E-shutter firmware for the Hasselblad X1D

X1D5_B0001422bw copy

A couple of you guessed correctly in the comments of my earlier post – we’ve been working on an electronic shutter firmware for the Hasselblad X1D. Whilst we are still limited by the underlying sensor hardware*, there are significant increases to the shooting envelope afforded by an electronic shutter that is both completely silent and completely vibration free. Used within limitations, it can be a very useful tool. The above image was shot at a performance (without disrupting it) – on the X1D, and Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar**, with focus peaking on. Hit rate for critical sharpness was about 70-80% – which is to say, possibly higher and easier than focusing it on a native Nikon DSLR.

*The total sensor readout time remains at 300ms; if there is motion in the frame, you may see rolling shutter artefacts regardless of the shutter speed, especially under phased lighting such as LED or fluorescent. Similarly, flash is disabled as there is no way to sync with a 300ms rolling shutter. High ISO is limited to 3200 for the moment (sensor native).

**Yes, you read that correctly. I also used the 55 Otus and 2/135 APO.

The firmware also improves stability adds resizable focus points (35, 63 or 117 boxes) and can be downloaded immediately on the Hasselblad website here. Happy to answer any questions in the comments below, and a list of compatible lenses and a rough assessment of performance on 44x33mm – as so far tested by me – follows. MT

Nikon F mount lenses tested so far on Hasselblad X1D, with rough performance assessment

  • Zeiss Otus 28/1.4 APO Distagon ZF.2: Does not cover at any aperture; centre 135 format area remains very good but corners are not. 
  • Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 APO Distagon ZF.2: Covers at all apertures but heavy vignetting that does not improve much even on stopping down. Pronounced field curvature outside the 135 format area, and some focus shift. Centre area remains excellent.
  • Zeiss Otus 85/1.4 APO Planar ZF.2: Covers at all apertures with correctable vignetting at larger apertures. Edges perform much better than expected. Recommended
  • Zeiss 2/135 APO Sonnar ZF.2 (and Milvus): Covers at all apertures with minor correctable vignetting at larger apertures. Excellent across the frame but tricky to focus due to DOF. Recommended
  • Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50 Distagon ZF.2: Surprisingly, better coverage than the Otus 55 with less vignetting at the edges, somewhat lower field curvature. Decent centre performance wide open comes close to but not surpasses the Otus 55; edge performance is a little lower but still usable even wide open. For the moment, I actually prefer this to the Otus 55 because cross-frame consistency seems a bit better, but more testing is required.
  • Zeiss Milvus 1.4/85 Planar ZF.2: Much like the Otus 85: Performs pretty much as it does on smaller formats. Recommended.
  • Zeiss Contax Yashica 2.8/85 MMG (Leitax modified mount): Surprisingly, this one punches above its weight class. Smooth/lower contrast rendition at f2.8, but really excellent by f5.6. And the tiny size is something else.
  • Nikon PCE (24, 45, 85) series: All excellent, but you have no aperture control other than to preset aperture with a Nikon body, use the stop down button, unmount and then remount the lens. You’ll even have some shift ability left with all lenses.
  • Nikon AI 45/2.8 P: Full coverage, minor vignetting, a little bit soft at infinity; good for portraits and decent by f5.6.
  • Sigma 20/1.4 Art: Here’s a curious one: no aperture control again, but I suspect if you cut the built in hood off, it will cover the full image circle or very close to it.
  • Voigtlander 180/4 APO-Lanthar: A hidden gem – excellent at all apertures, with microcontrast increasing as you stop down (resolution is already extremely high). Just like a 250 Superachromat, only a little shorter and faster (but much smaller).

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More info on Hasselblad cameras and lenses can be found here.

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved

Comments

  1. Hi Ming,

    Thank you for this piece and my only reservation about the system was removed (lack of lenses). I went ahead and bought an X1D with a Leica-M adapter.

    While playing with the zoom in for manual focus, I noticed that I can move the zoomed in patch using the touch screen but there doesn’t seem to a way to do so while using the EVF. Am I missing something? If not, may I suggest the same feature that allows choice of focus point with the touch screen while using EVF be enhanced to allow for moving of the zoomed in patch/crop while manual focsing? That will be consitent with the AF point selection….. Does that make sense?

