First Look: Hands-On With the Hasselblad X1D

First Look: Hands-On With the Hasselblad X1D

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.

The side menu buttons on the X1D should be familiar to users of any modern Hasselblad digital system. The X1D also features a touchscreen along with a set-and-forget mentality to all of its button settings.

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.

The X1D feels pretty fantastic in the hand. The grip is nicely appointed with a relatively strong protrusion that adds to one-handed security.

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.

Compared to my hands, you can see the size of the X1D isn't that large at all. That's the hood that's attached at the end of a relatively small 90mm lens. Quick side note: that mode dial pops out via a toggling push operation. Currently, it's tucked away so the top is flush with the top of the body. This way, it's not accidentally bumped during normal operation. Want to change it? Simply press down to pop it out, rotate the dial, and pop it back in (if you want to). Three C1-C3 custom options also let you recall a full set of custom settings with the turn of the dial.

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.

The X1D is available for pre-order today along with the 45mm and 90mm XCD lenses. A 30mm XCD lens is expected in the fall.

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9 Comments

I am loving how cameras and tech is evolving at the moment! I shoot using Canon as well as with fuji so I am looking forward to the rumoured Fuji MF.

Ross Floyd's picture

Adam, are you allowed or able to comment on the Auto focus? It is something that I am extremely interested in knowing more about... speed etc.

Adam Ottke's picture

I can comment on my experience, and it's something I'm extremely interested in as well; but keep in mind that this was all with prototype software. As you might be aware, pretty much every major camera company out there has pushed out firmware updates for cameras that help with autofocus speed (and not just a little). So it's unfortunately not too helpful to comment on autofocus speed at the moment, aside from the fact that it seemed to me to be at least or near as fast as standard AF performance with most MF systems today.

With luck, by the time it's actually released, updates will have made it even faster and more similar to a DSLR-style system. Odds are, however, that it will still be slower than we're used to on DSLRs.

We have a review planned around the time the X1D comes out, so stay tuned!

Adam,

I am interested as well to know about your impressions of the viewfinder - I'm assuming that it is the same panel as is used on the Sony A7 series and the Fuji XPro2, as it's the same resolution.

What are your impressions of magnification, eye relief and refresh rate? Is it the same or considerably better than those other cameras?

I am not generally an EVF user and am worried about loving the entire concept and image quality but not the EVF experience.

Will I be pleasantly surprised? :-)

Best Regards,

ACG

Adam Ottke's picture

Thanks for your questions, Aaron. I wouldn't make any specific assumptions based on my limited time with the camera, but the viewfinder seemed on par with or better than the latest viewfinders you can find in today's popular mirrorless cameras. We'll reserve further judgement for our review coming up.

Thanks Adam - any idea on timing for the review?

Best Regards,

ACG

Adam Ottke's picture

Not exactly. But it'll be roughly in line with the scheduled release date for the camera, as we're dependent on getting it to begin with.

If we find a way to do it any earlier, we will, of course.

Thanks.... release scheduled end August?

Adam Ottke's picture

Looks that way. Or early September... ;-)