HASSELBLAD XCD 35-75MM F/3.5-4.5 IN-DEPTH REVIEW

Hasselblad X1D II and Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5

THE FIRST ZOOM FOR THE HASSELBLAD X1D SYSTEM IS HERE: SEE HOW IT PERFORMS IN THIS HASSELBLAD XCD 35-75MM F/3.5-4.5 IN-DEPTH REVIEW!

Announced in June 2019, and still not widely available as I write this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review, after a long wait I finally got my copy of this lens in mid-March 2020 on my way back home from leading my spring Workshops. This lens is the first zoom for the Hasselblad X1D system and is a lens Hasselblad is very proud of, so much so that they claimed it to be “the best lens we ever designed”. Given Hasselblad’s tradition, and the superb optical quality of their lenses, you can see why such a claim made the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 a lens much anticipated both by current X1D owners and by people considering the system.

My copy of the lens is one of the first arrived in Italy, if not the first, and once more I’d like to thank the great guys at NEWOLDCAMERA in Milan, starting from the owner Ryuichi Watanabe, for their impeccable service. Whether for second-hand gear or for new equipment, they are simply the best! Disclaimer: At the time of writing, I am not affiliated with NewOldCamera in any way.

The lens in this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review, with its 28-59mm equivalent focal length range in 24 x 36mm format, is the X1D alternative to the classic, all-purpose “normal” range 24-70mm zoom that pretty much all manufacturers of the so-called “full-frame” systems offer.

While the lens might seem a bit short on both ends, and a bit slow in speed, we need to remember that we are talking about a medium format zoom lens.

Let’s see what this means, in terms of the available “normal” zoom offer.

Starting from the seemingly slow speed, and the consequent ability to blur your background, we need to remember that the crop factor (0.78x, in case of the X1D) will make the depth of field generated using the lens wide-open at f/3.5 equivalent to that created at f/2.73 in full-frame terms, and that created at f/4.5 into the equivalent of f/3.5 in full-frame terms.

So, at the wide end this lens will actually blur your background slightly more than a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens for full-frame at equivalent focal length, while at the long end it will be just a little less effective.

Truth be told, the differences between f/2.8 and either f/2.73 or f/3.5 are negligible in practical use, and you can safely consider the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 as effective in blurring your background as your 24-70mm f/2.8 on a full-frame camera.

Coming to the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5’s range, we need to remember that pretty much all medium format “normal” zooms cover a shorter range than their 24 x 36mm counterparts. For comparison, FujiFilm offers both a 32-64mm f/4 lens, with an equivalent coverage of 25-51mm, and a 45-100mm f/4 covering 36-79mm; Pentax offers a 28-45mm f/4.5 covering a range of 22-35.5mm; and PhaseOne offers a 40-80mm f/4-5.6, equivalent to 25-50mm. There are only two “normal” zoom lenses covering a 24-70mm full-frame equivalent range in the medium format world.

The first is the Leica 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 for their S system, covering 24-72mm (see my LEICA 30-90MM F/3.5-5.6 VARIO-ELMAR-S ASPH REVIEW for more information). The second is the Hasselblad HCD 35-90mm f/4-5.6, covering a 28-71mm equivalent range on the X1D, an older lens created for a larger sensitive area. So, as you can see, when you move up to medium-format you gain a lot in terms of image quality, be it resolution, colour fidelity, colour depth, and so on, but you definitely lose something when it comes to the zoom lens range you are accustomed to in the full-frame world.

With that out of the way, one last consideration. As always, please keep in mind that this, just like all my reviews, is a review made under the point of view of a Fine Art Landscape Photographer. If your genre of photography is different, my findings might not apply to you and your work.

The Dolomites Photography Workshop

Disclaimer: At the time of writing, I am not affiliated with Hasselblad in any way. I am a professional photographer looking for the best equipment for my work, I buy all my gear with my hard-earned cash and I don’t get paid by anyone to write articles for my blog.

Let’s get this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review started, and let’s see how this lens performed during my usual tests!

BUILD, CONTROLS, SIZE AND WEIGHT
Like all lenses in the XCD line, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is built like a tank. In use, the lens feels very solid, with no rattles, internal moving parts or noises of any kind. As all other XCD lenses, the lens barrel’s controls are truly minimalistic, featuring just two rings.

