Hands-on: Hasselblad XCD 35-75 review

Hasselblad's first zoom for the X system is as optically sophisticated as the prime lenses

Hands-on: Hasselblad XCD 35-75 review

Our Verdict

Its performance is promised to be on par with XCD prime lenses, and from our initial test drive we can't disagree. The Hasselblad XCD 35-75 delivers crisp, clear performance across the entire zoom range, with no obvious signs of distortion or other optical compromise. The internal focusing speaks to Hasselblad's premium design, though it does make the lack of constant aperture feel even more curious.

For

  • Prime-like performance
  • Internal focusing

Against

  • Lack of constant aperture
  • Not quite a 24-70 equivalent

As part of our hands-on Hasselblad X1D II 50C review, we had the opportunity to put the newly announced Hasselblad XCD 35-75mm (or XCD 3,5-4,5/35-75mm Zoom Lens, to give its official designation) through its paces.

The first zoom lens in the X system, the 35-75mm takes the lens line-up to nine – resulting in a pretty complete offering for the system, from 21mm through to 230mm (17.2mm to 188.6mm in equivalent 35mm terms). 

Despite the labelling, the new zoom actually has focal range of 35.9-73.1mm. Thanks to the X system's crop factor, that produces an equivalent range of 28-58mm – which also turns the f/3.5-4.5 aperture into an f/2.87-3.69 equivalent, making it brighter than the specs would suggest.

Hasselblad XCD 35-75 at 1/90 sec, f/5.6, ISO1600 (click top-right for full size)

While a tad shy at both ends, its moderate wide-angle to light telephoto range is in the same ballpark as the all-purpose 24-70mm zooms on other systems. This makes it an ideal optic to take on location and cover most needs, rather than packing a bag full of primes. 

That said, Hasselblad claims that the optical performance of the zoom stands it shoulder-to-shoulder with the XCD primes in terms of image quality. We'll reserve judgement until we've had the chance to fully lab test the lens, but from our quick test drive ahead of the full review we certainly weren't disappointed.

Though manufactured in either China or Japan, depending on the supplier (with likely candidates including Konica and Sigma, according to lens experts), the optical design comes from Hasselblad's Swedish designers.

The Hasselblad XCD 35-75 with the X1D II 50C

The Hasselblad XCD 35-75 feels good and balances well with the X1D II 50C

The 35-75 features 15 elements in 13 groups, with 2 aspherical elements. The focusing mechanism is internal, meaning that it maintains its 145mm length (with 85mm diameter) regardless of zoom. It's fairly beefy, at 1,115g, though it balances well with the X1D II body. 

It feels great in the hand, with a satisfyingly smooth zoom ring and a focus ring that's very well damped. The latter becomes quite important, given the X1D II's occasionally obstinate AF, meaning that pinpoint precision for focus peaking is incredibly useful. 

Hasselblad XCD 35-75 at 1/90 sec, f/6.8, ISO1600 (click top-right for full size)

Aperture aside, from our admittedly unscientific testing, the 35-75 really doesn't feel like a compromise from using primes. The focus is fluid and there appears to be no nasty distortion or vignetting. 

We're very eager to get this lens in the lab, and we'll bring you our results closer to its October launch when it will be available for £4,860 / $5,175.

The 35-75 at each end of its zoom range

The 35-75 at each end of its zoom range: 73.1mm (58mm equivalent, top) and 35.9mm (28mm, bottom)

Hasselblad XCD 35-75: Early verdict

We'll need to give it a thorough test in the lab before we come to a final conclusion, but our initial impressions of the Hasselblad XCD 35-75 are very positive. Images were sharp and satisfying across the range, which is broadly similar to the familiar 24-70mm optic found on other systems. This makes the 35-75 a great all-purpose lens that should cover the bases for most occasions.

While it's disappointing that the lens doesn't feature a constant aperture, thanks to the 0.82x crop factor it's a brighter performer than its billing suggests. Otherwise there are no obvious shortcomings compared to the XCD primes, making this look like a home run for Hasselblad's first ever X system zoom.

Read more: 

Hands on: Hasselblad X1D II 50C review
The best medium format camera
Hasselblad introduces three new lenses for the X1D-50C