PetaPixel

A Review of the Hasselblad Stellar

hasselbladstellar

From the moment of its announcement, Hasselblad’s Stellar camera’s purpose has been controlling the damage done by the same company’s Lunar crash landing. The latter camera is (was?) a ridiculous thing as noted in my Hasselblad Lunar review.

In addition to catching up on Hasselblad’s lost dignity, the Stellar also needs to introduce as little damage as possible. After all, the Sony RX100 camera that the Stellar is based on was already discontinued at the time the Stellar was launched, but the latter’s price is almost $2000 (~€1500). That is more than 2.5X the price of the RX100 successor, the RX100 II.

The Sony RX100: the camera under the Stellar's shiny surface

The Sony RX100: the camera under the Stellar’s shiny surface

Like the Lunar review, this Stellar review takes a look at what Hasselblad has done to enhance the supposedly vanilla aesthetics of the Sony RX100. I had the opportunity to take a look at two configurations. Like the Lunar, the Stellar also offers options for customisation.

Packaging

Hasselblad_Stellar_boxes

Usually I roll my eyes about things like boxes but the Stellars’ boxes are beautiful. If the box didn’t have Stellar written on the lid (see first image on this page), the box can justify at least a little bit of the final cost. Only time will tell if having ‘Stellar’ written on it will make things more desirable.

Main Construction

Hasselblad_Stellar_grip_wood

Hasselblad_Stellar_grip_black

The grip is possibly the most prominent feature of the Stellar and it doesn’t do a bad job. The Lunar’s grip was universally ridiculed for looking strange and even “phallic” as put by some. Both of the grip options looked good. Perhaps these new Hasselblad fittings are better suited for smaller cameras than larger ones.

In the smaller size, the material of the black grip on the right (above) makes one want to have a closer look whereas on the Lunar you can see the whole pattern from afar because of its massive features. What does everyone think about the screws? I can’t tell if the cameras are better with or without them.

Hasselblad_Stellar_top_dial

The top dial looks similar to the Lunar as well and the construction is the same or better. Still, I think the camera can do with less chrome text and icons. Afterall, this is the only place on the entire camera body where chrome is used. It’s clear that Hasselblad’s designers didn’t go with the less is more design philosophy.

Hasselblad_Stellar_rear_buttons

One of the most important things to note is how the Stellar’s body is made in comparison to the Lunar body. While the latter seems merely a housing over an existing Sony body, with buttons, the LCD and battery area buried inside the bulky Hasselblad cover, the Stellar seems to do it right (i.e. it seems to replace the original Sony housing with the Hasselblad one).

While there was no RX100 to compare side-by-side at the time (because it is now long discontinued), the Stellar buttons and dials are easily reachable without the need for the long finger nails that a Lunar user would likely have.

Hasselblad_Stellar_battery

The battery compartment is a place that I look at when examining the construction of a body as it gives a cross-section view of the different outer layers of the camera housing. Here you can see the thin Hasselblad housing (gray). Hopefully they can do without the blue latch in the final production versions because the camera has a lot of different colours as is.

Hasselblad_Stellar_side

In the side-view of the body above, you can see nice neat lines. Again, I’m puzzled by their use of screws that are different to the ones used on the grip. I have to ask, is there an option to customise these things, Hasselblad?

Other Details

Hasselblad_Stellar_under_gray

Hasselblad_Stellar_under_demo

The Lunar I reviewed was a final-production model and not a demo. However, at least one of Stellar bodies were a demo model, as you can see from the sticker underneath. Another interesting difference between the Lunar and the Stellar is the mentioning of “made in Japan”. If you remember from the Lunar review, the camera had “made in Sweden” written on the underside. It all makes sense, really… the Stellar is the whole camera of which most parts were made by a Japanese company and the Lunar is just a housing made entirely in Sweden!

Hasselblad_Stellar_strap_italy

The strap that comes with the cameras don’t look too bad either. Made in Italy this time. Hasselblad should become a fashion house and make luxury straps and cases for cameras.

Finally…

The unavoidable question is whether all this is worth it when you are paying $2000 for a discontinued camera which is the Sony RX100. The RX100 had immense popularity due to its relatively large sensor and versatile lens. The RX100 II is newer and has improvements on paper but out of these there’s very little that will show up in every photo that you take. So if you’re looking for a unique look in a good pocket camera like a RX100/RX100 II, the Stellar will get you that, if you can afford it.

