Camera - - WHAT’S NEW -

IN WHAT COULD ar­guably be as sig­nif­i­cant a new camera an­nounce­ment as the orig­i­nal 1600F back in 1948, Has­sel­blad has an­nounced the world’s first medium for­mat mir­ror­less dig­i­tal camera. The Has­sel­blad X1D – the des­ig­na­tion stands for X Se­ries Model 1 Dig­i­tal (so there’s ob­vi­ously more to come) – is an all-Has­sel­blad de­sign and built in Swe­den to fully wash away the af­ter­taste of the Sony-based mod­els of the last few years.

De­signed to ap­peal to both pro­sumer and pro­fes­sional users, the X1D fea­tures a very stylish and slim­line alu­minium and fully weather-proofed bodyshell with a built-in XGA (i.e. 2.359 megadots res­o­lu­tion) EVF (sourced from Epson) and a 7.62 cm fixed TFT LCD mon­i­tor screen with touch con­trols. Has­sel­blad says the X1D can op­er­ate in sub­zero tem­per­a­tures down to -10 de­grees Cel­sius. The body alone weighs just 725 grams with its 3200 mAh lithium-ion bat­tery pack in­stalled and, on its short­est side, it’s a mere 71 mm in depth. The X1D body is be­ing built in Swe­den at Has­sel­blad’s Gothen­burg fa­cil­ity and car­ries the leg­end “Handmade In Swe­den”.

On the in­side is the Sony-made 53 megapixels (to­tal) CMOS sen­sor – with a 32.9x438 mm imag­ing area – which Has­sel­blad al­ready uses in a num­ber of its cap­ture prod­ucts in­clud­ing the new H6D-50c. In the X1D its sen­si­tiv­ity range is ex­tended to an equiv­a­lent of ISO 100 to 25,600, and al­lows for a shut­ter speed range of 60-1/2000 sec­ond. There’s a full set of stan­dard ‘PASM’ ex­po­sure modes – set via a pop-up dial – with multi-zone, cen­tre-weighted av­er­age or spot me­ter­ing pat­terns. The flash hot­shoe is com­pat­i­ble with Nikon Speed­lights for TTL auto flash con­trol and, as the new sys­tem’s lenses are leaf-shut­ter types, flash sync is at all speeds. The dy­namic range is quoted at 14 stops and files are out­put as 16-bit RAWs (3FR for­mat), 8-bit TIFFs or JPEGs. Con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing is pos­si­ble at up to 2.3 fps and the X1D has dual SD for­mat mem­ory card slots. An ‘XPan’ mode cap­tures 2.6:1 as­pect ra­tio panora­mas. The camera records Full HD (1080/25p) video with H.264 com­pres­sion and has built-in stereo mi­cro­phones. It’s also equipped with both a stereo au­dio in­put for con­nect­ing an ex­ter­nal mi­cro­phone and a stereo out­put for head­phones. The X1D has builtin WiFi and a GPS re­ceiver.

Im­por­tantly too, the X1D has aut­o­fo­cus­ing – with multi-point con­trast-de­tec­tion mea­sure­ments – and is ac­com­pa­nied by two new com­pact XCD mount prime lenses with a third to come at this year’s Photokina. Just like the orig­i­nal XPan, the X1D can be fit­ted with ei­ther a 45mm f3.5 stan­dard wide lens (equiv­a­lent to 35mm; the fo­cal length mul­ti­plier is 0.79x) or a 90mm f3.2 short tele­photo (equiv­a­lent to 70mm). Launch­ing at Photokina will be a 30mm wide-an­gle (equiv­a­lent to 24mm). As with the up­dated lenses that ar­rived with the H6D plat­form, the XCD leaf shut­ters are rated to at least one mil­lion ac­tu­a­tions. Need­less to note, the XCD lenses – which are made in Ja­pan – are also weather-sealed. A mount adap­tor al­lows for the fit­ting of the ex­ist­ing H Sys­tem lenses with full func­tion­al­ity in­clud­ing aut­o­fo­cus­ing. AF op­er­a­tions in­clude sin­gle-shot, facede­tec­tion, con­tin­u­ous and sub­ject track­ing. The touch­screen con­trols al­low for touch fo­cus­ing. Other fea­tures in­clude a pro­gram­mable self­timer, in­ter­val­ome­ter, USB 3.0 and mini HDMI con­nec­tions, a ‘clean’ HD video out­put and up to +/-5.0 EV of ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion.

Has­sel­blad says the X1D is “true to our her­itage” and em­bod­ies the mar­que’s “core prin­ci­ples”. Given Vic­tor Has­sel­blad de­vised his leg­endary 6x6cm SLR to de­liver high imag­ing per­for­mance with a com­par­a­tively com­pact and por­ta­ble high-end camera sys­tem, the X1D seems to be very much in the spirit of his orig­i­nal vi­sion.

Has­sel­blad sees the X1D com­pet­ing with both high-end D-SLRs such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 – it’s sig­nif­i­cantly more com­pact than ei­ther – and high-end mir­ror­less cam­eras such as the Le­ica SL and Fu­ji­film’s X-Pro2. It will no doubt also com­plete with the ex­ist­ing medium for­mat D-SLR sys­tems, of­fer­ing a much more por­ta­ble and, in most cases, more af­ford­able al­ter­na­tive. While the X1D is un­doubt­edly very good for Has­sel­blad, it’s also good for the dig­i­tal medium for­mat sec­tor and it’s not hard to see this one camera pos­si­bly dou­bling global sales of DMF sys­tems over the com­ing year.

Lo­cally the X1D body is priced at $17,498 with the XCD 45mm f3.5 lens, and $21,697 for a twin-lens kit which adds the XCD 90mm f4.5 lens. Avail­abil­ity is ex­pected to be from Au­gust. Has­sel­blad is dis­trib­uted in Aus­tralia by C.R. Kennedy & Com­pany – visit www.has­sel­blad.com.au

Has­sel­blad gets its mojo back… the X1D is the world’s first mir­ror­less dig­i­tal medium for­mat sys­tem camera and is based on Sony’s 53 megapixels CMOS sen­sor.

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