Medium Format Mirrorless Has Arrived: The Hasselblad X1D

By | December 23, 2016

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.