The Hasselblad X1D Shoots Bellydancers By Joe Marquez

The Hasselblad X1D Shoots Bellydancers

By Joe Marquez aka The Smoking Camera

Last week I photographed a bellydance dress rehearsal with the Hasselblad X1D and two lenses – the 30mm f/3.5 and 90mm f/3.2 XCD. Normally I shoot dance performances with a DSLR so why shoot with a medium format camera? The primary reason is to test the limitations of the X1D. The second reason is the overwhelming encouragement from Steve Huff Photo readers. Always important to please your audience.

So how did the Hasselblad X1D do and would I use it at an actual performance?

Well first of all I’ve included a few images of Hawaiian, Japanese and Spanish bellydancers for your review. If interested, I will post more photos at or

After some early mistakes I dialed in exposure by shooting wide open at iso 800 and adjusting shutter speed from 1/200 to 1/320 sec. Lighting conditions and dance speed dictated my choice of shutter speed.

It’s important to emphasize the primary limitations of the X1D for dance photography. Although autofocus is snappy, there is no continuous focusing or tracking. Secondly, only three prime lenses are currently available for the X1D (however more on the way). For dance photography I prefer using fast zooms or super fast primes. Wishful thinking on my part, but would love to see Hasselblad produce a fast prime in the f/2 range. Finally, the blackout after pressing the shutter is much too long and makes dance or action photography challenging.

Now what did the Hasselblad X1D do well? When I nailed focus, the 50 megapixel sensor along with each XCD lens produced absolutely beautiful detailed images. And if exposure was off by a couple of stops highlight and shadow details were easily recoverable.

The other reason the X1D did well is camera settings are easily accessible and simple to adjust. The exception is changing the focus point but for now I’m OK using the center focus point and recomposing as needed.


I was particularly pleased with the images of the sword-bearing tribal fusion bellydancer. Her dancing varied from stationary poses to speedy movement across the stage. A worthy challenge for the X1D.

In case you’re curious, this weekend I photographed the performance with my DSLR. Not surprisingly, at similar camera settings and focal length, the X1D produced images superior to my Nikon D810.

In conclusion the X1D performed better than I expected and under the right conditions I will definitely use it at future dance performances. And if the performance includes bellydancers I will post results and images here on Steve Huff Photo.

Steve and I know our audience.



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