Hasselblad's $12,000 Mirrorless Camera Is Utterly Absurd

Hasselblad just made a very exciting announcement for very rich, very enthusiastic photography nerds. And I have to admit, that even a not-so-wealthy nerd like me is aching at the site of the new X1D mirrorless camera. The selling point (if something this expensive can be said to have selling points) is that it has big medium format camera guts in a lightweight mirrorless body. Haunt a photography forum or two and you'll see the Hasselblad brand being treated with the kind of reverence most people save for saints or major political figures they admire. Hasselblad isn't just another photography company. Its medium-format cameras are an industry standard and used by thousands of photographers looking to take images that more naturally replicate the world as our eyes see it.

A Hasselblad medium format camera also costs about the same as the GDP of some smaller countries. All that "beauty" and "extraordinary rendition of images" costs a truckload of money.

OK let's face it, the X1D is absurd, but for that money, you're at least buying into some innovation. It's the first mirrorless medium format camera in existence! For that $US9000 ($12,000) (plus a minimum $US2000 [$2667] for lenses) you can get 50-megapixel images as potentially rich and gorgeous as those from Hasselblad's $US30,000 ($40,000) rigs.

But, you know, not really. It's still a mirrorless digital camera and real photography aficionados know that digital, and especially a 1kg mirrorless digital camera, cannot compare to the rich and detailed goodness of an image shot on film with a camera. I mean what is this Hasselblad? Amateur hour?!

If you're interested in replacing your swell $700 mirrorless camera don't be. The Hasselblad X1D should be great for quick medium format photography on the go, but it can't even shoot 4K video, and I can't use my 4/3 lenses! Instead I have to spend actual money on the only two lenses being released alongside the X1D (for $US2400 [$3200] and $US2700 [$3600] apiece) or go and invest in one of the super pricey Hasselblad H System lenses.

Is this thing impressive? For sure. Worth it? That depends how many zeros you have in your bank account.



    Might be time to brush up on the digital vs film argument.

    Sure, medium format film will give you a more detailed image (although if you digitise at any point rather than follow a purely chemical process this camera comes awfully close), but digital is now capable of giving you a richer image (I'm presuming by "richer" you're really referring to the dynamic range).

    So, like all old vs new arguments, it really depends on the situation.

      Yep, it's the same argument in cinema. Personally I'm going with the future, after spending many hours handling chemicals in darkened rooms!

      Sure, medium format film will give you a more detailed image (although if you digitise at any point rather than follow a purely chemical process this camera comes awfully close)

      Apart from the bit where you can pick up a Fuji GF670 for literally a tenth of this price, and vintage gear for half that.

      That said, if digital is good enough now for Gregory Crewdson, it's good enough for anyone.

      Last edited 23/06/16 2:04 pm

    Good to see Hassy stepping up their gimmick game, given Phase One have been embarrassing them in the digital MF realm for the past decade.

    Also, 44mm x 33mm is about as 'medium format' as a miata is a supercar.

      You mean MX-5 :P.

        Miata sounds far more effeminate, which makes it the funnier name :)

    Umm, no! Not sure I see the market for this one. Professionals are either going to use the phase one/hasselblad digital backs or Canon/Nikon ff cameras depending on profession. I wonder how well it does wildlife, sports and macro?

    Actually I think there is some value and utility here. It's not much more expensive than the starting price of the Pentax 645z which even made amateurs wistfully ponder for a moment (in fact it's rumoured to be the same or similar sensor). It's got a level of portability over the current digital MF cameras which certain professionals could make use of. Of course it remains to be seen how well it works but I think it's the most exciting thing they've done for years.

    Hopefully this means that a digital version of my lovely x-panII is on the way too.

    This is a very disappointing article obviously written by someone who knows nothing about medium format photography and what a different world it is compared to DSLR shooting.

    I have the new Hasselbald H6D-50c, (same sensor as the X1D). and it is amazing. MUCH improved over my previous H4D-40, and that was a staggeringly good camera. I played around with the the Pentax 645D when it came out and it was similar in some ways to my Hasselblad H4D-40. The H4D gave somewhat sharper and richer files to my eye and Pentax had a limited range lenses, unfortunately. The Pentax is still a great camera.

    The H6D is unbelievable! The high ISO ability, shadow recovery and sharpness easily beats the Nikon D810, Nikon D500 and also the Canon 1Dx, in my view. (I've used all these extensively in the last few months).

    Naturally, these Hasselblad cameras with the Sony 50MP CMOS sensor are not for fast focusing situations but more suited to portrature and landscape photography. Having said that, I've been practising wildlife photography at the zoo in preparation for an African trip soon and the H6D-50c will be my main camera...so much better than the Nikon D810 and D500 for animals that are keeping reasonably still! (The 500mm and 600mm f4 monsters are of course far superior for longer shots!)

    Please rent a Hasselblad H5D-50c or H6D-50c for the weekend and then write another article about the X1D that will be actually helpful to your readers. You seem to lack some insight into these systems.

      I second that. Well said.
      Tired of reading half assed articles from people who have had limited to no time with those cameras.
      Medium format is in a different league as far as images are concerned. Dynamic range, colors, detail and accuracy are untouchable by any DSLR whatsoever. Obviously they lack in many DSLR areas.
      In my humble opinion DLSR and medium format cameras should not be compared. They are different tools for different purposes. I shoot portraits and landscape and had a Nikon for many ears. Have been shooting with H5D for the past year and can testify that no Nikon comes even close to the Hassy. Not by a mile.
      I have not yet found a single camera that does everything excellent.
      And most serious amateurs and professionals keep more then one system in their arsenal.

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