Equipment

First Impressions with the Hasselblad X1D II

When Hasselblad introduced the Hasselblad X1D 50c, I was really excited, but like most early adopters, my enthusiasm was quickly replaced with disappointment in the cameras sluggish operation. It was painfully obvious that this camera wasn’t designed for shooting sports, action, or wildlife. Having become accustomed to faster, more capable digital cameras, it took a while for me to appreciate the Hasselblad X1D, but in the end, it was the images that sold me on it. While it resembles other mirrorless cameras in many ways, it was designed with a very deliberate photographer in mind, and after extensive use, I’m a true believer. The X1D became my favorite camera and now the Hasselblad X1D II is. Please note, this camera isn’t for everyone. Having been used to shooting 2000+ wedding photos in a day, I couldn’t hope to get half as many with the Hasselblad X1D II, and even less with the Hasselblad X1D. But to me, the shots with it are worth so much more.

The Hasselblad X1D II 50c comes just over 3 years after the release of their first Mirrorless Medium Format Digital Camera, the Hasselblad X1D. The new camera adopts the same 50MP CMOS sensor as the previous version, but why mess with 14-stops of dynamic range perfection… Am I right? Like its predecessor, the Hasselblad X1D II is a stylishly sleek and sexy camera. At first glance, the “Graphite Gray” body color looks to be the only distinguishable difference. It’s unnoticeably smaller and heavier, and the controls are exactly the same, but closer inspection reveals a few key improvements.

The rear touch-sensitive LCD Display is bigger, 3.6,” compared to the 3” display of the older X1D with more than twice the resolution, 2.36M dots compared to just 920K previously. Images appear bright with uncanny color accuracy and realism. The impressive OLED EVF is back with 3.39M dots this time, and you will absolutely forget you’re looking through the viewfinder at all. Another feature I appreciated was the ability to access the menu through the EVF, making setting adjustment a lot easier in bright light and making me feel less amateur as I fumbled through my options on the go.
Hasselblad ditched the HDMI port this go around and while the Mode Dial features a Video Mode, a pop-up message informs the user that video is not currently supported on this camera. Reportedly, a firmware update/upgrade will enable this feature at some unspecified date. While this wasn’t a huge disappointment for me, I do kind of feel that video capability is something expected on digital cameras these days.

To coincide with the release of the new X1D II, Hasselblad also unveiled an updated version of Phocus Mobile software. While this isn’t a software review, Phocus offers the Hasselblad user a very clean and seamless interface for editing, and I highly recommend trying it out. Phocus Mobile and the X1D II really take the Hasselblad studio experience to the streets because you can now shoot tethered over a USB-C connection or wirelessly directly to your iPad. The USB-C port also makes dumping a full shoot of those massive files on the go much quicker. A marked improvement.
The main point of the X1D II update, in my opinion, was to address the harshest criticisms of the X1D’s sluggish operation. And with all the rapidly responsive, high-resolution options available to photographers today, who wants to pay $9000 for a slow camera with bad shutter lag, slow start up time, and a laggy refresh rate? Not many people, that’s who. Thankfully, Hasselblad responded. The Hasselblad X1D II is about 40-60% faster all around. Start-up time is reduced, shutter lag, improved, and thanks to a faster refresh rate, autofocus is a bit snappier too, despite using the same contrast detection system as before. I definitely noticed a difference and got more photos as a result. Continuous shooting improved, 2.7fps (2.3fps before), and combined with the other speed enhancements, I found getting shot sequences much easier. Did I mention it’s cheaper? Yeah, they addressed that too. This one is “only” $5750.

I love shooting with Hasselblad because the images are just stunning. The XCD lenses are beautifully sharp and the bokeh is smooth as butter. The colors match true-life better than anything I’ve ever used before. In particular, skin tones appear exactly as nature intended and in vivid detail. I especially enjoy using the Hasselblad X1D II with Profoto lighting. The X1D II with the Profoto B10 Flash Heads really brings the studio control on location for me. Wireless tethering and wireless tethering combined with 50MP of medium format perfection is total creative freedom for me and I get really excited about the results.

