USER REPORT: The Hasselblad X1D – Mirrorless Medium Format in Studio
(UPDATE: Simon King informed me that Hasselblad contacted him and wanted the images removed (as beautiful as they are) as they do not want images from a non final production camera body out there. Odd, as this post just showed a little bit of what the camera was capable of, in a good way.)
The images in this article were taken with a prototype unit. The image quality may not reflect the character of images taken with a production unit. These images are JPEGS converted from 3FR in Lightroom. I have not made any adjustments. They are best viewed full size.
The Hasselblad X1D is very different to any camera I have used. What clearly sets it apart is the sensor. I have used everything from miniscule sensored pocket devices, to my workhorse Leica M240 full frame.
IT’S A SHAME BUT THE IMAGES THAT WERE HERE LOOKED FANTASTIC..BUT HASSELBLAD ASKED SIMON TO REMOVE THEM UNTIL A FINAL PRODUCTION CAMERA WAS AVAILABLE. I WAS UNDER THE IMPRESSION THEY WERE CLEARED BY SIMON.
The 50MP sensor is commercially matched only by Canon, with their 5DSR. Ergonomically, the Canon and the Hasselblad are fairly comparable, although the hard rubber and metal of the Hasselblad scream premium, where the Canon’s plastic shouts consumer. What I was interested in, during my time with the Hasselblad, was the potential for adapters, and extending that premium function across the Hasselblad range. I know that there will be the availability of official Hasselblad adapters for their H range, but as yet no third-party options have been announced.
Still, I would one day love to experiment with the X1D and my Noctilux. I am certain the results would be stellar.
The controls are very useable, and mostly intuitive. The mode dial clicks up, and the buttons are assigned to useful functions. To start with, because there is no tactile difference between the buttons, I found it tricky to remember exactly what button did what, but a simple glance was enough reminder that by the end of the shoot I had more or less memorized them. Three of these buttons are customizable and the front and rear dials are logical enough to use, as any DSLR shooter should be used to.
EVF feels like the viewfinder on the Sony – at 2.36MP it is sharp, but I’ve been spoiled with the SL, and I feel that if it had had an EVF of equivalent value to the SL it would be a definite shot across the Leica bow.
I have absolutely no complaints about image quality. The X1D features the same sensor as their V series back, and paired and tuned with the new lenses the quality is fantastic. Even for those who prefer to view an image as a whole, without pixel peeping, it is clear on any Retina or 4K monitor that the photos taken from this camera are different. They shine.
Of course, there are the same pros for medium format images as there have ever bee, – good for large scale printing, or cropping. But in such a small box, it is truly unique. The dynamic range is very competent, and I had no trouble recovering highlights in some of the images where the flash failed to sync.
The sensor resolves every freckle and line of detail from the lenses, which I hope to cover in a separate review. Suffice it to say, they are paired phenomenally with the body, and make the entire package an unreasonably enticing investment.
Weighing in at around 725g with the batteries I cant see it leaving much of an impact on the bags of photographers used to carrying DSLR weights of 800/900g plus. The lenses are solid. They feel the way Hasselblad lenses should – sturdy, solid with no give whatsoever in the moving parts. Precise, although a little stiffness I’m sure would become smoother through use.
The grips on camera are a solid and friction-y rubber. I wasn’t worried about it slipping as I sometimes am with, say, the SL. The weather and dust sealing are a reassuring touch, and the seals are not obstructing of the functionality.
The smartphone inspired touchscreen interface is simple, although my prototype version did not have the finished elements in place, so I cant comment too much on that. It worked well for me, and should be very clear when out on the streets.
Gesture control should be intuitive, as it is the same pinch/swipe/hold combination as most people have on their phones.
The RAW files take a long time to edit, but that is to be expected with such vast amounts of data compressed into each photograph. However, given the price point on this camera, I can assume that the audience for this camera owns at the very least one high-powered iMac for editing.
The X1D does for medium format what the RX1 did for full frame – to the power of ten. It emerges as what very few MK1 versions manage to achieve – a fully-fledged system camera with a system of lenses and support.
It is also Hasselblad’s least expensive camera release so far, which opens up both the brand, and medium format shooting to the masses; a good sign for the photography industry, as well as for photographers themselves.
I didn’t test much for video, but I don’t assume most people who buy this camera will want to be using the video function.
It is not a mainstream camera, but hopefully opens up the market to Fujifilm and Sony for even more Mirrorless medium format (almost) compact cameras.
The Hasselblad X1D and lenses are available to order from our London store, as well as our online shopfront at http://www.theclassiccamera.com
For USA buyers, check out the XD at B&H Photo