Hasselblad X1D II 50C – A Refined and Portable Shooting Experience

Hasselblad X1D II 50C – A Refined and Portable Shooting Experience

Last year I had the opportunity to shoot with the original X1D for the first time. Even before I put my hands on the camera, I received a few emails warning me that the original X1D was slow, so not really useful on the street. Regardless, I took the X1D on the streets of Vancouver and…I really enjoyed shooting with it. Go figure! 

The three reasons I liked shooting with the original X1D were portability, design and image quality. You can read about my findings here. When I describe a camera, I can’t be impersonal, nor do I pretend to be. I don’t trust reviews that pose as impartial or unbiased. Photography is an intimate, personal experience. I pick up a camera and find out if it complements my way of shooting and seeing. I connect with the camera or I don’t. It’s that simple. Therefore, my thoughts in this article are simply mine. Other members of the Medium Format Magazine may have different opinions. That’s fine. 

Hasselblad X1D-50c, XCD 45mm F3.5
Hasselblad X1D-50c, XCD 45mm F3.5

When I heard that, during my trip to New York, I would be able to try (very briefly) the brand new X1D II 50C on the streets of New York I got excited. I was eager to find out how this new iteration of the camera compares to the original and whether it still matches my shooting style.

This is exactly where I must begin. I have been shooting, studying and teaching photography all around the world and one thing I have always been amazed by is how paranoid and fixated some of my students, and the internet in general, are about speed. I never understood this inclination to hurry. Sometimes it feels as though everyone is after pictures of hummingbirds racing each other on the Daytona racetrack. How strange! Especially so, when this narrative doesn’t match images posted on blogs and forums.  

Yes, I understand there are some areas like sport or bird photography which require a certain functionality and speed, but for most types of photography even the slowest cameras are absolutely fine (being slow has its own benefits). For me, photography is a painfully slow craft requiring attentiveness, observation, creativity and articulate framing, including so-called street photography. Great imagery requires time, thought and patience, all in short supply in today’s world.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy shooting with medium format.

FIRST CONTACT  

The moment I touched the new X1D II 50C I was glad it was exactly the same physical design as its predecessor. The size of the camera itself is something I really liked. The X1D II doesn’t feel like medium format camera at all. Even today, as the medium format market is evolving so drastically, the X1D II is still the smallest medium format camera on the market by far. You really want to pick it up and shoot with it. 

All the materials and buttons are top quality. There is no doubt you are holding something expensive and special. The new graphite-grey exterior looks absolutely stunning. Once you wrap your fingers around the grip, the camera stays firmly in your hands. I am one of those people who dislike camera straps and the X1D II with its firm and comfortable grip is among the most comfortable to hold in the hands for hours. 

As I navigated through the X1D II the next thing that caught my attention was the size of the LCD screen at the back. It is huge and bright. At 3.6-inch 2.36-million-dots this touch display feels so right on the medium format camera. You want to use it, review your imagery, interact with it. Strangely enough, despite its huge size the LCD doesn’t ruin the overall design but rather complements it. 

Then naturally I press the “on” button and find the start-up time is definitely faster than the original X1D. No, it is not lightning fast by any means, but it is an improvement, to be precise, 46% faster according to Hasselblad. As I press buttons and play with settings, the entire experience feels so much faster and more fluid. The new processor certainly makes a difference.  

Then I bring the camera up to my eye and a larger EVF is a welcome addition with 55% more pixels than its predecessor (1024×960 vs. 1024×768). I keep playing and notice that now I can fiddle with the menu system in the viewfinder. 

THE STREETS OF NEW YORK

As we leave the Hasselblad headquarters, cloudy skies threatening rain await us. The X1D II 50c and I have only about two hours and that has to be enough, for now. As we start exploring the SOHO district, I first try to check the autofocus, which feels more accurate and faster. No, it is not a huge improvement, but it is enough for me to notice. 

Hasselblad X1D II 50c, XCD 45mm F3.5

Out of the corner of my eye I see a young man smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk, so I approach him and ask for a portrait. He kindly agrees and I take a few portraits of him. Then we move on. As I walk by some store displays, I am attracted to reflections in the windows and try to align two visual dimensions with mixed results. 

Hasselblad X1D II 50c, XCD 45mm F3.5

Then we continue until I notice a distinctive window with columns hugging it on both sides. I raise the X1D II to my eye and work on framing. What I really like is the large EVF with all the info displayed at the bottom in big clear letters without blocking the image. 

