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Hasselblad CFV Digital Back CONTINUED


So, with Marc's nod and everybody's permission, I'll start this thread.

I still want to discuss and learn about the CFV. I may have one someday.

I hope Marc decides to participate.

And Gilbert, you are hilarious! Of course Marc is not a topic, He is Mr. Hasselblad.

Just kidding, just kidding, just kidding.

Best regards to all and thank you for your knowledge, time, concern and good will.

And Gilbert, you are hilarious!>

Thanks Eduardo, your not bad yourself.

Life is awfully tough without a sense of humor! It can do wonders for your health, and other things!


A few things arise from the past few days' postings.

Peter - thanks for mentioning the "sling-shot" back-pack. It seemed a neat idea and helps to hear how effective it is in the field.

Colin - "down there for dancing"
Be careful, dancing can lead to sex!

Gilbert - yes I used to scan the refurbished Hassy gear web page regularly. I believe it was a Hasselblad USA initiative. Shame it disappeared as you say.

Marc - With regard to Hasselblad's need for a genuine customer focus; IMHO it is critical that they select and support channel partners (dealres etc) whose attributes match that customer focus - just like your own experience and relationship with the dealer you buy from.

In my consulting practice, we refer to customers wants as being of 2 types - needs and expectations. These 2 are very different things, and it is when manufacturers and service providers understand that distinction, that they become TRULY customer focused.

Firstly, needs are the "not negotiable" factors customers seek. As an illustration; when buying a car a potential customer is initially seeking attributes like 4 doors, 5 star safety, 3 year warranty, air-con, leather seats, etc etc……..and no car is on his shopping list unless these are 100% satisfied.

Secondly, expectations are more complex. The customer has brand images and marketing elements in his head that set certain expectations that he wants fulfilled. Manufacturers and even their customers and market-place perceptions set these expectations. In the car ex&le these may be: outstanding fit and finish / engineering; performance beyond getting him from a to b and other more experiential elements.

So, when he goes to buy a car his experience in the show-room from the moment he steps inside begins to send message to him about his expectations: how he is greeted; the characteristics of the sales person; the sales process he go through; his sense of the dealerships/brand's attitudes; how the car is presented to him ……..the list goes on.

In Oz, BMW and Porsche began hiring university graduates as sales staff, rather than continuing to hire low educated fast talkers - why? Because their potential buyers have a profile that connects better with these type of sales staff (yes they still must have sales skills).

Then of course there is the customer experience life-cycle - what happens after he buys and becomes a customer - the things that clash or fit with those expectations - servicing of the car; facilities offered…. That list goes on. That part of the customer's life cycle has enormous impact on the customers' re-buy rate; defection rate; long term customer value…….the chances he will buy the next car from the same manufacture as well as the same dealer.

Customer life cycle value is not well understood by many large companies - self-serving cost cutting often adversely affects the customers' long term value. In work we did with 1 major European car manufacturer here (as a concept trial) has become their world-wide model. The man buying a $40k car is not a $40k customer - he may potentially be a $240k customer - more than 1 car; servicing; tyres; repairs etc etc. The margin on new cars is horribly low across the inductry - the real profit lies in the other services and products the dealer sells.

The banks know now that they need to retain a new home loan customer x number of years to make a full contribution margin. BUT, it is the post home loan deal transactional relationship that kills the relationship early - seeing customers on average switch home loans well inside the 10 year mark!

I really doubt that companies like Hasselblad truly understand this and manage their product strategies (development, pricing, support etc); nor do they actively manage their channels according to this.

Marc correctly pointed out the STUPIDITY of Canon's "pro-customer" program, which requires us to give them details of our business in addition to owning a minimum quantity of pro-cameras and L series lenses. How STUPID - I am not a pro but I own a pro-body and 3 L series lenses. But I did not qualify. So I get their message - the are not interested in "customer value" just professional labels!

Colin and Marc discussed the issue of "entry level products" - a VIP product strategy. These are not just about discounting for some class of customer. It should be an integrated part of the product life-cycle. To illustrate my point I refer to the CFV - 16MP digital capture. Now that it is beginning to get close to repaying R&D and tooling investments (IMHO it must be somewhere near that, but I'm sure you'll get my point anyway), this product SHOULD be ripe for an "entry level" status. It should be price-pointed accordingly maybe even in bundled arrangements enabling students and committed amateurs to get on board the digi-MF-train!

And as a part of a true product strategy the timing of the "entry-level" price-pointing should be matched by the release of the CFV v2, say a 22MP version and the product cycle continues on.

I'm sure some will think the CFV is already an "entry level" digi-MF product; maybe theoretically it is due to its comparative cost to the H series digi-backs. BUT, that is NOT a true entry level product / approach IMHO. The actual effective "entry-level" price-point will typically be well below that necessary to return a contribution margin necessary in the first years of its life-cycle (I don't know what Hasselblad uses as it number of years for R&D / tooling pay-back period). I am sure market research would prove that the price-point necessary for "entry-level" volume sales in the serious amateur market segment would be much lower - maybe $5k or less. Clever companies find a relevant benchmark as a guide. Maybe a quality full frame 35mm DSLR is the price point benchmark! Whatever, the conceptual point remains.

