The Nifty Hasselblad 150

Four years now on and off with Hasselblad photography, and the only lens I have used is the standard Carl Zeiss 80mm f/2.8 Planar T*. While, of course, wonderful glass, the time came to pick up a telephoto lens, from the great folks at KEH. I read great things online about the 150mm Sonnar T*. Offering a focal length roughly equivalent to a 105 in the 35mm Nikon family, this lens is sized perfectly for head and shoulders portraits. I cringe when reading reviews overly emphasizing sharpness, as there is so much more to what makes for great optics. While it is indeed insanely sharp, it is so much more.

This model, the “C” T*, features, of course, the multicoating that is so desirable even today, While cutting down dramatically on lens flare, the metal lens hood is still a great idea, and allows for great protection of the front element, in addition to practically eliminating the possibility of flare. The coating has magical properties. Carl Zeiss still uses the coating, modern variations of it, with their current lens lineup. Most certainly, this will help with wider focal lengths, such as on the 80mm, and the 50mm Distagon, which I’d love to add to the bag someday.

It also, to this eye, seems to be even more contrasty than the 80mm, which, of course, has spectacular contrast in its own right. But this is off the charts.

The overall results? Magic.

Masquerade Ball

Masquerade Ball

Yes, I am a fan of reflection off of glass window displays. But, for a first shot with this lens? Love it.


Thinking the 150 might still be a favorite for wedding photographers.

A fellow Hasselblad photographer I chatted with at Photographica mentioned to me the Softar filters, the #1 in particular, for portraiture. I may try one, but, to my eye, the lens does not seem overly sharpened. It seems just right. Sharpening scanned negatives in Photoshop may feel unnecessary.

Oh, want shallow depth of field? Even at f/8? No problem…

Bikes parked outside the hair salon.

Bikes parked outside the hair salon.

Compared to the 80mm, I was expecting the lens to be a Godzilla-like behemoth. It is surprisingly compact and lightweight. I have even read online about some folks using it for street photography, and street portraiture. Not quite that brave yet, but thinking that for event photography and large gatherings, it might be ideal. For portraiture, it’s hard to imagine anything better. Sure, others may argue the 180mm, but I’d ask, what kind of portraiture do you enjoy doing? I like head and shoulders- this is the right focal length for the Hasselblad system. If you do want face only tightness, the 180 may be your way to go. Before choosing the 150, I did read some very spirited 150 vs. 180 showdowns in several forums. Pointless, maybe as much as the film vs. digital debates. Different tools, for different jobs. They could easily, I’m sure, quite peacefully coexist in the bag.

For now, I’ll take the Nifty Hasselblad 150.

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