Hasselblad X1d Review

Hasselblad X1d Review. The power of a Medium Format in a portable body.

Released in June 2016, the new medium format Hasselblad is a camera that almost seems to be made for landscape photography.

This mirrorless camera’s functional design along with the amazing 51.0 MP sensor make it an easy to use body that guarantees the highest image quality we could wish for.

Hasselblad X1d

PROS

  • 51.0 MP sensor in a relatively small body
  • High quality image
  • Functional design
  • Dual SD card slots
  • Touch screen

CONS

  • Only 2 lenses available (so far)
  • Short battery life
  • No articulating screen
  • Priced on the high end

Hasselblad X1d Review

Features

​51.0 MP Medium Format Sensor

The biggest selling point of this camera and probably the only reason you would want to invest almost 10.000 dollars in a camera body, is Hasselblad’s medium format (44 X 33 mm) sensor that’s inside.

The 51.0MP will let your pictures go beyond high definition, and the image sharpness you can get out of this camera is just jaw-dropping.

First Impression

When looking at the camera, it might look like a big and heavy mirrorless camera, and with 725 grams and measurements of 150 x 98 x 71 mm this certainly is not the smallest mirrorless out there.

Taking into consideration the amount of work that goes on inside this body and the kind of image quality it produces, this body is actually not big at all. In fact, with a medium format sensor you’d expect something more like a heavy DSLR brick.

If you’re out hiking in the most beautiful mountains you’ve ever laid eyes on and want to capture that in the most detailed and sharp image possible without breaking your back, this camera is actually a very good option.

Image Quality

Speaking of image quality; this camera produces some of the highest quality digital images you will find in any camera today.

When using the bright, 3” LCD screen for live viewing, you will already notice your images are sharp. But wait until you load your files in your computer, that’s when you will really be amazed. Even when zooming 100%, you will find no blur in your focus point whatsoever.

The files hold up well for cropping, making up for the limited autofocus that only focusses exactly in the middle. The colours look great, and the dynamic range is outstanding, providing very detailed shadows as well as highlights – perfect for when the sun makes that one magical streak of light on the hills, leaving the rest in shadows and taking your image to the next level instantly, unless of course the dynamic range on your camera is less than great.

No need to worry about that with the X1D, just set your exposure correctly for the highlights and you’re good to go. Here’s the image quality compared to the Canon 5DS R and the PhaseOne IQ250

Camera Body

Moving on to the actual body, Hasselblad has nailed the design once again.

The harsh lines and beefy grip make the camera very pleasing to the eye, and the very functional menu system and few dials and buttons make it a very easy to learn and use system.

The Menu and Controls

The menu is controlled via the touch screen, and is one of the easiest menu on a high-end digital camera. The clean design and lack of millions of submenus (like some other brands are a big fan of…) make it easier than ever to find any feature you need.

Hasselblad X1d

There are also two dials and a couple of buttons on the camera, allowing you to change vital settings quickly without the camera becoming crowded with a colony of different buttons and switches.

The dials can be pressed like a button to lock them, to prevent any accidental changes. Handy, but the dials could have been made to come up a bit higher, as they are a bit fiddly to use. Watch this video to get a better idea about the actual size of the body and touchscreen.

Who is the Hasselblad X1d for?

Having said all that, even a camera this expensive doesn’t come without any flaws. First of all it is definitely a camera for the landscape, portrait or still life photographer.

This camera is absolutely not made for fast action photography, as the autofocus speed leaves a lot to be desired and it does a continuous shooting of only 2.3 fps.

Batteries

Another price you pay for the high quality image files, is battery life.

This camera will die after less than 300 shots, so having a few spare batteries in your camera bag is absolutely essential when going out for a day of shooting.

The large file production also causes the camera to heat up quite quickly. Hasselblad is no surprisingly placing itself on the high price level.

Price level

Although the X1d comes at a lower price compared to the other Hasselblad, it still requires quite an investment compared to the cameras it competes with.

Same applies to the lenses, so all in all the dollar value puts this camera in the market for pros rather than being a popular choice for the enthusiast amateur.

Alternatives

Sony a7R II

Sony a7R II

About a third of the price of the Hasselblad, and still a very high quality camera.

The full-frame sensor makes for very high quality images that are extremely sharp and detailed. The Touch screen rotates, so unlike the Hasselblad it will give you some more freedom to shoot from weird angles.

The a7R II is a bit more all-round than the X1d, and is especially suitable for video as well as still photography.

This would be a very suitable camera if you’re ready to make an investment in a great camera, not one quite as big as needed for the Hasselblad, and want some more freedom to experiment with different kinds of photography or maybe even video.

Fujifilm GFX 50S

Fujifilm GFX 50S

A full-frame mirrorless camera that is a very worthy rival to the Hasselblad with 51.4 MP for about $2500 less by the time we write this review.

Fujifilm used to be a trusty lens producer for Hasselblad, but for the X1d Hasselblad has not worked with Fujifilm at all.

Perhaps they are threatened? Whatever the consequences, Fujifilm has succeeded in producing one of the best mirrorless cameras out there, with a 3.2” tilting screen and also a slightly faster continuous shooting (but still nothing impressive) with 3fps.

The menu system leaves some to be desired, but the autofocus on the Fujifilm is a bit faster than the Hasselblad.

Overall this camera is very similar to the Hasselblad, although of course it does not have the same amazing sensor as the Hasselblad.

Check out the detailed review here

Leica SL

Leica SL

Equipped with a 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor, the Leica SL is another one of Leica’s cameras that is great for landscape photography.

I quite like the fact that the ISO can come down to 50, as this means that even though you have a less impressive sensor than you would have had with the Hasselblad, you are able to get the most out of it by using the low ISO with a longer exposure, making for a sharper image (unless of course you are taking a hand-held shot).

Leica also chose to leave out the Optical Low Pass filter, meaning even more image sharpness. The camera also shoots 4K video, and has an impressive 4400k dot Electric viewfinder.

It also does 11.0 fps continuous shooting, making it a much more suitable camera for the landscape photographer that wants to have the freedom to shoot the occasional wildlife.

The camera is a bit heavier than the Hasselblad however, with 847 grams as opposed to 725. But, the battery will last you about 100 shots longer as well, so it might save you from carrying one of the extra batteries.

Conclusions

For everyone searching for the sharpest possible image out there and with no budget restrictions: the Hasselblad X1d is the camera for you.

The 50MP sensor will definitely not let you down, and colour depth and dynamic range are worries of the past when shooting with this Hasselblad.

The camera’s design makes it very easy to use, and you’ll be ready to go of shooting after a few minutes of playing around with it.

This is all helped by the clear menu that is controlled by touch on the bright LCD screen, that is still pretty visible in bright sunlight but sadly does not tilt.

Lastly, even though this camera might be cheap for Hasselblad standards, it is still pretty expensive.

Overall, a very suitable camera if you are a professional landscape photographer ready to make a big financial investment.

Check out more Camera Reviews here 

About the Author Luca

Hi, I am Luca, founder and editor in chief at photographyambition.com. I am crazy about photography and I always have a camera with me. When I am not busy with my day job, enjoying my family or taking photos, I am on Photography Ambition to share what I have learnt so far.

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