Medium Format Mirrorless Has Arrived: The Hasselblad X1D-50c System

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For the skeptics still out there who keep asking, “When is there going to be a professional mirrorless system?” Hasselblad seems to have an answer, and that answer is: right now, with the company’s release of the X1D-50c Medium Format Mirrorless Digital Camera. Making itself known as a world’s first, the X1D is certain to be a game changer, thanks to its use of the tried-and-true 50MP 43.8 x 32.9mm CMOS sensor found in numerous medium format systems.

Let’s talk about image quality first, since it is going to be the calling card of the system. Just to get started, we have 50MP resolution which, when spread over the 43.8 x 32.9mm area, provides large photosites measuring 5.3 x 5.3 μm, enabling dynamic range of 14 stops, exceptional tonal gradations, and a sensitivity range of up to ISO 25600. This CMOS sensor works with the Hasselblad Natural Color Solution to produce beautiful images with 16-bit color depth using Hasselblad’s proprietary 3FR raw file for maximum malleability in post. Beyond stills, this system can record Full HD 1080p video at 25 fps using H.264 compression. In short, the X1D shares much of its DNA with its bigger, older siblings to produce an almost unmatched level of image quality for a camera of this size.

Moving past image quality to discuss form, we have a relatively tiny medium format system. Bearing a “Handmade in Sweden” engraving on the top, the X1D is a precisely manufactured tool with excellent balance, reliable controls, and a comfortable grip. Weather and dust sealing are also present to ensure it can hold up to the demands of professional shooters. It sports front and rear dials for fast control, and ISO/White Balance and AF/MF buttons on the top next to a mode dial that can be locked down in a recessed position to avoid accidental changes. The rear of the camera features more control in the form of programmable AE-L and AF-D buttons and a large, bright 3.0" 920k-dot touchscreen LCD for intuitively swiping through settings and images. This screen also has a column of buttons down the side for further control.

Also found on the rear of the camera is a 2.36MP XGA electronic viewfinder, a definite hallmark of modern mirrorless cameras, since it provides a live feed of the image coming from the sensor. It even accounts for different modes to which the camera can be set, including a 39MP square setting or an XPan panoramic perspective. Above this is a Nikon-compatible hot shoe with TTL capabilities for using select flash units. On the side of the camera is an array of connectors, as well dual SD card slots for extra memory or backup and organization. These ports include Mini HDMI alongside 3.5mm audio input and output jacks, as well as a 5 Gb/s USB 3.0 Type C connection for lightning-fast image transfer and tethered shooting. Furthermore, the X1D has built-in Wi-Fi and GPS for an array of wireless connectivity features and options.

Moving past the camera itself, the X1D is part of a new X system from Hasselblad that features a new lens mount and a pair of corresponding optics: the XCD 45mm f/3.5 Lens and XCD 90mm f/3.2 Lens. What makes these lenses a critical part of the system’s performance is the use of a Central Lens Shutter, which provides a fast and reliable leaf shutter capable of flash sync up to 1/2000 second. The shutter is also extremely durable, being rated to beyond 1,000,000 exposures. Due to the larger size of the image sensor, these lenses feature 35mm equivalent focal lengths of 35mm and 71mm, respectively. H system owners will be able to use their existing lenses easily on an X series camera with a forthcoming XH Lens Adapter that will adapt all electronic functionality with most H series lenses.  

Along with the X1D, Hasselblad includes its Phocus software to help shooters get the most out of their image files. This package provides lens corrections, advanced tethering and remote control, and raw development tools. A Phocus Mobile application is available, as well, for connecting to the camera via Wi-Fi from a smartphone or tablet, providing image review and camera control. And, for users looking for a way to store and transport their X1D system, Hasselblad has released an X1D Camera Bag.

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Uh, it hasn't arrived yet :). I ordered mine when it was announced.  It was listed end of July or early August delivery.  Then moved to mid September. Now November? Not a great way to impress an early adopter of version 1.0. No sign of news or replies to email in inquiries from Hasselblad, although originally at release time emails were returned within an hour. Something is not clicking at Hasselblad!

Hi KT,

The demands for the X1D has dramatically surpassed Hasselblad's expectations, resulting in the shortage of available cameras. Hopefully, manufacturing is able to catch up and get Hasselblad can cameras out to photographers sooner rather than later.

