Hasselblad X1D Review Part 3. As a Walk Around Camera? By Steve Huff

Hasselblad X1D Review Part 3. As a Walk Around Camera? 

By Steve Huff

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

 It seems that the entire last year that I spent pondering my decision on buying this camera has flown by and now I own it and am already on part 3 of a full-blown real world review! Crazy. Anyway, I am still enjoying the X1D and still digging in to it, to learn its subtleties and the files. I will start off and say that yes, there are so many editing options. I am still trying to learn the best way to edit these massive 16 Bit 50MP files that are filled with such a huge Dynamic Range. I am not used to it to be honest.

Video Supplement for part 3


You really do have the freedom to truly edit the files anyway you like. The 1st shot below? I added some contrast and a slight color boost using Phocus, the software that comes with the X1D. This software is fast on my Mac Pro, and is my preferred way to edit the RAW files. I edit, then export, then finish them off in Lightroom if needed.

The 45 f/3.5 at 3.5 – Stunning color, stunning IQ all the way around.

As I get to know the X1D better, I realize I can put out a file with high contrast, while retaining gentle highlights. I can go low contrast, I can add filters and go crazy with the sliders, all while retaining a solid file. I can bring up shadows without issue and save highlights even when I think they are gone. I am not used to this kind of Dynamic Range in a carry around camera but it is nice to have. Not that it will make my images better, as this camera is much better than I am. It really is.  As I walk around with it my inner voice says…“This camera will teach you more Steve, learn it, use it, love it”. 

I have been shooting this guy around town so far and taking it with me everywhere as a walk around camera. I have been taking it in place of my Sony or Olympus, and it has performed flawlessly. As I stated in part 2, I am not sure where negative views on this camera are coming from. Fuji shooters? DSLR shooters? Hmmm. No idea but coming from Mirrorless and Leica, I have fallen deep and hard in love with the X1D for so many reasons. I am not talking hype here, I am speaking from my heart, and while this camera may never even be on your radar I am hoping to give a view of the camera that not many others have.

A real world, real use, passionate review without comparing it to DSLR’s and speedy cameras that it is not meant to compete against. That’s not what this is. It’s better than that.

I have found it is giving me a look to the images I have always strived for, and maybe, just maybe one day I will be in a situation to shoot “my masterpiece” with this camera. Hasn’t happened yet, and may never but with the X1D in hand, I know I at least have a shot.

Remember, as always, click all images in the review to see them larger and correctly! If you do not, you will not be seeing the full quality. They are best seen on a large display, not an iPhone or iPad. ; ) BTW, all images in my review of this camera are handheld, as I am testing it as a daily walk around camera not as a traditional Medium Format rig.

Click the image below. This is why I have always wanted a camera such as this. Huge Dynamic Range, Detail with subtlety, nice DOF even when using an f/3.5 lens, and the “look” of the image. I may have added a tad too much contrast here but I have versions in color, and with varying degrees of contrast. The files from this camera allow us to really make them look however we want them to look due to that crazy good DR.

Just to recap where we are at with this review…

In part 1 of my review, I spoke about why I ordered this camera. In part 2 I used it in a torture test, extreme low light at one of my fave music clubs/bars/haunts. Since the type of shooting I normally do is very low light, the camera had to perform in that way very well for me to even consider keeping it for the long haul. It passed with flying colors and then some. Surprised me really, as I did not expect it to do good in that extreme low light and high ISO. I have shot with Sony, Leica, Olympus, Canon and others in this area and the only cameras that were truly workable were the full frame Sony’s and now this X1D. The SL was close, but was pushing it. So far so good.

Just a refresher image... below is a 100% 1/3 frame crop from the X1D at 25,600 ISO. I find it incredible. I ordered a print at 16X20 of this crop. Yes, I posted this in part 2, but I am still blown away at A: That this is ISO 25k, B: That the B&*W conversion using the simple B&W conversion in Phocus did so well and C: That this is a 100% 1/4 frame crop. Those 50 MP give you cropping freedom, which I never really was into much. This camera is changing my outlook on that.

So now, here in part 3 I will be talking more about using the camera, share more images from the camera and give some thoughts about whether or not I think I made a good choice buying it. Remember, I was not sent this camera to review. I bought it, and wanted to really evaluate it for my needs because this is a load of money here. It must do what I need it to do in more ways than image quality.

So away we go…

As I shot the X1D more and more, I realized that yes, I do miss my Leica SL a teeny little bit, but only for one reason and one reason only. I can get shallower DOF with it, and sometimes I love that look. As I shot the 45mm f/3.5 which in 35mm full frame terms is more like a 35mm equivalent in FOV, with a “slow” f/3.5 aperture, I started to see that if I wanted really shallow DOF, I had to be closer to my subject. We all know that distance plays a big role in DOF, nothing new here but when I shot that SL with 50 Lux SL I was getting some medium format “feel”.  Luscious color and if I wanted that subject isolation I just turned that lens to f/1.4 and fired. It did not have the dynamic range of the X1D and it was much larger with that lens, but it was equally as nice in output and cost, about the same for that set as this set. But each camera is different. See my SL and 50 Lux review HERE .

So even with missing that SL a bit for those very shallow noctilux like moments,  I was not regretting my X1D purchase at all.  Instead, I truly started to appreciate what the X1D brought to the table over 35mm full frame (the things I already spoke of like dynamic range, rich true 16 Bit color,  huge cropping potential, gorgeous B&W conversions, better low light, and then the body itself). Also, the size and weight of this X1D with the 45mm f/3.5 is so nice. It feels so so good in my hand.

BOLD STATEMENT ALERT: It’s the best feeling camera I have ever owned, so right there it says a lot.

The 45mm is not a fast aperture lens, so you will not get the extreme shallow DOF but it still delivers a nice look and vibe. You can get a shallow DOF with a Leica and a 50 Summilux that will appear more cinematic, (see the same image below in my Leica 50 Lux review HERE). But this image, while not as “wow” up front as the Leica has a look more like film IMO. They were shot on different days, different times of day as well and different lighting. 