I settle on very tight framing. With such a big LCD I am tempted to take a look, again. I quickly remind myself that I have very limited time and I need to know the camera better. Of course, this fiddling with new gear goes against my nature as I can see stills all around me—it is New York, after all. 

Hasselblad X1D II 50c, XCD 45mm F3.5

So I start scrolling through the images I‘ve taken so far using the touch screen. I smile. I really fancy this big, bright screen. Then I dive into the menu system again and I like the new lettering and improved spacing. The X1D already had one of the nicest and cleanest menus in the industry. The combination of projected menus and real buttons on the right works really well. At this point, it is clear to me that Hasselblad approached the X1D II with the intention of not messing it up with things that worked but rather focusing on issues that needed their immediate attention. 

Hasselblad X1D II 50c, XCD 45mm F3.5

Around the corner I look inside an artistic studio and I notice a statue of a woman bathed in gentle light, which that day was in short supply. What a pity, I quip. Regardless, I like the framework of the windows and I want to use it as a framing help. I totally forgot that my time with the X1D II was very limited and immerse myself in crafting this one image for far too long. I like the results, but I have to pick up the pace. How fitting, in the always hurried and busy New York. 

At this point I decide to test the autofocus in action shots. The plain stage provided by a uniform wall should do. A few meters away I notice vapour escaping from a grate in the ground—that would be a nice addition, I reason with my inner self. I position myself so people would walk into my frame. The first character doesn’t fit well with my visual storyline. A few minutes later I see a distinctive gentleman walking firmly along taking big resolute steps. This gives me an opportunity to catch the action. I raise the camera to my eye, wait and press the shutter button at the exact moment. Eagerly I check the result on the screen and yes, my timing was right and so was the camera’s response. We are doing well.

Hasselblad X1D II 50c, XCD 45mm F3.5

Just then my watch sends me the warning that I have to head back to return the camera. I oblige. On the way back I see many more photo opportunities. I try to muster some optimism. I feel I am just starting. Both the X1D II and I are connecting and enjoying ourselves. 

Hasselblad X1D II 50c, XCD 80mm F1.9

I reluctantly head back. Suddenly my camera turns off. How strange, I think. After all, it is the pre-production model and things often get interesting when working with pre-production versions, regardless of the brand. I quickly realize that isn’t it. I simply need to change the battery. Wait! Where is the replacement battery, which the folks at Hasselblad were so kind to prepare for me? I think and start sweating. It hits me hard. When we picked up the camera, I already had one large bag with me, so I left the Hasselblad bag with its replacement battery in the office. I can’t believe it. 

Well, there is a price to pay for your own dizziness. Now I will be walking back for about an hour with the brand new X1D II 50C in my hands and unable to take a photo. Maybe a selfie? With my iPhone? No! Definite no! 

At least I can gather my thoughts about the X1D II and the medium format market in general. 

Hasselblad X1D II 50c, XCD 80mm F1.9

THOUGHTS

The first thing that comes to mind is the topic of pricing.

The new, improved model is priced at US$5,750 or EUR 5,000. This is massively less than the price of the first iteration of the camera. Clearly Hasselblad has positioned the X1D II as an entry model to the Hasselblad medium format world and not far from other medium format cameras in this price range. Given the same sensor and minor improvements, this was a natural move. It leaves space for one more product which would fit into the previous X1D spot and be priced around the US$10,000 mark. Well, let’s stop speculating.

Of course, the much lower price has angered some users, but this is a road toll we need to pay to ride this fast and exciting highway of medium format innovation. Who knew medium format would start invading the higher-end full frame offerings? Think about it! You pay slightly more and instead of a BMW 3, you get a Porsche 911! Not bad at all. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I talk to many photographers who own bags of full frame cameras and lenses and suddenly the elusive medium format has never been that close. 

Hasselblad X1D II 50c, XCD 45mm F3.5

I have already written about the X1D II being the most portable medium format camera on the market. It appears that Hasselblad is working hard to complete the entire experience, finally. As someone who travels a lot, I always drag my MacBook with me. Yes, I tried many ways to bring just my iPad Pro with me but there was always some problem. No one has so far produced a wholesome travel solution where I could upload my RAW files to my iPad, process them and share them efficiently. Yes, Adobe is working on the iPad version of Lightroom, but it is not out yet.

