Hasselblad’s name is synonymous with medium format photography. From the iconic 500 series film cameras to 2016’s X1D, which was the first digital, compact (well, relatively), medium format mirrorless camera. The original X1D’s image quality was outstanding, but unfortunately, the rest of the camera left much to be desired. Even the second model, which sped things like autofocus and processing up considerably, was still not quite there (6/10, WIRED Review).
Now Hasselblad has released the X2D 100C, along with some new XCD V lenses, and I am happy to say, this is the camera Hasselblad fans have been waiting for. It delivers stunning, massive RAW files, is plenty fast enough, and remains compact enough to feel like you’re shooting with a DSLR.
But it’s still a Hasselblad: At $8,200, plus another $4,000 or so for a lens, it’s not an affordable camera for amateurs. And yet, for the right kind of photographer, the X2D delivers.
The centerpiece of the X2D is a new image sensor. The sensor is the same physical size as that of the X1D II, but the megapixel count is double. The sensor is 11,656 x 8742 pixels, which actually puts it slightly over 100 megapixels, and it has a 4:3 aspect ratio. Hasselblad also touts the 15 stops of dynamic range its 16-bit files will deliver. Do those stats sound familiar? It might be because Fujifilm’s GFX100 medium format mirrorless uses a very similar sensor.
That hefty sensor size renders some incredibly sharp images with very nice micro-contrast in the details. It is in every way better than the previous sensor Hasselblad used in the X1D, and one of the best on the market right now. The only downside is that you get some massive image files. If you end up with an X2D, be sure to grab some spare SSD storage drives (and we have a guide to SSDs here), because RAW files from this camera are over 200 megabytes per image. Even the “fine” JPEGs are between 60 and 80 megabytes, depending on the scene.
The other, to my mind, even better upgrade in the X2D is a new processor. Huge image files are nice, but not so great if it takes forever to shoot them, as it did with the X1D. This time around I found that, while no speed demon, the X2D is fast enough that I didn’t notice any lags. The processor upgrade is paired with an autofocus upgrade that now uses 294 phase detection points, which covers nearly all of the sensor. That helps make it noticeably faster.
While the autofocus system in the X2D is a huge improvement, it’s nowhere near what you’ll find in full-frame flagship cameras like the Sony A9 or Canon R5. It reminded me a lot of Fujifilm’s autofocus system, which on paper isn’t very impressive, but out in the real world, at least for the kind of shooting I do, both the Fujifilm and Hasselblad autofocus systems are good enough 90 percent of the time. The X2D is not the camera I’d grab to shoot sporting events, and it definitely had some trouble in backlit scenes (which is where all autofocus systems fall down), but for most situations it was accurate enough, though it does tend to hunt at times. The other thing to note here is that to get the full benefit of the new autofocus speed, you’ll need to be using one of Hasselblad’s new lenses. While the company’s legacy glass will work with the X2D, it won’t be nearly as fast to focus.
The X2D now includes in-body image stabilization, which Hasselblad says offers up to seven stops of stabilization. The company says you can shoot handheld at up to one-second shutter speed, which was borne out in my testing. I am lucky to have pretty steady hands, and I was able to shoot all the way up to 1.5 seconds without blur. On the flip side, any shake is very visible with a sensor that records this level of detail.
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