Click it for larger!

A New but Similar Experience

I have come to realize this camera is so much different than shooting a Sony, or an Olympus or an SL.. but not that much different than shooting a Leica M or even Leica Q.

Yes, a Leica M! Now, I am not talking of the physical experience as the M is one of a kind due to its rangefinder. But if you use this X1D in manual focus, the speed, the way you approach photography, the slowing down of the process, the firing off one shot at a time, nailing the shot the 1st time…it is very Leica M like. I should say “the process” is very M like. As much as I love the M10 and M system, these days my eyes have taken a turn for the worse, and I find it tough to focus with an RF. With the M10 I was missing a few shots, and yes, I am aware of diopters but after years of M shooting, dealing with RF’s that go out of alignment yearly and with me missing quite a few shots due to that RF, I decided once and for all to drop the M from my personal collection. I still love it, adore it and recommend it to anyone else (with good eyesight) as it is a special camera that does more than take a photo. It teaches, it inspires and it just has a beauty about it with its style and build (The M). It is also just about as pricey as the X1D once you add a 35 or 50mm Leica lens, probably more expensive to be honest.

At the Lost Leaf shooting the band T.O.S.O

But yea, the M sounds a lot like this X1D in some ways when shooting..namely, the experience. One difference is that the X1D has autofocus, and has only a few lenses available at this time. So the X1D is not getting all raves from me. Lack of lenses for those who NEED a choice is all part of a new system, or owning one. Many of us went through that with Sony when they introduced the A7 series. Three lenses and then the waiting game. Today Sony has released a slew of lenses and we have crazy choice, wether it is from Sony or a third party. There is no shortage of lenses for Sony these days besides a couple on the extreme long tele range, and those are coming soon.

The good news for the X1D is that Hasselblad already has new lenses  – A 30mm, 45mm, 90mm, and 120mm with 2-3 more planned to arrive soon. So the owners of the X1D have nice choices to start, with more on the way. I really want to give the 90 and 120 a test. Hopefully soon I can.

The richness, the color, the deep blacks, the overall rendering is fantastic. 

The X1D has an Electronic Shutter?

Yes indeed. The last firmware update brought this feature to this camera, before that it was only the leaf shutter in the lenses (which sync up to 1/2000s). You can select which shutter you want to use in the simple menu. Either use the Leaf shutter in the lens, or the new electronic shutter at up to 1/10,000 S. This opens up the camera to adapting older lenses and possibly other lenses. So this is cool that this was added, all through firmware. The limitation with the electronic shutter is you are limited to 3200 ISO. So if you are in low light shooting higher ISO, the leaf shutter will be the only one you can choose.

Also, there are is a flaw I found with the newly implemented Electronic Shutter but Hasselblad tells us of this, so it’s not like I discovered something new.  It has the worst case of the Rolling Shutter effect I have ever seen. Any movement while snapping the shot using the Electronic Shutter and you will get jello city:


Now, I did not move on purpose, I thought the shot was already fired! But I guess it wasn’t.

You can use the electronic shutter and have amazing results, just do not move too quickly after you fire the shutter. Fire, count to 2 and move ; ) I would only use this option if I was in full sun, and needed to shoot wide open. I shot a few frames using this mode and it worked fine. So do not let the image above scare you, as it was MY fault not the cameras.

The cool thing is Hasselblad has really been working hard since the X1D was launched to make it better and better. They are not just talking, they are doing and I feel they need  to as if they flub this up, it could be a disaster for them. I think they will keep in working to make this camera better and better, and today, as of this writing my X1D is flawless and issues and bug free. I spoke of a control wheel bug in part 2, but it has never resurfaced. Even if it did, I saw a fix that take 3 minutes to implement that was posted by Hasselblad in a forum. Just going into the service menu and clicking an option. But overall, my camera has been perfect. No freeze ups, no need to remove a battery, no overheating (though it may get warm after extended shooting), no slow or missed AF, no sluggishness, etc. It works just as I would expect a compact medium format camera to perform..no, scratch that, it performs much better than I ever thought it would perform.

The color of the X1D is fantastic. VERY accurate indeed. This scene below is just about perfect, spot on for the way it looks in reality. 

So where does this X1D fit in? How does it compare to my other cameras?

I own a Sony A9 that I love. I own an Olympus PEN-F and EM1 MKII that I also love. A few lenses for each. I use them, depending on what I am shooting or doing. The X1D is a step up from all of those in IQ but it is not as huge as one may think. Especially in today’s social media Instagram world. With medium format we will get high res, so if you print HUGE it will have an impact. The way most of us share images today, through social media, and the internet, most of what this format offers is wasted. I will admit that as it is true. I can get close with my A9, EM1, Pen-F and I know this. But again, it doesn’t stop me from wanting and loving this X1D. It’s a strange phenomenon that I have seen a few other reviewers going through. Maybe it is because this is the worlds 1st and only true walk about hand held medium format camera that is light and small. That must be it.

For me, it is much more than the sensor and output when I purchase a camera. I have already mentioned this before but it is also about the experience, and the WAY it works and forces me to slow down. It’s a little bit mental and emotional as well but Hasselblad did indeed want this to be a walk around kind of camera. It is first of its kind, and even with the Fuji GFX out there, nothing on the market is even close to what the X1D is. It all comes down to the fact that it is a take anywhere camera that you can shoot in any light, any place, anywhere. It can be used as a day to day camera, easily, as it is mirrorless and it is small and light and extremely simple and built for the photographer.


