There’s a new kid on my block. It’s black, it’s Swedish and it scares the poop out of me.
After many months of pining and making co-author Philippe’s life misreable with my constant grumbling about my A7r2’s colours, it was time to man up and put my dollars where my mouth is. Now that I have, I’m about to make Philippe’s life miserable with constant worrying instead. Let me explain.
Black to the future.
The first part’s easy. I was really lucky to find a used X1D in black, my favourite colour for it. It looks purposeful but discrete. The dark finish removes all bling from the camera (not that the silver version is blingy or ugly, it’s gorgeous and modern, but I like it even more in black). This is what the camera looks like. Is that stealthy or what ? That explains the black.
So, why back to the future and why the worry?
For one thing, this camera is a retro tradeoff. It gives me a slightly larger excellent sensor, better calibration, leaf shutters that distribute wear over many lenses and – in theory – make it better with flash, build quality that qualifies as class-4 weaponry, often nicer accoustics, a prefered (by me) , more relaxed, 4:3 aspect ratio and a menu system that – shock – is actually pleasant to delve in to (except you rarely have to).
Oh, and very high resolution lenses.
What I lose is equally substantial. First, enough money to eat for a century. Then, some extra weight (a gain, but a loss, you get my reasoning), IBIS, 2 stops of highest shutter speed (1/2000s instead of 1/8000s), fast AF, battery life, CaptureOne (which, in spite of being fussy to use delivers extarodinary results).
Oh, and very high resolution lenses.
The lenses and the PP process explain the worry.
In the left corner, the Hasselblad XCD range. Very stylishly designed, AF, very neutral, incorporating a leaf shutter (in various stages of quieteness), and crazy sharp. Here are the MTF curves for the XCD 3.5/45 lens, the cheapest in the lineup.
As you can see, it’s just as good wide open as shut down. That’s a range you can safely call future proof.
The tiniest details in an image are at the limit of visibility when their contrast is more than about 3-5%. And Rayleigh’s diffraction limited criterion places a stricter cutoff at 9%.
It’s easy to see you can probably squeeze two more sets of lines on that graph (80 lp/mm & 160 lp/mm), below the 40 lp/mm one and above the 5-9% mark, even accounting for exponential deterioration. So you can expect this lens to resolve 300 pixels/mm. On a 44mmx33mm sensor, that’s a resolution of 13200 x 9900, ie 130Mpix. Add a bit to take Bayer loss into account and those lenses will be just fine with a 150 megapixel sensor (although the user’d better have a steady hand. Forget sex and drugs and rock’n’roll).
Distortion figures are mostly excellent. And in-camera aberration control (of which a surprising amount is done) ensure image quality from the lenses is absolutely top notch. Particularly from a big-pixel, laid-back 50Mp sensor.
In the right corner stand Audrey (Zeiss Distagon 1.4/35 ZM) and Hubert (Zeiss Otus 1.4/85). In my mind, Audrey is the best lens money can buy. Bar none. I’ve yet to find a person, landscape or other scene that lens didn’t make more beautiful (to be fair, I don’t photograph politicians). It’s responsible for 90% of my photographs and those you find in my articles on DearSusan. As for the Otus 85 … well, it’s also the best lens money can buy. But it takes a lot more money and a lot more strength to wield. Still, though, a killer lens.
Both of these make a photograph come alive in a way that’s not the same with the XCD lenses (so far). The thought of losing these two has given me enough arguments to resist the pull of the X1D for months (that, and the sordid need to eat).
It turns out, though, that adapters exist that will let me use Hubert (Otus 85) and other lenses with enough coverage, on the X1D. Now, the Distagon 1.4/35 ZM doesn’t cover the sensor area, so Audrey is lost. But the Otus 85 does, and very brilliantly so. Hubert lives. Now, the camera turned up less than a day ago. All I have to offer are photos of the garden … But, nonetheless, the Otus 85 on the X1D (actually a multiple frame shot, as the crooked roof rudely reveals so alliteratively) truly rocks:
So … it’s not all bad. The XCD 45 is turning out to be a very elegant performer and the Otus is there for those rare moments when dreaminess becomes compulsory.
