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Monday, 20 January 2020


This lens also uses mechanical focusing, unlike focus-by-wire in other XCD lenses. A treat for manual focus and for walk around shooting. It either supplements or replaces the larger, heavier much more expensive (and half stop faster) 45 XCD f3.5. I’m interested whether this is a one-off for the XCD line, or whether it represents a shift in future offerings both size and price-wise.

"And medium format always sells less than smaller formats."

I always get hung up on the chicken-and-egg thing here Mike. In the film days, I think if Hassie priced their kit at $500 instead of $3,000 that their volume of units sold would have gone up. But then they would have risked their status as the _ne plus ultra_ of the "pro" world. Veblen strikes again?

Then again, nobody ever stayed in business by losing money on each unit, but making it up in volume. :)

I was almost excited for a short while. Then I thought a bit more about an f/4 lens and the price. Then I looked at the price of the camera and decided that no I do not want this. I mostly agree with your reasoning on the price. However, it is a leaf shutter lens and that adds quite considerably to the cost so not quite fair comparison against Fuji.

This is an off-topic comment, but I thought I would just mention...

Following your post on whole food, plant based eating (which I must admit I tended to dismiss as somewhat faddish), I bought a copy of 'How not to Die" and then 'How not to Diet' (via your links of course!). I was most impressed! The author is very rational in all his arguments and quotes scientific studies (by the hundred it seems) for every claim he makes. I especially appreciate that he makes no direct profit and takes no advertising so he is free to attack all vested interested from the big food lobby, to the failures of the medical profession (of which he is a member of course).

I did not go over to a WFPB vegan diet, but I have been looking to cut out added sugar, salt, and fats, without making myself feel hungry in the process. I have lost weight, tightened my belt a notch or two, and feel more energetic. And, based on all the quoted studies, I have probably added to my heathy life expectancy! Who'd a thunk it! From a photography blog!! I even bought copies for my some of my offspring. Probably the most important books to come out in many years. So thanks for bringing them to out attention. Keep up the good work!

It is purdy, ain’t it? I’ve admired the Hassy X1D’s sleek design since it was introduced. And that new snub-nosed 45 that the v/blog world is touting just gives the whole rig a kind of Leica-with-a-glandular-condition allure.

Still, the prettiest model isn’t always (or usually) the most practical. Personally, I’m still loving my 2-year-old Fuji GFX 50s, for which I’ve recently bought the equally-compact-and-brighter 50mm f3.5. Fundamentally the same sensor in an uglier-but-much-more-versatile body system. By far my favorite bigger-than-full-frame system.

Meanwhile on the Hassy front, I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new CFV II 50C digital back for my old V system!

(Must be a hyphenated Monday.)

You've put "pancake" in quote marks but, fortunately, Hasselblad don't actually appear to have used that descriptor. It annoys me (irrationally, I'll admit) when lenses are termed "pancake" simply because they're a bit smaller than usual. For example, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E, often described as a "pancake": small, yes, but no smaller than the similar Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 which is never termed a "pancake". The Pentax 40mm f/2.8 on the other hand, well that thing won't even protrude beyond your camera grip. Same for the Panasonic 14mm and 20mm on MFT. That's a good test in general: protrudes much more than a grip? Not a pancake.

And your point that "There's really no reason why lenses for Micro 4/3 "should" be cheaper than lenses for APS-C". You're so right, if anything making such well-corrected, wide aperture optics in a small package might be harder and more costly, but it's great for those of us who do shoot Micro Four Thirds!

Is it nicer the the Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR?
For your OCOLOY, OLOCOY, OYOLOC or whatever the name was project I probably would opt for the Fuji. But that's easy to say when you can't afford any of them.

Don’t lenses with leaf shutters tend to be very expensive because of that mechanism?

[No. They would cost more than the same lens with no shutter in it, logically, but they're not inherently costly. --Mike]

What a gorgeous design, what an elegant package! And although I certainly don't see a plethora of street shooters running out to buy it, I guess it's good to know it just... exists.

But "all else" is not equal. When the image circle (sensor coverage) expands, the lens must become progressively larger, more complex, and more difficult to control and produce. It's surely apparent that it must be easier to define and build an optical structure that focuses across a circular area of X than one that covers an area of 2X.

[Except that's not true. Have you never seen a 300mm Nikkor M for a view camera? It's tiny--52mm filter, weighs 270g (9.5 ounces), and has an image circle of 325mm. And, now that aspheric elements are commonplace, there is nothing complicated about the 45P's cross-section, which you can see here:



Thought that exotic glass can be extremely expensive. If so, a larger diameter lens element needed for medium format might have considerably higher materials cost.

For example, "Leica will go the extra mile (and extra $1500) to use premium glass where it will make a difference - as noted ... where it is revealed that ONE element of the 50 Summilux ASPH costs more than all the other glass in the lens combined. The same was true of the old Noctilux, which also had one element made of 'Noctilux glass' that cost more than the rest of the lens."