ISO 25,600

NO, it’s not for action. NO, it’s not for continuous AF scenarios. I see it as I see most Leica’s. As a life camera. A memory maker. An artists camera. Those with a vision will appreciate this piece of kit. Portraits, Still Life, Landscape and yes, even Bands performing in dark clubs. When you get a chance to travel the world and see gorgeous scenics and shoot them, nothing will compare to this camera under its price point for what you will get out of it. It’s a bold piece from Hasselblad and I can not imagine that they sell a ton of these as it is such a specialized tool that one has to really LOVE for what it is, not just love its output. Even if you do love it, most of us can never dream to pay this kind of cash for one. So this camera will see limited hands. I just hope it catches on enough for them to lower the cost down the road. I think it will. If more of the younger generation realize that not every photo opp is about speed, or about FPS or about continuous AF then it will. Kind of like we have seen a resurgence with Vinyl records, maybe this generation and the next will start to appreciate what a real camera is and can do, and maybe, just maybe, they will put the phones down for a while. One can hope.

So while there are other cameras that come in much cheaper, that can get semi close to the IQ, and some that cost the same in 35mm world, none really get quite there to match the X1D. None get even close in the way this camera shoots and makes you feel when shooting it. Maybe a Leica M but thats it ; )

Click for larger!


I posted this in a separate post last week, but in case. you missed it…

Here is a triple shoot out between the X1D with 45 f/3.5, the Olympus PEN with 25 1.2 Lens, Sony A9 with 28mm f/2 and for fun a RX100 MKIV. Not a scientific test by ANY means but will show the output of each. The Olympus comes in at about $2,400 but can’t shoot in the dark very well, so no go for my night owl sessions ; ) The Sony comes in at around $5k and can shoot I the dark but not with the finesse of the X1D, and the Hasselblad, GULP, $11,700 can do it all. Dark, Light, and with a special look to the output, or what I feel is the most filmic of the bunch. It’s also more enjoyable to use. 

Each photo must be clicked on to see it correctly. Each is labeled. 

I have to say, the Hasselblad looks the most filmic, the Olympus the most cinematic, and the Sony, the most digital. The Sony even blew some highlights and I tried to recover the best I could (in the BG). If you look at these on a large proper display you will see what I mean. If. you are looking on your phone or iPad, then you probably will NOT see it. That goes back to what I said above. In todays world, there is no non pro who needs a camera like this as the way we share images, even me, right here, proves it to be overkill if we just go by IQ standards.

The Olympus looks great here but that lens is special, very special. It has a Leica Glow going on, and it is Micro 4/3! The small sensor, and not even the Olympus PRO Model. The Hasselblad looks the most “filmic”. It reminds me more of film than the other two but maybe I am equating that look with a Medium Format look, as I used to view so many Hasselblad 500 series prints 15 years ago that to me, were the pinnacle of film results. The Sony..hmm. Now, if I did not compare it to the other two, I would have though it was great. But in this side by side the Sony does indeed appear more digital looking with an off color. The RX100 looks a bit more “dirty” and I feel this would make the best street shooting combo, for typical street shooting, not street portraits. Color was the least accurate.

Color? The Hasselblad nailed it. The Olympus came in a close 2nd and the Sony lost that one, with the RX100 looking the most off. You may have a preference in color here but the X1D was as close to reality as it gets. I could live with any of them in reality, since I do not do paid jobs. BUT in part 4 I will get into something special that happened while shooting the Hasselblad which will make my decision to purchase, the right choice for me.

I have never shot with a camera as beautiful as this Hasselblad X1D. I guess “Made in Sweden” really means something. It is the most beautiful camera I have ever touched. In my eyes anyway. It also feels just about perfect in my hand. Better than any camera I have used in the past. With it’s great feel and light weight, it’s a camera you just do not want to put down. Seriously. 

Lovely colors…

I will be 100% honest. I thought I would regret this purchase immediately. I usually have buyers remorse when spending a lot of cash for something if I am not 100% thrilled with it. So far, I am having none of that with this camera. That tells me how much I am really enjoying it.

I will tell you that once you step into something like the X1D or Fuji GFX, the medium format “look” will and can seduce you. It has a smoothness about it, a creaminess about it, the way the images just have so much dynamic range, giving a feel of a “naked” image. Where my Sony, or my Olympus or even Leica (to a lesser extent) feel like they have a layer of clothing on, the X1D images feel NAKED. Pure. Fresh. Delicate. Hard to put my finger on but it offers up that next level of quality. I also enjoy the 4/3 format when shooting with MF sensors. I am not chasing sharpness, many cameras and lenses can do that. Once you get to an extreme level of sharpness and perfection with a lens the images for me get boring and sterile. I am pleased to see the 45mm f/3.5 has just the right amount of sharpness and character for my tastes. No disappointments at all with the lens besides the vignetting it brings out of camera. I feel at this price point it should be better in that regard. When using the free Phocus software, it fixes that instantly, so for me it is acceptable. The good news is that it renders in a way that gives back smoothness, richness, great natural color and just the right amount of sharpness and insane detail. Let’s not confuse detail with sharpness as to me they are two different things.


So the look I get from the X1D is so satisfying, it is also a camera that I can grow with. Here I am and even after 20 years of shooting I still learn every day. This camera, much like a Leica M, can teach just by the way you have to use it.

So what else can I say about using the X1D for day to day shots? It’s a bit extravagant, sure, but so is a Sony A9, Leica M, Leica SL, and so on. if one enjoys it, and can afford it, that is all thats needed. 

One more thing I want to delve into with the X1D is its simplicity. I love it for this. As for those negative reports on this camera..again, I just do not get it. At all.


For me, the answer is “not always”. Technology is really getting insane, and IMO there is an over saturation of it in cameras. I feel that too much of it can ruin the experience of using a camera.

For me, going back to basics is refreshing. A Body, A Sensor, A Shutter Button, Simplicity in control.Two dials. No need to figure out some complex menu or features or color modes or time laps or things of that nature. Anytime you give me a camera that is simple and back to basics, and it performs, I will love it more than something with 100 features that I will never use or need. Some cameras today try too hard to be too much. They are filled with fluff, features and weird modes to create a selling point or new feature never before seen. Sure, some are useful and awesome and show us how cameras are progressing but it is never “needed” to create a beautiful picture. Give me the basics any day, and that will always be more enjoyable. If Olympus or Sony decided to make a high end bare bones back to basics camera for true photographers, I feel they would sell quite a few to guys like me. Beautiful design, only the necessities and quality build and output. I mean, BASIC. But hey, that camera is already here and in my hands and it is called the X1D. I just wish it was half the cost. That’s my only hangup with it. While cheap for medium format digital and what it is, it’s still priced way above where I would like to see it. Imagine this body at $4399….WOW. It would sell like hotcakes. Like a Leica Q on steroids.

OH YES! Thats’s it!  It is much like a Leica Q on steroids. Mirrorless, sleek, EVF, striking design, but with a huge sensor and improved quality.

This image was fully edited using filters, noise, etc to get the look I wanted. 

At the end of the day, the X1D is that camera I have been longing for. Simple. Beautiful. Iconic. The performance is stunning. As I said in part 2, I have had zero issues with AF performance. It’s as fast as I need, and I also like using manual focus as well. But that was all discussed in part 2, so if you missed it, click HERE.

Oh Yea! The Specs and Details of the X1D

I have been so excited about the camera I realized I did not do the normal “review” stuff in part 1 or 2! I assumed most of you reading already knew what this was, but maybe some of you do not. So in that case, let’s look at the specs of the X1D. If you are wondering the sensor in this camera is about 2X the size of a full frame 35mm sensor like what we have in a Sony A9 or Nikon D850.

  • 50MP 43.8 x 32.9mm CMOS Sensor
  • 16-Bit Color, 14-Stop Dynamic Range
  • Hasselblad Natural Color Solution
  • Full HD 1080p H.264 Video at 25 fps
  • ISO 100-25600, Shooting Up to 2.3 fps
  • Central Shutter: 60 min to 1/2000 sec. 1/10,000 using electronic shutter. 
  • 2.36MP XGA Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.0″ 920k-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor
  • Dual SD Card Slots; XPan & Square Modes (these modes are not yet implemented as of this writing)
  • Built-In Wi-Fi, USB 3.0 Type C

So yes, this camera shoots HD video at 1080P, has a mic input, and headphone out. I would use it in manual focus only though if shooting video AS THAT is the only choice ; )  The sensor is made by Sony and is the same sensor used in the Fuji GFX and Hasselbalds more expensive HD6. This camera, unlike the Fuji offers 16 Bit color and is limited in ISO to 25,600. The Fuji can go higher in extended modes. The EVF is comparable to what is in the Sony A7RII.

So that’s the tech specs. The touchscreen display is huge, and fluid with a nice contrast and detail. It also has a very nice and modern SIMPLE menu system which I love, and we never need to go into it after we set it up to our liking, which took me 2-3 minutes. Simplicity is the name of the game and that is indeed refreshing.

A few words about speed.

This camera is not about speed as I already mentioned. It’s not about continuous shot to shot, nor is it about machine gun rapid fire, where you pray you get a shot you like just by firing away at 20FPS. This camera does have blackout when you take a shot, through the EVF. It’s there, yes. It’s a one shot at a time camera IMO. So do not expect this to be like your Nikon or Canon or Sony, it is not. This slower process did not hurt me any way in use. In fact, it helped me. It makes you work more for your image and results and when you nail that one shot, you feel like YOU did it, and not the camera, or luck. It’s a rewarding thing for sure.

So remember this is medium format digital. If you look at the roots of MF digital, you will see this is the most portable, sexiest, and fastest AF Medium Format digital camera ever created. It may lack the bells and whistles of the Fuji GFX but it also lacks the size, and the drab appearance. The Fuji is no speed demon either, but that is the nature of this beast we call Media Format digital. As long as you know what it is, and what you are getting into if you decided to go for a MF body, and you have realistic expectations of what it is, you will be thrilled with it. In the case of this X1D, if you rent one, or try one for a day or two beware…you will not want to let it go.

At ISO 25k, this looks a lot like film to me…



Part 4 will have the more photo samples and a new video/vlog shooting the camera at Oak Creek Canyon in AZ. It will have my final word, a demo of the menu system, and my thoughts and concerns about my purchase of the X1D. But so far, I am enjoying it tremendously. The price is a shocker especially for me but I remind myself I have owned Leica’s that cost more, and loved them as well. With a casual purchase of something like this one also has to think about the value dropping… as ALL digital bodies drop in value rather quickly. Depreciation is a SOB when it comes to technology and cars. As long as this body lasts at least 10 years without breaking down, I would sleep well as it will still do what it does now, just as well, in 10 years just as a Hasselblad 503 does well past those 10 years. While I do not see Hasselblad releasing a follow up for a long time to come (this is a good thing), I do know they are dedicated to upgrading it via firmware. Even the new Square and XPan modes should be coming soon. So far the firmware updates they have released  have transformed the X1D from what it was when it started to ship, which was a slow buggy camera with issues, to what we have today. It is now a pretty solid and bug free machine (at least mine is) and that is awesome. You do not see such dedication to firmware updates very often like this (Olympus is amazing with this though).

So part four will be my final part and should arrive in about a week.

I bought my X1D from B&H Photo HERE.



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  1. Hey, great series on the X1D. Investigating the system for my shooting needs!

    Wondering if anyone can respond regarding how good Hasselblad’s backend support is for this camera system? That’s been my one huge personal complaint about Leica. They have IMO “Zero” backend support after the sale. I’m used to Canon’s CPS program, where Canon will bend over backwards to cater to their professional shooters. How is Hasselblad?

    Thanks again Steve, for your dedication to make this site a valuable commodity!

  2. Hi Steve,

    I’m really pleased for you that you are loving the X1D. The files look so rich.
    I have been going through the same thought process lately, really craving the Fuji GFX50S (I cant stretch to the Hasselblad) but no matter how I do the maths I can’t afford it yet sadly.

    However I have just dipped my toe back in to full frame to complimemt my micro 4/3 kit in low light and for a little more shallow depth of field.

