The Hasselblad X1D 50C was the first ever medium format mirrorless camera. As you’ve probably worked out, the Hasselblad X1D II 50C is its successor. Like the original model, the X1D Mark II has a 50Mp sensor that measures 43.8 × 32.9mm. Crucially, it’s mirrorless design means it’s far smaller DSLR medium format cameras. In fact, it’s smaller than some full-frame (35mm format) DSLRs.
While the 50Mp sensor is the same as the one in the original camera, the electronic viewfinder and touchscreen on the Hasselblad X1D II 50C have both increased in resolution. In addition, the camera has been given a general speed-boost. Some may be disappointed that the X1D II doesn’t have a 100Mp sensor, but the image quality is very good and the improvements are worthwhile.
Hasselblad is a respected camera brand that’s known for making high-quality products. When medium format cameras were commonly found in enthusiast photographers’ hands, Hasselblad was an aspirational brand.
The switch to digital technology put the price of Hasselblad medium format SLRs well beyond the reach of most enthusiast photographers. And many pros.
However, the X1D II 50C has a much more accessible retail price. It’s certainly not an impulse purchase, but it’s less expensive than a flagship DSLR like the Nikon D5. It’s mirrorless design also makes it more portable and easier to use than Hasselblad medium format DSLRs.
Hasselblad has kept the core of the X1D the same but addressed some of the requests for improvement. The new processing engine and reworked electronics, for example, mean that the X1D II is much faster than the original camera. The start-up time, for instance, has been decreased by 46%. Also, the live view image has a refresh rate of 60fps, up from 30fps. That means the view is smoother and less laggy.
Hasselblad has also increased the maximum shooting rate to 2.7fps, up from 2fps. That may not sound a lot, but it comes with an increase in the burst depth from 7 to 10 shots. Meanwhile, Hasselblad has upgraded the dual SD/SDHC/SDXC card slots to UHS-II.
Inside the Hasselblad X1D II 50C is a 43.8 × 32.9mm 50Mp CMOS sensor. This is the same sensor as is in the original X1D but it’s paired with a new processor and refreshed electronics. As before, it’s claimed to produce images with up to 14 stops of dynamic range.
Sensitivity may be set in the range ISO 100-25,600 while shutter speed can be set to 68min to 1/2000sec with flash synchronisation throughout.
As before, images may be saved in raw or jpeg format (or both simultaneously). However, the Mark II is capable of shooting full-resolution jpegs whereas the Mark I can only record small files.
The OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) has had a resolution boost up to 3.69million dots. That’s up there with the best from Sony and Nikon, but doesn’t match the 5,760,000-dot resolution of the EVFs in the Panasonic Lumix S1 and S1R.
As with the original camera, Hasselblad has given the X1D II a touchscreen. This is now a 3.6-inch, 2.36-million-dot unit and it seems huge.
In addition to Wi-Fi connectivity, the X1D II has a GPS unit built in. It also has a USB-C connection that can be used to tether it to an IPad Pro or for battery charging. Hasselblad’s free app (Phocus Mobile) allows remote control of the camera complete with remote exposure adjustment.
- Sensor: 50Mp 43.8 × 32.9mm CMOS sensor
- Lens mount: Hasselblad X
- Viewfinder: Electronic 3.69million dots OLED (Mag 0.87x)
- Screen: 3.6-inch 2.36-million-dot touchscreen
- Max continuous shooting: 2.7fps (raw)
- Focusing: Contrast detection AF with 117 selectable points
- Shutter speed: 68 minutes to 1/2000 s with XCD Lenses. 1/800 s or 1/2000 s with HC/HCD lenses, electronic shutter 68 min to 1/10000 s.