Exotic glass is priced by weight. So, the cost of lens elements (which, of course, are three dimensional) increases rapidly as the cube of the lens element's diameter.

Perhaps because it is so exquisitely unaffordable for me, short of the lotto, the Hassy X1D is my favorite dream camera. Decent size, the ergos look great, the lenses are top quality, etc. You know the drill. We all have our toy that we want no matter how impossible it is. Some guys want a sports car, others a superbike; me? I want a Hasselblad to shoot my amateur landscapes with :D

An X1D II, that new 45, the 65 & the 90 and I'd be set! Let's see $5k for the body, another $8k for the three lenses? Eh, still cheaper than the Lotus Evora I was looking at. Think the bank will go along with it????

A graph: http://struangray.com/miscpics/lens_cost.jpg

These are prices for simple 'f2.0' unmounted commodity glass lenses. Once you add metalwork, or add in exotic materials, the curves tend to climb more steeply and non-linearly.

You can go round in circles debating 'equivalence', but larger formats need longer focal lengths for the same field of view, and those will be more expensive. Even with economies of scale in manufacturing, as here, you're buying more glass. Also, lenses are made in batches, and fewer large lenses fit on a polisher. The mountings and focussing mechanics need to maintain the same absolute precision, so they get more expensive as they get larger too.

So, even without niche markups and the lack of low end products, MF and larger formats need bigger lenses, and there are good reasons why those are more expensive.

Pardon me Mike, I digress, but here's your ideal Fuji X prime lens set:

Fuji XF 14/2.8 R
Fuji XF 23/2.0 R WR
Fuji XF 35/1.4 R
Fuji XF 56/1.2 R

I don't get lens prices, either. But performance and expectations have to count for something, no? I feel like I can work almost any kind of lens artistically, especially on a bellows, but images worthy of, say, a science or architecture mag are not so easy. I always thought people were paying extra for tilt and shift margins, e.g., but if image circle size isn't an issue, there goes that theory too, I guess.

If anyone is unclear about leaf shutter advantages, they sync with flash at every speed, and have a lot less shutter shock than focal plane shutters, especially in larger (i.e. medium format) sizes. Oh yeah. They tend to be quieter too.

I have admired this camera for a while despite never having made an image with it. I am a Nikon-lifer (most recently with D5s) who switched to Sony last year - currently A9II and A6600. I have no regrets about the Sony move. But I do think this is the most beautiful camera at the moment - this includes its appearance as well as how it feels in the hand. I hear it is quite a slow camera to operate, which is fine for its purpose. If it had some A9 AF prowess, this camera/lens combo would be pretty hard to resist.

John Gillooly

You're forgetting the Nikkor M 300mm is, what, f/9 or something? There's never been a 300mm f/9 made for 35mm, so we have no idea how small such a lens would be.

Also—in the old days, there were some cheap consumer lenses made for 35mm, and rather fewer made for medium format since that sold more to pros and other serious photographers. (Large format may have been a special case—I've been told there were "school lenses" made, since lots of people taking photo programs needed to get a 4x5 and a lens, and since the full-on pro versions were so expensive.)

"Made in Sweden" x low volume sales x high labour costs = expensive product; c.f. "Made in Germany".

Human psychology. Apple always spec'd and priced their larger laptops to be more expensive. Thinkpad (under IBM or Lenovo, either way) would let you spec small laptops up and down, so you could buy yourself an ultralight, 12 inch laptop up to thermal limits in Thinkpad but not Macbook, and you paid through the nose.

Reviewers are always tearing into Thinkpads for pricing their tiny laptops so high. I like to think of the Thinkpad X series (the superlights) as the Lotus of laptops. They start with a laptop and add lightness.

While the new 45mm f/4 lens is noteworthy, the major attractions of the X1D system are the ergonomics of the body and the User Interface. IMO, there is nothing like it available today. The dominant camera manufacturers today are hopelessly mired in producing cameras with menu systems that are so filled with features and options that you need a book to sort through them and to set up the camera so that it sort of works for you (unless you haven't read the book for a while or you forget what options you set).

With Hasselblad (and Leica) it is like this: First you pay for every letter of the name and then the actual lens...

Hi Mike, did you write this before, or after, reading Richard Butler's article on pricing, that was (coincidentally?) published on DPR today?

I think Richard answers some of the matters you have raised.


[I haven't read Richard's article, nor seen mention of it. If I had I most likely would have mentioned it--I'm not shy about that.

