Posted on Novemeber 15th, 2022.
Way more than just an incremental update, Hasselblad is finally releasing a new X system mirrorless medium format camera body—the X2D 100C—that revolves around a new 100MP sensor, improved AF, IBIS, and several useful updates to the physical and operational design. This long-awaited successor to the X1D 50C II feels like a complete overhaul, yet hasn’t lost sight of the best aspects of the X1D cameras, namely the distinct Scandinavian design elements, ergonomics, and clear attention to detail.
Before we get into the details of this new camera body and three new lenses for the X system, it’s worth looking holistically at what Hasselblad has done with its mirrorless medium format platform. The X2D represents a significant step forward in terms of what medium format is capable of. It’s always been representative of some of the best image quality possible, and that’s still the key point when considering this system, but this body also ushers in faster speed and the more contemporary camera technologies you’d expect to find in full-frame, APS-C, and smaller systems. No longer is medium format relegated to slow performance and practically difficult camera designs—the X2D is nimble and has the AF and IBIS the photography world now expects; it has convenience features like a tilting screen and onboard storage; and the three new lenses come with noticeably faster performance, both in aperture value (f/2.5) and with quicker focusing speeds and top shutter speed support.
100MP Medium Format
There’s no denying hitting that important 100MP mark is a significant step forward for Hasselblad, in terms of resolution, color, and detail. This new 44 x 33mm BSI CMOS sensor has a lower base sensitivity than the X1D (now at ISO 64 vs ISO 100) and a wider dynamic range (15 stops vs. 14 stops) with impressive 16-bit color depth. And, speaking of color, the Hasselblad Natural Color Solution can be used, offering color responses intended to be as natural as possible for realistic, lifelike image quality.
Autofocus and Image Stabilization
Two of the most important upgrades to the X2D are faster, more accurate focusing performance and in-body image stabilization. Besides having greater resolution and a back-illuminated design, the new sensor also incorporates 294 phase-detection AF (PDAF) zones for improved focusing in a variety of lighting conditions and when photographing moving subjects. The X2D is still not an action and sports camera (it “only” tops out at 3.3 fps with 14-bit color), but more responsive AF makes capturing those fleeting moments that much more of a possibility, especially compared to working with the more methodical pace of a contrast-detection focusing system. Additionally, and more about this in a bit, the three new lenses also being released today sport linear AF motors that benefit from the PDAF system for faster overall performance.
The other key feature introduction with the X2D is the in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which is a 5-axis system that corrects for up to 7 stops of camera shake. Since it’s a sensor-shift system, opposed to an optical IS system, you’ll receive stabilization benefits with any lens in use, included adapted lenses. This is a huge benefit for medium format, since camera shake seems to come about more often due to the heavier, larger nature of the system and greater resolution of the new sensor.
Better EVF, Tilting LCD, and Built-In 1TB SSD
An improved sensor, faster AF, and image stabilization are needed but also very logical evolutions for this X system camera; improvements to the viewing, handling, and saving experience are pleasantly surprising additions that really put the X2D over the top.
With the first gen X1D, the EVF was one of the main shortcomings; this was rectified with the X1D 50C II, but even now that 3.69m-dot finder is starting to feel a little long in the tooth, the X2D now sports a revised 5.76m-dot OLED EVF, which has a greater 1.0x magnification for clearer, sharper, and more realistic eye-level viewing.
At the back of the camera body, the main tweak is that the 3.6" 2.36m-dot touchscreen is now a tilting LCD with two detents at 40° and 70° for shooting from low working angles. The LCD still benefits from Hasselblad’s refreshingly minimalist GUI and the X2D also sports a new 1.08" top full-color status LCD, which gives a heads-up view of exposure settings, battery life, and other shooting parameters.