    Agian, thank you for the quality info provided!

    • Yes, thanks for the feedback.

      • If I may…..

        The following may already be implemented, but in any case if the mount’s electronic protocol would allow lenses that doesn’t have leaf shutter (i.e. requires e-shutter) to be identified as such, for the platform, I can see a few good things that can happen:

        1. For the short term, this allows “smart” adapters to be made such that when an adopted lense is used, the camera can automatically enable e-shutter, but otherwise when native lenses are used, remain on leaf shutter. This makes swapping between adopted and native leses almost seamless, especially if the above suggested enhancement to the touch screen zoom-in patch move while using EVF is also implemented.
        2. For the longer term, some native manual lenses such as tilt/shift, or “artisanal” manual focus lenses can be made for the X platform. While playing w/ the X1D, I can see a case of superlatively crafted lenses a la Leica M to be made natively for the platform, assuming the read-out time can be much reduced in the next version of the camera.

        Getting more excited about the platform the more I play with it….!

  2. Hey Ming 🙂 Are we ever likely to see an external shutter from Hasselblad for the X1D? I’ve just seen some samples of Otus on the X1D and utterly I am blown away. I want this in my life but given the rolling shutter and flouro/led light boundaries I’m never going to get away with this for my work which is really frustrating! It seems to me such a screaming obvious thing for Hasselblad to do at this point and there would be, I’m sure, a lot of people like me wanting to jump in on that alone.

  3. Thanks for a great blog Ming, you are a true inspiration.
    1.Does using the e-shutter with xcd lenses change the appearance of the widely discussed hexagonal bokeh artifacts? Someone guessed they are a result of the leaf shutter rather than the blades of the aperture. Personally I don’t mind the current look of the bokeh and this detail is according to me completely blown out of proportion in the general discussion on the X1D.

    2. Chasing compactness, what third party lenses would you choose that will make the X1D the most pocketable (whilst producing insanely good IQ). I guess a lot of people are wondering if there will be a combination making the X1D Plaubel Makina /Mamiya 6 kind of flat.

    BTW, There is an application from me on the Creative coordinator position. Holding my breath 😉

    • 1. No, but the latest lens FW solves it by opening the aperture blades beyond the fixed circular stop at max aperture.
      2. Everything has trade offs 😉
      3. HR is processing…

      • Thanks!
        1. Good job HBL! That is great news for the system, and should be yelled in all corners of the internet and photography community.

        2. I fully agree, but do think ultimate compactness will be important to many x1d users. And I am sure both lenses and adapters are comming from several directions in a near future.

        3. Ok, aiming my voodoo stick at HR.

  4. Ming, so glad to see your opinions on the X1D and your involvement with Hasselblad. One thing that I worry is, given DJI pumps out new models so often, I worry that Hasselblad will be pressured to come out with a X2D (whatever the next model may be named) instead of putting their full effort into improving the X1D. Am I over worrying? I see that the X1D firmware has improved gradually since its inception, it still seems quite a bit behind its main competitor in this space. Given you are the CSO, I wonder if you can shed some light into what Hasselblad’s position is regarding improving the X1D vs developing a X2D quickly…Thank you in advance.

    • New hardware is required when we reach the limits of current hardware and cannot improve things anymore with software. Personally, I believe constant updates/fixes shouldn’t be necessary at all: the product should be mature at launch, not some time after it. It isn’t fair to ask customers to be beta testers.

      • Of course, I totally agree with you. In the case of the X1D, it would seem that the general consensus was that the initial release was ‘rushed’. Regardless, I was hoping that Hasselblad would be more like Fujifilm, who comes out with meaningful firmware upgrades, instead of say Sony, who comes out with new models so often…

  5. Hi Ming. Great blog. I have been contemplating purchasing the x1d and your results with the camera are quite inspiring. Question…is it feasible to implement continuous af through firmware or is it a hardware issue?

