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Digital rangefinder


As I have experienced, everything regarding future Hasselblad products is very vague.
As I see it, Hasselblad can go two ways:

A) Outface the V system and purely focus on H - being the industry standard for fashion photography.

B) Expand their product range to more consumer oriented products.

The latter seems unlikely, but one can hope.
Given the succes (is it successful?) of the Leica M8, is it possible that Hasselblad would launch a digital rangefinder? This would of course, not have the same capabilities as the XPan, but wasn't the XPan released rather late (read 1999)?

Those of you who have been with Hasselblad for decades, I ask: would it be likely that Hasselblad would release a new camera, completely separate from the V and H? What would this product be?
Does anyone have any notion of Hasselblads economical situation and market share?

And then an open question, just for daydreaming: which product would you like to see hasselblad come out with?

Personally I would like to see a digital rangefinder and a more automated V cam.
Both are probably highly unlikely.
I can only give an opinion based on assumptions because Hasselblad like any other industrial company does not publicise plans for the future.

The V system will be available for some time provided no sizeable investments for tooling etc. are necessary.
Slow moving parts will be fased out.
Most recent victims were lenses longer than 180 mm.

Control of Hasselblad is in the hands of Imacon people headed by Mr. Poulsen.
It seems he sees the H series as a perfect opportunity to sell digital backs.
Besides the backs Hasselblad also manufactures great scanners.

Hasselblad is a small player in this field that probably does not have the resources nor the staff to develop a complete new camera on its own now.
A new digital rangefinder seems very unlikely.
Hasselblad is aiming for the professional market and will also serve
motivated amateurs that are prepared to pay for their products.
I am under the impression that the H system is not used very much be amateurs. The V system will fall behind with time, because of its old fashioned (albeit cool) form.
The question is: if they want to keep providing for that market, what will Hasselblad do to satisfy the amateurs?

I simply cannot see that they will be able to do this with the H system.

They have to redesign the V system, come up with a new camera or let go of the market. Which one is most likely? I say the latter.
Hasselblad's profit margin is so narrow (despite what they charge), I don't see them investing in yet more manufacturing lines. If anything, they might re-brand someone else's product for Hasselblad's distribution channels.
I think Hasselblad has clearly signaled what the future hold: More of the same. More integration of a digital system. More user features that make use of that integration.

Our historical perspective is camera centric.... meaning the system was contained to the camera, lens, and film back modularity. The "new think" is system centric which extends beyond the camera components to include integrated software, GPS, WiFi, a s well as camera advancements like more sensitive AF and multi point AF ... and a host of other stuff yet to come. For ex&le, the inclusion of DAC correction software impacted the lens design of the newer 28mm.

The one competitive aspect that could derail this speeding train is the advent of a larger square sensor produced at a cost mere mortals could afford.

As to the amateur market: IMO, this area will be well fed by the onslaught of development that makes lightly used digital solutions available to advanced shooters that are one step behind the cutting edge stuff adopted by the Professional market that can fund keeping current. This is already happening.
I think H'blad are effectively abandoning the amateur market with the H series progression. There was always a strain of elitism in Hasselblad's marketing ('not everyone can have one of these' etc), but clearly their ads in amateur mags were aimed at the well-heeled amateur.

But now? The price of a H3DII is now about 4 cars, not 1! OK, baby cars, but still the 'rich dentist' market must baulk at the cost. Perhaps an oil sheik or two won't but that is it.

It is the case that non-professionals will pick up the scraps left in the wake of the ship, but how many are buying new gear? An H1 maybe, but H3? H4?

The gulls scavenging cast off Hasselblad gear (including myself) have always been a 'problem' for Hasselblad, but now there is little likelihood that those people will move on to pick up new gear outside the V series.

The CFV seems to be a limit, and even then for a minority. Because as Marc recommends: free of being compelled by clients and time, amateur photographers can stick with film.

This seems to be some of the problems for Hasselblad. They can't compete with Canon, but can they afford to lose the amateur market? Wasn't that the cream on the bun that was the pro market in the past?

PS I don't imagine they will do a digital Xpan or something. A sensor is a lot more expensive than the air that fills the back of a film camera before film is loaded.
50 years ago Hasselblad was a camera builder. Now it belong to Imacon and they do not want to build camera any more; only digital back. This for they use Fujifilm camera with Hasselblad written on it.
The Fijifilm line with Hasselblad is about 10 years. So the X-pan disapeared and the H line is perhaps at the end in few years. The H1 is dead for Hasselblad for ex&le.

