Explained: Why are Hasselblad and Leica cameras so expensive and why do people still buy them?

Every photography nerd 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 wish the engineering marvels that the brainiacs at Hasselblad and Leica do.

The legacy that these camera brands have is simply unmatched. No matter how big camera brands like Sony, Canon or Nikon are, they will never come close to the stature that Hasselblad and Leica have. In fact, this is exactly the situation right now. Sony, Canon, Nikon, and Fujifilm make some of the most technologically advanced cameras that are great for taking photos and videos. So good is the image quality of some of the cameras made by these brands 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 video as well as the latest Sony A7, Nikon Z9, or Canon R3. And yet, people are more than willing to shell out up to 10 times more money to get a Leica or a Hasselblad.Why are Hasselblad and Leica cameras so expensive and why do people still buy them?The cheapest Hasselblad money can buy is the X1D II 50C mirrorless medium format, which costs around $5,750 or just over Rs 4.5 Lakhs, for the body alone. That means you’ll have to shell out another $2,000 Rs 2-4 Lakhs for a compatible lens. At a minimum, you are looking to spend at least 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 roughly Rs 28 Lakhs, again, for the body alone. Add a pair of glasses, and you’re looking to spend around Rs 35-40 Lakhs easily. Leica has a similar story. So why do people spend so much on these cameras and lenses, when there are clearly plenty of cameras out there that offer “better value for money”? Resolution and detail Although the resolution of a sensor is not the absolute parameter to judge a camera, it does matter especially when you work professionally. A Hasselblad like the H6D-100C comes with a 100MP medium format medium sensor, which is larger than a full-frame sensor typically found in high-end Sony, Canon, and Nikon cameras. Hasselblad even has a camera with a 400MP sensor. Similarly, Leica’s currently best-selling camera, the M11, has a resolution of 60 MP. And keep in mind that these are larger pixels than are used in most consumer cameras, so the quality of each pixel is much better. Also, unlike most entry-level consumer cameras and smartphone cameras, Hasselblad and Leica do not use pixel binning. Pixel binning is a practice where smartphones take the average value of 8 to 16 pixels and count it as one. What this allows them to do is create resolutions like 100MP or 200MP that look great for the marketing team, but in reality, it generates a more manageable image close to 12MP. Simply put, Hasselblad and Leica don’t need pixel binning. In fact, since Hasselblads use 120mm sensors, they are better than Leicas in that regard. Hasselblad, Leica and Zeiss lenses are some of the best lenses in the world. These legacy brands make some of the sharpest, most color-accurate lenses. No matter how good a sensor you put inside a camera, if it’s not used with a good lens, the resolution, the dynamic range, it all falls apart. Scientists often use lenses from these manufacturers for astrophotography, as well as for taking images of flora and fauna for cataloging.Why are Hasselblad and Leica cameras so expensive and why do people still buy them?In fact, several space research organizations develop camera modules and sensors to send into space after spending millions of dollars and use standard commercially available lenses from Zeiss, Leica and Hasselblad. Dynamic Range One of the most important criteria that makes or breaks a camera is dynamic range. Hasselblads and Leicas have some of the best dynamic ranges of any camera brand. What this allows them to do is accurately capture the smallest details in the brightest and darkest parts in a single photograph, without having to expose the same frame twice or combine two different frames. This, combined with the incredibly high resolution of their sensors, means that anyone shooting with these cameras can print a billboard directly from the camera, without the need for processing. Color science Each brand of camera develops its own color science. To put it in very rudimentary terms, color science is basically the process and calculations used to record what a sensor sees. No camera sensor can reproduce the exact colors of an object. Basically, no camera is capable of capturing the true and real colors of an object. Even in humans, each pair of eyes has its own science of color. No two pairs of human eyes see the same shade of blue when looking up at the sky. Hasselblad and Leica are no different. However, of all the camera manufacturers in the world, they come the closest. Durability Hasselblads and Leicas are built like a tank. Hasselblads have often been taken on space missions simply because of the wide range of harsh environments they can work in. In fact, all the images we see of the first moon landing were taken with a Hasselblad. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin used a silver HDC camera in conjunction with a Zeiss 60mm f5.6 lens.Why are Hasselblad and Leica cameras so expensive and why do people still buy them?Similarly, the Leica has been to the top of mountains like K2 and taken on expeditions to Antarctica and Siberia, some of the coldest places on Earth. These cameras work perfectly fine without hiccups in situations where most electronics and mechanicals just give up. Quality Control Now this may not seem like a big deal, but every Leica and Hasselblad camera is assembled by hand. After that, each and every camera that is built is extensively tested for color accuracy, sharpness, and robustness. In a given year, both manufacturers can produce at most 10,000 units. By comparison, Nikon produces 10,000 units of its best-selling cameras every two days. Leicas and Hasselblads may not be the most complete cameras that are available on the market. There are much cheaper cameras that work wonders for most people, including professionals, who can shoot great video too. But if what you are looking for is a purely photographic camera, if you want to understand what photography has always been, you cannot choose anything other than a Leica or a Hasselblad. Via: FirstPost


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