The Hasselblad 45P XCD lens with the X1DII. Oh My!

The Hasselblad 45P XCD lens with the X1DII. Oh My!

By Steve Huff

I just finished writing my first look of the Voigtlander 50 APO E mount lens, and that lens actually has tempted me. What I mean is, that lens may just be a reason to BUY into a Sony system. It’s that good. But today I have another dilemma as I have been shooting with the medium format Hasselblad X1DII, a camera I absolutely adore. No it is not the fastest camera, no it doesn’t do video, no it can not shoot 10 FPS nor can it focus even nearly as fast as full frame 35mm mirrorless bodies. For me, the X1DII is about the file quality, the build and design and that amazing touch screen and menu system as well as the experience of use. It’s just so much fun to use a medium format camera like this on a day to day basis because it CAN BE used on a day to day basis!

Debby with the new 45P lens at f/4 on the X1DII

As much as I love the X1D system, and I did purchase the X1D V1 a couple of years ago (and sold it when the II came out) I never did make the jump to the II. Not sure why as it was much less expensive while being improved and I adored the X1D1, even with its quirks and warts. Now that the II took care of all of those quirks, at $5,750 the X1DII is not cheap but it’s a few grand less than what it was when in its V1 form. At $5750, the X1DII is priced right for what you get. The body is hand made in Sweden and you can tell it was made with care and pride. It screams quality, and when you get to the files…wow. You can instantly harness the power of the dynamic range with this 50mp Sony sensor when you shoot RAW.

My look at the 45P (Video)

As for the weakness of this system with this new 45p lens, it is the auto focus performance. It’s on the slower side of AF and hunts in low light, and I mean indoor daytime type of light (though this is a pre production lens and I was told its performance may improve by the time it ships). When focus gets slow it happens in lower light and when that happens I switch to manual focus as the new EVF is very nice and provides the size and detail you need for critical manual focus. The other weakness of the X1DII camera itself is the battery life. While I shot the Sony A7III all day, I came home to 85% battery left. The X1DII ran out of gas at the end of the day, and I had to put in a new battery. Battery life could be vastly improved but I feel they would need to make a larger battery and this would kill the design of the camera. So it’s a trade off. If you own an X1DII, you will need three batteries. Consider it part of the investment. Doesn’t bother me, but just wanted to make sure those of you who are eyeballing an X1DII that you will need at least one extra battery.

The X1D has such wonderful bold, vibrant color when the subject itself has these traits. I simply love the files that come from the X1D and X1DII. Here, all with the 45P at f/4. Click them for larger!

THE 45P LENS

This lens is is simply amazing and mainly due to the incredible price point it comes in at. Yes, a Hasselblad medium format lens that is small, light and offers true mechanical manual focus (not by wire) and beautiful image quality for only $1099. BAM! That is unheard of in the Hasselblad universe and the other 45 lens that make, the XCD 45 f/3.5 is larger and comes in at $2695.  Is it $1500 better? Nope, not IMO. It’s a little faster at f/3.5 vs f/4 but even at f/4 the 45P allows for a little bit of shallow DOF. The field of view is around 35-36mm so it is like shooting 35 on a full frame camera. The lens balances like a dream on the X1DII as it’s much shorter than the older 45 (which is still in current production and this lens does NOT replace the 45 f3.5). This lens also is silent. No more of that metallic clickety clack sound when shooting. Remember, the X1DII has NO SHUTTER! The shutter is inside of the lenses so each lens will have a different shutter sound. This one is near silent.

I just can not believe Hasselblad was able to make this lens, at this price, with this performance. I feel it should be offered as a kit lens with the X1DII..say $6500 for a package price. That would and could introduce so many to this wonderful system without going to that $10k mark the previous X1D MKI had us going to. $6500 for a hand made medium format that can be used daily as a walk around camera, and with a simple touch screen interface that is so easy to use and navigate due to the huge LCD and this lens?!? Sign me up please.  If you missed my X1DII review, I shot it alongside the Sony A7RIV and compared the images. You can read that review HERE if you missed it or wanted a refresher.

The SPECS of the 45P Lens

From B&H Photo: “Impressively portable, the XCD 45mm f/4 P from Hasselblad is a sleek wide-angle prime distinguished by its compact and lightweight form factor. Designed for X-series medium format mirrorless cameras, this lens offers a familiar 36mm equivalent focal length to benefit working in a wide variety of situations. Two aspherical elements are featured in the optical design, which reduce a variety of aberrations and distortion for improved sharpness and clarity. Its close 1.1′ minimum focusing distance also suits working with close-up subjects and a mechanical focusing system lends a more tactile feel when manually focusing. Autofocus is quick and quiet, too, and this lens also incorporates a revised Central Lens Shutter for notably quiet performance along with support for shutter speeds up to 1/2000 sec with flash sync at all speeds”.

