Rumors: Hasselblad could be purchased by Phase One

Hasselblad-logo
Last year I reported that Hasselblad was in financial trouble. Recently I received the company's latest annual report and some information suggesting that it is unlikely Hasselblad will see 2016 as a stand-alone company because they are out of cash. They are desperately seeking for investors and one of the likely outcome is to be purchased by Phase One.

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  • Jeffry De Meyer

    It is amazing they lasted this long, they have a tiny pro market and basically spat in the face of the consumer market with their stellar and lunar joke.

  • CinderedMonkey

    Not surprised. Hassy’s latest endeavors (Lunar etc) were a disaster from design to concept. Phase One, if they keep the Hassy line and advance the tech would be a good company. If they can bring an affordable digital back to the Hassy V line, that would be awesome! Heck, I would greatly consider getting that 😀

    • saywhatuwill

      ” If they can bring an affordable digital back to the Hassy V (500) line”

      LOL! Most likely their backs that fit the V-series will be really expensive. Compare the on-sale CFV-50c for $10000 to the backs that Phase One have on sale now.

      • CinderedMonkey

        There is no use for Phase One to produce an expensive MF camera/digital back under the Hassy name as it would just compete with their own products but I would think they could make a digital back for the V-series that is much more affordable than the CFV-50c, even if the tech is less than their own.

        • El Aura

          But would Phase One need to buy Hasselblad to produce a back for the Hasselblad V-series?

          • Mistral75

            An additional back for the (discontinued) Hasselblad V-series would be a niche within the niche. I’m a bit doubtful this would be highly ranked in the list of priorities of anybody investing in Hasselblad.

          • CinderedMonkey

            If they can make it really affordable (say >$3000), combined with the retro photography interest these days, maybe not so much niche. They could also bring out a cheaper (to make and in price) Hassy V body to sell with the digital backs. But yeah, I’m sure you are right and these won’t be in their list of priorities.

          • CinderedMonkey

            Oh right, forgot they already produced backs for Hasselblad V systems. My bad.

  • saywhatuwill

    Interesting. If they are purchased will the CFV-50c be a thing of history? The good thing about that back, other than it being $10k right now, is that it matches the v-series bodies and allows the 90-degree viewfinders to fit. The Phase One backs are nice, but nothing like the Hasselblad CFV in terms of looks.

    • Mistral75

      Sinar was bought by Leica Camera AG at the end of 2013.

    • Gerardo Sanchez

      Nope, that’s the US distributor. They carry Bron, Sinar and Foba as well, but all those are independent companies

    • fjfjjj

      Hasselblad Bron Inc. is just a US distributor of these brands. It’s not the same company as Hasselblad.

  • Mistral75

    Thank you so much Vorndran Mannheims Capital for what you did with and to Hasselblad…

    http://www.vmcap.de/en/Hasselblad.php

  • PHILIPPOS RAFTOPOULOS

    I don’t see why PhaseOne would need something like this. Hasselblad’s market is shrinking, they have no technology of interest, while PhaseOne have a solid place in both hardware and software markets.

    They might seek to revive the H brand based on it’s historical value, but I doubt it is an investment worth the cost (or guaranteed the returns). If they do buy it, they will probably do so to avoid having it bought by a competent competitor like Fuji (that after all builds the Haselblads).

    • Exactly right. You might get some marketing juice out of buying Hasselblad (and possibly a small but loyal mailing list of a shrinking client base) but little else.

      It’s looking like PhaseOne vs Pentax, unless Pentax dumps too much cash into their new full-frame camera/lens and gets out of medium format.

      At some point, the buying public are going to realize that the photos from mirrorless and mirrorfull systems look pretty much the same, and then the only place Canon, Sony-Nikon, and Sony-Sony can go, is a larger sensor, a new mount, and all new lenses.

      Pentax really ought to be pumping out new, updated, spectacular medium format lenses… right now… (or at least let Tamron do it for them) to stay ahead of the game.

      • El Aura

        Nikon or Canon entering the MF business has been a pipe dream of some people for many years. It hasn’t happened and I see no reason for it to happen anytime soon (if ever). MF has been shrinking in sales and vendors from seven major vendors in the later film days (Mamiya, Fuji, Hasselblad, Pentax, Bronica, Contax & Rollei) complemented by an East Germany and a Russian vendor that essentially sold designs several decades old (Pentacon and Zenith) plus some niche products like Alpa.

        In the digital era, that has shrunk down to three: Mamiya/Phase One and Hasselblad/Fuji (with Pentax joining the party late). Only one new entrant has been seen and that is Leica (which realised that its prices were too high to compete with the Japanese FF DSLRs). And now it seems that four is too many for this small market and one is being squeezed out (Hasselblad). And whether Pentax is profitable is also questionable as they lost money more often than not in last ten years with their whole camera business.

