“Why is this particular camera so expensive?” Common question, right?
I personally would have to sit with you for a while to explain the details. That’s of course if I was well versed about that camera model and the manufacturers. Not to worry, the extensive research done by yours truly, won’t disappoint.
Before we get straight to discussing Hasselblad and what it’s all about, I think I should let you know about what these guys do. Ever heard of medium format cameras? Yes, these are not as great as their elder siblings, the full frame sensor. However, these have higher demand.
Hasselblad excels in producing medium format cameras. But I wouldn’t bother going deep into the details if these guys didn’t offer top notch quality. When they say PREMIUM, they really do mean it. The sensor, high-quality optics, and not to mention… the performance factors greatly justify the price tag.
Just so you know, more than 10 Hasselblad Cameras are being used on the surface of the moon. If you’re looking for quality that goes sky high, the prices won’t remain down to earth. Common sense, yes? Now for the details.
Table of Contents
A Bit of An Information Dump on Hasselblad
High-Quality images! Massive image size! 100mpx native! All that sounds pretty darn impressive. But all that wasn’t founded in a day. Hasselblad has a rich back history of 75 years. These guys are premium manufacturers who know their craft from scratch.
This Company believes in perfection. It’s embedded in their philosophy to launch products when they are ready and fully developed for the market. No time for trial and error. This is what sets them apart from many who claim to be their competitors.
The launch of the original X1D has a bit of story behind it. Based on the interview of Moebus, Hasselblad’s head of sales for Europe and MD of Germany, prior knowledge and experience was implemented in the new model. The improvement was heavily dependent on customer feedback.
Startup time, frame rate improvement, view finder technology, and various other aspects needed revision. Being the well renowned brand that they are, the guys at Hasselblad took everything bit by bit, yet ever so seriously.
Thus, the Mark II version was way better and enhanced. The improvements were visible and customer satisfaction was guaranteed. This example gives us an insight on what “Quality” means to Hasselblad. I have to admit, this is the prime aspect that they thrive on.
A Spark of Success
Yes, I know this is a writeup that focuses on the reason behind why Hasselblad products are so expensive. But the point is far better explained through examples. Let’s talk about something that placed a milestone for the brand and set a benchmark for competitors that’s hard to surpass.
You guessed right; I’m talking about the Hasselblad 500EL data camera. Thirty-three rolls of similar film types as used on the previous missions were taken to the Apollo 11 mission. The film which was used and tested several times before being carried off to the Apollo 11 mission.
The best bit was, the film magazines were returned after the mission for processing. The results were sharp and as accurate as ever. When compared against the color charts, there were no deviations. This proves that the device was more than what we’d say “Of Top Tier Quality”.
Still thinking why Hasselblad is so expensive? Not to worry, I have a lot more to share.
Assembling the Amateurs Once Again
Hasselblad’s approach towards the Amateur market is rather interesting if you ask me. Many have the common idea that Hasselblad might have abandoned the non-professional consumers. Dealing with this with a simple ”Yes” or “No” won’t cut it. Keep the time frame in mind and it’ll get clearer.
Let’s recall the time when the X1D emerged. To be honest, a lot of changes came along since the film bodies were at their peak. It even led people to think that the V system Hasselblad were only made for the professionals.
Recall the price of the camera at that time. A tag of 5000 EUROs made it very much popular amongst the amateurs. Only one third of its users were actually professionals. Then of course, we need to consider the advancement of technology. Yep, medium format cameras went digital real quick.
That wasn’t the only thing that happened. Things got way too sophisticated, complicated, and expensive that the entire market shifted towards the professionals. The professional user percentage increased to a solid 90%. As expected, this narrowed down the consumer base to great extents.
As the production count received a huge hit, the price-hike became imminent. Hasselblad didn’t sit idly. They took countermeasures to balance things out. Thus, we saw the arrival of the new X1D. This was an attempt by the brand to go back to the amateur friendly market state of the 80’s.
Now, the new model had a purpose. To broaden the market and to put the company on solid grounds. This new X series, along with the H series, having a new V series with the CFV attached, and of course, the new Hasselblad 907X paved the way for the distant future.
If we rewind back a decade ago, Hasselblad only had the H system. But now they can actually attract a new customer group. 5500 EUROs might seem a lot but nevertheless, it’s significantly lower than how it used to be in the past.
