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Review: Hasselblad X1D Medium-Format Mirrorless Camera

The X1D was the world's first mirrorless medium-format camera and it is a beauty. It's wonderful to hold, it's nice and stout with an all-aluminum alloy frame, and it comes with a lens system to match.

Dual Shooting Modes

The X1D offers dual shooting modes. You can shoot in the Hasselblad proprietary RAW format and JPG, or you can shoot in only one or the other. All of the stills that I took, I shot in the RAW format because it gives you the greatest latitude in postproduction and it gives you the full capabilities of the sensor that's built into this camera.

I was very impressed with the quality of the stills that I took with the X1D. They had plenty of resolution to do nearly anything that I could want to with them and lots of latitude in the file format. The 90mm lens also gave a great sense of depth for the portraits that I was taking. Next, I took the 21 mm lens onto the camera and I went out and did some street or public photography. Finally, after all the stills were done, it was time to test out the video capabilities of the X1D.

Shooting Video with the X1D

While the X1D can shoot video, it’s fairly rudimentary. Even when talking with a representative from Hasselblad, it was compared to one of the earlier DSLRs that offered video recording capabilities. Think of the Canon 5D Mark II, one of the first SLRs to offer video recording capabilities. You actually had to go through a weird hidden menu just to get to the video recording. It wasn't really built to be a video camera; it was built as a still camera with video recording capabilities added in.

That’s what the X1D is. Given the medium-format sensor that it has, the quality of the image is excellent. It still gives you an image quality that’s similar to something like a RED or a Blackmagic Cinema camera, or any other large-format cinema camera that you're used to dealing with these days. While the X1D cannot be a primary video camera for your production, it is certainly something that you can keep in your back pocket as an extra. Its compact size and ability to shoot in low light with great latitude makes it an excellent choice if you need a small camera but still need that large-camera look.

Cost will definitely be a factor when considering whether to purchase the X1D. The body itself runs $7,000 -$8,000, which puts it out of the range of a lot of producers, and the lenses of course are very expensive as well, and you're not going to be able to put your Canon or Nikon lenses on this camera.

Why would you purchase this for video production? Well, you'd probably purchase this camera as a very nice on-set photography camera. You'd be using it for stills, maybe for continuity and makeup checks. You would use it when you want the ultimate in quality for your stills or behind the scenes photos.

The fact that the camera has video capabilities is just an additional selling point. I would not recommend that anyone purchase this primarily as a video camera, but if you need an excellent portrait camera or street photography camera and you also want to be able to quickly record video if necessary, this would be an excellent choice if you’ve got the funds.