        • Zos Xavius

          Ricoh has announced that their imaging division is currently profitable and that the 645Z has more than doubled their sales expectations. Ricoh isn’t going anywhere in this stage of the game anytime soon.

        • I hear what you’re saying, but the financials, the market, and the manufacturing is changing. If Sony’s making a medium format sensor, I’m sure they would like to have any and all “client systems” using them (Pentax, whomever buys Hasselblad, Phase One, maybe Sony themselves, maybe Nikon)… The Pentax 645z could be sold in the US at $6.9k with slim profit margin. The Nikon D5 will most probably retail at $6.9k. Never before have the price points been so close.

          Once we have 196 focal points across 70% of the frame in DSLR and 100% times plus a gazillion focal points using mirrorless (or whatever the specs will be five years from now), and we’ve back-lit all the sensors, and covered every square inch of the camera with fluorine (that last one is strictly satirical)… where else can the likes of Nikon and Canon go?

          I would think there’s going to be a point where the R&D costs of packing more photosites onto the same size sensor is going to yield less profit than just making a bigger sensor. Then you have another 15 years of slow play profits… upgrade camera v1, upgrade lens v1, upgrade camera v2, upgrade lens v2, etc.

          • El Aura

            Even if sensor costs can come down such that a $3000-4000 MF camera is possible (which is a big if since sensor costs go up exponentially with size, if we compare the prices from very similar cameras in the APS-C and FF world, eg, the Nikon D300 and D700, we see a $1000 premium for the FF model, double the sensor area and quadruple the price, the price premium of digital MF to FF is likely $4000+), MF lenses will always stay noticeably more expensive (and heavy) than FF lenses. Even in the film days when there was zero sensor cost, MF had a much smaller marketshare than FF. I see no reason why the digital MF market should ever exceed that of the film MF market (adjusted for the size of the population in the rich countries). On the contrary, I see a couple of reasons why it still stay smaller: (1) sensor cost difference between FF and MF will remain significant, (2) digital FF achieves sufficient IQ for a much larger share of use cases than film FF ever did.

        • Thom Hogan

          MF was already measured in the low tens of thousands of units a year at the start of the digital era. Things have gotten worse since then. It very well may be that you have to live off of thousands of units a year, which virtually locks in “high price, low volume.”

          Canikony needs any camera they do to live in the hundreds of thousands of units level in order to pay them back at their scales. And we haven’t even got to lenses yet.

          Think computers. MF cameras are mainframes. Most of us could probably run our lives on a large smartphone CPU these days. The same thing is happening with imaging.

          • ZMWT

            That is a very old figure. Ricoh now sells close to 17,000 645Zs a year (and they had expected and were happy with mere 8,000). And perhaps will sell more, because users for the MF are not only wedding photographers who want a ‘new cutting edge’ and bigger prints, but also science, police, archives, industry, etc.

          • PHILIPPOS RAFTOPOULOS

            There had always been a close connection between Ricoh and Pentax since they were using the same mount in the film days and their lens lines were interchangable.

          • Kunzite

            17,000 645Z’s a year is quite a lot, compared to an initial production volume of only 400 units per month (they said the demand is “almost double” the estimate, so increasing the production is likely). Could you point out to a source? Thank you.

          • Thomas Rogon

            Where do you have those sales figures for Ricoh? The whole MF market is less than 10.000 units per year…

          • ZMWT

            That has totally changed. Market is very dynamic. FF has become commodity, boring, everyone has it, and discerning photographers want more to be able to demand more for their work and get better assignments. Now Ricoh alone sells more 645Zs than all the MF market did before in terms of new units sold. Asia and China are number one market.

          • Tonya

            What about Alexa and their 65mm ‘it’s so high end you can’t buy it’ cinema rigs?… The amount of money Alexa must of pured into that unit alone would be massive.. I’m guessing Alexa would be looking to buy/secure the future of that cinema rig…

    • Lee

      I’m tempted to think Fuji buying them might actually be good but Fuji supposedly already has one “losing money but we keep it for the prestige” product line in the X series cameras, so adding another probably wouldn’t be wise. And Sony wouldn’t be good because those asshats probably thought the Lunar and Stellar were brilliant ideas. Maybe Canon or Nikon? They’ve been threatening to introduce a medium format offering forever.

      • El Aura

        Some people have been fantasising about Canon or Nikon entering the MF market for many years. Which is something quite different from Nikon or Canon ‘threatening’ to do so.

        When forum posts suggesting that company A should do X get turned into the supposed fact that company A is threatening to do X, you really have to ask yourself what is wrong with the human race.

        • Kunzite

          I’ve heard “rumors” about Canon, Nikon, Sony, Samsung, Olympus and Fujifilm entering the digital medium format market; everyone except Panasonic was supposed to be, or get into medium format

          None of them actually did it. Leica is the only exception, all others (Hasselblad, PhaseOne, Mamiya, Pentax) were on the medium format market from well before digital.

