Have you ever heard of Hasselblad? And if so, are you aware of it’s reputation? If you don’t know Hasselblad, you should read this! This camera company is “Epic” (that’s the word that came up first).
Victor Hasselblad AB is a Swedish manufacturer of medium formatcameras, photographic equipment and image scanners based in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company originally became known for its classic analog medium-format cameras that used a waist-level viewfinder. Perhaps the most famous use of the Hasselblad camera was during the Apollo program missions when the first humans landed on the Moon. Almost all of the still photographs taken during these missions used modified Hasselblad cameras. In 2016, Hasselblad introduced the world’s first digital compact mirrorless medium-format camera, the X1D-50c, changing the portability of medium-format photography. Hasselblad produces about 10,000 cameras a year from a small three-storey building.[
Several different models of Hasselblad cameras were taken into space, all specially modified for the task.
The Hasselblad cameras were selected by NASA because of their interchangeable lenses and magazines. Modifications were made to permit ease of use in cramped conditions while wearing spacesuits, such as the replacement of the reflex mirror with an eye-level finder.
Modifications by NASA technicians were further refined and incorporated into new models by Hasselblad. For example, development of a 70 mm magazine was accelerated to meet the space program.
The first modified (in fact simplified) Hasselblad 500 C cameras were used on the last two Project Mercury missions in 1962 and 1963. They continued to be used throughout the Gemini spaceflights in 1965 and 1966.
A general program of reliability and safety was implemented following the Apollo 1 fire in 1967, addressing such issues as reliability and safe operation of electrical equipment in a high-oxygen environment.
EL electric cameras were used for the first time on Apollo 8. A heavily modified 500 EL, the so-called Hasselblad Electric Camera (HEC) was used from Apollo 8 on board the spacecraft. Three 500 EL cameras were carried on Apollo 11. An even more extensively modified Hasselblad EL Data Camera (HDC), equipped with a special Zeiss 5.6/60 mm Biogon lens and film magazines for 150–200 exposures, was used on the Moon surface on the Apollo 11 mission. This command module camera, carried on Apollo 11, was a simplified version of the commercial Hasselblad 500 EL motorized film advance camera. Used for color still photography, it could operate in the command module or in the vacuum of space.
All following NASA missions also had Hasselblad cameras on board. The photographic equipment and films used on the five subsequent flights were similar to that taken on Apollo 11. On Apollo 15, the 500 mm telelens was added. During the Space Shuttle period cameras based on the 500 EL/M, 553 ELX, 205 TCC and 203 FE have been used.
There are 12 Hasselblad cameras currently sitting on the lunar surface, where only the film magazines were brought back to Earth.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH HASSELBLAD TODAY?
I don’t think anyone expected this:
With all that is still happening for Hasselblad, it is good to see a camera manufacture expanding their horizons.
Click on this video for a special presentation of Hasselblad in use: