The X1D Still Wowing Me. 16X20 Print, ISO 25,600 looks fantastic.

The X1D Still Wowing Me. 16X20 Print, ISO 25,600 looks fantastic.

My review of the Hasselblad X1D may be completed (Part 1-4 have all bene posted) but my love affair has not ended. I just received a print from a 1/3 or so crop of the full frame, shot at ISO 25,600 in LOW light, at 1/60s handheld. I ordered a metal print after cropping the image to see if it would look good or if it would be noisy and look bad. I knew it would look great but did not expect it to be as good as it is.

It is very hard to show in the video below, as the video actually blows some of it out (it is not in Real life) and the video can not show the deep yet gentle contrasts that I see in person. See a video below of my thoughts on this, as well as a big bold statement from me on this camera ; )

One thing I mention in this video is that the X1D has inspired me to do something I have never done before, ever. It inspired me with its feel, control and capabilities in areas I love to shoot so much that I am now going to embark on a year-long project, shooting photos in small intimate music clubs like the one above. I will shoot at whatever ISO I need, and at the end of the year-long journey, I will choose 10-15 images I truly love of the ones I take and will have them printed just like this one. I will then find a club that will allow me to display them (a few of these clubs allow artists, photographers, to display their work for a month, even sell the prints if desired) and yes, that will be the very 1st time I will have done anything like that.

So right off the bat, the Hasselblad X1D has inspired me more than any other camera in my life to get out and DO, and embark on a long-term project that will not only be rewarding to me, but allow me to experience new things, new music, new people, make new friends and have (hopefully) beautiful prints come from it that I can enjoy.

When a camera does this for you, then you know you have the right camera for you. For me, it is the X1D (and Leica M, always) but for you it could be an Olympus PEN, EM1, or a Sony A9 or A7 or a Nikon or Canon, or any camera that motivates YOU to get out and use it.

The 2nd best camera I have used in these very low light situations has been the Leica Monochrom 246.

It too has a way about rending these low light in a very nice monochromatic way. While many thought THIS Leica M Monochrom was ugly, I see it as gorgeous and unique. If I had the money, it would be mine as it is not really any more expensive than buying it in standard black for the kit. Maybe by $1400 or so, but for me…another camera that would inspire me like mad. Imagine a Leica M Monochrom and an X1D, wow, what a team this would be for my project but as it is, I will have to be happy with just the X1D (and I am).

So I just wanted to share my happiness with the X1D and the print I received from a crop of a ISO 25,600 image. Blew me away and looks gorgeous hanging in my bedroom.

Below is the original image and then the crop I printed. I posted these in part 2 of the review but here they are again in case some of you missed it.

So what camera get YOU excited to get out and use it?


  1. Hi Steve,
    One question with respect to Dust handling – how does the X1D stand up to preventing dust spots on the sensor vs e.g an SL? Currently use the Olympus system, but thinking about an SL or the X1D would be interested in real world observations on the practicalities of the 24-90 zoom vs changing the prime lenses when out in the field.


    • I am curious to find out, so far no dust. I have been swapping the 45 and 90 for a couple days…but I am sure it will hit soon. My A9 has a couple dust spots now that show up in my video footage.

  2. There’s always a period of contemplation, research and hands-on testing (thanks to lens rentals) after one of your reviews. As I noted previously, your enthusiasm has contributed to a low balance in my checking account several times over the years 😉 This time however, it’s not to be – No Hassy for me. The overriding factor was not price, not lack of features and certainly not IQ. Nope, it was what I consider to be the Achilles heel of the system; its lenses or more specifically, lack thereof and lack of a pleasant and/or unique rendering signature like you get with Zeiss or Leica…(although I understand Ming Thein is having some success testing adapted Zeiss but has thus far only recommended one). I’m sure many will feel that this is not an issue when you consider the pros e.g. medium format, low light/high ISO prowess and high resolution but those things are secondary to my style of shooting which is to say I like plenty of light with my sensor. So I will stick with my A7RII. I’ll take the Zeiss and Leica lenses over MF all day long. Thankfully 😉

  3. Thank you.
    It would be interesting to see if you can find a good cheaper lens for the X1D – something like that amazing Voigtlander Heliar. Perhaps a way in for some…

  4. Hi Steve, thank you very much for the sharing. X1D
    is a really amazing camera and your picture is gorgeous. I am kind of regret for not seeing your website as early as I should. I love all of your Leica reviews and read them all. They are the true field experience of a photographer not an engineer tech data report or specification collection. I use M6 + 35 cron and want to go for digital M. Finally after read your reviews of Leica MM , M240 and M10, I made a decision to get my first digital Lecia M Monochrom Typ 246 + 50 lux because the waiting list of M10 in China is so long and it was once listed at $15K at the pseudo 2nd market. I am very happy about my decision. Just as you said, I bought the Leica M Monochrom for my heart not for it s brand name. The more I use the Leica MM the deeper I fall in love with it. Now I think I will start to save my every penny for my own X1D. Currently I am working on my personal photo project “nostalgia ” with my Leica MM. Hope I could get chance to share my experience of the Monochrom here.

  5. I think you keep improving as a photographer Steve – and that’s saying something. Just as well if this camera is truly “better” than you are, because I’m sure if you run a little you’ll catch up soon enough. You have a real gift for making videos as well – you’re smooth and articulate, with no hesitations, and fun to listen to as well. Congratulations on the new camera – maybe I’ll look for one second hand in 6 or 7 years :).

  6. Well done Steve. It is great you have found a camera that has got you so inspired that you have created a project for yourself that will involve a series of prints at the end of the year. Who would have predicted that?!

    I have always found making prints from high ISO images look better than one would expect from looking at the digital file. There is something about the high dynamic range of a computer monitor that exaggerates the light/dark difference in the grain of a photo at the pixel level that doesn’t show up in print. In addition, once a photo is resized for a common print size this also helps alleviate anything seen on the computer screen.

    However, it’s REALLY impressive that you were able to essentially print at 100% (no downsizing) at this high of an ISO and get such an amazing print. I think the arms race of miniaturising camera’s while trying to keep the sensor size large (Sony A Series, X100 etc) has helped create this environment where companies are creating cameras very close to medium format that are as compact as they are. Their true low light advantage will become apparent when they release 1.4 lenses although I am very curious as to how big they will be! This sensor is a true winner that is for sure.

    David vs. Goliath Challenge: I’d like to put it out there again . . . a crazy comparison with Olympus 1.2 vs. X1D 3.5 both shot wide open at the lowest shutter speed you might be able to hand hold and let the ISO fall where it will. But this time maybe a 16×20 as the comparison test. I think for sure the XD1 would win with it’s extra sharpness, color, and 16bit tonality, but would be curious about the grain and dynamic range because I would imagine the XD1 would be shot at ISO 25,600 vs. Olympus’s ISO 200-400 once 1.2 vs 3.5 and IBIS are factored in. I’d never be able to do this test on my own because I would never be able to afford the X1D, but I’m pretty sure you have all the gear there to do it. (Maybe throw the A9 into the challenge as well).

    Nobody does crazy comparisons like you do Steve! They’re awesome!

  7. It looks great. Good work.
    Prints, physical prints, are really another dimension (the original one) to what we’re used in the last times…

  8. Hey Steve.
    Keep up the good work on the Hasselblad X1D. I agree with you that the camera design is a modern art piece.
    (It inspires like my old Hasselblad Superwide and Mimaya 7II cameras did. Eventually I want one with the 120 macro and the 22mm wide angle lens.)

    My question is about COLOR QUALITY at the optimum settings: comparison between the X1D and the Sigma DP/SP Quattros.

    Specifically, in the August 18, 2014 review of “Got IQ? The Sigma DP 2 Quattro Review”, you took an amazingly beautiful portrait of Debbie. In that portrait, the color was the best I have ever seen! Just gorgeous, in both the JPEG and raw processed.

    We know the considerable constraints the Sigma cameras present so leaving that aside, all I would like you to comment on is the color quality (especially on Debbie’s face < she has a very nice complexion for comparisons ) between the two cameras. Sigma sensors seems to be the system to beat when it comes to 'pure' color < although I know it is not pure ! !

    So could you please take an portrait of Debbie in similar lighting and post it in comparison. I realize you no longer have the Sigma but something close to the same setting with X1D would be good enough.