    • It’s a bit of both – MF lenses have to move much further to cover the same range of focal distances because the real focal lengths are longer. CDAF generally doesn’t track very well, either – so whilst we could implement it, it’s probably not going to be that useful with the current generation of hardware (both sensor and lens motors).

  6. I wish there was a cable release!

  7. Cambo is introducing two new products that support the Hasselblad X1D
    http://www.cambo.com/en/nieuwsbrief/newsletter-dealer-info-september-2017/

    • 😉

      • Steve Gombosi says:

        Now all we need is that V-series adapter 😉

        • That I know is in the works.

          • Steve Gombosi says:

            Ideally, it would work like the V adapter on the H, so we could use the shutter in the CF/CFE lenses – but I’d settle for a “dumb tube”. It’s nice to know it’s in the works, after hearing “never, ever” from Hasselblad since the X1D was introduced. I’m really glad that Hasselblad is listening!

            • Peter Altrui says:

              Steve, they have no choice but to listen! This is 2017 & we are talking about manual focusing with electronic shutter on a 8k camera body??? Shame I really loved the compactness, inovative style the x1D body has but really this product was introduced to market with much too many problems, before it was ready. Shame on Hasselblad for ruining their rep by rushing this product to market. The other medium format cameras introduced at same time are blowing this item out of the water! This camera might be great in studio, on tripod in field but that is not what the body style, design portrays, it shouts compactness, portability, style, take any where and shoot! As far as this goes we all know that is frustrating experience (just read Nasm Mansurov’s review)

              • How would you implement AF and a leaf shutter on non-native lenses?

                • Steve Gombosi says:

                  To whom is that directed? I was just stating that a V-adapter that could trip the shutter would be nice – and Hasselblad obviously knows how to do *that*, since they did it for the H. But I completely understand if it just ends up being a “dumb tube” that requires use of the e-shutter for cost reasons. AF is obviously not an issue in that case. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever used AF in my life. Actually, that’s not true – I used my wife’s EOS once and I hated it.

                  I guess Peter wants AF, but I assume that’s with H lenses (he doesn’t say). I understand that’s in the works.

                  However, since you asked, Leica seems to have been able to implement third-party adapters that support autofocus (Contax 645 and Hasselblad H) and even leaf shutter operation (Hasselblad H). I’m not certain that’s turned out to be a winning strategy for them, though (there seem to be a lot of people using Contax and Hasselblad lenses on Leica S cameras, instead of the excellent but seemingly quite unreliable Leica lenses). I don’t think that’s a cost-effective thing for Hasselblad to be developing. Opening the mount spec was a good idea for those of us with unusual requirements (I look forward to seeing how well my Photars and Luminars do at 50MP). I’m not sure the e-shutter is going to work very well with my Apo-Tessar, though. 😉

                  The biggest problem Hasselblad has with the X platform long-term is to keep it from cannibalizing H sales, while making it appealing enough to keep people from buying Fuji. There’s a very thin line there: you don’t want people deciding they can get by with a $10k camera when they would happily have bought a $40k camera from you, but you don’t want them forsaking the brand because the capabilities aren’t competitive. I think they’ve realized it needs more capability than was originally planned because the competitive landscape has changed since the camera was introduced. The whole point of the X is to expand the medium format market beyond the studio-based full-time pro.

                  I am glad to see Hasselblad thinking like a camera company again, instead of a “luxury goods manufacturer”

                  • The CF-H adaptor is actually a pretty complex piece of mechanics because it has to mechanically and electrically synchronise the leaf shutter with the rest of the camera mechanics – unfortunately, that makes it rather expensive (and given the fairly small market for this application, not a very good business case).

                    Leica’s third party AF support works on lenses that already have AF through reverse engineered protocols. I don’t know how well they work in practice, though – AF on medium format is a different beast to 35mm because of the much longer helicoids required and heavier glass, for starters.

                    All I can say is the current product roadmap was developed far before I had any influence (or even contact) with the brand – new products take 18-24 months to develop. All I can do at the moment with the current lineup is figure out how to make it best fit what a wider range of photographers would need, whilst looking into the next generation – but there is still significant lead time involved in getting any of these changes to market.

