Thursday, March 11, 2010

A History Lesson

A History Lesson

As many readers will know, Hasselblad is (was) a Swedish company, founded in the late 1940's by Victor Hasselblad. For decades Hasselblad was the professional medium format camera, developing an almost legendary reputation, aided in no small measure by being used in the US space program and especially on the Apollo moon landings. Its lenses were from Carl Zeiss, which has a deserved reputation for sterling optics.

In 2002 Hasselblad introduced the H series of cameras. These were purportedly designed in large measure by Hasselblad's engineers, but are built in Japan by Fuji. The lenses for the H series are all designed and made by Fuji, but specified by Hasselblad. It's interesting to note as well that in Japan the H series cameras are sold as Fuji brand cameras, with no mention whatsoever of the name Hasselblad. (This applied as well to the excellent Hasselblad X-Pan, which was simply a rebranded Fuji product).

In mid-2004 Hasselblad and Imacon (the well regarded scanner and digital back maker) merged, and are now effectively one company. According to industry insiders, Imacon is in the drivers seat. Actual ownership of the conglomerate is by Shiro Group, a Hong Kong based company. So effectively what we have is a Japanese made camera, designed in part by Swedes, owned by Chinese, and run by Danes. Globalization anyone?