People who are into fitness and bodybuilding talk about a thing they call the “sleeper build.” It’s a term for someone who doesn’t look very strong or jacked until they flex or lift. It comes from the world of cars, where a “sleeper build” is a car that looks normal but has an engine that is much more powerful than expected. Having used Hasselblad’s X2D 100C medium format digital camera for about two weeks, we can say with confidence that it fits the definition of a “sleeper build” in photography apps. It hides an amazing amount of imaging power in a sleek and relatively unassuming body. The result is a really great, but hard to use, camera.
Hasselblad X2D 100C: Description
As the name suggests, this isn’t the first time a Swedish camera company has made a medium format digital camera with a rangefinder. The first X1D 50C came out in 2016, and the second one, the X1D 50C II, came out in 2019. Both cameras used 50-megapixel medium format (44mm x 33mm) sensors and had a lot of quirks, like contrast-based autofocus that was slow and painfully long startup times that could cause you to miss a shot.
The X2D 100C increases the resolution to 100 megapixels, adds phase detection autofocus (finally), and gives the back of the camera a touchscreen that you can tilt. As with previous models, the camera doesn’t have a mechanical shutter. Instead, it uses the leaf shutter built into each XD-mount lens and the sensor’s own electronic shutter mode.
Hasselblad X2D 100C: Pros and Cons
- Robust build quality and ergonomic design
- Versatile connectivity options
- Limited availability of third-party accessories
- Battery life may be shorter compared to smaller format cameras
|Sensor Size||43.8 x 32.9mm|
|Image Dimensions||11600 x 8700 pixels|
|Image Format||Hasselblad 3FR raw|
|Lens Mount||Hasselblad X System|
|Shutter Speed Range||60 minutes to 1/2000th of a second|
|Continuous Shooting||Up to 1.7 frames per second|
|Video Recording||Full HD 1080p at 25 fps|
|Rear LCD||3.0-inch touchscreen|
|Viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (EVF)|
|Storage||Dual SD card slots|
|Battery||Rechargeable Li-ion battery|
|Connectivity||USB 3.0 Type-C, Wi-Fi, HDMI, Audio in/out|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||150 x 98 x 71 mm|
|Official link||Visit Website|
Hasselblad X2D 100C: Design
We can expect that any new Hasselblad X-system cameras will win design awards, and we have no doubts about that. The X2D is a stunning example of how a classic format can be updated in a beautiful way. With the same high-end feel as the X1D II, the X2D is a camera you want to hold, to feel its sculpted curves and elegant black body, etched ‘X2D handmade in Sweden’ markings, and faux leather hand grip. The look is finished with a unique orange shutter button. The weather-sealed X2D is high-quality in every way, which is why it costs so much. It also doesn’t bring back memories. On the back, there is a big touchscreen that works like a smartphone screen. In the world of cameras, this is next level.
The X2D is also not just something to stare at. It feels great in your hand, and the curved grips on the front and back make it easy to hold on to whether you’re shooting in landscape or portrait mode. The shape feels as slim as it can get, and the XCD V lenses we used with the camera work really well with it. Even with the battery, the X2D only weighs 895g, and with one of the new lenses, which weigh 350g or 372g, you have a setup that is surprisingly light for the size of the sensor, like a full-frame mirrorless setup.
Hasselblad camera does things a little differently than “mainstream” cameras brands, and some things take a while to get used to, like the buttons next to the screen that are labeled in the style of the original PlayStation. But in other ways, the differences work to Hasselblad’s advantage there’s nothing too much here. The main menu only has one page, is simple and clear, and is easy to move around on that responsive touchscreen. In fact, the menu seems too simple and to the point, which is a bit scary. So what’s not there? Well, you can’t change the aspect ratio, which is always set to 4:3. Cropping can be done after the fact to change the aspect ratio, and there’s more than enough resolution to play with, but those visual aids can help original composition, especially for landscape photographers.
Hasselblad X2D 100C: Features
The Hasselblad X2D has a 100MP medium format back-side illuminated image sensor, which is the same one found in the Fujifilm GFX100 and GFX100S. It also has 15 stops of dynamic range and native 16-bit color depth, which is better than the X1D II, which had 14-bit color depth that was mapped to 16-bit. Hasselblad also made its own in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system with 5-axis correction and an amazing 7 stops of compensation, which is one stop more than the GFX 100S.