In the online world, as in the magazine world before it, there is always someone else somewhere else talking about the same thing you're talking about. At first (in magazines) I worried about that and made efforts to "game" it. Now I just ignore it and write whatever comes to mind. If somebody else has opinions about the same things, "it's all good" as the expression goes. When I get ideas from somewhere else, I try mention where they come from. (If I can remember! Sometimes I have to say, "I read somewhere that....") --Mike]

Yes, that looks so nice. The grip, especially, looks excellent. The lens is still too slow though. I want a breakthrough: a smaller and faster lens. something the size of the Zeiss 80/2.8 in my Rolleiflex 2.8F (45mm f2). Come on Hasselblad!

I got the Fuji 50mm F3.5 for $999.00 when it was released. That seems like a good price for a medium format lens.

The cost of a lens should be proportional to how much it needs resolve. Think of line pairs per picture height (lp/ph) instead of line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm).

In the film days that meant larger format lenses had to resolve more detail because the film stock was the same.

In the early digital age we had a similar situation, where larger sensors could have more pixels, hens larger formats needed to resolve more detail.

In the mature digital era, there seems to be no limit to how small pixels can become. Samsung's latest sensor for phones is 9.6mm wide and has 108 megapixels. A lens powerful enough to resolve all that detail with a DOF EQUIVALENT APERTURE (as opposed to an exposure equivalent aperture), should be just as large and expensive as a medium format lens that resolves 100mp.

Witness the increasing size and expense of "full frame" lenses as they are required to resolve increasing amounts of detail. Total overkill for those nice 24mp cameras but a real necessity for the landscape people wanting to resolve 60mp.

In short, you are right considering modern sensor technology.

[Actually large format lenses had to resolve LESS because of degree of enlargement--a 35mm enlargement might be 10 diameters whereas a 4x5 negative would be enlarged three diameters for the same print size.

All this was much easier when prints were the final product. --Mike]

hello Mike,

On why camera makers' like to use "X" in their product names, isn't it because "X" marks the spot?



Economies of scale are certainly a factor in most production items, but only in the sense that a full blown lens production line, once amortised, has lower unit and raw material costs per item than a less automated facility.

But I don't think Hasselblad make their own lenses. At one time they were made by Fuji to Hasselblad designs. That may still be true, in which case this is not really a factor.

However, with precision engineering (ie a lens) cost escalates exponentially with quality, including tolerances and QC.

A lens that has decent edge performance on a 100MP sensor requires a degree of correction and focus precision, and care in assembly, that is less appropriate for a 24MP sensor, all else being equal.

I would not mind a small wager that every lens is tested before shipping, which is not the case for most mass-produced items. So production costs would be higher.

Though no doubt there is an element of P & L accounting thrown in to the pricing. Hasselblad can't afford not to make money on each lens.

Uh Mike, that 300mm Nikkor view camera lens is f/9, which significantly reduces the difficulties of design and manufacture.

[ƒ/9 is only one-and-a-third stop slower than the standard high-speed plasmats in that focal length such as the APO-Symmar or Nikkor-W, which are ƒ/5.6. So, roughly comparable to an ƒ2.2 vs. ƒ1.4 lens for FF.

The point still holds IMO. --Mike]

As others have, I would challenge the statement:
" There's really no reason why lenses for Micro 4/3 "should" be cheaper than lenses for APS-C, or why lenses for medium format lenses "should" be more expensive than FF lenses. "
I don't have any inside information about the economics of lens manufacture, but it is generally true that making a large device is more expensive than making a small one, IF the same level of precision is maintained. And, there is the rub.
Good lenses, or other optical devices, have to be made to very high precision. For the lens surfaces, the errors have to be reduced to less than the wavelength of light, and this gets harder and more expensive the larger the surfaces are. The elements also have to be positioned very precisely.
For larger film formats, as you point out, there can be a drop in precision, because less enlargement is required for the same print size. In the mid 20th century, there were lots of moderately priced medium format cameras that could often produce better prints than expensive Leicas and Contaxes, for this reason, and because the image resolution and sharpness was often limited by the film's resolution.
But, if the goal is to use a larger sensor to get more resolution, as seems generally to be the case now, then the precision of the optics (and the mechanical bits that hold them together) have to be held to the same high level (or close to it) as for the smaller formats.
So it makes sense to me that lenses for larger formats are significantly more expensive than for smaller formats.
Conversely, I suspect that the lenses in phones are very good and not terribly expensive to make. They certainly don't lack for sophisticated design:
And, their cost must be a lot less than that of the phone. (I think!)

I find it incredible that the 45P lens weighs only 30g more than an EF 50mm f/1.4.

While leaf shutters certainly have advantages, putting them in an expensive lens, greatly increases the chance that such lenses will need servicing. These leaf shutters can jam if left unused for years, perhaps due to lubricants becoming more viscous with age. So, my impression is that for equipment not in frequent use, leaf shutters in lenses are far more likely to stop working over time than focal plane shutters in cameras. Since there is only one focal plane shutter in the camera body, versus multiple leaf shutters, one in each of the lenses, this multiples the potential need for troublesome and possibly expensive repairs.

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