Week 2 With Hasselblad X1D

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So it’s been another week and then some since I’ve posted my first impressions on X1D. I’ve been carrying it on my neck everyday, wandering around Seoul here and there, to capture amazing moments, and also become closer friends with this guy. I can finally say that I’m getting used to using it in every situations. For me, it takes a while to be able to use a new camera at full speed. Not only I have to figure out how it operates, I take time to genuinely ‘know’ the camera. It’s hard to explain the process, but it’s kind of like getting to know your new dog. It takes time until you know what makes him bark, what makes him happy, when to feed him, when to leave him alone, etc. I go through this phase with my camera. It means not only figuring out what it can do but also understanding what it can not do. Only then I can shoot with it in all the different type of situations I encounter on streets. When things happen so fast on the streets, you don’t really have time to think. I think me and X1D is getting there.

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I took it to some of old palaces in Seoul, and its vivid colors provided me a chance to see its ability to capture and amplify colors. Using it on low light situations were on my agenda as well, and it performed beautifully on that regard too. One thing I really like is getting those nice lines of lights coming out from streets lights, headlights, etc. This effect usually happens when the shutter speed is slow enough. But X1D gets this effect even at 1/45sec, 1/60sec. Having deep dynamic ranges also abled me to amplify the colors and still maintain details on the images. I am yet to use tripod with it though. The reason, I will explain at the end of this article.

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People are always my favorite subjects. Capturing candid moments on the streets involves fellow humans, and testing X1D on them was also a delight and a challenge. I am still getting used to this aspect I think. X1D doesn’t focus that fast or well, and obviously have a little trouble when the subject is moving. I’m figuring out ways to focus fast on moving humans, learning my own little tricks. Again, this won’t be easy for people who’s used to using DSLRs to do street photography. It’s a hassle in a way. But the result, the image quality just blows me away. Maybe it can’t be an everyday street photography kit, but there are certain point and time that it can be used effectively. That’s something I’ll be keeping up on doing.

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For now, I am only testing it here in Seoul, a mega city, thus the most common subjects have been the buildings. Seoul isn’t going to win prettiest city in the world award, that’s for sure. But with X1D I’m trying to inject some new perspectives on it. Using reflection of lights have been my primary ways of shooting using X1D in the city. To be honest, X1D focus system suffers when it gets a bit dark. It’s better to manually focus in such times. But I think it’s pretty well designed to be manually focused. I had no big issue doing that. I really like getting a lot of details in these cityscapes shots, even the small objects in the furthest of the frame gets great detail. Again it might not show on resized images, but it’s there. While I’m not really one to obsess over technical quality of my photographs, it is a nice thing to see when you see it.

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Few days ago it snowed a lot here in Seoul. While it snowed late at night, it actually gave me a perfect chance to test X1D out. I wanted to see how it fares in extreme weathers. The camera got all snowed in but worked perfectly. Not only that, it showed great ability in capturing snow, and was superb at maintaining those night colors. And I was able to get some of my favorite shots I’ve taken with it, so far.

I’ve aforementioned that I’m yet to try this camera out with tripod on. The reason is that I want to use this camera as it is intended to be used. On hands, out on the streets. I’m baffled in a way when I see Hasselblad promote this camera with photographers using it in the studios, or totally maintained fashion shoot type situations. I’ve seen Fuji Film do the same with their new medium format camera. If you’re going to shoot in the studios, or some kind of controlled locations, you can use bigger, heavier, and better medium format cameras. You aren’t going any where. Let your assistant change lenses and bring ’em to ya. What’s the point of making X1D small if you’re still going to use it for such occasions? The size of X1D calls for taking medium format photography where it hasn’t been. That is out on the streets. Taking shots of candid, unexpected moments are what X1D was born to do. And that is exactly type of photography that I like, that I excel at, and that is what I fully intend to do to maximize its potential.

