Hasselblad has confirmed, in a press release dated today, that the V-System has officially been discontinued after more than 50 years.
Descended from the original innovations of Victor Hasselblad, the Swedish medium-format camera was for a number of decades the mainstay of professional photographers—especially studio pros, and especially in the United States. (Rolleis tended to be as or more popular in Europe, while Mamiya RB's and RZ's nipped at Hassie's heels here.)
The manual, mechanical modular cameras used interchangeable backs, finders, and Zeiss lenses, as well as a host of accessories. There were a great many different variations of the basic form.
Dr. Larry Hansen, Hasselblad's Chairman and CEO, says, "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."
Sic transit gloria mundi.
(Thanks to Oren Grad)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Wayne Pearson: "Made my living with one for 30+ years. While I have moved on and time has moved on it is still a sad, sad day."
MM: "I don't know whether those who came to photography only in the digital era can understand how prominent was Hasselblad's 'brand' in the late 20th century. This was true not just in the photography world but even in the public imagination, a reputation enshrined when the entire world saw photos of, and from, a Hasselblad being used on the moon. From the 1970s into the 1990s, any photographer working in public with a tripod or a camera larger than an SLR—it happened to me often when I used a view camera—soon grew accustomed to hearing one simple question from passersby: 'Wow, look at that camera; is that a Hasselblad?'"
Gaspar Heurtley: "I can't believe I feel lust and mourning at the same time, amazing."
Robert Hudyma: "Ave atque vale." [Not one but two readers expressed this sentiment. I had to look it up—these are the concluding words of the poem known as Catullus 101 (his untitled poems are, conventionally, simply numbered), a heartfelt paeon to the poet's deceased brother. The eloquent but not-quite-literal translation would be "I salute you—and goodbye." —Mike]
Kenneth Tanaka: "Will Whitaker says [in the Comments section —Ed.] 'What I really wish is for a technically competent company to make an affordable digital back for my 500C and 500C/M's.' Think so? Last year I realized that the Hassy was the one of the only classic cameras that I'd never owned or used. So on a lark I got hold of a minty black 501C, a meter finder, and a few lenses. I mated it with a lightly-used Phase One P25. I call it my Swedish Holga.
"Every time I use it I want to exclaim, 'Yabba dabba doo'! I had not realized just how primitive these cameras are; they're basically only a short step up from camera obscura! (The P25 doesn't help much, either.) The photography world has moved so far forward, and today's cameras have become so tightly integrated and aware, that it's downright nutty to expect good results from mating centuries in such a manner.
"It's also fantasy to imagine that a back-to-the-future strategy will improve your photography. Will, if you love your old Hassy 500C then load up those 120 backs (while you can) and have a ball. Nevertheless I have tremendous respect for the durability and historical significance of this platform. I wave bye-bye not so much to the camera but to the era in which it was king."
Karl: "This announcement made me a bit nostalgic and I've been looking at prints and negs today. And Kodachrome I shot with my V. Beautiful, glorious, sublime Kodachrome processed by Ross-Ehlert in Chicago at its million-dollar lab. My studio was a few blocks away and I'd walk my film in and have it four hours later. It was all doomed—too late in the game with Ektachrome and Fuji catching up by leaps and bounds. But for a couple of years it was sublime."
kirk tuck: "Tears rolling down my face. So much of my life was spent behind one of these magnificent machines. So many faces. So many moments. Like a good friend or a safety blanket for photographic artists."