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Planet V Hasselbladbs commitment to the V series


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I suppose that most have received Hasselblad's email and link to the V series "Planet V" site.

It's an interesting initiative I suppose designed to promote the company's commitment to its legacy V series system and the current digital offering - the CFV.

While the site is a bit "thin on content" it pushes the CFV back and includes a contribution by Marc Williams. I think Marc mentioned he was doing that some time ago.

Anyway for those who've not seen the site yet here is the link:
Realistically, how much commitment to the V series can we expect from Hasselblad?

Remember that, ultimately, the company has to make decisions that are in the best interest of its shareholders, balancing short term profit and long term growth.

We can all see that film-based photography is rapidly reducing to a niche that, eventually, will be so small as to be not viable for a large company like Hasselblad.

I own a lot of a V series equipment, the largest single investment I have ever made except for house and car. And, it has served me well for 10 years. But the photography equipment industry is going through a "sea change". Much as I would like them to, I don't think that I can expect Hasselblad to continue to support and develop an equipment range that is rapidly heading for the museum.

I was very pleased, and somewhat grateful, when Hasselblad announced the CFV back. Here was a chance to prolong the life of my investment for another 2 to 3 years at a not-too-unreasonable price.

But, I am not kidding myself. This is not a reprieve for the V Series. I seriously doubt, and certainly don't expect, that Hasselblad will be putting much more R&D effort into this range. The CFV has prolonged the life of the V Series. But, I reckon that Hasselblad's strategy is to bring as many V Series users into the digital world so they can be converted to the H Series in the not-too-distant future. I wont be holding my breath waiting for bigger and better digital backs for the V Series.

Instead, I will enjoy another couple of years with my 205FCC while planning the eventual and inevitable migration to the H Series.

Of course, I may be wrong....
Well, Hasselblad could release new digibacks for the V-series for not too high an incremental investment to them. What I mean is: much of the development engineering work has already been done for the H-series.

So creating a CFV-next-generation could leverage much of the $$ already spent on the H-backs. Using that approach would keep V-series owners onboard until they are willing to bite the bullet for the collosal expense of a state of the art H-series. That might give Hasselblad excellent return on (limited incremental) investment.

Folks who want all the automation the H-series offers would go to H anyway. The others remain on V and spend nice money on V digibacks. Always better than to have them jump ship to Mamiya or (heaven forbid) Canon.

Wilko (who's been talking to marketing people too much maybe? ;-)
I agree with Wilko. It is not unusual for a company to profit from updating older models of their products ... as long as there is a viable market out there.

I doubt the current 22 meg sensors will be in hot demand among pros (except the multi-shot versions) as more and more of the 30+ meg backs get out into the market. Yet the technology is already there ... and a good place to use it would be to upgrade.

I would be pleasantly surprised if a new CFV with a larger square sensor was offered. But I doubt it. More likely a current 22 meg sensor would be employed ... which begs the question how one would use a CFV in portrait orientation? A dual mount perhaps like those that exist for other backs? That would look weird.
While Wilko has been talking to too many CMOs, I have been talking to too many CEOs. <s>

The CEO must be more worried about return on investment, so he has to also listen to his CFO.

We do not have enough information to second-guess what the CEO, CMO and CFO are going to decide. For ex&le, we would need to know current sales volumes and sales projections of 503s and associated accessories and lenses. If these sales were healthy and looked to continue for a while, then some investment in a better digital back might be justified to boost those sales. But, if sales on V Series were dwindling, it would be hard to justify the R&D and associated marketing costs to develop and release a better back. The CFO could well counter the CMO by saying that the CFV will hold the V Series users to the brand for long enough to get the majority of those who are potential convertees to switch to the H Series.

As always, it'll be interesting to see what happens.

But don't be disappointed, and certainly don't feel abandoned, if no new V Series digital back appears from Hasselblad. Instead, be grateful that the CFV extended your investment and start saving for the inevitable H migration. It is all part and parcel of living in the high-tech world...

G'Day Wilko:

I think you are probably right - that the V Series is being "digitised" to a point where what we call "creeping incrementalism" will take care of the rest and then the next step will be the H series, which by then will have an easier step up to platform/price.

However, there are two big hurdles, I think.

One is a 'price point' issue where even the well-to-do will say 'no more'. (I'm not talking pro or even semi-pro who is using it as an income maker - if necessary I would invest $100K+ in the latest and greatest H series bundle to be competitive; it's a cost of doing business). I refer to that "us" mixture of genuine serious amateurs, or "wanna be"s, or 'he makes good pictures, I'll get one of those cameras' types. Some of us, even, have been V owners and users for longer than many Hasselblad execs have been alive! We like the way the V series "IS". (In the same way I treasure my M3 and lenses.)

