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Hands-on with the Hasselblad X1D medium format mirrorless camera

At a press event in New York Wednesday, Hasselblad showed off their strangely attractive new X1D medium format mirrorless camera, and we got to play with it. It shoots video but only 1080p25.

Hasselblad X1D
Hasselblad X1D

The $9k X1D is a 50 megapixel camera designed and built in Sweden by Hasselblad, using a Sony 44×33 sensor – much larger than a full-frame Sony A7Rii or a Canon 5Dmk3, but still quite a bit smaller than the 6x6cm negatives the film Hasselblads of yore used to produce. And it shoots stills in a 4:3 aspect ratio, not square!

 

Hasselblad X1D
Hasselblad X1D

In the hand, the camera feels good. It’s solid but doesn’t weigh a ton. Controls are fairly straightforward and both the EVF viewfinder and the 3″ screen on the back are great. There are thumbwheels front and back for aperture and shutter speed, and you can also use the touch screen. The autofocus is ok in good light with contrast, but in the darkest parts of the room it would hunt some. These were pre-production cameras so your mileage may vary.

It shoots 65mb raw still files as well as jpegs using dual SD card slots. It apparently doesn’t need SDXC or super-fast cards. They claim a 14-stop dynamic range. It uses proprietary batteries unique to this camera, and it is too soon for them to give estimates on the battery life.  The demo cameras were warm to the touch after a couple hours of press folks putting them through their paces. You can access the raw stills using Hasselblad’s Phocus program, a free download.

The XCD lens mount is all new, and there will be 45mm and a 90mm XCD lenses which cost around $2500, with a 30mm coming later, for Photokina. Existing H lenses will fit with an adapter, which they haven’t shown yet. The lenses have shutters in them that go from 1/2000th of a second to 60 minute exposures, with flash synch up to 1/2000.  ISO settings go from 100 to 25600. It has a hot shoe flash connector compatible with Nikon flashes.

Although the bodies are finished, the software in the demo cameras is not yet ready for the anticipated August ship date. As for the video capabilities, there is much we do not yet know.

Ports and dual card slots.
Ports and dual card slots.

It shoots 1080p HD video at 25fps.  Just 25fps.  We don’t know the bit rate, but being able to shoot H264 video to regular SD cards suggests it’s not cranking out broadcast-spec footage.  Reps think it will output a clean signal to the HDMI port.  It does have both microphone and headphone jacks, along with the mini HDMI and USB C ports. They think it may have peaking at some point, although it does have a great magnifier by tapping the magnificent touch screen on the back of the camera. The video is the full width of the sensor, although it is cropped to 16:9.

Controls
Controls

This will probably be a great travel-friendly camera for those shooting strobe-lit daylight still portraits, but at this point the motion side of this camera is more for behind-the-scenes and web work – although the large sensor makes for some killer bokeh in the out-of-focus parts of your image.

It’s a very attractive camera for those of us who used to shoot Leicas or for those who shoot small mirrorless cameras but want that large format look. But ouch that price – even though it’s miles cheaper than the Hasselblad H6D with the same 50mp sensor (and many miles cheaper than the 100mp version,) it’s still a lot of money for this niche camera.

You can see a gallery of photos from this camera on Hasselblad’s site.

 

 

 

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