HASSELBLAD 907X 50c – Fresh from the field

I am working on a comprehensive review of the Hasselblad 907X 50c camera but I thought I would share with you my first, rather random, thoughts after shooting with this new system for the last five days. 

The moment you take the camera out of the box, you know you are dealing with something different. It’s very small for medium format and its cube-like shape fits perfectly into your hand. It is a truly beautiful camera. The materials are of the highest quality. Every edge, button and surface makes me think of a collectible item rather than a typical photographic tool. Even the battery door is beautifully made with a quality H letter engraved on it. The way the door opens and closes is just genius, especially compared to the clumsy cheap battery doors in so many cameras nowadays. I have to say that from the industrial design perspective it is currently the most beautiful camera on the market. Many of you may not care about that but it matters to me.  

The first lens I attached was the XCD 45p – a small but capable glass. This combo means the system is so small and light you can hold it comfortably in one hand. Then, there are the operations. The shutter button is located on the right bottom corner of the lens and it feels right on target when you hold the camera. In fact, you can operate the camera with one hand if you want to. 

The operations are stripped to the bare minimum. The shutter button is wrapped in a scrolling wheel, which allows you to change the aperture. The LCD screen has five solid buttons along the lower edge of LCD – that’s all you have and all you need. The Hasselblad menu system is one of the most elegant, simple and photography-oriented on the market. It is the bare minimum for what you need for photography and I really enjoy it. Despite the emphasis on design, I could find everything I needed in the menu without looking at a manual. A simple thing such as formatting the card requires two steps without needing the menu. I wish other camera manufacturers would stop the frenzy of adding functions and buttons to their cameras. The spartan approach here is very refreshing.

For those who would like to add more functionality, the additional grip (beautifully matched to the camera) provides all the answers and more. My favourite is the focus point selector positioned on the upper part of the grip, which works beautifully. Interestingly enough even with the grip the camera feels light and playful. At the beginning I thought the separation of the grip from the camera by a metal attachment would feel strange but it’s quite the opposite. It feels so refreshing, reassuring and comfortable to hold (your hand can wrap around it, unlike the built-in grips). 

How does it work in the field? I really enjoyed it. I noticed that I used the camera differently depending on whether I wanted to have the grip attached or not. It is so tempting to put on a small lens like the XCD 45p and play with the camera, using it in a straightforward and photographic-centred way. On the other hand, the grip adds functionality and allows you to shoot in a more traditional way. 

One of the biggest surprises was the battery life. I was expecting to go through batteries very quickly but just two were enough for the entire day of shooting in the field. 

In terms of the imagery, it has the same sensor as the X1D 50c II so the image quality is equally impressive and more than adequate for most people. For those who need more resolution and detail, Fujifilm GFX 100 or the Phase One system will take you there. 

One of the revelations of this system is its compatibility and possible expansion, including all the range of lenses. I will write more about it in the upcoming review. 

Yes, I am working on a comprehensive piece about this new system in which I will share more detailed information with you. I have to say I’m glad Hasselblad tapped into its rich heritage and came up with this product, which allowed them to differentiate themselves from the competition. They managed to create a camera that goes beyond being a dry photographic tool and taps into nostalgia, the fun factor and a feeling of photographic elation (actually not that easy to evoke). I like this new form so much that I will consider investing in the system myself. 

Below please find a few images taken with the 907X 50c and the XCD 90, 45P and 35-75 lenses. Many more to come.

And don’t forget to check out the October issue of the Medium Format Magazine which includes an extensive interview with Michael Kenna.   

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