If You’re Bitching About It, the Hasselblad X1D is Not for You

If You’re Bitching About It, the Hasselblad X1D is Not for You

You know what’s dumb? Buying a Steinway piano. Depending on the size, a plain black Steinway and Sons piano could cost anywhere from $75,000 – $125,000. It’s dumb because you can get a Yamaha digital stage piano (full 88-keys plus 14 other sounds and built-in drum machine) for $599.

You know what’s also dumb? Assuming that the two things are equivalent because they have 88-keys and make music. But if you’re not a musician or music aficionado, then the distinction is rightly lost on you. Why would you spend $100k more if neither you nor your audience can tell the difference.

Such is the case with medium format. Case in point: Hasselblad’s X1D. Listen, I’ve been a vocal critic of Hasselblad’s stupid “Lunar” series, which was a Sony NEX-7 camera with wood accents priced for thousands of dollars more. But this is not that.

It’s convenient to use the “doctors/dentists/trust fund” argument when a camera manufacturer releases an expensive piece of gear. But when photographers from Zack Arias to David Hobby to Peter Yang personally tell me that they’ve moved to medium format and explain its advantages, the stereotype falls flat on its face.

(Arias’s explanation from 2012 is a great read, btw)

A larger sensor, expanded dynamic range, and higher sync speed (at full power) differentiate this camera from 35mm. If you’re bitching about the lenses not being fast enough, then you’re not the audience for medium format. If you’re complaining about this not being good for street photography, then you’re not the audience for medium format. If you think $9k is too much for a camera, then you’re not the audience for medium format. If you’re only posting your images on Facebook, then you’re not the audience for medium format. And none of these things have to do with the Hasselblad X1D!

$9k *is* a lot of money in an absolute sense. But if you’re a reasonably successful commercial or art photographer, $9k amortized across 3 years is a completely reasonable business expense (and let’s not forget that the Nikon D5 is $6500 and the Canon EOS-1D C is $8k). More importantly, if the camera fits your style of shooting and gives you results you (and your customer) want, then it’s the right camera for you.

I have no idea whether the camera will be successful (and the sample images taken by Laura Bailey are a joke), but bitching about its mere existence is typical internet armchair quarterbacking. It’s fun to bitch, but you ain’t playin’ in the NFL, son.

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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Andrew Molitor at 11:46 am

    Firstly, I think that dismissing the doctors and dentists is a little too facile. Per Oosting would like to sell 100,000 of these things, and the sliver of working professionals that can find a reason to justify an MF system are not going to do that for him.

    Secondly, the cries of the internet proles are more relevant than you might think. Doctors and dentists read the internet comments too. Some negativity is good, if the unwashed hate it, great. Still, there needs to be a strong undercurrent of lust, there has to be some grudging desire for the thing otherwise it’s just a Nikon Df again.

    I kind of like the thing, myself. Not that I’m going to buy one.

  2. David Shepherd at 8:54 am

    I think this is the camera that many working pros and semi pro’s were looking for. I certainly am interested and willing to shell out 13K for a system like this (maybe not at once) because it is within reach. It solves the problem of cost and access to Medium Format that only Pentax was willing to address. Hopefully, it changes the industry in a way that prices come down across the board but profits are made because fewer parts are required. I can’t wait for the reviews and I will be renting to start as I plan to finance this in the next 12 months or so.

    BTW, the Hasselblad X1D gallery is only featuring AORTA’s images. The other samples were a joke and embarrassing. I wished that they would have given the camera to someone like Karl Taylor, Gavin O’Neill or someone; hell, even myself.

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