Hasselblad X2D 100C: Incredible precision and beautiful flaws

aAfter launching two previous models, Hasselblad seems to have finally nailed the medium format compact camera with X2D 100 EGP. With a 100MP back-illuminated sensor that’s twice the resolution of the last model, it promises incredible image quality and a stunning design. However, it also has limited autofocus capabilities, no video, and a large price tag. So is this just a luxury item, or is it good for serious photographers?

My friend, professional photographer Nathanael Charpentier, wanted to find out. He was interested to see if the X2D could help him take more creative photos than in his current state Sony A1 and A9 cameras. At the same time, he was looking forward to using it in specific situations to supplement his existing setup rather than replace it.

The X2D would obviously perform well and take great footage in a controlled studio environment, but Nathanael wanted to test it in more challenging scenarios like live events. As such, he’s shot a stage set, several professional scenarios, musicians, and an evening out – with the Hasselblad and Sony A1 for comparison. I took it myself for testing in low light, landscapes, and more.

body and handling

X2D is bound to make comparisons with Fujifilm 100 MP GFX 100S Camera. On the other hand, the Fuji model has more advanced technology such as eye and face detection AI auto focus. However, the Hasselblad offers better industrial design, handling, and build quality.

Physically, they couldn’t be more different. Where the GFX 100S looks like other Fuji mirrorless cameras but is larger, the X2D is sleeker and more modern. It has almost the same layout and controls as X1D II And The X1D was first introduced in 2017, with some improvements. This is great, as the body is both beautiful and functional. However, there are some usability quibbles.

Images: Hasselblad X2D 100C | 23 photos

The control layout is minimal compared to the GFX 100S and most other modern mirrorless cameras. It has front and back dials for basic settings, along with ISO/white balance, mode, power, exposure lock, and monitor and menu buttons. They are generally responsive and have a high quality feel.

It’s relatively light for its class at 895g but still quite heavy. Fortunately, the large, non-slip handle is nice to hold and makes the X2D comfortable for all-day sessions. In practice, it’s generally easy to use, but I missed having a joystick to move the AF point. This has to be done with the screen or disks, which can be awkward.

The menu system is equally simple. The main settings are available on one screen, and everything else has its own category, such as focus, exposure, and general settings. Again, it’s easy to use, but some extra manual controls will help if you need to make adjustments on the fly.

Whereas, the X1D II has a fixed, 3.6-inch, 2.36-million-dot touchscreen. It’s the only way to change many settings, and luckily it’s bright, sharp, and interactive. It tilts up, unlike previous models, but only 70 degrees, which is not enough for very low shooting angles. It’s also slightly blocked by a protruding viewfinder (EVF) when you’re looking straight down.

Steve Dent/Engadget

Speaking of, the OLED EVF is another strong point. It has a high resolution of 5.76 million dots with a refresh rate of 60 frames per second and 100 percent zoom. It even offers electronic diopter adjustment for people who wear glasses, which has proven to be both effective and kind of cool. Setting it up is like taking an eye test, where the focus is on words.

On top of the CFexpress Type B slot, the X2D has a built-in 1TB SSD hard drive, enough to hold more than 3,000 RAW and JPEG shots. It’s fast and fast enough to hold and transfer massive photos. I’ve never even used a CFexpress slot, except for a backup – but it’s also nice to have a high speed card slot for quick transfers.

With 420 shots, battery life is better than in previous models, but it’s still low, and that number is reasonably accurate in our experience. Fortunately, it supports PD 3.0 Quick Charge at up to 30W, so you can get a full charge in about two hours and run it on AC power in the studio. However, I recommend extra batteries and the optional dual battery charger, which costs an additional $155.

Hasselblad X2D 100C: Incredible precision and beautiful flaws

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If you’re shooting in a studio, you can use the Phocus app (Windows or Mac) to remotely operate and organize your photos. It does provide exposure, but it doesn’t have live exposure or any way to change settings.

