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Gear Rumors

Hasselblad To Be Bought By Phase One? Zeiss Loxia & Otus Announcements Coming Soon? {Daily Roundup}

By Anthony Thurston on October 5th 2015

Welcome to our roundup series where we will hit on several gear news and rumor topics each day. This gives you a chance to get caught up on all of the day’s news and rumors in one place. Make sure to check back daily for the latest gear news, rumors, and announcements.

Hasselblad Shopping Around, Phase One Leading Contender?

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Probably the most interesting thing I read all morning was about how medium format & luxury brand Hasselblad has continued its proverbial swirl down the toilet bowl in recent years. The company bungled its attempts at rebranding Sony products with poor design, and – let’s be nice – interesting pricing choices.

The medium format business is not in much better shape, apparently, with the latest crop of cameras from the major MF companies all using the same Sony sensor. According to Hasselblad‘s annual report, unless the company is purchased or rescued, it may not see it through 2016.

Rumor site, Photo Rumors published an interesting thought this morning, regarding the possible purchase of Hasselblad by Phase One. The move would make sense in that it would basically give Phase One the entire MF market (besides what Pentax has been putting out), but it would also be odd because Hasselblad‘s only real value to them is the brand – something that Phase One doesn’t really need.

The company who could really stand well to be Hasselblad‘s knight in shining armor here is Fuji, but the real question is if they want to go that route. We have heard for a while about how Fuji could have plans to go into the MF space, passing the FF market altogether. Purchasing Hasselblad would not only give them the tools to do that with a running start but also give them a luxury brand to base it all around.

Or what about Ricoh? They could buy Hasselblad and use their knowledge and expertise to improve their Pentax 645 cameras. I find that doubtful, but who knows. Nothing is certain at this point, except that Hasselblad is in real trouble. It will be an interesting 6-8 months for sure.

Zeiss Loxia and Otus Announcements Coming Soon

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According to a new report citing a ‘high credibility source’, Zeiss will announce the next round of Loxia and Otus lenses between October 12th and 16th, just ahead of Photo Plus 2015.

The rumored Loxia lens is the 21mm F/2.8, a lens that is supposed going to be based on the 21mm F/2.8 Biogon ZM lens. It will, of course, join the 50mm F/2 and 35mm F/2 Loxia lenses which have already proven to be some of the best third party options for the Sony FE system yet.

The rumored Otus lens will also be on the wider side of the spectrum, with an expected focal length of 28mm with an F/1.4 aperture. It will join the 50mm and 85mm Otus lenses that have set the bar for 35mm lens performance over the last couple of years.

I don’t know about you guys, but I am excited to see what Zeiss comes up with here. Being a Sony shooter, every FE lens announcement – even if I have no plans to purchase it – is something to get excited about.

Report Claims Sigma Has No Fuji X Plans For the Future

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I am going to file this under things I already knew without being told, but in case you were holding out some hope, here we go. According to a Fuji Rumors report this morning, Sigma has stated that it has absolutely no plans for adding Fuji X mount support to its lens lines.

This is not really a surprise, as I said above, if any APS-C/FF mirrorless company was going to get the love it would be Sony (which there are a few, let’s call them sub-par, APS-C Sigma ‘Art’ lenses) and their FE system. The fact that Sigma has yet to really produce anything of note for any mirrorless mount shows that the are still taking that ‘wait and see’ approach to see what companies stand out once the DSLR really starts to decline.

Still, it’s sad to hear. Both Fuji and Sony could greatly benefit from Art series lenses for their camera systems, and both systems would likely produce some killer art with Sigma’s help.

CSTV a7R II Review Part II – Video Features

Last week, I shared the CSTV a7R II review, part one, and this week I wanted to follow that up with part two. In this part of the review, Jordan talks about the video features of this camera, and how the ‘overheating’ is being overblown (something I agree with from my limited video testing so far). If you have been thinking about getting the a7R II for both stills and video, this is the part you will want to see.

