Hasselblad has had some issues with consumer cameras lately. For their recent attempts (dubbed the Stellar and Lunar), the Swedes took a Sony RX100 and A6000 (respectively), added some wood and tripled the price. In short: it was the very definition of phoning it in and consumers and critics alike called them out for it, leaving the cameras dead on arrival. After plenty of introspection, conference table pounding and unrepeatable words with lots of å’s and ö’s, Hasselblad is back with a new consumer offering and it is, at last, a game changer.
The just-announced X1D takes the 50MP medium-format sensor from the H6D, pairs it with an electronic viewfinder and a huge rear LCD and puts it in a body that’s about the size of a Semi-Pro DSLR (think Nikon D750 or Canon 6D). It is the first mirrorless medium-format camera with a built-in viewfinder.
Camera dorks will immediately understand the significance of this, but for those who don’t dwell on pixel dimensions and signal-to-noise ratios, know this: it’s huge news. It’s big because it brings a medium-format sensor — whose virtues we’ve extolled before (essentially superior color rendition, dynamic range and general image quality when compared to a full-frame DSLR) — to a package that’s as easy to use as any other mirrorless camera.
Just to prove that it really is a consumer-facing, everyday-use camera, Hasselblad has packed it with every possible convenience feature you’d find on something like a Sony A7 or Fuji X-Pro2. This includes dual SD slots, GPS, wi-fi, weather sealing, HD video (though not 4K), an ISO range up to 25,600, and a shutter speed up to 1/2000. And then to sweeten the deal they’ve debuted a 45mm f/3.5 and 90mm f/4.5 (equivalent to a 35mm and a 71mm on a full-frame camera) in the new X1D-specific mount that uses built-in leaf shutters (reduced vibration, unbelievably high flash sync speeds).
Ready for the downside? The camera alone will run $8,995 when it debuts; add on both lenses and you’re out a cool $13,985. This puts it well out of range of the typical consumer (though you’ll want to look for your receipt if you just bought a Leica SL), but, hopefully over time it will cause other manufacturers (maybe those rhyming with “brony” or “meica”) to adopt medium-format mirrorless and push the cost down to a more reasonable level.
If stats, photos, and the bit of hands-on time that we have enjoyed are any indication, Hasselblad seems to have left its foibles in the past and returned to the consumer segment in grand fashion. And we couldn’t be happier to have them.