Closer to the camera body, you’ll find the zoom ring, with markings at 35, 40, 50, 60, 70 and 75mm. Focal lengths markings are extremely precise, much more so than on the last zoom lenses I used before moving to Hasselblad.

For this review, I decided to take my test shots at 35mm, 45mm, 65mm and 75mm; setting the zoom half-way between the 40-50 and 60-70 markings resulted in setting the lens precisely at 45 and 65mm respectively. Hasselblad’s choice of spacing marked focal lengths, on the other hand, felt a bit bizarre to me. 

Considering that Hasselblad offers 45mm and 65mm prime lenses, that people using the X1D are used to those focal lengths, and that the lens range goes from 35 to 75, I would have expected to see 35, 45, 55, 65 and 75mm markings on the lens rather than 35 – 40 – 50 – 60 – 75. In my opinion, 35 – 45 – 55 – 65 – 75 would have made more sense relatively to the other lenses in the X1D system, besides making for a simpler, neater and cleaner sequence graphically, for those paying attention to such details.

Closer to the lens’ front element, you’ll find the focus ring. Keeping consistent with all XCD lenses, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5’s focus ring has no distance markings. While the feel of the ring is great in use, I miss having distance and depth of field markings on my XCD lenses (and pretty much all modern lenses). It’s the nature of the beast, nowadays, but it’s something I’d probably never get to really like.

Like all other Hasselblad XCD lenses, and like all X1D cameras, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is weather-sealed. Since I work constantly in the outdoors, and often in rough weather, this is fundamental for me. Obviously, I haven’t been using the lens in the field yet (Italy is in coronavirus lockdown as I write this!), but if all the other XCD lenses are to be taken as reference, I am pretty sure this will also perform flawlessly in bad weather. I will update this section of the review as soon as I’ll have more field experience with it.

The Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 features 15 elements in 13 groups, has a diameter of 85mm, a length of 145mm, weighs 1115 gr, and has a filter thread of just 77mm. While bigger and heavier than most XCD lenses, with the exception of the 135mm, this is in the ballpark for medium format zoom lenses of comparable range, where it actually sits on the smaller & lighter side of the pack. More, the lens features internal focusing, as any other medium format zoom lens considered here, but it also offers internal zooming, and it’s the only one to do so in the group of “normal” zoom lenses for medium format. This is important, in that it means that the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5’s lens barrel won’t extend during focusing nor zooming. So, while the lens is not that small to begin with, at least it won’t get any bigger and bulkier in use. Not only that, but having internal zooming and internal focusing makes for a more solid lens, minimizes the risks of dust and water entering the lens’ barrel and is of course also great for filter users, whom can count on their filters and filter holders to stay still during all lens’ operations.

Cinque Terre & Tuscany Photography Workshop

Let’s now compare the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5’s size & weight to other medium format “normal” range zooms. IF = Internal Focusing, IZ = Internal Zooming, OIS = Optical Image Stabilization. Here we go:

– Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5, 145 x 85mm, filter size 77mm, 1115 gr, IF, IZ, no OIS;
– FujiFilm GF 32-64mm F/4, 116 x 92,6mm, filter size 77mm, 875 gr, IF, no IZ, no OIS;
– FujiFilm GF 45-100mm F/4, 144,5 x 93mm, filter size 82mm, 1005 gr, IF, no IZ, OIS;
– Pentax DA 645 28-45mm F/4.5, 151,5 x 99 mm, filter size 82mm, 1470 gr, IF, no IZ, OIS;
– PhaseOne Schneider 40-80mm LS f/4.0-5.6, 150 x 111 mm, filter size 105mm, 1860 gr, IF, no IZ, no OIS;
– Leica Vario-Elmar-S 30-90mm F/3.5-5.6, 113,5 x 101 mm, filter size 95mm, 1275 gr, IF, no IZ, no OIS;
– Hasselblad HCD 35-90mm F/4-5.6, 167 x 102,5 mm, filter size 95mm, 1410 gr, IF, no IZ, no OIS.