What are your thoughts on today’s roundup? What news/rumors did we miss? What would you like to see covered in future roundups? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Dre Rolle

    Anthony question – (not a photo buff, just curious)
    Would it be worth it for Olympus to buy hasslelad to gain the rights to use their 4 shot sensor shift so OLympus could drop the hi-res shot minimum to 4 shots instead of 8, potentially allowing for handheld shooting?

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    • Stan Rogers

      The Hasselblad four-shot mode (on the 50MS and 200MS backs) is only for de-Bayering — you’re essentially taking the same picture at the same resolution with four different colour filter arrays, which gives you more accurate colour at each pixel and pushes colour moiré up to much higher frequencies. (Colour moiré and luminance/B&W moiré are, for all intents and purposes, the same thing when you don’t have to deal with colour interpolation, like with a four-shot camera or a Foveon-type sensor.) You get a lot more detail as a result, as you can see with the various Foveon-versus-D800E shootouts you can find on the web, but you don’t get more pixels; each resulting pixel is closer to the truth, so to speak. Putting it mathematically, it’s as if you shot the image with twice as many pixels… except that the “jaggies” are still at the lower resolution. When you start with 50MP, that’s hardly ever an issue; at 16MP or thereabouts, there is a sour spot where the image becomes big enough to see the jaggies but is still not big enough to force the viewer to step back. Admittedly, that’s only a problem for fussy viewers with good visual acuity who’ve been sucked into the picture by the detail they *can* see, hoping to find more. And with the ‘Blads you still have a conventional 50MP Bayer image if anything is moving at all.

      The actual up-rezzing happens with shots five and six on the 200MS (CCD) and 200c (CMOS) backs, where the sensor shift is half a pixel from the base image (shot five is displaced one-half pixel horizontally, and shot six is one-half pixel both horizontally and vertically. Its not a perfect system; that would need a full-colour ring-around at all three locations, making a total of twelve shots. Because of the colour information coming from the first four shots, though, the task of figuring out what was actually there in the scene is much easier even though shots five and six need to be demosaicked. So you’re not quite getting 200MP of “real detail” when shooting the six-shot 200MP sequence (it’s probably more like 170MP of detail spread out over 200MP), but it’s close enough to be getting on with and has already cost you six shots (which is about five seconds if you don’t have to wait for flashes to recycle) plus processing time.

      Note that the Hasselblad system relies on exact pixel shifts to work. If the camera moves or the subject moves, you *will* get severe artifacting. It’s strictly for still life/product/repro work on camera stands or tripods you wouldn’t want to carry around. Olympus takes two more shots, yes, but it does it quickly enough to make hand-holding marginally useful (a tripod/stand is still better, and a perfectly motionless subject will give better results); their image assembly works more like Photoshop’s “auto-align images” feature and doesn’t rely on exact pixel shifts in otherwise identical images to make it work. While both systems move the sensor around, they work on very different assumptions.

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  2. David Shepherd

    Hello SLR Lounge,

    I have an even bigger question that has not bee addressed. If Hasselblad is in bad shape and sold, what happens to Broncolor? I would hate to see Broncolor leave the market because of Hasselblad’s bad decisions.

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  3. Lauchlan Toal

    A shame about Hasselblad. Their H5x is still one of the best MFD bodies in production.

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  4. Stephen Jennings

    The thing with these MF companies I don’t understand.. is that if the prices were cut in half, there would be sooo many more MF shooters out there. I’d never buy a $30,000 camera for what I do .. $10k would be very expensive but at least in the realm of possibilities. $7k leaf lenses are absurd.. $3-4k again, in the realm of possibilities.

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  5. adam sanford

    As far no Sigma Art glass for the X mount, that’s got to be either size-of-market-related or AF-routine-related, right? I’m thinking it’s a little bit of both.

