This review has been a long time coming, and we know we’re a year late, but the Hasselblad X1D II 50C is such an amazing camera, there’s no way we’re going to pass up a chance to review it and try it out.
It’s one of our favourite consumer-grade medium format cameras, it’s small, compact and light. There have been plenty of reviews on the market, and yeah, this camera is slow, there’s no eye-tracking, there’s no joystick to adjust autofocus points, we know these things. But the X1D II 50C is one of the best-designed, most beautiful cameras on the market.
The craftsmanship of this camera, the buttons, the dials, they all come together in a package that feels really good in the hand. Comparing to the original X1D, it’s a new space gray colour that’s quite similar to the iPad Pro and other Apple products out there. The grip also has a slightly different texture, and we do prefer the original grip on the X1D, but the new one isn’t bad either.
Besides the larger rear display, all the buttons are configured exactly the same. If you put the X1D II 50C besides the original X1D, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference aside from the colour.
The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has been enhanced though, with a new 3.69-million dot EVF. So while it’s not as good as the 5.76-million dot EVFs or more, it’s still quite decent, and much better than the EVF on the original X1D.
There’s an improved processor inside this camera, and you’ll notice it with the startup time improving to just around 4 seconds and the touchscreen being a bit more responsive. There’s also GPS built-in, and Hasselblad has actually removed the HDMI port because most people probably wouldn’t be shooting video on it.
Inside, it’s the same sensor as the one used in the original X1D, the GFX50S, 50R and the Pentax 645. It’s been around for a number of years and we’ll probably see an updated version in the future, but it produces beautiful colours, tonality and has 14-stops dynamic range. It’s an older sensor, but it produces gorgeous photos.
Hasselblad’s colour science is one of the best out there in terms of accurate skin renditions, colours as seen by the eye and their RAW files look like JPEGs. The colours out of the X1D II 50C are beautiful, minimal editing is needed to achieve a great look.
Unfortunately, the battery life on this camera isn’t fantastic, it does go rather quick. The X1D II 50C also tends to get quite hot. One way to overcome this heat and battery problem is by putting the camera to sleep when you’re not using it.
Let’s talk a bit about the two lenses we got as well, the XCD 45P and the 80mm f/1.9.
First up is the 45P, and it’s essentially Hasselblad’s entry-level kit lens coming in at around US$1,099. It’s the most affordable lens in the XCD lineup, but it doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing quality because this lens really does impress. It’s a 45mm f/4 lens and a lot of people will most likely go for this lens over Hasselblad’s older 45mm lens because of multiple reasons, including price, weight and size.
There are nine elements in seven groups inside the lens, two aspherical elements and the lens aperture can go from f/4 to f/22. The autofocusing in this lens is actually a bit faster than other XCD lenses and the shutter is also quieter than other XCD lenses. If you want something really discreet to walk around and do street photography with, this lens is great.
Colours out of it are fantastic, optical performance is really good and while there’s a bit of distortion here and there, it’s pretty minimal and can be easily corrected in Lightroom or another editing software. If you need one lens for your X1D II 50C or 907X, the 45P is a must-have.
Now let’s talk about a lens that could be one of our top 5 favourite lenses of all time, the 80mm f/1.9. We’ve wanted to test this ever since it was announced, and while it’s late, the lens didn’t disappoint. It’s beautiful, the bokeh is fantastic, photos are sharp, the 3D pop, colour, image quality and everything about this lens is just phenomenal.
Regardless of system, this is one of the most breathtaking lenses we’ve used. We’ll rank this up there with the Otus, Leica’s stuff and Schneider’s lenses from Phase One. It’s a heavy lens at 1,044g with 14 elements in nine groups, it’s a large lens but the image quality makes this lens amazing.
Autofocus is a bit slow, it’s an f/1.9 lens, but something you’ll notice about this lens is that if you bring it into a low light situation, you’re not going to have to crank up the ISO. If you compare this lens to a full-frame equivalent, it’s about a 65mm f/1.4.
It’s also a great lens for portraiture, but you do have to keep in mind that f/1.9 aperture has a very shallow plane of focus, so you might get the eyes in focus and the rest of the face is out of focus if you’re really close to the subject. That being said though, photos shot at f/1.9 have incredible detail and if you get your focus down, it’s tack sharp.
Final thoughts on this camera? Sure, it isn’t as fast as others in the market and it’s lacking a lot of new technology. But sometimes, when you spend some time with a camera, you learn how to work with its strengths and overcome its weaknesses and the X1D II is not a fast camera, but it teaches you to enjoy what you’re photographing and make each photo count. When you see those images and the colour, the tonality it has, you forget about what the camera doesn’t have, you enjoy what it does have.
Content by Bobby Tonelli