Hasselblad X2D 100C: Incredible resolution, beautiful imperfections | Engadget

Hasselblad X2D 100C: Incredible resolution, beautiful imperfections |  Engadget

After releasing two previous models, Hasselblad seems to have finally nailed the compact medium format camera with the X2D 100C. With a 100-megapixel back-illuminated sensor that’s twice the resolution of the latest model, it promises incredible image quality and stunning design. However, it also has limited autofocus capabilities, no video, and a hefty price tag. So is it just a luxury item or is it good for serious photographers?

My professional photographer friend Nathanael Charpentier wanted to find out. He was interested to see if the X2D could help him take more creative photos compared to his current sony a1 and A9 cameras. At the same time, he was looking to use it in select situations to complement, rather than replace, his existing setup.

Obviously the X2D will perform well and take great pictures in a controlled studio environment, but Nathanael wanted to test it out in more challenging scenarios, such as live events. As such, he photographed a theater group, various professional sets, musicians, and a night out, using both the Hasselblad and his Sony A1 for comparison. I also took it myself to test in low light, for landscapes and more.

body and handling

The X2D is bound to make comparisons with Fujifilm’s 100-megapixel GFX 100S. On the one hand, the Fuji model has more advanced technology, such as AI autofocus with eye and face detection. However, Hasselblad offers better industrial design, handling, and build quality.

Physically, they couldn’t be more different. While the GFX 100S looks like other Fuji mirrorless cameras but bigger, the X2D is sleeker and more modern. It has almost the same layout and controls as the X1DII Y X1D first introduced in 2017, with some improvements. That’s great, since the body is beautiful and practical. However, there are some usability quirks.

Gallery: Hasselblad X2D 100C | 23 Photos

Control layout is sparse compared to the GFX 100S and most modern mirrorless cameras. It has front and rear dials for the main settings, along with ISO/white balance, mode, power, exposure lock, display, and menu buttons. They are generally responsive and have a high-quality feel.

It’s relatively light for its category at 895 grams, but it’s still pretty heavy. Fortunately, the large, non-slip grip is nice to hold and makes the X2D comfortable for all-day sessions. Ergonomically it’s generally easy to use, but I missed having a joystick to move the AF point. That has to be done using the screen or the dials, which can be awkward.

The menu system is equally simple. The main settings are available on one screen and everything else has its own category, such as focus, exposure and general settings. Again, it’s easy to use, but some extra manual controls would help if you need to make adjustments on the fly.

Where the X1D II had a fixed screen, the 3.6-inch has a 2.36 million-dot touchscreen. It’s the only way to change a lot of settings, so luckily it’s bright, sharp, and responsive. It tilts up, unlike previous models, but only 70 degrees, which is insufficient for very low shooting angles. You’re also somewhat blocked by the large protruding viewfinder (EVF) when looking down.

Hasselblad X2D 100C: Incredible resolution, beautiful imperfections

Steve Dent/Engadget

Speaking of which, the OLED EVF is another strong point. It has a sharp 5.76 million-dot resolution with a 60fps refresh rate and a huge 100 percent magnification. It even offers electronic diopter adjustment for people who wear glasses, which turned out to be effective and great. Setting it up is like taking an eye exam, as the words come into focus.

In addition to the CFexpress Type B slot, the X2D has a built-in 1TB SSD, enough to store more than 3,000 RAW and JPEG shots. It’s fast and spacious enough to hold and transfer huge images. I’ve never used the CFexpress slot, except for backup, but it’s also nice to have a high-speed card slot for fast transfers.

At 420 shots, battery life is better than previous models, but it’s still low, and that number is reasonably accurate in our experience. Fortunately, it supports PD 3.0 fast charging up to 30W, so you can get a full charge in about 2 hours and run it on AC power in a studio. Still, I’d recommend extra batteries and the optional dual-battery charger, which costs an extra $155.

Hasselblad X2D 100C: Incredible resolution, beautiful imperfections

Steve Dent/Engadget

If you’re shooting in a studio, you can use the Phocus app (on Windows or Mac) for remote triggering and photo organization. It offers exposure bracketing, but doesn’t have a live view or any way to change the settings.

