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News & Insight

Hasselblad’s Secret X1D-50c Is Leaked & Disrupting The Market Even Before Its Release [UPDATED]

By Kishore Sawh on June 22nd 2016

**See official specs in the amendment below: Release Notes

As is the way with iPhones today, there’s usually a ‘reveal’ before the reveal. The big Hasselblad announcement that’s coming tomorrow has partially been leaked it seems primarily by a camera retailer, and the product shots and spec info is trickling in.

Beyond that, there are a few other digital footprints to be found and followed; Hasselblad seemed to have posted a page with a sample gallery and product name, and then pulled it, but we have some shots of it, and it solidifies that the name of the new camera is, in fact, called the Hasselblad X1D or X1D-50c. That it should bear the 50c nomenclature shouldn’t surprise anyone.

So what is it? A textbook would describe it as the world’s first mirrorless medium format camera. I would describe it as a Leica Beater, or perhaps the harbinger of reckoning.

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Admittedly, there’s a hint of hyperbole there if you squint, but if you open your eyes you may see there’s some sense to it. We should get it out of the way here that the beating heart of this machine is the 44×33 16-bit 50MP sensor, likely the same one pulled from the H5D-50cm which was the world’s first medium format CMOS camera when released in 2014. That’s got Sony DNA through and through, and that makes you wonder what else Sony had a hand in. And this is the first time we’ve seen that sensor outside of a digital back.

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If you were to look at Hassy’s chequebook and P&L statements over the years, I wager it might look like they got the kids in a divorce, but not the house – so a bit thin on cash. That makes us wonder how they were able to design and create something quite so astonishing and, well, groundbreaking. I mean, it looks like no other Hasselblad that’s ever come before it, and yet there’s something slightly familiar. It has the styling cues and colors of a Hassy, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to think Sony’s fingerprints are to be found on its skeleton and its balance sheet. And that’s a good thing. It wouldn’t even be a stretch to think that Sony has managed to bump the performance of that sensor – maybe to get something like 4fps. And who else is able to get large sensors into such slim bodies as Sony does? No one.

What we know so far is that it costs near-as-makes-no-difference $9,000, and already has two lenses that each cost around $2,500. So it’s not cheap, but considering it’s MF, it’s not exactly the standard level wallet-shrivelling experience we’ve come to expect. In fact, if you were to buy this and both lenses you’d still come out around $5,000 below the cost of the Leica SL (FX) and its two initial lenses. That’s rather incredible. You sort of imagine that any portrait shooter who’s just bought an SL is doing two things right now: feverishly defending their purchase in public to anyone within earshot, and sobbing into their pillow in private.

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Screen capture from Hasselblad‘s site. For a short time this was published and the remnants still exist in Google Cache

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Screen capture from Hasselblad‘s site

Maybe not; those Leica lenses are high performance zooms blessed with an attention to detail that would make a heart surgeon look sloppy, and paired with a no compromise mentality. But you can’t help but figure this was Hasselblad’s intention all along, to pit one against the other, and in fact, make people question why they’d buy the Leica S system, and some Phase One systems. And they could’ve put other sensors in the X1D, but the 50c sensor, with its 1.3x crop is faster than the slightly larger varieties making this possibly a more manageable and agile camera than some might think.

Of course, there’s more to a camera than a sheet of numbers, and Leica has been capitalizing on that very fact for decades. A camera can be an emotional thing, and a bit of ‘golden glove’ experience can sway the vote. But if there was another company to compete in that arena it would be Hasselblad, who’s been bringing back images from the Moon and space for half a century. Can you think of a better recipe for legendary status?

Sure, Hasselblad has been quiet in recent years, but I assert again that could be because they wanted to wait until there was something worth speaking about. Now they’ve got it, and we’re all ears.

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RELEASE NOTES

Well, the waiting is over, and the official specs have been released. Generally speaking, it’s even better than many assumed it would be, and the form factor is surely a hit. What we see is a camera that’s easily handheld, and smaller than mid to pro DSLRs.

Hasselblad has assured current H system users that their lenses will be easily adapted to the X1D. Here are the key features:

• Compact, lightweight (725g), highly portable and user-friendly medium format technology

• Large 50MP CMOS medium format sensor delivering up to 14 stops of dynamic range

• New line of XCD lenses with integral central shutter; 45mm and 90mm available at launch

• Compatible with all 12 lenses and lens accessories from the Hasselblad professional H System (adapter required)

• Multiple image format options

• High quality XGA electronic viewfinder or high resolution rear display with touch functionality

• Wide range of shutter speeds: 60 minutes to 1/2000th sec. with full flash synchronisation throughout the range

• An ISO range from 100 to 25,600

• Dual SD card slots, GPS and Wi-Fi

• USB 3.0 Type-C connector, Mini HDMI, Audio In/Out

• Weather and dust sealings

• HD video

• Phocus 3.1 for simple and quick raw image processing. Adobe Photoshop® and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® compatible.