After a brief encounter with the Hasselblad Phocus Mobile 2 I think that Hasselblad may be on the right track. I could import my RAW files directly to the iPad, process them and share without any fuss. I haven’t had enough time to play with the software so I cannot say how well it works but I liked the simple and intuitive user interface and it appears that the RAW files, despite their size, were transferring quickly. 

Of course, it is logical to assume that a medium format camera so small and portable would be a global travel companion and I think that matches this philosophy with built-in GPS. 

All right, my short but eventful adventure with the X1D II 50C is over. I really enjoyed the camera and I am looking forward to shooting the final production version soon. This time I will make sure to have more time and pack an extra battery. Speaking of batteries, despite the new processor, larger screen and overall improvements, Hasselblad says the battery life should stay roughly the same. Not bad at all.

We finally got back after an adventurous time with the Hasselblad X1D II 50C. After returning the camera, we headed for a cup of coffee. As we took pleasant window seats in a corner cafe and started chatting about the camera, the sun peeked out of the clouds, hugging the streets with beautiful light. I could easily have got upset but strangely I didn’t. Out of nowhere I started reciting the words to Sting’s song “Englishman In New York.” What a strange day indeed.   

Hasselblad X1D II 50c, XCD 45mm F3.5


The Medium Format Magazine will have extensive and exclusive coverage of the camera from every possible angle by our contributors and staff. We will share our findings and provide you with analysis of the medium format market, following this important release. 

For those of you who are already shooting medium format or considering buying their first medium format camera, we invite you to subscribe and get immediate access to the latest and all past issues of the Medium Format Magazine and highly regarded PDF Exclusives publications. 

Also, join our FB MediumFormat Group to stay in the conversation.  

2019 © OLI Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

THE NEW XCD 35-75mm F3.5-4.5 ZOOM lens from Hasselblad promises prime-lens performance.

THE NEW XCD 35-75mm F3.5-4.5 ZOOM lens from Hasselblad promises prime-lens performance.

There is no question that many Hasselblad X1D-series users long for a zoom lens to complement the system. Just announced, the zoom lens promises to deliver performance-matching prime lenses. Per Nordlund, Hasselblad lead optical designer, said: “This really is the best lens Hasselblad has developed —its performance is extremely high, competing with our prime lenses. I can even go so far as to say that it’s probably the best zoom lens currently available on the market.” Hasselblad points out the quick autofocus and internal focusing, which keeps the lens’ dimensions constant. Here is the link to the official announcement. We will bring you more information, including a full review of this lens, once it becomes available.  

   

You will find the full press release and more information on Hasseblad.com

The Medium Format Magazine will also have extensive and exclusive coverage of the lens from every possible angle by our contributors. We will share our findings and provide you with analysis of the medium format market, following this important release. 

For those of you who are already shooting medium format or considering buying your first medium format camera, we invite you to subscribe and get immediate access to the latest and all past issues of the Medium Format Magazine and highly regarded PDF Exclusive publications. 

Also join our FB MediumFormat Group to stay in the conversation. 

2019 © OLI Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

    

Hasselblad has drastically improved the shooting experience with the brand new X1D II 50c.

Hasselblad has drastically improved the shooting experience with the brand new X1D II 50c.

Although many users of the original X1D enjoyed its size, portability and image quality, its speed and slow operation dampened its overall appeal. With the just-announced X1D II 50c Hasselblad has decided to build on the camera’s strengths—portability, ease of use and image qualityas well as addressing the speed issues along with some technical updates. It appears that instead of checking as many feature boxes as possible, Hasselblad has put emphasis on the shooting experience.  

Indeed, the improved X1D II 50c retained its beautiful design, portable size and general ease of operation. It is a camera which can easily be taken out of the studio and handheld all day without any fatigue.

We had the chance to hold the camera for a few minutes and it feels incredibly solid and of premium quality with all the parts crafted from the best materials. The graphic grey exterior looks absolutely stunning. You really feel you are holding something very premium.

We are glad that Hasselblad kept the same comfortable and confident grip, allowing shooting without a strap. In fact, the X1D II 50c feels like an oversized compact camera. It is hard to believe it is medium format. 

One thing that we liked right away was the giant LCD screen on the back. It may well be the largest LCD screen of any medium format camera; the 3.6-inch 2.36-million-dot touch display is very easy to get used to. After looking at it for a few minutes you feel all cameras should have a screen like this. Surprisingly, even though it is mounted on such a relatively small camera, it doesn’t overwhelm the design but rather enriches it. 

