Hands on With the Hasselblad X1d-50C

Hands on With the Hasselblad X1d-50C:

First off, I have no photos taken with the camera, so I don’t want to mislead anyone.  I just had the good fortune yesterday to finally get my hands on the new Hasselblad X1d-50C, and play around with it in the store.  Ever since it’s been announced, I’ve been going crazy over this camera.  I’ve always wanted to get into digital medium format, and from the info I’ve gathered so far, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.  So, when I heard the Hasselblad rep was going to be at Adorama with the X1d, I went over there with the quickness ;).

Bottom line: I’ve been patiently waiting for the next M but most likely, I will go for the X1d instead.  There’s no doubt that it is extremely expensive but at the same time, it would actually come out less than purchasing an M or SL kit.  Yes, the Leica M and SL bodies are cheaper but the lenses can make the price shoot up pretty fast.  I know I already have lenses but still, for the price, I’m going to get a digital medium format camera with 50mp, 14 stop dynamic range, etc.  Yes, we have the awesome Pentax but the Hasselblad is compact mirrorless body.  This is something I can actually carry around all day.  Truthfully, I kind of already decided that I was going the Hasselblad route before I even got to play with the camera.  But after playing with it yesterday, I can say that it’s really, really something special.

Hasselblad-X1d-50C-Hands-on

For one, this is the most comfortable camera I’ve held.  Obviously, it is different for everyone but it fits in my hands perfectly, and it’s not just the fit that is so great; it’s actually very well-balanced even with the longer Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 lens.  It never felt like it was straining my hand or even front heavy, and that’s thanks to the fact that the lenses aren’t as heavy as they may look.

Hasselblad-X1d-50C-vs-Leica-M-Typ-240-3

Then there is the size.  The Hasselblad X1d-50C is more compact than the pictures you see on the net or even here suggests.  It is slightly bigger than my M but it didn’t feel like it.  When I left, it was still hard to believe that this camera was medium format.  In every way, it felt like a mirrorless 35mm or cropped sensor camera.  It did not feel like a camera with something bigger under the hood.

Hasselblad-X1d-50C-vs-Leica-M-Typ-240-2

As for the electronics, they were working great when I was there.  We see a lot of touch screen displays nowadays but for some reason, they still never feel quite as good or as trouble free as something from Apple, at least that’s how I feel.  The touch screen on the X1d is fantastic.  It’s probably the best touch screen I’ve used on a camera in terms of its sensitivity, and the way that it reacts to my commands.  I was scrolling through aperture and ISO settings with ease.  Everything was very smooth.  It felt as trouble free and intuitive as my iPad.  In terms of the autofocus, it’s not going to be as quick as a Nikon D5 but it’s quick enough for what it is designed to do.  In other words, I am genuinely happy with it.  Plus, one of the reps told me that the actual production model that I will purchase will have the final firmware that will allow multi-point focusing, so I imagine they will probably work on the autofocus in general either now or in the future.

Hasselblad-X1d-50C-vs-Leica-M-Typ-240-1

Lastly, build quality is hands down some of the best that I’ve seen.  The Hasselblad X1d-50C is a tank, and it is definitely better built than my old 503CW.  I didn’t want to really admit it to myself but in some ways, I felt it was better built than my M.  It’s just so solid yet it wasn’t even that heavy.  In terms of the controls, everything is so clean, well-thought out, and intuitive.  I prefer analog controls like on the M and the Fuji cameras but Hasselblad did an excellent job making all the primary controls easily accessible.  Both reps were extremely nice, and they took a lot of time to explained all the major functions of the camera but the truth is, it’s so straightforward that you could probably use the X1d-50C without the manual.  My dad often finds modern cameras a little daunting because of the electronics but he figured out the Hasselblad in no time.  He absolutely loved it, and after our visit, he told me to go for the Hasselblad.  This is a guy that in some ways, is a more diehard Leica M fan than I am.

Overall, this is a serious effort by Hasselblad to make something pretty amazing.  Of course, I realize these are only initial impressions.  I would’ve definitely liked to get a few samples from the X1d-50C but at the same time, let’s be real: whether or not it is the absolute best camera in the world that will beat any other camera out there in terms of image quality doesn’t really matter.  For the price, and for what category it is in, the image quality still has to be at least up there with the best of them, and that’s good enough for me.  I think when it comes to cameras like this, it’s almost like trying to decide between a Lamborghini and a Ferrari.  I think a decision like that really comes down to the individual and their personal taste rather than which one is actually better.  Is there really a better?  I believe Ferraris are considered slightly faster at times but personally, I’d choose the angry rumble and flamboyant nature of a Lamborghini any day :).  Both are extremely fast, and in a race, I bet it would be pretty close.  I think the drivers would have more influence over the outcome.  So for me, whether or not this is better than say the Pentax for example, is only a small factor in my decision because this camera will perform extremely well in the image quality department anyway.  Therefore, characteristics like weight, intuitive controls, and the fact that it’s not much bigger than my M yet will give me digital medium format results are what’s going to be the major factors for my decision.