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1/2000 shutter speed with full sync thanks to the leaf shutter in the lenses is a nice touch. The two new lenses in the new range are the Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2, and Hasselblad XCD 45mm f/3.5, which is a really nice spread.

ISO range of 25,600 and 2.3 FPS are nice too, though surely appreciated by the medium format crowd, if only to be treated with disdain from those who aren’t used to it.

But again, this is a large sensor, and capturing in 16-bit with 14 stops of dynamic range, and that’s just rather incredible. Oh, and it’s splash and dust proof.

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There are some sample images online, though they aren’t exactly exciting. Now it’s just a matter of taking one out for a spin, and seeing how it does in real world usage. Hopefully we’ll be able to get our hands on one soon. You can get yours now, here. I wouldn’t begrudge jumping the gun – I don’t think anyone would.

You can check out the video of the launch event below.

The X1D marks a pivotal point in Hasselblad’s rich 75-year history. This camera makes medium format photography available to a new generation of Hasselblad users, while pushing the existing limits of photography to new heights.

– Perry Oosting, Hasselblad CEO

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Dave Haynie

    Cute for a MF, for sure. But keep in mind that DOF is entirely based on focal length and aperture… the MF vs 35mm vs APS vs m43 is only about how the image is cropped. So if I’m after shallow DOF, the both my 85mm f/1.8 and 100mm f/2.8 will do me better on my Canon than that 90mm f/3.2, albeit with a narrower angle of view.

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  2. Hannes Nitzsche

    oh man she sure does look sexy! Would love to have a go at one!

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  3. Mark Romine

    Did anyone else find it interesting the hotshoe pin configuration is Nikon?

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  4. Jay Cassario

    This really is not the game changer that many think it is. The sensor itself isn’t much larger than a regular 35mm full-frame sensor, and it’s not even close to being the size of a true MF 120 film. Plus, the lenses play a big role in what this camera will do to shake up the market, and the two lenses they are releasing, each over $2k, only going as wide as f/3.5 and f/3.2, portrait/wedding photogs like myself are still much better off going with a FF sensor and an f/1.4 or f/1.8 lens to have the ability to get a nice shallow DOF. Sure, it’s not always needed, but you need to be able to have that option. As far as I’m concerned, for the price, the Leica SL is still the better option between the two.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I think it’s going to be a big…just not immediate. Granted, for wedding shooters this won’t be their go-to, but then again…you shoot Leicas and that’s not typical either. But it’s definitely true FM, unless you are thinking the H5D or H6D aren’t MF.

      The lenses are still significantly less than the Leica glass which are like $4900 and $6300. You can get both Hassy lenses for the price of one of the Leicas…and then some.

      I disagree about the shallow DOF. Remember as MF the DOF is significantly different. I mean, it’s one of the reasons we love MF. At f/3.5 it’ll be as ‘shallow’ or more so than FF at 1.4. Just not as fast.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love the handling os the SL. Taking the menu and layout from the S was smart, but to get started with an SL with both its native lenses is going to cost around $4k more than the Hasselblad. It’s an argument to be had between the two in terms of price. Unless the handling of the Hasselblad is really poor…

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    • Lauchlan Toal

      I could be wrong, but I don’t think the DoF of medium format is quite as dramatic as that. I think the f3.5 on 33×44 medium format is closer to f2.7 on 35mm. Though I’m using the ratio of the diagonals to get that, and since they’re different aspect ratios it may actually be a bit different. So still quite a bit shallower than f3.5 on 35mm, but perhaps not quite f1.4 shallow.

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    • Jay Cassario

      Correct, it would be about f/2.7, so not close to that of a FF sensor with a f/1.4 or f/1.8 lens. If the sensor is the same size as the Pentax645z, it is not true MF, but it could be larger than the Pentax.

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    • Paul Nguyen

      I’m with Jay on this one. I think one of the habits of most photography news sites is the tendency to call everything that’s not Canon/Nikon “disruptive” even when they’re really not. The X1D is a camera that is never going to get more than 0.1% market share. It’s a niche camera and whilst it’s cool tech, it’s definitely not disruptive.

      Disruptive is when something comes along and completely changes the way most people work. We haven’t seen disruptive in a long time. I’m talking about autofocus, the move to digital, the Canon EOS system, stuff that actually obsoletes everything that came before it, allowing you to make shots you couldn’t before.

