A couple of years ago, Sony made waves in the photography world when it shoehorned a full-frame, 35mm image sensor into a compact mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. Today, Hasselblad is one-upping Sony with the X1D, the first compact mirrorless camera to come loaded with a medium format sensor.
The 50-megapixel CMOS sensor in the X1D is the same chip found in Hasselblad’s full-size H6D system and is significantly larger than the sensors in other mirrorless cameras, even full-frame models. In photography, a larger sensor almost always means better image quality, as each individual pixel can gather more light. That leads to better image reproduction, greater dynamic range (the ability for the sensor to resolve both dark and bright areas at the same time), and better low-light performance. Hasselblad says that this sensor captures up to 14 stops of dynamic range and has an ISO range of 100 to 25,600.
The X1D is only slightly larger than Sony's A7Rii
But aside from image quality, what’s most groundbreaking about the X1D is its size, or lack thereof. Most medium format cameras, such as Hasselblad’s own H6D are large and heavy and aren’t easily transported outside of the studio. The X1D, on the other hand, measures just 150.4 x 98.1 x 71.4 mm (5.9 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches) and weighs 725g (1.6 pounds) without a lens. That’s slightly larger and heavier than Sony’s A7R II, but still small enough to fit in a shoulder bag or wear around your neck all day.
Along with the camera, Hasselblad is launching a new line of autofocus lenses for it. Two, a 45mm and 90mm, will be available at the camera’s launch. The new lenses have integrated shutter mechanisms and can shoot up to 1/2000th of a second. The X1D is also compatible with all 12 H System lenses via an adapter.
Like other mirrorless cameras, the X1D has an electronic viewfinder (XGA resolution), touchscreen LCD with live view (3-inch, 920k pixel), built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, and dual SD card slots. In addition, the camera can shoot 1080p HD video. The body of the camera is also sealed against moisture and dust.
The X1D won’t come cheap: the body alone will set you back $8,995 before you even get to the cost of lenses. That’s significantly more than Sony’s A7R II and virtually any other mirrorless camera available today, but given the X1D’s unique properties, it’s not a huge surprise. (For reference, the H6D starts at about $27,000, so in that respect, the X1D can almost be considered a deal.)
But while its stratospheric price will keep it out of reach for most, it is the most accessible digital medium format Hasselblad ever made, and it could entice semi-pros and wealthy amateurs to upgrade from their Leicas or high-end DSLRs. Those interested will be able to get their hands on the camera when it launches toward the end of this summer.