than another camera I own.

  12. Lots of people (probably those who’ve never unused one) complain about this camera, comparing price vs the specs on offer. Thank goodness people like Steve demonstrate how wonderful an experience the X1D can be and remind some people (they really need reminding) that photography isn’t always about taking pictures as quickly as possible with features like IBIS and tracking features like eye AF – or just holding up a smartphone and taping the screen. Photography is also a personal experience, not just a photograph.

  13. Thoughtful, introspective , engaging street photography.

    Such a difference from annoyed , quizzical why are you taking my photos look :
    that pass off as “street” photography.

    Night time color photographs so rich, luxurious rendering from X1D.

    Camera making us feel inspired, inspires us to take inspirational photographs.

  14. That last photo is terrific! I wouldn’t want to live there though. 🙂

    It’s all very well to say that one can use a phone to take these photos, but files from tiny sensors don’t enlarge very well.

  15. Nice shots. I spent some time in Shanghai 14 years ago and your shots happily remind me of my time there.

    I was in NY this past summer and tried an X1D out in B&H (that store is Disneyland for gear heads). I wear glasses and with my glasses on I could not get the EVF to switch on when I put my eye to the EVF; the EVF sensor is fairly deep in the eye relief recess (not sure what to call that technically). The salesman could not get the EVF to switch on. A number of people tried as well. Wouldn’t work. Saved me $10K!

      • Thanks for the input. I’ve spoken with others who own this camera or who tested the camera and no one else has had the same experience I had in B&H.

        Maybe I’ll revisit the X1D sometime next year.

  16. Hi Corne, thank you for sharing your images and thoughts – it was a pleasant breakfast treat for me to enjoy. Thanks, Brian

  17. Interesting, but could not any of these have been taken with an Olympus Pen F, or even an iPhone X? Does street photography really need a digital MF camera?

    • I’m on the author here but can chime in. One can take ANY photo with an iPhone. One can shoot weddings with an iPhone. One can take portraits with an iPhone. But why? Part of photography is the enjoyment one gets from it. iPhone shots could never ever reproduce the look, feel DR of even a micro 4/3 camera let alone a MF one. A micro 43 camera could never reproduce the look and feel of a full frame 35mm let alone a MF camera. But for many including me, 80% of the art of photography comes from enjoying the process, and using a great camera. It’s t therapeutic in many ways. Photography is not just about the image, though sadly for some, today it seems to be. I’m not the one who wrote this or took these images but I understand his passion for photography and the gear being used to shoot. Just because he shared these photos here does not mean it is all he will ever do with this camera. The X1D, the beauty of it is, you can use it for almost anything. Street, portraits, travel, landscape, etc etc. An iPhone is not even close to the experience or enjoyment of a real camera, nor close in IQ in any way, shape of form.

      • Yes, I get that Steve, and I really, really wouldn’t want to deny anyone the pleasure of using gear just for the hell of it. I’d LOVE a Hassie for landscape photography, but I just can’t help feeling it’s the wrong tool for street.

        However – I do think the shots on display here are excellent, so what do I know!!

        Peace.

    • An iphone X is a poor tool for low light and high dynamic images of which many are shown here. The Pen F is a great street camera but what really matters is whether you are inspired to take images by the tool in your hand. I recently purchased a Hasselblad X1D and it is inspiring for me to use and just gets out of the way with its simplistic interface. If you find iphone x perfect for you then great but I have an Iphone X and hardly use it for images as the shooting envelope is extremely narrow and it just does not inspire me.

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