  3. This was the one part of the review I was really interested in. The walk-around camera part seems to be great for the X1D according to your review. It’s good that you are coming from a multiple digital camera viewpoint and it’s great that you’re also not expecting the X1D to be a 135 format equivalent. The one thing that I missed in this part was while you were outside, did you need to switch batteries at all? Are you getting 200-300 shots per battery? The photos look awesome and the colors are great. 16 bit files are awesome for dynamic range and color detail. I’m hoping the Blads have 24 bit color in the future so we get that nice 16.7 million color palette. The electronic shutter function photo was pretty funny. The read outs on the sensors are pretty slow. How was the leaf shutter in the lens for active use? Also, do you think you might want to try to actively tether the X1D to Phocus with some glasses so you could shoot tethered or would that be too Blade Runner-esque? =D. It’s a great review so keep it up! Thanks again for doing the 4 part review.

    • Hey Alexander, as for the battery, I used on for three days! But again, I shoot in a minimal way. I do not ever chimp or even check the LCD. I got used to that while shooting the Leica MD a year or two ago. Loved it, so ended up sticking. The battery will get you around 300 shots if you chimp. If I am out for a day I may take 50-60 shots. I do have a 2nd battery coming to me, as I get a free bag, battery, and book due to the special promo Hasselblad had. My tracking info came today so I should get it next week! I would say one may need 2-3 batteries if they check the LCD, and shoot much ore than I do.

  4. Wow, I do love the image quality coming from the X1D … even at web page viewing sizes. Since I shoot with an E-M1 II at present and paid only 1800 for it, there are two things I’d struggle with after the novelty of purchasing this new Hassey beauty, wore off. First, it is so slow compared to the E-M1 II. That said, I might be able to adapt to the “molasses in winter” speed if the IQ is as good as reported here. The one thing I don’t think I’ll be able to reconcile past the honeymoon phase of owning an X1D is that price. It always happens, one morning you wake up and the butterflies are GONE! …and there you are staring down at a camera kit that cost you TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!! You start thinking of how many other ways you can spend TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLARS … and WHOOP! up on EBay it goes. Okay, I’m in, where’s the link? 😉

    • I have some good news for you. First, The X1D is not “molasses in winter slow”, not even close. Again, as I have stated so far, if you want to shoot sports, or some high speed action, this is not the camera for you ; ) Also, there is no novelty. In fact, I would say there is more novelty to an EM1 than an X1D. The X1D is a photographers camera and tool, nothing more, nothing less. It inspires, and has inspired me to get off my behind and actually create projects, which I just started. No other camera has done that to me in 10 years. The beauty of this camera, much like a Leica M, does not wear off. The cost? Well, that is high, and it is a con. Some see it as cheap, as in the past this kind of quality would have set you back $50k. So $11,600 for a body and lens, yes it is crazy but so is a Leica M, Leica SL, Leica S, even a Sony A9 and 2-3 G master lenses which would cost a tad more. Most do not look at it in this way.

      At the end of the day a camera like this is not for the masses, which I will explain in my last and final part 4 of the review. It is for a select audience who appreciates certain things. Not for those who are the type who feel 20 features that we never use are needed in a camera or 20 page menus are a good thing or 20FPS is required to get the shot instead of using skill and 1 shot. This is a camera that is unlike any other on the market, even the Fuji GFX, which IMO is quite a bit different and again, for a different audience.

      One can and does spend $12k+ on Nikon, Canon, Sony, Leica and some even Olympus.Speed doesn’t make a camera or break a camera. What makes a great camera is one you can bond with, shine with, and be happy with. The Hasselblad rides on the same bus as the Leica M in the regard but with AF and EVF over an RF, and better file quality and DR and low light performance. With the M costing more for the body and one Leica M lens, for what this X1D offers, for me, I no longer see it as expensive after just a few days of use.

      It’s hard for me to put it in to words, but again, I do not recommend others go out and buy this X1D, because you have to understand what it is and what it is not. But for me? No way I would sell or send it back for a refund (and I have 30 days to do so). I plan on eventually getting the 90 and then the upcoming 65 for it, eventually, when my finances recover of course. I will have many more thoughts and photos and a new video for part 4 next week. I will be continuing my test all week long to make sure no bugs or issues pop up. I have so far shot it in low light demanding conditions, brutal mid day AZ sun and heat at 100+ degrees, in a humid environment that had the camera dripping with water (in part 4) and in a dusty dry setting. I have shot still life, portraits, nature, street and even things one would never think to shoot with a MF digital.

      So be sure to check out part 4 next week for the rest.

      Thank you, and yes, I still love my Olympus and Sony’s and will use them as well. They are just as wonderful in their own way as they offer something different. Speed, features and a different vibe. Thank you.

      • After reading your reply, I decided to try and find an X1D raw file to play with. Matt Granger has a studio portrait which as you know, are very tough for shadow recovery. I was blown away by how little one has to move a slider for results, the file is unlike any other raw file I’ve played with. Sony has crushed it with this sensor 😉

  5. PS – I have used the Leica XVario and Q for my aerial work in the past. So I think the X1d might work!

  6. Just curious if you think the X1D can handle aerial (from helicopter) photography. This is a chartered flight so it will be tailored to my needs and shooting, with a lot of latitude of slowing down to get the shots needed. I’m seriously looking at this for that purpose along with landscapes, etc. Thank you for easing my apprehension about this camera as I love the low light images it is getting.

    • Hey Leslie, well I have not shot it from a helicopter so can not say but I do adore this camera. Let me know if you give it a shot, and how it goes. Thank you.

  7. Steve-
    How’s does the X1D stack up to the Leica SL? I know it s a but of apples and oranges but if you could take one on a trip which would it be? Thanks my friend.