Which mainly leaves post-processing as a source of worry (mainly, because reliability is also constantly at the back of my mind …) CaptureOne, for all its clunkiness, delivers excellent results. Particularly in B&W, which has become my goto mode of expression over the years. Lightroom doesn’t come close with Sony files (not last time I checked, anyway).
The situation is different with X1D files. Phocus, Hasselblad’s official PP software is pleasant, easy to use and efficient. But sorely lacks in monochrome options. However, LightRoom does a good job with those.
Still, though, so far, with different lenses and a different PP process, I’m finding it difficult to get results that really feel like home. There’s some slight nervousness and slight lack of subtlety that still maintains that little flame of worry alive in my solar plexus. First world problems, right?
So what’s next?
A bit of traveling lined up for next week will allow me to get to know the camera more and test the lenses in various conditions. Of course, I’ll be reviewing everything here. My native lenses, my adapted lenses (remember those old Leica R gems ?) and – hopefully – more XCD lenses that Hasselblad might be kind enough to lend me.
As mentioned in the previous post, there will be a lot of frantic selling going on as I try to run faster than the bank manager. My Sony A7r2, possibly (and regretfully) my C-Sonnar 1.5/50 ZM (if it doesn’t cover the sensor), 2 Leica R lenses, my Elmarit-M 90/2.8, my Distagon 2/25, HiFi amplifiers, my children, the kitchen sink.
Right now, here’s me in that weird state of jubilatory stress. I’ve temporarily named the camera Mjollnir, after Thor’s hammer of immense power but that very few can wield. I’ll keep a log of how this relationship evolves. But how do you find the photographs so far? Cheers!
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Pascal, well done, the Hassy does sound like a great new toy and it will give you endless hours of joy, lets hope the frustration is kept to a minimum. The IQ from you shots is remarkable. I would offer to give to a 2nd opinion on how good the X1D is, but don’t I’m not game, just in case I fall love with it. Enjoy it and you’re travels. Dallas
Thank you Dallas. I will do my very best to enjoy it, that much is sure 😉
Ha! “jubilatory stress”…I think that sums it up pretty well!
What an amazing adventure to undertake. I’m so happy for you, and excited to see where this takes your work. [and even more happy that I get to ride along vicariously!]
As you saw in my last post I’m considering a new direction as well. Haven’t worked out yet what it might be. I thought maybe a new lens would provide some inspiration…but wow, your approach is better!
Love the look so far. Keep posting!
Thank you, Chris. Images are slowly improving and that slightly harsh look is now under control. There is hope 😉 Let me know where your own cogitations take you! Cheers.
Well, I don’t know whether this suggestion might help – possibly it’s no longer legal in France – but as long as your wife doesn’t object too strongly, you could always try hocking the children to pay for all of this.
Never tried Audrey – my need for a w/angle centres around something wider, so I have the Otus 28mm – if Zeiss had considered it, I would cheerfully have gone for an Otus 24mm because it’s actually my preferred length. So no matter how awful it sounds, I’m “making do” with the 28mm.
According to the tests I’ve seen, the “best” are the 28mm and 55mm Otuses – SIGMA’s 85mm ART apparently pips the 85mm Otus at the post. Although I really think that kind of remark is rather silly, at this level. When we were young, and paying around with a selection of second hand folding cameras, Kodak Brownies, etc etc, and simply dreamng about things like Leicas, discussion of differences in quality meant something. Now that everything is nearly “perfection”, any incremental differences from using this instead of that end up seeming rather fatuous.
When I was younger, I did have 620, 120, 2¼ square, 5”x4” and – even –an ancient 122 roll film camera, producing postcard sized contact prints. As well as 35mm, of course.
Now – I am simply doing what I want to do. So is Philippe. And – apparently – Pascal. None of us, however, are doing the same thing. Thank God for that! There’s nothing** worse than turning up to a party, filled with ideas to talk about, and finding someone else already said them!
** [actually there is something worse – but not for discussion on this blog] 🙂
So Pascal – vive la difference, bring on the dancing girls**, and where’s my champagne?
** [sorry – either it’s bicycles, or half naked torsos of female shop window clothes dummies]
PS – Dallas, you stay out of this one – get back to your Z7 and behave! During this past week I did have the opportunity to get a Z7 complete with a 50mm f/2.8 and the FTZ adapter to migrate other lenses to it, for less than the list price of a Z7 – substantially less, in fact – almost enough to pay for another lens! But I decided to behave myself for a change, and stick with what I have already.