Bottom line is, if you have 10,000 EUROs, you’ll be able to manage a camera and a lens with ease. Undoubtedly this market proved to be much larger for them. Not to mention quite beneficial too.
The New Wonders of Technology
Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? All you need to do is, install the right stuff the right way. Trust me, Hasselblad knows how to do it right. Let’s discuss in detail.
If you’ve noticed, there has been massive changes in the new body structure. If we look into the cause, we’ll find the main reason to be performance factors and of course, the overall operation speed. This is made possible with the help of the brand-new processor and a freshly designed electronics system.
But how fast is the processor? That’s a whole new question and a mystery. However, the results speak for themselves. You see, the startup time has been cut to half. But It doesn’t end there. The reduced shutter lag and minimized black-ed out time between frames simply can’t be ignored.
Normally, we’d guess that’s pretty much it. But this brand here never fails to amaze. How does running the 60fps EVF while adding 30% to the maximum frame rate sound? Pretty cool right? Although 2fps to 2.7fps might not sound all that impressive until you think of the data that’s being moved.
To be very honest, to come with this new processor, the camera had to go through a complete make over. New and improved internals with a whole new redesigned system. Also, don’t forget the reworked autofocus. Judging by all this, I’d definitely give them an “A” for effort.
Hardware apart, the new firmware improves the overall efficiency as well. Say goodbye to overheating issues. This is indeed a huge leap if compared to the original X1D. The firmware only utilizes the systems that are required for a particular time. Just think how it’ll increase the general lifespan!
The X1D II is nothing less than a masterpiece that excels in every aspect. Don’t even get me started on the slightly remolded grip and the enlarged rear screen. If this much is offered over an upgrade, it’s not really rational to ask for a cheap price tag now, is it? Premium all the way!
One Step Ahead in Camera Evolution
I know I’m overemphasizing a particular product to explain why the brand is so expensive. But let’s stick to it a bit more. You see, I’m getting to each point step by step. It should be obvious by now that camera like the Mark II just can’t be cheap. Still, let’s talk further.
Based on the words of Moebus, we got a general idea of why this new model is called Mark II and not X2D. He might just be jesting when he said, “There’s more to come” But I’d say there’s a bit of foreshadowing about the future in the statement.
He further said that this new model is more than just an upgrade. He calls it an “Evolution” of the original camera. We have to admit in some cases that this did bring about a revolution in the field of cameras in general.
Enough with saucing things up, let’s get to the how and why.
The camera was meant to have a 50-megapixel count. You might call it not much of an improvement at first sight, but rest assured, Hasselblad had a very clear vision. The original purpose of the X1D was to be a portable tool that can captivate with its clicks.
The minimalistic size and low weight were the original purpose that was well served. This was in fact the most compact medium format camera in the market. Thus, changing the sensor in an already masterfully crafted work of art was unnecessary.
The X1D II 50C provides something that had been highly demanded for a long time. As far as image formats go, you can’t deny the popularity of more JPEG options. We too were very happy to say goodbye to the hassle of processing the images afterwards. That’s reason enough for me to celebrate.
Including the ability to shoot one file type or the other, or both at the same time really changed the photography game. The X1D II 50C made life easier for both amateurs and professionals alike. Other brands might have done it too by now, can they match the “Premium” tag of Hasselblad?
The Price Talk
The word “Better Optimized” isn’t limited to just performance. Hasselblad has indeed changed its game plan and supply chain strategy throughout the years. Buying components in bulk have indeed helped them to cut down the prices. A big win for consumers like us, right?
Buying more obviously cuts down the unit cost. This didn’t happen a while back. One of the prime reasons for Hasselblad to be so very expensive.
However, these changes didn’t come straight off the bat. A matter of fact, the Mark II was actually easier to manufacture. I call it a progressive journey when we talk about the appearance of the original X1D and the emergence of the Mk II.
“The whole organization has had to migrate to a situation where we are making more products’ This is rightfully said I believe. The previous X1D really had to struggle to make up for the demands of the customers. Too many orders, yet too little cameras. Hence the price was bound to be high.
However, now the manufacturing process has met massive changes. The modern assembly method actually can meet the expectation of larger volumes than that was expected.
Would you believe it all happened in a split second? Let me explain.
The Hasselblad image quality was always everything. The company was never willing to sacrifice quality for quantity. Without dropping the standards, the company is producing more than before. All they had to do was migrate to a new system structure and work process. Guess what? It worked!
