Heritage – Hasselblad X1D
Hasselblad X1D 90 mm – unposed
Once upon a time there was film and medium format. That was the professional and advancead amateurs realm. Around 2004/2005 was the time of the first switch from films to the digital world. The price to produce and design cameras was getting higher and higher. Since image quality of digital photography easily exceed films, the medium format cameras built was so expensive that just a few people could buy them and just a few models came out. A very small niche.
But photography is very different from litterature or painting. The camera (and lenses is so important because the form is related to camera itself. To its quality. Today I’m testing the new Hasselblad X1D, the first medium format mirrorless ever made. And, yes, it’s a revolution. Mamiya VII is the first camera that came in my mind using this camera. An incredible rangefinder camera I’m using since 5 years ago, because of its quality and amazing usability even for street photography, reportage and many easy and quick shots. Love it. Now this Hasselblad gives me back the same freedom, the same spirit, that kind of usability. And an amazing image quality. It wasn’t an easy task because the mistake’s margin are way smaller than with film cameras. And they (Hasselblad) had to solve more difficult problems. The autofucus system, for example. On a digital medium format camera a little mistake is way more visible than with film or with a smaller sensor, like a 35 mm. Margin of error, with a digital medium format camera, is very near to zero. And trust me, this AF system is surprisingly good. Not to say excellent. Very quick at least like the very best m4/3 first generation cameras , its constancy and reliability are amazing. And it covers almost the entire frame. Something that is still difficult for smaller 35 mm DSLR. The camera itsel is small and light, but not too much light, its design is so well thougth that its ergonomics is almost perfect, its built quality is outstanding. Overall one of the best camera I’ve ever used. It can be a great camera in several different fileds. Like reportage, portraits, travelling, architecture, art reporoduction, etc, etc. Truly a versatile tool, easy to use, a minimalist camera, there’s only what you need to get the right picture. Funny, functional, nothing unecessary. The electronic viewfinder is one of the best ever seen. It works so well even in dim light. The rubber eyepiece is not so perfect, should be a little deeper to avoid lateral light. With this EVF you can easily control everything in real time, just before you take the shot: flare, exposure, saturation, contrast, glare, reflections…couldn’t be easier. The sensor is amazing: wide dynamic range, unbelievable signal/noise ratio, and the files can be easily post processed (extremely good shadow recovery, etc).
The camera itself is clearly made for studio and outdoor works. It’s fast, dual SD slot, weather-sealed…its high ISO performance is outstanding (12.800 ISO is very good even for prints…) The new AF lenses (called “X”) are very very good. Even if corrected by sw, for some aspects. But for the price tag and the dimension…I think it’s ok. I’ve used both the 45 mm and also the 90 mm (equiv field of view as a 35 mm and a 71 mm). If you’re used to the highest 35 mm standard you will be very happy with them.
Hasselblad X1D 6400 ISO – excellent wide dynamic range even at very high ISO
Of course the medium format excellence is another thing: try the 100 f2.2 Hasselblad H, if you want to understand the real potential here. Leaf shutter allows syncro flash even at 1/2000 sec. So why you should buy a medium format camera today, with such great 35 mm cameras? There are several good reasons. First: a cinematographic look that’s impossible to reach with a 35 mm. Second reason: a shallower depht of fields with a way more “readable” bokeh. Third reason: using longer focals with wider angle of view allows you to get closer to subject without the typical wideangle distortion ( example shooting with the 45 mm you will get the FOV of a 35 mm but with the distortion of a 45 mm…) Fourth reason: sharpness, color, shadow…everything will be several step ahead of your 35 mm cameras…clarity, the overall life-like feeling of your pictures…Try it for yourself, you won’t believe your eyes. And this Hasselblad it’s even easy like a small format mirroless can do…and really a joy to use. Not so bad, I think. 😉
Crop 100% Hassleblad 45 mm
Check the comments, I will upload soon the original files (full size) so you will be able to compare with your eyes the Hasselblad with the best 35 mm camera (Sony A7r2).