Keep in mind that the camera will go up to 1/10,000s if you enable the electronic shutter. Using the shutter in the lens will go to 1/2000s which means if in direct bright sunlight you may have to stop down the lens some. My images here were all shot at f/4, wide open.

The new 45P lens…do I like it better than the older 45 f/3.5 XCD lens? Yes. Here is why.

I feel the new lens is sharper corner to corner and the older 45 a teeny bit softer with a more forgiving rendering. I feel the 45P has more bite and pop, and the color performance is solid. It’s small, it’s lighter, and has true mechanical focus while keeping the shutter nearly silent. The price is $1500 less than the f/3.5 to boot. It’s a no brainer. Anyone who has an X1DII and does not have a 45 yet, then this is the one you should be looking at. If you already own the 45 f3.5 I see no reason to sell it and buy this one unless you want that smaller size. Both 45’s can produce lovely images, this one just does it while being smaller and much less expensive. It’s a lens everyone should own with an X1DII, hence the reason I say it should be offered as a kit option. Usually, in the past, most kit lenses were of average quality. This would not be the case here. No matter how you acquire the lens, I cannot image anyone being disappointed with it.

A 100% crop from a full page shows the new 45 as being a bit sharper…both lenses were at f/4

Top image with the 45P, bottom image with the older/original/current 45

Again, I do not know how Hasselblad did this for the price point. As stated, I feel the AF is slower than it should be with the lens but I am also shooting with a pre production lens and performance may or may not be improved. That was my only negative with this lens but then again, the X1D system is not known for it’s blazing fast AF. It’s medium format and there are different speed standards when it comes to these kind of cameras, when compared to full frame or APS-C.

I feel Hasselblad is doing great things with the XCD system. The new 907X is slated for launch soon, the new 45P is a beauty and the X1DII is priced very right for those who are looking to get into medium format digital imaging. Yes, Fuji has some MF bodies to check out as well but none of them will feel like, look like or offer the simplicity of menu and use that the X1DII has. That’s in no way a dig at Fuji but it is fact. I handled the Fuji GFX bodies and I did not enjoy any of them in the hand. I did not enjoy the menu system or the low light when compared to the X1D system. But that’s a personal preference, that’s me and we all have different likes and dislikes in life. I do know the Fuji has astonishing IQ and of course, you can not get that beautiful Fuji color from any other system. There are pros and cons to all cameras and systems but my advice is to always go with the ones that speak to you heart.

For me, cameras from Hasselblad, Leica, Olympus and even Canon speak to MY heart and these are the bodies I enjoy shooting with the most, and have for years. I enjoy Sony, Nikon and others but the brands I first mentioned are the ones that ignite my passion for the craft of photography. Which brand speaks to YOU?

So if it was not clear, I love this lens. It is fantastic. There were no corrections applied to any of the images as the lens is new, and Adobe does not recognize it yet. I do use Adobe products but to get even better IQ from the Hasselblad I do recommend using their own Phocus software, which is actually quite nice. If I jumped back to an X1DII I would 100% use Phocus to process my photos as it does indeed give the best color and output from these files. You can also now use Phocus on an iPad and edit photos quickly and easily on something like an iPad Pro.

Back to the lens though. For the money, you can not beat this lens for the X1D system. It is set to ship in Feb 2020 and you can pre order it at B&H Photo HERE. 

Thank you all for reading this. Hope it helped you in some way!

Steve

Oh, just for fun here are a couple of images..one from the Sony A7III with the Voigtlander 50 APO and one from the X1DII with 45P. In no way is this scientific, nor did I want it to be. Just the same shot with two cameras and two lenses. You will see a shallow DOF with the Sony and 50 APO at f/2 and a bit better color and understanding of where Debby is in the Hasselblad shot.

Different looks, feel free to click on them for larger versions. The Sony shot with the 50 f/2 APO has a more shallow DOF but I like the color on the Hasselblad more. The 45P will bring a 36mm FOV in 35mm and the Voigtlander of course brings a true 50mm. 

 

22 Comments

  1. Hi Steve
    I plan a 2 week photo tour in Iceland in Late September early October. As of now I will being taking a Nikon D-850.I Have read all of your review’s on the Leica SL & SL2 and The Hasselblad X1D1 & X1D11 camera’s. I like both Apple like menu system on each camera.I am wondering if the Leica files will not be much different what I see coming from the D-850 . I had a Hasselblad 500 cm in the 80’s which was a great camera .I wonder if the X1D can function in the wet weather of Iceland.I would think that the X1D images would differ in color from the Nikon.If I hand held the X1D I how fast a shudder speed would I need? Your files coming from the 45P look great in such a small lens. I look for forward to your camera & Audio Hi-Fi reviews in 2020.

