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Hasselblad XCD 25mm f/2.5 V Review: Bright and Wide

Hasselblad has introduced a new 25mm prime lens to add to its already crowded wide-angle assortment. I’ve reviewed the 30mm f/3.5, and Hasselblad also has 28mm f/4 and 21mm f/4 lenses. However, this new wide prime splits the difference and has an even brighter f/2.5 aperture.

Hasselblad XCD 25mm f/2.5 Review: How It Handles

Hasselblad has been working hard lately to reduce its the size and bulk of its lenses while increasing light-gathering potential. The 25mm lens has an ordinary 72mm filter diameter, and at only 20.8 ounces (592 grams), it is very lightweight for its capabilities.

The Hasselblad 25mm is a great general purpose wide lens. You can capture the entire story or use the format’s extra resolution to crop tighter as you see fit.

Hasselblad lenses are always built to a high standard and have good weather-sealed designs. I like the manual focus ring with its quick push-pull clutch, and the rubber grips are very grippy, for lack of a better term.

Close-up of a hasselblad xcd 25 camera lens hood against a dark background, highlighting the brand name and model in white text.
Hasselblad lenses are always handsome and precise, but the hoods are a bit of a pain to get on.
Close-up of a camera lens showing detailed focus distance and aperture scales, with a blurred dark background.
The new ring design is grippy and turns smoothly. The customizable ring can be set to click or not.

Hasselblad has also added a customizable ring that can be set to click or de-click functionality. I used it primarily as a clicked aperture ring to facilitate faster exposure control.

Black and white photo of a dimly lit room with a window casting shadow patterns on the floor. a trash bin and a large dumpster, both tagged with graffiti, are visible.
This mid-afternoon light is harsh, but through a pane of glass it becomes directional and interesting.
Silhouettes of three people walking and biking in a sunlit urban area, with tall buildings, a mural, and buses under a clear blue sky.
Cityscapes or Landscapes. The Hasselblad 25mm can handle them both.

Hasselblad XCD 25mm f/2.5 Review: How It Shoots

The autofocus motor isn’t blisteringly fast. Still, Hasselblad cameras don’t tend to focus that quickly anyway, and for the architecture and landscape shots that the 25mm is intended for, the fastest autofocusing isn’t critical.

Vibrant street art on sidewalk tiles featuring the ukrainian flag in yellow and blue, partially covered with snow, with the word "solidarity" printed over in large, white letters.
I like the way ultra-wide lenses can create extra depth and distance in your images.
A dynamic view of modern skyscrapers with reflective glass facades under a clear blue sky, featuring a foreground of a curved building with a sunburst reflecting off one tower.
Normally I would take a lens like this into the forests but it worked well in the glass and concrete jungle too.

Hasselblad is known for having excellent lens coatings, and the 25mm does not disappoint. Contrast is excellent even when shooting toward bright light sources, and ghosting is well controlled even at tighter apertures. The lens also delivers stunning sunstars, which landscape and cityscape photographers will appreciate.

Sunstar through the eye of a dragon
The Hasselblad 25mm’s sunstars are dramatic and refined.
Black and white image looking up at towering skyscrapers with sharp geometric shapes dominating the frame. the name "fasken" is visible on one building.
The sweeping sense of perspective works well for skyscrapers and architecture.

I wanted to test bokeh and the look of specular highlights, so I popped into a local dessert cafe called Rocky Dessert Market. Tommy, the owner, was kind enough to allow me to shoot inside. I found the highlights at f/2.5 to have no cat’s eye effect and to be free from onion rings or a strong soap bubble effect.

A person sits alone at a table in a dimly lit cafeteria with rays of light casting shadows through large windows, highlighting a pattern of empty chairs and tables around them.
Light and shadow create drama, and the faster f/2.5 aperture makes shooting in dark interiors easy.
A black and white image displaying a stone lion sculpture casting a stark shadow under a bright light in a dark environment, emphasizing dramatic contrasts.
Although I like the way the 25mm gives depth to distant objects, there is nothing wrong with a little in-close work too.

Even more surprising was the round shape of the highlights when the aperture was stopped. Hasselblad lenses typically have a distracting polygonal look to the highlights, but the 25mm lens renders them smooth and round-looking. This gives out-of-focus areas of the image a soft and creamy look and makes the transitions across areas of the image smooth and buttery.

A plush teddy bear with a red bow sitting at a wooden table in a cafe, next to a glass of milk and a decorative cup. the cafe has a modern interior with hanging lights and patrons in the background.
Specular highlights stay nice and round when stopped down. This is a pleasant departure from what Hasselblad lenses historically offer.

Next, I tested sharpness and found the 25mm exceptionally sharp in the center of the frame at f/2.5. Stopping down slightly improved contrast, but just barely. Even the corners look good wide open, and the lens shoots very flat, which means that if the center is in focus, the corners are too.

Side-by-side comparison of a canadian one-dollar bill photographed at two different aperture settings, f/2.5 on the left and f/5.6 on the right, with visible depth of field differences.
The 25mm is incredibly sharp in the center. However, the corners can be soft wide open.

A Welcome Addition to Hasselblad XCD

There aren’t many lenses intended for night photography on the Hasselblad medium format system. But this 25mm is the closest we’ve got so far, and I wanted to shoot some night scenes. At f/2.5, there was almost no Coma in the corners, but there was some Sagittal Astigmatism, which creates a bat-wing look to highlight the edges of the frame. It wasn’t terrible, though, and by f/4, the Coma and SA essentially go away. This is not a perfect astrophotography lens, but it’s the best we’ve seen from Hasselblad.

You can see some SA in the corners of the image when shooting at f/2.5. It’s not terrible, but it’s not ideal either.

So you have a lens with some of the nicest bokeh you’ll get, a usable f/2.5 aperture, and sharpness as well. If you want a fast wide-angle with excellent optics and the versatility to shoot nightscapes, look no further.

Sunset over a calm sea with rocks in the foreground and small islands in the distance under a golden sky.
Photo by Jeremy Gray
A black and white photo of a serene lake with smooth water, featuring large rocks in the foreground and a small, tree-covered island in the background under a cloudy sky.
Photo by Jeremy Gray
Twilight settles over a serene harbor with boats moored peacefully on calm waters. a small floating dock in the foreground holds two boats, against a backdrop of a quaint hillside town.
Photo by Jeremy Gray
Black and white photo of a flowing stream with cascading rapids swirling around a central rock, bordered by forest and patches of grass.
Photo by Jeremy Gray
An older man in a jacket and cap stands at a sunny crosswalk in a city, looking towards the shaded street flanked by modern buildings. shadows create a stark contrast on the pavement.
The 25mm f/2.5 becomes a great walk-around lens for street shooting.

Are There Alternatives?

The 21mm and 28mm primes are good options, but I find the 21mm to be too wide in most scenarios, and this new 25mm gives you more light to boot. If you want one wide-angle prime to handle as much as possible, the 25mm is the way to go.

Should You Buy It?

Yes. The versatility and bright aperture make this an excellent choice for the Hasselblad system.

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