As you can see, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is actually thinner than all other lenses (some of which offer OIS though, to be fair), and while it’s slightly longer than a couple of them, you have to keep in mind that all other lenses considered here will extend when zooming while the Hasselblad will not. As far as the lens’ weight, only both FujiFilm lenses are lighter, while all other lenses compared here are heavier – up to the PhaseOne which is almost twice as heavy (but covers a larger sensor, to be fair).

USE OF FILTERS
The ability of using my 100mm square filter system is fundamental for me when I choose a lens. Going with the larger, heavier, more cumbersome 150mm square filter system is not an option for me, if I can help it. The lens in this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review features a 77mm filter thread, allowing me to use my beloved Formatt-Hitech Firecrest Ultra kit with a 77mm standard ring. Given the range, I decided to choose a 77mm ring with built-in polariser for this lens.

If you haven’t got your filters yet, get your kit on FORMATT-HITECH or FORMATT-HITECH USA at a 10% discount using code

VIERIB10

at checkout. Disclaimer: I am a Formatt-Hitech Signature Artist and Brand Ambassador.

Normandy & Brittany Photography Workshop

IN USE: FOCUSING AND DIAPHRAGM
As with all Hasselblad XCD lenses, you can focus your images using either auto-focus or manual focus. As far as speed, auto-focus with the X1D and Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is plenty fast for my Fine Art Landscape work. What actually counts the most for me is focus precision, rather than speed, and the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 doesn’t disappoint, focussing precisely enough given a little light. The Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5’s AF motor is more silent than the AF motor on all previous XCD lenses, possibly with the exception of the 135mm, and is noticeably more silent than the AF motor featured on first generation lenses such as the 45mm (the f/3.5 version, not the new f/4 P) and 90mm. Of course, as with any Hasselblad XCD lenses, you can move your focus point all over the frame while keeping your eye on the viewfinder, which I find very handy for my way of working.

The shutter action and sound are also more silent than older XCD lenses, and while this is not really of concern to me, this is great news for those interested in using the lens indoors in settings where a noisy camera might create problems.

In manual focus mode, you can focus by turning the focus ring on the lens’ body. Of course, a tap on the AF-D button will still activate auto-focus. Please note that, like all XCD lenses, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is a focus-by-wire design, meaning that turning the focus ring will not directly operate the focus mechanism but will send electrical impulses to the auto-focus motor instead. Readers of this blog and of my reviews know that I much prefer mechanical focus rings; however, I have to say that manual focusing the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is probably as close as a mechanical ring as I experienced with a non-mechanical-focusing lens.

Like all XCD lenses, aperture on the Hasselblad XCD 30mm is controlled via a wheel on the camera body, or via the touchscreen, in all shooting modes supporting aperture control.

APERTURE: FIXED OR VARIABLE?
In designing the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5, Hasselblad decided to go with variable aperture. FujiFilm decided to go for fixed apertures on their 32-64mm and 45-100mm, both f/4, and so did Pentax for the 28-45mm, featuring a fixed f/4.5 aperture. Leica and PhaseOne, on the other hand, choose to go for variable aperture on their 30-90mm F/3.5-5.6 and 40-80mm f/4.0-5.6. While I’d like a faster lens for easier focusing in low light, for my landscape work I am always working between f/8 and f/16 and generally on a tripod where I can focus at leisure, so variable aperture is not a deal breaker for me. Generally speaking, I’d rather have a super-sharp variable aperture lens than a less sharp, and often bigger and heavier, fixed aperture one. Again, if you do a different kind of photography your requirements might be different, and so would be your choice of lens.

BETTER THAN PRIMES? LET’S SEE!
Hasselblad claimed that the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is the best lens they ever designed, and the first comments online seemed to substantiate this claim, reporting that the zoom is better than corresponding primes. I reviewed all XCD primes on my blog, except for the 80mm and 120mm, and I was very curious to compare them with the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5. For brevity, rather than reposting here all the test images already posted in my primes’ reviews, I will add my thoughts about corresponding primes below where appropriate. You can find all my full Hasselblad reviews here: HASSELBLAD REVIEWS, and just opening the review you are interested in on a tab besides this will allow you to easily make up your mind.

