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Swedish NEX from Hasselblad

Perhaps the strangest news from photokina, which I have not rushed to post here because I reckon every single website in the world will have treated it as urgent breaking unparalleled wonder – is that Sony and Hasselblad have signed a deal under which Hasselblad will make an APS-C (or perhaps full-frame NEX mount) mirrorless camera in Sweden.

Without any images other than a Hasselblad H logo to accompany the revelation, the world is left wondering what exactly Fujifilm has done wrong. A drawing of what might be an A-mount mopdel was shown at photokina but looks as if it could have been done by a teenager on the back of a school jotter; a prototype or mock-up NEX revision called the Lunar was little better. Clearly, Sony already announced its intention to allow approved partners to use the E-mount, and we can assume that the Hasselnex will come thus equipped. Carl Zeiss has announced a roadmap for E-mount lenses, and of course that would fit Hasselblad down to the ground. No need for a new lens range, their bodies (NEX-7/6 type?) would be sold with blueprinted Zeiss glass. Surely? Not just with relabelled Sony zooms?

And the bodies would be made in Sweden. That means less than you might assume, since all the internal component parts would presumably be sourced from Sony as a CKD kit. CKD is motor industry speak for ‘Completely Knocked Down’ – a car shipped as parts to a factory, to be assembled there. Hasselblad Sweden used once to be very good at assembling cameras, they recently moved all Danish production back to Gothenburg and re-established Swedish manufacture.

The BJP has been told the body would be aluminium. The NEX-7 is magnesium alloy. And the 7/6 body already looks really classy. The Lunar simply does not.

Image from the BJP

From the BJP report on this €5-6,000 version of the NEX-7 – click image to see their interview.

So, what of the H-series blads – made in Japan by Fuji, Hasselblad’s long-term partner in the H-range project?

And, when Hasselblad was quite willing to work with Rittreck/Norita/Fuji on rangefinder type cameras (the XPan was not their idea, it was a Rittreck/Norita concept) what has changed?

After all, Fuji’s XPro-1 and XF are staggeringly good cameras with a ridiculously ambitious and excellent range of lenses, not just superfast primes abut extending into popular zooms. They are built and styled to fit Hasselblad ambitions. Fuji optics have proved good enough for Hasselblad H.

Something has shifted. Maybe Hasselblad is no longer tied to Fujifilm and the announcement of manufacture returning to Gothenburg, made earlier this year, relates to a shift not from Denmark only but also from Japan. Perhaps Sony has demonstrated that superior medium-format size CMOS can be fabbed, saving costs for future generations of yet unimagined H-series bodies/backs where six 24 megapixel APS-C sensors will be stitched to create a 144 megapixel sensor measuring 47mm square!

Or perhaps Hasselblad realises that mirrorless need not mean hand-waved. They used to build waist-level cameras. How about a mirrorless waist-level, styled like a mini ‘blad and with the screen on top with a flip-up hood and magnifier?

Too much kölsch and imagination, I fear. But this certainly is strange news. A scoop for Sony – but exactly what for Hasselblad remains to be seen.

- DK

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