Like Leica you have to wait the change of the CEO to make understand that the V système is realy great and cann cross the digital time.
Not all photographs make Fashon by chance, because when you are in this field you may change your tool often.

These last years I noticed the prize of used lenses became heigher when the new digital back arrived.
If they build "new type of lens" with databus; a cell in a new "500D" and a Biogon lens lines (40mm, 50mm 60mm) like Zeiss did for Nikon F, they can put real great marketing value in new lens !
Where is the mystique in having a camera built in a specific place? The H camera is built by Fuji, but was designed by Hasselblad. Apparently it was a successful cooperative venture since it's still here and a host of other MF cameras are not.

Implying that the H1 is dead so the H line is dying", is like saying the EOS line is dying because they don't make a 1Ds any more. Time, and camera versions, marches on.

As far as the V system is concerned it's a dead-end, and flogging it with nostalgia won't breath new live into it. However, it's long term "life after death" is assured because of the enormous base of owners that exist.

If one wants a V like shooting experience there is the Hy6 ... a ground up rebuild of the concept ... integrated digital ability with AF lenses ... for those willing to part with $40,000 to $50,000. ... or film, and existing manual focus Zeiss and Schneider optics.

Anything Hasselblad would bring to market like that would most certainly be in that price range ... so, who's willing to pony up that kind of cash here?

I really don't quite understand the mentality that advanced amateurs keep whining about.
The Digital MF cameras AREN"T made for rich Dentists or Arab Princes even though they buy them. They were designed and built for those who make money making photographs.

Hasselblad, nor Phase One, nor any other camera or digital back maker dictated this state of affairs ... the communications industry did when virtually ALL printed materials went digital. Not one single photographer I know was thrilled about the prospect of replacing a $3,000. camera with a $30,000. one just to stay in business.

Also, the statement that "not everyone shoots fashion" as if that was what the H system was solely designed to do is ridiculous. The camera happens to be fast enough to do that work, but is equally at home on a tripod shooting product, or with the back mounted on a view camera.
Hi Marc,

> As far as the V system is concerned it's a dead-end.

I hear that term "dead-end" used a lot with respect to camera systems that have "run their course", and I don't understand why it's used. It comes across as a demeaning and exaggerated term IMO. These systems still do exactly what they did when they were new.

Technically, any road leads to a dead-end if you drive far enough. To me a dead-end means that it's only a short drive to the end. That is why I don't understand this term being used with respect to a system like the Canon FD or the Hasseblad "V" system in general. Neither are a short drive in the least, unless you are talking specifically about digital. If so, then that should be qualified.

For digital, I'd agree, the Canon FD is a dead-end system, since there are no digital options. For the Hasselblad V system, for digital, there are some backs available, and some quite good ones in fact. Does that make it a dead-end? There are probably more digital backs for the V system available than for the H, but I haven't tallied them. But, certainly, the system integration for digital is far better on the H system than the V system...but I'm not sure all that "integration" is really necessary. People shot successrully for years without being able to "chimp" the images. These features are nice, but hardly necessary. But, that's another topic.

> flogging it with nostalgia won't breath new live into it.

Hum. It's going to take a LONG LONG LONG time for any camera system to catch up with the "V" system with respect to number of lenses, accessories, bodies etc. If anyone will ever catch up. This is not wishful thinking, it's simple fact. It's got plenty of life on its own, without any flogging etc.

> However, it's long term "life after death" is assured
> because of the enormous base of owners that exist.

And perhaps because it still suits the purpose of many quite well. Isn't it true that the H system doesn't offer film backs any more? If so, then that's a dead-end system...with respect to film. And film is hardly "dead-end". That is wishful thinking on the part of the digirati, who want to, for some reason I have never understood, make claims about film and digital that boost their "digital ego" position.

But...I certainly do agree. If you are a professional, and want to be competetive as a commercial photographer, you pretty much *need* to go digital, and the H system is going to be a better answer than the V system for most.


Hee, hee, I figured that that would get a rise out of some.

The intent is to urge a cessation of whining about the lack of further development of the V system. It is what it it is. Use it. Enjoy it as it is.

Dead-end (not "dead"), generally means no more further development ... and waining supplies of new system components ... which is already happening. How you take "dead-end" is up to you.

The Contax 645 was a dead-end system even before it completely stopped production. Doesn't mean it can't do today and tomorrow exactly what it did yesterday. However, it will not get any better as a camera for what it was designed to do. That once exclusive MF Auto Focus modular camera is now the slowest.