SHARPNESS AT INFINITY
Methodology: using my usual “real world” test scene, I manually focussed on the trees on the far ridge in the middle of the frame using the maximum focus area magnification for precise focus, with the lens wide open. I then prepared 900 x 600px, 100% crops of the center, bottom left corner and mid-right side of the frame at full-stop apertures ranging from wide open to f/22. My Hasselblad X1D II had Firmware 1.1.0 installed.

35mm
Let’s start looking at the full scene first, to see how much coverage a 77 degrees angle of view will give you in the real world, as well as to see the origin of the crops (click on the image to enlarge):

Let’s now examine the crops in detail, starting with the center of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 35mm, in the center of the frame, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is flawless, starting razor sharp wide-open at f/3.5 and staying like that up to f/16. Apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. Comparing it to the Hasselblad XCD 30mm, while the XCD 30mm is also extremely sharp in the center, the zoom is slightly better wide-open.

Let’s now examine the bottom left corner (click on the images to enlarge):

At the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5’s widest setting of 35mm, the bottom left corner starts off very sharp at f/3.5, sharpens up at f/4 to become razor sharp at f/5.6, and it stays that way up to f/16. Apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. Again, this is a better performance than the XCD 30mm in the corner.

Finally, let’s check the mid-right side of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 35mm, in the mid-right of the frame, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is flawless, starting razor sharp wide-open and staying like that up to f/16. Apertures of f/16 and smaller start suffering from diffraction. Again, the zoom performs slightly better here than the XCD 30mm.

Death Valley Photography Workshop

45mm
Let’s start looking at the full scene first, to see how much coverage a 61 degrees angle of view will give you in the real world, as well as to see the origin of the crops. Please note that the lens wide open is still f/3.5 at 45mm, which is pretty good for a zoom, and it’s as fast as the faster XCD 45mm prime (click on the image to enlarge):

Let’s now examine the crops in detail, starting with the center of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 45mm, in the center of the frame, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is again flawless, starting razor sharp wide-open and staying like that up to f/16. Apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. Comparing it to the Hasselblad XCD 45mm, the performance of the zoom here is on par with the XCD 45mm, since they are both flawless at the center of the frame at infinity.

Let’s now examine the bottom left corner (click on the images to enlarge):

As was the case at 35mm, zooming in to 45mm the bottom left corner starts off nicely at f/3.5, sharpens up at f/4, becomes razor sharp at f/5.6 staying that way up to f/16. Apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. In this case, the XCD 45mm with its perfect performance in the corner, one of the best I have ever seen, has definitely an edge over the zoom.

Finally, let’s check the mid-right side of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 45mm, in the mid-right of the frame, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is again flawless, starting razor sharp wide-open and staying like that up to f/16. Apertures of f/16 and smaller start suffering from diffraction. Both the zoom and the XCD 45mm offer flawless performances here.

Iceland Photography Workshop

65mm
Let’s start looking at the full scene first, to see how much coverage a 46 degrees angle of view will give you in the real world, as well as to see the origin of the crops. Please note that the lens wide open is already f/4.5 at 65mm, which is about 1.5 stop slower than the XCD 65mm prime lens, in case that’s important to you (click on the image to enlarge):

Let’s now examine the crops in detail, starting with the center of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 65mm, in the center of the frame, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is once more flawless, starting razor sharp wide-open and staying like that up to f/16. Apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. Comparing it to the Hasselblad XCD 65mm f/2.8, the zoom has an advantage when checking both lenses wide-open; however, at comparable apertures both lenses perform perfectly.

Let’s now examine the bottom left corner (click on the images to enlarge):

At 65mm, the bottom left corner starts off nicely at f/4.5, sharpens up at f/5.6, becomes razor sharp at f/8 staying that way up to f/16. Apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. Here the XCD 65mm has a slight advantage over the zoom, being perfectly sharp starting at f/4.

Finally, let’s check the mid-right side of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 65mm, in the mid-right of the frame, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is once more flawless, starting razor sharp wide-open and staying like that up to f/16. Apertures of f/16 and smaller start suffering from diffraction. Performance here is equivalent to that of the XCD 65mm.

