Why are Hasselblad and Leica cameras so expensive and why people are still buying them – Technology News, Firstpost
Mehul DasMay 27, 2022 17:53:33 IST
Any photography geek worth their salt has imagined what it must be like to shoot with a Hasselblad or a Leica. Even seasoned professionals can’t help but lust for the engineering marvels that the Hasselblad and Leica boffins make.
The legacy these camera brands have is simply unparalleled. As great as a camera is from brands like Sony, Canon or Nikon, they will never come close to the status that Hasselblad and Leica have. In fact, this is exactly what the situation is right now.
Sony, Canon, Nikon and Fujifilm make some of the most technologically advanced cameras that are great for shooting both stills and video. The image quality of some of these brands’ cameras is so good that they have been used in feature films and documentaries. Sure, they don’t compare to the Arri or Red cameras, but they’re pretty close.
Hasselblad and Leica, on the other hand, don’t have cameras that can shoot videos nearly as well as your latest Sony A7s, Nikon Z9 or Canon R3. And yet people are more than willing to spend up to 10 times more money to get a Leica or a Hasselblad.
The cheapest Hasselblad money can buy is the X1D II 50C mirrorless medium format, which goes for about $5,750 or just over Rs 4.5 Lakhs just for the body. That means you have to pay another $2,000 Rs 2-4 Lakhs for a compatible lens. You want to spend a minimum of Rs 6-8 Lakhs. And that’s not even their current best-selling camera. That will have to be the H6D-100c, which starts at $32,000, or about Rs 28 Lakhs, again, just for the body. Add a few lenses and you will easily want to spend around Rs 35-40 Lakhs.
Leica has a similar story. So why do people spend so much on these cameras and lenses when there are clearly many cameras that offer “better value for money”?
Resolution and detail
While a sensor’s resolution isn’t the absolute parameter to judge a camera, it does matter, especially if you’re working professionally. A Hasselblad like the H6D-100C comes with a 100MP medium format sensor, which is larger than that of a full frame sensor normally found on high-end Sony, Canon and Nikon cameras. Hasselblad even has a camera with a 400MP sensor. Likewise, Leica’s currently best-selling camera, the M11, has a resolution of 60 MP.
And mind you, these are larger pixels than what’s used in most consumer cameras, so the quality of each pixel is much better anyway. In addition, unlike most entry-level and consumer-grade smartphone cameras, Hasselblad and Leica do not use pixel binning. Pixel binning is a practice where smartphones take the average value of 8-16 pixels and count it as one. What this allows them to do is come up with resolutions like 100MP or 200MP, which looks great to the marketing team but actually produces an image close to a more manageable 12MP. Simply put, Hasselblad and Leica don’t need to stack pixels. Since Hasselblads uses 120MM sensors, they are even better than Leica in that sense.
Hasselblad, Leica and Zeiss make some of the best lenses in the world. These older brands make some of the sharpest and most color accurate lenses. It doesn’t matter how great a sensor is in a camera, if it’s not used with a good lens, the resolution, the dynamic range, everything falls apart. Scientists often use lenses from these manufacturers for astrophotography and to create images of flora and fauna to catalog them.
In fact, a number of space research organizations are developing camera modules and sensors to send into space after spending millions of dollars and use standard commercially available lenses from Zeiss, Leica and Hasselblad.
One of the biggest criteria that makes or breaks a camera is its dynamic range. Hasselblads and Leicas have the best dynamic range of any camera brand. This allows them to accurately capture the finest details in the brightest and darkest areas in a single photo, without having to expose the same frame twice or compose two different frames. This, combined with the incredibly high resolution of the sensors, means that anyone shooting on these cameras can have a billboard printed directly from the camera, with no processing required.
Each camera brand develops its own color science. To put it very rudimentarily, color science is basically the process and calculations used to record what a sensor sees. No camera sensor can mimic the exact colors of an object. In short, no camera is ever capable of capturing the true, true-to-life colors of an object. Even in humans, each pair of eyes has its own color science. No two pairs of human eyes see the same shade of blue when looking at the sky. Hasselblad and Leica are no different. Of all the camera makers in the world, however, they come closest.
Hasselblads and Leicas are built like a tank. Hasselblads have often been taken on space missions simply because of the wide range of hostile environments they can operate in. In fact, all the images we see from the first moon landing were taken with a Hasselblad. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin used a silver HDC camera along with a Zeiss 60mm f5.6 lens.
Likewise, the Leica has been to the top of mountains like K2, and has been taken on expeditions to Antarctica and Siberia, some of the coldest places on Earth. These cameras work perfectly without a hitch in situations where most electronic and mechanical items just give up.
Now this may not seem like such an important aspect, but every Leica and Hasselblad camera is assembled by hand. After that, every camera that is built is thoroughly tested for color accuracy, sharpness and robustness. In any given year, both manufacturers can produce up to 10,000 units. In comparison, Nikon produces 10,000 units of their best-selling cameras every few days.
Leicas and Hasselblads may not be the most well-rounded cameras on the market. There are many cheaper cameras that work wonders for most people, including professionals, who can also shoot great videos. But if you are looking for a pure photography camera, if you want to understand what photography has always been about, then you can’t help but choose a Leica or a Hasselblad.