Friday, September 8, 2017

Another Nutty Theory

Hasselblad, as we all know, built this weird X1D thing, which is a medium format mirrorless camera, yadda yadda yadda. The lens lineup for this has received some criticism. They lenses are: 30mm, 45mm, and 90mm, which work out as a "moderately wide" a "kinda wide" and a "weird goddamned thing that's either too long or too short for every possible application"

But consider this: the 90mm lens is more or less a normal lens for 645 format, which is the size of the 100 megapixel sensor Hasselblad is using in their biggest and best uberkamera. On that sensor, the lenses are "quite wide", "moderately wide" and "normal" and the lens lineup actually makes a sort of sense.

My theory is that they were hoping to stick the big sensor into the X1D and pulled the trigger on lens designs before they realized that they were going to be using the smaller sensor.

And now they're sort of stuck.


  1. Whenever I see anything "Hasselblad digital" I think "doesn't mean a thing to me, that's $20K-$60k and I'm still hesitating to spend $1500 on a film one...

  2. At the risk of being pedantic, a "normal" lens for the traditional 645 format typically has a 75 mm focal length, not 90 mm (90 mm was the normal lens for the 6x7 format.)

    But the mini-medium format sensor Hasselblad is using in its X1D actually measures slightly less than 44 x 33mm, which is quite a bit smaller than the traditional 645 format, which measured around 56 x 42 mm back in the film days.

    As such, the normal focal length for a 44 x 33 mm sensor is generally held to be 55 mm. Using your scale, this makes the 30 mm lens "wide," the 45 mm lens "wide-normal," and the 90 mm lens "short telephoto."

    1. True enough! I think that the 90 in particular, and the lineup in general, makes more sense on the 645 sensor than it does on the little one, though.

      I vaguely recall 80mm as standard on the 6x6, but I always felt like it was a bit wide there.

  3. The diagonal for a nominal 6x6 frame (actual measurements typically being 56 x 56mm) is ~79mm, so an 80mm lens is generally considered to be the standard length.

    As for which lens length works best for any given photographer, that's a matter of personal taste and style. For instance, I have a 44x33 digital outfit (Contax 645 body / Phase One P30+ back) and rarely use a lens longer than 55mm. In fact, I have used my 140mm lens only once and have never used my 210mm lens!