It’s official! Hasselblad is the world’s first medium format mirrorless camera. After months of speculation, with the rumor mills buzzing, the wait is finally over. Hasselblad did come up with a new camera and that camera is a first of its kind. Interestingly named the Hasselblad X1D-50c, this baby has already created quite a buzz while it was in the making. First of all a medium format mirrorless camera sounds outrageously good. The large sensor means a lot of light gathering real estate and that can only mean excellent low light photography, suppressed noise and great selective focusing. Medium format cameras have a sensor size that is 2-3 times larger than that of a full-frame camera.

Hasselblad-X1D-50c-medium-format-mirrorless-camera

Sensor

The sensor inside the new Hasselblad X1D-50c medium format mirrorless camera is what hogs the limelight. This is why you are expected to pay upwards of $8k and extra for compatible lenses. The sensor of the X1D-50c is sized at 43.8mm x 32.9mm, way larger than what you have been used to if you are shooting with a full frame camera. If you have always enjoyed the size advantage that full-frame cameras give you, you would no doubt be blow away with the sensor of the X1D-50c.

The resolution of the new sensor is 50 megapixel. There are other cameras in the market that can shoot at that resolution. However, it is not so much about the resolution as you will agree, but more about the size of the individual pixels that make up the sensor. Each individual pixel is sized 5.3 x 5.3 µ. Just for comparison, the individual pixel size on the 50 megapixel Canon EOS 5DS R has a pixel size of 4.14 µ. The larger pixel size results in better light gathering and suppressed noise.

Dynamic range

The Hasselblad X1D-50c is capable of capturing up to 16-bits of information. It can see approximately 14 stops of dynamic range. If you compare the camera’s resolution to something like a point & shoot this camera literally sees in the dark, captures more information from shadow and highlight areas and thanks to the large sensor size has low native noise. Overall, colors are reproduced better thanks to the Hasselblad Natural Color Solution. Thus the Hasselblad X1D-50c beats many of the contemporary pro-grade DSLRs in the market both in terms of dynamic range, color reproduction and amount of scene information collected.

Stills

This sensor is standard for a large number of other Hasselblad medium format cameras. The large format and the high resolution produces frames of the size 8272 x 6200 pixels. The X1D-50c is not a sports or action camera, in the sense that the frame rate when shooting continuous stills is only 2.3 fps. But the 16-bit of information and 14 stops of dynamic range gives you a lot of detail to work with.

ISO range

The native ISO range on the X1D-50c is 100-25600. Two things put the Hasselblad X1D-50c at a position of advantage. First, is obviously the large sensor and the consequent large pixel size. The second, as already explained above, is the fantastic 14-stops of dynamic range and 16-bits of color information capturing capability. A lot of info about a scene is captured. Low ISO frames are crisp and clean.

Shutter

The X1D-50c incorporates the Hasselblad Central Lens Shutter. The fastest shutter speed possible on the camera is 1/2000 of a second and the longest is 60 minutes. The best thing about the shutter mechanism is that you can sync compatible flash systems at any of the flash speeds, making it possible to freeze movements without the need to use additional tools and techniques. A plus point of the camera is its hot-shoe which is compatible with Nikon speedlight systems.

Videos

The Hasselblad X1D-50c isn’t a camera that is aimed at video shooters. Regardless, you have the customary full HD shooting option. Videos are made at 25 fps. Video compression is done at H.264 format.

Viewfinder and LCD monitor

Just a reminder – this is a mirrorless design. Thus, there is no optical viewfinder. Having said that the 2.36 MP XGA electronic viewfinder allows for excellent eye-level monitoring. You also have a 3”920k dot touch screen.

Lens Systems

The X1D-50c has a newly designed lens mount that accepts only XDC lenses. At the time of the launch there are only 2 compatible lenses are available for this system. These are the 45mm f/3.5 and a 90mm f/3.2. When compared with the medium format systems these lenses offer a field of view equivalent to 35mm and 70mm respectively. Apart from that the existing line-up of Hasselblad’s H system lenses are also compatible via a adapter system. The number of dedicated system lenses will most definitely go up if the camera becomes a success. At this moment, however, lens choices are limited when compared to DSLR systems.

Auto-focusing

Sans a flipping mirror, the X1D-50c relies on the older and slower contrast detect auto-focusing mechanism. There is no on-chip phase detection yet. We can only hope that if this camera becomes popular and more manufacturers look to get a share of the pie on-chip phase detection would definitely be a possibility in the future. For the moment though, the X1D-50c is going to appeal to mainly landscape, portrait, architecture and fashion shooters.

Communication

Communication and location identifying systems are built into the camera. It has built-in Wi-Fi and GPS for embedding location data into the images you shoot. Built-in Wi-Fi is suitable for transferring images via an available wireless network inside the studio or office. It can come in handy when you are traveling too. GPS isn’t that much of a necessity for studio shots but the technology comes in handy for travel photographers.

Storage

Images are stored in two SD cards.

Build quality

A big plus point of the Hasselblad X1D-50c is its small compact size. The camera weighs only 725 grams without a lens. This is possible only because there is no mirror inside the camera. There are DSLRs which are larger and heavier than the X1D-50c which means photographers who are earnestly looking at the medium format system and for whom money isn’t a constraint, the X1D-50c is a better choice than even top of the line DSLRs. On top of that Hasselblad has built the X1D-50c well. There is good weather sealing.

The biggest plus point of the X1D-50c is its form factor. Hasselblad has been able to somehow fit in a large medium format sensor inside a compact mirrorless body. As of writing this there are hardly any medium format cameras that you can hope to shoot handheld or lug around happily for hours with just a neck strap. The X1D-50c changes all that.

Conclusion

The Hasselblad X1D-50c is aimed at photographers who are looking for a light weight interchangeable lens camera that combines the benefits of using a mirrorless system with that of a large sensor. Mirrorless cameras have always attracted users who look for that perfect synergy. Hasselblad has simply upper the game by packing a medium format sensor in the scheme of things. This camera is not designed for sports or action photography, but should appeal to still life, architecture and landscape shooters.

Rajib Mukherjee

Rajib Mukherjee

Rajib’s love for the road is second only to his love for photography. Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly. He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favourite pursuits.
Rajib Mukherjee