As some of you know, I’m not someone who buys every new camera out there when it comes out.  I usually find something I like and stick with it for a long time.  A lot of the stuff you see on my site are just loaners for review purposes.  But I’m also not someone who will keep waiting until the next model or the model after that or even to see if a competitor will come out with something.  The truth is, if I like it, and it fits exactly what I want, why would I need to look for something else?  I’d rather spend the time using it, and enjoy it as much as I can.  Some think differently, and that’s perfectly okay.  But that’s how I am.

Granted, the Hasselblad X1d-50C is not for everyone but for me, it has really hit all the key characteristics and features that I want from a camera.  In fact, there are things about it that I thought weren’t even possible yet.  The truth is, I wish I found something that I completely hate about the X1d-50C because while I am still keeping my M 240, it’s hard for me to say I’m not going to buy the next M.  I was pretty dead set on the next M camera being that I’ve been a Leica M user for so many years, which is actually the only thing that’s holding me back from actually clicking the pre-order button :).  Plus, this is a new system from Hasselblad, so there are a lot of unknowns.  Coming from a system like the Leica M, which has been around for decades, it can sometimes be a little scary.  It’s scarier knowing what the price is too.  Overall though, the positives are definitely outweighing the negatives for me, so in the end, I’m going to give this system a try.  What is the worst case scenario if I don’t like it?  In this day in age, it’s most likely not going to be the last camera I purchase anyway.  Chances are though, I’m going to love it ;).  Of course, while I am praising the X1d-50C a lot, I also don’t think it’ll be perfect; I know there may be even hiccups along the way but all systems have problems.  For example the Fuji X-T1 had light leaks from the side panel, and the Leica M 240 had loose lug nuts.   Still, I think what Hasselblad has here is worth it.

If any of you are interested, check out the system:

Hasselblad X1d-50C at B&H Photo or Adorama

Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 Lens at B&H Photo or Adorama

Hasselblad XCD 45mm f/3.5 Lens at B&H Photo or Adorama

19 comments… add one
  • Dane

    Patrick,

    Finally an affordable Digital MF. It’s still crazy expensive but I think I’ll join you on this one. This will be the “one” camera I’ll take with me everywhere. I might be able to get just one lens, between the 45 and 90mm which one are you getting? Or both?

    Dane

    • Patrick

      Hi Dane!

      Sorry for the late reply! It’s crazy expensive but at least it’s technically approachable lol. I think I’m going for both the lenses. I don’t use a 70mm eq. much but at the same time, if I want to take portraits, I don’t want to use a 36mm eq. Plus, I feel like I need a 35mm because the focal length is so versatile, especially when you compare it with the 70mm eq. Which one were you thinking about? The 45mm?

      Best,

      Patrick

    • Patrick

      Dane,

      I just ordered it :)!

      Take care,

      Patrick

  • Jed Orme

    Hello Patrick,

    Wow, this new Hasselblad must really be something special to cause you to want it instead of the new M. But everything I’ve seen about it makes me believe that it must be spectacular. If you haven’t seen it, Ming Thein gave it an excellent write up. Here is a link to it:
    https://blog.mingthein.com/category/gearhead-reviews/
    Keep us posted on your progress in getting one & how you like it after you do. Cheers,

    Jed

    • Patrick

      Hi Jed!

      I’ve been meaning to get back to you, so expect an email. Sorry, I’ve just been swamped lately! I just ordered the camera, and I can’t wait to get it :).

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Dane

    Hi Patrick,

    Congrats! Now the long wait begins….hehe. I’m thinking of the 45mm for my first lens. I like environmental portraiture so it will work great with that. I also don’t mind the 90mm since my Rolleiflex is 80mm and I got use to that framing. I will eventually get both and stick with primes.

    Dane

    • Patrick

      Hi Dane,

      I got plenty to keep me busy anyway lol. I have a lot of stuff to review this summer :). I wish there was a 50mm equivalent. I don’t know if I can get used to the 70mm equivalent :). My plan is to stick with primes as well. I may also purchase the 30mm that is being announced at Photokina. Then all my bases would be covered. I probably wouldn’t need anything else for a while after that.

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Elderin

    Congrats on pulling the trigger on this one 😉 Can’t wait to see what you think about it and what you do with it. As for the lenses … If you could only own two lenses for your system and have to live with them, 35mm and 70mm (field of view) is as good as it gets. You also get the shallower depth of field for the lenses being 45mm and 90mm in reality. On the other hand they are not the fastest lenses in the world. I also doubt that you will get anything faster than f2.8 in the future. Not ideal for low light shooting. For me MF is still a niche. Awesome results under good conditions but i would not depend on it as my only one system. Keep the M with the Summilux lenses for these occasions.

    • Patrick

      Thanks Elderin!

      35 and 70 are definitely great in terms of coverage. Like you said, you really can’t get much better than that. But I still wish I had a 50mm with it haha. It’s a focal length I’m just really comfortable with. But I’m definitely not complaining ;). I’m happy, and if the 30mm isn’t too expensive when it’s released, I think I will get that as well, which should give me a pretty complete system for quite some time.

