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Hasselblad X1D II 50C review

When it was released in 2016, the original X1D was a revolutionary camera, liberating medium format photography from the bolted-down realm of tripod and studio shooting.

And this is the overriding reason why Hasselblad chose to simply update the camera, rather than releasing an entirely new version with (as many people hoped) a 100MP sensor (and it should be remembered that the company already has a 100MP camera, the Hasselblad H6D-100c Medium Format DSLR). 

The Hasselblad X1D II 50C retains its predecessor’s sleek, lightweight form factor. As such it remains a legitimately portable and powerful imaging machine, comparable in size and weight to a 35mm DSLR, suitable for medium format street photography – something that is still an incredible feat. RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…CLOSE

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It has also benefitted from a version 1.2.0 firmware update in June 2020, which has at last made the video mode functional, adds focus bracketing, a neat white balance eyeropper tool, the ability to rate images in-camera an option to adjust the EVF proximity sensor. You can also reset the custom function buttons to their factory default, just in case you’ve lost your way.

But while the X1D II 50C brings undeniable style to the medium format market, that does not guarantee it a place amongst the best medium format cameras, and it doesn’t necessarily make it one of the best cameras for professionals.

The Hasselblad has been challenged by the new wave of full-frame mirrorless cameras with similar image resolution – or better, in the case of the mighty 61MP Sony A7R Mark IV. However, while this and the 45.7MP Nikon Z7 and 47.3MP Panasonic S1R offer similar or better pixel counts in similarly sized chassis, the fact remains that they are still using 35mm size image sensors.

At some 67% larger, the medium format sensor in the X1D II is still significantly greater in size and able to capture greater image scale, detail and that all-important depth of field. So don’t get misled by those megapixels – today’s full frame mirrorless cameras may have comparable resolution, but 35mm sensors will never do what medium format can.

That said, where the original X1D broke new ground in 2016 by making medium format a truly portable proposition, since then it has been joined by the likes of the Fujifilm GFX 50S and Fujifilm GFX 50R – its direct competitors in terms of sensor size, body size and price tag. And of course, there’s the Fujifilm GFX 100that offers both image stabilization and double the resolution. 

So where, then, does the Hasselbald X1D II 50C stand in the current medium format stakes? 

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensor: 50MP medium format CMOS, 43.8 × 32.9 mm
AF points: 117 contrast AF
ISO range: 100 to 25,600
Max image size: 8,272 × 6,200
Metering modes: Spot, centre weighted and centre spot
Video: 2.7K at 30p
Viewfinder: OLED EVF,  3.69m dots, 100% coverage, 0.87x magnification
Memory card: Dual SD cards (UHS-II compatible)
LCD: 3.6-inch touchscreen, 2.36m dots
Max burst: 2.7fps
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, USB-C (3.0)
Size: 148 x 97 x 70mm (body only)
Weight: 766g (body only, with battery and SD card)

KEY FEATURES

Hasselblad X1D II 50C vs Hasselblad X1D 50C

There are a number of incremental updates between the X1D II and the original X1D that, while they may seem slight on the surface, are quite significant in terms of the new camera’s performance. 

Both the electronic viewfinder and rear screen are much improved in terms of resolution and refresh rate, which is now 60fps in live view with reduced shutter lag and black out time between frames.

The 3.69 million-dot OLED EVF is a big step up from the 2.6 million dots of the original, and also possesses a greater magnification of 0.87x. Perhaps the biggest plus, though, is the fact that the menu system is now accessible when looking through the viewfinder.

The rear touchscreen is now 3.6 inches (up from 3.0) and 2.36 million dots (from 920 thousand). It’s also much more responsive, with some welcome additions such as drag and drop focus point placement (enabling you to shoot through the EVF and move the point with your thumb on the touchscreen) and pinch/spread control to adjust the size of AF points. 

The JPG files it produces are now full resolution, as opposed to the quarter-sized reference JPGs of before, and benefit from the Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution technology for improved color rendition. While you’re probably going to stick to the RAW files if you’re using a camera like this, the ability to save and work with full-size JPGs is still very useful (again, especially when RAW files are 100MB+). 

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