Hasselblad X1D Review
Welcome to the X1D Review!
Let me start out by saying I am not a camera snob, nor do I take myself seriously at all. Let me also say that most cameras nowadays are absolutely amazing. The photographer matters 100x more than the camera, so never let anyone make you feel bad about the camera you currently have. All cameras area great. Now, having said that, let me tell you about the BEST ONE IN THE WORLD! Ha! 🙂
My reviews are a bit strange. I’m not really a hardware geek that spazzes out with the specifications. Other sites do that great. I have a much more holistic and artistic approach to these reviews. I provide oodles and oodles of sample photos. Also, my reviews are kind of tainted in a way because I do so much post-processing! But hey, I do it unapologetically. Because I do this with all my reviews, at least you can sort of compare post-processed photos from one camera versus another. For example, you may want to check out the camera I used before this one, the Sony A7r Review.
What makes this camera special?
It’s the first medium-format camera that is also mirrorless! This makes it very small and light while still producing absolutely stunning photos with incredible optics at 50 megapixels.
This paragraph is just for people that don’t know what “medium-format” or “mirrorless” mean. Hey, I was there. I didn’t even go to photography school where they teach this kind of thing (I assume). Anyway, “medium-format,” very simply means it has a bigger sensor than full-frame cameras. Sensors come in different sizes. Like the one on your phone is only a small rectangle. Then it gets bigger, generally, as the cameras get bigger. Bigger sensors see more light. But the optics also improve a lot as it is better able to render the direction of the light. As for the “mirrorless” bit, that simply means the camera is a lot smaller because it doesn’t have one of those mirrors inside at 45 degrees that flips around. The light lands directly on the sensor, and the image you see through the viewfinder is digital.
Okay so I won’t talk about specs much but…
Here’s the basics. It’s 50 megapixels (8272×6200). This makes giant files at just over 100MB each. It has 2 card slots, sweet. It does HD video, but I don’t really use it for that. There’s an awesome 3-inch display on the back that is touch screen. The shutter can go from 60 minutes down to 1/2000 of a second. Okay, those are the key things to me, and I’ll touch on them more below.
First, some sample images! Let’s get into it!
Remember that you can click on any photo to go to SmugMug where you can see the full rez if you really want to zoom in, like you should on this first one below!
What about the lenses?
Well, as of the time of writing this, there are only three, and they’re all primes. More are coming, which I’m excited about. The three are the 30mm, the 45mm, and the 90mm. I mostly use the 30mm. Remember, this is a medium-format camera, so the full-frame equivalent of that 30mm would be about 23mm or something like that.
Personally, I almost never use the 45mm because it’s just too close to the 30mm. I do like the 90mm for portrait shots quite a bit. You’ll see more of those below.
What’s it like to shoot with?
It’s a total joy! It’s very light and stylish and just plain FUN to hold. I mostly shoot in Aperture mode or Manual, and the controls are very easy to adjust on the fly. The back screen is very user friendly and it has the BEST UI I’ve ever seen on a camera. It blows away Sony, Nikon, Canon, and all those people that seem to take great joy in making ridiculous menu systems.
I also love to do long exposures, and the Hasselblad system is smart in that I can set the shutter speed for a few minutes all the way up to an hour! I don’t know why other cameras don’t make this simple feature built-in.
Every time I grabbed the camera to go shoot I was very excited. There’s something about the “look” of a medium-format shot that is very comforting during the capture process through the viewfinder. It might be the aspect ratio, but it really feels like you’re doing something special. I hope you enjoy the other sample photos below… but first…
I do find it a bit slow. 90% of the time this is not a problem because I’m taking my time on a landscape shot. But when I take street photos of people and stuff that is moving quickly, I like to get 5+ frames per second. This is probably because I am not that great of a photographer and I just take a ton and see what looks good later in Lightroom. The Sony spoiled me for that.
I’m not a huge fan of the shutter SOUND. It sounds like I stepped on a plastic party plate or something. Because of the sound, whenever I am trying to time a shot, I’m often a bit off.
There’s no autobracketing. Not the end of the world… but since I like to do HDR, I have to adjust the shutter speed between each shot manually. Oh, hint, go get the HDR Software I made with Macphun called Aurora HDR!
It’s really easy to lose. For example, I left it on a train in Amsterdam. I don’t know how Hasselblad could be so careless.
Initial Quick Review
I’ve just reviewed the Sony a7R III. Will it convince me to switch back to Sony?
Check out my Sony a7R III review to find out how I think it compares to the X1D. It’s got a whole load of cool features like 10 FPS shooting and Pixel Shift for super sharp images plus a couple of really impressive new lenses. It’s going to be close! Check it out here!
Okay enough chatter, let’s see more sample photos!
You can also jump over to see about 40 different shots over in this special gallery on SmugMug.