100% crop of the photo above

The Pros:
The X1D II is great; it’s faster, cheaper, and (I think) the new gray color is sexier. The display options are as good as it gets. Interfacing both the menu and wireless/tethered options, Phocus Mobile, and USB-C are big improvements. The camera sensor is still beautifully capable.

The Cons:
The lack of (current) video functionality is concerning. I mean, why make the camera so much cheaper and leave that off? It makes me suspicious. Also, it’s faster… but not fast. The Fuji GFX cameras are still way faster and offer as much resolution and more lens options.

So is the Hasselblad X1D II the perfect camera? No, it’s far from it. But if you’re looking for the incredible image detail that comes from the medium format platform (albeit crop medium format), and have a bit of patience with your photography, the Hasselblad X1D II is a great update to the Hasselblad mirrorless line, and the price drop only makes it more enticing. For what I look for in a camera, the Hasselblad X1D II checks nearly all the boxes, and I’m excited to spend more time with it.

 

Author: Lynn Green

I’m Lynn. Prior to becoming a Photo Technician at Lensrentals.com, I owned a wedding photography business and newborn studio. I’ve also worked as a professional studio portrait photographer and lifestyle photographer. I currently enjoy freelancing and taking photos of wildlife, landscapes, and street scenes for my personal enjoyment. I feel very fortunate to get to experiment with various lighting techniques and an assortment of camera systems and accessories to make my visions come to life.

Posted in Equipment
  • Joakim Sundberg

    Look what just crawled out from under the bridge..

  • Robert

    Congratulations Lynn! I myself got a used H6D 100 recently and you are right: Those files are just .. extraordinary! I like the colors particularly. After 30 years of Nikon I did not know something like that is possible, but there you are, it is. So the volume and weight are being accepted, I haul the thing up the slopes (Swiss Alps) as long as I can. (Nikon is still in use if I need tilt/shift, tele, stitch, etc.)

  • Paul Moore

    I agree! I think it’s beautiful

  • Paul Moore

    Thanks for this First Impressions feature. I’ve starting selling all my Sony gear to move to this system, and this further convinces me to make the move. For landscape and nature photography this seems like the perfect system. I will undoubtedly rent it from Lensrentals before making the move. My only hesitation it the hefty prices of the lenses.

  • Franz Graphstill

    I disagree – this looks exactly like a minimalist design, with smooth lines. I haven’t held one, but it looks like it might be pleasant to hold.

  • Eric Tongtong

    Because the Fuji body is soooo ugly. 23333333

  • Lynn Green

    The GFX 50R is smaller than the 50S , but I find it an awkward camera to hold and imo still bulky. In the way that the Fuji XPro cameras only look like rangefinders, I feel the same way about the 50R. I really love rangefinder cameras, and while the EVF and decent AF make the 50R a nice camera, I’m not sold on the design or ergonomics. To me, it begs the question “why?” That may be an unpopular opinion, but the 50R is no GW690ii. Why pretend? The X1Dii doesn’t feel oversized for a “medium format.”

  • Cynistrategus

    The Texas Leica Fuji digital Medium Format didn’t seem particularly bulky.

  • This is the ugliest camera I’ve ever seen. The whole design and unthoughtful details look as if were created in early 90s. And I mean it not in a good way. Yes, I am a bit harsh on Hasselblad, but this one is… made for throwing at enemies in a fight to scare them away. Sorry for, probably, unwelcomed negative comment. But I can’t understand why Scandinavians, who are known for their beautiful minimalist design skills, did create this “awful thing”

  • Lynn Green

    I guess if you’re looking for a bargain. I don’t think Hasselblad has ever been after that market though. I’m not telling you not to think that way, but shooting with the X1D II is a totally different experience. You’ll either like it or you wont. I like the images better. I don’t mind that it’s slower and a little quirkier for that reason. I think the XCD lenses are pretty darn spectacular and I’m excited about the new Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 Lens. The GFX cameras are all bulkier. And Hassie does have a 100MP option, just not in a mirrorless camera (yet). Also, I consider myself “sensible.”

  • J.L. Williams

    Faster, more lens options, same or higher-resolution sensors, similar price bracket… is there any particular reason a sensible person would NOT choose one of the Fujifilm options instead?

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