          • El Aura

            I’m not sure I would classify them as rumours, more like speculation (except maybe for Fuji as Fuji had it own MF cameras).

          • Kunzite

            I’m not classifying them as rumors, but as “rumors” 😉

            Fujifilm is involved in the MF market; they had their own cameras (as you said), lenses, they’re making lenses for/with Hasselblad etc. But even them getting their own digital medium format system is speculation.

        • ppd

          Wake up no one with a bit of brain do consider entering such a tiny almost sinking ship kind of mf market. There are already 3 players and that’s more than enough for the tiny mf market.

          • Mistral75

            >There are already 3 players

            Four actually: Hasselblad, Leica, Pentax (Ricoh) and Phase One / Mamiya.

      • ppd

        No, Fuji has no money to buy Hassy and they are both about to go bankrupt kind of companies. So who cares? We have great Leica and phase that’s more than enough in this tiny almost dying market.

        • Mistral75

          Fuji about to go bankrupt? You should read their annual report more carefully.

        • fjfjjj

          Fujifilm has about US$6bn cash on hand, and its stock is doing rather well. Problem? If you want to examine a company on the verge of a potential crisis, try Leica Camera.

        • PHILIPPOS RAFTOPOULOS

          Fuji has been in the green for quite a while and it keeps getting stronger.
          Fuji should be a case study for all the Kodak execs who wasted the most valuable brand in photography.

    • Thom Hogan

      Hasselblad has a number of patents and software abilities that Phase One would probably want if they can pick it up cheap enough.

      • Spy Black

        …to keep them out of the hands of Pentax possibly, I don’t think it’s that critical otherwise.

        • PHILIPPOS RAFTOPOULOS

          Well, the 645z might be the “weapon” that gave H it’s final blow. The same tech and IQ in a rugged body at the cost of a H lens…

          Pentax builds its MF based on their DSLRs. If you’ve ever held a 645Z, you will see they share the same metering system, the same focusing system and the same memory interface with the K3, just as the 645D shared the same with the K5. The tech they already have in 645 is more than enough to carry them through the market. All they needed was a good sensor and Sony gave them just that. I’m pretty sure that much tech of the forthcoming FF will get transfered to their next MF too.

          If you had ever shot with a Hasselblad, you would have definitely seen wich way the technology transfer should have gone (I do admit however, that tethering is great in Hasselblad). On the other hand, I wouldn’t even dream of taking an H5d outside the studio for any kind of work, since it has weird handling and those dreadfull tiny buttons. The 645z is brilliant anywhere.

      • PHILIPPOS RAFTOPOULOS

        Not really something of great worth. Most important H patents are rather obsolete having to do with film cameras, negative scanning and pre-internet image transmitting.

    • animalsbybarry

      Hasselblads value has plummeted.
      Phase one may be getting hasselblad at a real bargain basement price.

    • a-traveler

      Ever hear of Hasselblad’s “True Focus?” About as high tech as high tech gets.

      At this point the best MFD is a Hasselblad H5X with a Phase One back.

      • waterengineer

        Correct.

        • PHILIPPOS RAFTOPOULOS

          I’ve used TrueFocus in the H4D. What is high-tech about it? It’s a pittyfull exercise in the art of “instead of using a proper focusing system with more than one focus point, we add some sensors that calculate radial movement and lock the focus along the plane – and then charge a family sedan for it”.

          Do you really consider this high tech? Do you really think you need this to get sharp photos? Every DSLR in the world uses multiple focus points to achieve just this. Even the ones that cost less than $500.
          H and PhaseOne insist on a single focus point, recompositing and overselling it “for true photographers”.
          And still people wonder why Pentax has taken the MF market by storm…

  • raziel28

    This sound exactly like Nikon could be purchased by Canon. A little bit weird… Fujifilm should be in this, they already made H lenses and the same H bodies with Fuji badge… And Fujifilm is not “premium” brand with premium price, so prices should stay the same, maybe even lower.

    • I have Hasselblad’s annual report and it’s bad. Not sure what will happen.

    • Diffracted

      Fuji can be very premium. It depends greatly on the product and market. Fujinon marks the very highest-end in the cinema idustry. They know how to charge 86-99k on a single zoom!
      New fuji glass for MF should be around 4-6k depending on the focal length..

      • Mistral75

        Hasselblad HC/HCD lenses are already designed and manufactured by Fuji. Prices go from $3k (HC 80mm f/2.8) up to $8k (HCD 35-90mm f/4-5.6).

        • Diffracted

          I know. But for those you’re paying the hassy extra. They are ridicously priced for their mediocre performance…

          • Mistral75

            Mediocre performance???

