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Hasselblad's X1D is a photography nerd's dream camera

Medium format leaves the studio

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Medium format cameras are known for a few things. First and foremost, they produce excellent images that smaller format cameras can’t touch. Second, they are big and heavy and aren’t really designed to ever leave the studio. And finally, they are known for being really, really expensive. Hasselblad’s new X1D, announced earlier today, is a medium format camera that stays true to the first trend, bucks the second, and yeah, at nearly $9,000 for just the body, is still pretty expensive. But it’s a damn cool camera.

I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with the X1D today and I’m still taken aback at just how compact it is. It’s close in size to a Canon Rebel, and could easily fit in a shoulder bag or hang from your neck all day. Shooting with it is like shooting with most compact SLRs or other mirrorless cameras; it’s just that you’re shooting with an image sensor significantly larger than anything else.

The X1D borrows a lot from Hasselblad's larger H6 cameras, including the touchscreen interface and 50-megapixel resolution. It can write images to two SD cards, record 1080p video, and shoot stills at up to ISO 25,600. Hasselblad says the CMOS sensor is capable of capturing 14 stops of dynamic range.

The X1D is ideal for on-location portraiture

The camera is not fast, however. It takes a long time to boot up, a long time to write images to its dual SD cards, and navigating the interface isn’t exactly smooth. The autofocus system is slow and ponderous, and you can hear the lenses cranking away as they rack back and forth trying to lock focus. This is definitely not a camera for sports photography or any fast action.

But for portraiture, landscapes, still life, or any other slower photography discipline, the X1D promises to provide a level of image quality you can’t get with smaller format cameras. We're looking forward to spending more time with the camera and evaluating the image output from a final production version when the camera hits stores later this summer.

Video by Max Jeffrey.

Hasselblad X1D hands on photos


The $27,000 camera from Hasselblad