Here is a second Hasselblad X1D lens reviews. My intention isn’t to bore anyone but to provide some sort of repository for the information I wish I’d had access to before deciding to jump in.
Also, in those reviews, I mostly try to give you a feel of what the lens is like to live with and what the photographs look like, rather than bore you with irrelevant technical detail. While the XCD range has a very consistent look and rendering, there are some subtle differences that justify the multiple reviews for someone wanting to decide which lens will best suit needs.
And on that, let me sum up what I feel the XCD 45 is like to use. In a sentence, it’s a tad softer than the XCD 30. Not any less sharp, as those crazy good MTF curves show, but it does render a tad more gently, as if a tiny amount of residual spherical aberration rounded off the angles (which I am sure is NOT the case 😉 ). It feels a tiny bit more rounded and warmer.
Coupled with a longer focal length, this makes for an easy going lens that never gets you into trouble in hard light or stark compositions. It always remains crystal transparent and super clean but never strays towards the clinical. With the XCD 30, I’m always tempted to dial down the automatic lens corrections performed by Phocus or Lightroom. With this lens, the balance seems perfect.
The MTF curves are here. And below is a full size jpg that will let you see just how well this lens captures detail and atmosphere. There is some loss in the jpg export but it’s still pretty good. There’s not much more I can add, except that this was made at f/6.3 but there’s very little, if any, difference in performance between f/3.5 and f/8, even at 100%. Those lenses are not fast and they are not cheap. And this is why.
Just as on the XCD30, strong lights just outside the frame create very visible flare and the sunshade is advisable when shooting in those conditions. However, the effects seem less ugly than on the XCD30. In fact, this can soften the image and produce a lovely glow that fits some subjects very well. For others, just block out the light with your hand or the shade.
Bokeh is superb on this lens. The lens has a fairly short focal length and a fairly small maximum aperture so the amount of blur is only big if you are photographing close up. But when you do, it really is beautiful. Particularly noteworthy is the shape of out of focus lights. Those are morphed into soft balls with soft edges, which is quite rare. No onion rings, no hard edge, just a flat, colourful disk of light with gentle fading at the edges. Nice.
As on the CXD30, 8 branches for a traditional look. Not much more to report here 😉
In focus, everything largely seems under control. Closed-down, as below, there isn’t a trace of chromatic aberration to be found in the frame, even on those violent specular highlights where the sun reflects on the water.
At full aperture, I was able to find a trace of purple friging on a very slightly out of focus black-white edge (see against singer’s skirt, at right).
In out of focus highlights, you can find some green fringing if you’re looking for it. See the light bulb at top-center in the photograph below, at f/3.5. That’s about as far as it goes in my experience.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say that this XCD 45 feels extremely realistic, rather than full of pop. Unlike some lenses, which play geometric jedi mind tricks (probably) through a variation in rendering of in-focus and out-of-focus areas, this maintains an extremely consistent look throughout the frame and depth of the field.
In the photograph above, you wouldn’t say the fountain stands out spectacularly from the background, for example. But the whole photograph, through very accurate rendering of colour and tone, screams of realistic 3D. The fountain is well separated, but no more, the balcony railings are clearly separated from the walls, and the various chimneys and extensions on the roofs display a very clear 3D pattern. If anything is spectacular in this photograph, it’s the absence of anything flawed or gimmicky that would destroy the sense of space. But I don’t feel the XCD is a spectacukar 3D pop master other than in its realism.
So whenever there’s (no) good light, there’s (no) good 3D, even for flat subjects. Of the 5 next photographs, made at various apertures, the first is the least impressive, probably because of the very flat light (though it is much better if you click on it and view it without all of the wordpress compression).
Love it, love it love it 🙂 From very basic greyscale conversions to much more extreme ‘interpretations’, this lens has a clarity always makes it shine in the sort of contrasty b&w photographs I like best.
So that’s it. A superb lens that adds to its impressive list of qualities a small size (by Hasselblad standards) and a very lovely shutter noise. This is definitely a keeper for my style of shooting. It will complement the C-Sonnar 1.5/50 ZM very nicely, and vice versa. What do you think ?
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