While nothing has been announced officially, multiple outlets including Fox Business and Luminous Landscape have reported that DJI has bought a majority share of Hasselblad. Although Hasselblad hasn't really been Hasselblad since 1996, the latest acquisition leaves many photographers scratching their heads. Why would the top drone company want to buy a camera company known now for its medium format, digital still image cameras? Aren't drones used for shooting video? Is DJI getting into the surveillance game? So many questions, so few answers.
If you've followed Hasselblad at all in recent years, you know that they've been gasping for air in a market dominated by smartphones and a "smaller-the-better" mentality. First, they stopped producing their classic V-series film cameras, thought by many to be one of the best medium format systems ever. Then came the hilarious attempt at slapping their name and a fancy handle on a pair of Sony cameras, and calling them the Lunar and Stellar. These absurd cameras sold for many times more than the RX100 and NEX-7, came in lavish wooden boxes and did nothing more than the Sony versions except cover up for an inferiority complex. As a writer for B&H I was tasked with co-writing the over-the-top product descriptions (here and here) to make potential buyers feel like they were getting something special, (they were not).
Whispers of their demise have been floating around the industry for a few years now, so I'm happy that they didn't go the way of Rollei and Minolta and disappear forever. DJI first showed interest back in November of last year buy buying a minority stake, so something must have shown promise for them to gain a majority holding. But just what does this acquisition mean for the future of Hasselblad? Will they continue to produce digital medium format cameras, or will DJI simply use their technology and brand recognition to further their drone business?
Kevin Raber of Luminous Landscape first reported the news this morning, saying that the "information has come from numerous, reliable sources." DJI apparently told PC Mag "We have no further news about DJI's partnership with Hasselblad. We will continue to work together to push forward world-class imaging to creators around the world."
With the mirrorless X1D-50c and it's big brother the H6D-100c still not shipping, it's possible that Hasselblad didn't have the money to fulfill orders and sold the majority shares at a discount to keep the brand alive. It's likely that we'll never know the details behind the purchase, or the motivation, but soon enough we'll find out what Hasselblad's future holds. Let's hope it's a bright one.
Image used with permission of B Ystebo