The Hasselblad 907X 50C Review. The Most Beautiful Camera in the World.
By Steve Huff
My video overview and review of the 907x
This image was shot on the 907x with a 7 Artisans 35 1.4 M mount lens via an adapter. Click the image for a much better version.
The question is, for all of us really is this: It is not really the most convenient or feature rich camera so why would someone pay a premium for a camera that lacks so much by todays standards? No EVF viewfinder (though an external optical VF is available for a price), no built in grip, odd to handle if you are only used to DSLR’s and DSLR like mirrorless designs, no real capable video specs, and lenses that cost a pretty penny (for the really good stuff). Well, the reason someone buys a camera like this is not for all of those things I just listed, but rather to get away from these things. There’s something to be said about going back to basics and beautiful simplicity.
The 907x and 45 f/3.5. I added some vignetting in this one for a little mood.
Yep, the 907x is something much different in the digital camera world, but this is exactly why I was so excited to try this camera out. As I said in my prior X1D and X1DII reviews, these cameras have a way of slowing you down, which in some instances is a good thing. For me though, it is the way this camera works, the way you hold it and the way you frame and take the shot that drew me to it. It’s a beautiful thing, and in use, I am happy to say it is probably the most enjoyable camera I have ever shot with due to the unique design and way you go about using it. It’s tactile, built to a very premium standard and makes my Canon EOS R6 feel cheap in direct comparison.
The next two were shot with the Leica 90mm f/1.5. A $13,000 lens that Leica let me try out for a couple of week. You can see my review on that lens HERE.
This is a camera that rewards you when you get it right and makes you feel oh so good when shooting with it.
See the 7 Artisans 35 1.4 Lens on the 907x – VIDEO
Hasselblad did release a limited edition version of this camera with a 1969 Moon badge attached to the side in a homage to when Hasselblad went to the moon back in 1969. The SE comes in all matte black but I much prefer the chrome version as it reminds me of the classic 500 CM I once had the opportunity to shoot. Man, I still love the 500CM, it’s just a gorgeous piece of photo gear.
Too much or just right?
The good news is that the cost of the 907x is much less than I thought it would be and today it is available for just a bit more than the X1DII which houses the same sensor and thus, offers the same image quality. The X1DII is gorgeous as well with a more modern design. It also has an EVF which makes it a bit more like other cameras. It has a grip and feels amazing in the hand. The 907x on the other hand is like shooting with a cube, albeit a beautiful “brick like” solid cube. At $6399 for the body and sensor/back only, it seems expensive but I see it differently.
The 907x with the 45 f/3.5 wide open. This lens will give you something like a 32-33mm focal length. Click for larger.
In fact, after buying one for myself (and I did) I consider it a very fairly priced camera for the enjoyment it brought to my life, as the process, the feeling and the results are very pleasing and quite different from standard full frame. The build and design are a bonus. There is nothing quite like shooting digital with this 907X camera and the build quality is absolutely stunning with a heft that surprised me. I had no idea it was made this well, and it feels more premium than even the X1D series, and yes, it is still made in Sweden just like the X1DII.
An unboxing video, in 4k. This was shot with the little and amazing Sony ZV1
The Zeiss ZX1 was just released as well. What about that one?
The Zeiss ZX1 has launched but is it worth $6k for an all in one fixed lens camera?
The Zeiss ZX1 is ready to roll and it clocks in at $6000. It has a 35mm fixed lens that can never be changed, and even Zeiss is going for the “all in one” kind of vibe. Shoot, edit and share, all within a camera. To me, this sounds more like a glorified smart phone but that is most likely just my old cranky side coming out…that side that doesn’t want to embrace the online and connected future of cameras. But the fact is the ZX1 is more like a computer with a kens on it than something like the 907x. It connect to WiFi, allows you to edit with Lightroom, and upload/share photos all from the camera.
The 65 f/2.8 lens is a beauty. Giving a 50mm equivalent focal length, this one is a great pick for a one lens kit.
It may be nice, it may be cool but the Zeiss is for a different audience that sits somewhere in between the typical Sony, Canon, Nikon, Fuji bodies and these Hasselblad bodies. I do give credit to Zeiss though as it seems they took the Sony RX1 concept further and made a much nicer, better version of that camera (at least I hope so). At $6k it is not cheap but will be worth it to some who want a single lens/camera solution with great quality. With so much tech inside and built in memory only with Lightroom installed I am afraid the Zeiss will get buggy, glitchy and slow down over time. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, and I hope it ends up being amazing.
Back to the 907x and trying to find one in stock in late October 2020. Ha!
Wether I shoot indoors with natural light or outdoors in good light the 907x’s dynamic range ensures there are no issues with the light.
