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Reader Comment: Hasselblad X1D

Get Hasselblad X1D at B&H Photo.

Dante M writes:

I subscribed to your Medium Format as interested in the Hasselblad X1D. Your review and work is much appreciated though I noted that the GFX section looks being updated at a higher pace. Does this mean that you have "dismissed" the Hasselblad as a serious tool in the field?

I tested the X1D and I decided to buy it as it provided, apart form the image quality, the simple and essential approach I'm looking for when I want to take pictures. A tool not distracting from the final purpose, a camera not overloaded with functions and settings which render the photographing process a pain, at least to me (that's why I abandoned the Sony A7R2 and the Canon 5D Mark IV last month).

DIGLLOYD: the 30-day loaner period was over for the X1D, and I had to move on to the GFX, which I am almost done with, for now. Plus the X1D focusing issue.

I will have another X1D as soon as Hasselblad provides me one for some more evaluation with updated firmware to address the focusing issue. Also, there are the 22mm and 120mm lenses yet to come. My intent is to continue to cover the system, as well as add additional material.

As for “not overloaded with functions and settings” I agree only partially: in my view the GFX works better in the field than the X1D (the GFX focus issues aside): the 15 second blackout of Live View, the lack of a 4-way controller, the poor battery life, the taking of images by mistake just trying to get back into Live View (since it shuts off at 15 seconds), and so on. It’s fine for many types of work, but problematic for the way I like to work, and I see no hardware solution.

Michael Erlewine writes:

See Michael’s final decision on May 18.

Right now, with the X1D, I am learning to take photographs, as in: the process. I am not quite there with the camera enough to capture my ‘impressions,” at least not yet. And it’s not just the learning curve I’m talking about either, but the entire process, in particular getting the focus and the aperture just right. This will take some time.

The process involved in using the X1D is more involved than the simplistic camera it is made out to be. Since I tend to use LiveView, outside and in sunlight, this requires some kind of optical viewfinder to block the sunlight and offer some magnification. I started out with the Zacuto Z-Finder, hanging from a lanyard around my neck. However, the Z-Finder is so robust that its heaviness proved distracting. So, I switched to one of the ELVID viewfinders that, while not as good as the Zacuto, are so very light that I even forget I’m wearing it. Still, it is sharp enough and magnifies adequately to work just fine. I don’t need the extra clarity offered by the Z-Finder, at least not with the LiveView screen on the X1D. I can see to focus via the magnification “star” button.

Meanwhile, I am still very put off by the fact that LiveView switches off automatically after 15 seconds. This is not helpful when setting up a shot with the X1D, so I have no idea what they were thinking. However, I have been assured that this LiveView problem is fixed in the next firmware update, so I can wait for that. I am getting too old to always be the sacrificial lamb at the altar of technology, even (or especially!) with a Hasselblad.

I will leave it to others to comment on using the X1D for sports or walk-around shots. I may get to that, but so far that has not happened. I do have to keep remembering to have the timer on, since often (but not always) it turns itself off when I turn the camera off. Perhaps someone could tell me how to set it and have it on permanently. Since there is no hard-wired remote cord, I am stuck with the timer or using Phocus on my iPhone, which is just one more stone around my neck to carry around.

I am happy with the color on the X1D although I do find myself looking to NIK’s “Color Efex Pro 4” to tweak the removal of color casts from time to time. As mentioned earlier, at this stage in my learning curve I am just taking photos with the X1D, not actually creating them yet in my style, although I am getting close.

I am more or less happy with the lenses and understand that they may be working to improve the focus shift of the 90mm lens. I do everything with manual focus, and that is working OK. As for stacking, no problem, but I have not attempted large stacks, only what I call short stacks of maybe 3-4 layers. Like all cameras, this one takes some study, coupled with learning to use a medium-format lens, such as it is.

There is no doubt that I move more slowly with the X1D compared to the Nikon D810, and it is not just because it is a new camera to learn. In large, being more careful and attentive to process is good for me, and the X1D demands this if I want good results. So, I am into it.

Things I would like: Aside from leaving LiveView on, I would like a wired or IF remote and not have to haul around (and be careful of) my iPhone with Phocus software to be a remote. No thanks!

I would like a separate button to return to LiveView other than trying to guess how much pressure to place on the shutter release without accidently taking an unwanted photo. That is a pain.

I’ve got to do something until Nikon gets on the stick. I was not happy with the GFX, even though it is getting all the press these days. As for the timer. I have to take the battery out all the time because it’s the only one I have, although I should be getting two more in the next two days.

My firmware is up to date. Learning to use the X1D is a bit of work. Trying to see to focus with the LV going off all the time, should have been avoided.

DIGLLOYD: I share these concerns, although I have no issue with the Zacuto Z-Finder.

Battery life with the GFX I estimate at 3X better, and the Live View does not cut out. I do feel I can work better with the GFX in the field for the way I shoot, focusing being a glaring exception.

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