    • I talk about that in part 2 some. For low light, no contest. X1D. For weight and size, X1D. For IQ, X1D. For lens choice and versatility, right now, SL as you can use M lenses and have a nice setup. If you own M lenses and do not mind manual focus, the SL is a wonderful camera. I still love it but I sold mine to help fund this and I have zero regrets. BUT all depends on your needs and what you shoot really. The SL AF lenses are all stunning but very large.

  8. I just get the feeling the things that distinguish this camera are not going to be noticed in the output. You mention most photos are shared via social media, and even with the web, the superior resolution and color depth are going to go unnoticed compared to just about any other modern camera.

    But as you say, it’s about the experience and what gets you shooting. But, not sure if I can support spending 11k for inspiration. I’d rather purpose that money traveling out of the states and talking photos with a camera I already own.

    • Ive travelled all over, and for me, I’d rather have a tool such as this that motivates me to get out and shoot, even in areas I never ventured into near my own area. If you use that cash for a week long trop, that trip is long gone after that 1st week, the photos forgotten after a few months and you have nothing else to show for it. With a camera that motivates you to get out, to shoot, to socialize..that for me is priceless and worth much more than ANY trip. But we all have different ideas and desires. This is just mine. Thank you.

    • Actually, even on these highly reduced pictures, you can see the difference very clearly, especially the way skin is handled. WAY more realistic.

  9. It’s all good Steve. I’m always pleased when something finds the photographic tool that makes their heart sing. That special camera that wakes you up every morning and says “lets go out for a walk”. It is is obvious that you have found yours.

    Mine is my M10 and my selection of M glass. I’ve come full circle since my first love, my M3. I think my GAS has been cured.

    Keep the updates coming.

  10. As I read the reviews and particularly see comparisons I think:

    1) I may cave and buy the XD1

    2) I will KEEP my EM1 MKll

    The XD1 just looks so awesome.

    The Oly is best in its class and so fun to use.

  11. No Leica… the end of an era. I came to your web site late 2009 when I was considering an M9. I will look forward to continuing commentary on the X1D.

    • I’ll still review Leica, always have always will. I always own a few systems, but to own this I had to give up my most costly, the Leica. But I will always review the latest Leica cameras and lenses. (loaners) – Thank you.

  12. Great review. Thanks! I have a ‘crazy comparison’! Just because it is Monday 😉

    Shooting film:
    Costs 220 film ~ 5$
    Costs develop & scanning ~ 25€ (fotolab)
    This is about 1$ per exposure. For ever.

    Shooting Hassy:
    Costs first 15K exposures: about 1$ per exposure (same price as film!)
    After that: FREE!!!!!

    • Besides the costs there is hassle and lack of versatility. With this digital Hassy I can shoot in any light, without having to worry about what film is loaded. There is no film that would allow me ISO 25k. Also the limited exposures, and the time consumption which adds up to $$ for me. So the cost for film is much more for me when counting lost opportunities, time involved, etc. ; )

    • Developing black and white film yourself drops the cost per roll to under $1/roll. Color costs $2/roll.

      Of course, you have to enjoy doing that. I do, very much so. It takes all of 30 minutes and at the end of the process you have a tactile object filled with images you created with your own hands.

  13. Very interesting. I have been a Leica digital shooter as well as film shooter but more recently have been leaning towards Medium Format film shooting with a Mamiya 7ii. I love the files that are produced, the colours and tones and that rich film look that has been so hard to emulate with digital. I have tried numerous digital cameras (canons, nikons, fuji x100 as well as the Leicas) but all seem too ‘nice/clean’ for want of better words.
    I love to shoot slow, think about each image but it is the resulting file and the love that I feel for it rather than how clean and perfect it is that draws me to want to pull out the camera and go shoot. The X1d looks the closest so far, for me, in terms of coming close to emulating the love that you might have for a camera and it’s files that excites you to shoot more.
    Excited to hear more as I am contemplating a sale of a Leica Q and Leica M240 to purchase one.
    Thanks again Steve for such an insightful and thorough ongoing commentary.

  14. Sorry my ignorance: how it comes the “standard” view lens for this camera is a 45 mm.?, shorter than the full frame equivalent 50 mm.
    I mean medium format film camera lenses have longer focal length for the same view scope

    • Well, mine did not come with a lens. I could have purchased the 45 which gives close to a 35mm (preffered by some over 50mm) and I did. I also have the chive to buy the 90, which would give ore of a 70mm, or the 30 for a 24. So I chose the 45. There will soon be a 60 or 65 which will be the standard 50. The 120 is shipping any day now. So there are options.

  15. I love your enthusiasm for the camera. It is fun to watch your videos and excitement. This reminded me of how much I lived my old CW(503 I think) back in the day. Although I will never own an X1D I have the same enthusiasm for my EM1 which is the perfect camera for me and my life style. I sometimes shoot on a wedding crew when Heath and Lori need a third person so I have gotten to shoot with both the GFX and X1D when he rented them to try. As he carries two bodies the whole day, the GFX was too heavy. The X1D lost photos as it would not work when he wanted. So both were rejected for an A9 and A7R II. After reading this, I am thinking of suggesting he rent a couple X1Ds and try again. But he will kill me if they do not work. Do you think this would be a choice for a wedding photographer who has another person (or 2) with a zoom lens to cover the event also?

  16. It would be helpful, with your comparison, if you framed them the same way. The Sony A9 shot includes so much more background which also happens to be extremely bright. This makes any comparison somewhat meaningless.

    • Well you must not have read the description “Not a scientific test by ANY means but will show the output of each” nor the text I write when I posted it 2 days ago as a standalone post: “But today I wanted to offer up an old school CRAZY COMPARISON that was fun to do. Now, as usual, with my crazy comparisons it is not about being scientific. It is for fun.”

      I did not plan to do this while out but I had all of these cameras in the bag, so did it for fun. The Sony had a 28mm, the Olympus a 25 giving a 50 FOV, the X1D a 35mm FOV. It was to show the color, and the rendering, nothing more nothing less.