The X2D also has 1TB of storage built in, which can hold about 4,700 RAW files. This is a “second memory card” that goes with the new CFexpress Type B slot, which can hold cards with up to 512GB of space. The Hasselblad X2D’s hybrid phase detect autofocus, which has 294 zones and covers about 89% of the frame, is one of its most important features. The Hasselblad XCD 2.5/38V, Hasselblad XCD 2.5/55V, and Hasselblad XCD 2.5/90V are the three new X System lenses. They all have a new autofocus module that works with the new AF system to make focusing faster.
Hasselblad X2D 100C: Handling and Controls
Older medium format digital cameras had to be set up on a heavy, stable tripod, but the X2D is flexible enough to be used by hand. The handle is cleverly shaped so that it fits my medium-sized gloved hands. The thumb rest on the back is also a nice touch. It’s so big that it’s almost like a second back grip, and it makes the X2D much easier to hold for longer photo sessions.
Hasselblad keeps controls to a minimum. Both the front and back control wheels let you change the exposure, and there are a few buttons on the back that let you change the focus, lock the exposure, turn on and off on-screen overlays, and move through menus. Mode, ISO/White Balance, and an OLED information display are on the top of the camera. The X2D has both buttons and a touch interface. To change settings, big icons and easy-to-tap toggles are used in the menus.
The screen on the back looks great. The big 3.6-inch LCD has 2.4 million dots, which make the picture of your frame clear and bright. The X2D has a hinge that can tilt up to 70 degrees. I really liked that the screen could be tilted when we was taking pictures with the camera close to the ground. we didn’t have to get down really low to see what was going on in the frame. But because the viewfinder on the X2D sticks out from the back, the top of the screen can’t be seen from above.
Image and Video Quality
The sensor does a lot more than just phase-detection autofocus and 5-axis stabilization. The X1D II’s resolution is about twice as high at 100MP, and it has a back side illuminated (BSI) design. A BSI sensor has been shown to improve image quality in low light, so we can expect that Hasselblad’s choice to use it here will counteract the negative effects of the noise caused by putting more pixels on the chip, which limits the chip’s ability to gather light. In short, the image quality in low light should be about the same as the X1D II, but we have twice as much resolution.
In fact, the maximum sensitivity is still ISO 25,600, and we have been happy with the image quality up to ISO 6400, where noise in the shadows looks more like fine grain. When you look at a 100MP picture at 50%, which is the same size as an X1D II image, noise is also less noticeable. People who want the most dynamic range from their camera will be happy to see that the low end of the sensitivity range has been increased from 100 to 64.
For comparison, the 43.8 x 32.9mm medium-format sensor’s pixel density is 3.76m, which is the same as the 61MP full-frame Sony A7R V and the 26MP APS-C Fujifilm X-T4.The color accuracy and depth of tone, with a dynamic range of more than 15 stops, are even more impressive. You won’t find options in the camera to choose styles like Standard, Vivid, or Monochrome, so you’ll have to make changes like that after you take the photo. But we should say that Hasselblad’s “Natural Color Science” gives beautiful tones right out of the box.
The Hasselblad X2D camera doesn’t hold back. With a 100MP sensor, native 16-bit color, 15 stops of dynamic range, 7 stops of in-body image stabilization, and 1TB of internal storage, it leaves nothing out. It competes head-to-head with Fujifilm’s GFX100 series and, in our opinion, produces better results. It doesn’t have any video capabilities at all, but as an imaging machine, it’s almost unbeatable. Nothing, not even Fujifilm’s great color science, can beat Hasselblad’s Natural Color Solution tech.
The X2D has the best colors we’ve ever seen right out of the camera, and the files are the most detailed we’ve ever worked with. This isn’t the body for you if you want a hybrid camera that shoots video. But if we’re being honest, videographers don’t need medium format and medium format doesn’t need videography. The Hasselblad X2D is a photographic powerhouse. When only the best will do, don’t keep looking.
Overall, the Hasselblad X1D has a better score than the Zeiss ZX1. It takes better pictures and costs less than Zeiss ZX1. The Zeiss ZX1 is easier to carry around and has more features than the Hasselblad X1D.
In 1962, during the Mercury program, Hasselblad and NASA started working together. Prospective Walter Schirra was a NASA astronaut and a big fan of photography. He had his own Hasselblad 500C with a Planar f/2.8, 80mm lens.