      Also, the assertion that “At f/3.5 it’ll be as ‘shallow’ or more so than FF at 1.4” is probably one of the most scientifically incorrect things I’ve seen you write. Lauchlan below is completely right – the difference is small (much smaller than APS-C to FF, mind you).

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    • Dave Haynie

      90mm f/3.2 on the 33×44 format will have exactly the same DOF as 90mm f/3.2 on a 35mm. To match the field of view and DOF on 35mm, you’ll need a 50mm lens at about f/2.7.

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    • Stephen Jennings

      Medium format would have a shallower depth of field than a 35mm camera. So if you took a traditional 80mm portrait lens on a MF that was f/3.5 it’d be the equivalent field of view as a 50(ish)mm lens on a 35mm sensor, with the depth of field around f/1.8. A MF 1.4 or 1.8 lens would provide an absurdly shallow depth of field. That’s one of the best things about MF, is to be able to shoot wide and close using longer focal lengths so that you eliminate the distortion.. a smaller aperture to get more detail, while retaining the bokeh. I’d shoot my 35mm lenses at f/3.5 if I could keep the bokeh… hell yeah I would. I’m pretty excited to see MF slimming down and becoming more affordable.

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    • Mark Romine

      Even though the sensor is not much larger than FF 35 this puppy will be capturing in 16 bit. None of the mainstream FF 35 is capturing 16 bit. 16 bit makes for a really sweet file.

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    • Richard Sintchak

      53% bigger in area is quite significant in my book.

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  5. Matthew Saville

    Pentax 645z, anyone?

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  6. Gus Sinn

    I’m sure this is really a game changer on photo industry. Where usual MFDSLR price soars up there around 30K, 1/3 price IS considerable bargain.

    If I was only familiar with 35mm FF, then I would have been bickering too since there are many reasonably priced alternatives out there. But there simply is non-crossable difference between 35 and medium format. Image resolution, d-o-f, color depth, sharpness, quality optics, just about everything except firgging bulkiness and weight.

    When I was relatively young, I used to grab a 500CM or Tachihara 4×5 for landscape work. Result was just non-comparable with any of 35mm Film including Leica M6 fitted with Summilux. Still see the same gap, if not wider, when I see result from almost 8 years old second-hand H3DII-39 and Canon 1Ds MK-II. (OK, I’m now comparing CCD with CMOS, but I personally can tell difference when shot at 100 with power pack.)

    Of course now I’m out of touch with photography but whenever I make business travel overseas I feel like having adecent camera rather than iPhone. If this X1D is as good as what is revealed so far, I might give one more shot at buying camera and stuffs.

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  7. adam sanford

    44×33 vs. FF is not the game changer some allege. Further, Hasselblad may try to offer a 2 year old sensor to enthusiasts like they did with the Lunar and Solar rigs. :-(

    Are folks really going to spend $15k on this + two lenses when the A7 (or future A9) platform will offer this same resolving power in 1-2 years with a far less expensive FF lens ecosystem to tap into for a fraction of the price?

    I personally see this stealing some Leica SL business and that’s about it.

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    • Mark Romine

      I don’t know Adam, Hassy is offering a couple things that other mirrorless systems are not as of this writing today. 16 bit files, that is huge far more important than file size and dual SD card slots. A camera body that only weighs 1.6 lbs. This is pretty revolutionary but I can’t afford it. Although there will be plenty of photographers who will buy just so that they can say they have it and use it.

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    • adam sanford

      Agree, the IQ should be great, but I see this courting folks already living in the ‘larger than FF’ space much more than tempting current FF shooters to climb into pricier waters.

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  8. Brian Stricker

    I wonder if there will be a flood of crop sensor A7’s for sale so people can get an actual “full frame” camera.

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    • Lauchlan Toal

      Of course, the 50 MP sensor is a cropped MFD sensor, so there’s yet more room to want more – fortunately for mirrorless lovers a tech cam with 8×10 film is (technically) mirrorless. Though if it needs to be digital the biggest non-paneled sensor suitable for photography that I know of is 4×4. So if we can convince everyone to sell their Hasselblads and get into large format instead there might be an even better used market…

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  9. Ernie Chang

    Not the first time this sensor is used out of digital back. Leica S and Pentax 645z both have enclosed sensors.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Ernie, the Leica S does not use the same sensor so that’s not really applicable. I can see what you are saying about the 645z though, as it does use the same sensor, but that’s not truly enclosed. It’s more an integrated back, along the lines of the Mamiya ZD.

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