Finally, although the X2D 100C is well-made, Hasselblad doesn’t say if it’s weatherproof, so for landscape photography in bad weather, the GFX 100S may be a better choice since it’s rated by Fujifilm for dust and splash protection.

Nathanael: My first impression was about communion. I found the ergonomics to be very good. It’s quite heavy, but it has great grip, so you always have a good grip on it. It was easy to change key settings like ISO, shutter speed and aperture, but moving the autofocus point can be a little awkward. Once I got used to the controls, I was able to shoot pretty quickly.


With a new processor, the X2D starts up much faster than before (2 seconds compared to 4 seconds) and is generally faster overall on the X1D II. Hasselblad also has three new V-series lenses (38mm f/2.5, 55mm f/2.5 and 90mm f/2.5) designed to focus three times faster than previous models when used with the X2D’s new Hybrid AF system.

Hasselblad X2D 100C: Incredible precision and beautiful flaws

Steve Dent/Engadget

Speed ​​isn’t what the camera is designed for, but it can manage about 3.3fps (in 14-bit mode only), which isn’t bad considering its 215MB RAW frame size. However, photographers won’t buy this as a sports camera and will likely only use it in single-take mode in order to get full 16-bit images.

Where previous models only had contrast detect AF, the X2D finally has super hybrid phase detection AF. However, the implementation is not perfect. The small AF point was often not accurate enough for very shallow depth of field. And other than a setting to make the focus point a bit larger, there are no other AF options like area, etc.

Eye and face detection is also not available, although Hasselblad indicated that it is coming in a future update. Engadget has reached out to the company to find out when this might happen.

In any case, Nathanael wasn’t too fussy about perfect autofocus and often preferred manual focus, and that works well. Like other mirrorless cameras, it has a zoom system that works when the focus ring is manually operated. Still, it’s the best implementation I’ve seen—the sensor’s high resolution allows for 100 percent magnification, which is very clear on the high-resolution screen. At the same time, the improved focus clutch in the new V lenses makes precise focus adjustments extremely easy.

Hasselblad X2D 100C: Incredible precision and beautiful flaws

Steve Dent/Engadget

Hasselblad’s famous mechanical leaf shutter built into the lens keeps noise and vibration to a minimum and allows flash sync up to a maximum speed of 1/2000th. As with Fuji’s GFX100s, the electronic shutter can’t really be used for most moving subjects due to the hard shutter.

Finally, the X2D is equipped with a new stabilization system developed from scratch by Hasselblad for the large sensor. It allows seven stops of blur reduction, compared to six stops for the GFX 100S. This allowed us to capture sharp images at shutter speeds as low as a fifth of a second – no easy feat with such a delicate sensor.

Nathanael: I shot almost exclusively in manual focus at first. It didn’t bother me because there are many tools that help a lot with that. When you turn the focus ring on, it really zooms in, and you can see the focus clearly. Later, I learned all the quirks of autofocus and figured out how to make it work better, so I started using it more often. In the end, I was mostly shooting sharp photos using a combination of manual adjustment and autofocus, depending on the situation.

picture quality

Gallery: Photo gallery of the Hasselblad X2D 100C prototype | 28 photos

The X2D’s greatest weapon is the new 100MP back-illuminated sensor – likely the same sensor used in Fujifilm’s own GFX 100S H6D-100 c. For reference, the pixel size on the X2D is 3.76 µm, which is the same as the Sony A7R V’s 61-megapixel camera. You can capture JPEG, 10-bit HEIF, or 16-bit RAW images.

Hasselblad says the dynamic range is in excess of 15 stops, which is more than any camera I’ve ever tested. The company also uses what it calls “natural color science” to provide accurate and pleasing hues.

With all that said, the X2D delivers some of the best pictures I’ve seen straight from a camera. Color rendition is fantastic, and of course the images have more sharpness and detail than almost any other camera on the market. This is supported by the new XCD V series lenses, which deliver stunning clarity right to the edge of the frame.

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