Have you ever read “Catch 22”, Pascal? There’s a fascinating chapter in it, in which the army chaplain discovers the joys of the flesh and “rationalises” his discovery by proclaiming that it’s OK – he’s just spreading the love of God. I can’t remember if he was supposed to be a catholic Chaplain and subject to vows of chastity – it sounds like it, at this distance – but I’ve been fascinated by tis interpretation of “rationalisation” ever since.
I only mention it because we’ve all been sitting around watching and waiting for the moment when you finally stumbled and fell prey to you compulsive desires for the forbidden fruit, and got yourself a Hasselblad. Now, of course, all we want to see is what you do with it and how it expands and improves your photography – not all this rationalisation stuff. We ALL have attack of GAS from time to time – we have to – otherwise Canikon, LeicaSonyc, Fulympia, TamSIG et al would have disappeared years ago! It is our duty, to support them – because without them, we couldn’t get another “fix”, to feed our addiction, when we need it. And as Katisha explains in “The Mikado”, we must always do “our duty”!
So less talk, mon ami – more action! Is the title to #814 and your paragraph explaining the choice of black as the colour of your new toy an indication that you intend using “Hassy” for street photography? Perhaps to feed us the missing bicycle photos, the hallmark of an article in DS?
Aah, the children have fled the home, making them hard to hock. How very selfish of them.
The Otus 28 is an absolute corker. Possibly the best of the 3. I never was able to decide which I liked most of the 3, the 85 or the 28. Both are really fantastic performers and so beautiful in their rendering. Never was so fond of the Otus 55, but I didn’t use it much so … My gut feeling is that the Milvus 50 is prettier and not that much worse, technically. Ming says the Otus 85 is the best lens he’s used, period. But at this level of performance, the choices are more subjective and come down to rendering. I love the rendering of the 28 and 85.
I’ll leave the bycicles to our in-house expert Philippe and will focus on the naked torsos !
Rationalisation plays a huge role in purchases and sales. Even someone buying B2B software worth millions does it for personal reasons and rationalises later 😀
Yesss, black for the streets. And traveling, where something dark, large and distinctly low tech looking don’t attract nearly as much attention as a DSLR with a huge white zoom 🙂
ROTFLMHAO – actually the two “best” are the Otus 28 and 55 – the SIGMA ART 85 is the “best” at that length – and as far as I’m concerned, the choices should be based on:
1 – Which focal length you really want? (Example – if I hadn’t had a bad experience with back focusing with my SIGMA ART 24, I’d still have that and NOT the Otus 28)
2 – Which rendering do you prefer? (Me personally? – I ADORE the rendering from my two Otus lenses, the 28 and the 55 – but as you suggest and my question specifically asks, Pascal, this on is purely down to personal preference – there IS no “right” or “wrong”!)
3 – Convenience (unquestionably, practically all the alternatives are more convenient than the two I’ve chosen)
4 – Do you need AF? (If so – forget the Otus’s – oh time to ‘fess up & tell the truth – I’ve kept the ART 50, precisely for that reason!)
5 – Travel safe! (As Pascal says, something black & low tech is a vast improvement on anything that attracts the eyes of the undesirables that float around places you’re likely to travel to – and THEY can read travel guides, just as easily as you can!)
6 – Price. (Because I was only kidding about hocking the kids! They’re more important than all the photos in the world!)
Yeah, it’s pretty much down to personal preference. If you take a look at Zeiss’s data (the most reliable source of info regarding the true performance of those lenses) there’s really nothing in it :
My faves are the 85 and the 28. Ming’s fave is the 85. Philippe’s fave is the 55. It’s all very personal.
Also, sooooo many brands claim Otus status, based on calculated performance. When measured and used in real life (ie outside a lab), none of them stand up.
The MTFs for the hasselblad lenses are very revealing. The 40lp/mm line is lower than for the Otus range but much more consistent over the whole frame. And that shows in the images. It’s pretty obvious Hasselblad optimise for neutrality whereas Zeiss optimise for look. Fascinating stuff.
PS – for all of our fellow GAS sufferers, you can download an excellent article on how to live with your condition at this website 🙂
Curing GAS in the world, what a noble mission 😀
Congratulations on your choice!
( In Swedish: Mjölner.)
you’ll find the interesting story of how Sindre and Brokk forged it after a bet with Loke and of how Loke tricked them all.
( Ming Thein also reports on experience with non H”blad lenses working well.)
I do like your photos, especially “Bye Bye, Audrey !” and “From my window 1”!
May you really enjoy Mjollnir!
Hi, Kristian, Mjölner it is! Believe it or not, I’m not reading a book my son gave me on Norse mythology 🙂
Bye Bye Audrey was made … with Audrey, booohooo. But there’s hope still. I might keep her for square format images 🙂
Thaks for the encouragement !
Danish & Norwegian: Mjølner
“Mjølner, mjolne (fra norrønt Mjǫlnir,..”
Old Norse: Mjǫllnir
So why not Mjollnir as you first suggested?
> “I’m not reading..”
Typo ? Or..?
..now reading.. ?
Ha ha, I like this, a linguistic debate about the name of a camera. We don’t see that often 😉 I quite like the fact that the Mjölner you suggested is Swedish, actually.
Yes, typo, sorry ! It should have been “I’m now reading a book on Norse mythology”. Really interesting too!
If you’re interested in mythology, may I suggest
The Heart of the Hunter
by Laurens van der Post?
In a journey to the Kalahari desert in the 1950s to visit the San people (The Lost World of the Kalahari) he gained enough of their trust for them to tell him many of their stories and myths. He published a collection in The heart of the Hunter.
I get the impression of a total integration of man and nature. Different animals and spirits(?) change into each other.
Very different from other mythologies I’ve heard of.
( In one book he quotes a San man saying:
“There is a dream dreaming us.”)
Thank you Kristian. My son is really into mythology. It’s his book I’m reading. So that Lost World of the Kalahari sounds really nice for him, and he’ll give it to me after 😀 😀
The Heart of the Hunter
where their mythology is described.
Probably not YOUR spelling – like me, you’re probably being pursued and derailed all day long, with a damn stupid AI automatic spelling function some idiot has insert on the system without your knowledge or consent! – changing what you’ve just typed, left, right & centre!)
Hi Pascal. I cannot believe that you are getting rid of Audrey! What is wrong with a glorious 30MP image from Audrey. Audrey does not cover full sensor but the high quality cropped image is 30 MP. Audrey is so beautiful on the X1D. I get full X1D coverage with some soft vignette in the corners with the Leica M APO 75/2 which makes a lovely compact configuration. The only limitation is moving subjects with the e-shutter but I do not shoot those subjects often and I can put on Hasselblad glass for that. But I select glass like a paint brush to deliver the rendering I want. I recently purchased a deal on the X1D and I am delighted that Finally pulled the trigger. The camera has the best natural colour palette I have seen and if you start increasing contrast and saturation the colours stay beautiful across all hues. Also, this camera has the best awb by far that I have used. I am a delighted happy camper with the X1D.
Ooh Brian, you’ve made my day !!
“What is wrong with a glorious 30MP image from Audrey” Nothing! And what could be better than square images made with Audrey on the X1D? Now that’s something to look forward to. I’ll have to buy an adapter and want to try Cesar (C-Sonnar 1.5/50 ZM which, some say, covers the sensor) and the lovely Elmarit-M 90/2.8.
e-shutter has its limits but my photographs typically don’t have too much movement in them, so that should be OK. But the possibility of using a totally silent 1/10 000s is really cool.
Let’s start a club of delighted campers 😉 My post-processing has evolved a bit in the last couple of days and I’m not getting results that are not as harsh as those published on this page. There’s hope.
Hi Pascal, I have read that Cesar covers the sensor. My budget is a wee bit messy as I had assumed selling more glass to fund Hassy purchases before I realized that I do not need full sensor coverage. I am very attached to the rendering of certain lenses such as Audrey. I usually shoot methodically and manual focus so no big loss. I love the compactness of m-mount glass on the X1D.
The Hasselblad 30mm is the most stunning lens wider than 35mm full frame that I have used. It produces crisp sunstars like Audrey. The Hassy 45mm is sharp but I much prefer the magical rendering of Audrey but the 45mm is still great for a lot of things.