75mm
Let’s start looking at the full scene first, to see how much coverage a 41 degrees angle of view will give you in the real world, as well as to see the origin of the crops (click on the image to enlarge):

Let’s now examine the crops in detail, starting with the center of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 75mm, in the center of the frame, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is again flawless, starting razor sharp wide-open and staying like that up to f/16. Apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. Comparing it to the Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2, the zoom is better using both lenses wide-open; at comparable apertures, both lenses are flawless.

Let’s now examine the bottom left corner (click on the images to enlarge):

At 75mm, as we saw at 65mm, the bottom left corner starts off nicely at f/4.5, sharpens up at f/5.6, becomes razor sharp at f/8 staying that way up to f/16. Apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. Here the XCD 90mm definitely has an advantage over the zoom, being razor-sharp starting wide-open.

Finally, let’s check the mid-right side of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 75mm, in the mid-right of the frame, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is once more flawless, starting razor sharp wide-open and staying like that up to f/16. Apertures of f/16 and smaller start suffering from diffraction. Performance here is equivalent to that of the XCD 90mm, since both lenses are practically flawless.

SHARPNESS AT CLOSE FOCUSING DISTANCE AND BOKEH
To examine sharpness at close focusing distance, as well as to see how the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 draws out-of-focus areas, I focused on the Phillips screw right under the mailbox’s red flag in the lower right corner of the frame (about 50cm from the lens barrel). Together with the full frame images, I included 900 x 600px, 100% crops taken at the point of focus, to check out sharpness, and center crops to see what happens in out-of-focus areas near infinity.

35mm
Let’s see the full image first, again to see how wide a 77 degrees angle of view is in the real world, as well as to see the origin of the crops (click on the image to enlarge):

Let’s now examine sharpness at the point of focus (click on the images to enlarge):

At close range, the performance of the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 at 35mm is flawless, the lens starts razor sharp wide-open at f/3.5 and stays that way up to f/16. As expected, apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. At close distances in the corner of the frame, the zoom is much sharper than the XCD 30mm.

Let’s see now how the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 renders out-of-focus areas at 35mm and at far distances in the center of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 35mm, the lens creates beautiful out-of-focus areas wide-open, and sharpens gracefully and smoothly when progressing through the aperture series. Both the zoom and the XCD 30mm create very beautiful out-of-focus areas, but the zoom seems to have a slight advantage, possibly caused by the slightly longer focal length.

45mm
Let’s see the full image first, again to see how wide a 61 degrees angle of view is in the real world, as well as to see the origin of the crops (click on the image to enlarge):

Let’s now examine sharpness at the point of focus (click on the images to enlarge):

At close range, the performance of the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 at 45mm is again flawless, the lens starts razor sharp wide-open at f/3.5 and stays that way up to f/16. As expected, apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. At close focusing distances in the corner, the zoom is definitely sharper than the XCD 45mm.

Let’s see now how the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 renders out-of-focus areas at 45mm and at far distances in the center of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 45mm, the lens creates beautiful out-of-focus areas wide-open, sharpening gracefully and smoothly going down the aperture series. Personally, I found the zoom to perform better here than the XCD 45mm. Sharpening is much more progressive and smoother with the zoom, which I find to overall “draw” better here than the prime.

Glencoe & Isle of Skye Photography Workshop

65mm
Let’s see the full image first, again to see how wide a 46 degrees angle of view is in the real world, as well as to see the origin of the crops (click on the image to enlarge):

Let’s now examine sharpness at the point of focus (click on the images to enlarge):

At close range, the performance of the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 at 65mm is once more flawless, the lens starts razor sharp wide-open at f/4.5 and stays that way up to f/16. As expected, apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. At 65mm in the corner, the zoom outperforms the XCD 65mm both considering both lenses wide-open and at comparable apertures.

Let’s see now how the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 renders out-of-focus areas at 65mm and at far distances in the center of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 65mm, once more the lens creates beautiful out-of-focus areas wide-open, sharpening gracefully and smoothly going down the aperture series. The prime here has about 1.5 stop advantage, starting at f/2.8 wide-open; that said, I think both lenses draw out-of-focus areas equally beautifully.