    Consider: Samyang’s simple mechanical designs are on virtually every mount. When you don’t have to sweat reverse engineering a company’s AF routine, *not* offering a lens in every mount is leaving money on the table. The principal technical differentiator between Sigma and Samyang is AF (right?), so I’m guessing Sigma puts a fair amount of investment into designing/testing/proving out AF routines. Perhaps that investment isn’t warranted for the (relatively) smaller X mount market.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      That is a fair point. The Fuji system is a fairly small market, but a growing one at that.

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    • adam sanford

      I also worry that Sigma’s most appealing glass to the Fuji/enthusiast crowd — the Art primes — are oversized / overkill for crop sensors. Those are huge pickle jar sort of lenses that will shoot fine on crop but are comically long and massive for such a small sensor.

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  6. adam sanford

    Fuji to buy Hasselblad? Because nothing plays to Fuji’s street shooter sensibilities like offering cameras the size of small dog. :-P I’m not seeing it.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      I would agree, if the plan was for Fuji just to take over operations for Hasselblad. But, taking Hasselblads system and brand, and giving it a Fuji twist, I could see. Maybe a Pentax 645 type system, maybe even smaller & cheaper, sounds right up Fuji’s avenue.

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    • Kim Farrelly

      Indeed, Fuji just might remake their GS645 rangefinder style MF. Speaking of Fuji and Sigma not making lenses for the x-mount [& I’m going to sound like a flaming fanboy here] the XF lenses are really good so might not be a reality for Sigma to try to compete and if you take the sales into account their probably is not the demand either. Zeiss tried it with their x-mount tout and failed…

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    • Stan Rogers

      Fuji has a long history of medium format cameras (rangefinders, extreme wide-angle zone focusers, panoramics, the rotating-back studio-centric GX680) and the current Hasselblad lenses are all Fujinons co-developed with ‘Blad. In the bad old days, Fuji’s presence in the small-format world was film, enlarger lenses, and cheap-and-nasty consumer/disposable cameras. They knew how to make a lens. They knew how to make film. But the stuff in between? If it wasn’t big, it wasn’t good. Things change, y’know?

      Fuji would actually be a very good fit here. The single-purpose, fixed-lens cameras wouldn’t fly these days, I don’t think — Sigma, Sony and Fuji’s own X-100 series have probably found the top end of that market already — but I think there’s room in the market for something that looks an awful lot like the GX680 (but with back movements) if they need to put the Fuji name on something. What’s needed most is the discipline to understand (and make clear) that they’re building serious tools that will only ever have niche appeal, not an aspirational brand for people who need to be seen holding the right sort of camera in the right sort of company.

      I can see PhaseOne wanting Hasselblad, too, since they have all of the parts needed for a system similar to TrueFocus built into the XF body and the IQ3 backs, but probably can’t find a clean way around the patent(s). The XF/IQ3 press and promotional material all seems to be hinting at it coming in the future, but there’s likely a very good reason why it isn’t there yet. (TrueFocus uses the camera’s accelerometers to compensate for focal plane shifts during focus-and-recompose, which is a necessary technique when the camera has interchangeable backs and you want to use AF. It also compensates for any focus shift during stop-down, but that would require a closed system like Hasselblad’s.) They’d probably also want the sensor-shift tech for their copy camera. (Let’s not forget that there is more to photography than weddings, portraits and landscapes.) There’s a bit of danger there, though, because if an entire market segment becomes a single brand it’ll stop looking like a market segment.

      (Without leaf shutter lenses, Pentax isn’t playing the same game. They probably *should* be, but they’re not. The traverse time for their FP shutter means that even HSS isn’t going to be a viable answer. Pentax (Ricoh) is an opinionated company, and they seem to be of the opinion that commercial photography somehow sullies the art. Nor is Leica, with its 2:3 aspect ratio — which made some sense when counting sprocket holes on 35mm film, but just represents wasted pixels for most print uses — and lower resolution, despite the handling and the to-die-for viewfinder. And neither camera can be used effectively with movements because the sensor is fixed; tilt/shift lenses on an SLR can only get you so far.)

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