Hasselblad’s HC series of lenses were developed for their H-system cameras. Originally, the H was a hybrid-system where you could use both a sensor in a digital back or a medium format 120mm film-back. Thus, the HC-lenses were made to cover the full 645-format. Later, the HCD-lenses (24,28 and 35-90mm) were developed for digital sensors only and have a somewhat smaller image-circle. As I have shown in a previous post, they can still be used on a full-size 645 medium format sensor with excellent results. There has been some improvement of the HC-lenses over the years. The 120mm macro and the 50mm came out as a version II, and this 150mm came out as an “n”-model. I don’t know the difference from the older counterparts. Tested here is the n-version of the 150 mm. A few years back, the hardware and the firmware of the H-lenses was updated to allow for faster shutter-speeds (up to 1/2000 sec) and autofocus when adapted to the X-series cameras. My lens has the last firmware-version before this update and cannot be updated without changing physical components inside the lens. So I have no autofocus on the X and a maximal shutter-speed (with the mechanical shutter) of 1/800 sec.
Despite lacking auto-focus on my version, this lens has some advantages compared to the other lenses tested. The original XH-adapter (or the newer XH 0.8 converter) is a smart-adapter which transfer information between the lens and the camera. That means I can control the aperture from the camera just as with the XCD-lenses, all exif-data are saved with the image-files, all auto-modes are available and I don’t have to adjust the aperture back and forth between focusing and exposure. The latter is a small plus in my book. Some users find the electronic shutter of the X-cameras to be a pain when they use adapted lenses. I don’t. But with this lens and adapter, you can use the regular shutter in the lens.
Hasselblad lenses are expensive. Brand new, this one currently retails for 4390 USD. However, they are very available in the used-market, where you can find a lens in mint condition with a low shutter-count for around 1000 USD. If you want a newer model with autofocus-availability (“orange-dot”) the price is of course closer the the retail-price.
I know this lens very well from many years of use on my Hasselblad H-system. It has proven to be a stellar performer under all conditions. Many of my favorite images have been made with this lens. The question is, how does it handle and perform on the X-cameras?
|Full frame equivalent focal length||ca 119 mm|
|Length (lens only)||124 mm|
|Length (with adapter and caps)||174 mm|
|Weight (lens only)||970 g|
|Weight (with adapter and caps)||1290 g|
|Filter Ø||77 mm|
|Close focus||1,3 m|
|Built in hood?||No|
|Adapter used||Hasselblad XH adapter|
Size and Build
I once read in a blog that “the Hasselblad HC-lenses will make your Zeiss Otus look like a toy”. That may have been an exaggeration, but they are very well built. Full metal body, very solid feel to them. Hasselblad does not state anything about weather-sealing, so I would be a bit careful in heavy rain. There are no seals on the mount. I have used mine in moderate rain on the H-system without problems. The HC/HCD lenses are made for electronic aperture-control from the camera, so there is no aperture ring, only a large focus ring. The focus ring is ok for manual focus, but not in line with older pure manual-focus lenses. I could have wished for a little more resistance. But it feels better to focus manually than the XCD-lenses. Also in contrast with the classic XCD-lenses (not newest V-editions) there is a focus-scale with depth-of-field markings. Compared to many XCD-lenses, the HC 150n is quite big and heavy. Add the mandatory adapter and you’re up to 1290g and 17 cm mounted. That is quite a heft compared to many of the shorter focal lenghts, and worlds apart from e.g. the 45p. However, the alternative, the XCD 135, has corresponding measures of 935g and 15 cm. Not that much of a difference. I haven’t tried the XCD 135, but I do own the XCD 35-75mm zoom. Of course not comparable in focal-lenghts, but the adapted HC 150 feels similar to handle on camera. It is a bit more front-heavy than the zoom, so I would definitely use a tripod collar on the adapter.
For why I chose this subject and how it was done, se details in my previous posts, e.g. the test of Nikon Series E 135mm f2.8. In short, I wanted to do a real-life test of this lens in a setting close to how I usually use my telephoto-lenses.
Capturing details: Hasselblad X2D-100c, tripod, 2 sec timer, iso 64, auto white balance, aperture priority, some depth to the scene, focus close to infinity, manual focus on the tower in 100% live view with fully open lens, f11 for exposure, e-shutter.
Raw-file imported to Lightroom where it has undergone initial sharpening (deconvolution): Amount 30, radius 0.5, details 100. No other adjustments for initial evaluation.
Distortion and Vignetting
I find no distortion to speak of. In this case, the automatic correction in Lightroom works fine, but there is no important change for a subject like this. No surprise there.
There is a very slight vignetting, also nicely picked up and corrected by the automated process in Lightroom. This is thanks to the exif data being transferred by the XH-adapter. Se image below. The minimum vignette is not a surprise, as the lens was made to cover the full 645 format and thus have quite a large image-circle.
Sharpness and chromatic aberrations were evaluated on 300% enlargements in centre, left edge and extreme lower left corner, corresponding approximately to the red squares shown above. The crops are shown below. To the left you will see the unedited file (only deconvolution sharpening) and on the right you can see an edited version after removal of chromatic aberrations in Lightroom and sharpening in Topaz Sharpen AI. Drag the slider to alternate between the two versions.
In my humble opinion, the image is sharp enough all over the frame already with raw-sharpening only. The little touch of softness removed by Topaz Sharpen AI is most likely due to diffraction at f11. It is so little that I would have no problem with just ignoring it for a print. It can always be debated what is best: a tad of diffraction or an image so super-sharp that it almost hurt your eyes. Which do you prefer?
I usually enjoy the process of ticking the box “remove chromatic aberration” in 300% view in Lightroom. It is very satisfying to see how nicely the image is cleaned up. With this lens, as it often is with Hasselblad-lenses, it was quite disappointing. In a good way. There is so little fringing in the original file, that removing CA hardly changes anything.
The 150mm focal length has been a favorite of mine on the Hasselblad H-system for many years. On the X-system, due to the physically smaller sensor, it is effectively a slightly longer lens than on the H-system. I see no problem with that, as the 90mm fills the gap between this and a “normal lens” nicely. As described in the Nikon 135mm post, the files from the 90mm can be cropped somewhat as well closing the gap up to 150 mm even more.
The HC 150 mm is a stellar performer with (close to) no chromatic aberrations, very little distortion and vignetting, and is plenty sharp enough edge-to-edge, even at F11. The files made with this lens can, like the XCD 90mm-files, take quite a crop before they start falling apart, if I should need something slightly longer. Furthermore, the HC 1.7x converter is a stellar piece of equipment. Contrasting all other teleconverters I have tried out through the years, this one hardly affects image quality at all. I have not formally tested it in this round, but I will be sure to publish something about it in near future. The point is, with the HC converter mounted, I suddenly have a 255mm lens on the X2D, which in full-frame terms translate to approximately 200mm. The Hasselblad converter retails new for around 1500 USD, but can be found on ebay for almost half the price.
An obvious advantage with using a Hasselblad lens is that I use the smart XH-adapter. I don’t have to open the aperture fully for manual focus, all exif-data are recorded, and I can use the mechanical shutter in the lens.
Furthermore, build quality of the HC 150 is excellent, although it is probably not as well sealed as the XCD-lenses. The main drawback is size and weight. I would be hesitant to bring this one on e.g. a summit hike where every gram counts. But if image quality is your only priority, this one comes highly recommended.