75mm
Let’s see the full image first, again to see how wide a 41 degrees angle of view is in the real world, as well as to see the origin of the crops (click on the image to enlarge):

Let’s now examine sharpness at the point of focus (click on the images to enlarge):

At close range, the performance of the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 at 75mm is great, even though perhaps not as flawless than it was up to 65mm. At 75mm, the lens starts very sharp wide-open at f/4.5, sharpening up at f/5.6 to become razor-sharp at f/8 and up to f/16. As expected, apertures smaller than f/16 start suffering from diffraction. Comparing the zoom with the XCD 90mm, the prime wins here, both considering both lenses wide-open and at comparable apertures.

Let’s see now how the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 renders out-of-focus areas at far distances in the center of the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

At 75mm the lens also creates beautiful out-of-focus areas wide-open, like at any other focal length examined so far, sharpening gracefully and smoothly through the aperture series. Comparing it to the XCD 90mm, I find that both lenses produce beautiful out-of-focus areas.

The Southwest USA Photography Workshop

SHARPNESS CONCLUSIONS
As a result of this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review, the lens showed a very impressive performance, nearly flawless at any focal length and at any aperture, both when focussed at infinity and when focussed very close. At infinity, the only sharpness flaw is a minimal, slight softness in the corner at 35mm wide open, and again at 65-75mm, also wide-open. At close range, the only sharpness flaw is a minimal, slight softness in the corner at 75mm wide open. In short, as far as sharpness is concerned this lens is nothing short of an optical feat, confirming Hasselblad’s claim that the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is, if not the best, certainly one of the best lenses they ever designed.

Comparing it to the (extremely good) Hasselblad XCD primes of same or comparable focal length, the zoom certainly holds its ground, sometimes being even better than comparable primes, sometimes only slightly less good. A truly impressive performance, making the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 perfect for my Fine Art Landscape work.

VIGNETTE AND COLOUR RENDITION
As expected from a zoom lens, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 features a hint of vignette at wider focal lengths, vignette disappearing both stopping down and zooming in. Applying Hasselblad’s own lens profile in Adobe Camera Raw, you can easily fix what little vignette there is, allowing you to modulate its level to taste as well. Personally, I often like to add back some soft vignetting to my images at a later stage in post-processing, in which cases with the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 I might just leave what vignette there is in the first place. During this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review I found that a vignette removal value between 30 and 60, according to the focal lengths, gives me the results I want. If you want to correct vignetting, I recommend you take care in not overcorrecting it, which might result in a “ring” halo at the lens’ widest setting wide open.

Colour rendition is beautiful to my eye, as far as I could see during my test shots and seems to be very consistent with all XCD lenses. I will update this section with my impressions once working with the lens in the field.

DISTORTION
To check for distortion, as always, I photographed my uninspiring but very useful garage door which, with its straight metal lines, provides me with a good test scene. For your convenience, to help you check for distortion easier I slightly increased contrast, added straight red lines in PP, turned the image horizontal and cut the frame in two, leaving just the top half of the frame. Adobe Camera Raw’s profile for the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 has been applied.

As you can see, the lens in this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review with its lens profile applied is perfectly controlled for distortion at all tested focal lengths, and straight lines stay straight all over the frame (click on the images to enlarge):

FLARE AND CHROMATIC ABERRATIONS
During this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review’s flare test, on purpose I didn’t use the provided, removeable lens hoods. Since I almost always have a filter holder on the lens when I work, I never use a hood in the field, and I want my lens tests to mimic my working conditions as closely as possible. In the torture-test images below, I included the sun in the frame, keeping in it close to the image’s corner. As well, I included a crop of the area surrounding the sun to check for contrast and chromatic aberrations.

