A Hasselblad Versus a Fujifilm: Which Medium Format Camera is Better?

Two medium format cameras, but in a side-to-side comparison, which is better?

The comparison isn't strictly useful in many ways, but it is very interesting. Jay P. Morgan compares the Fujifilm GFX 50R with the Hasselblad X1D II 50C and while they're alike in a number of ways many people's biggest grievance will be the price brackets. The Fujifilm paired with the GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR is a combined price of $3,999.90. Whereas the Hasselblad paired with the XCD 45mm f/3.5 lens is a combined $8,445. So the two setups in this video are vastly different in price brand new, with the Hasselblad coming out at over double the Fujifilm. 

That doesn't make this a useless test, however — far from it. Many of us who have worked with medium format cameras and want to move more into them can use this as a great way of looking at the differences between the two and whether the Hasselblad setup is worth twice the price. In all honesty, I have a real "thing" for Hasselblad. Though they have changed hands, I love the heritage and they build exceptionally well designed and beautiful cameras. I would also say that in this video, the X1D II 50C comes out on top in most regards. However, Fujifilm have really applied the pressure in the medium format sector and this particular Hasselblad is close enough to the GFX 100 that I'd have to have a conversation on whether it'd be worth pushing past it. That said, they're vastly different cameras ergonomically.

What do you make of this comparison? Which would you choose?

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Matt Williams's picture

First, the GFX 50R and 50/3.5 at $3999 is a sale price - normally those are $4500 and $1000 each, for a total of $5500. Not sure it's entirely fair to compare prices when one is on sale and the other not.

Secondly, imo, the Hasselblad runs away in terms of color. Hasselblad "Natural Color Solution" is amazing, with each camera individually calibrated (it also means that color matches between every Hasselblad - a CFV 50 will look just like an X1D).

And if you need leaf shutters for fast sync, the choice is clear.

The Fuji is better if you want to adapt lenses. And is definitely, overall, a bit cheaper.

Herco le Fevre's picture

In fact the $3500 for the GFX50R is a permanent price decrease. The $500 for the lens is temporary. Regular price for the set is therefore $4500.

Matt Williams's picture

Really? It shows as a discount and it wasn't more than two months ago or so that it was $4500 (and ironically at the time I said that was too expensive for the 50R and it should be $3500).

Herco le Fevre's picture

I checked again, but in most European countries the new price is around €3500 for the body. No cashbacks or discounts. Your analysis was prophetic I guess...

Matt Williams's picture

haha, it was on some article about medium format cameras and I said that the 50R was priced too high, too close to the 50S and X1D. Someone said it occasionally goes on sale for $3500, which is what I said it should be. Now I guess it is. Which is great! That's a good price.

Edit: it still shows as an "instant rebate" here in the US on B&H and Adorama but it could easily just forever remain that way. Or eventually the rebate goes away and it stays at $3500.

Greg Wilson's picture

I tried both 50R and X1D (1st gen). It is true that the 50R is a faster camera with faster AF. But the X1D with XCD lenses is an entirely different league when it comes to color reproduction.

You won't see it in jpegs and videos published on the internet as all the color is converted to a very limited sRGB space, but when editing on a P3 capable screen the X1D output is shockingly color-rich, clear and accurate. While the 50R just renders "very well", similar to or slightly better than the top DSLRs.

Also the X1D body design and UI are probably the best in the market, so It's a work of art kind of camera overall, which, at this price point, can hardly be compared to anything else.

Herco le Fevre's picture

I’m testing both myself right now. I’ve loaned a GFX50S (not the R) and the X1D II. I tried the X1D mark I before, but it was horrible. Very slow and an endless stream of lock-ups and restarts. The MkII solved all that except for AF speed which is still far behind the GFX platform.

The color of the Hasselblad is indeed great, but not miles apart from Fujifilm. I recognize some of the results shown in the video. I suspect they use LR which is not ideal for Fuji. I get better results with Capture One. Esp. the sharpening and color is better in C1. Unfortunately Hasselblad is not supported by C1, so I have to use Phocus for that. Which by the way is also better for the X1D than LR is (except for library).

By the way, for in-camera jpegs you need to dial-down Fuji’s standard sharpening to -2 or -3 at least. Fuji uses agressive sharpening that’s not ideal esp. in low light.

As for the darker exposure, that’s correct. Fuji calibrates their camera’s to an 18% greyscale card. Most other brands use 30% greyscale cards when they moved to digital. It differs approx. 1/3 stop.

The X1D grips really well and the strobe sync is a definite advantage for outdoor portraits. However, the GFX has an H-adapter that holds Hasselblad H-lenses and older Fujinons with central leaf shutters. You’d then have the advantage of both a plane and leaf shutter. The GFX is also more of a system camera with tilted viewfinder (for the S) and technical camera adapters for tilt/shift work. Generally that doesn’t work for the X1D as it relies on the central leaf shutter.

So all in all, these are very different camera’s for different usage. The GFX is more versatile, but the X1D is smaller and better to hold. IQ is fantastic in both cases. I feel both spoiled and stressed for choice.

blessing x's picture

While I get the appeal of trying to match the cameras output (including colors), no one shoots one camera to match another. Would be interesting to see them both at their bests (as subjective as that is).

I've owned the Fuji GFX50s system since it was introduced. I also used the Hassy X1D II 50C for a month earlier this year. (Ah, I remember Jan and Feb fondly!) My brief opinion: If your needs rely on a wide strobe sync range the Hassy is the choice, especially if you're mostly in a studio. The Hassy's processor can produce more saturated out-of-camera colors than the Fuji but the difference should not tilt your selection. The image files are fundamentally identical in terns of dynamic range and color (as they should be, given identical sensors).