    • Hey Ron, Iceland is great!! You will have a great time. The Nikon D850 is a fantastic DSLR. The Leica files will not be much different IMO from your Nikon files. Different color but not much difference other than that. The X1DII will bring a whole different vibe and look. As for weather sealing, I have not had the X1DII out in severe weather. The Nikon should have no issues, and as long as not exposed to a downpour the Hasselblad should be as well. Thank you!

      • Dear Ron,
        Dear Steve,
        I will be in Iceland this year for the first time as well (July) and will make the ring road with my family.
        Preparing already my gear for this trip.
        Currently I am replacing my SL with a X1DII and the new 45mm p lens.
        Looking around to get a second hand XCD 21mm.
        Besides this I will take a small APSC camera with me with a 70-350mm Telezoom and a few primes.
        I hope that this combo will allow me to shoot the wonderful nature for Iceland
        John

        • Dear John,
          I looked at the day light time for July equal’s 21 hours!You & Steve’s reply makes sense to go with the X1D & the 45mm P to go with my Nikon.I hope you can see the Iceland horses on your Tour too.Be sure and post your photo’s and thoughts on using the X1D with Steve upon your return. What a great experience for your family.

  2. Checked out Fuji GFX 50R : really is an average industial design
    never mind cheap feel Fuji GFX 50R: Xe series made larger.

    Other hand X1D : this is superior industrial design, superior build, premium feel.

  3. Hi Steve,

    You’ve talked about the XD2 and also the SL2, both with great excitement and passion (very different cameras of course). I’m curious how you’d steer people to one over the other.

    • Well, I do not want to steer anyone in a direction. Just present what I feel about each one and people can decide for themselves. I have always said to go with a camera that speaks to your heart and soul. These are different cameras. I would take an X1DII over an SL2 any day of the week as I like the original SL more than the SL2. But some will like the SL2 and what it offers. Some will like. the X1D system and others will just stick with what everyone else goes with..Sony, Nikon or Canon. They all do the same thing and all have output that is beautiful. Can’t buy a bad camera today if your only concern is output.

    • 10000% different in all ways, every way. The X1DII is a medium format camera. Has a much larger sensor than a full frame camera and thus, brings a different look to images. It’s different to hold, shoot, and is so different from the fp. This is a camera one would add to a full frame camera.

  4. Last two photos Debbie in front of pond lake
    higlights difference between :

    Subject separation larger sensor

    Vs

    Shallower dof smaller sensor which just blurs out the background yet isnt subject separation.

  5. Which brand speaks to me? To be honest I don’t have a proper answer. I bought into the Sony system with an A7III because of Voigtlander lenses and the fact that other, newer systems don’t have a good range of native manual lenses. The A7III includes more than enough features for my needs and like you Steve, I like to shoot manual which means there are a lot of features I don’t need (like eye af). One thing I do like is the button layout. Because the Sony menu system isn’t great, I use the external buttons and dial to customise my camera. The external layout of the Sony is better for me than the layout on other cameras. I turn the screen off when out shooting and just use the viewfinder and buttons and dials for my settings.

  6. Wow Steve, the poor AF is the only thing keeping me from getting a X1D ii. Is it just with this lens, or with every other lens? also you haven’t done any more reviews on the Sigma FP. I want to see how you got along using it with m-mount lenses and that big viewfinder.

    • Hello Isi! The AF on the X1DII is not “bad” – it just hunts in lower light. This lens is a little slower but it’s also a pre production lens as I stated. I have no issue with the X1DII AF, it’s about on par with the first Leica SL using native SL lenses. The 30 is snappy, the older 45 is quick-ish and the 90 is also nice. The FP is great, it’s just the VF is large, and most do not find it to be acceptable. I have no issues with it, but felt I said all I could say in my long fp review. Thanks.

    • I owned the X1D and the autofocus was perfectly accurate which I cannot say for Sony. It is not as fast as Sony but it is quite fine unless you are shooting fast moving subjects which is not the purpose of a medium format camera. It also does not autofocus well in low interior light but I use manual focus for that. The images and colours have no competitor which I would choose over poor skin colour from Sony but faster autofocus.

  7. Hi Steve,
    How’s the autofocus of this lens? Is it worse than the old 45(I read from somewhere)?
    Cheers,

    • I talk about the AF in the video. It’s a pre production lens that I had here, and not final. It was a little slower than the older 45 in lower light.

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