This is the 19th in a series of posts on the Hasselblad X2D 100C camera and the XCD lenses. You will be able to find all the posts in this series by looking at the righthand column on this page and finding the Category “X2D”.
I’m had the X2D long enough to form some opinions. I’m by no means finished with my testing of the camera, so my conclusions have to be considered tentative, but I’m beginning to see the camera system more clearly. I should issue a caveat that I’ve only tested it with one native lens, the XCD 38/2.5 (or, if you’re across the pond, the XCD 2,5/38). I’ve been flipping back and forth between the X2D and the Fuji GFX 100S, so my impressions are somewhat relative. I think that’s appropriate, because the most logical camera to cross-shop against the X2D is that Fuji camera.
My X2D firmware has been reliable, as has the GFX 100S firmware. That is a departure from the early experiences of X1D owners, as reported on the ‘net. I myself never used the X1D.
By the standards of contemporary MILC cameras, the X2D feature set is incomplete. Some features that are expected on such cameras are MIA.
- Focus peaking (now available via firmware update)
- Variable focus magnification, combined with peaking
- Live histogram (now available via firmware update)
- Live overexposure zebras
- Focus bracketing (now available via firmware update)
- Pixel shift
- Lossless compressed raw
- Cabled remote shutter release
There is reason to hope that those features, and more, will become available in future firmware releases, but I would advise against buying the camera based upon expectations of later improvements. There is no video, and Hasselblad says there won’t be. I don’t consider that a problem at all.
At this point, If you need critical focus, I don’t consider the X2D to offer acceptable focusing aids with adapted manual focus lenses. That is a serious drawback that can and should be fixed with a firmware mod. The new focus indicator, which is what Hasselblad calls PDAF focus confirmation, works better than most such implementations, but with an easy subject, AF provides more consistent and accurate focusing. The XCD 38 manual focusing ring is blessed with DOF scales (Halleluiah!) but the rotation, at a tad over 90 degrees, is too short for fast reliable critical focusing. If you’ve tried to focus normal and longer Leica M-mount lenses precisely, you’ll know what I mean. There is a way around this oversensitive behavior: leave the lens focusing ring in AF position, but select MF mode in the camera. Then you get focus by wire.
The Hasselblad user interface is clean, and fairly easy to navigate if you use the touch screen. Even if the above features were added, it could still be clean and readily usable. Startup is not lightning fast, but is not an issue for me. I’d like to see a few more programmable buttons. They diopter adjustment in the EVF is implemented in a novel way, and I like it. The EVF itself is sharp and clear. All in all, the user experience of the X2D reminds me of that of the Leica Q2, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
I don’t like the strap lugs. They’re the same as the lugs on the GFX 50S Mk I, and I didn’t like those, either. I’ve had straps decouple themselves from those kinds of lugs in the past, and even if you can catch the camera before it hits the ground, it’s not a pleasant experience, and could be an expensive one.
I like the built-in solid state disk. There’s not much reason to use a flash card except for redundancy. Transfer time is fast over the USB-C port.
I don’t find much difference between the physical handling of the X2D with the 38 and the GFX 100S with the 45 GF.
There have been reports of AF issues in some situations, but I’ve never encountered any problems.
The mechanical shutter in the XCD 38 is quiet, and seems to introduce little vibration. The lens appears to be within a hair of being as sharp as the Fuji GF 45, which I think is the most comparable Fuji lens. The XCD lens is priced significantly higher than the 45 GF.
The camera gets warmer than the GFX 100S under similar usage scenarios.
Hasselblad’s decision to mark the base ISO as ISO 64 or Fuji’s decision to mark the base ISO of the GFX 100S as ISO 100 seem to be based more on specsmanship and meter calibration than anything else. The actual sensor sensitivities differ only by a fifth of a stop. The sensors in the two cameras seem to perform materially the same.
The X2D has some advantages over the GFX 100S:
- Leaf shutter lenses, which can give some flexibility with strobes.
- With the XCD 38, a manual focusing mode that uses traditional DOF markers.
- Better EVF
- More modern flash card socket
- Slightly smaller
- Slightly lighter
- Slightly better IBIS with the XCD 38 as compared to the GFX 100S with the GF 45.
It’s definitely a reasonable choice if you’re picking between it and the GFX 100S. You’ll pay more for the camera, and you’ll pay more for the lenses. You won’t get the features that the Fuji camera has. If you don’t need what the X2D doesn’t have, and you prize industrial design, you’ll end up with an elegant camera that does what you want. At this point, if I weren’t a curious reviewer who buys cameras just because I think they’re interesting and I want to find out more about them, I’d wait until the next firmware release to pull the trigger. There’s just too much stuff missing right now for me to use the camera in the wide range of situations that are within the comfort zone of the GFX 100S.