      • I don’t mind the crazy comparison concept, but if so, is it really fair for you to compare them by saying that the X1D looks more filmic or that the A9 blew highlights when they are very different images.

        • Hey Walt, thanks for the comment. BUT, why would that be unfair? This is my website, my blog, my real world reviews and it is how I have been doing it for 10 years now. Why would I change after 10 years? That is my opinion I shared, you do not have to agree with it, it’s my opinion. By NOT giving my opinion, well, that would be silly in my opinion (damn, there it is again). You are giving your opinion here, so why can’t I on my own website? I have done “crazy comparisons” for 10 years, and always give an opinion. But an opinion is just that. Doesn’t mean everyone has to or should agree as that would be boring. In case you have not seen my reviews before, I do not do reviews like most do. I am not scientific, I speak my mind, and yes, I started the “real world review” concept when no one was doing it 10 years ago. All that existed was DP Review, Steves Digicams, Luminous, and a handful of other more scientific sites. I am still here 10 years later and now there are thousands of real world review sites out there. I think people enjoy it and opinions. ; ) In general, most reviews do give opinions though, thats the nature of a review. If not then they are just afraid or trying to avoid pissing off a manufacturer, of which I am not afraid to do if need be. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  17. Great review! That X1D gets more tempting with every firmware update.

    My favorite digital camera is a Leica M9 and my favorite film one is a Mamiya 6 so you can see why the X1D hits a sweet spot in me. Still, I’m not 100% convinced by EVFs in general, I would prefer the upcoming 65mm lens and the price is still a bit steep to me si I will likely wait for X2D (or X3D?) and possibly get a second-hand one.

    • You must have never tried the Leica SL, that EVF beats any OVF I have ever shot with. This is the EVF by which all others are judged. Nothing beats it today, still. If the X1D had its, and it should have, it would have been that much better. As is, it’s just like the A7RII EVF. Doesn’t bother me though I wish they really went with something like the SL EVF. Would have been sweet the icing on the Cake.

  18. If and when Hasselblad makes an adapter for Leica S lenses to be mounted on the X1D, I will be very tempted to consider it as a more versatile and economical alternative to upgrading my S2P to the forthcoming 008. Till then, Leica SL with a 50mm SL Summilux would have to suffice as my walking around camera.

    • Well that SL and Lux is no slouch! That’s an amazing walking around camera with amazing output. Between that and this, I go back and forth each day. Maybe each hour ; ) Enjoy it.

  19. I enjoyed reading your review but was a bit surprised to see so many comments about cost. Compared to a what you used to shoot with, i.e. Leica M, SL, the Hassy is a bargain when sensor/file quality, build and finishing are taken into proper consideration.

    • Well, as for cost, yes I have paid more for others systems but mostly 3-4 years ago when I had more money to spare. I spent $17k on a Leica M 240 and Noctilux back then. But I had more money to blow. My recent SL? Well, I was shooting cheaper voigtlander glass on it and bought the body used. SO maybe a $5500 investment. To go from $5500 to $11,800 is steep, and lets be real. I am writing this and thousands will read it. maybe 5% would consider the camera, and the rest no, due to cost. It’s expensive, no way around it. I do not get many studios pros reading my reviews but more the enthusiast and hobbyist who love this stuff, but also has a hard time swallowing the cost. I know I do, so yes, it was a big decision for me. Thanks for reading.

  20. Leica who? I kid! (Kind of 😉 )
    Fantastic shots, truly. Skin so smooth it’s almost glowing. Just all kinds of wow. And that color output… simply gorgeous.
    Solid buy Steve! Money well spent imo.

    • I don’t understand why my questions regarding adapters was ignored? You have been a vocal proponent of adapters on the Alpha cameras … is it not then a valid question to ask whether or not the X1D has or will have 3rd party lens capability?

  21. I am really loving this review series. And I pretty much agree with most of what you say philosophically about what this camera means, and how one should approach it, whether one is a professional or not.

    The rolling shutter is a deal-breaker in a lot of ways, but not a problem of course for static subjects. For example, posed portraits, or furniture, or interiors, or architecture. So, depending on what sort of subject matter you’re shooting, using adapted lenses from other systems, like Mamiya, could be the best way to make use of that image quality without spending too much money.

    Of course there are some 35mm lenses which can be used on larger sensors, such as a few Visoflex lenses:


    Some manufacturers are making TCs which allow 35mm lenses to be used on MFD cameras. So you can take a $50 Pentax lens and it will cover the full frame of the larger sensor. You would lose a stop (or maybe more) but that is irrelevant if your subject is not moving. This aspect of the X1D system is definitely worth exploring.

    BTW I have a nitpick: shallow DOF is not ‘cinematic’. It may be pleasant, and some people really like selective focus (and yes I love the look of the Summilux SL) but calling that look cinematic is meaningless.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to part 4 – and beyond. 🙂

  22. Wow that just blows mostly every other camera out of the water awesome thanks now I gotta find 17 k here in Canada

  23. I am glad to hear that I am not the only photographer who changed gear due to aging. I used the Hassy V and H system for two decades. I just sold my gear because the H4D-50 became too bulky and heavy to carry around after I turned 59 yo. This year, I replaced it all with the X1D.
    I kept and continue to use my Leica M10 due to a big investment I made into the Leica M lens system. But, I often use the electronic viewfinder accessory because my vision does not easily handle the RF any more.
    So, the X1D became my go-to camera for day to day shooting. Your review is spot on! The X1D is really fun to use, a pleasure to carry and yields fabulous image quality (at par or better than did my H4D-50). Thanks for your insightful observations.