The second issue is: assume we do fall to the 'creeping' strategy. Then what for our collections of superb lenses and accessories, and perhaps still Mint(-) bodies and finders which are still at the pinnacle of analog photography and adaptable to digibacks. Particularly because the present trend to go to a H which will not be a platform for V lenses does not fit with Victor Hasselblad's brilliant system design.

I know that we present V users are thought to be a 'dying breed' (in more ways than one), but when I see art school students carrying around 501CMs and some CF lenses, I see young people using superb equipment to hopefully create great images. (Sure, they can text messages one handed, and assemble motherboards in a changing bag. But they are 'learning the craft' the right way.)

And I don't subscribe to the theory that film will not be available. It may not be at your corner store, but there is always the Internet. You've seen what is happening with new film product, and with the 'rebirth' of Ilford and others. Linhof, Wisner, and co. have not folded.

But enough of this soapbox stuff. You are probably right.

BTW, I read the other day about a young child who after school told her parents they "played with antiques today" but she couldn't remember the name of the antique. Her mother wondered what antique furniture could stand up to youngsters. When she visited the school next day, she saw three IBM Electric typewriters.

Cheers, Wilko. Happy Shooting.

Perhaps at Hasselblad they do not understand that a lot of poeple prefers V serie not only because of the prize.

The H serie is better than Canon or Nikon. But I do not want the Canon nor Nikon. I want the pleasure to take pictures with V serie: Wide sceen, easy manual focusing on what I want and perfect in hand and no intrusive help.

Rollei will propose something alike soon, lets see. what will happen.
I know my former post has a lot of wishful thinking but the more I scan posts in every medium format forum, I find I'm not alone.

I concour with with Isidor and not with Peter. We, the photographers that enjoy the V system for certain types of photography, like this system, exactly because it lacks the bells and whistles of the H system or modern dslr's like Canons and Nikons. Besides, the square body allows for 2 important things to happen: No turning-the camera and the all-time use of the WLF.

A 645 body no matter how sophisticated and modern was, can't provide this level of practicality and convenience, period. It's like a sportscar with no trunk.
If the old Hasselblad sold half a million V systems (I'm not sure if they mean just bodies or bodies and lenses) sure there are at least a 10% of those in proper working conditions. Let's see: 50,000 times $10K is $500,000,000.00 usd of possible gross income just manufacturing the right back at the right price at the right time. If these figures are not enticing, Bill Gates is just a preppy.

For Peter: I think that if you need more automation than the FCC provides, you should get a Hy6, not an H body.

Regards all
Marc, I read your evaluation of the CFV in the Planet V material - nice one.

With regard to the potential for another CFV back to be released I also do not agree with Peter. The business case is as simple as Marc said - the R&D has been done. All they need to recoup is the manufacturing costs and some more. So if the 16MP back was profitable for Hasselblad, then they are more likely to release a 22MP back.

Keep in mind that while we were all delighted that the CFV 16MP back was released; it too needed little R&D money. So a 22MP back is an even easier decision.

Hasselblad wants volume - if it can get that without added R&D costs all the better. So it will target all relevant market segments - the legacy V series is a big niche segment!

And Hasselblad must know that the traditional mechanical / electro-mechanical product markets are very limited and may even be dying. But they must also still be sizeable (like someone said earlier) - users who want more contemplative photography for whatever reason.

I am also mindful that I have read all sorts of reports that 4x5 film sales have been on the rise in the past 6 months, and MF film sales seem to have stabilised. Gee would Fuji bother to reformulate Velvia 50 with new chemicals for reasons of: "our customers wanted us to re-introduce Velvia 50 in addition to the new Velvia 100F"?
Hi Marc,

I think the major question is what a 22MP digiback would cost. 22MP might be enough or more than enough for a lot of work. Such a tiered approach, for the right price, is likely to attract enough customers to make it commercially viable for Hasselblad. As for portrait orientation: 90degr finder and camera on its side? Not perfect but on tripod quite viable, especially in a studio.

I think that setting up the "V-Planet" is a sign that there is still some commitment from Hasselblad regarding the V-series. If they are making money with the current CFV back there is no reason why they should not be making money with a larger square sensor CFV Mk.II. The sensor for that will be available if we believe the Hy6 marketing. Prolonging the life of the V-series also means additional income from the service departments. And there are many more V-series cameras out there than H-cameras will ever be made.

