Hands on with the Hasselblad X1D-50C, plus sample images

Studio quality meets portability.

Hasselblad X1D Camera on blue background
The Hasselblad X1D has a sensor that you’d expect to find in a high-end studio camera, but its squeezed into a body that you can actually carry around in the real world.Jeanette D. Moses

The Hasselblad X1D-50c is a photographic beast inside a relatively small package. This 50 megapixel mirrorless medium format camera is built around a 44 x 33mm CMOS sensor—70 percent larger than the 36 x 24 mm sensor found inside a full frame DSLR—with a body that is smaller than Ricoh's Pentax 645Z or Fujifilm's GFC 50S. It's a sensor you'd expect to find in a high-end studio camera squeezed into a body that you can actually carry around in the real world. The camera achieve this relatively small size by moving the shutter inside the lenses—a design that Hasselblad has been using for over sixty years with the 500-series of V-system cameras. Here is a top level look at the camera's tech specs:

  • Shoots 12.4MP preview JPEGs or 16-bit RAWS
  • 2.36M-dot EVF
  • 920k-dot 3" touchscreen
  • Tethered shooting via USB 3.0 or Wi-Fi
  • Compatible with Nikon Speedlights
  • Shoots 1080/30p video
  • Weighs 725g
  • $8,995
Hasselblad X1D camera body only
The sensor inside the X1D is 70 percent larger than what is found inside a full frame DSLR.Jeanette D. Moses

We've spent the last two weeks shooting with the X1D-50C and a XCD 21mm F4 lens and a pre-production XCD 65mm F2.8 lens.

Hasselblad X1D Camera top view
Top view of the Hasselblad X1D.Jeanette D. Moses

Design and Feel

The X1D is handmade in Sweden and the ergonomics of the camera reflect that. The large grip is comfortable and the minimal selection of buttons are clearly labeled. The touch-screen is easy to use and the customizable menu system contained within is straightforward. The minimalist design of the camera keeps the shooter focused on making pictures.

Hasselblad X1D Camera top side view
The X1D's large grip is comfortable to hold and the buttons are all clearly labeled. The clever pop-up mode dial on the top of the camera is an appreciated touch.Jeanette D. Moses

The camera is easy to hold—in large part because of the substantial grip—and feels as solid as you’d expect from a decidedly pro-grade body. It’s worth noting that the camera becomes quite warm if you are shooting for extended periods of time because of its processor.

The X1D features touchpad AF point selection, which is accessible with the camera at eye level. The pop-up mode dial on the top of the camera combats accidental switches between modes while shooting.

Hasselblad X1D camera screen view
The X1D has a non-articulating touchscreen that is easy to navigate.Jeanette D. Moses

Shooting Experience

Although the X1D is designed to be portable, it still handles like a studio camera. The X1D isn’t a speed demon, at least when you compare it to a DSLR. The leaf shutter inside the lenses make the X1D more lightweight, but it also slows it down. This is a camera for making thoughtful frames, not catching fleeting action. It works well for landscapes or even studio photographers who like to move around more during a shoot.

Hasselblad X1D Camera settings view
The menu on the X1D is customizable and easy to navigate.Jeanette D. Moses

We spent some time shooting New York City’s urban landscapes with the camera, but the X1D really shines when making portrait—especially when using the pre-production 65mm F2.8 lens, which has roughly the same field of view as a 50mm full-frame lens. The focus on the camera is incredibly precise and the large medium-format sensor offers RAW files that are detailed and crisp. We enjoyed shooting outdoors and in the studio with the X1D.

The X1D eats up battery power, you will definitely want to have a fully charged spare on a long day of shooting.

Conclusion

The $8,995 price tag of the X1D makes it easy to write the camera off as an expensive toy for a hobbiest who earns their money from something other than photography. Doing so ignores the strengths of this piece of photographic equipment. The X1D is expensive, we aren’t denying that, but the image quality is superb—especially when shooting in a controlled environment like a studio.

Man sitting on picnic table and playing guitar
The X1D is essentially a studio camera that is compact enough for on-the-go use. It's a great option for shooting high quality portraits outdoors.Jeanette D. Moses
man with beer in front of graffiti
A natural light portrait shot at ISO 200, 1/125 sec and F/3.4 using the pre-production XCD 65mm lens.Jeanette D. Moses
man in lab coat holding vials of candy
The pre-production XCD 65mm lens and X1D did an impressive job in low-light situations as well. This portrait was shot at ISO 6400, 1/125 sec at F/4.8.Jeanette D. Moses
group of people posing for camera
A group portrait under the Manhattan Bridge using the XCD 21mm lens at ISO 800, 1/180 sec at F/4.Jeanette D. Moses
Yawning orange cat with a furry pink pillow
The X1D does a great job capturing non-human portrait subjects as well. This sleepy cat was shot at ISO 3200, 1/250 sec at F/2.8.Jeanette D. Moses
Man standing in front of large stone building
The camera also works well for capturing landscapes and architecture. We didn't have a chance to get into nature with the camera, but were happy with the results shooting around Brooklyn.Jeanette D. Moses
Modern windows sign on building
Warehouse building in Brooklyn. Shot at ISO 100, 1/250 sec at F/6.8.Jeanette D. Moses
railroad track view through chainlink fence
The depth of field that the pre-production XCD 65mm produces is quite impressive.Jeanette D. Moses
food trucks on the street
Taco trucks in Bushwick, shot at ISO 100, 1/350 sec at F/6.8.Jeanette D. Moses
building with roof design
Light pink building in Bushwick. Shot at ISO 100, 1/350 sec at F/9.5.Jeanette D. Moses
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