              • Santiago Martinez says:

                Peter A: I totally agree with your post. It is really frustrating to purchase $9K camera and than find out it is still in developmental stages. I own X1D for 6 months. After the latest firmware update, I am more-less happy with everything this camera has to offer – except for focusing. Focusing is a major let-down. It is like stepping 15 years backwards. It is slow, half of the time it doesn’t “stick”, and absence of continuous AF is simply inexcusable oversight. I shoot fashion. During my shoots, i always have to put my X1D down and finish my shoot with DSLR. Never had so many out of focus frames as I have with X1D. I think Hasselblad has to do something about it before it will start loosing its customer’s confidence. If Hasselblad plans on including continuous AF in second generation of cameras (X2D) , than that would be a complete total let-down for X1D owners. People will be very cautious about dropping another $9k for new X2D with features that should be included in X1D in first place. You cannot fool people out of $9K twice. I certainly hope Hasselblad will not leave X1D owners in the dark and that it will continue to upgrade X1D via firmware upgrades – including that so-much-needed continuous AF feature. Thank you

                • Continuous AF for CDAF systems is poor because of the way the whole system works – it only works well in LV-cameras that have hybrid PDAF locations on the sensor. (Remember what CDAF was like on a DSLR in LV without a hybrid sensor – unusable!) Such sensors do not exist yet. The short answer is we could implement CDAF, but it wouldn’t be useful – so no point.

        • Good news, I contacted Novoflex and they informed me that they already started to develop some adapters. They did not say which mounts though.

  8. Ming, you mentioned 180/4 APO-Lanthar, How about 125/2.5? I assume since these are all produced with the same concept and design they should be all good, what do you think?. Honestly, I am looking for an alternate macro lens and wish PCE 85 would work for me but, as you mentioned about aperture, it doesnt. Thank you,

    • It should work, but as I don’t have one – I can’t try it…

      The PC 85D has mechanical stop down and will work (but no flash sync as there isn’t a shutter, so continuous light only).

      • Yes, you are right. I didn’t pay attention to that part and I need to sync,…. Hope there be a dedicated tele-converter in future,
        Thank You,

        • If we do, it’s unlikely to be a universal design as the optical requirements for different types of lenses are quite specific. The tricky part is balancing optical performance with compatibility…

          • Seems Fujifilm will do it. They just announced the development of a 250mm tele with tailor-made 1,4 tele-converter for the GFX. I have to admit that I am a little envious because this is just what I need for my X1D.

  9. Hi Ming, Is that possible the X1D add a FF crop mode so that the iso of ES can be higher than 3200 and lower the 300 ms processing time? It will be a good new for the users with different type of lens switching from MF and FF format. Thanks.

  10. Hello Ming, is there any chance to see the wireless shutter release in future? Focus mobile is not very handy. How do you see the HC 120 macro (older) perform on X1D? thank you,

    • Wireless shutter release: not possible with current hardware.
      Haven’t tried the HC120 on the X1D. It should be optically identical to performance on H bodies though – flange distance with adaptor is the same, as is the sensor.

  11. Hi Ming, any initial thoughts on how the Otus 85 compares with the XCD 90? Thanks!

  12. Hi Ming, I work for Fowa, the Italian Hasselblad distributor. I’m very happy that Hasselblad can now count on a very competent person like you! One question, how do you physically connect the Nikon F lens mount to the X1D?

  13. Ohhhhh hellooooo. This makes things very interesting. Excited about the future for Hasselblad.

    • Yes , me too. Ming how are the sales of X1D ? How has Fuji’s GFX affected the X1D ?
      The first generation of mirrorless medium format are limited by sensor technology , the next generation is when the game really begins IMHO. gotta say though its getting harder and harder to resist the X1D with each firmware update…

  14. Electronic shutter seems to be a great enhancement but in my testing the shutter lag is huge.
    I consistently missed capturing a person walking past in front of me.
    So, while it has its uses, you need to be aware that it imposes other limitations.

