The Hasselblad V system is now dead

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Hasselblad-503CW-camera-discontinued

Today Hasselblad announced the end of life for their V camera line because of declining demand. The 503CW model is no longer in production but can still be purchased in retailers while supply last ($3,460.00):

Hasselblad is to cease production of its 503CW model - the last V System camera in the company's portfolio.

The decision, which comes into immediate effect, brings to an end over a half century of evolution of the company's original camera line.

Dr. Larry Hansen, Hasselblad Chairman and CEO said: "Everything has its place in time. The veteran 503CW combined with an extensive V System range of interchangeable lenses and accessories, was for seventeen years the camera of choice for discerning professionals and aspirational amateur photographers.

But 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."

He added: "Now of course the focus on medium format capture is on our H System - the world's most advanced camera system. The latest generation cameras represent medium format capture engineering at its most exemplary and are well-placed to secure and underpin the company's unrivalled reputation for providing highest image quality and craftsmanship. Additionally we are focusing on new products for advanced enthusiasts."

Hasselblad has confirmed that the last 503CW has rolled off the production line but the company will continue to provide V System accessories while stocks last. V System support will also still be available through current channels.

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  • Mark Sperry

    Interest has probably wained because they don’t really make it any more and haven’t made any significant moves to modernize it since the H system came out. This is fucking stupid. They could have taken the underrated (and over priced) 203 camera and made a completely usable digital system camera. That thing had a focal plane shutter and allowed the use of all leaf lenses. Had an extremely advanced metering system, and stunning lenses! (110mm f2 anyone?!). Instead they made a pretty decent system out of the H cameras, which really are good, but have made all the wrong moves since the H2 and have allowed Phase One and Mamiya to spank them at every turn. Now they’re all private equity and “luxury” like Leica, making questionable moves like the Ferrari branded H camera and stunningly absurd moves like the Lunar. Greed is bad. This is what happens to companies who don’t innovate, while staying true to their core vision.

    • http://photorumors.com/ PhotoRumors

      I agree, the only difference in the comparison with Leica is that they can sell every camera they make (at least in the past few years), I doubt Hasselblad can do the same.

      • J Shin

        > Leica is that they can sell every camera they make

        The M offers something that other brands have long given up on, and has carefully and successfully cultivated a quasi-religious following for the decades-old RF. Otherwise they would have become a lens company with more limited devotion. And to think that they once discontinued the M line after the M5 flop!

        Hasselblad, on the other hand, has never offered anything in their bodies that other brands do not, coasting mostly on the quality of the lenses, which they do not even make themselves. They also damaged their prestige with their odd dependence on Fuji in producing the H line.

        I guess I’m sentimental about these “venerable” brands. Rollei. Minolta. Kodak. Who is next?

        • Mark Sperry

          You can still get a Rolleiflex brand new, and they’re still fantastic film cameras. Not even that expensive either!

        • http://www.facebook.com/heinz.richter.7 Heinz Richter

          Leica Never discontinued the M line.

          • J Shin

            May depend on what we mean by “discontinued”, but they apparently meant to. I’ve posted some sources below; I think it’s being moderated, it may be a bit before it comes up.

        • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

          “They also damaged their prestige with their odd dependence on Fuji in producing the H line.”

          Not a fair comment. Hasselblad themselves admitted that by collaborating with Fuji, they were more involved in the lens design process whereas with Zeiss the two companies were more separated.

          • http://alphacorner.eu/ Sky

            I wouldn’t say it was a bad thing. Zeiss is known to be at it’s best when left alone.

          • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

            Hmm looking at the ZA 85 1.4 vs. ZF/ZE 85 1.4 I can’t say I agree… :)

          • http://alphacorner.eu/ Sky

            With 85 ZA they were left alone too – optical design is all Zeiss work without Sony touching it. Sony made lens barrel / packaging.

          • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

            Very interesting. Could you possibly tell me where Sony or Zeiss made this claim? I’m genuinely interested. Thanks.

      • Mark Sperry

        Leica has always done Luxury better. Leica has innovated and stayed true to their core vision. The M8 sucked, the M9 was cool but not really there yet. The M seems like it’s just the ticket. Now I still can’t afford it, but I can at least say, hey, that’s a great tool for photographers, and consistent with what I think of when I think of Leica.

    • Mr Kotku

      Amen!

