Designed for use on the X1D, Hasselblad‘s medium format mirrorless camera, the XCD 21mm f/4 has a 35mm format focal length equivalence of 17mm. That makes it an ultra-wide lens. It’s therefore suited for shooting landscape, architecture and interior images. 

Perhaps more useful in a portrait lens, the Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 has a leaf shutter. This means that it can sync with flash at shutter speeds up to 1/2000sec.

Key Specifications

  • Focal length 21.8 mm
  • Equivalent Focal length (24×36) 17 mm
  • Aperture range f/4 – 32
  • Angle of view diagonal/horizontal/vertical 105°/92°/75°
  • Closest focusing 0.32 m
  • Maximum reproduction 1:10
  • Length/diameter 106mm/83mm
  • Weight (excluding covers and lens shade) 600 g
  • Filter diameter 77 mm

Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 review

Build and Handling

Like the Hasselblad X1D it’s designed to be mounted on, the XCD 21mm f/4 has a very high-quality feel. It looks clean or minimalist and has a lovely metal barrel. The broad focusing ring is also perfectly positioned and rotates smoothly. 

At 106mm long it’s much longer than the average 21mm lens for a full frame camera. However, it feels well suited to the Hasselblad X1D.

Performance

The X1D doesn’t have the fastest autofocusing system and its performance doesn’t change when the XCD 21mm f/4 is mounted. It gets subject sharp but not quite as quickly as the Fujifilm GFX 50S.

As you might expect with such a wide lens, there’s some barrel distortion, but it’s very well controlled. If you shoot a subject with obvious straight lines at close quarters you’ll notice it, but it as the image below shows, it doesn’t really leap out at you.

Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 review

This image was shot at f/4 and the vignetting is obvious but not excessive.  Closing down the aperture diminishes it, but it’s still visible at f/22.

Detail

Where the XCD 21mm f/4 really impresses is with the level of detail that it captures across the frame. It’s maintained extremely well into the corners with only the slightest drop-off. 

Detail levels are very high even when shooting wide open. If you compare images shot at f/5.6 and f/8 with those shot at f/4 it’s possible to see a very, very slight difference. Closing boosts performance but the bar has already been set high at f/4.

By f/22 the effect of diffraction is just about visible but not in a way that causes concern. Again, it’s only noticeable if you compare the results from the lens at its optimum aperture of around f/8. And even then it’s only discernable when the image is at 100% on-screen.

Inevitably, if you include the sun in the image there’s going to be some flare. However, the Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 withstands it very well and you won’t find the contrast dropping or ghosting causing issues too readily when the sun is near the edge of the image frame.

Chromatic aberration is also very well controlled with just the nearest hint towards the corners of the frame with backlit edges.

Sample Images

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Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 review

Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 review

Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 review

Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 review

Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 review

 

Verdict

The Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 is an extremely good lens that delivers superb images. Hasselblad has done a brilliant job of controlling the issues normally associated with such a wide-angle optic. The control of distortion makes it a great choice for shooting architecture while the resistance to flare and chromatic aberration will be appreciated by landscape photographers.

With the possible exception of vignetting, it’s unlikely that anyone will be disappointed by the image quality produced at f/4. However, if you close down the aperture you will see even higher quality results.

If you have a Hasselblad X1D, the XCD 21mm f/4 should go on your shopping list.

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Hasselblad XCD 21mm f/4 review
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