Hasselblad has announced the Lunar, a new APS-C sensor camera, based squarely on the Sony NEX-7. I haven’t seen a published ship date, but Hasselblad has said the new Lunar will ship in the first quarter of 2013. The new camera will be available in a huge array of wood, leather, carbon-fiber and gold finishes, leading many observers to believe the esoteric camera company is choosing style and form over function. Hasselblad, of course denies these allegations, insisting that the new high-end mirrorless camera is worthy of carrying Arvid Viktor Hasselblad’s name.
The Sony-Hasselblad Connection
There is a small, but vocal group that will insist that Sony isn’t a “real” camera company. According to their line of thinking, Sony is a big electronic company, which is playing in the photographic field to earn lots of cash. But they really have no experience with true photography.
It is all lies, of course.
In the first place, Sony acquired all of Minolta Camera Company’s photographic assets. Minolta didn’t always get the recognition the company deserved, but when you examine the extensive list of Minolta’s firsts, it becomes obvious Minolta was the most innovative camera company during the later decades of the last century.
Much of the talent and experience that made Minolta so innovative has been added to Sony’s talent pool, which is one reason Sony is out-innovating rival camera makers today.
Secondly, Sony has been extremely involved in professional movie and video equipment for decades. It is true that still cameras are different beasts than camcorders, but there is plenty of overlap. That is even more true today as all dSLRs now offer a video recording option.
Finally, Sony can claim extensive experience in the digital camera realm. Kodak is credited with creating the first working digital camera; a highly ironic fact considering digital camera all but destroyed the Kodak empire.
Sony was one of the first to market with a practical digital camera. The early Mavicas and their like are little more than toys today, but they serve to pont out that Sony was producing digital cameras long before any of their current rivals.
So I take offense at anyone who sneers at Sony’s camera making prowess. Now, Hasselblad, one of the most iconic photographic nameplates of all time, is more or less endorsing Sony’s camera brand.
Hasselblad Lunar will use the NEX-7 Sensor and E-Mount Lenses
The new Lunar Mirrorless Camera will be based largely on the NEX-7. The body will be vastly different, but inside will be the same 24mp sensor. The Lunar will also use the E-mount lens system, which means the new camera will accept Sony E-Mount lenses. Even better, it sees apparent that Sony NEX users will be able to use Hasselblad E-mount lens on their cameras as well.
I have read several reports of the new Lunar, including several “Hands-on” reports. None of these, however go beyond calling the Lunar a rebranded NEX-7.
Hasselblad insists that the Lunar is not a NEX-7 in fancy duds, It uses many NEX-7 components, but it is still a Hasselblad Camera.
Which leaves me frustrated by these so-called hand-on Lunar reports. Does the Lunar use the processing engine from the NEX-7? Or will Hasselblad design their own processor?
While the sensor gets the lion’s amount of attention in most digi-cams, the fact is all digital cameras need a processor to create a useable image from the sensor.
The processor contributes a huge amount to the quality of images produced by any digital camera. Which is why I am curious as to the processor inside the Lunar. One clue to this question is that the Hasselblad website mentions that the Lunar uses a Bionz™ Processor. This is the name Sony uses for the processor on all Alpha dSLR, SLT and NEX cameras. From this, it seems Hasselblad may be using the exact same processor as the NEX-7.
What RAW format will the Hasselblad Lunar use?
Will the Lunar create the same RAW images as the NEX-7? Or will it have its own format and programs such as Lightroom and Aperture will need to be updated to recognize Lunar RAW images?
A number of people are disparaging the new camera, pointing out you could buy six NEX-7s for the price of a single Lunar. Others are scratching their heads over the fact that Hasselblad refused to budge from the medium format realm for so long, only to jump feet first into the APS-C sensor world.
There are further rumors that Hasselblad will announce a new (35mm size) full-frame camera in 2013. Sony Alpha Rumors indicates it will be a A-mount camera, and will accept Sony and Minolta A-mount lenses. Hasselblad is already endorsing A-mount lenses on their website. These are being promoted as companion lenses for the Lunar, using the Sony A-mount to E-Mount adapter. In addition, the Hasselblad Lunar website says Hasselblad will introduce additional MILC bodies (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens) in the future.
Based on this, it seems likely that any move by Hasselblad into the full-frame dSLR world would involve the A-mount. Will Hasselblad base a future full-frame camera on a SLT design such as the Alpha A99? Or will they design a new optical-mirror A-mount dSLR?
What do you think? Is Hasselblad’s new direction a good thing for Sony Alpha shooters? Or is a case of too little, too late for Hasselblad? Let us know in the comments below.