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Reader Comment: Hasselblad X1D-50C II vs Fujifilm GFX100 and Lenses for Each System

See also: Reader Question: Fujifilm GFX100 Best Medium Format Option?.

Reader Micha writes:

I’ve recently subscribed to your digital medium format reviews as I am considering to invest in one of the two systems, either the Hasselblad X1D II or the Fujifilm GFX-100.

I am mainly photographing people in all sorts of situations (mainly on location) and have tried out both systems myself by renting or loaning them for a couple of days.

Hasseblad X1D 50C

My experiences regarding the X1D II mirror exactly yours, on the outside it’s a lovely camera, but what’s being used inside is just outdated and can easily lead to frustration. The AF system used is incredibly archaic. And not having a multifunction button to focus and have to use the display instead just doesn’t feel right.

I am not sure and don’t think that those issues will be amended in the upcoming camera version, I was told by sources who are close to Hasselblad that there will be a 100MP X1D next year (which in my case would be more than I need for my kind of work).

Hence I am leaning towards the Fujifilm system.

I’ve read that you praise the quality of the XCD lenses in general, do you find that the GF lenses come close quality wise? I did read the reviews of the lenses which would be of interest for me. XCD 21mm, 45mm and 80mm, and the GF 23mm, 45mm, 63mm and the 110mm

I’d be very interested to hear your opinion and thank you so much for providing those very helpful reviews on your site.

Have a great Sunday, with best wishes from London, Micha

Fujifilm GFX100

DIGLLOYD: my essay on this topic including the true cost of each system is found in my review of the Hasselblad X1D-50C II:

Value Proposition: Hasselblad X1D II System vs Fujifilm GFX100 System

By the end of my trip shooting the Hasselblad X1D II, I was so pissed-off and irritated with the camera that it felt like punishment to use it. After a few hundred camera lockups (often losing me shots at critical moments), I wouldn’t advise anyone in their right mind to consider it. And yes, the autofocus is as bad as it gets on any modern camera, a huge handicap that that is a huge time-waster that forced me to to verify focus manually since I found I could never depend on the AF to get it right.

In general, my experience tells me that Hasselblad XCD lenses are generally held to higher quality control standards than Fujifilm GF lenses. But seeing asymmetry with most of the lenses I tested, I now have to wonder about that, as this go-round it looks more like a lens mount / sensor parallelism issue. I would also say that overall, lens performance is superior with Hasselblad XCD lenses (which carry a large price premium), BUT that is very different than choosing the best lenses in each system and getting good samples of those lenses.

However, Fujifilm GF lenses chosen well (and good samples) range more than good enough excellent, and image quality is also about the huge quality advantages of oversampling. Sampling at 100 megapixels (100MP sensor) blows away any 50MP camera in detail of course, but it also means greatly reduced digital artifacts for a more natural result. And when 100MP is downsampled to 50MP and then compared to a native 50MP sensor image, it is easily seen that the native 50MP image is grossly inferior in every way (digital artifacts of all kinds, noise, detail, etc).

Micha continues:

... thank you so much for your kind reply! .. and even putting my question and the answer on your website :) That’s super helpful and very appreciated.

Yes the X1D II still feels and operates very much like an unfinished product. I spoke to a few of my colleagues who owned one, invested a lot of money for extra lenses, and then switched over to the Fujifilm GFX, it’s not as sexy and pretty, but at least it works and gets the job done in a reliable way.

DIGLLOYD: exactly. The Hasselblad X1D II 50C is the “dumb blonde” of the camera industry. A mindful person (photographer) knows that “beauty” starts inside, with reliable operation, bang-on AF, fast response time, etc.

Thanks everyone for buying via my B&H links if you can as it matters to me a lot.

Howard C writes:

I read with interest your recent review of the Hasselblad X1D II and several XCD lenses, and then your comparison of the X1D II v. the Fuji GFX 100. I thought I would provide a counterpoint. 

First, your experience with the multiple freeze-ups with the X1D II you reviewed is totally at odds with my experience over the last 3 years. I used an X1D from January, 2017 to the Fall of 2019, and an X1D II from the Fall of 2019 until now. For the first 5-6 months, I did find the X1D to be buggy and at times frustrating to use. Lock-ups were frequent and the AF was also not always reliable. However, after a number of firmware updates, the stability of the X1D improved dramatically. The X1D and now the X1D II have proven to be the very best cameras I have ever used, going all the way back to 1967. Are they the perfect answer for every photographer? Of course not. Nothing in life is perfect. Everything has it plusses and minuses, and we all decide how to prioritize them.

