Hasselblad Joins the Mirrorless Revolution

As I’ve already discussed here, I think that mirrors in photography will eventually go the way of the Dodo. And today we have more proof of that as the legendary Swedish medium-format camera maker Hasselblad joins the party with a new mirrorless design, the X1D-50C.

hasselblad-x1d-announcementThis remarkable camera is smaller than your average semi-pro FF DSLR, yet sports a 50Mpix 4:3 format medium sensor (same aspect ratio as MFT!). This new camera also comes with a new lens mount called XCD. Only two lenses have been announced at this time but you can use the regular Hasselblad HC lenses with an adapter (which is likely going to be very large).

hasselblad-x1d-announcement-0124They seem to have got a lot of things right with this camera. Compact size, solid machine build, simple control layout, large viewfinder, 16bit RAW files (each pixel value can contain up to 4x more colour information than in 14bit files), 14 stops of dynamic range. It uses a leaf shutter in the lens as is common with medium format, which means flash sync is achieved even at the maximum 1/2000th of a second shutter speed. Speaking of flash, they smartly adopted the Nikon Speedlight connection, so you can make use of any Nikon or compatible flash. The camera has a .8x focal length multiplier so the announced 45mm and 90mm lenses correspond to 36mm and 72mm FF equivalent focal lengths. This means the sensor is not huge, it is actually about 54 x 40mm, somewhat smaller than the traditional 60mm x 45mm  or 60mm x 70mm medium format film cameras, but I think that’s a smart move. I think the advantages of going mirrorless are even more obvious with a larger format as the size and weight of the mirror assembly required for such a sensor is very large, making the engineering of it even trickier.

hasselblad-x1d-announcement-0125I can’t wait to see what reviewers think of it and what the images look like. This is still far too expensive, large and heavy a system for my taste but still, it is a very exciting development for the future of mirrorless digital photography. It will probably be a dream come true for pixel peepers and those who need the utmost in image quality. It doesn’t quite bring medium-format to the masses, but it makes it far more portable and usable. I think this will be very popular with fine-art, portrait and fashion photographers and even landscape photographers. Street, wildlife and sports shooters will probably not be impressed.

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