    • Which we stated explicitly – rolling shutter is a sensor hardware limitation… 🙂

      • Mats Andren says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I like the improved possibilities, but I just wanted to mention that there is considerable lag, not just rolling shutter.
        Two different things although they affect each other.

  15. hi Ming
    Thank you for this interesting report. I would be very interested to learn how (if?) Zeiss ultrawides perform on the X1D, pertinently 15 f2.8, 21 f2.8 and 25 f2. Together with the 135 f2APO, I’ve invested in all these and use them with immense satisfaction on Nikon bodies.

    again, thanks very much for all the quality feedback and advice

    • Few (if any) of the ultrawides will have a big enough image circle – the Distagons tend to be not much larger than the format. Even the 28 Otus does not fully cover 44×33. However – that doesn’t mean you couldn’t crop to say 20x40mm or 31x31mm square – both of which can’t be done on a normal 35mm sensor…

      • Hi Ming thanks for the clarifications on these Zeiss – such wonderful glass!
        Last night, I stumbled across this snippet form the past. It leads one to ask how many of the other classic Nikkors (some still extant in updated models) began life with the design flexibility in their optical architecture to work in the 6×6 as well as 35mm formats:

        “The optical design of NIKKOR-H 300mm f/2.8 was made by Mr. SHIMIZU, Yoshiyuki introduced in Tale Five. Though it is not well known and to our surprise, this lens has the covering power enable to cover 6 x 6 cm format. It was originally designed so as to be switched to “Bronica Nikkor”.”

        Tale 11 : https://web.archive.org/web/20131016141521/http://imaging.nikon.com:80/history/nikkor/11/index.htm

        • Most of the teles cover >35mm – there are no constraints on the image circle as the designs can be symmetric (unlike wides, which have to be corrected to telecentricity to have sufficient flange distance and edge performance properties).

  16. Steve Gombosi says:

    The cautionary notes about the “rolling shutter” effect from using the e-shutter are very familiar to those of us who have experimented with the focal plane shutter on old Speed Graphic press cameras. My grandfather’s 1952 copy of Aaron Sussman’s The Amateur Photographer’s Handbook has a lengthy chapter on dealing with this problem (as well as some rather amusing examples of the distortion this can cause – particularly in sports photography). At least I won’t have to compute shutter speeds from spring tension numbers and slit widths (both of which were independently adjustable in the older Speed focal plane shutters) on the x1d. The same book features a discussion of a revolutionary new camera from Sweden in the recommended cameras section, by the way. 😉 It’s in the “miniature cameras” section.

    History really does repeat itself, it would seem.

  17. Hi Ming
    Do you think It would be possible to get the option to have the e-shutter as soon the camerea needs a shutter faster then 1/2000 to get a proper exposure?
    I believe my Leica Q or SL had that option

    One more thing: do you know how far we are from getting the XCD 65mn ?
    Do you know how fast will be?
    PersonaI hope not slower then 2.8
    I am really looking forward to get my favorite standard focal length on the X1D 🙂

    Thank you
    Ettore

    • I think I already explained why we didn’t do this in a previous comment – it’s because whilst 1/2000 with a leaf shutter definitely freezes motion, 1/2000 with e-shutter won’t because of the sensor readout time and rolling shutter – this is very dangerous as you may think you have more stopping power than you actually do.

      The X65 is in development but I of course cannot comment on spec…

  18. That’s a great news 🙂

    Can’t wait to try it out.

    Ming is there any chance to get this promotion ?
    http://www.hasselblad.com/products/x1d-special-promotion/

    I bought my gear few days ago. If I knew something like that would happened I would have waited 😥

  19. Hi, Ming
    Is there any visible rolling shutter distortion when shooting a moving object handheld with ES? (not fast moving objects, but objects like the singer above)

  20. Steve Gombosi says:

    I’m looking forward to having a migration path from the V-series to the x1d! I’m currently using a Leica S as a “lightweight travel body”.

    Ming, have you used the e-shutter handheld? If you have, did you experience any issues with camera motion?