Hasselblad_Stellar_box_logo

If you’re an investor and if you’re wondering if this is something that is worth getting then the answer is easy: no. There’s no doubt that the internals of these cameras were made no differently to how regular Sony RX100s were made. I haven’t contacted Sony for this but it’s a good bet that they weren’t expecting the lifespan of a RX100 to be even 15 years, which is the time when things become borderline collectible.

The original Leicas had to go to wars and 6×6 Hasselblads had to work on the moon for them to get the recognition they first achieved. They became even more popular when they inspired photographers to do their best. Does anyone see a Lunar or a Stellar doing any of these ever? I think it’s more likely that these Hasselblads will become Sony collectibles one day, instead.


You can find my other reviews and articles on my blog and on Flickr. These cameras can be seen at or ordered from Camera Lane, Melbourne.


About the author: Geno W is a blogger who writes about photography. Visit his website here. This article originally appeared here.


 
  • tttulio

    who buys it>?

  • http://www.observingtime.com/ agour

    Why not compare it to something else, as opposed to another crappy product in the same line?

  • zet

    Amazingly great photos with the review! Photography expert talking here.

  • Red John

    Nice review specially the image samples! Ooh…. Ahhhh!

  • JoeNoName

    Maybe David Lynch as his pocket camera

  • Bewar3them00n

    So, has anyone actually taken any shots with it yet? And do you know for a fact this is just a Sony with a fancy, expensive shell? Maybe they’ve introduced a new bespoke firmware that gives the lens and sensor a boost? Who knows?
    Seems like the knives were out from the start for the Stellar, but until we see product shots, and side by sides comparisons with the RX100, how do we know?

  • JayyFinlayson

    In my opinion. I think the whole design is horribly ugly.

  • JayyFinlayson

    He does seem like the type of person who’ll buy this compact

  • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

    Image quality credit goes to Samsung Galaxy Note II handheld goodness. Didn’t have another camera on me at the time.

  • Rabi Abonour

    The RX100 looks so, so much better.

  • Gman

    beautiful boxes or boxes constructed from paper mache make no difference to the image produced by the camera.

  • Jan_314

    You reviewed *two* Hasselblads, why not use one to take photos of the other one? ;-)

  • joe schmo

    Yeah, you really gotta put watermarks on photos of that quality, otherwise everyone on the web is going to be claiming ownership.

  • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

    I like Samsung over Sony :D

  • Chester A. Arthur

    The RX100 is not discontinued, much less “long discontinued.” It not only is still being sold as a current model, concurrent with its successor, but the price on the RX100 has only dropped from ~$650 to ~$600. Less than a 10% drop.

    And this article really should not be billed as a “review” of the Stellar. It is, at best, a preview, but not even really that. At no point does the “reviewer” even turn the camera on. (Yeah, there’s presumably no point as we’ve all seen how the RX100 works, but still.)

    Those points made, it was interesting to have a closer look at the physical changes that “Hasselblad” made. Too bad the “reviewer” didn’t use a real camera to take the photos…

  • Becca Gulliver

    It looks exactly like my RX100, with extra bits tacked on.

  • Rob

    Remember the 70,s when young lads took perfectly nice cars and put on flared arches and furry dice, Hasselblad, grow-up

  • JoeNoName

    he bought the Lunar…

  • Briwil

    RX100 isn’t discontinued at all, still being made alongside its big brother.

  • Ronan

    “Hopefully they can do without the blue latch in the final production versions because the camera has a lot of different colours as is.” <<<< Seriously???

  • eddieONE

    I have the Sony RX100 and it is worth the $648 I paid for it. The Stellar is not worth the money.

  • Free Camera Review

    I wondered how Hasselblad would reinvent itself after not having the biggest format. Now it has the funkiest grip!

  • ruwock29

    learn how to make 50 $ daily from home! Just quickly visit surveymoneymaker dot net

  • Albert Brian

    Hassleblad needs to fire the design team and get someone on board who is not a tacky over produced fool. Hassleblad is known for Image quality. can’t they provide that without a dressed up rebranded sony? The lunar looks better drawn than in execution. They had a great RF camera that shot panoramic, why not reinvent that into digital format? I hate all the looks of the new hassy’s. Fix it!