Phoenix Hasselblad?

Not too long ago it was difficult to not make fun of Hasselblad. Lunar, Stellar, you know. Now there is hope the venerable camera maker, under new leadership, might rise like a phoenix from the ashes — BTW, did you know there are 12 Hasselblad cameras left on the surface of the moon? The lunar surface Hasselblads that shot those iconic images of the moon’s surface between 1969 and 1972 were ditched there to allow for the 25 kilograms of lunar rock samples to be brought back. Only the film magazines made it back to earth. So photographers joke that there are 12 available free to anyone who cares to collect them… Today you could joke: who dares to buy a Hasselblad? The pepped up Sony NEX-7 ripoffs on steroids with Tuscan leather and mahogany were a branding disaster beyond belief.

Hasselblad, once the pinnacle of camera gear, promises to return to its roots.
Hasselblad, once the pinnacle of camera gear, promises to return to the pinnacle.
Hasselblads were the cameras used by NASA. The company kept a collection of Apollo memorabilia, among it one of two 9-centimeter cube Hasselblad film backs used by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 Moon landing in July 1969. While the cameras were left on the Moon, the magazines of exposed Kodak film came back to earth. And with it the film on which some of the probably most important photos ever taken were stored and wound back into this very object, nearly half a century ago.

The magazine is a little worn and battered, which is considered especially compelling. The magazine is marked with exposure instructions Lunar Module in shadow F4, crew in sun F8, and so on. Today you’d beam those files to wherever instantly. Back then it was the biggest developing and printing challenge ever. And Hasselblad was on top of it.

New Hasselblad CEO Perry Oosting, clearly on top of things at the embattled, once iconic market leader.
New Hasselblad CEO Perry Oosting, clearly on top of things at the embattled, once iconic market leader.
As you know, the brand has been in the doldrums for years, but is showing signs of renewal under the command of a dynamic new Hasselblad CEO Perry Oosting, who was successful running the British luxury cell phone maker Vertu.

There are new Hasselblad cameras to be introduced this year. Financial Times journalist Jonathan Margolis, who has seen them at Hasselblad headquarters in Götheborg, wrote on March 20, 2016:

Without breaking the news embargo, I can say confidently that, in the case of one wholly new model in particular, photography fans will be over the moon.

In a recent interview with Luminous Landscape, Oosting elaborates in detail on Hasselblad’s challenging revival with the setting up of an ambitous 3-year strategy plan. See the 37-minute interview, Hasselblad clearly is in good hands again.

Hasselblad will bring everything back to Götheborg and not rebrand or badge any Sony clones or other cameras anymore, a clear reference to Hasselblad’s previous ruinous strategy Oosting is rather critical of. No more pimped up Lunars and Stellars. He wants to bring back Swedish craftmanship and the whole iconic Hasselblad legacy and build a new pinnacle on the venerable V System with more than 550,000 cameras sold over the many years.

Hasselblad listens to the market and analyses the business models, with Oosting neither confirming nor denying Hasselblad might be making a square sensor (again).

Hasselblad, says Oosting, will have a lot of announcements this year, giving the best gear to the creators and at the same time not ignoring the wider segmentation of the consumer base.

(via FT and Luminous Landscape)