Hands on With One of the Fastest Medium Format Lenses Ever

Hands on With One of the Fastest Medium Format Lenses Ever

Hasselblad has just released one of the fastest medium format lenses out there today and after being able to test it out, I think its safe to say that this thing is awesome.

Overview

Introducing Hassselblad's fastest lens ever, the 80mm f/1.9. With a unique twin autofocus motor system, this lens is able to provide the equivalent of a 63mm f/1.5 on a full frame 35mm system. Offering a 77mm front ring thread, this lens can support common filters and other threaded accessories. Like all the other XCD lenses, this new 80mm features an integral central shutter, allowing for shutter times of 60 minutes all the way down to 1/2000 s with full flash synchronization. On top of that, the lens aperture varies from f/1.9-f/32 with a minimum focusing distance of 28 inches (70cm), making this lens ideal for portrait, nature, and product photography.

Hasselblad X1D & 80mm 1.9 Side View

Hasselblad X1D & 80mm 1.9 Side View

First Thoughts

Normally shooting on the Sony a7R III, I wanted this Hasselblad X1D and 80mm f/1.9 to blow me away. A few months after trying out the 21mm f/4 XCD lens, one of the widest medium format lenses, I was honored to spend some time with this super fast, longer lens to see what it was all about.

80mm 1.9 Side View

80mm 1.9 Side View

Aperture Comparison

From a small indoor test, I shot a few images from different apertures to show the difference in depth. This was a hard comparison to do, because I enjoyed shooting wide open most of the time, but it does a pretty good job showing the bokeh the lens gives even when you are up there at f/11. One thing I consistently noticed about this lens was that no matter what, it was capable of creating a very sharp image with an amazing bokeh when shooting at a lower aperture.

Hasselblad 80mm f/1.9

Hasselblad 80mm f/1.9

Hasselblad 80mm f/5.6

Hasselblad 80mm f/5.6

Hasselblad 80mm f/11

Hasselblad 80mm f/11

Sharpness and Quality

When I could get the subject in focus just the way I wanted, I was able to capture some extremely sharp images with some very pleasing depth of field. As I was saying above, the bokeh this lens was able to naturally create was stunning, but definitely shows better in some images than others. Out of all the portraits I took while I was testing the lens, this one ended up being my favorite, and I also feel like it provides a pretty solid example of what wide open looks like on the 80mm.

Low Light

As low as this lens could stop down, I will say one of the only places it struggled was in low light conditions. This is something I typically expect from any camera and lens, but just swapping into manual focus was enough to fix that. If you do plan on shooting low light, it may be safer to take the time to manually focus the lens just to be sure your subject is sharp. Again, it all depends on your style and what you are shooting, but this was something I did just to be safe.

Hasselblad 80mm f/1.9 Low Light

Hasselblad 80mm f/1.9 Low Light

Hasselblad 80mm f/1.9 Low Light

Hasselblad 80mm f/1.9 Low Light & Depth

What I Liked

  • Super wide aperture of f/1.9
  • Build quality
  • Overall feel of lens and lens hood
  • 77mm front ring thread

What I Didn't Like

  • The weight of the lens
  • Low light AF

Conclusion

Being that I don't get to shoot medium format too often, I have to say this was probably one of my favorite lenses I've had the privilege of testing. Throughout my photography career, I have shot with several lenses, but seem to be drawn towards longer focal lengths and lower apertures, because I really like the look that combo provides. Even when I shoot on the Inspire 2, I tend to use the 45mm on the X5S which actually converts to 90mm. There is just something about the composition and look I am able to get with a longer lens, which made the XCD 80mm a lot more fun for me. For the week that I had this lens, I tried to take it out when I could but definitely found myself trying to shoot portraiture with it.

Getting more technical, this lens has such a good build all the way through. Even the lens cap is a very strong, yet light metal material, which is something I personally love. Every time I click that shutter, the sound of it is just so rewarding on a medium format camera like this. I think the only downside of this lens would be the size and weight of it for some people. I am used to a heavier setup regardless, so it was not much of an issue for me. If you are looking for something lightweight, I don't think you will find that here, but you will find a pretty spectacular lens that puts out an awesome image.

Hasselblad has released four new products for the XCD line: the 80mm f/1.9 ($4,850), 65mm f/2.8 ($2,750), 135mm f/2.8 ($4,050),and a 1.7x teleconverter for the 135mm, making the lens a 230mm f/4.8 ($4,845).

For more information on this new line, check out Hasselblad's website.

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6 Comments

The weight and size of a fast MF (even if some carp about the mini-MF size) will always be a problem.
We will never stop hearing of people complaining that they want small cameras, large sensors and fast lenses all in one package so as to yield the ultra low DOF that will slide into mockery sometime in the next year or so.
It is astonishing how much capital has been invested in this fashion that yields so little.

Tim Gallo's picture

where is x2d though? or x1d2... idont know whats they going to call it.
thought to buy the x1d, but the evf was so bad... could not get used to it. hoping for new ver.

Ian Goss's picture

If you choose one dimension of a 33mm x 44mm sensor (I prefer to use the short side) and make the calculation 24/33—24mm being the short side of 135 cameras’ frames—the *effective* magnification is 0.727, making the focal length of the 80mm *equivalent* to 58mm.

The big fail in using sensor diagonals to calculate equivalent focal lengths is that these formats have different aspect ratios; 3:4 for the larger, and 2:3 for the smaller—not directly comparable at all.

Timothy Turner's picture

Although it is a film camera, I already have an 80mm f/1.9 for my Mamiya 645. So why is this news.

Agreed, hardly something amazing. Not to mention the Mamiya has to cover a wider image area than the Hassy. Wonder why they can't create a faster "Medium Format" lens given how small the sensor is.

You do. Does your autofocus? Friends have Leica Noctilux 50 .95 but that does not help me on a Canon. So you are comparing apples to oranges. Only thing similar is "MF" and numbers.