I agree that the V is a fabulous system, but for the most part it is a Rube Goldberg proposition as far as digital is concerned. The most advanced back is reduced to a Flintstone device via reliance on sync cord. The CFV was a revelation, but where is the larger sensor version? The crop frame sensor restriction reduces that huge lens selection that you tout down to one with virtually no wide angle coverage.

I agree that people did just fine before all the advancements, and I include myself among them. I also did fine getting places by walking before I learned to drive. Now I can go further in the same amount of time. But I still enjoy walking for the same reasons I enjoy shooting with a V : -)

Things that are necessary and things that we desire are two different things. Using the "necessary" logic would argue that you don't need a V camera either. People also did fine before it came along ... mighty fine in fact.

Both my H3Ds take film backs, as does H2 and H1s. The latest H3D-II cameras do not. The H2F is offered for that purpose ... just like a Canon 1DsMKIII or Nikon D3 doesn't shoot film, but your Nikon or Canon system isn't a dead-end for film: F6/EOS1V. If no one buys this film stuff then it's the consumer that killed it, not the companies that make them.

Stop with the whining about gear already. Get out and shoot : -)
Hi Marc,

> Stop with the whining about gear already. Get out and shoot : -)

Woah, there bubba...don't include me in any whining about the V system. I haven't whined one bit (no pun intended).

I'm elated that the H system is out (and for digital in general) since it has depressed the V series and other film cameras prices significantly...such that I can now own cameras that I've always wanted to for a lot less dough.

Dead-end to me means it doesn't go anywhere, you'll be stuck at the end if you go down that road. I never heard that term until the digirati needed justification for digital over film. When the EOS system came out, I don't recall anyone saying the FD system was a "dead-end". All of a sudden, film cameras are a "dead-end".

It's not a term, that in my opinion, describes the state of the Canon FD system, nor the Hasselblad V system, nor even the Contax 645 system (which is admittedly quite limited AND superb). Using the term "dead-end" is rhetoric IMO. Saying a system is pretty much out of production, or out of production, or nearing the end of it's production cycle or something of that like is factual, instead of rhetoric.

Thank goodness I have all these "dead-end" cameras/systems to choose from...Hasselblad 205, 500, 2003, Plaubel Makina 670, Rollei GX, 2.8C, 6008i, Fuji GS645... Is a camera without interchangeable lenses a dead-end? Just curious ;-)

Personally, I wouldn't gain much of anything by shooting MF digital (unlike a professional), in fact, it would complicate my life. But I do gain a thing by driving, and I wouldn't gain a thing by getting a Harrier (OK, *I* would, but most people wouldn't). Sometimes things (or methods) are just good enough for the purpose they were made for. But not every thing/method is the best for everyone.



I think the "whining" you are talking about, most of the time is just an effect of fear that the equipment people love will not be there anymore. I myself am starting to see this.

I got into photography in the digital era. I have only had dslr's before I bought my V. I have never enjoyed photographing more. I never use my canon anymore. I feel like the camera is doing all the work for me. It's not fun. Even though I "grew up" with digital and will never shoot film ever, the V still has an appeal to me.

I don't necessarily think this appeal is restricted to nostalgia. I love it every time I have to wind the cwd. I love popping up the viewfinder. I love the modular design which I think, in many ways, is much more forward oriented than people give it credit for. It gives you flexibility and helps you utilize the latest digital technology without havig to scrap the whole expensive camera body etc. However, this is probably not preferable from a manufacturing point of view.

I am, like many, afraid that products that have this special appeal (not limited to Hasselblad) will vanish from the market completely and we will be left with digital SLR's that we don't enjoy using. If someone is whining, it is most likely a plea to the camera industry to remember this small, un-capitalizable market. Many of us turn a blind eye to the fact that very few buy these products, see what we see, and in this day and age, we are not a group worth hanging onto. Bad luck guys.

Like Marc said: I'll get out and shoot. Cry later...
Then again, one can hope that our market share will expand again given the general rise in photography consumerism.

Take for ex&le Porsche. They offer the Turbo. It's the fastest, most expensive and "best" car. However they also offer the GT3 RS, which is completely different. Driving performance vs. driving experience. One can hope that we will see a parallel in the camera industry.
My initial response wasn't in answer to anything you posted Austin. I don't recall you waxing poetically for the good old future of the V. You seem content with it as is ... as quite frankly am I ... except for one simple thing ... a 22 meg 49 wide sensor in the CFV housing. No data buss, no LCDs, nothing ... just a CFV with it's simple trigger that eliminates sync cords.

