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Hasselblad X1D-50C or Fujifilm GFX?

Hasselblad X1D-50C

See my Hasselblad X1D-50C wish list and Fujifilm GFX wish list.

See Hasselblad X1D coverage and Fujifilm GFX coverage.

The Hasselblad X1D has apparently started to ship in some countries, but I have no independent confirmation of my own. I expect to receive an X1D for review as soon as it hits the USA at B&H Photo. This new category of medium format mirrorless is a very high priority for my testing, and I hope that Sony joins the fray.

My review of medium format mirrorless cameras going forward will be in a new medium format section by subscription, not part of any other publication, but included in the everything deal. This is the only viable way I can report in-depth on these cameras, the capital cost being too high otherwise.

My advice is simple: if you’re investing in a system that will cost $12000 to $14000 for a 2-lens kit, it makes no sense to rush out and buy either until the facts are in—unless you have money to burn.

I expect both cameras to be excellent in regards to image quality, but that is only one of several considerations: image quality, size/weight/ergonomics, lens lineup and timeline, versatility, support and service short and long term, track record.

Accordingly, I raise these points as highly salient to intended usage, some more and some less , but which is which depends on what the shooter is after:

  • The X1D has leaf shutter lenses, so no focal plane shutter. This has the advantage of high flash sync speeds and essentially zero vibration, but it precludes adapting things like the Cambo Mini View Camera or adapting Zeiss Otus. Still, those using strobes in the studio may find the leaf shutter support irresistible.
  • The X1D looks to be relatively svelte and sleek compared to the Fujifilm GFX. Without handling the camera, I can}t say wether its relative lack of buttons is going to make the cut for me and/or whether its touchscreen will be a problem (I’ve never found a touchscreen that does better than cause problems for me—part of that is presbyopia making a touchscreen useless anyway). The GFX is larger, but that could be a plus or a minus, depending.
  • Be cautious on autofocus. Do not assume that AF is accurate, and that this may be most critical feature of all: verify, do not assume. Given Fujifilm’s track record in mirrorless for years now, the GFX is not likely to have issues, but even that should not be assumed. Hasselblad...?
  • As pointed out in Roy P’s reader comment that follows, warranty, construction quality, and reliability are all factors which may be primary for some shooters.
  • The 4-month delay in delivering the Hasselblad X1D raises a big red flag for me: poor planning and execution does not go away just because an initial rev ships. The causes are unclear, but I suspect bugs had to be fixed, at the least. I would not be a buyer of the X1D until more is known. The Fujifilm GFX is in the pipeline, and given the years of experience with Fujifilm with mirrorless digital, I expect Fujifilm to deliver on time with relatively bug-free firmware.
  • Fujifilm apparently had Sony build a custom sensor, while Hasselblad apparently did not. This raises the issue of image quality (noise, color depth and accuracy, high ISO, long exposures, etc), even if the sensors are both manufactured by Sony. That said, I expect both cameras to offer extremely high image quality. [By “sensor” I mean what comes out the pipe from sensor and electronics; the two are a system and cannot be decoupled.]
  • Fujifilm has laid out an aggressive lens map that includes 5 primes and a zoom. That is evidence of a major commitment. Hasselblad leaves me wondering. See also the Fujifilm GF lens lineup at B&H.
  • The Fujifilm GFX does not have leaf shutter lenses, so no high-speed sync. However, its focal plane shutter means that any lens that can be adapted can be shot on the Fujifilm GFX (like a Zeiss Otus). This is a huge potential advantage for all sorts of medium format lenses, high performance lenses like Zeiss Otus. But of importance only if one wants to adapt. I’m assuming that the GFX supports an EFC shutter, if not then I’m worried that shutter vibration could be an issue.
  • Fujifilm has a deep R&D budget, proven commitment to regular firmware upgrades, outstanding color management (one reason Fujifilm X users love their cameras), and in general has a large presence in the mirrorless world. Hasselblad is a small company that apparently has sought external financing with DJI, possibly even acquired. The X1D could turn out to be the superior camera, but until this financing plays out, the smart move is to give it some time, which allows seeing how the Fujifilm GFX performs.

Quite an impressive lens line at the outset for Fujifilm. See Fujifilm GF lenses at B&H Photo.

Multiply by 0.82 for equivalent horizontal focal length / field of view as compared to a 36x24mm sensor: 19mm, 26-52mm, 37mm, 52mm, 90mm, 98mm.

     
     
Fujifilm Fujinon lenses for Fujifilm GFX
Fujifilm GFX and EVF

Roy P writes:

To that list, I would add warranty, construction quality, and reliability, all of which suck with the Leica S, which is not even a true MF.

Leica’s warranty is a ludicrous 1 year on the S cameras which cost as much as $16,900, and S lenses that cost as much as $11,000.

DIGLLOYD: Roy had 9 Leica S lenses (now 6), nearly all of which have needed service, which means months of downtime (I’m aware of the entire in-depth horror story). Through other channels, my information is that the internals of Leica S lenses are at best described as consumer grade. Thus I concur completely on the “warranty, construction quality, and reliability” concern as something worth critical consideration before investing in any medium format system.

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