The announcement of a new Hasselblad camera at Photokina has caused quite a reaction, most of it negative, amongst professional photographers, or at least those that have voiced their opinions in blogs and forums immediately following its announcement.Whilst the Lunar name refers to Hasselblad’s supply of cameras to NASA’s historic space programmes, the camera itself is a departure for the company. The camera is an interchangeable lens mirrorless APS-C system camera and is apparently based on the Sony NEX-7 with a Hasselblad designed and manufactured body around it.
As well as comments about its unusual appearance and a less than perfect unfinished prototype shown at Photokina, there seems to be a lot of scorn reserved for the fact that it re-uses and rebrands a Sony camera that costs little more than a fifth of the expected retail price of the Lunar (which is around £4,000); I also detect a sentiment that the Hasselblad brand is being betrayed or exploited in an unseemly manner by the company’s current management (Hasselblad having been acquired by private equity firm Ventizz last year).
I am surprised by the degree of scorn expressed by people feel the Hasselblad brand heritage is being betrayed or turned into a luxury label. Hasselblad has gone through a hard time in the last ten years including changes of ownership and management.
After a false start in the digital arena it has survived as one of only two major players in the medium format digital photographic market. However that is a relatively small market whose death has been predicted for some time. So many think it needs to enter other market segments to survive, or to provide a return for its owners when they sell it again.
Leica seems to do well by tweaking and re-badging Panasonic compact cameras with it’s D-Lux range (although it does make the highly regarded lenses for them) and I can’t help feeling that some of the stronger opinions being expressed online are a reaction to an attempt to expand a brand that some photographers would refer to be reserved for the exclusive use of “serious” and “professional” photographers.