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Monday, 29 April 2013


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I expect we'll see a similarly worded announcemnet from DSLR manufacturers within 5-10 years as the features, performance and lesser weight of point and shoot and mirrorless systems match and overcome any DSLR advantages.

Sic transit gloria mundi indeed...

I always assumed they'd sell off some sort of remaining stock with (finally) a 56mmx56mm sensor. I still think there's a market for such a product, but likely not enough to justify its production.

It is a sad day.

Is there any in-production camera that images to a square imaging area any longer? The arguments made by Hasselblad in that regard have always been compelling to me. It *is* the most efficient use of an image circle, as well as a useful format in and of itself.

The closest (in philosophy) remaining system may be Panasonic's Lumix system, with the GH2 and G6 (but not the GH3) having multi-aspect sensors that cover the image circle for 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9 aspect ratios. Doesn't offer the nice square aspect ratio, but it at least considers the different uses of the image circle.

Well, a wise company will shut down its less profitable operations so it can direct funds to more profitable ones. Like finding new rare materials suitable for wrapping Sony NEX bodies.

So they're releasing an APS-C digital version then...? [dons flame-proof suit]

There's a 500c in my camera bag out in the back of the family Oldsmobile. What's next?

Sad news indeed, but not unexpected.

Interestingly a camera/system that has feet in both film and digital camps to this day. Just buy a 500 series camera and a digital back from Hasselblad, Phase One or Leaf and you have a modern high performance digital outfit.

Of course, a film back can be attached at anytime for that wonderful film aesthetic that so many software programs try to emulate.

What a great camera/system......truly a classic !!

The official announcement had to happen some time.

Copal has stopped producing shutters for large format lenses. Fuji and Nikon stopped producing LF lenses, Schneider and Rodenstock have scaled back production of their lineups. A while back a fellow wrote about his experience buying a new Hasselblad, and found out it had been manufactured three years prior to his purchase.

So Hasselblad finally announcing the end of its film camera doesn't come as too much of a surprise. At least they made it to the moon.

I have one of these. It is beautiful and a joy to use. I still run some FP4 film with it, which I develop with a fine grain developer that I prepare myself. Today however, I get sharper images from my Sigma dp2 Merrill, a point and shoot on steroids which I use as methodically and carefully as my 503CW. It is amazing how things have changed in the last 10 years.

The Hassie was much more hand-holdable than the Mamiya RB and RZ, hence much more popular with wedding photographers. That's the part of the field it seems to me it totally dominated.

This development can't come as a big surprise, given the V system's target market (pros) who have moved on to other gear. For amateurs like me who still delight to use these, it is a bit of a jolt. As a kid in the early 70's, even more than Leica or Nikon, this was the object of my desire: the camera that went to the moon. From a purely selfish perspective, I should be able to keep using my 500 CM and 503 SWC as long as I'm likely to be pursuing photography, at least if David Odess has hoarded enough spare parts and keeps working. With Kodak's divestiture of film today as well, the film
past is receding toward the rear horizon.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.........don't go!

I would imagine that the V system was in fact discontinued years (decades?) ago and only now has stock run out. Otherwise there would be a special "End of the line - I think we're turning Japanese" commemorative edition.

I don't know if it was my favorite camera but my 500c was certainly the best investment in gear I ever made.

"Thus passes the glory of the world", indeed.

Aren't I glad that just a month ago I purchased yet another 'Blad. It is a 1997 model and in mint condition.

I bought my first one, a 500C, back in 1969 and have used them pretty much ever since.

There is an organic feel to the V Hasselblad that I have found in no other camera. I invariably use my Hasselblad on a tripod, often with mirror pre-release, and the waist-level finder. Shooting with both eyes open and engaging both hemispheres of the grey matter.

The only aspect of this announcement that is a surprise is that I thought that they were discontinued a few years back.

Ave atque vale


Just as Kodak sells its film business. Sad.

I had a full V system for 30 years and for me, it's hands down the best camera system to ever come down the pike. The best balance of film size, flexibility, build quality, optics, portability and ease of handling. Shooting within the square certainly isn't everyone's ideal, but for myself and a generation of commercial and fine art photographers it was a divine discipline. I've rented and used the new generation for commercial jobs and it just isn't the same, but what is? The v's were Saabs in a world of Hyundais.

Twilight of an era. On the other hand, we'll always have the Lunar. Oh well...

