For the first time ever it is possible to reap the benefits of a medium format sensor in a camera which is the same size, if not smaller, than most high-end DSLRs.
Medium format digital cameras have traditionally been the preserve of professional commercial photographers, who enlarge their images to the size of billboards; or landscape photographers demanding the widest dynamic range possible from their cameras. In days gone by these cameras have been large in size and equally large in terms of price tag. With the X1D that power is now available in a sleek, compact body with a price similar to that of a professional full-frame SLR.
We took the X1D out to Gloucester Quays to see how it compares to current medium format (Pentax 645z) and full-frame (Canon 5D Mark IV) cameras.
The first thing that strikes you about the X1D is the sleek design and premium feel of the body and lenses. It feels solidly built, albeit lightweight and is easy to hold thanks to a well contoured grip. There is a small selection of ergonomically placed buttons and a retractable command dial, which are easy to use and fit perfectly within the sleek design.
Most of the camera’s functions can also be controlled using the large, clear touchscreen which has a clean interface, much like the electronic viewfinder. Although this can take a little getting used to if you haven’t used a camera with a touchscreen before, it works just as well as the touch screens available on best (the now almost ever-present) smart phones.
To ensure consistency when comparing image quality from each of the cameras, they were all set to record raw files, which were then converted using Lightroom to full quality JPEGs with no adjustment. Each of the cameras was fitted with a high quality prime lens, all with a field of view as close as possible to a 40mm lens on a full-frame camera. All photos were shot on tripods at identical aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings to further maintain consistency. Here are some of the first photos we shot.
Hasselblad X1D at 1/60 f/11 ISO 100
Canon 5D IV at 1/60 f/11 ISO 100
Pentax 645z at 1/60 f/11 ISO 100
The first thing that jumps out at you when you zoom into the X1D’s photos is the extra resolution offered by it and the 645z versus full-frame cameras such as the 5D IV, shown in these 100% crops. This can be invaluable for those looking to extract the highest detail from scenes and for printing images at large sizes. It also gives extra flexibility for cropping images in software.
100% crop – Hasselblad X1D at 1/60 f/11 ISO 100
100% crop – Canon 5D IV at 1/60 f/11 ISO 100
100% crop – Pentax 645z at 1/60 f/11 ISO 100
Another much sought after benefit of medium format is the wider dynamic range offered. This allows users to record more detail in shadows and/or highlights versus smaller sensors, which is invaluable for landscapes and high contrast scenes. As these test shots show the X1D retains detail in the highlights more readily than the 5D IV by about one stop. This means that in certain scenarios when using the X1D you will be able to use an exposure one stop brighter than the 5D IV and still retain details in the brightest parts of the image.
Clipping and Histogram - Canon 5D IV at 1/20 f11 ISO100
Clipping and Histogram - Hassleblad X1D at 1/20 f11 ISO100
This dynamic range can obviously be very useful straight off the bat for higher contrast scenes and also allows for greater flexibility in editing because details are recorded in highlights which might otherwise have been lost on a smaller sensor.
The performance benefits offered by the X1D’s medium format sensor coupled with the revolutionarily compact form factor could well be a game changer for photographers, especially those who want the highest in resolution and dynamic range. Never before has digital medium format technology been available in such a compact and competitively priced package.
We currently have a demonstration model of the X1D with a 45mm f3.5 and 90mm f3.2 lens in our store in Dursley so you can see for yourself how powerful and easy to use it is.
If you have any questions feel free to visit our store, call us on 01453 548128 or email firstname.lastname@example.org