What Matters About Hasselblad in 2022
Hasselblad is announcing a new camera today
Let’s be honest. There are some of you out there who felt this was becoming a remote possibility.
Doubt had crept in.
But things have changed in the photographic industry. Professional camera updates no longer happen every 14 months. They are more often every 30 – 40 months. As a result, depending upon when your product landed, it may be shortly seen as behind the times as competitors update their models. And then when year one goes by and year two goes by and year three starts in, it becomes easy to start wondering what is happening. But that is the new pace of product launches in our industry. So … you have to be patient! I know that’s tough to do. Today, your patience is rewarded with not just a brand new camera, but 3 lenses on top of it. Oh, ye of little faith ….
What does Hasselblad mean to me?
Hasselblad as a brand, as a product line, as a company of professionals, has meant a lot to me over the years. In 1997, I began working for Imacon, makers of the Flextight Scanners. I was previously part of Umax, working as a field training specialist. Most of the personnel that made up Imacon USA came from Umax. And when Imacon and Hasselblad merged, Imacon personnel essentially became Hasselblad. Kind of like Fleetwood Mac. I ultimately departed to work on the dealer side of the industry where I happily reside today.
At the dealer level, I haven’t always sold Phase One. At one point, before joining Capture integration 13 years ago, I exclusively sold Hasselblad, Leaf, and Sinar digital systems, no Phase One. In fact, when I began selling Phase One at Capture Integration, some said I was going to the dark side. But we soon added Hasselblad to our product mix, and the light was then evenly distributed.
As a result of all this history, I’ve had a close working relationship with Hasselblad over many years. I value their contributions to our industry highly.
Is the X2D Really a Big Deal? And if so, why?
Today we live in a time of entrenched product design vapidity. Everything is made to look as innocuous and familiar as possible. New design isn’t re-imagined, old design is tweaked. It’s almost like the planning involves making the camera as close as possible to the previous iteration, not just the hardware ergonomics, but the user interface (software) as well. It’s like we’re stuck in a time warp from 1995. The spec sheets advance forward, more of this, better at that, but this all seems to get stuffed into the same system.
One could say this has always been the case, but it feels more so today. It feels intentional, like it is a pragmatic business model. Many industries reflect this. Where you do see new design, it frequently feels artificially created to address only cosmetic attraction, often while function takes a step backward.
We certainly see this static same ole same ole in the photographic industry. But in the camera segment, there is at least one exception.
The original X1D was a camera for very, very methodical, patient to a fault photographers. There was a responsiveness issue. And yet, even the original X1D started something. It was a beautiful camera to look at, with a unique design aesthetic. And the color from those files – even though that same 50mp sensor was used in numerous other manufacturers cameras – was wonderful. And unique. And very very difficult to reproduce elsewhere. And the X2D brings all the good things forward and gives you the camera you really wanted all along.
Like most cameras, the X2D has a hand grip, a viewfinder, an LCD screen. But in a very critical manner it doesn’t really resemble any other camera on the market. While most professional cameras on the market are actually made of metal, they appear to be made of plastic. The X1D does not appear to be made of plastic. All the components are of a very high quality, and you are tangibly aware of that. It’s like shooting with a fine watch. Or like driving a beautiful car.
If it only looked pretty, that would be one thing, But much the same as some of the transcendent products from Apple married design to function, so does the Hasselblad X series. From all accounts, the hand grip is amazing. A camera hand grip is one of the most challenging aspects of a camera to design. And yet, somehow, with so many different hands in the world, the X2D hand grip is so comfortable, and so right feeling. The 4 simple buttons to the right of the LCD screen move clearly to functionality and to the user interface. Similarly to Apple, the user interface is one that feels intuitive, easy to use and understand – user manual very optional – and yet has a gorgeousness to it that is found lacking in almost every other camera in the marketplace. In a word, it feels modern and looks great. And you wonder why does no one else do this?
So now you have so many new features that are built into this wonderfulness. 100mp. 5.76 million dot EVF. PDAF. 7 stop IBIS. There’s a lot more, those are just headlines. Am I being a bit silly about this camera? I’m guilty. But I believe that it has importance to our industry.
We Need Hasselblad
Victor Hasselblad left Hasselblad in 1976. Since then, a myriad of random investment firms jumped into periods of ownership, and today, DJI is the steward of Hasselblad. Some may think that a good thing, some a bad thing. But unlike typical investment firms, DJI is not an investor whose sole interest is profit. They own Hasselblad and they have their own technology to pool from to help support the future of Hasselblad, while certainly Hasselblad offers some technology in return to DJI products. And Hasselblad today is a profitable company. That is a big deal!
But whatever you think of the fact that Victor Hasselblad has departed, an industry without the ethos of a Hasselblad camera is a lesser industry. If Hasselblad produced products that were meaningless, then ok, but they don’t! They produce products that are unique, are desirable, that create beautiful imagery. Yes, they use the same core components as other cameras, the same EVF, the same cmos sensor …. But they’re not the same. The user experience is vastly different. And even the images, with that Hasselblad color, are uniquely different.
Don’t you get tired of shooting with the same camera that hundreds of thousands of other photographers use, and that looks the same as the camera that well, hundreds of thousands of other photographers use? Remember, Apple once had a campaign, Think Different. Whatever you think of Apple today, the genesis of that campaign had tremendous merit. If you feel the same way, you owe it to yourself to own a Hasselblad.
Feel free to reach out!