We put the Hasselblad X1D-50c to the test in this review. (Sebas Romero/)
Judged on ergonomics alone, you'd be hard-pressed to find a camera more satisfying than the Hasselblad X1D-50c. Milled from billet aluminum, its profile and design rival the quality of the 50-megapixel images captured on its medium-format CMOS sensor. A master class in form and function, the X1D begs the question: Should you study it for secrets of Swedish design or aim it at something Swedish instead? We did both, using it to shoot the 2019 Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 in Morocco.
Legendary industrial designer Sixten Sason designed the original 1600D for Hasselblad in 1949, and followed it up with the 1955 Husqvarna Silverpilen. Our pairing of the two brands in the blue city of Chefchaouen was pure intent.
This is not a camera for hobbyists or for those looking to shoot action. Instead, the big ’Blad rewards professional levels of patience and planning with stunning image quality. Thanks in large part to a sensor that boasts 70 percent more image area than a traditional full-frame 35mm sensor, there’s a depth and warmth in the images coaxed from this mirrorless beauty that you won’t find from the best DSLRs on the market. Professionals and pixel peepers will revel in postproduction. While images were characteristically rich and creamy when shot wide open on the two XCD lenses Hasselblad provided us (a 30mm f/3.5 and 90mm f/3.2), we achieved breathtaking sharpness by stopping down and shooting with a sufficiently high shutter speed.
Instead of placing the shutter in the body, Hasselblad incorporates one into each XCD lens. Swapping glass affords an impressive view of the massive 44mm-by-33mm sensor. But don’t gawk too long, lest dust bunnies find a new home atop the unprotected CMOS. Until the advent of the X1D, such dust intrusion wouldn’t have been a problem because most digital ’Blads seldom leave the safety of the studio. The more compact X1D, however, begs for outdoor adventures.
As with Husqvarna's Vitpilen and Svartpilen, not all is perfect. Start-up is slow, and user interfaces are clunky, though navigation improves as you learn your way around the massive touchscreen. Still, expect to take more time to set up and compose a shot than you would with popular DSLRs. Also, like the 'Pilens, don't assume it's a do-it-all tool. Instead, appreciate the X1D for its strengths. Expect to compromise if you're determined to be uncompromising.
Hasselblads—and medium-format cameras generally—are expensive, and the X1D continues that trend. While there are pricier cameras, the $8,995 X1D-50c body is just $3,000 shy of a new Svartpilen. Add $3,995 for the 30mm lens and $3,195 for the 90, and you’ll have more of an investment sitting in your backpack than in the machine sitting under you. Too much? Perhaps. But for the cameraphile looking for something to set their photography apart, the X1D-50c is worth every dollar.