Lens Review: Hasselblad XCD 135mm
April 16, 2019
Hasselblad broke ground with the X1D-50c mirrorless medium-format camera by managing to cram a huge sensor into a camera body smaller than many DSLRs. Since its launch, the company has been adding native lenses and updating the camera’s firmware to keep the system fresh.
The XCD 135mm is Hasselblad’s longest focal length native telephoto lens to date for the X1D, equivalent to a 105mm lens on a 35mm camera. We turned it over to N.J. commercial photographer David Patiño to see how it fared.
The XCD 135mm f/2.8 lens can focus on objects as close as 1-meter with a magnification ratio of 1:5.8. The lens stops down to f/32.
Like the other XCD Lenses, the 135mm features an integral central shutter, offering exposure times from 60 minutes to 1/2000 sec. with full flash synch.
The 135mm ships with an 1.7x teleconverter, or what Hasselblad portentously calls the X Converter (paging Charles Xavier). When paired with the 135mm, it offers a 230mm focal length (178mm, 35mm equivalent). The maximum aperture will narrow by two stops to f/4.8 and the magnification ratio becomes 1:3.4 when using the X Converter. The converter is only compatible with the 135mm lens and no other model in the X series.
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One of the major highlights of the lens is its design. “It’s a very well-engineered lens,” Patiño tells us.
It weighs in at 32 ounces. That’s significantly lighter than lenses like the H-series’ 120mm f/4. It’s even lighter than a few notable DLSR lenses, like the Nikon 105mm f/1.4 or the Zeis Otus 85mm f/2. It’s a nice pairing for the similarly low-weight X1D body.
The included X Converter will bring the total system weight to 48 ounces. It’s well built and feels durable. Oddly, you can’t buy the X Converter separately—you’ll either have to buy it bundled with the lens or not at all.
Image Quality & Performance
Patiño shot a number of studio and environmental portraits with the XCD 135mm (both with and without the X Converter). He tells us he was quite impressed with the image quality. “It’s a very sharp lens. I was really pleased with the images.”
At 135mm, the lens is in the sweet spot for portrait photography and delivers excellent subject separation and contrast, Patiño adds. It does a nice job resolving details from the X1D-50c’s 50-megapixel sensor out to the edge of frame, even when shooting at f/2.8.
There was no visible chromatic aberration or other optical distortions, but Patiño says he noticed a significant autofocus slowdown when shooting with the X Converter.
Patiño says he found the X1D something of a quirky camera. Physically, it handles like a mirrorless camera, but operationally it carries over the more deliberate autofocusing and image processing speeds of more traditional medium-format cameras. It takes some getting used to, Patiño adds.
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The 135mm is admittedly a niche lens aimed at the community of X1D camera owners. But those owners should be mightily impressed with the image quality this lens is capable of. What’s more, they’re getting a medium-format lens that’s lighter than many premium DSLR lenses—a further complement to the X1D-50c’s pathbreaking industrial design. Of course, X1D owners can rightfully gripe that the X Converter should be sold separately as an option for 135mm owners who later realize they could use the extra reach. If you’re even remotely on the fence about needing or wanting the converter, it makes sense to buy the two as a kit.
Hasselblad XCD 135mm Lens
PROS: Very lightweight and well built; excellent resolving power; beautiful image quality.
CONS: Teleconverter only works with single lens; pricey.
PRICE: $4,050; $4,845 (with X Converter)
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