But I just won't whine about it anymore. The V is what it is.
Hi Marc,

> My initial response wasn't in answer to anything you posted Austin.

I understand that.

> I don't recall you waxing poetically for the good old future
> of the V.

I don't recall that either ;-)

> You seem content with it as is ...

Yes, I sure am. My one bag that contains a 205FCC w/ WLF, 80 FE, 50/2.8 FE, 110/2.0 FE, E12TCC and E24TCC back plus a spare battery and lense shades and caps for all, has me very happy, and not wanting for anything else. I don't need a longer lense (I'd use the EOS-1V if I wanted a longer lense). I don't need a wider lense (I'd use the SWA if I did, or the Canon EOS-1V). It's all in what I shoot...I don't shoot sports with the Hassy, so my use of MF is "limited" per se. I use the EOS-1V for sports and "quick" shooting. I don't need large format...I get enough out of the 6x6. In fact, when I was doing commercial work, I found the Hassy replaced LF for %90 of what I used LF for.

Now, understandably, others requirements may very well be, and probably are, what works for me, doesn't necessarily work for others. No problem there. I'm just glad I found something that works so well for me.

But, I also shoot with a Rollei 2.8GX when I don't want to schlog the Hasselblad around...the GX is smaller and lighter, and gives equally as wonderful images. It's just not as versatile in some ways, but more versatile in others. But, I adapt to the camera I have on hand. That, plus having decent tools, is the key to photogear happiness, IMO.


Funny that you mention the Rollei Austin. If I wax nostalgic and day dream about anything, it's something like that. A dead-end trail I wouldn't mind traveling down : -)
I suppose I should respond because it was my words that Marc used in his somewhat blunt and hammering statement about 'whining'. I am not that offended to be called a 'whiner', as I really don't care that much, but I do think that the point has been missed.

The situation for pros is different, Marc. This is self evident, and very few people would dispute it in any profession!

Marcus posted about Hasselblad's approach. I merely suggested that a traditional market is going/gone because of the cost of the H system. I didn't comment on whether the high cost was inevitable or not (although even Marc has baulked at the upgrade price from H3D to H3D-II).

Will this be a problem for Hasselblad when all the fashion photographers have H-series cameras? Or is that enough, or are they inflating prices to compensate knowing pros will pay? Who knows?

I am not 'whining' about it, as if the worse comes to the worst, then I can use my back up 1967 film back on my back up 1971 500CM...

The 'rich dentist' came from someone working for the Leica distributor years ago. He said that their main market was 'rich dentists'. With a smile, and not only including dentists, of course, just cashed-up enthusiasts.

Not many of this group wanting new digital camera gear as a treat are likely to be buying H3s and thus Hasselblad's future. Perhaps a CFV, but if and when that has gone, then...
Not referencing anyone in particular Nick, as I have been known to whine a bit myself about the V system. Thinking collectively not individually.

Here is a prediction: We can come back to it a few years from now and see how accurate I was :)

By 2009 there will be a 6X6 Dalsa chip. Sinar will be the first one on the block to offer it in a Hy6 digital back.

Hasselblad will stick with a 645 sensor and increase to a full 645 with over 50 meg. They will use integration and software solutions to further increase the performance of the cameras ... making them faster and more bullet proof to use .... while improving the image quality.

Kodak will also offer a 6x6 chip. If they do not sell off Leaf before hand, the Leaf Hy6 will use this new Kodak chip. It will feature a new technological approach and blow the roof off of resolution as it is thought of now. It will be more expensive that the Dalsa 6X6.

None of these backs will work on a Hasselblad V camera. They will all be too integration dependent to function properly without lens and camera data.

The impending cooperative between Mamiya and Phase One is the wild card.

let the games begin.
Hi Marc,

> Funny that you mention the Rollei Austin. If I wax nostalgic and
> day dream about anything, it's something like that. A dead-end
> trail I wouldn't mind traveling down : -)

Funny thing about those damned Rolleis (2.8C and beyond, specifically the 2.8GX). They take every bit as good an image (technically that is) as any photographic instrument out there. They still never cease to amaze me...even though something like the 2.8C was made before I was born. That's why I love taking those old "box" cameras out every now and then, and, travel down that dead-end road. It's a lot more fun, at least to me, than spinning with the h&sters ;-)