Exciting - but it doesn't match my hopes for a Fujifilm medium format mirrorless camera on several points: 1) Controls - for me it will be critical to have "classic" controls for shutter speed, aperture and ISO like on Fuji X models, and 2) Price - there really is no reason for such a high price for a mirrorless camera, even with a bigger sensor. If I could buy it stamped "Japan" instead of "Handmade in Sweden" for no more than $3000.... I hope Fuji and Panasonic and Mamiya and Pentax, and perhaps Nikon and Canon and Sony, enter the medium format mirrorless market to make it price-competitive. I believe that the business prognostications for a dwindling niche market for medium format are entirely nonsense - the dwindling market is for oversized, overpriced camera systems, and there is a vast market of professional, semi-professional and serious amateur photographers who are hungry for the next-generation technology, which this beautiful but expensive Hasselblad is an early example of.

While I match your praise for the Fuji X system and do own it myself, this is a differentl level of production. If you look at price ranges for Hasselblad cameras, this actually falls within a very reasonable price point for the name it holds and the tech it has. Yes, I'm sure one can market a much cheaper 50MP mirrorless solution from a different brand but then again, what is the market for huge sensor sizes w/ best in class image quality in such a package? It exists, but not in your Sony, Canon, Nikon, Fuji worlds. These are the toys of the medium format invested companies - the ones that actually make the glass to support their systems. Hasselblad just happens to be one of the more premium names in the space. It's like arguing about Lecia rangefinder cameras with fixed focal lenghts... the red dot does make a price difference justifuable - whether we like it or not.

Maybe for the still photographer; but for $9K this seems more like a vanity camera.  Did I miss something - No 4K recording?

Hi Bart,

Digital medium format is still for the most part a stills-oriented arena (though Hasselblad's H6D-100c makes an argument otherwise). But, the differences between full-frame, while subjective in many ways, are dramatic. Advanced imaging, a higher bit depth, more accurate color, and the central shutter help distinguish it from a more consumer-based camera system. Also, just like shooters who move from APS-C to Full-Frame, medium format offers a unique perspective and other advantages than smaller formats. It is also still very much a niche market that caters to working professionals with specific demands of their equipment. Relatively speaking, this camera is actually inexpensive compared to most other digital medium format offerings.

Hi, since i have two systems(h3dii31 and h4d60) is there any info if Hasselblad going to offer a trade in offer?

Hi Ed,

It does not sound like there is going to be a trade-in offer for the X1D due to its relatively low price compared to the H System, but you will have to inquire with Hasselblad for an official answer.

Thank you!

I like to get this camera and move from Canon. I like to know if I have to get an additional new flash system? I own Pocket Wizard; a MiniTT1 and three Flextt5 for 3 Canon 600EX-Rt. I only use my flashes in Manuel mode. Can I use this system with Hasselbald X1D-50C? Thanks Bob Demchuk

I'm a DSLR guy myself, so I don't have a horse in this race, but I'm pretty sure that the Sony A7R II counts as a professional mirrorless system. (So does the Leica M, for that matter, since rangefinders were mirrorless before mirrorless was cool.) The idea that only medium format cameras are "professional" while full-frame / 35mm are just "semi-pro" is insulting to the vast majority of professional photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Annie Liebovitz and Bill Cunningham.

Hi Austin,

I would agree about the Sony a7 series as well as the Leica SL could be counted as a professional system (I use one myself), but many shooters still find that mirrorless have shortcomings and DSLRs provide added features, capabilities, and designs that make them more suited to many lines of professional work. The reason for the statement here is that the design and image quality possible from the X1D and the general perception of digital medium format should without a shadow of a doubt be considered a "professional" system from mirrorless skeptics.

I shoot the Sony A7Rll, lovely system, but the larger format of the Hasselblad would give me a different (better) look completely.  It's a lovely addition to the mirrorless offerings, a brilliant move by Hasselblad.

Do they plan on an ultra wide lens? The very short distance from lens to sensor would make this ideal. A digital version of the old 503 would really make this format shine. I would love to shoot some panoramas, landscapes, and city scapes with this set up.

Hi Douglas,

We will likely be seeing a new wider lens coming shortly after the camera arrives, around Photokina. Also, a forthcoming adapter will allow all current H system lenses to be used on the camera.

Unlike Colin, I think the shutter in the lens is proper for a mirrorless. Many advantages:

  • Quieter than a focal-plane shutter
  • Less vibration than a focal-plane shutter
  • Longer life than a focal-plane shutter
  • There is no "rolling" shutter effect

Also his complaint about the lack of DoF bars on the lenses is misplaced. I note that there is nothing on the outside of the lenses. What line would these DoF bars be used w/? Some lenses have a distance scale and this can be used w/ DoF bars. Buth since the lenses don't have a distance scale, the concept won't work.

Besides the proper way to display DoF in a DIGITAL camera is digitally. I agree that it's important, but think it should be done the 21st century way. It is more accurate, cheaper to implement, and can be saved in the EXIF.

