End of an era: Hasselblad V-system takes its final bow


posted Monday, April 29, 2013 at 3:19 PM EDT

There's sad news today for camera historians and fans of film photography alike: Hasselblad has officially discontinued the medium-format 503CW camera, and with it the Hasselblad V System. First launched in the mid to late 1950s with the Hasselblad 500C and SWC, the V System has been with us for more than half a century -- an incredible feat, when you consider just how much the world has changed in that time.

As for the final model, the Hasselblad 503CW launched 17 years ago, all the way back in 1996 -- right as the digital revolution was just starting to spread its wings. Carrying a list price of US$3,460, the 503CW accepts Hasselblad's C, CB, CF, CFE, and CFi lenses, made by the legendary Carl Zeiss and together covering everything from 30 to 500mm. (Although only a subset of this range is still covered by currently-available models.) Both film and digital photography are possible, the latter being accomplished via a selection of available digital backs.

The Hasselblad 503CW is the latest in a fifty-plus year lineup of V System cameras.

With demand for the model having tapered off, production of the 503CW has already been halted. Hasselblad is quick to clarify that support for the V System will continue, and that there is still stock to sell thru the channel, but no more cameras in the line will be produced.

Commenting on the news, Hasselblad chairman and CEO Larry Hansen said:

"Everything has its place in time. The veteran 503CW combined with an extensive V System range of interchangeable lenses and accessories, was for seventeen years the camera of choice for discerning professionals and aspirational amateur photographers. But there has been a substantial decline in demand for this camera over the past five years or so and the time has now come for us to reluctantly consign the V System to history. In so doing we would like to thank all fans and customers for both their loyalty and their enthusiasm for our legacy Hasselblad V System.

Now of course the focus on medium format capture is on our H System - the world's most advanced camera system. The latest generation cameras represent medium format capture engineering at its most exemplary and are well-placed to secure and underpin the company's unrivalled reputation for providing highest image quality and craftsmanship. Additionally we are focusing on new products for advanced enthusiasts."

More details on the 503CW and the V System can be found on Hasselblad's website, for the time being.

With the Hasselblad 503CW now officially discontinued, the V System has come to an end.