But wait, the X1D Mk II isn’t the end of it. There are plans to make the 907X and CFV II 50C on the same premises. The brand is now used to making digital backs and have been at it since merging with Imacon. This also applies for the H system.
We’d think that manufacturing the CFV II would be a challenge for them. But these guys seem pretty confident to cope with the expectations of the masses. Expecting price efficiency on this one won’t be too farfetched it seems.
A Bit About What’s Coming
Moebus further argued that the CFV wasn’t too expensive. Yet it was priced at $15,000! I really don’t know what to say to that, but let’s continue. With the improved supply chain, we can hope for a similar price drop for this model, too right? Let me give an answer to that, “Yes we can!”
Hasselblad is taking a whole new stance in the marketplace. It’s worth pointing out that, 907X camera and the CFV II 50C will have a whole system waiting for them once they are launched.
We’re used to seeing manufacturers having only a few lenses when a new camera system is introduced. Here’s why I like Hasselblad so much. Now comes the fun part. The 907X already has nice native X lenses, and will also be able to work with H, V and XPan lenses. Now that’s a complete lineup right there.
Hasselblad Competes with Style
Hasselblad would surely lose it’s claim to be just in their astonishing price ranges if they weren’t cautious of the competition. Boy oh boy, do they respond hard to the competitors! The lowering of prices did have some implications that they were well aware of Fujifilm’s GFX series.
Mind you, Hasselblad isn’t a copycat by far. They prefer to be the lone wolf when it comes to innovation and quality. Their secret to success might be many. But the primary factor of dominance is their focus on their own signature of style.
This much becomes very obvious with the X1D, and how it stands out. Also, they’re on the medium format mirrorless market too. No surprise eh? In fact, the current price of the X1D II 50C proves that Hasselblad isn’t taking Fujifilm’s action too much into consideration.
An independent icon all the way.
I’m solely trying to get all the facts together to show you guys why Hasselblad has a rightful claim to their so called “High” prices. If you’re still not convinced, let me clarify with a bit more info about the lens.
The Eye of the Camera
We got some insight about the 35-75mm F3.5-4.5 zoom lens from the technical staff. The best made by Hasselblad so far. But what is it that makes it oh so special? The answer? MTF.
Just to let you know, MTF means Modulation Transfer. It’s the measurement of the optical performance potential of a lens. Actual charts were produced which show that the lens performs to the sort of standard you’d expect from a genuine prime lens – better in many cases at that.
Do you need super maximum apertures? If the requirement is optional, I have some awesome news. The info came to light when various focal lengths were compared with the prime versions.
The company makes it very clear. The 35-75mm will provide a prime-lens experience apart from super maximum aperture.
Although in the end, the maximum F4.5 aperture is quite comparable to moderate telephoto lenses from past medium format systems. Although with the X1D’s smaller sensor’s ability to achieve differential focus might not be as groundbreaking.
If you take the lens alone into consideration, it’ll seem very expensive. But you have to take it into a certain context. If you gauge its capacity, the ability to replace two or three prime lenses isn’t a bad deal at all.
In the terms of full frame, the angles of view offered by the zoom are exactly what we’d expect from a 28-60mm. You got the idea, it encompasses 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 60mm lenses.
The only measurement of quality right now is the manufacturer-provided MTF of course. Now, we have to see it in practical real-life use. On which level will these characteristics relate to actual images? That will be revealed with time.
The Future of the Brand
As far as the interview with Moebus is concerned, Hasselblad seems to be pretty confident about the future. They seem to have sorted out their market strategy. Even with the original X1D, these guys happened to be in a much more precarious position as the order quantity generated so many issues.
However, we can’t deny that the company has flourished and hasn’t turned to dust. In fact, they have thrived with dominance before and are willing to do so again. For better or worse, Hasselblad is well prepared and suited for the challenges yet to come.
No doubt, they still have top notch quality assurance in their agenda.
The Final Coin in the Bag
All these words of knowledge and historical data that I presented so far should be explanation enough to show you why Hasselblad products cost as much as they do. The common idea would be that these are not for everyone. Which is technically true. Not everyone needs to go all out on their camera.
BUT, if you do want to get the very best medium format camera, Hasselblad will definitely be on the top list. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say this one more time, all things come at a price. If you want to have the very best, you’ll have to pay the price.