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has been upgraded to 3.69-million dots and a high magnification of 0.87x with the possibility of having more information displayed inside the viewfinder. 

The sensor remains the same 50-megapixel CMOS sensor (43.8 x 32.9mm), which already provides great image quality. Hasselblad emphasises its dedication to natural colour solution (HNCS) technology integrated in the camera itself, allowing the photographer to achieve “true-to-life” tones that match what the human eye sees. 

Given the refinement of the camera, Hasselblad priced the X1D II 50s very competitively at US$5,750 and EUR 5,000. The camera is available for order right away with delivery dates of July 2019.

You will find the full press release and more information on Hasseblad.com

The Medium Format Magazine will be publishing the first impression piece along with some sample images shot on the streets of New York later this week. We will also have extensive and exclusive coverage of the camera from every possible angle by our contributors. We will share our findings and provide you with analysis of the medium format market, following this important release. 

For those of you who are already shooting medium format or considering buying your first medium format camera, we invite you to subscribe and get immediate access to the latest and all past issues of the Medium Format Magazine and highly regarded PDF Exclusive publications. 

Also join our FB MediumFormat Group to stay in the conversation. 

P.S. We will be publishing the first impression piece along with some sample images shot on the streets of New York later this week. 

2019 © OLI Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

Hasselblad has taken the medium format market by surprise by announcing a brand-new modular camera system, the CFV II and 907V, rooted in its rich history.

Hasselblad has taken the medium format market by surprise by announcing a brand-new modular camera system, the CFV II and 907V, rooted in its rich history.

While the market welcomed the successor to the X1D, the real surprise came from Hasselblad’s press release stating it is working on a brand-new 907X camera body and the modernised CFV II 50c camera back. 

This move not only opens up a brand-new category of modern digital medium format products but also merges it with current products, so popular among medium format photographers. Hasselblad’s press release reads: “The CFV II 50C digital back will enable the use of most V System cameras made from 1957 and onwards in addition to third-party technical or view cameras.” The new digital back will feature a tilt screen with full touch support including image review and menu navigation. 

Then, there is the brand new CFV II 50C—the smallest medium format camera body ever. What many photographers may find exciting is the combination of the classic waist-level shooting style of the V System enabled by the CFV II 50C’s tilt screen. In addition to access to all of the X System lenses, Hasselblad teases with the possibility of using a huge range of Hasselblad lenses via adapters, including the H System, V System, and XPan lenses.

Hasselblad is also planning to release the 907X Control Grip and 907X External Optical Viewfinder. 

You will find the full press release and more information on Hasseblad.com

The Medium Format Magazine will have extensive and exclusive coverage of the new system once it becomes available.

For those of you who are already shooting medium format or considering buying your first medium format camera, we invite you to subscribe and get immediate access to the latest and all past issues of the Medium Format Magazine and highly regarded PDF Exclusive publications. 

Also join our FB MediumFormat Group to stay in the conversation. 

2019 © OLI Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

The GFX100 has arrived!

The GFX100 has arrived!

Fujifilm continues its push into medium format with the third flagship camera GFX100

With the announcement of the GFX100, it has become clear that Fujifilm is fully committed to medium and large format challenging the entire industry including the overcrowded high-end full frame market. 

In the October 2019 edition of the Medium Format Magazine, Billy Luong of Fujifilm said: 

“We feel that for someone who wants the ultimate image quality as well as high resolution, this 102-megapixel sensor is a breakthrough in technology. It’s the IBIS sensor, the same technology that’s found on the most recent announcement of our XT-3 camera but in a medium format size or a G format size.” 

In addition to that sensor it’s also going to use the latest X processor 4 which again is found on the XT3 and it’s really going to expand the performance of the system both on AF as well as the accuracy and speed. 

Consequently, we’ll see unique things that we haven’t done on a medium format, which is video. This is going to showcase medium format as a potential video system. The system is going to offer 4K at 30 frames per second and the unique thing is that it’s going to offer that 10 bit. It’s a dream to have that greater depth of field control, the increased dynamic range and the Fujifilm colour that we bring to all our cameras. To me that’s very promising and, of course, IBIS that you mentioned earlier. Again, I think it’s one of the first medium format lenses/sensors to be stabilized. Using longer lenses, prime lenses, we can shoot in much more difficult scenarios in lower light and lower ISOs and still get nice sharp images.” 