I can remember buying my 503CW and thinking that this will probably be my last camera, and then digital arrived.

Sales numbers for digital medium format are dismal. It would not be a total surprise to see Hasselblad go the way of Rollei, Contax, and Bronica (who'd I miss?). Pros simply are not buying >$20-40K cameras in any numbers when $2-4K ones cover essentially the same professional requirements.

Still popular though. Looking at KEH prices a basic 500C w/WLF, A-12 back, and 80mm lens, all bargain condition, will still run you $915. Anything newer or adding a 50mm and a 150mm and the price skyrockets. That's a lot of lettuce.

April 29th, 2013 — a date which will live in infamy!

Hasselblad V System killed, "Hasselblad" Lunar merely postponed.

Hard not to be cynical. I propose that the photographic equivalent of Gresham's Law be hitherto known as Hansen's Law.

Just watched a documentary about Florian Kaps, co-founder of Impossible, the outfit behind the current Polaroid renaissance. A notable investor in Impossible is Peter Coeln of Westlicht, the Viennese photographica auction house and gallery. Neither Polaroids nor luxury auctions are quite my cup of tea, but it's impossible to see the imagination, gumption and dedication of folks like Kaps and Coeln and not to think about how Hasselblad could have been turned around by people endowed with vision, a sense of true quality, and the kind of workmanlike integrity that was the hallmark of Victor Hasselblad.

So. For twenty years I traveled with a 500 series body and three or four lenses and film backs for color and BW. The pro-lab 16x20s I hung in my office were state-of-the art prints that were the best travel images possible.
Now the 16x20s from my D800e look so much better - printed at home - that I wonder why I fooled with the Hasselblad. Oh - it was the best we could do for a long time. I thought I'd never say this, but I'll never ever feel the need to go back. I just regret that my 503CW isn't big enough to use as a boat anchor. Useless.

Should we mourn or should we celebrate?

It's the sign of the end of our generation. A slow Adieu for mechanical oriented carbon based living organism.

My kids have different perspective on using any technical equipments and surely not manual stuff like this. Everything is with touch-screen, if possible preferably something that can talk like star-trek ship.

I never understood all the whoo haa about Hasselblads (the 500 series) until I owned one....

Then I understood how well thought out they were..

Goodbye old friend..

Kodachrome ! Hassleblad ! What next ?

Guess there isn't a professional photographer out there that has used a V at least once in their career. I applaud Hasselblad for their long term commitment to the system and how they have made it compatible with new technology as it came along.

I wonder how long ago they actually stopped making these? I'm guessing that was when they left the old factory, in which case it has taken a long time to sell off the "new old" stock.

And Hasselblad's gloria mundi had already transited - the day they announced the Lunar...

...to be replaced by the Lunar.

I honestly thought it was discontinued some five years ago.
Could have made sense for them to sell a few hundred last units as some sort of commemorative. No gold or lizard skin, just plain normal user cameras but with some sort of certificate.
I still have a 500C, C/M and SWC.

Actually, Hasselblad pissed on its customers and its legacy when it went digital. Not the fact it went digital - but the switch to a 645 format after more than a half century of "God personally designed the Square" for photography.

They could have used the square format for their digital offerings but chose not to do so. Many of us moved to other camera systems as a result.

Well nothing lasts forever but Hassies will always be legends. I tend to agree with the first comment about DSLRs. I don't think they'll go away anytime soon but as mirrorless cameras grow in sophistication and abilities I think the popularity of "flapping mirror models" will diminish.

I remember buying my first Hasselblad it made me feel like I had just put another notch in my pro status as a photographer. Much like moving from Canon to Nikon in 35mm and Toyo to Sinar in view cameras. Each was a step that said I've now attained "no compromise" tools and the rest was up to me. It also meant that the world or exotic rentals was always available for shoots where the basics didn't cover it.

Now that I no longer make a living at photography, but still shoot many frames a week I know I'm still the limiting factor with the tools I have.

This camera (well, its progenitors, anyway) gave me the photo bug more than any other piece of hardware when I was a kid in the '60's. I'm saddened to see it go, but I realize the marketplace has changed dramatically.

What I really wish is for a technically competent company to make an affordable digital back for my 500C and 500C/M's.
I mean, is it really that hard to make a digital back that falls at or below the price of a D800?