This was NOT an easy feat as when I found one at Adorama, it sold within 4 minutes, before I could check out. B&H had none, and small local shops with an online presence had none. I then stumbled upon a shop that had THREE! Over at pictureline.com they said they had three in stock and ready to ship but I had to be sure about this choice, so I took a solid hour to ponder if I really wanted this 907x. After the hour passed I decided to jump but when I went back to the website to order they were down to just one in stock! Seems like I was not the only one reaching for the 907x, and I was able to grab the last one. Phew. These are not easy to find just yet. I picked up an extra battery and lucky for me, I had my old 45 f/3.5 lens from my X1D days. The camera arrived in a day and after charging the batteries I snapped a few test shots. What I was prepared for was the quality and signature, as it houses the same 50MP sensor as the X1DII. What I was not prepared for was the experience of shooting this drop dead beautiful camera.
All images below shot with the 907x with the 45 f/3.5 lens. I do prefer the f/3.5 to the new f/4 version overall and while it is bigger, it brings a more organic way of rendering over the harder/crisper rendering of the f/4. Quite a bit more money at $2695 vs $1099 but I enjoy the way this 45 renders. It will be like shooting the equivalent of 35mm on a full frame camera.\
While this 907X is much different when it comes to the shooting experience than any other digital camera ever made, it is a welcome change for me and added some excitement and inspiration to get out and shoot. No viewfinder is really needed here as the large, bright, crisp and the most beautiful LCD screen I have ever seen flips up for waist level shooting. In a way similar to the old film 500 series, but instead of a viewfinder you are looking at a screen and this screen simply is in another league over what we see in Canon, Sony and others. It is also the most responsive touch screen I have used, and seems smoother, quicker and nicer in use than even the X1DII. While walking around finding shots, I simply have the camera around my neck using the included strap and lift up the weighty camera and frame the shot by looking down into the screen that fold up for easy framing. You just can not get this experience with ANY other digital camera.
I shot in bright sunlight and was able to frame but I do wish there was some kind of sun shade solution for those extra bright days as it could be an issue in someplace like Arizona in full sun. For me, for now, it is fantastic.
The menu system is so nice, just like the X1D and X1DII. As I said in those reviews, this is my favorite menu system of all cameras made today. Here with the 907x it seems to be perfected with its response, speed and touch sensitivity. Never a lag, never a miss. Touch and it detects that touch every time. The graphics on the screen are big, bright, crisp and smooth. THIS is how all menus should be, and how all cameras displays should work if you ask me. This is perfection in menus and design, and functionality/usability. It makes my old Sony A7III menu look severely outdated, and that really goes for all modern day mirrorless. You’ve never seen a menu system on a camera look so sleek, so easy to understand and so beautiful as this one right here.
There are two buttons/knobs on the front of the camera and one small one on the side. A lens mount release and the shutter button are housed on the front, surrounded by a nice metal dial that allows you to change aperture. It’s a simple system, and unlike anything else out there. The small button on the side controls your exposure compensation so all controls you need are here besides an ISO button, but I keep it on Auto ISO and it works wonderfully in this way. You can go into the menu before you fire the shot to fine tune your settings if you like but I found the buttons and dials are just about perfect.
Keep in mind this is not a camera to replace a DSLR or traditional mirrorless camera, as this doesn’t have the speed or capabilities of those tech marvels. Instead, this Hasselblad, much like a classic Leica is really more about the experience and for me, it was the most pleasurable camera experience I have ever had from any digital camera. I feel Hasselblad today is on the right track. Releasing quality cameras that are different and unlike anything else when it comes to design, feel, experience and yes, quality. Cameras that inspire and bring you a true pride of ownership rather than cameras trying to be something they are not (by attempting to keep up with the tech giants like Sony, Canon, etc).
Make no mistake. This 907x is heirloom quality folks. For me, I appreciate going back to a simple time when a camera is about the user experience rather than cramming gimmick modes inside (to help sell new bodies every year) and using influencers to push them like crack dealers push crack. Sadly that is how the photo industry works today. Magazine ads have now turned to “influencer ads” where influencers profit greatly off of how many cameras they sell, so they are 24/7 hype machines. You may read this article and think I am hyping this, but that’s not how I work. Those who know me and my history know I get truly excited only when a camera truly excites me. This is why you do not see reviews here for all cameras, or news blips. I have no interest in a Nikon Z6II as I am not into the Nikon ecosystem. I have no interest in Fuji medium format as their bodies are large, bulky and just odd or ugly to me. They may be beautiful to you but until you handle these bodies side by side (Hasselblad vs Fuji Medium Format) it is hard to relay the differences. I suggest trying both if you are in the market for a camera such as this, and going with what speaks to YOUR heart.