Today, Fujifilm revealed the final version of the highly anticipated GFX100. 

Here are the highlights (from the official release): 

World’s First 100 MP BSI CMOS Sensor in a Mirrorless Camera

The GFX100 pairs a newly-developed back-illuminated 102MP CMOS imaging sensor with Fujifilm’s blazingly fast X-Processor 4 processing engine to create a combination capable of outputting 16-bit images with amazing color fidelity, rich shadow detail, and incredible dynamic range. 

World’s First Five-axis IBIS in a Camera Featuring an Image Sensor Bigger than the 35mm Format

High-resolution image sensors require high-level stability to ensure image sharpness. With built-in 5-axis image stabilization, GFX100 users are reassured that vibrations won’t interrupt the capture process. The function offers up to 5.5-stop image stabilization (when using the GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens)[2]. The entire shutter unit is suspended with four springs to minimize the effect of shutter shock. This dramatically broadens the scope of situations where a user can hand-hold the camera and still enjoy the world of 100MP+ ultra-high resolution, pushing the boundaries of photographic expression.

World’s First On-Board Phase Detection Hybrid AF with approximately 100% Coverage

With 3.76 million phase detection pixels, at approximately 100% coverage, near perfect auto-focus performance with speed and accuracy is now a reality for photographers needing optimum performance in subject tracking, face/eye detection and low-contrast environments. The effect is particularly notable when using fast prime lenses, achieving speed improvement of up to 210% over the conventional contrast AF system used in GFX 50R.

Large Format Camera with 4K video at 30p

The new sensor and processor combination support 4K video recording at 30p with a unique cinematic  look. It’s now a breeze to explore shallow depth-of-field, wide tonal reproducibility and extra high ISO sensitivity, producing high-quality video footage with detailed textures while reproducing three-dimensional definitions and even capturing the atmosphere of the scene. With the ability to apply Fujifilm’s highly respected Film Simulations (including ETERNA cinema film simulation mode), record in F-Log Rec 2020, and capture 4:2:2 10-bit uncompressed footage through the HDMI port, GFX100 should certainly be coming soon to a screen near you.

Dust-resistant, Weather-resistant, Lightweight and Highly Robust Magnesium Alloy Body with Integrated Vertical Grip

Maximizing its use for even the toughest conditions, the GFX100 has weather sealing in 95 locations across the camera body and detachable EVF to ensure an exceptionally high level of dust and moisture resistance. Photographers will have the opportunity to capture moments in even the most remote locations as the GFX100 can maintain reliable operation even under tough natural conditions.

Although it sports a large image sensor, the GFX100’s body is equivalent to that of a flagship 35mm full-frame DSLR camera in terms of dimensions (6.15” (W) x 6.44” (H) x 4.05” (D), measuring 1.93” at the thinnest part) and weight (approx. 3 lbs. including two batteries, memory card and EVF).

Designed for protection, the GFX100’s core imaging unit, consisting of the lens mount, image stabilization mechanism and image sensor, has been structured completely separate from the main body panels. This “double-structure” is designed to ensure a high level of precision and robustness while minimizing resolution degradation caused by external stress to the body. To maximize usability, the GFX100 incorporates a vertical grip, enabling effective use of in-body space.

Advanced Color Reproduction Technology, Delivering Astonishing Quality in Stills

The combination of the newly-developed image sensor and the fourth-generation X-Processor 4 processing engine means the camera supports the 16-bit RAW capture requested by many professional photographers seeking files that tolerate heavy post-processing. The GFX100 also features the newly-developed “Smooth Skin Effect” function, which automatically smooths the skin tone of the subjects, as is often performed in portraiture. It allows the photographer to skip a portion of post-processing work so that images captured with this function can be finished at an extremely high level of perfection, faster.

The GFX100 digital camera body will be available on June 27, 2019 at a suggested retail price of USD $9,999.95 and CAD $13,299.99.

The Medium Format Magazine will have extensive and exclusive coverage of the camera from every possible angle by our contributors. We will share our findings and provide you with analysis of the medium format market, following this important release. 

For those of you who are already shooting medium format or considering buying your first medium format camera, we invite you to subscribe and get immediate access to the latest and all past issues of the Medium Format Magazine and highly regarded PDF Exclusive publications.

Also join our FB MediumFormat Group to stay in the conversation.