          • PHILIPPOS RAFTOPOULOS

            Their studio performance is great. Their handling is dreadfull (but they have really good tethering to make up for it). They combine the best with the worst and cost a fortune. Nothing about them is mediocre however.
            You wouldn’t call the “Lunar” or the “Stellar” mediocre, would you?
            Ridiculous maybe, or even hideous, but mediocre? No way.

          • Diffracted

            I was talking about the lenses…
            For their price range most of them are pretty underwhelming. They are simply to old. To much CA. Soft and low contrast wide open.To much distortion and lack of coverage on the wide-angle. For the same price you get better optics with Mamiya D and Schneider LS. Even the latest Pentax HD can compete. Leica S (albeit more expensive) blow them away.

  • Sorry to hear that but at least no more Sony old cameras sold for 10-x the price by the Scandinavian crooks who took over the once great company.

    • fjfjjj

      The once great company was Swedish. The crooks were German.

  • SH*T666

    I bet a Chinese company will buy Hasselblad, not Phase, and price will be quite low.

  • Hubertus Bigend

    Looking at the state of Hasselblad today – is it substantially more than the name and an office that buys stuff from Fuji?

  • Bo Dez

    IMO, it would be good in the sense that Phase One could take the brand back to the marque it once was but bad in the sense there would be zero competition. But perhaps there is enough competition coming from small formats now not for it to be a problem.

    • Mistral75

      Fuji could also take the brand to where it once was. And they have the advantage over Phase One to design and manufacture the Hasselblad lenses and to have designed and manufactured the H1, H2 and H3 cameras.

      Besides, it would be better from a competition standpoint, considering that Pentax and Leica aren’t direct competitors to Hasselblad and Phase One / Mamiya.

      • ppd

        Fuji? Are you serious? Fuji is the worst company in camera business that should go bankrupt soon. In a few years, we will only find Fuji cameras in camera coffins at Nagoya camera museum.

        • Mistral75

          ???

        • PHILIPPOS RAFTOPOULOS

          You are either misinformed, or a troll.
          Either way, you are waaaay wrong.

          • Kunzite

            I vote for troll.
            Fujifilm has a long tradition of collaborating with Hasselblad on the medium format market. I’m not sure they would want to take over, but they might be the most “logical” owner – rather than some financial institution with no interest in the camera market.

  • Rob S

    I think you are seeing the first impact of the Pentax digital 645 offerings. The 645z is doing extremely well without much marketing. Its generating a lot of new MF shooters but lots more platform switchers. Guess we know where they came from.

    I cant think of a rational reason why Phase would want to buy them. The market for people who associate the Hassy name with the pinnacle of photography is dying – like literally old and dying off. To me, Hasselbad is the camera that went to the moon. Anyone under 40 wasnt born when the last moon expedition happened. So no compelling technology, no brand value and a customer base that is fleeing.

    If Sony buys the company, look out. They could have a MF Sony on the shelf in 6 months (as in an entirely new camera not a re-badge). Anyone else is throwing good money after bad.

    • ppd

      In fact, after their series of rebranded Sony junks, no one actually values their name any more. They simply insulted their customers and themselves. Now only Leica is the big name in photography.

      • Mistral75

        Leica who has never rebranded a lens (Minolta, Sigma) nor a body (Minolta, Panasonic)…

  • Joseph Ferrari

    A question I’d like to raise is this: How much good will did Hasselblad lose with their ridiculous Lunar endeavour?

  • Walter
  • ppd

    Fuji and Hassy are both one foot in grave kind of companies. No one really need them, they are too weak and too doomed crap systems.

    • Mistral75

      Could you please take your pills and stop trolling here?

  • carbonware

    Hasselblad also owns the high end canning and proofing market which is small but has value if it was leveraged correctly. They need to get over their own dog and lower prices. The cameras as no longer worth the premium they ask and there would be more profits in lowering the price and getting the bodies into more professional hands. Make money on the lenses and accessories. Trying to hold the stratosphere is no longer working.

  • Dear Hasselblad,
    Lower your cost on MF and your back on track. do a wholesale game if have to. it saved my business. =)

  • Hendrik Mintarno

    I was hoping Sony is the one that buy Hasselblad, so they can put back new Zeiss lenses and the most advanced sensor to H system camera

  • Kevin Purcell

    EXT Night

    A helicopter shot zooms into the center of the Øresund bridge. Police cars are stopped on the bridge.

    Cut to the bridge deck. Police lights flash.

    A camera has been placed exactly in the middle of the Øresund Bridge with the body made by Phase One with a Hasselblad lens mount and lens.

    A Swedish and a Danish photographer eye each other warily over the camera.

    Martin Rohde: Hvorfor?

    Saga Norén: Varför inte?

    Fade to Black

    Intertitle: Brøn/Bron Series 4 “The Camera”. Coming Soon.

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