- Files: Hasselblad 3FR RAW, Full-size JPEG
- Memory: Dual SD UHS-II card slots
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB-C, GPS
- Dimensions: Complete camera with XCD 45 mm lens: 148 x 97 x 125 mm [W x H x D], Camera Body only: 148 x 97 x 70 mm
- Weight: 650g body only, 766g body, battery and SD card, 1230g with XCD 45mm lens, Li-ion battery and card
- Read our Fujifilm GFX 50R review
Build and Handling
Medium format DSLRs need a huge mirror, so taking that out enables the camera to be made much smaller. In fact, the Hasselblad X1D II 50C is smaller than a full-frame DSLRs like the Canon 5D Mark IV and Nikon D810. And it’s a heck of a lot smaller than double-gripped SLRs like the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS-1DX II
Hasselblad has used the same body for the X1D II as it did for the original X1D. This means it has a rectangular shaped body. There’s also a deep, comfortable grip and the metal construction makes it feel solid without being too heavy. It’s a nice size for everyday photography.
Although there are a few buttons and three dials, Hasselblad makes good use of the X1D II’s touchscreen. The exposure mode is set via the pop-up dial on the top plate, while front and rear dials allow the shutter speed and aperture or exposure compensation to be adjusted.
The on-screen controls are accessed by swiping down on the screen. There’s also a button to access the menu, another to playback an image and another to toggle through the view options. The menu can be navigated and the options selected with swipes and taps on the screen. It’s easy-peasy to use.
Conveniently, you can use the screen to set the AF point on the X1D II. What’s more, you can shift the point around with your thumb while you look through the viewfinder.
I’m pleased that Hasselblad has boosted the resolution of the EVF. It’s now very clear and looks natural. Apparently, the colour gamut and contrast of the EVF and screen have been increased and this is now said to preview the final image more accurately. The screen and the viewfinder also have plenty of detail visible when you zoom in to check sharpness.
I need to shoot with a final sample of the camera to be sure, but I think one of my bugbears with the viewfinder may have been resolved. I found that the X1D often switched off the EVF when I looked in it while wearing glasses and shooting in portrait format. The eye sensor that caused the problem is still in the same place, but I didn’t experience any issues while I was testing the camera at the UK press launch. Fingers crossed.
Although the X1D II 50C has a new processing engine, Hasselblad isn’t making any bold claims about improvements to noise control or image quality. To be honest, that’s fine with me. The results from the X1D are fantastic. I shot with the X1D II 50C at the UK press launch and the level of detail at ISO 3,200 is very impressive. The conditions weren’t really suitable for testing the image quality at settings much higher than that, it’s something I will have to investigate when I get a sample in for in-depth testing. However, I recommend not using the original X1D’s top sensitivity setting (ISO 25,600) as the shadows have a magenta cast and there’s visible noise. The X1D II may well be the same.
When I tested the X1D I concluded that the autofocus system is slower and less decisive than the AF system in the Fujifilm GFX 50S. The X1D II’s AF system seems a bit faster thanks to its electronic improvements and new processing engine. With decent light, I’d even say it was fast. In slightly gloomy conditions, however, it’s a bit on the slow side and I have a few shots with missed focus.
The colour from the X1D II 50C looks good. I’m also impressed with how well the auto white balance system coped with the artificial lighting in the launch venue.
The X1D takes around 8 seconds or more to start up. The X1D II 50C takes nearer 4 seconds. This much better but still a bit on the slow side. However, Hasselblad has worked on the camera’s power consumption and I’m told that it’s now feasible to leave the camera in standby mode so you don’t have to start it up as often, thus saving time. Apparently, the battery life has been boosted to around 270 images but in real-world testing you may get nearer 400 images from a single charge.
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Hasselblad X1D II 50C
I liked the idea of the X1D when it was announced, and I love the images that it produces, but it had a few quirks and shortcomings that disappointed me. Hasselblad appears to have ironed those out with the X1D II 50C. What’s more, it’s done that and reduced the price.
A lot of people were expecting the X1D II to feature a 100Mp sensor. Perhaps an X1D 100C is yet to come, but I’m quite pleased about what the X1D 50C has to offer. The image quality looks great, there’s a nice balance between detail and files size and the price isn’t crazy. I’m looking forward to testing it in more detail.