The Hasselblad XCD 65 f/2.8 Lens. The true Standard lens for the system?
You guys know I love my new Hasselblad 907x camera. If you missed it, see my review HERE. When I purchased it, and did that review I was mostly using the 45 f/3.5 lens as that was my goto for the Hasselblad X1D. I never did buy other lenses for this system as they were just so costly I could not justify it for a hobby camera. If I could go back in time though, my first lens would have been this 65 f/2.8. I have always wanted to try this lens, so I decided to rent one from lens rentals for a few days to give it a whirl. I am so glad I decided to scratch this itch and try this lens because I discovered that I truly love the build, and rendering of this one, even more-so than the 45. The truth is, I have always been a 50mm guy first and foremost. When I shot Leica M exclusively my goto was 50mm, and wether I shot with a 50 Summicron, 50 Summilux or 50 Noctilux I would venture to guess that 85% of my photos shot with Leica M were taken with a 50mm lens, then 35mm in 2nd place followed by a few with a 75mm.
Click image for larger. Shot with the 65 at f/2.8
Shooting with the 45 f/3.5 brings me an almost 35mm equivalent in full frame format and while I also love that focal length, after trying out the 65 f/2.8 for a while I have put this on my list of lenses I hope to one day own. I actually prefer it to the 45 for a few reasons. The first is that the color performance seems slightly better to me and there is much less distortion (The 45 has distortion and the software fixes it during processing the RAW). The sharpness feels better and the rendering is smooth, silky and offers me a more shallow depth of field if I desire it. Being a longer and faster lens, this one can render some beautiful images with just the right amount of background blur. Yep, this lens can deliver some creamy Bokeh.
The XCD 65 f/2.8 should be on your try list if you own an X1D I or II or 907x. On the 907x it balances PERFECTLY. Not too small, not too large but feels like a solid pro lens, unlike the 45 which is much lighter.
The Build is NICE
One thing that shocked me is that this 65 f/2.8 feels much heftier in the hand than the 45 f/3.5 does, and makes it feel worth its $2750 cost. I mean, and I am not taking a stab at the 45 as that lens is a keeper for sure, but this 65 feels like a much more premium lens in feel, build and even in the smoothness of the focusing dial. It’s solid. Very. It makes the 45 f/3.5 feel more like a kit lens. The main thing is the rendering gives a much more “medium format” vibe than the 45 does. The good thing is that this lens is about the same cost brand new as the 45 f/3.5 but offers a little more of everything over that lens. If you are a 50mm shooter, and own and X1d or 907x then you MUST try this beauty! For some reason I never have, and now that I have been able to use it I appreciate what it brings to this Hasselblad system. In a perfect world I would choose this 65 2.8, the 30 3.5 and one of the longer lenses (the 90 is very nice) offered if money was no object, for my 907x. As it stands, I will be with my tried and true 45 but if I ever find a used deal on this 65, it will one day be mine!
Click any of the images for a larger and much better version.
Do not let the “slow” f/2.8 aperture fool you as this is medium format, and that f/2.8 will still remain an f/2.8 aperture but because it is technically a 65mm lens, you will have a more shallow DOF than if you are shooting a 50 2.8 on full frame. This larger sensor allows for creamy backgrounds with slower lenses. As you can see below and above you can create a nice, never overdone level of Bokeh and shallow DOF. For those of you who are really into shallow depth of field Hasselblad offers the 80 1.9 which delivers a stunning almost Noctilux look. This 65 though, is not really that far behind and yes, I did do a write up of the 80 1.9 a while back. You can see that HERE.
This lens is versatile as well. It’s basically your fast 50 on medium format!
This lens is also nice because it has a quieter shutter than the 45 3.5. Where the 45 sounds metallic and clanky when you fire a shot, the 65 is more subdued and softer. Because these lenses have the shutter inside of the lens (the cameras have no physical shutter) each lens will bring a slightly different sound and feel when you press that shutter button. Some have that metallic click, others are softer and more muted. So in addition to being like a 50mm on full frame in regards to the focal length, you get a much nicer feel and heft to the lens as well as a quieter shutter. I also feel the color performance bests my 45 3.5 for some reason. Yes, lenses can have slightly different behavior in the color dept. It can even do Monochrom well.
While this lens is not cheap in any way, if you bought into the Hasselblad system you already know nothing from this brand is cheap : ) The good news is you do get what you pay for here, and it is a lens that can last you a long long time, it’s a keeper far above any other lens for this system as it offers the most natural field of view. Highly recommended if you are looking for a solid one lens solution for your X1D, X1DII or 907x.
Here is what B&H Photo says about this lens:
“An all-arounder for the Hasselblad X-series of medium format mirrorless cameras, the XCD 65mm f/2.8 is a 50mm-equivalent prime offering a natural field of view to suit working in a broad variety of shooting situations. The f/2.8 maximum aperture strikes a balance between a sleek form factor and being adept in difficult lighting conditions. For working with close-up subjects, a minimum focusing distance of 1.6′ is possible and a 10-elements-in-six-groups optical design helps to realize high sharpness and clarity. Like other XCD lenses, the 65mm f/2.8 has an integrated Central Lens Shutter that is capable of shutter speeds up to 1/2000 sec with flash sync at all speeds, and its internal autofocus design can be manually overridden for precise manual focusing control.”