Are there quirks in the way the X1D operates? Yes. I agree with you about the way it bounces out of magnified Live View if you use back button AF. I want it to stay in magnified Live View so I can assess how well the AF performed. However, I can adapt to that, as well as the way the AF sometimes hunts in low light. OTOH, I have taken many long exposures with the X1D, and it has never locked up like your sample apparently did on many occasions. Nor has the response time of the camera ever been an issue for me. I primarily shoot landscapes. When I pull the X1D out of my backpack, I turn it on. The camera is ready to shoot long before I have set up my tripod and figured out the best composition to shoot. I shoot slowly and deliberatively. The X1D has no trouble keeping up with me. 

Second, for me, the portability, the ergonomics and the user interface of a camera are critical. I insist on a camera that is simple to learn and operate, not littered with a multitude of menus and alternative ways to program it. I want the camera to get out of my way, not get in my way as I try to recall how I programmed it and which button is for which function. The X1D is fundamentally different from the GFX 100 in these respects. Day and night. 

Third, I want lenses with superb optical quality in the limited range of focal lengths that I need. The XCD lenses are the best I have ever used, and yes, I have tried the Fuji GFX lenses. I have never had to buy multiple copies of an XCD lens. And, I have never had any lens skew issues with the five that I own. The Fuji 32-64 GFX zoom is an excellent lens. The best zoom I had ever used. The new XCD 35-75 zoom is even better. Are the XCD lenses fast lenses? No, but that’s irrelevant to me. I am far more concerned with optical quality and portability than speed. Hasselblad gets that. 

Finally, I should mention the color palette in the X1D files. It’s not easy to describe, because what makes it exceptional is that it is so natural and, in a word, elegant. It’s just…beautiful and in good taste. And it’s true whether you are talking about portraits, landscapes, product, really anything. I suggest that anyone evaluating an X1D versus a GFX spend a little time on the Hasselblad website getting a sense of the “look” of the images that are showcased there. It actually tells you a lot about the aesthetics that are important to Hasselblad (and, of course, the photographers who took the photographs.) Hasselblad is a small manufacturer. They can’t do everything well, or even at times communicate very well. However, I do appreciate that the virtues in photography and camera systems that are apparently important to Hasselblad are the ones important to me. 

DIGLLOYD: everyone is welcome to prefer a brand or a camera for completely arbitrary reasons of their own, or because of specific features, or any reason at all. But when it comes reviewing something, I deem it essential to document and discuss bugs and usability problems and time-wasting behaviors, since they may be of crucial consideration for anyone considering the system.

Hasselblad XCD lenses: excellent. Hasselblad color and tone: excellent.

With the X1D II, I could not shoot in the best dawn or dusk light over my entire evaluation 4-week evaluation period due to lockups at 16s or longer exposures (a few exceptions, which IMO all but proves it is a bug that flakes out the camera). The camera locked up hundreds of times, frequently 5 seconds just after turning it on (when it quickly entered power save mode). I lost many images. Gone forever just like the Hasselblad X1D back in 2018, which failed me on Mt Whitney with my daughter not producing even a single image—images I can never repeat any more than a wedding. Unacceptable.

45 minutes on the phone with USA Hasselblad tech for no solutions. Redoing firmware several times. Major firmware update in early June that fixed nothing. No interest by Hasselblad in camera logs to debug the problem. BTW, why does the camera have log files at all? Maybe because it is buggy as hell, and Hasselblad must need the logs to figure out what’s failed (which makes me puzzled why no interest in the logs). I don’t have log files on Canon or Nikon or Sony or Fujifilm and those cameras are highly reliable. Connect the dots.

Maybe I got a “bad camera”, but what is that exactly? I don’t know after 12 years of using just about everything on the market, but I do know that Hasselblad X1D and X1D II have been the worst experience of any cameras I have ever used. Having the X1D destroy my plans on Mt Whitney back in 2018 was bad enough (so all I got was iPhone images). But it was followed by radio silence from Hasselblad after I provided logs and the camera back to them—no explanation, no followup.

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