It takes time to adapt to a new sensor for processing but the files are amazing and I have adapted to using Phocus with X1D files and Capture 1 for all else. The X1D files are different in that they come in a very (natural) neutral and “flat” rendering and then it is up to you to finesse the rendering with contrast curve and saturation if necessary. I am amazed at how much detail can be pulled from the shadows and have no banding or posterization or noise – just natural detail. It is an incredible night camera but forget about AF working – MF is great anyway. It has certainly made my files of other sensors look disappointing if I start to zoom but I am not a pixel peeper.
This camera really shows up any sloppiness in depth of field or movement due to the detail in those crisp 50MP files – it is encouraging me to be even more methodical and strive to be a better photographer. I am using a Panasonic G9 for glass outside the full frame 24mm to 105mm range. I love the G9 for meeting a lot of photographic needs but I will be happier when they can come up with a sensor with more bits for more file flexibility.
Enjoy your amazing new experience. Cheers, Brian
“not” getting results? – that blasted auto spell corrector again – it’s stalking you, Pascal – squirt it with Mortein! You CANNOT hit the “t” by mistake, the “w” is miles away from it! – across to the right four and a half spaces & up two rows, on a french keyboard! To do that by mistake, you would have had to drink a bottle and a half of absinthe!
Yay! He dood’ it! He da’ man! Congrats, Pascal! If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, for us it is in the shooting, and your pics tell the story. Superlative! And thanks for giving me a good reason other than your superior talent why my pics are inferior to yours…:-)
Have fun, enjoy, delight us, et toute cette sorte de choses
To pics specifically, whereas I see tremendous Otus quality in shots with Hubert, which once more shows that duplicating Otus quality is not easy, I see goodness galore with those shot with “more mundane” (relatively speaking) lenses. The 45 looks very much like a “nifty 45” in this respect. Not overly large of costly, but shoot-everything and deliver-the-goods-even-if-not-the absolute-ultimate type of lens. Yummy!
Yeah, I done! Thanks Philippe.
The X1D is looking more and more like “The Chosen One” that balances AF productivity and adapted artsiness.
So far you are looking very good with the new Hassy images, Pascal. I predict that this new acquisition will expand your photographic endeavors and help you grow in depth for the next couple of years. By that time you will be looking at something else. That’s a good thing. Always something to look forward to. Right now I’m just looking forward to seeing how far you can take this new ride. Especially, I’m looking forward to your street images and the bicycles. I always look forward to the bicycles. Wish we had more bicycles here.
One thing I wonder about, though, isn’t using other brands of lenses with this ultimate image getter sort of like going to a party wearing a new tux but not changing underwear? Won’t you sort of always be wondering what that new print would have looked like if you had used Hassy glass?
And now I’ll bow out. My nasty deed is done. I have planted the seed. :))
Hi Cliff, that’s a prediction I like to read 😉 Seriously, though, that’s the whole point. I really hope it will make me a more deliberate photographer.
We’ll see about changing in a couple of years. My wish is to keep this for a long time, if it proves reliable, but an X2D is bound to appear some day 🙂
Bycicles. Those are Philippe’s specialty, but I’ll try my best, I promise.
I plan on keeping several of the lenses I’ve bought with the camera. The XCD30 is a gem. And the XCD45 is proving to be much more than a serviceable “entry level” kit lens. It’s actually brilliant. The quality of those lenses is second to none. But, in a way, they remind me of those on the Mamiya 7: incredibly sharp at any aperture but slightly flat. Whereas the Otus 85 adds just a little bit of life to the photograph. If I manage to get the photographs made with the Hassy glass to look a little less formal, I’ll use only those lenses. If not, I’ll keep a couple of oldies/goldies for when a bit of romanticism is called for 😉
Cliff is absolutely right – “the person who has stopped learning has ceased to live”! The real reason I recently reconfigured my gear (apart from the fact it is now all compatible and more logical) was to expand my horizons (hollow laughter, from those who know the truth!) and shoot stuff that’s totally new (for me) and (for me) quite different). And you’re headed of in an equally new & quite different direction.
When Cliff’s “next couple of years” is up, we will all come back in 2021 and compare notes! 🙂
Congratulations on the new (to you) Hassy!
I look forward to seeing how you two get along.
