Sunday, May 11, 2014


This is just in from Sony Rumors.  It's a piece about how Hasselblad might be folding.  As in: Closing it's doors.

If true, all I can say is Wow!

I owned a 500CM/80Planar/150Sonnar kit for a short time.  It took nice images.  But it kept breaking on me.  The springs in the rear light trap doors kept bending for no good reason.  The light traps in the film backs kept the light out for a year or two before needing to be replaced.  The in-lens shutters started to slow, even after recent CLA's by the factory.

That was years ago when I preferred my Rollei TLRs and Mamiya 7 systems.

Still, as far back as I can remember, Hasselblad was a seriously Class Act.  Saint Ansel used one.  Many fashion and wedding photographers used them.  Some of the best photos of several generations were made using Hasselblads.

When I worked in a Black and White photo lab on Sunset Blvd, we could always tell a 120 negative print from a 35mm print.  It didn't matter the film nor the subject nor the final print size.  The medium format advantage was always clear.

When digital came to town, Hasselblad offered backs that worked on their old 500-series cameras, and entered into an agreement with Fuji to sell the H-system.  Like whomever owned the Rollei name, Hasselblad continued to offer film cameras too, perhaps for those Luddites who weren't ready to Jump Ship.

The world had changed out from under these great marques.  Rollei stopped making cameras and Hasselblad tried to expand their market by offering small-ish rather odd Lunar and Stellar cameras.

The days when Rollei, Hasselblad, and Leica could show clear advantage over other image making systems are long gone. For me, the first nail in Hasselblad's coffin came when a rather famous photographer held two large prints up and asked a working pro-photographer audience which camera had made which print.  One print came from a Canon 5D MkII.  The other from a medium format digital camera with more pixels. 

Any advantage medium format had during film days had been lost in the digital era.  The proof was in the print.  A 35mm full frame digital camera could turn out an image every bit as technically brilliant as the larger "medium format" sensored, much steeper priced Hasselblad/Mamiya/PhaseOne systems.

I doubt Hasselblad is really finished.  Not yet, at least.  They recently announced an H-series camera that will now carry a new CMOS sensor.  If Hasselblad is able to sell these in sufficient volume I'm sure they'll keep their doors open for business, even if it continues to be Fuji building the cameras and now Sony (not Kodak) providing the sensors. 

Stiff competitive "head winds" continue to arrive with the announcement of Pentax's lower priced cameras that carry the very same Sony "medium format" sensor.  To add gas to the Hasselblad funeral pyre, Sony is rumored to be working on their own MF camera system that may look and feel a lot like that old lovely Mamiya 7.

The Hasselblad brand, at least, still may mean something to some people.  For how much longer?  It's difficult to tell.

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