Still using mine for bw portraits in the studio..Can't really beat shooting film in that box and then scanning from those negs. No "digital skin texture", which I hate. Another plus is the option to make traditional prints..blingo.

I'm probably never getting rid of the two bodies and four lenses I have, as long as they can be repaired, heck, I'll be buried with them if I can arrange it. It's one of the few things I ever bought that signaled my arrival as a "pro", and one of the things "illiterate" clients still knew enough about to comment on.

Ah, now they're becoming hipster cameras.

"Is there any in-production camera that images to a square imaging area any longer? "
The other famous camera starting with an H of course, the Holga. Gallows humor aside, the two Voigtländer Bessa III models and their Fuji twins allow a choice between 6x6 and 6x7cm. There is also the boutique production by DHW Fototechnik making the regular, Tele- and Wide Rolleiflex, as well as the Hy6 Mod.2 camera, which can take either a digital back or 6x6 and 4.5x6 magazines. Its somewhat ironic that the Rolleiflex models, having gone through several bankruptcies, finally survive the classic 'blad.

Surely it makes sense to stop producing things people don't want to buy any more? Companies don't have a duty to go bankrupt to preserve a loss making heritage.

All this guff about the end of an era really is just guff. Wonderful pictures were made before 2 1/4ins square or 35mm came on the scene. Wonderful pictures are being made today with everything from digital to wet plates. Let's just enjoy the pictures and celebrate the people who made and make them.

Mike, In the spirit of one of your replies in the poetry list thread:
"Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future, / And time future contained in time past." Yes, Eliot should have been in the top ten! And you can apply his lines to picture making.

Unless people enjoy the pictures there isn't much point in making them! Unless precision engineering achieves something which people need, those skills are better employed elsewhere.

Had a beater 500C in the 90's, upper curtain wouldn’t stay up so I got on the fledgling internet, found a guy who sold instructions on fixing this problem yourself for $25. Maybe some of you know who this was, (or maybe you're him) but I'm a technical writer and this typewritten, photocopied, paste-up illustrated set of directions was some of the best tech writing I've ever seen. Took the camera apart, fixed the curtain, fixed a separate problem with the mirror lock track, put the thing back together and used till digital took over. At about 6 actual moving parts, this was the Harley Davidson of cameras. What we talk about when we talk about missing film.

Got to slightly object to Ken Tanaka's post. The Hasselblad was exactly the camera needed for people that did the type of work that camera excelled in! Those of us that still do the type of heavily lit, and heavily tested work, spend most of our time trying to make modern multi-feature camera behave like a Hasselblad, and complain about all the crap we have to turn off. I basically use a modern digital camera in manual mode, wouldn't use auto-focus if I had a focusable screen, and rarely use in camera metering at all; most always use a strobe meter hand held. 99.9 % of my stuff is on a tripod too. Oh, and have I mentioned, tons of lighting that differentiates you from the people that are only photographers now because they don't have to figure out how to expose film!

While the auto-bracketing, 'can't-figure-out-what-it's-measuring-and-why-it's-wrong' computer metering, auto-focusing (where's it going to try focusing now), stuff is fine for those types of modern 'set-it-and-forget-it' photographers, and might be valuable to a lot of people, and I can see it for sports guys; it's basically more problems than it's worth for guys like me.

I know why they'll never make a cheap and fabulous digital back for my V system, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't have...

"Now the 16x20s from my D800e look so much better - printed at home - that I wonder why I fooled with the Hasselblad. Oh - it was the best we could do for a long time. I thought I'd never say this, but I'll never ever feel the need to go back."

Thank you. It's the relentless march of technology.

'In my day, we had a spinning wheel - and we liked it.' Apologies to Dana Carvey.

I finally had a 500CM in the 80's. I got the 90 degree prism, two A12 backs and an 80mm Zeiss T Star lens and square shade. I had the Jack Curtis mat box and I used it for weddings. I could not affored the 150mm lens but the guy I worked with would let me use his in the studio. We rented the 50mm lens as needed. That camera was dark in peoples living rooms and hard to focus. At a reception is was very dark thru the prism finder. It was a luxery item for me. I went to a pair of Nikon F3 bodies and I used them for many years, replacing the PC sync contacts which would burn up. With the 500CM, the shutter in the 80mm went bad and locked up the entire camera. The repair shop had to take the back off and disconnect the lens to repair the shutter. Nothing is perfect. Square was a nice format. No cropping decisions while shooting.

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