I hope that this is not too much wishful thinking.

Judging by the responses, I feel that some readers misinterpreted my comments above.

I am NOT advocating that Hasselblad slowly fade away from the V Series, release nothing further than the CFV and encourage the bulk of current V Series users to migrate to H Series. What I was doing was trying to second-guess what might be going on in the minds of Hasselblad executives. Cold, hard market analysis and financial projections may well lead them to these type of conclusions. Sad for some, maybe, but quite possible.

I love my V Series camera. I am not seeking "more automation" as someone suggested. I'd be happy if I could continue to use my current camera and accessories for the next 10 years. Maybe I can do that with the current CFV back. Maybe not. Maybe the lure of more pixels will push me towards the H Series. Or, if Hasselblad do release a CFV MkII, I may well be a potential customer. This discussion is not about me and my wants, feelings and hopes. It is about what Hasselblad might do.

As I have said above, I would not be surprised if we do not see any more V Series products released. Maybe the Hasselblad execs have calculated that they can nurture enough V Series users across to H Series to make that the optimal strategy.

Or, they might calculate that there is still a big market for new and improved V Series components. But I somehow doubt it.

And, while I understand the emotional attachment of the V Series population, I would not criticise Hasselblad whichever way they go. Business decisions are business decisions...

None of the Hy6 hype I've read has never mentioned a larger "square" sensor, just that the camera will be able to accommodate a larger digital sensor. None of the MF back makers actually make the sensors, Kodak and Dalsa do. It will depend on what they bring forth for the back makers to take advantage of.

As one who has invested heavily in digital technology, I can say that the camera and back are almost secondary. Before investing, it is wise to investigate the support system that's in place to draw upon ... and draw upon it you will... as the ongoing developments, firmware, software, and tech support associated with operating these "computerized cameras is a key element.

IMO, Rollie and some of the other Hy6 systems cameras will need to significantly r& up their depleted support systems ( at least in the USA ).

The notion that a square format is easier to use than a 645 is of course personal opinion. I personally like the square for composition, but find the effort required to turn a 645 into portrait orientation next to nothing.

As Wilco said, "22 meg might be enough for a lot of work". Having worked with a 22 meg back for a good deal of shots, I can endorse that.

If one of the sensor makers does develop a larger square sensor, I really doubt it will be anywhere as inexpensive as using the current 22 meg rectangle sensor ... and those here that want a more reasonable cost will be grousing about the very thing they wished for. Hope I am wrong, but I doubt it.

That leaves us with the one question of how a CFV back would utilize a 22 meg rectangle in portrait mode. The only practical solution is a rotating back ... which the Rollie design has and a V camera does not.

However, Hasselblad designed the ingenious CF adapter to use 500 series V lenses on an H camera, so maybe they can solve this problem also.
@ Ulrik

I believe , as soon as a bigger square sensor is on the market , 42x42 or even 48x48 , then there will also be a new digital back for the V-SYSTEM
If HASSELBLAD will not make it , others will do .

Regards Jürgen
@ Marc,
the press release from Franke and Heidecke explicitly mentions future high-resolution 48 x 48 mm digital backs. As this Hy6 project is a collaboration with Sinar it should not be too unrealistic.

G'Day Y'all:

I am not a 'flat-earther'. Eventually, we will all drive a horseless carriage.

However, if there are the big numbers of working V systems already out there as suggested in this forum, and Hasselblad could turn out a V System compatible improved square sensor back, wouldn't that be a feasible business strategy, and end-user friendly plan ?

I might add, it would also give comfort to the H users, who could then be somewhat assured that the H series would be upgraded - and not made obsolete in a few years. Like, G series, anyone?
(BTW, Fiction - no emails please.)

Hmmm, let's see. Keep all my V series system, and spend ~$10,000 for a great new digiback, or ditch all my kit for peanuts, and spend ~$50,000 to upgrade with a digi-body and a couple of lenses - with a performance level I don't truly need.



@ Simon: Brisbane, Charleston, Brisbane, Charleston ... beautiful one day perfect the next.
Thank you for the update Ulrik.

48X48 would be a welcome development.

Gotta get going on designing my "It's Hip to be Square" (C), logo and T-Shirt line : -)
> Gotta get going on designing my "It's Hip to be Square" (C), logo
> and T-Shirt line : -)

I would buy one. Maybe Hasselblad should supply them with every CFV Mk.I or II. And add a voucher for a CLA for one 500C-body and a chrome C-lens so that they work flawlessly with that digiback.


Oh yes please put me on your list for that T-Shirt . I prefer it in white and would need size XL