      In terms of speed, we have such high ISO settings these days that I think I will be fine with f2.8 or even f3.2 now. I use my 18mm Super Elmar all the time at night, and it’s largest aperture is f3.8. Plus, I don’t even shoot wide open much anymore even at night. With such great high ISO quality that we get from cameras these days, I’m usually shooting around f2.8 to even f5.6 at night. In the past, not so much. For instance, I definitely relied on my 50 Lux a lot more with my M9.

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Dane

    Hi Patrick,

    I’ll use your links on this article to preorder it tonight. I think I’ll go with the 90mm first and come Christmas time I’ll get the 30mm instead of the 45mm. I saw some photos taken with a 28mm and I like the coverage of that. The typ 113 is a keeper and I’ll stick with that with the 35mm field of view. I’ll let you convince me with 45mm when you review it hehe. I’m so excited!

    Dane

    • Patrick

      Hi Dane!

      I definitely appreciate you using my links! It really helps. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! I’ll try my best to convince on the 45mm when I get it haha but you’re right; if you go for the 30mm when it comes out, you may not even need the 45mm. My favorite combo for the M is actually the 18mm Super Elmar and the 50mm Summilux ASPH. I have a 35mm but I’ve never been a huge fan of that focal length. I’m tempted by the 30mm but I will wait until I see the roadmap before making a final decision because I was hoping for a 21mm equivalent or wider. I really like ultra wides.

      As for the X Typ 113, it’s great to hear you still shoot with it! It’s an awesome camera. But I like your Bronica more haha. After all these years, I still regret selling my Mamiya 6 and 6MF. I ended up with the M6 Millennium, and the black painted 35mm Cron ASPH but still, I miss the 6s so much!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Dane

    Hi Patrick,

    Did you order yours online? I wonder if there’s a long list since I pre-ordered mine late. My dilemma is that if it indeed ships on the 30th and its a free expedited shipping for 3 days, I’ll be out of town! I changed the shipping to 1 day now and hoping it ships the 30th then I’ll still be at home to receive it. I do want to take it with me to Austin. But if they shipped well after the 30th, my 1 day shipping will be wasted since I’ll be home by then. The joys of early adopting and not knowing inventory hehe.

    Dane

    • Patrick

      Hi Dane,

      Sorry for the late reply!!! I’ve been crazy busy since I got back from London. Yes, I pre-ordered mine online. I had the same dilemma as you because originally, B&H said the X1D’s estimated ship time was July 30th, which was when I was in London. It’s hard to say when it’s really going to ship…Even if they line is long, Hasselblad may have produced more, and therefore, would be able to handle the demand. However, there may not even be such a high demand because it’s a brand new system, and people may want to wait a bit. I say just leave it as 1 day shipping for now, and as we approach that date, we should get more info.

      As for me, I have no plans of going anyway around that time lol. I can’t wait to get it!!!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • I want this camera so badly as well. Finger hovering over the pre-order button. The only thing stopping is some technical stuff I want confirmed before I pull the trigger. Since you have actually held one maybe you know.

    1) Is there a way to move the focus point? And I mean other than using the touch screen as that won’t be very useful when you are using the EVF. The Leica SL and the Fuji X-Pro2 has the most amazing little joysticks for this purpose.

    2) Someone said, incorrectly I hope, the EVF won’t let you preview exposure. You actually have to take a photo and look at it on the screen.

    Kind regards,
    Erik

    • Patrick

      Hi Erik,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! At the time that I was previewing the camera, the focus point could not be moved but the rep told me a firmware update will allow you to do so in the production model. So, I don’t know if Hasselblad will just allow you to move the focus point with only the touch screen or with the buttons on the back as well until then.

      As for the EVF, come to think of it, I actually don’t remember :). But keep in mind that the cameras that were out at the time were pre-production models, and a lot of the stuff, including the autofocus (although it was still decent) will be updated with firmware.

      In terms of this camera, I know the feeling. I was really debating whether or not the X1D would suit my needs. For me, it was this camera or the next M, and I’ve been a diehard M user for decades. It was hard for me to make the switch but once I held the X1D in my hands, and tried it, I was instantly sold. I went home and pre-ordered it. It’s exactly what I’ve always wanted from a camera. It’s almost as if Hasselblad read my mind. I feel the Hasselblad is reasonably priced, and holding it is like holding any other mirrorless camera. In fact, it’s not that much bigger than my M. Anyway, I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any other questions!

      Best regards,

      Patrick

  • Dane

    Hi Patrick,

    I kept the 1 day shipping but I did get an email from BHphoto saying that the X1D is back ordered. Maybe some kind of auto email for preorders not yet shipped? Anyway it made me want to call them and verify haha. But I’ll just wait and read on Canon announcements hehe, or look at Pentax 645Z photos. The wait is too long!

    Dane

    • Patrick

      Hi Dane,

      Don’t worry about the emails, I already got three lol. It’s just automated. I just hope I didn’t put myself back in the line because I had to modify my order. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE CAMERA!!! Super excited as you can probably tell :). One more week and it should start shipping!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Dane

    Delayed!!

    • Patrick

      I know, and it’s too bad :). I even bought my filters last week in anticipation of the camera coming this week lol.

      Best,

      Patrick

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