I’m not saying such shoots are meaningless. I do them too, when my clients ask me to. But the reason why X1D got me excited, and the reason why such a long time Leica M user like myself have decided to take this guy on, is because its size and weight(and price) showed a future of medium format street photography. Been done in film days, I know, but in digital photography X1D is one of the firsts to offer such a possibility. That’s why I plan to make some of my finest works with this guy, in the years to come. Still in an early stages but we’re becoming friends, as you can see in these images. I’ll keep you up with updates. I’ve got to go out there and shoot some more!

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Javier says:

    I’m looking for a new medium format set up and I’m not sure about this one yet. Your photos seem to all have this obscure pruplish tint to them or the colors look kinda muddy?

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    1. K. CHAE says:

      Hey there. Well I have my style of doing photography and obviously it is applied to these images. My works are not representation of how X1D images will turn out for everyone. Rather, it shows what it ‘can’ create if it intends to do so. There are reviews out there that shows very ‘flat,’ so-called ‘unaltered’ images so maybe you want to check out those things. Nonetheless, I like it for what it does for me. =)

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      1. Hugo says:

        Wished you didn’t use all those filters šŸ˜¦

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  2. maarten says:

    Hey K Chae, i really like this set photographs of the x1d! Also your style of retouching is wonderfull atmospheric. i think you have the most impressive images with the x1d online together with ming then. I hope you can post another item with more pictures and more thought of the camera now that you have used it for a longer period of time. I also read you have a leica m10? how is that camera so far?, i’m thinking of one of those hasselblad x1d/leica m10 to upgrade my system (now sony a7 with leica lenses). And are you planning to buy the xcd 30mm also? Greets from maarten (the Netherlands)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. K. CHAE says:

      Hello maarten, thanks for the kind words. I am planning to post some more about X1D soon, after my Kyoto trip next week, hopefully! I’ve been a long time Leica M user so I’ll be reviewing it soon as well, as soon as I get some images I like with it. To me personally M10 and X1D is a totally different camera so it really depends on what types of photography you’re into, but they both are great cameras that’s for sure. Hopefully I will post some new materials next week! =)

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  3. Eric says:

    Thanks for showing what the Hasselblad can do. The photos are stunning and capture the colors very vividly. The definition is beyond explanation. Thanks for taking the time to post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. K. CHAE says:

      Hello Eric, thanks for your comment! I like what X1D does for me so far, and hopefully I will post some new images in near future! =)

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  4. Felipe Soto says:

    thank you for sharing your experience! I am a fashion and beauty photografer. currenltly shoot a7rii with Zeiss otus 85 1.4. I am curious if the x1d would be considered an upgrade to my A7rii full frame. The optics on Zeiss otus are superb, but im really looking for an upgrade.

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    1. K. CHAE says:

      Hey thanks Felipe! I’ve only used A7rii for a little bit when I was reviewing a lens for Samyang, but X1D is totally different camera in every way. Obviously, I don’t think X1D will ever match A7rii for its features, and easy of use. All those AF points, and fast and accurate operations. To be honest X1D is a bit slow camera, and that’s understandable being a medium format camera. But as you say you’re a fashion and beauty photographer, I assume most of the time you will be shooting in a controlled environment, with models who know where to look and what to do. In such occasions I don’t see X1D failing in any way. And I gotta say the X1D sensor will definitely blow you away with its details in the images. Zeiss lens are good, sure, but I found these new Hassel lenses to be really good as well. But in the end it’s really your preference. They’re not comparable in the same league, their pros are different, and they’re geared towards different types of photography. Hope that helps! =)

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      1. Felipe Soto says:

        Absolutely helps. I do mostly manual focus on the Zeiss. And you are right. most of my models are stills. I do understand MF is a diferent category in imaging. I will strongly consider upgrading to X1d. Thank you.

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  5. Felipe Soto says:

    i forgot to ask, des the x1d have electronic cable shutter release?

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    1. K. CHAE says:

      Sorry for the late response. Hmm I’m not sure on that one. I don’t use flash as I’m more of natural light shooter, so never looked into it. But I’m sure X1D manual somewhere online should tell you! =)

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