Is it a dream come true, or just another boring camera in a string of boring quantitatively-designed cameras in a suuuuper boring quantitative-driven market?
This, above, is how a camera should be judged. Can it help a photographer produce good images? Images that the author feels proud of. All the rest, at least for amateurs, is blah blah blah.
So where does the Hasselblad X2D stand, compared to the X1D? Is buying it going to make my images better? Is the user experience going to be more inspiring and pleasant? Is it going to expand my shooting envelope? Or is it just going to cost me more in purchase, memory and processing power ?
It’s early days, yet. And I still don’t know what to think of this launch. So to help potential buyers, and myself, largely myself 😉 , better make a decision here is a list of features with commentary and one of the following 3 ratings : BRILLIANT, OK, and GET A LIFE.
OK, the 100Mp elephant in the room. My initial gut feeling is most certainly GET A LIFE. All those people getting excited about the 100Mp really need to give me a use case. Just one. Anyone who’s seen an X1D file at 100% knows that the one thing this camera doesn’t need, it’s more resolution. Those files, at 200% are sharper than anything else I’ve used at 100%. More resolution is just more energy, storage … totally wasted.
The camera comes with new features, including IBIS, that might have been available only with this sensor. And maybe, just maybe, in this ridiculous market, maybe Hassy needed a 100Mp camera to survive. So, although I see no use for it and many drawbacks, I’ll give the new resolution an OK.
Also, a rumour stated an average file size of 206Mb, which is more than double the average file size of the X1D, at double the resolution. What’s going on here? If there are image quality improvements with the quantity increase, that could be great news. I don’t expect Hassy to be sending me a review sample, particularly as I don’t intend on asking for one after my rather lackluster exchanges with the new PR team (I used to have a great relationship with the previous team). So, confirmation will have to come from outside and possibly a rental. Moving on.
5-Axis 7-Stop In-Body Image Stabilisation. My understanding of IBIS was that smaller sensors are easier to stabilize. Someone at Hassy disagrees and has produced many quantum leaps in technology. My X1D is a supremely stable camera. Its grip is fanstastic and the body is heavy. So I can routinely hand hold 2/f shots, sometimes more, if my last G&T was a long time ago. IBIS was never one of my priorities for upgrading. But if it’s there and it works as advertised, that’s amazing. That would bring me to 2^7 x 2/f. So, essentially 1 second exposures with a 250mm lens. Ummm … okay. Given the creative avenues this opens up, I’ll give this a tentative BRILLIANT, with a pinch of wait and see.
Phase Detection Autofocus. Technically, I don’t know, or care, what that means. The current AF is slow and noisy. But dead accurate. If the new one is as accurate and faster, cool. I mean, everyone is in such a hurry, these days. How about a quicky, darling, is the name of the game in photography today. Everything has to go fast. I don’t care for it, but it doesn’t bother me. Let’s rate that OK, with a hint of brilliance, given it can help grab different types of images.
1Tb Built-In SSD. To the best of my knowledge, Pixii and Zeiss (ZX1) were the first to offer this. And not one part of this isn’t BRILLIANT. No cards, baby. Game changing simplification of process.
16-bit colour, 15-bit dynamic range. Native ISO of 64. All three excellent claims. For now, I’ll stick to OK, because it is so easy to promise and under-deliver in those departments. We’ve seen it over and over again (though not with Hasselblad). But, if true, that alone is worth the price of admission for me.
Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution. I don’t know what that means. Colours, and highlight transitions on the X1D are very good, though not great. If this has been improved in any meaningful way, then defo BRILLIANT. If this is just words on a page, well … Again, only comparisons and possibly a rental will tell me.
Touch Tilt display. I’m not the target audience for this, but it’s still a BRILLIANT addition.
More pixels in the EVF and rear screen. OK. Why not? I’d much rather keep the old ones and pay less for the camera. Ditto blackout time. Plenty of people who have never used the camera complain about its blackout time. I don’t ever realize it’s there. Who the heck cares about blackout time? This ain’t a sports camera. So, OK, though I’d have kept the previous stats and some change, if asked. Globally, GET A LIFE, bordering on OK.
Phocus Mobile 2 & iPhone/iPad tethering. Here again, I smell more than a whiff of Pixiiness 🙂 Whether the associated app is any good I cannot say. But the camera’s UI is brilliant, so I have no reason to doubt the app’s will be. Fast connect via WiFi or USB-C, easy, efficient, sharing of images. If the promise is met in real-life, that is UTTERLY BRILLIANT.
New lenses. Faster (cool), smaller (okayyy, how?), sharper. Most of those promises are mutually exclusive. So either Hassy has upped the game significantly over the summer or, bold claims? The fact is that current lenses are really good and the company enjoys a stellar reputation with optics. So those new lenses must be something special. The fact that they again have an aperture ring only stabs my heart with the depressing reminder that mine don’t (what what whaaaat were they thinking ????????). But it’s great to see them back. So, globally, a resounding BRILLIANT.
My initial evaluation of the rumours surrounding this new iteration of Hasselblad’s brilliant X1D concept (a Mamiya 7 for the digital age, ironically enough) weren’t that positive, really. What’s the point of playing catch up with Fuji, 2 or 3 years too late? Why focus on quantitative evolution when that is so obviously throwing the whole industry off a cliff?
Besides, with the launch of the urbanite 907x, I was kind of hoping the X2D would become the outdoorsy cousin, rubberised, with good video and 300 meters of survival rope in the strap (I kid). That’s obviously not the case.
But, the new camera certainly isn’t playing catch up to anyone. It’s bringing a lot of interesting ideas to the world of “medium format”, it looks gorgeous, and it seems set to open up huge swathes of shooting envelope for creatives to explore. I’ve no idea whether I’ll be able to test/review one (though I would love to), let alone afford one (the price is seriously hefty), but I sure wish it lives up to all the bold claims, as this would make for an endgame camera for 99% of photographers. Kudos Hassy!
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