Personally while I loved looking at and fondling the Hassy I was absolutely not tempted to ditch my GFX for it. (Geez, that sounded kinda salacious, didn't it!) My own photo work is usually outdoors and often requires me to shoot in odd angles and configurations. The Fuji GFX50s system's modularity and ergonomics vastly excels Hassy for this type of flexibility. I can instantly configure the viewfinder to any angle (via the tilt adapter), or I can completely remove the EVF if I need a lighter or tighter camera. Plus the bi-axis screen tilt is wonderful. The Hassy features none of this engineering; what you see is what it is.

My pence on the subject.

Greg Wilson's picture

Not really. They shouldn't be identical, even given identical sensors. You may want to read more about the Hasselblad "Natural Color Solution" to start with.

Both Mac and PC are currently using the same Intel processors. But the philosophy behind them as well as the experience they deliver is not identical, which fuels endless holy wars between the adepts. Same is Hasselblad vs Fuji.

Herco le Fevre's picture

It’s always the combination of sensor, processor and in-camera software calibration that determines the quality of the image. Also don’t underestimate the quality of the lenses. So indentical sensors don’t guarantee identical images.

Colin Robertson's picture

Yeah, the X1D (1 & 2) are drop dead gorgeous cameras for sure. They look amazing, and feel amazing in the hand. I would still use a Fuji because it has a shutter though.

Blake Aghili's picture

I had the X1D 50C and sold it. Very slow in everything ( startup , viewer , focus , etc ... ) ... Fuji GFX was MUCH better in all of those.

Dana Goldstein's picture

The GFX100 is perfect for me in terms of ergonomics as well as image quality and customizability. I don’t need the advantages of the leaf shutter, so that’s moot for me. The IS is helpful as well. Like all of these types of articles and videos, it’s a little silly: you buy what works for what you shoot and what you feel most comfortable working with.

Kurt Hummel's picture

I would really like to see a comparison of the crop Fuji medium format and a full size medium format, maybe I’ll search tonight for that.

Stuart Carver's picture

Nice Fuji troll post here, nice and subtly done, well done

Kurt Hummel's picture

Sorry no troll post here, I'm truly interested in the difference between the two. I'm looking to pick up a medium format system next year and until recently I didn't know that medium format sensors come in different sizes.

Last night I did find a couple videos on Youtube comparing the GFX 100 and a Hassleblad and a Phase one. The detail in all of them is just amazing and so is the price range on them.

Right now I'm still leaning towards a Pentax 645Z because of the build and lens selection, they fit my needs better even though it seems to be a dead system for Ricoh.

Stuart Carver's picture

The term 'cropped medium format' is normally the term people use to try and troll the GFX system, like a derogatory term... its usually people who own a 'full frame' camera trying to be snarky. I only use the amateur APS-C beginner sensor (again using terms you see from people trying to diss the system) so i cant offer an opinion on which is best but all i know is there are amazing images with lots of detail made with most cameras from the last 5 years, especialy those medium format ones.

Kurt Hummel's picture

Well what else would you call it other than crop medium format. It's amazing how much of a difference in size their is between the two, they really should have different names like they had aps-h and aps-c crop sensors.

Stuart Carver's picture

I just call it GFX medium format, where did I get the name? It’s easy, from their website... I’m not one to get into discussions over the politics of sensor sizes and nit pick over what it should be called, I have much better things to worry about in my life than such insignificant details.

You can get a used X1D, 1st version, for around $3K, and pairing that with the 45 f/4 (if you can get one) will come in close to $4K. I realize the X1D I is nowhere near either of these newer cameras in terms of usability, the IQ I believe is the same as the X1D II, so for some people/uses, there's that to consider, too.

Matt Williams's picture

The IQ is identical to the II - the changes were mostly external or hardware related. Sensor and all that remained the same. It's a great deal for a very nice camera.

Venson Stein's picture

The Fuji destroys the Blad. For a much cheaper price as well.

Herco le Fevre's picture

That depends heavily on what you use it for. In general the Fuji is more versatile, has better AF and is a lot cheaper (don't forget the costs of glass: the XCD lenses require expensive leaf shutters). But in terms of ergonomics the Hasselblad feels great. For professional use its also important to look at customer service. Across Europe Hasselblad has a very good pro-service. Fuji has just started their FPS program here, but I'm hearing very mixed messages on the quality and speed of that.

John Adams's picture

"Richer colors" just move the saturation/vibrance-slider +10 points and you have the same "rich" colors.

Baffling comparison when you consider the Blad' hd series optics were made by Fuji?

Herco le Fevre's picture

...but not the XCD optics... those are made by Nittho in China.

William Semeraro's picture

I own a GFX 50S, to which I adapt Mamiya RB/RZ lenses. I wonder if it's possible to fast speed sync with those lenses on?

Matt Williams's picture

AFAIK (I have not used or tried this combination), you would have to connect the flash to the x-sync on the lens, put the camera in bulb mode, fire the lens/shutter (activating the flash) and then end the bulb exposure on the camera. As far as I know, there aren't any adapters with contacts for the RZ lenses, so there's no communication (and RB lenses don't have contacts anyway).

The Hasselblad CFV backs actually work a lot like this when used on a 500 series body. They have no electronic communication, just a mechanical pin that primes the sensor. It essentially fires the sensor up in bulb mode, and then you activate the leaf shutter on the lens, and then the camera ends the exposure.

Only issue you could run into is long-exposure noise. Hasselblad has some special magic to deal with that - dark frame subtraction and probably some other fancy stuff.

William Semeraro's picture

Thank you, Matt.
I wonder if I will ever test it out; though it sounds a bit impractical to deal with.

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