Hasselblad X1D... Thoughts and Testing

Well I having been shooting photography for going on 13 years now and I remember when I was lucky enough to buy my first digital camera, the Nikon D100. At a whopping 6.1 megapixels, it was the semi professional camera of the early 2000's. At the time I was heavily involved with my collage newspaper, both in shooting, design and writing. I shot every sport on campus from football, hockey, basketball, gymnastics, baseball, you name it. I still remember being blown away by 8x10 prints the camera produced even using a cheap Epson photo printer. I used to sell prints for beer money to the athletes I took photos of. It did the job, and did the job well. 

  Hasselblad X1D with 90mm and 45mm lenses. 

Hasselblad X1D with 90mm and 45mm lenses. 

Fast forward to today and we are spoiled with the options out there. Sony with their 42mp A7Rii, Nikon has the new D850, Canon has a 50 megapixel camera, Fuji, Leica, and well of course Hasselblad with their 50 and 100 megapixel sensors. They even can render a 200 megapixel image by compiling multiple images on top of each other. Where will we head next.

  Shot on top of the William Vale Hotel Brooklyn, NY - Bride and Groom Editorial style shot.

Shot on top of the William Vale Hotel Brooklyn, NY - Bride and Groom Editorial style shot.

I was lucky enough to be able to use the somewhat new Hasselblad X1D for a weekend in NYC not only to bum around the city, but to shoot my wife and I as we celebrated our wedding. Now if you actually read my blog or this article you most likely just spit out your morning coffee in disbelief. Sure, would a Sony or even Fuji for that matter be easier to use, absolutely, however when you get to borrow a 50 megapixel Hasselblad, you just don't say no. 

  Hasselblad X1D Sample Image - Bride and Groom heading to dinner.

Hasselblad X1D Sample Image - Bride and Groom heading to dinner.

To put it bluntly, this camera is a beast. The resolution is out of this world insane, and I can see why pro's who shoot portrait, and advertising work use Hasselblad. The camera is great, however it does come with some drawbacks, but more on that in a few. The pros to me outweigh the cons. The camera is lighter than most of the pro SLRs out there and way lighter than any other Hasselblad, Phase One system or Leica medium format system on the market. Yes I've also shot with the Leica and well... didn't like it at all. However, the X1D still has some heft to it, in a good way. You know you are handling something special as it feels really solid, and built like a tank. The lenses are also matching in quality. It's just beautiful to look at as well.  The image quality again is top notch and the amount of detail even zoomed past 100% is incredible. The menu system and touch screen is fantastic. Never did I have any glitches or issues using the functions as it's very straight forward. All around it's a fantastic piece of kit.

  Hasselblad X1D Sample Image - Posing in Downtown Brooklyn, NY.

Hasselblad X1D Sample Image - Posing in Downtown Brooklyn, NY.

The Cons although not much, could be an annoyance to some, however, one must realize what they are comparing this too.People say it's not as fast as a DSLR or it's not as pro as a high end medium format camera. It sort of lies in the middle. That is where I think a lot of people get hung up on this camera. I could rant all day about people on YouTube getting paid to say this or that about one thing or another and it's frankly bullshit and annoying. The only real cons I'll bring up are three. The camera is a slow shooter. This doesn't bother me because I know what I'm getting myself into. I know this isn't going to be a Canon 5D iii or Nikon D5 or whatever. I have to slow down my shooting, plan the shot, set it up and take it. Second, the focusing. It is not meant for this type of shooting for one and I knew that going in. It's center weighted or you can select your focus point "it will not AF for you like a Canon, Sony, Nikon" it's a different focusing system so you can't bash it for that. You use the center focus square, focus and recompose, or if your'e on a tripod you manually select the correct AF point. Again didn't bother me because I knew what I was up against. Third and last, and I accredit this to just my style of shooting is the ISO and shutter speed performance. Now, in my scenario, I was shooting natural light between 2pm and 6pm. I like to shoot as the lowest ISO possible and tried to stay between 100-400. However I like to also use a fast shutter which means I'm used to shooting fast prime lenses as in f1.8-2.8. The lenses for the camera are a minimum I believe f3.5 which I think made it a bit difficult. That paired with some overcast conditions I was typically shooting around 1/60 - 1/250 of a second. For me I just missed a few shots with the lack of stabilization or all the other fancy things out there like VR lenses. Again, I'm okay with this because if I had lighting options I would have used them, or would have pumped up my ISO, whatever it was literally my wife and I, my dad and a tripod, I made it work and am still blown away with the results.

  Hasselblad X1D Sample Image - Natural light editorial style shot of Bride and Groom.

Hasselblad X1D Sample Image - Natural light editorial style shot of Bride and Groom.

At this point famous YouTube people are probably cursing under their breath and saying this isn't an honest or "real world" review as they call it, but in my eyes it was. I know what I wanted to shoot, I took the camera out with nothing but a tripod and got some amazing shots. I didn't have a huge production crew, a million lights or makeup artist. All in all, again, this camera is great for what it's intended to be used for. It's not a run and gun wedding shooter, or a sports action 15 frames a second this or that, so I wish people would stop comparing different technology. If I had the money I would buy one in a heartbeat and shameless plug, would one day love to be a Hasselblad Ambassador, but at the moment it's just not in my budget. At the end of the day, just like all the other gear out there it is a tool with a specific job, it's just that this is a touch more special to me than any other camera I've used in the past.   

 Hasselblad X1D Sample Image - Hailing a cab in Brooklyn.

Hasselblad X1D Sample Image - Hailing a cab in Brooklyn.

Thanks you for reading I hope you enjoyed - Never stop shooting!

**Disclaimer - all images are resized for the web and therefor do not represent the full resolution images that are produced by this camera**