Finally, while the X2D 100C is well made, Hasselblad won’t say if it’s weather resistant. So for shooting landscapes in bad weather, the GFX 100S might be a better choice, as it’s rated by Fujifilm for protection against dust and splashes.

Nathanael: My first impression was of the handling. The ergonomics seemed very good to me. It’s quite heavy, but it has a great grip, so you always have a good grip on it. It was easy to change key settings like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, but moving the autofocus point could be a bit fiddly. Once I got used to the controls I was able to shoot pretty quickly.


With a new processor, the X2D boots much faster than before (2 seconds compared to 4 seconds) and is considerably faster overall than the X1D II. Hasselblad also has three new V-series lenses (38mm f/2.5, 55mm f/2.5 and 90mm f/2.5) that are designed to focus three times faster than previous models when used with the new AF system. hybrid of the X2D.

Hasselblad X2D 100C: Incredible resolution, beautiful imperfections

Steve Dent/Engadget

Speed ​​isn’t what the camera was built for, but it can manage about 3.3 images per second (14-bit mode only), which isn’t bad considering the 215MB RAW frame size. However, photographers won’t buy it as a sports camera and will most likely only use it in single shot mode for full 16-bit images.

Whereas previous models only had contrast-detection autofocus, the X2D finally has superior hybrid phase-detection AF. The implementation, however, is not ideal. The small single AF point was often not accurate enough for the extremely shallow depth of field. And aside from a setting to make the focus point slightly larger, there are no other AF options like area etc.

Eye and face detection is also not available, although Hasselblad has indicated that it will come in a future update. Engadget has reached out to the company to find out when that might be happening.

In any case, Nathanael wasn’t too concerned with perfect AF and often preferred manual focus, and that works very well. Like other mirrorless cameras, it has a magnification system that kicks in when you manually operate the focus ring. It’s the best implementation I’ve seen, though: the high resolution of the sensor allows for a large 100 percent zoom, and it’s crystal clear on the high-resolution screen. At the same time, the improved focus clutch on the new V lenses makes fine focus adjustments quite easy.

Hasselblad X2D 100C: Incredible resolution, beautiful imperfections

Steve Dent/Engadget

Hasselblad’s famous mechanical leaf shutter built into the lenses reduces noise and vibration to a minimum and allows flash to be synchronized up to the maximum speed of 1/2000. As with Fuji’s GFX100s, the electronic shutter cannot be used for most moving subjects due to the rolling end of the shutter.

Finally, the X2D is equipped with a new stabilization system developed from the ground up by Hasselblad for the large sensor. It allows for seven stops of blur reduction, compared to six on the GFX 100S. That allowed us to take sharp photos at shutter speeds as low as a fifth of a second, which is no mean feat with such a demanding sensor.

Nathanael: To begin with, I shot almost exclusively with manual focus. It didn’t bother me because there are various tools to help a lot with that. When you turn the focus ring, it really zooms in and you can see the focus clearly. Later, I learned all the quirks of autofocus and figured out how to make it work better, so I started using it more often. In the end, most of the time I took sharp photos using a combination of manual and auto focus, depending on the situation.

image quality

Gallery: Hasselblad X2D 100C sample image gallery | 28 Photos

The X2D’s biggest weapon is the new 100-megapixel back-illuminated sensor, likely the same one used in Fujifilm’s GFX 100S and its own. H6D-100C. For reference, the X2D’s pixel size is 3.76 micrometers, the same as Sony’s 61-megapixel A7R V. You can take JPEG, 10-bit HEIF, or 16-bit RAW photos.

Hasselblad says the dynamic range is in excess of 15 stops, which is more than any camera it’s tested. The company also uses what it calls “Natural Color Science” to provide accurate, pleasing shades.

With all that, the X2D delivers some of the best images I’ve ever seen straight from a camera. Color reproduction is excellent and of course the images are sharper and more detailed than almost any other camera on the market. This is helped by the new XCD V series lenses, which offer incredible sharpness right to the edge of the frame.

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