Hasselblad is touring the country (and the world) with prototypes of the new 50-megapixel X1D camera and the two lenses launching alongside it. Priced way below any other Hasselblad on the market (and in line with Pentax’s 645Z), the X1D ushers in unparalleled portability while creating a entirely new segment: the medium format mirrorless camera. Earlier this week, I got a few minutes with this interesting hybrid.
Hasselblad’s representatives wanted me to know these were prototype bodies. This made sense, given the heat that could be felt building up in the X1D, which didn’t have any kind of heat control programmed in it at the moment. But in the beta-centric Palo Alto, this, in addition to the less than perfect auto-recognition and engagement of the generously sized electronic viewfinder, are completely normal. Nevertheless, it'll be great to see how smooth the system is once these nuances are fully worked out.
One of the first things I was keen on testing was autofocus performance. After all, the X1D comes with all-new lenses for the system. While the software for this was also apparently not yet fully optimized, but it wasn’t bad considering I was in a fairly dim room and still experienced what I would consider to be normal (dare I suggest, slightly better than) medium-format autofocus speed.
In hand, the X1D is almost exactly as you might imagine if you’ve seen any of the online videos for the camera. It’s still hefty, strong, and powerful in its stance. It’s a sturdy camera — no doubt about it. Yet, there’s simply no comparing it to the monster of a system that medium format has always so unavoidably been. Because of the build of the system, it feels larger and more involved than my Nikon D750, but it’s not far off. A more appropriate comparison, perhaps, would be to something such as the D810 or the Canon 5DS.
Yes, the body is somehow shallower in depth, but the still-large lenses (which are tiny compared to any medium format standard) make for a system that feels quite a bit like today’s professional DSLRs, which says a lot for a body that houses a medium format sensor. Still, I can’t speak to the image quality (though I’m sure it’s fantastic), but these lenses are the Leica of medium format lenses when it comes to size. If you’ve ever shot medium format, you know how large those lenses really are.
The 45mm f/3.5 XCD, for example, features a relatively normal 67mm filter size, which is a far cry from that of the digital system's 35mm f/3.5 HC lens at 95mm. Both have the same 35mm-equivalent focal length, as the X1D is a slightly cropped medium format sensor. It's certainly nice to have these small and relatively fast lenses available for the X1D, not to mention the fact that they're much more affordable than their full-frame counterparts at roughly 70 to nearly 50 percent of the cost.