On April 29th, 2013, Hasselblad more or less killed production of their legendary V System, by announcing the end of manufacturing of the 503CW. Dr. Larry Hansen, Hasselblad’s Chairman and CEO, said in his press release, “There has been a substantial decline in demand for this camera over the past five years or so and the time has now come for us to reluctantly consign the V System to history. In so doing we would like to thank all fans and customers for both their loyalty and their enthusiasm for our legacy Hasselblad V System.”
The format that made Hasselblad, and put medium format photography on the map, was ended. Hasselblad continues to offer and support the Hasselblad CFV digital back, if you can afford one, selling at $17,500 US. They also continue to sell genuine Hasselblad accessories, while supplies last. Of course, tons of these are available through KEH, Adorama, and B&H, both new and used. Hasselblad itself has a fantastic portal, Planet V, on the HasselbladUSA.com website, even providing some hard to find .pdf instruction manuals for V series items. The brand now partners with Fuji for lenses, essentially ending decades of collaboration with Carl Zeiss. More importantly 120 roll film, thanks in large part to the continued popularity of Lomography, continues to thrive as a niche market. Plenty of great films, likely available for years more to come. The cameras are tanks, but can still be cleaned, lubed, adjusted (CLA), and repaired, with relative ease and considerable expense. Truth be told, little in the Hasselblad world comes cheap. I am thankful to live not far from one of the world’s most renowned Hasselblad technicians, David Odess ( http://david-odess.com/) David is a former Hasselblad employee, and is indeed factory trained and certified.
I have often wondered, will a Hasselblad be the first camera that astronauts bring to the red planet, Mars? Let’s hope they are around that long. Maybe the 6 X 4.5 format will be well suited for the Martian landscape. There is certainly something nostalgic about the gorgeous Hasselblad photography of the Apollo program. Right down to the reference lines of the Reseau plate. Will we see those again? Certainly we have seen the end of the 6X6 focal plane once touted as the perfect format by many, including Hasselblad.
My hand-built 1984-era 500c/m still runs flawlessly, and will likely outlive me. And continues to deliver tremendous photographic gratification. Here are some Earthbound color shots, taken with the 80mm, and Kodak Ektar. developed by The Darkroom, and scanned by myself. I shot them on the 18th, walking around Park Ave. here in Worcester.
The legacy continues.