Tuesday, April 30, 2013

who cares?

This is going to be a rather cruel post, so if you're of a sensitive nature I advise you to turn away now.


The internet photo forums are abuzz with discontinuance of the Hasselblad 503CW, the last of the V series. According to the official Hasselblad press release;
“Everything has its place in time. The veteran 503CW combined with an extensive V System range of interchangeable lenses and accessories, was for seventeen years, the camera of choice for discerning professionals and aspirational amateur photographers.

But there has been a substantial decline in demand for this camera over the past five years or so and the time has now come for us to reluctantly consign the V System to history. In so doing we would like to thank all fans and customers for both their loyalty and their enthusiasm for our legacy Hasselblad V System.”
The 503CW was and is a dinosaur, even during the fading heyday of film. I remember a close friend of mine who worked with me at Wallis Kamera Haus back in Atlanta during the mid-1970s nick-naming it the "CollossalFlop" due to its large mirror. The only time I ever really paid attention to the Hasselblad was during the Apollo program, when special built Hasseys were used with Apollo 8 onward, the Skylab series, and early Shuttle flights. But that wasn't enough to inspire me to want to own one. I did own an interchangeable lens TLR, the Mamiya c330 f. I loved its quiet shutter and its solid feel in my hands. Most importantly I loved its affordability. I bought the body and two lenses for less than what I would have paid for a Hasselblad 500c body.

In my not-so-humble opinion Hasselblad the company has been slowly changing, and not for the better, since Victor Hasselblad sold the company to investors back in 1976. The company has passed through several owners over the decades, again not necessarily for the better. The last time I paid attention to Hasselblad was the bad attention it drew with the introduction of the Hasselblad Lunar, a Sony NEX-7 with $5,000 of useless luxury bling glued to its exterior so that Hasselblad could sell the ultimate luxury mirrorless camera. Too bad that Leica has already staked out that particular market niche by selling the M240, which might actually turn out to be one of Leica's better rangefinder mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

Although I'll never own one, I have to say if you need a medium format quality digital camera, then investigate buying a Nikon D800 or D800e. With the right kind of technique I've seen both cameras produce remarkable results rivaling medium format, especially if it's your desire to "print large." Except for my brief foray into medium format with the Mamiya, I have been and always will be a small camera person. Medium format cameras just don't fit in with my idea of what a camera should be. The Hasselblad V series stayed too stagnant for too long, and now it's rightfully being discontinued. Long past time to move on.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry Bill. In my opinion you got this one wrong. That camera quickly became an extension of the photographers hands and brain once they used it for any good amount of time. And good film from it still beats the pants off most digital SLR cameras in terms of overall quality. Their failure was in not making accessible digital backs in time for the system.


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