To answer your question about the new images you have posted. To me they seem to have an air of apprehension, while the Audry and Hubert images give me the feeling of familiarity. Like good dance partners your need time to get to know each other.
Concerning the idea of selling Audry and Hubert, and the others. I agree you don’t need them to cover the full Hassy frame. You just need them to render an enjoyable image. You can shoot “In the Round”, or crop as desired, and still have a very usable image.
Post new images often. I think most of us would like to follow your progress.
Fascinating comparison with the dancers, Paul, thank you. Away for the week but will post on my return. My guess is that PP will be the key to all this.
All the best, Pascal
Since “breaking news” has been an announcement by Hasselblad of a new 100MP X1D, does your commitment to GAS extend to an upgrade to take your photography completely out of the range of full frame? 🙂
Nope. Nope. Nope.
The X1D 100c is a wonderful camera because it brings the price of the X1D 50c down. *That* is the camera to buy 😉 The big brother will be harder to shoot, less happy with adapted lenses and even more expensive!
Maybe in a few years, when the price is down and my talent is up ?
Simply: Does this new rig allow you to craft images that have a particular enduring ‘soul’ in contrast to images you crafted with your former pieces of kit?
Or, putting it another way, what do you think will be the innate qualities of your newly crafted images, that underpins this ‘soul’, that have resulted from using this new-found rig?
that’s a tricky one. My reasons for switching are as much ergonomical as IQ related. But I find there is a neutrality to X1D images that lines up well with my aspiration to focus on the “essence” of a place. When traveling, I’m most interested in trying to remove everything unnecessary from a shot and keep the bare essentials that convey a sense of place (hope this makes sense) This is helped by using gear that doesn’t add it’s own signature.
It’s still very early days and I’d be lying if I said it’s all come to fruition, but there are clear signs that, when I don’t mess up completely, photographs seem to just disappear and let the subject come though more clearly. Our next Monday Post will be about this.
All the best,
Thank you Pascal,
I think you may have gotten close to what I was driving at. That being, and I quote you “… This is helped by using gear that doesn’t add it’s own signature…” and in doing this, you super that by stating “.. I find there is a neutrality to X1D images that lines up well with my aspiration to focus on the “essence” of a place…” and the ”soul” in turn, just maybe a wee dram of that “essence” you’ve referred to. I also sense that this “neutrality” thing is evident because the glass used has not “overtly imposed its own signature” onto the image, but has assisted, in a neutral way, for realising the vision of the photographers intention, at a particular time, when the shutter is released.
I’m sure the glass and calibration play a big role in this. Ironically, images feel a bit dry and *soul less* initially. That was a tad disappointing. But it’s really the soul of the lens that is lacking and the soul of the place is allowed to have its say more freely. At leat I *hope* that’s what it is, and not post-purchase rationalization 😀 Cheers!
congratulations on your new acquisition. The X1D is such a beautifully designed piece of gear, especially the 4116 version. I’m looking forward to the pictures you’re going to create with this camera.
I’ve always dreamed of getting either a digital M (if they ever come out with a M-10 Monochrome I´m probably going to cave) or a digital MF. The main drawback for me regarding the X1D is that the files don’t work with Capture One. I think I´ll give the new Fuji GFX50R a try as it has some similarities to the GSW690 and works with my preferred PP software. I guess it’ll take some time for the 50R to appear on the used market so I´ll stick to 6×6 film MF for now ;).
Thank you Johannes, that’s very kind. A monochrom M-10 does sound irresistable. I played with the “older” monochrom for a few minutes during a workshop we ran in Paris a couple of years ago, and it was magical. Let me know what you think of the GFX50R. The body looks really great, it’s the lenses I’m not so sure about. It would be great to have first hand information on what they really are like. 6×6 film is delightful. I don’t feel too sorry for you 😀
I´ve got a Fuji X system as a secondary digital camera and the lenses are quite good. From what i have read and seen so far the GF lenses seem quite good and the focal plane shutter keeps the price down compared to the hassy lenses. I´m most interested in the 45mm and 110mm.
We´ll see if i can resist the current bundle prices on the 45+50R. Only 7 more weeks of temptation ;). Thought i was over the hump on January 10th but the deal got extended…
Damn Fuji 🙂
I feel your pain Johannes 😉 Been there and failed 😀