Hi Charles,

Thank you for pointing out the advantages of the central shutter mechanism, in addition to those you listed I would like to point out that this system can support flash sync at any speed, including its maximum of 1/2000 second. Now, I think his point was that a focal plane shutter in addition to the central shutter would've greatly expanded the capabilities of the camera in terms of adapted lenses, but doing so would likely have added to the cost and size of the camera.

Its CMOS, it doesn't need a mechanical shutter to act like it has a mechanical shutter.  I would bet it can do both.  leaf shutters also have a lot of disadvantages at those upper speeds.  LIke 2000th is pretty way up there at the top of what is even possible.   So it still has a market that is not really action oriented.  I would so use this for commercial work once I ever upgrade.  

Hi Randy,

Valid points, but if you are talking about using an electronic shutter, those have their own issues to work out compared to focal plane and leaf options. Also, the leaf shutter isn't quite designed for being a fast action shutter, it is really ideal for using strobes, where you can sync at every possible shutter speed without resorting to high-speed sync and other techniques which tend to cut power or evenness of the lighting. Commerical and studio, which you mention, is definitely going to be its forte.

It means, at least to me, that the previous mirrorless 35mm digital cameras, specially from Sony, has successfully invaded the territories of medium format DSLR cameras!. Or, it could be the newer expected mirrorless cameras to come soon from small format!. Yes, bigger sensor is better, but will continue to use my Tri X.

This is probably stupid questions but I confess I know nothnig about medium format.

1. Is it a silent camera (no shutter noise). The old film Hassie from the 60s sounded like a (beautiful) mouse trap.

2. Is this just manual focus or does it have auto features as well and if so is it slow or fast getting focus.

Would love this kind of res doing my classical music images!

1. I am guessing no....leaf shutters.   

2. AF/MF

Hi Paul,

JD is right, this camera uses leaf shutters and is not silent, though our early experience with a pre-production model seemed that it wasn't too loud. The X1D will also have autofocus with native X system lenses and adapted H system lenses, it is contrast-based and we will have to wait until a production model is availalbe to determine speed, though it is likely not going to be as fast as a phase-detection system such as a DSLR.

Hi,

Would my Profoto air remote work with this hot-shoe?

Thanks,

Jen

Hi Jen,

The answer is it depends. A standard manual Air Transceiver will work no problem since the X1D has a standard hot shoe. If you have a Nikon TTL, this hot shoe is listed as Nikon-compatible and you should in fact have full functionality. However, if you have the Canon TTL model it will only provide manual triggering.

Not enough of DOF ! Not to good for Landscape photos !

WHAT?  How do you know what the min aperture is?  My 8x10 does just fine with f64, All my medium lenses are f32.  I guess the f64 club should have gone f32 on 35mm.  :-/  

Scheimpflug !

 If this had a focal plane shutter and there was an adapter for my Zeiss Contax 645 lenses, I would buy it in a heartbeat!    For perhaps an additional $2.00 per lens, Hasselblad could have provided d.o.f. scales on them . Given the limited depth of field  inherent with Medium Format, this is almost a necessity.                  

This is a very interesting new product from a form a formerly cutting edge manufacturer.

I for one am happy to see a new product line from HB, nice to see that they are in the game.

Which will end up giving a better resolution photograph, especially when printed in a wide format:  a 50 MP medium format image or a 50 MP image from a full frame DSLR?

Both will have the same resolution but the lower pixel density of medium format promises less noise.

Actually, the resolution is determined by the sensor (number of pixels across and down), and the lens. Either can limit resolution. A larger sensor, with the same geometry, can give better resolution with some lesnes because the lens resolution is hard limited by diffraction (the diffraction limit is the best a lens designer can do no matter what). A larger sensor needs a longer lens for the same field of view. The size of the slightly blurred image of a point in the subject is the same for a given f/stop no matter what, and resolution will be limited at the point whteer that disc covers more than one pixel. Thus at the diffraction limit, the larger sensor wins.

Think what happens to a 35mm camera when you stopo down past f/16 or so. The depth of field increases but the in-focus plane is less sharp. Diffraction.

Hi Jordan,

Technically, if they are both 50MP the resolution will be the same. But thanks to a larger sensor area and larger photosites, the medium format camera should provide improved color thanks to a 16-bit color depth in the raw file along with a greater dynamic range. There are many more subjective qualities of medium format imaging that many photographer consider to be advantages compared to full-frame DSLRs which makes this not just a straightforward resolution issue. Hope this answer helps.

It looks like the Pentax k-01!  did mark newsome design it?

I’m not sure who designed the camera body.  I’m not finding any information from Hasselblad about the design being done by Marc Newson.

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