Hasselblad X1D-50c 4116 Edition

Who should buy the Hasselblad X1D-50c?

That is a tricky question. A Sony α7RIII delivers image quality that is awfully close to the X1D at a fraction of the cost. The α7RIII focuses a lot faster, has a much wider range of lenses, and is simply a far more versatile photographic tool. For most people, the decision is unlikely to be a rational one.

But this is why the X1D is so seductive. Everyone knows how to buy a camera based on an objective evaluation. There are many review websites out there that provide in-depth, objective assessments. If one purely makes a purchasing decision based on rational analysis, very very few people will end up buying the X1D. But when a camera makes an emotional connection with you, that is when it becomes irresistible!

Try holding it, the grip alone may just change your mind. Let’s be honest. The X1D is one quirky camera. It has a very modern interface that relies heavily on the use of the touchscreen. The AF is slow but reliable. The lenses are not particularly fast. After several firmware updates, the X1D is now functioning ‘properly’. But it remains a very ‘basic’ camera by most standards.

The native XCD lenses are optically excellent. I do find the focusing ring too big that it is hard to grab the lens to mount it onto the camera or take off from the camera. A little more ‘grip’ on the barrel would be nice. But optically, no complaint! One can adapt other lenses on the X1D. Some ‘Full Frame’ lenses actually cover the 44x33mm area quite well. E.g., the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. works very well on the X1D, with minimal vignetting even on the MF sensor. That speaks volume of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. lens.

But it is not a practical solution. Why? The rolling shutter is ridiculous! The readout time of the X1D sensor is ~300ms. Basically, except for capturing a completely still scene, the electronic shutter on the X1D will introduce some nasty rolling shutter distortion.

But then you go home, and look at the files. Even with an ‘old’ sensor, the 44x33mm Sony sensor delivers deep rich tones with contrasty details. I love the colors. I love the ‘Medium Format look.’ I love the X1D.

The X1D is the first Medium Format Mirrorless. Hasselblad used to have the pedigree of Leica. But it seems like its sale to DJI has altered many people’s perception. I wonder if developing the X1D took such a toll on the company that forced Hasselblad to sell to DJI or not. But rather than worrying about the integrity of its pedigree, I sincerely hope DJI will provide the necessary resources for Hasselblad to develop this system further. X1D is an excellent first effort! I see the potential of the system, even if it is not quite ready for prime time at the moment. I look forward to the next model.


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