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Hasselblad says zoom lenses for the X1D are ‘almost impossible theoretically’

Hasselblad delivered on its promise to make a game-changing camera last week when it announced the X1D. As impressive as the medium-format mirrorless camera appears to be though, it’s not without its flaws.

Everything in life comes with trade-offs, and the X1D is no exception. According to a recent comment from Hasselblad, the convenience of having a medium-format sensor inside a mirrorless camera comes at the expense of zoom lenses.

A curious user recently inquired about the potential of a zoom lens, asking on a Facebook post whether or not there will ever be “an extremely compact normal lens (pancake lens) or compact zoom” for the X1D.

A Hasselblad representative responded to the user, saying “having zoom will be difficult, as it [is] almost impossible theoretically to develop a zoom lens for such large medium format sensor that is compact and practical for such [a] portable camera.”

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The problem stems from the sheer physics of lens design and the limitations of placing a large sensor in a small camera body. By having such a massive sensor so close to the lens mount, the flange distance is too short to make a quality zoom lens that isn’t absolutely massive and even more cost prohibitive than usual Hasselblad glass.

It’s not entirely impossible to have zoom on the X1D though. Hasselblad users will be able to use H-series zoom lenses on the X1D, but doing so will require an adapter that defeats the entire purpose of Hasselblad’s creation of such a “compact and practical” system.

Technology has come a long way, as the X1D proves, but physics is still a limiting factor. Don’t plan on Hasselblad announcing a zoom lens for the X1D anytime soon.