Let’s start with full images first. As you can see, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 showed very high contrast and resistance to flare at all tested focal lengths, with no “ghost” images of sorts (click on the images to enlarge):

Moving to the crops, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 showed no signs of chromatic aberrations at all tested focal lengths (click on the images to enlarge):

CONCLUSIONS

Covering a “normal” zoom lens range of 35-75mm on the X1D medium format camera, equivalent to 28-59mm in full-frame terms, the lens in this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review is Hasselblad’s answer to full-frame 24-70mm zoom lenses. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, all medium format manufacturers offer a zoom lens covering part of the 24-70mm full-frame equivalent range. Interestingly enough, they all chose to cover a different part of it, some going for the ultra-wide end of it (Pentax, with a 22-35mm full-frame equivalent lens), some for the wide end (FujiFilm and PhaseOne, both with a 25-50mm full-frame equivalent lens), some for the longer end (again FuijFilm, with a 36-79mm full-frame equivalent lens) and some for the whole range (Leica, with a 24-72mm full-frame equivalent lens). Hasselblad, on the other end, decided to go for the middle of the range, going for a 28-59mm that cuts off both ends, sitting right in the middle.

Under a technical point of view, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is an amazing performer. At infinity, it’s razor-sharp in the center at all focal lengths and all apertures, and it’s perfectly sharp all over the frame at all focal lengths and apertures as soon as you stop down to f/5.6. At close distances, the lens is perfectly sharp all over the frame at all focal lengths and all apertures, just needing to stop down to f/5.6-f/8 for maximum sharpness at 75mm. Between f/8 and f/16, the standard working apertures used for near-far compositions in landscape photography, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 will guarantee you perfectly sharp images from corner to corner over the whole focal length range. More, the lens features great macro and micro-contrast as well, is extremely resistant to flare and has no chromatic aberrations to speak of. With its lens profile applied, the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 is distortion-free, and while it does show a little vignette at larger apertures (more so at the wide end of the range), this is easily fixable applying the lens profile in Adobe Camera RAW if you prefer vignette-free images.

Artistically speaking, from what I could see in my test and keeping in mind that I haven’t used it in the field yet, I think that the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 draws beautifully, with a gentle and smooth transition between in-focus and out-of-focus areas, beautiful colours and with a three-dimensional effect that I just love.

A MUST-HAVE LENS? THOUGHTS ON THE FOCAL RANGE & USE VS PRIMES
As always, the choice of focal lengths for our lens setup is a very personal matter. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed working with my X1Ds and my 21, 30, 45, 90mm lens kit exclusively for about the last year and a half, adding the 135mm as well as soon as I could get it. I love working with prime lenses, I always did. Primes give me visual discipline, helping me to focus my vision. So much so, that when I used a zoom in the past, I always used it as a “stepper” lens rather than using it as a “real” zoom. What I mean is, I always used, i.e., my 24-90mm zoom lens setting it to 24 – 35 – 50 – etc, never using the focal lengths in between the markings.

That said, since I do landscape only, very often working in unfriendly environments and under bad weather, using primes isn’t always the best choice. Using primes means having to change lenses often, and lens changes in turn result in more sensor dust than I like to clean, not to mention the loss of time and the logistical issues coming with having to change lenses under a snowstorm, under the rain, on sand dunes, on sandy lava beaches in strong wind, and so on, not to mention having to change lenses with half-frozen hands, or sweaty hands, or with gloves, and so on.

I always carry two X1D II bodies, both to have a backup and for more flexibility in the field. Until now, I used to decide in the car (or in the hotel) which lenses I needed for a particular location, mounting them on my cameras in a safer environment and trying not to switch lenses in the field after. While this is a good enough plan, I have often found the need for a different lens and I have been forced to do a lens change in situations where I much rather wouldn’t have, either due to the weather, the location, the conditions or what have you.

Having a zoom alternative will now allow me to travel with the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 permanently glued to one body, and with a second lens (most often the Hasselblad XCD 21mm) attached to my second body. When I’ll need a longer lens, I’ll carry the 135mm in my bag as well, swapping the 21mm for it; when I’ll need to go wider, I’ll keep the 21mm on one body and use my Voigtlander 15mm on the other body. Thanks to the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5, my bag will be lighter, the number of lens changes I’ll need to do will drastically drop, my workflow in the field will be even faster and my working life will overall be much easier.

As far as the differences in coverage versus my previous setup, I personally find the 5 degrees difference in angle of view between the XCD 90mm (71mm equivalent) and the 75mm (58mm equivalent) at the long end of the zoom of very little consequence for my landscape work. The 6 degrees difference between the 35mm on the wide end of the zoom and the Hasselblad XCD 30mm is, for my work, more important. I know the whole “zoom with your feet” thing, of course. However, sometimes you simply cannot do that, and more importantly there is a difference in the way the camera draws when using a 30mm a little closer, versus using a 35mm and being a little farther away. To make up for that, I could keep carrying the Hasselblad XCD 30mm, or simply live with the 35mm end of the zoom.