I am not here to hype cameras, just talk about the ones I love and feel are worth the money. It’s also why I make almost no money these days with this website, and many months it cost me out of pocket to keep this site running. But I would rather be true to myself rather than pimp out cameras that I feel are average just to make a dollar. I’d rather be me over a caricature or character in a YouTube video even if it cost me views or $$$. As I get older, I feel wiser and more content with life without having to post here every day hyping a new camera. Nope, I will only write about the gear I love, use, and would purchase for myself with my own money.
Make no mistake, this 907X is indeed a true work of art in every way, and I have experienced no quirks, bugs, hiccups, freeze ups or glitches. It works so well and is so far removed from the first X1D which did have glitches and issues when it was first released, before the slew of firmware updates. With that said, again, it is NOT for everyone. Rather it is for a specific type of person and shooter.
What I can do here is tell you what I love about photography and hence, why I love this camera. Maybe you are the same, maybe not. I will also share my early samples and later on many more samples (better) as I use this camera more and more.
What I like…
I like a photographic camera to be just that, a photo tool. Not a video tool that takes photos or vice versa, but a dedicated quality camera with simple menus, a great sensor, great dynamic range, great low light capability, superb color and gentle ethereal tonal subtleties. Yes, the 907x can shoot 2.7k video but I feel it should have been left out. It’s nothing I would ever use and is more like an afterthought. This is in no way a video camera and shouldn’t be. So I ignore the panel on the bottom with the mic input as I will never use this for video. There are much better tools for video for much less.
I love things that are unique that not everyone and their brother has. Today, most mirrorless cameras released are video centric above all else and photo capabilities are becoming an afterthought. I get it, as today it seems there are hundreds of new YouTube channels that start up every single day to review cameras or review something, and they all need video cameras to shoot their content. Youtube drives camera sales, and that’s a fact. It’s the future and the future is here now. Photos/images are mostly being taken with phones above all other devices and written reviews like mine here are a dying breed. So video is where it is at, especially for the younger generation.
The new Sony A7SIII has launched but hey, it’s a video camera. I have a Canon R6, and while it’s great with photos I much prefer it for its video capabilities and is all I need for what I do in the video realm (with better color than the Sony). For photos, the Canon is great but does not get close to the look, feel, dynamic range or detail of the 907x. Even though it is fantastic in its own right due to the stellar lenses offered by Canon for the RF System, it’s a different kind of experience. I chose Canon for my Mirrorless system today and invested in RF lenses for video uses, and occasional photos when I want a more traditional body.
For pure enjoyment, peace and love of the craft though I need something that makes me WANT To pick it up and use it. Something that brings a smile to my face when I hold it and something that again, is not out there being used by the masses. Something that differentiates me and my work from everyone else. For me, that camera today and the foreseeable future is the 907x.
I like my photo camera to be something special. It’s why I always loved the Leica M, the ORIGINAL Leica SL and the Hasselblad X1D and X1DII. These cameras all have something special about them and how they render a photo. Of course the lenses make the most difference, and Leica and Hasselblad have some beautiful glass for each of these systems. The Hasselblad XCD line includes stunners as does Leica.
The Hasselblad 907x with 45 f/3.5
A Serious Sensor and a body that SLOWS you down.
What I love most about the 50MP sensor here is the dynamic range and low light/high ISO performance. As I said with the X1d, the best I have used in these areas, even today. Highlights are VERY hard to blow with these Hasselblad cameras and that is part of what medium format is all about. When you load a RAW file (and please, shoot RAW here as your images will be so much better for it) you will be blown away by the natural color that is not overblown, or jacked up and the amount of light and dark detail that is present. It’s revelatory. You will see nice skin tones and a depth and smoothness that you just can not get with even full frame offerings. It’s the large sensor and yes indeed, when it comes to image sensors…size matters. For all out image quality, this camera can be breathtaking. The most impressive thing here though is the Dynamic Range and continues to just blow my mind with how much you can rescue form your photos if you screw up the exposure.
BUT…and this is a big BUT…if you are the type of person who likes speed, 20 FPS, 4k60, high res EVF and you just love holding that shutter button down to hear that machine gun sound, you will hate this camera. It’s not for you. This camera is for those who have that inner romance, that feeling of love (and yes this is possible with a camera) when you hold a camera that seems magical to you and for those who want to actually practice the art of photography rather than just shooting some video for a YouTube video. This is an artists tool, and one that can grow with you as you grow. It is for those who understand aperture, shutter speed and depth of field. It is for those who want to connect with the tool as it becomes a part of your senses. The 907x can do this for the right person.
