Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • Excellent resolution
  • Extensive dynamic range
  • Intelligently implemented high ISO modes
  • Precise, accurate autofocus
  • Simple, to-the-point control system
  • Touchpad AF works well
  • Impressive solidity of build
  • Leaf shutter minimizes size and almost eliminates risk of shutter shock
  • USB 3.0 tethering option
  • Novel, customizable user interface
  • Nikon-compatible TTL flash system
  • Slow autofocus
  • Limited battery life
  • Somewhat laggy experience
  • No wide-aperture lenses available
  • Non-circular bokeh on many lenses
  • Leaf shutters add to lens cost
  • Occasional but significant risk of moiré
  • Camera's low-res JPEGs don't give 100% coverage
  • Significant rolling shutter in complete (silent) E-shutter mode
  • Simplistic Auto ISO implementation

Overall Conclusion

It would be easy to dismiss the Hasselblad X1D as simply being a luxury product: one of those well-made, attractive baubles that sell as much for their heritage and brand name as they do for their function. Luxury watches, brand-name trenchcoats, you know the kind of thing I mean.

XCD 45mm F3.5 | ISO 100 | F4.8 | 1/1000th

It's expensive and pretty, but it's not just expensive and pretty: the X1D is a serious piece of photographic equipment. Sure, it still costs $6500 and yes, it's an elegantly designed and well-crafted object, but its image quality is also up with the best we've ever tested and it provides the tools to help you access that quality.

Particularly in landscape and studio settings, though, its image quality is superb

A 50MP sensor that's 70% larger than full frame gives excellent results, though not a huge step up over the best contemporary full frame cameras. Its advantage starts to evaporate in any low light situation, because of the smaller maximum apertures of its lenses. Particularly in landscape and studio settings, though, its image quality is superb.

The X1D isn't a fast camera, either in terms of operation or autofocus. Nor, thanks to its rather limited battery life, is it the take-anywhere medium format system that its pared-back body might suggest. But, for any situation in which you can wait for one of those big lenses to focus, it is capable of some fabulous results.

The X1D's small size means you can easily wander the streets with it.
XCD 45mm F3.5 | ISO 100 | F4.8 | 1/350th

What's most promising, though, is that Hasselblad has continually worked to improve the X1D. Updated firmware means it's a much better camera now than when we first encountered it. And, while there's still work to do (a more sophisticated Auto ISO implementation would be nice), the company is clearly committed to making the X1D as good as it can.

All this isn't enough to make us recommend the X1D 50c. But it does make us wonder what a more powerful processor and a higher resolution sensor would achieve at some point in a future model.


What we think


John Cornicello
Professional Photographer
My main two concerns about the X1D are the autofocus speed and the cost. The focus speed requires a very patient subject who can hold a pose and expression: it's difficult to capture a fleeting look. The image quality is hugely impressive but increasingly my headshot clients are requesting smaller files: 800-960 pixels for websites and around 3000 pixels for prints. These are sizes perfectly handled by much less expensive equipment. At those sizes you still see the effect of my lighting setup and the depth-of-field I choose but you don't see the additional detail or tonal benefit the X1D brings over my Canon EOS 5D Mk III, so it would be hard for me to justify the X1D's price.

Compared to its rivals

Fujifilm GFX 50S - The Fujifilm is a much bigger camera, but its weather sealing and larger battery mean it's arguably happier than the X1D outside the studio. There's little to call between the two cameras in terms of image quality but the Fujifilm is able to offer beautiful JPEG output and speed of operation honed by years of making mass-market products. Autofocus is a little faster but it's really the range of lenses and their prices that's most likely to dictate which camera works better for you.

Pentax 645Z - The 645Z is a DSLR built around a full 645 format lens mount, which means it's much less easily toted around than the X1D and takes more effort to avoid shutter shake. The Pentax offers a range of generally older lenses, rather than the small but modern array of XCD lenses for the Hasselblad. It may simply come down to whether you prefer an optical viewfinder or the X1D's much more compact footprint.

Nikon D850 - The Nikon's ISO 64 mode allows it to take in 2/3EV more light than the Hasselblad's base ISO of 100. This is essentially the same difference as you'd expect to be made by the X1D's larger sensor. At which point, the DSLR can compete pretty directly with the Hasselblad. Its resolution is fractionally lower but it also offers a level of autofocus and operational speed that none of these larger sensor cameras can match (though you may find you need to use the slower live view focus to match their precision). It's also smaller, less expensive and can be used with a much wider range of lenses.


Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Hasselblad X1D
Category: Professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The X1D is capable of some very impressive image quality but any advantage over its rivals isn't commensurate with the price premium it demands. It's a small and powerful system but its autofocus, while precise, is slow enough to limit its range of applications.
Good for
High resolution work, especially with strobes.
Not so good for
Moving subjects.
81%
Overall score