  24. Hi Steve, I have enjoyed your “Blad” reviews tremendously (and all your other reviews of course), and I congratulate you to your joy and renewed inspiration to take PICTURES!
    I own an A7RII which surpasses my photographic abilities by miles. It is able to do technical wonders. And sometimes even I get a picture that I’m (modestly) proud of.
    But to me it is a computer, that can take pictures. A technical wonder of course, but the Sony rarely gives me the same joy as my long gone M9 (eyesight…), and – my dearly missed Blad 500 and 2000.
    The almost sensual joy of just holding a wonderful piece of imaging device of really supreme IQ, makes you stop, think… and take better pictures. So I look forward to see more pictures from you where the joy and feeling of this X1D camera are evident!
    BTW Blad has always given me that joy on and off for 40 years, except maybe for the H Series, that has never “touched” me. To me they gave no “soul” as the older 500/2000/200.
    And “Made in Sweden” does have its merits here, that should not be underestimated. We highly (!) value good design and ergonomics over here (together with our Nordic brethren in Denmark, Norway and Finland). So I sincerely hope that Chinese DJI that owns Hasselblad nowadays don’t trade away those IQ merits for more hi-tech mumbojumbo – than absolutely necessary.
    Rarely you can see the difference between Nordic and Asian design thinking than between this X1D and the Fuji GFX. The Fuji is probably more technically advanced and capable. But the IQ?
    So enjoy! Have fun! Keep it simple, and very functional. And beautiful.
    //Bo W, Stockholm

  25. Thank you so much for getting parts of the X1d review out so quickly. Very exciting product. Fortunately, for many, the other caneras can do quite well. The color from the X1D just looks fabulous and color can be difficult to adjust just right in post. Wow. Fun stuff.

  26. Steve, I completely forgot to ask my question: I’m mostly a manual shooter and I love my Loxia lenses, which allow me to put the focus where I want it to be. Thanks to the viewfinder of my A7ii, I can use the focus magnification button as well as focus peaking, allowing me to put the focus where I want it to be. This works perfectly for me. What is it like to focus manually with the X1D at night, I wonder. Is there such a thing as focus magnification and what is it like to focus manually (with X1D lenses, which are fly-by-wire)?

    • You have two choices with this camera. Set it to focus magnification and it will automatically magnify as you focus (what I use and prefer). This way you get precise focus. You can also set it to display focus peaking instead but I much prefer and trust the magnification.

  27. Thank you for this candid review. I will definitely rent the camera and take it for a spin. What bugs me though is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a cable release for the many moments when my camera is on the tripod. I often shoot in darkness and in winter. The least thing I want to do is to fiddle with my cell phone to remotely release the shutter.

  28. Steve: I think Ming Thein had a recent post about adapters for Hassy? Have you heard anything? I’d love to see an Otus on that bad boy 😉

  29. Reading between the lines, you might love it even more when the 65mm lens is released? Might have to sell a kidney to pay for that though!

  30. For whomever want want it, I am selling a LNIB X1D kit with 90mm and 45mm lenses, GPS receiver and two extra batteries. All in perfect condition.

    Please look in the Buy and Sell section.

    Steve can vouch for my reliability.

    Best Regards,


  31. Its good to hear most of the bugs have been addressed and that the evf is A7 standard. It was definitely their aim to open MF to new portable possibilities not just Landscape but action also, the MD said they wanted a phase sensor but Sony could not make it affordable. He already talked about the possibility of v2 having a phase, now of course he’s gone but if one did invest in lenses they aren’t resting on laurels. Lots of Sony MF rumours, which will bring the next gen sensor to market, if Hasselblad can weave their colour magic and not mess up the design. Keeping it made in Sweden although more expensive is the differenciator or there lose to the Made in Japan Fuji or Sony practicability. It has a feel of magic about it thats for sure.

  32. I believe using the Electronic shutter should help getting smoother Bokeh with more rounded highlights, since the leaf shutter gets in the way of that.

  33. While you say : … «I own a Sony A9 that I love. I own an Olympus PEN-F and EM1 MKII that I also love. A few lenses for each. I use them, depending on what I am shooting or doing. The X1D is a step up from all of those in IQ but it is not as huge as one may think. With medium format we will get high res, so if you print HUGE it will have an impact. The way most of us share images today, through social media, and the internet, most of what this format offers is wasted. I will admit that as it is true. I can get close with my A9, EM1, Pen-F and I know this.» … that is fully true … but can we also say that the benefit of high resolution in big sensors is that even on screens (And more on big 4K screens), we can crop more and get good images without loosing too much details. And it is a discover for me and i am happy that you say : Sharpness and resolution is not the same thing !!

  34. Steve,
    As I consider making the same decision, also a result of age and eyesight issues, it was great to see Part 3. I see your images and they are similar to what I do but my main play area is downtown LA (DTLA). I do a lot of urban shooting of the changing downtown landscape and of the people. At times it is as crowded as a New York street. I take a long walk around downtown for lunch, it is my shutter therapy. I print these images at 24 x 16 to give as gifts, it is nice to walk into someone’s office and see my image framed and hanging on the wall.
    Photographer friends have always said that medium format should be my next step.
    I am fully aware of what the X1D does and what it doesn’t do and
    I can accept that. I had the same attitude with the Leica M9, M240 and M10. I also have the Fuji XT-2 to fill in the gaps and an upcoming firmware will double the focusing speed.
    The X1D reliability was a concern but it appears to be a different camera then a year ago. Also, if it register before Sept 30, an extra year of warranty is added, that does create a little more peace of mind.
    I have a little more thinking to do but will decide in the next few days.
    I enjoyed the selfie, been seeing those for the last 7 years I have been following. And a shout out to Debbie who has been supportive and a great model.

  35. Hey Steve!
    Though I will likely never be in a position to purchase this beautiful X1D, I do enjoy reading your inspired reviews on it, and all the gear you use! You certainly have a way of getting us photographers inspired and just excited to go out and create photography! Thank you for that, sir!
    One thing I would like to mention regarding your statements about firmware updates…Not owning an Olympus system any more, I can say that the Fujifilm X-System has benefited handsomely from the vast number and breadth of firmware updates over the last few years! They truly give one the feeling of having a “new camera” with every update!
    Thanks again, Steve! Oh, and thanks for the brave expedition to Slab City! One friendly piece of advice though…next time, wear a hat!

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