I have slowed down my shooting dramatically, and not just by amount of images I take every year. I take my time and when I see my shot, I set up the camera, frame, focus and take one single image and move on. I do not review my images in the field, rather I wait until I get home. I make some coffee, sit in my chair and load the images hoping there are at least 1 or 2 that I really like. With this camera, it seems no matter what you shoot it just looks appealing, and good. You can click on any of the images in this write up and see them much larger, and much better. The full size 50MP files are stunning and when I open them on my Mac Pro XDR display I am stunned (yes, I splurged for the Mac Pro and XDR display for my long term “until I retire” solution. I have now officially retired my 2013 Mac Pro). The images here, well, they are just average images. They are my very first shots taken on a cool brisk fall day, over just a couple of hours, but they all have that look and depth (be sure to click for larger versions to see what I mean).
I remember the day I bought the original X1D (when it cost $12k for the body and 45 lens) and yes, I waited until a few firmware updates in. I loved it even though it was much more slow, sluggish and quirky then the 907x or X1DII. To be honest, the 907x has given me no issues, no slowdown, no quirks or freeze ups. It’s been perfect so far. I do recommend two batteries as it is a battery eater type of camera. That huge sensor really sucks up the power it seems. With that said, I am able to shoot all day with one battery but I MAYBE shoot 50 images in a day, on a heavy day. My normal is maybe 35, much like a roll of film ; ) When I get home I still have plenty of battery but I know most out there may shoot many more frames than I do in a day and if this is you, then you will need an extra battery.
This camera is not going to give you fast focus, as it uses contrast detect only. It can miss or hunt in really low light, and it feels like the AF tech is a few years old. But it’s not that type of camera anyway. Remember back in the day when all cameras were manual focus? Somehow people managed to create works of art in this way that were timeless, and yes, we still can so for me, rather than hinder this kind of camera it adds to its charms and makes me feel nostalgic, warm, fuzzy and well…happy.
But this does have auto focus and it can be speedy in good light. Each lens is different with AF speed and noise. Some lenses are noisier (in sound) than others as the shutter is inside the lens, using leaf shutters. The camera is shutterless but does also have an electronic shutter. I have a Leica M adapter for it, and to use a Leica M lens one must turn on the electronic shutter to use the camera. In that mode, one has to be careful as there is the chance of rolling shutter if you move the camera when you take the shot. Seeing that no one should move the camera when taking a shot, it’s a non issue for me but I do wish this was improved upon.
In a future version, and I hope Hasselblad continues to develop this camera, I would love to see a more advanced battery system, faster/quieter auto focus and rather than seeing a 100MP sensor, keep it at 50mm and just improve on the performance. The beauty of the 907x is that Hasselblad can make different backs for it, so maybe down the road they will release a monochome back, or a low light back. This is when it will get really interesting so I hope they are planning different backs for this system.
I say to Hasselblad “go all in” as you have built a gorgeous system with the X1DII and 907X along with the lenses in the XCD mount.
The Hasselblad Color is nice. Nothing is exaggerated but is more natural.
The 907x has a USB C input that is clearly hidden on the side, and the slick door opens up as you push the cable in. You charge the battery in this way and also can tether it to an iPad with this connection. With their Phocus software, you can shoot in the studio, tethered. It’s a beautiful app and very easy to use, just like the camera. I also have Phocus on my desktop and when you use their software your images will indeed look better than if you use Lightroom. It’s also fast and easy to use, so I highly recommend downloading it and giving it a go with your files from the X1D or 907x.
The fact is that wether you are interested in this model, or the X1DII, you are really getting an IQ monster and an experience like no other camera can give you. The feel and style of this is on another level from other manufacturers cameras, and no I did not get any “deal’ on the camera to say these things. I bought it with my own money and paid full price just like everyone else. I get no “kickbacks” as those are a myth, at least I have never, in 13 years of reviews gotten “kickbacks” from any review. To be honest, I haven’t even spoken to Hasselblad about this review as they didn’t respond to my request for a review unit when I emailed them a while back.
When I write it comes from the heart as I speak my true feelings and right now, in 2020, there is no other camera on the market that gets my blood pumping quite like this one does for taking photos. If you are like me, you will enjoy it more than you know. I can also highly recommend the 45 f/3.5 lens for it, or the new 45P which is much less expensive. The f/3.5 version does render in a more ethereal way at times, where the 45P is sharper and a bit flatter. Either lens is fantastic, as is the 30mm, 90mm and 65mm, and if you want more of a 50mm equivalent, the 65 2.8 is GORGEOUS. These lenses are all light, and perfect for the 907x. The 80 1.9 is unreal beautiful but also unreal heavy and costly. Oh, and big ; ) There are some beautiful lenses for this system today, take your pick.
I hope you enjoyed my 907x review. It came from the heart and now that I am done writing, I can go take a drive for the day and shoot : ) Yea. I adore this modern day old school artists tool, and I intend to grow with it for years to come. It’s good to be at peace with a decision such as this. No regrets.
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