  • J Shin

    RIP…

  • CRB

    hoping that the lunar has the same fate

    • Martin

      As a 20 year old student I purchased a 501CW and later a SWC. I used it as an amateur with great pleasure for many years. Now I own a D800E, given that the H system is not really any good for other than studio work, apart from that it is totally overpriced. Hasselblad nowadays seems to concentrate on such rubbish as the Lunar. The V system may be discontinued now, but I suspect that in about two or three year from now, the company itself will be finally discontinued.

  • Danonino

    Why in gods name didnt they just do a 6×6 sensor-back for the V-system? Stupid Hasselblad.

    • Mark Sperry

      Nobody that I know of has done this, and the biggest and most expensive sensors now are 645. I don’t know why it’s so hard, but apparently it is. I bet it could be done though. What I would like to see is actually a lowish-cost, low megapixel, 645 back. There is a market for this I think among portrait photographers who don’t need more than 25-30mp, but want the look of medium format. My ideal back is a 25mp full frame 645 back with a swappable mount so I can use it on a Contax 645, or a Hasselblad. I shoot weddings with a Contax 645 and film, and it would be great to have digital with the same look if I want it. Phase One makes one, charges 8 grand for it, wedding and portrait shooters rejoice.

      • http://twitter.com/timgrayphoto Timothy Gray Photo

        Since we’re adding items to a wish list, I’d like to toss my hat into the ring. If the powers that be can engineer a 645 sensor…up the ante and fab a full frame 6×7 sensor so I can rock it on my Mamiya RB and RZ bodies. THAT would be a killer digital rig!

      • camerageek

        Kodak did a sensor in their old DCS back that was square for the V-Mount. If I recall (having used one myself) it was a 16mp 1.3 crop on a 6×6.

      • http://twitter.com/nerle Dirk Nerling

        I’d also interessted in a digital back. The original and Phase on are too expensive and I also believe there is a market. Perhaps we should establish a kickstarter project to get an market feeling and a more common business case.

      • Van Nav

        Megavision and phase one.

  • AM

    I just checked mine and it’s still alive.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pixario Christian Häcker

      +1

      • Ricardo Lima

        +2

        • António Gomes

          +3

  • Daryl

    The discontinued V is not significant, Hasselblad stopped developing the V years ago, that was significant. These cameras and lenses are built to last many years, the used market has an abundance of inventory with only a few items difficult to acquire. Unless repairs become limited the camera will live longer than anything else with the exception of the best mechanical cameras of which there are very few.

  • tog_24

    Interesting to think that as more and more camera manufacturers covet retro design, one of the most iconic retro designs is to be discontinued.

  • bjrichus

    Well… You can always overpay for a cheap P&S with a wood handle glued onto it…

  • george

    Out of production yes, dead NO. I say this because there are so many on the used market, that there is no need for a new one. (they have made more V system cameras than needed, and they rarely wear out).

    As long as there is 120 film, the Hasselblad V system will live more of a retired but useful life with artists and serious hobbyists.

    Leica cameras continue because of their size, ease of use, and especially because of embraced digital versions (the Hasselblad V can’t be any of those)

    It is a sad day for many of us, but this day has been coming none the less.

    • fjfjjj

      Yes, thankfully there are enough V cameras in the world to satisfy the needs of photographers for ages. They are tough and serviceable, and will be around for a very long time. Hopefully they will not be made rare by collectors that don’t use them.

  • Nobody Special

    For the comments that touched on the Leica part of the ‘luxury brand’ market – they have survived because they are the main and basically last producer of a Rangefinder focused camera – with some excellent glass.
    Too, it’s a drag about this news but I’m not surprised; as was stated below by Mark Sperry; “Greed is bad.” Especially when it comes to invisible money-grabbers that invest in things that may not even have ever used or even touched, or heck, even seen. Strange how, ‘investors and $$$ grabbers only think about what is the best return…no news with that either. But I loved my SWC, the best point and shoot/street camera – way more than my M Leicas – that I have ever used and an awesome landscape camera.
    It is – was – a system dsigned for film that didn’t translate well enough for the age of instant turn-around products. But it’s hard fro me to believe they couldn’t have developed something more useable than the Sony rebadge – how about a digital X-Pan, Hasselblad?

  • Tami Howard

    Blads, at least the Vs, are indestructible. And all mechanical, not a battery in sight. I love mine and will keep forever. Long after I am dead it will still be kicking it.

  • beavis

    Is there something alive at Hasselblad recently?

  • Van Nav

    bullshit

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