    You have an excellent eye, so we trust your judgement.

    Thanks again

  9. Keep doing follow-up posts on the X1D – it’s so interesting to hear of your experience using this camera and seeimg additional images.

    Right now I find the A9 exciting and I’m gaining familiarity with setup, shooting, and post. I’m finding that what I lose in resolution to the A7R2 is often made up for in focus sp;eed and accuracy along with the fun factor of shooting such a fast and responsive camera. Image quality is very good.

    However, the X1D is seductive and it’s nice to have a camera to look forward to getting in the future. It will be a while until I can save enough afford it. In the meantime I’m happy with the gear I have now. Thanks for your continued coverage of the X1D.

    • Thank you and the A9 is awesome, I love mine as well. The response and speed is amazing, and when you need it, it is there. For video it is also fantastic. The X1D is different but both are wonderful. Enjoy the A9!

  10. Thanks Steve,

    The print looks great – are you able to say what the print specifications were and what print process you used? Maybe I missed that and apologise if you mentioned it. I did not see it listed in the text.

    Good job.


  11. Steve,
    For me, it’s the Fujifilm X-System that currently “ticks all the boxes”. Using the X-Pro2 with some stellar Fujinon XF optics, I’ve made some 20×30” poster prints that have awesome sharpness, detail, and dynamic range.
    I especially anticipate the upcoming XF80mm f/2.8 LM WR Macro! If it’s “at least” as sharp as the XF90 f/2, it will be possibly the best Macro lens out there. I also saw a Samyang 35mm T/S lens that is intriguing!
    Regarding your X1D, I’m curious as to your reaction to those who have criticized the X1D for things like buggy software, low-tech EVF, lack of a joystick, loud shutter, etc. Mind you, I never used the camera…just parroting what I’ve seen by other YouTube reviewers. But like you said, if the camera inspires, that’s what matters!

  12. Actually, the new generation of cameras are what convinced me to go out and use my old Sony A6000. Since I don’t have $4000 (to get pictures that look 10% better), I am having to plan my shots…

  13. Stop it! I really don’t want to spend $12k on a new camera, but you are making me want to. I am dreaming of the pre-dawn landscapes this thing would take.

    Killing me.

    • Well, as I say..for me it works and ticks all of the boxes. For others maybe not but depending on your use (landscape would be fantastic, hehehe) it may or may not. But man, I love this thing for everything it is.

      • I’m too much of a hack to spend that kind of money on the Hassy … I have no skills … just a pixel peeping G.A.S’er waiting for Sony’s next move. Now if that move happens to be a 50MP MF RX with a Zeiss lens on par with the 35/2 Sonnar for under 5 grand, well then TAKE MY MONEY! 🙂

  14. I’m with you completely Steve! Never held a camera that felt so good in my hand and with the user experience and results I get with the X1D. I am constantly floored in spite of having had very limited shooting time. so excited to travel with mine in December to Bali. Have no regrets to have sold my Leica SL and 24-90 zoom (though Leica M9P and Sony A7rII not going anywhere). Also started selling M4/3 lenses and will completely lose that system soon.

    Recommending to you there XCD 90mm which plays so well with the X1D.

    All the best and thanks for the great review!

    • I can only agree since within a day of handling the X1D, I took the plunge and sold my Leica SL & 24-90 zoom to fund the purchase of the 4116 Edition. Please understand that I had to go with the ridiculous extra expense in order to stay with a black camera simply to avoid undesired detection/grief from my wife!
      I love this thing as it suits exactly what I do with photography and mitigates my deteriorating focusing skills (I’ve still kept my M & APO 50mm).
      After years of owning a battalion of Leica lenses I always come back to the 35 & 50 so, based on your post my question is: ‘How decent is the XCD 90mm and is it worth going for?’
      Steve, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this site with its expansive content and diverse opinions for many years now. Well done!

      • Thank you John and Congrats!!! I just received the 90 for a few days and will be shooting it this weekend at an Oktoberfest event, and will have a new Vlog video as well. The 90 feels so nice, it’s more hefty but still somewhat small. Feels so nice. I have not yet shot it outside of my house for a few silly test shots but I can not wait to see how it does on Saturday. I may take it out tonight as well. Thanks for the kind words!

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