In a surprise move, the X2D also sports a built-in 1TB SSD for onboard file storage, in addition to a single CFexpress Type B card slot. We’ve seen this configuration before with another camera brand, but it’s a new alternative to the concept of needing dual memory card slots—rather than requiring two slots for backup storage, you now have a wealth of onboard storage for fast file saving, safety backups, and for those times when you might forget or forgo using a memory card. Then, you still have the single card slot for times when you want repetitive file storage or need to share your files independent of the camera. The onboard SSD offers write speeds up to 2370MB/s, read speeds up to 2850MB/s, and can store approximately 4,600 raw files or 13,800 JPEGs. Also, it’s worth noting that Hasselblad recommends working with Sony or SanDisk CFexpress Type B cards when you need a memory card.
Other Design Details
The new EVF, LCD, and built-in storage are the stars of the show in terms of design, but don’t forget that the X1D, and now the X2D, remains possibly one of the nicest designed cameras in terms of ergonomics. That this new camera manages to keep a near identical form factor while including IBIS, a better EVF, a tilting screen, and an internal SSD, is a pretty impressive stat. Some other design details worth pointing out: there is a new USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port, offering 10 Gb/s transfer speeds and in-camera battery charging; the camera still lacks a mechanical shutter (since the lenses have leaf shutters) but has an electronic shutter that tops out at 1/6000-second; it uses Nikon’s iTTL flash system; and uses the same battery as the X1D and 907X cameras. Connectivity-wise, the X2D has improved Wi-Fi, now supporting Wi-Fi 6 with 2x2 MIMO, and will support the same Phocus connectivity for mobile or computer-based control and transferring. The X2D 100C measures 5.85 x 4.2 x 2.9" (which is only slightly taller and thicker than the X1D) and weighs 1.74 lb (which is 0.3 lb, or about 5 oz, heavier than the X1D 50C II).
New XCD V Lenses
In addition to the X2D 100C camera body, Hasselblad is also releasing a trio of new XCD lenses: the XCD 38mm f/2.5 V, XCD 55mm f/2.5 V, and XCD 90mm f/2.5 V. More than just new focal lengths, these lenses are a bit of a stylistic and performance departure from the first round of XCD lenses. Indicated by the “V” in the names, these lenses are styled a bit like the V-mount lenses from the film era but are very much high-performing X system lenses with improved AF, more compact and lightweight profiles, and new control rings. The handling of the lenses has been upgraded, too, and the leaf shutter design has been retained, with all lenses supporting shutter speeds up to 1/2000-second with flash sync at all speeds.
The 38mm is a general wide-angle lens and should feel like a 30mm on a full-frame camera; the 55mm is a slightly wide normal lens akin to a 43mm on full-frame; and the 90mm, the second one in the X lineup, is the short portrait-length lens with a 71mm equivalent focal length. What immediately stands out with these new lenses is their f/2.5 maximum aperture, which makes them among the fastest lenses available for medium format mirrorless. Surprisingly, despite being faster than most of their predecessors, they’re also noticeably lighter and smaller, with more efficient optical designs and more compact focusing systems: the 38mm f/2.5 is only 1 oz heavier than the 45mm f/4; the 55mm f/2.5 is a whopping 12 oz lighter than the 65mm f/2.8; and the 90mm f/2.5 is surprisingly 2.4 oz lighter than the slower 90mm f/3.2.
Besides more compact designs, the other main update for these three lenses is in regard to focusing. They all now have a push-pull focus ring for switching between AF and mechanically linked MF, which is further benefited by a focus distance and depth-of-field scale. Full-time MF is still supported in AF mode, as well, and all three lenses also have internal focusing designs. Also, when used with the X2D, these three new lenses will exhibit faster AF speeds, thanks to the linear stepping AF motor.
nother update for the lenses is a configurable control ring at the base of the lens, which can function as an aperture ring or be set to control a variety of other settings, like ISO or exposure compensation.
It’s a big launch for Hasselblad, moving its mirrorless medium format system into a more contemporary, cutting-edge realm and offering a series of updates and features that make a 100MP medium format camera both portable and usable. The camera takes the best aspects of the original X system and brings them up to speed with better imaging, AF, and IBIS, and the new lenses add even more value to the system, offering faster speeds and improved AF performance.