In the end, the choice for me is between carrying the 30mm, 45mm and 90mm, or replacing them all for the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5. Going with the zoom, I’ll get full coverage between 35mm and 75mm, without the need for lens changes. As well, I’ll get a very sizeable gain in bag room (one lens versus three) and I’ll save a good bit of weight, since 30mm + 45mm + 90mm means 550 + 417 + 619 = 1.586 gr vs 1.115 gr of the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5.

Will I lose image quality, though, which in the end is the only thing that counts?

After this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review, my answer is no, I won’t. The optical quality of the new zoom is great, rivalling equivalent primes and sometimes besting them. Luckily for me and my work, the few instances where primes are better are of little to no consequence to me, due to the way I work and the apertures I use.

THE LAST WORD
Overall, the pros of the Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5, for me, outweigh the cons, and the new zoom earned a permanent place in my bag. Whether this will also be the case for you and your way of working, of course, only you can know.

The Isle Of Arran Photography Workshop

Thanks for reading this Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm f/3.5-4.5 in-depth review, I hope you enjoyed it! Why don’t you share it with your friends, or drop me a comment to let me know how you feel about this?

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JOIN THE DISCUSSION

8 thoughts on “HASSELBLAD XCD 35-75MM F/3.5-4.5 IN-DEPTH REVIEW”

  1. Bravo Vieri! Very through and well written review. I’m new to the Hasselblad ecosystem and have been seriously considering this lens. I currently have the 45p, 80 & 135+1.7x extender. I typically use telephoto lenses for landscape photography making large panos stiching all those images together. I love exploring the large files looking for the hidden gems hideing in all those pixels . While traveling I prefer the zooms for convenience but always felt like I was giving up to much quality. So happy to hear this will not be the case with this lens. I’m certain I will be adding this soon, along with the 21mm for those interior shots, or maybe the zoom at 35mm creating panos will work for that instead. I followed your link from the Hasselblad Digital Forum (new to that site also). I’m super excited to part of this community…and I appreciate all your efforts.

    Cheers
    Wes

    Reply
    • Hello Wes,

      thank you for your comment, glad you found the review useful! Yes, a kit with the 21mm, 35-75mm plus the lenses you already have should cover all your needs beautifully. Have a great day, best regards

      Vieri

      Reply
  2. Thanks for yet another fabulous and informative review, Vieri. Hope you’re doing great, my friend.

    Kindest regards,
    Harv

    Reply
    • Hello Harv,

      thank you very much for your message and very kind words about the review, glad you found it useful. Doing fantastic, thanks!, at the moment leading a Workshop in Cinque Terre & Tuscany. Hope you are doing great as well, please take care & stay safe! Best regards,

      Vieri

      Reply
  3. Really awesome review. Thank you so much. Looking for more reviews.
    I recently got a 907x with a 45P f3.5.

    Could you please review your experience of 907x out in the field? Unlike X1Ds (I and II), 907x isn’t weather sealed, but I reckon 45P lens is weather sealed. How do you reckon keep the body moisture free with outdoor conditions?

    Cheers,
    Vasu

    Reply
    • Hello Vasu,

      thank you very much for your comment and kind words, glad you found the article useful.

      About your question, unfortunately I don’t have – and never had – a 907x, so I am not able to review it. About keeping a non-sealed camera out of trouble, there are many solutions out there, such as the Think Tank Photo Emergency camera cover or similar which should do the trick. Hope this helps!

      Best regards,

      Vieri

      Reply
  4. Could you please post photos similar to the 45/3.5? That review has nice pictures around the world. I am trying to compare it with the 45/3.5. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hello,

      I will post pictures taken with the 35-75mm XCD as soon as I’ll have them. In the meantime, the sample images provided in this review and in the 45mm’s should give you enough information about how the lens performs. I recommend you open both of them side by side, and check them one against the other. Hope this helps!

      Best regards,

      Vieri

      Reply

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