So while the likes of Hasselblad have resorted to downsizing to survive; they'd do well to apply much cleverer intellectual rigour to their business. Sadly companies like Hasselblad, Leica and many many others with excellent brands, are product and manufacturing focused and often forget their reason for being in business in the first place - they need customers to buy their products!

Thanks for your interesting commentary on customer management. As a fellow consultant, I heartily concur. This is a very similar message that I give my clients, especially those in the services industries.

However, for the sake of discussion, I am wondering if these concepts apply so completely to a company like Hasselblad. Maybe, as long as they are at the forefront of research, design and engineering excellence, they can prosper with a less-than-stellar approach to customer service.

Side note: my personal experience with Hasselblad has always been excellent over many years, including recently. Their distributor in this part of the world, Shriro, always seem to do their best to respond to issues and questions. Hasselblad themselves have always been responsive and helpful. In the two incidences, once 10 years ago and once recently, when I had a significant problem, the issue was quickly escalated to senior Hasselblad management who personally supervised the resolution. Not many companies will do that.

But, back to the discussion.

When I bought my first Hasselblad some 10 years ago, I did not consider their customer service reputation in my purchasing decision. Maybe I had some unstated expectations. But service certainly was not a buying factor. I bought Hasselblad because the design and quality of their products was the best. When I made my recent decision to invest in the CFV, my primary consideration was the quality of the images that it would be able to produce.

One factor which must be playing havoc with decision-making across the photographic industry is the migration to digital. It represents a huge industry shift and will continue to shake out players who make the wrong moves. Hasselblad, with the Imacon merger, the H series, and the release of the CFV, seem to be doing some things right. Whether it is enough, only time will tell.

Maybe the mainstream car industry is not a good comparison for the top-end professional camera industry. The car industry has, over recent years, reduced its differentiation through product excellence. These days, the product differences between the quality, features, safety, etc of a Ford and a Mercedes are not huge. Car manufacturing has mainly become a commodity business. Therefore, the car industry has focused on brand image (marketing) and customer service as key differentiators.

But Hasselblad is not in a commodity business. They are a niche player focussed on a special segment of the photography industry. The customers in this niche segment value product quality above all else.

Could Hasselblad do better at customer management and do more to look after their existing customer base? Probably. Assuming they have a limited budget to spend on the various elements that are required to continue their success, would we want to see them move their investment away from R&D and engineering to fund better customer service? Probably not. Given that the owners are not milking the demise of the brand, it is in the interest of the Hasselblad user community that they invest their budgets in areas that are more likely to ensure their long term survival: product innovation and excellence.

Of course, if Hasselblad were to allow their customer service to fall below acceptable levels for their customer base, they would put their future revenue stream into jeopardy. But, as long as they keep a reasonable level of customer service and continue to produce top-quality, reliable, state-of-the-art equipment, they should be able to prosper.

G'day Simon:

Well put.

Any 16MP CFV Phase II marketing plan should be for a package (or back) focused as the student, new graduate, pro-am, product.

In the convenient automotive analogy - Mercedes 'C' Class. Not the mega dollar 'S' Class. But Mercedes nevertheless, in 'family' design, brand image, expectation, performance, and 'upgradeabilty'. Then, for the years ahead, market the 'big brothers' to that new group. (Or BMW 3-5-7 class etc etc. BTW, I have no bias to Mercedes as I have a Volvo ... oops they have 40,60,70, 80, wagon, SUV. How clever.

The alternative, of course, is to be 'Rolls Royce' in nature - just the top end, produce restricted numbers, take the reduced sales, (and seek government assistance.)

As for the newer 22+MP, I think many of the existing CFV pro owners will naturally move over without too much of a push ... wishing to keep at the leading edge for commercial reasons.

And HB needs to find a good leasing/financing company to support the student/graduate/proam buyers.

Doubt any of this will happen ... we're pi**ing into the wind, I think.

Meanwhile, I must leave now for a day trip in my aged but reliable CFV16 ... err, V70.


Cheers, Colin
Needs and expectations. To that I would add desires.

I need a camera to reliably take excellent images. When buying a top brand of camera my expectation is that it will do that. However, I desire more. Things we desire, but don't absolutely need, is partially what is causing a bit of a divide in the photographic world of digital capture.

Simon desires a MF digital back priced @ $5,000. He doesn't need that since he is fine shooting film and his expectations of Hasselblad are fulfilled. Simon has a desire threshold based on what it would be worth to him to transform his Hasselblad to MF digital.

Our analysis of entry level is based on old models of marketing. Students and beginning photographers don't buy this expensive gear, they rent it, or use the school's gear. Rental houses and Institutions are a major source of sales for this digital gear. That option is available to anyone. So, convenience plays a role. We want our toys available when we want them. That's a desire, not a need.