    • The above image (and more to come) were all shot handheld. No issues so long as you are relatively stationary; basically, if you have sufficient shot discipline to handhold and achieve critical sharpness at 1/2x or so with the normal shutter, you’ll be fine here. Hold the camera for a beat longer than you usually would at the end of the exposure as the sensor is still reading out, too.

  21. Any chance we will something similar for the CFV-50c Digital Back?

  22. Sounds exciting to be ale to use my favorite Voigtlander APO Lanther ! I hope they make a k-mount to XCD! Leica R as well I could use my Super Angulon !!!!

  23. With the e-shutter working, are there any plans that Hasselblad will offer in the near future an adapter from V-lenses to X-mount? This would be very welcome!!

  24. When I shoot with the electronic shutter, it seems like my Fuji mirrorless gears down from 14 bit to 12 bit, which means that there is much less shadow/higlight recovery in the raw files. Do you know if the Hasselblad does the same thing?

    • Not as far as I know; my highlight recovery looks much the same. However: the Fuji’s tonal response is tuned more ‘linearly’ than ours by default (we have a highlight shoulder) so it’s also possible this may be hiding it. For the X1D, file sizes are the same for normal and E shutter, though.

  25. Dear Ming,
    a complete silent operation of the shutter works indeed in Mq mode.
    But this mode does not support Lifeview nor AutoFocus.
    So you are not able to focus anything. How has this been meant to be used then?
    Thanks to Hasselblad for implementing this together with the increased number of AF points, you are listening to your clients!
    IMO, the next big step will be the implementation of AF for HC lenses.
    Cheers from Germany
    John Goerten

    • Mq is not the same thing. A leaf shutter is open during viewing, and has to close, open for exposure and close again to end exposure then open again for viewing – i.e. cycling four times. Mq mode pre-closes the leaf shutter and reduces lag to about 5ms for critical timing applications – it’s the same as mirror up on a DSLR, during which you can’t see anything either.

      E shutter mode works in all exposure modes and is also lag free as the leaf shutter does not fire, but you can’t sync flash and there are some limitations on moving subjects or phased lighting as the sensor takes 300ms to read out (this is a hardware limitation). It isn’t the same thing as Mq.

  26. Sony has left its mark indelibly on photography as much for being adaptable as for leading the mirrorless charge. Nice to see Hassy following suit with these adapted lenses. Hopefully rock solid adapters will be available soon … from say Novoflex or Metabones. Shooting an Otus on MF is a really big deal IMHO.

  27. Jeff Grant says:

    Leica R lenses seem to do well on the GFX. I have a number of Nikon adapted ones. Have you tried any of them?

  28. Lee Han Wei says:

    Nice. What adapter needed? Same applied for Canon EF-Mount ZE Otus?

    • One off custom prototype – it’s mechanical only for aperture control, with Nikon F/ ZF.2 lenses. But I’m sure somebody will make them commercially very soon 😉

  29. Wow!!!!
    I would love to use my two Otus lenses in this camera
    Which adapter did you use to use those lenses??

    Thank you!!

  30. Hello Ming, any luck with adapting leica lens? Was wondering if this is a prototype adapter made by hassy or other third party manufacture. Also, was wondering if you got a hands on the xcd 120mm yet, thanks!

    • Leica lenses won’t cover the X1D’s full image circle – you can crop, but that would be rather pointless. The adaptor is a one off prototype (with a lot of messy hand machining to fit).

      Yes, I do have a very early first series 120 prototype – still testing and calibrating various parameters 🙂

      • Ah, thats too bad, I thought it has the same image circle as the GFX does,
        would love to adapt some m lenses on it like the GFX to keep the size minimal.

        =] Great, things going slow, but hopefully worth the wait.

        • It does – the sensors are the same. The image circle is a property of the lens, and M lenses are definitely not designed for large digital sensors especially given the very short flange distance and extreme corner angles…you can do it, but the results won’t look pretty.

      • stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

        Leica long-focus lenses certainly will. Starting from Summicron 90/2, Telyt 200/4, Telyt 280/4, 400/6.3, 560/ 5.6 all of them with removable lens cells. Of course they are not of Otus quality.

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