For the past two weeks, I had the honor of trying out Hasselblad’s new 21mm f/4 lens. I used this camera pretty much every single day and set out to capture as many different things as I could with it.
I primarily shoot on a Sony a7R III, so to me the Hasselblad X1D was one of the more exciting cameras out there that I could try out. As soon as I opened the package and held the camera, I was taken back by the solid feel of the metal body and the perfect grip on it. The X1D offers a super simple interface with a responsive touchscreen that I must say is comparable to most smartphones out there. It was a very easy camera to learn and navigate through. Once I mounted the lens, I had myself a real treat and was ready to get out there and shoot with this beast.
During my two weeks, I planned out a bunch of things I wanted to shoot and came up with four different series to show what this camera and lens have to offer. Below you will find homes, a main category and one of the things I tend to shoot most; cities, which contains architectural finds from a few little trips I planned throughout New York and Philadelphia; landscapes, which contains photos from my travels mostly during the day; and nighttime shots, which contains stars and star trails. In this little series, you will see my final selections for this article and see what a 21mm lens on medium-format camera is capable of capturing.
This wide lens was perfect for showing an entire space. However, as a real estate photographer, I hate nothing more than wide-angle lenses. I feel like our job is to make the space look as big as possible rather than actually taking the time to set up unique shots. That being said, I called a few of my favorite agents with the nicest homes and asked them if I could spend some more time revisiting a few of the homes I had shot for them in order to get more creative photos with the 21mm lens on the X1D. I blocked off a few days to take the time to do that and I think it’s safe to say I got what I was looking for. I really appreciate my clients for being so helpful and it means a lot when they have an appreciation for photography too. A big thanks to my buddy Chris Norcross for letting me photograph his shore house, Mary Premtaj for the chandelier photo and the Stacy Esser Group for the kitchen shot.
Aside from real estate photography, I thought it would only be right to really put this camera to the test. I set out to take a trip to Philadelphia for a day and New York for another to become a tourist, only my camera was superior to most tourist’s cameras. I walked around photographing interesting buildings and architecture and tried to grab a few compelling straight up shots. The wide lens was so perfect for these situations because I typically find myself laying on the ground to get that extra bit of depth, whereas here I was able to capture some really neat photos just standing and looking straight up (also a little bit safer than laying on a street in the city). I’ve always wanted to try this and I’m happy I had the opportunity to while I had the camera.
Because I am constantly driving all over New Jersey for work, I would always make sure the camera was handy for any landscape type shots. I took the time to go to Harriman State Park while I was up north to shoot cool roads and nature and took another day to go down near Atlantic City and Ocean City to photograph more marsh-like areas and my friends home. I also snagged a few other photos as I moved around from place to place. I realized while shooting these landscapes, the wide lens is actually really cool to have.
Lastly, I couldn’t give this camera back without trying out a bit of night photography with it. I’ll be honest, I am very rusty when it comes to night photography. It was actually something I really enjoyed doing before the drone stuff took over my entire life but I got back out there to take a swing at it again. I think I was able to capture some cool shots but I definitely could still use a little work with these. I may have a few more interesting ideas in the near future so we will see if I can improve any.
What I Liked
- Super wide and little distortion
- Leaf shutter feel
- Build of the lens
- Autofocus speed
What I Didn't Like
- I could never tell if the lens cap was actually on or not
- Weight and length of the lens
- The lowest aperture is f/4
Overall, I have to say that I am very impressed with the lens. When I first received the email asking to do the review with just the 21mm lens, I was a bit skeptical because I had never shot with a medium-format camera, nor was I a big fan of shooting super wide like that. Once I put the lens on the camera and took my first photo, the sound and feel of the leaf shutter sucked me right into Hasselblad’s trap. I quickly became obsessed with the feel of this camera. Every photo I took felt like it had more meaning just because of how the camera felt when I was shooting with it. I really enjoyed taking the time to get the settings right and make sure I clicked the shutter at the right time as if I were shooting with a film camera.
Wide lenses are typically known to give a solid amount of distortion and as someone who needs their lines as straight as possible, distortion is one of the last things I want. When I uploaded my photos and saw them on the big screen, there was little distortion to start with. Once I threw on a lens correction, everything appeared to be just fine. I think it’s safe to say that if you are shooting with Hasselblad and you are looking for a wide lens, this could be your best option.