Private ownership, as we knew it, is migrating to those with the volume of paying work to justify it. This is based on need. Anyone doing commercial photography needs digital. For them there is an expectation of "assistance" from the company to keep them current. Hasselblad, as well as other MF back makers, recognize this and offer a reasonable path to upgrades ... and in the case of Hasselblad a nice "loyalty" discount.

Service. As we all know, there will be more pressure on any high end brand in any category based on Simon's "needs and expectations". While everyone desires quick turn around, not everyone needs it. We democratically desire it, after all, Jurgen paid as much as I did for his CFV. But if his back is out of commission, he may be disappointed, but not out of business as a result.

So Peter's analysis is germane to those with a CFV for personal work ... a reasonable level of customer service. "Reasonable" is the sticking point for many because we apply the democratic principle where all needs are equal ... when in reality they are not.

For me that need is so important that I paid a premium for a manufacturers Hot Swap "insurance policy" on two of my backs ... to make absolutely sure I will never fail my clients no matter what. Democratically, this Hot Swap feature is available too anyone, but again it comes down to real need and that threshold of what it's really worth.

Based on my need set, two brands have come to the forefront and others have fallen to the wayside. When I MUST have the images, I count on Canon and Hasselblad's most current offerings. Contax failed that test, and I wasn't the only victim, to the degree that they are gone. Leica is failing for me. Once when I was all film it was the "go to camera". I never had product issues. My MP3 follows in that tradition, but subsequent lenses and cameras (M8) do not. Neither my needs for product performance nor my expectations of high level service are being met. I fear they are overwhelmed ... to the point I fear sending them anything to be fixed since it's a crap shoot, and their communication is deplorable.

Hasselblads first MF digital attempts were faltering, and it was a very close horse race for me whether I'd remain with them. However, they rose to the occasion in short order with excellent service and vastly improved products ... including the concept of totally integrated systems. The reliability of the H system for me now rivals that of the older V system and the performance expectations I had of it.

So for me, the company has responded to needs (not 100% obviously), and the choice of dealer played a role in that perception. I don't talk to Hasselblad, he does. I'd never buy one of these backs through a mass retailer ever again (did once, and it was a train wreak of an experience).
Very interesting thread. It seems to me that the key idea in terms of how one reacts to cameras is based on expectations. Expectations that needs will be fulfilled, and desires met. I bought a new Leica M6 about 10 years ago. The first thing I noticed was the hot shoe looked as if it was misaligned. This was a big deal to me since I have a 21mm lens and use an external viewfinder for it. I checked the vf image against the image the lens saw and sure enough they were different. Since I had had other older Ms all of which were perfect I contacted the dealer and said I wanted a replacement. They and particularly Leica UK tried to suggest that they couldn't have produced a camera with a misaligned vf and somehow I was being too picky. After I insisted on a replacement, pointing out how I had arrived at my conclusion, I got one and lo the hot shoe was correctly aligned. My expectations of Leica changed as a result, to the extent that when M8 problems surface I don't believe the idea that they are somehow due to user error. I'm particularly surprised by the number of reports of back and front-focussing with new lenses and the arcane discussion of focus shift as a function of aperture. I expect products marketed and priced as high quality to behave in a quality way, and if they don't I won't buy them. I was interested in an M8 but now I'm more likely to get a CFV for my Hasselblad if the price drops.

That's exactly the issues I'm experiencing with the M8 and newer lenses Nik. I accept the IR issue, and have filters for the lenses.

But when a new 50/1.4 Asph cannot achieve critical focus (bench tested on a tripod), and after sending it to Leica for adjustment, only to have it return still unable to achieve critical focus at f/1.4 while my old 75/1.4 is spot on ... well, what the hell ...

The 50 has gone back to them again, and not a peep from Leica service. I don't even know if it's in their system. Pleading with them that I need this gear for summer wedding work fell on deaf ears ... the first time it took 8 weeks to get it back. Now another 8 weeks? Wedding season will be long over by then.

I've not recieved the free IR filters either.

Hasselblad service is a dream compared to that.
After all of that!

How about a reliable old Chevy with a trunk full of gear and nice dirt road?

Have fun!

Hello Gilbert,

I take it Chevy stands for film?

Film stands for fun without aggrevation.


Marc I feel for your aggravation...

To get back on topic the M8 was said by some to have a medium format quality to the files at low ISO. I wondered how you would characterise the image qualities of the CFV against the M8?

Nik, the M8 does produce nice files and Zealots have made all sorts of claims about mystically overcoming physics compared to MF. I think they are talking about MF film, not MF digital. Different people have different visual measurements which leads to subjective differences of opinion.

I do not confuse a M8 image with one from my Hasselblads ... film or digital.
Thanks for the responses guys. I've been out of action the past few days. Hope to add some comments in a day or 2.
This is my 4 year old daughter in Double Bay, Sydney.

I have been having some trouble with my viewfinder meter lately. It has been such a pleasure to take a guess about exposure and have it rapidly confirmed with the CFV.
Nice little lady.
I think she likes the camera and the camera likes her too.
Great shot from this model!