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.
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.
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.
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.
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: