Hasselblad 110mm F2.0 Planar T* Lens Review


I would like to share my recent experiences with a legendary Hasselblad 110mm F2.0 Planar lens. I am a big fan of super shallow depth of field and bokehlicious images, I believe with the correct use of aperture that one can enhance the subject of the photo. The Hasselblad medium format film camera has been my companion for quite some time now, it is the "perfect" MF camera for me and part of this is due to the superb qualities of those Carl Zeiss lenses. After owning and shooting with a variety of these lenses, there is always a lens in back of my mind. 


The Hasselblad 110mm F2.0 Planar lens is indeed a "dream" lens, just like the noctilux of Leica which outputs incredible bokeh and unique characteristics. I have been searching lens on the internet for quite awhile since there are not too many of them available at once. There are basically two versions of the lens: the F and FE models of the lens. The F lens can only be used on focal plane Hasselblad bodies with builtin camera shutter and the FE version has some electronic parts specially designed for FE series Hasselblad bodies such as the 203FE, which demands a higher price tag for its more modern electronics. My lovely 2000 FC/M camera that I did my street photography work with has broken down due to focal plane failure so I upgraded to a more recent model, the 201F with a cloth focal plane shutter rather than fragile titanium ones in the 2000FC/M. It is the perfect match with the Hasselblad 110mm F2 lens and this combination works like a charm. 


The first thing you notice when you are holding the lens is quite heavy, coming at 750 grams, which is significantly heavier than my Hasselblad 100mm F3.5 C lens. The F version of this lens were produced between 1991&1998 and the construction consists of 7 elements/5 groups with the aperture ranges from an insane F2 to F16 in 1/2 stop increments. Keep in mind that F2 in the Medium Format world is approximately similar to F1 in the 35mm format, which produces incredibly shallow paperthin DOF. In practical use, the lens at the start was very challenging to use, especially for living subjects on the streets that I like to photograph but once you get used to it then everything becomes easier. Just as a side note, I would recommend for Hasselblad users to change their focusing screen to either Matte or Matte D with increased brightness/clarity when working with this lens, which helps significantly in practical use. The filter size for this particular lens is in bayonet mount (Bay 70) and I would recommend the 77mm UV size adapter since this is a much affordable option. 

The performance of the Hasselblad 110mm F2.0 Planar lens is truly remarkable, it deserves to wear the crown of superfast lenses in the Medium Format world. The rendering is typical Zeiss with tendency to the warm side with vivid colours and the out of focus areas are pleasing to the eye with smooth bokeh. The images coming out of this lens are very sharp, probably not as sharp as the Hasselblad 100mm F3.5 lens since that one is the sharpest but the 110mm lens possesses very unique and special characteristics. If you like superfast lenses and looking for an unique lens in the medium format world then the Hasselblad 110mm lens cannot be missed.


My Flickr Set: 



Hasselblad SWC

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The Hasselblad SWC started in production back in the 1950s and ceased manufacturing until recent years. The Hasselblad SWC is abbreviated from Super Wide Camera at present and the original names when the camera was first introduced were “Supreme Wide Angle” (1954-55) and “Super Wide” (1956-57). Below are the highlights of the Hasselblad SWC’s manufacturing history:

The Photokina in Cologne 1954 was used to introduce the Hasselblad Super-Wide with a fixed 38mm f4.5 Zeiss Biogon lens mounted in a Compur-shutter. Super-Wide SWC/M was introduced in 1979, allowing the use of the Polaroid film magazine. The Hasselblad SWC & SWC/M was introduced in1979 then follow by the 903SWC in the year 1988, as the new 903SWC had a minor body change and came with the new viewfinder with built-in spirit level. Finally the last version was the abbreviated 905SWC model released in 2001 with the compromised optics consists of 8 elements only.

Specifications Overview:

·           Fixed Zeiss Biogon 38mm f/4.5 lens

·           Body Colors available: Black or Chrome trimmed

·          Interchangeable 120mm film backs: A12 or A24 backs

·          Adoptable to Modern Digital Backs

·         Polaroid film backs available and optional

·         Filter size: Series 63 drop-in (Series VIII)

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·         The lens on the Hasselblad SWC is the legendary Zeiss 38mm f4.5 Biogon (equivalent to 21mm on the 35mm format) and it is probably the best wide angle made by Zeiss.

·         The Zeiss 38mm f4.5 Biogon is famous for its optical excellence, which is almost distortion-free and offers image perfection.

·         There are only two variations for this lens in terms of the coating, as one version with the T* coating and the other without.

·         The original Zeiss Biogon lens offers the 10 element design compared to the updated 905SWC with an abbreviated 8 element design.



There are seven versions of the Hasselblad SWC made throughout the years:

  1. 1959-1968: SWC silver lens barrel, all bodies chrome
  2. 1968-1973: SWC black lens barrel, but not T*, all chrome bodies
  3. 1973-1980: SWC black lens barrel T* coating, bodies can be either chrome or black
  4. 1980-1982: SWC/M-Polaroid back usable
  5. 1982-1985: SWC/M with CF lens and bubble level on body
  6. 1986-1988: SWC/M with CF lens and no bubble level on body
  7. 1989 to 2001: the 903SWC

There are also three types of Viewfinders made:

  • Type 1 1959-1969: standard "megaphone" finder
  • Type 2 1969-1985: standard finder with rubber at eyepiece
  • Type 3 1986-present: finder with built in bubble level

The latest version of the Hasselblad SWC is the model 905SWC, which was produced in the year 2001 and the optics have downgraded to 8 elements compared to 10 elements on previous models.


Practical Use:

The camera is relatively small and light, therefore it allows me to shoot up to 1/15 seconds without worrying about vibration. When shooting “street photography” with this camera, you will have to pre-focus to the distance that you anticipate the subject will be and shoot steady with both hands at waist-level. This strategy can be done in “blind” shooting since the depth of field is enormous.

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·         The lens offers almost distortion-free images.

·         The SWC is lightweight and small, so easily handheld-able.

·         The handling

·         The interchangeable film backs provide convenience when shooting on-the-go and allows quick swapping between b&w and colour films.

·         The build quality for this camera is rock-solid amazing.

·         It is easy to hyperfocus with this camera since the depth of field is great.


·         The lens is fixed as there is no option for interchangeable lenses.

·         The viewfinder is quite small and the older ones offer poor visibility due to its age.

·         There is no rangefinder system incorporated thus it is difficult for precise focusing.

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Mamiya vs Hasselblad Comparison:

When compare the Hasselblad SWC to the Mamiya 7 with 43mm lens that makes the SWC seems to be primitive, which is reasonable for a camera designed 50 years ago. 

The focusing system of both systems is different, whereas the Hasselblad SWC is scale-focus compared to the precise rangefinder on the Mamiya. In terms of optical design, it is suspicious that the Mamiya copied the same lens design as the Hasselblad SWC. However, the latest Hasselblad SWC model (905SWC) only consists of 8 elements in the optics, whereas the Mamiya still makes the original 10 elements version for its 43mm lens.

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