Home Cameras/Lenses Hasselblad Hasselblad Lunar: The kitschy side of the moon

Hasselblad Lunar: The kitschy side of the moon

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 Reminiscent of a 1950s radiogram, this black lacquer case promises everything but delivers little. 
Reminiscent of a 1950s radiogram, this black lacquer case promises everything but delivers little. 

Ah, the Lunar. It was never the full moon, was it? This camera, an over-styled and over-priced geegaw bearing the Hasselblad name, was something of an enigma from the start. How could a mass-produced camera and lens worth under £1,000 be sold for six times as much, outré styling and an exceedingly fancy box notwithstanding?

Leica tackled the branding game in a much more sensible manner. Its versions of Panasonic compacts (D-Lux and V-Lux) carry a relatively tiny premium and offer several benefits, not least the name. Admittedly, they aren’t covered in carbon fibre or wooden grips — mercifully so. But, the question remains: What on earth was Hasselblad thinking about?

 Get a load of that reflection and the silver inlay. Attention focuses again on the box.
Get a load of that reflection and the silver inlay. Attention focuses again on the box.

Quick shuftie

Whereas the Hasselblad Lunar at £6,000 was not much of a bargain, is it any better value at, say, £800? Personally, I’m not convinced — primarily because the camera is now several generations old. But I have a friend who clearly thinks it might be a bargain. He has bagged a mint Lunar so I donned my RayBans and went along for a quick shuftie.

Now we all know that behind all that glitter is a common-or-garden Sony NEX-7. The accompanying 18-55  kit lens is a good starter zoom but, to paraphrase Churchill, it is a modest lens that has much to be modest about.  It remains unassuming, even with the Hasselblad moniker on its barrel.

 One of the many, many versions of the Lunar. This is a relatively tasteful piece with leather grip and fingerprint-style carbon fibre coating. That 18-55 zoom is a modest performer, unworthy of a six-grand camera.
One of the many, many versions of the Lunar. This is a relatively tasteful piece with leather grip and fingerprint-style carbon fibre coating. That 18-55 zoom is a modest performer, unworthy of a six-grand camera.

But what presentation! The box is magnificent, a black-lacquered, satin-lined jewel case of a construction that promises, ultimately, less than it delivers. Personally I am not a fan of tarted up cameras and this particular model (one of many variations offered by Hasselblad) is the photographic equivalent of a thick gold chain resting a hairy chest. The body is in carbon fibre, but a of strange design that gives the impression of being festooned with finger prints even when clean. The grip is covered in high-quality brown leather and is complemented by a very attractive leather neck strap with deep Hasselblad tooling. That’s my favourite bit. 

Worthy

In all, the presentation is worthy of a £20-grand Leica special edition. It’s just a pity that the camera within is no collectors’ piece. Maybe a collector of kitsch would approve but, for the thick end of £6,000, I wouldn’t have been plonking down my credit card on the counter of the nearest Hasselblad dealer.

Sad to say, the over-dressed and over-rated Lunar was not destined for stardom. In its day the NEX-7 was a good camera and, frankly, didn’t deserve this degree of gratuitous kitschification. Yet the Lunar does have some redeeming features. That grip does a good job and the camera feels chunky and purposeful in the hand — better so, as I remember than the basic Sony. It all boils down to a question of taste and having more money than is perhaps good for one.

Anyway, the new owner of this particular Lunar was prepared to pay not £6,000, not £3,000, no, not even £1,000. My friends, it was a snip at £800. Yet who is to say this isn’t the collectors’ sweet point for this camera edition? The new owner is a man with a great deal of market savvy and perhaps the Lunar will actually appreciate from now on. If so, it will succeed as a monument to marketing hubris.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. That camera looks a bit like a young girl who has just self applied (mummy’s) makeup for the first time.

    Not a good example of the understatement.

    No sir.

  2. I owned an NEX 7. I liked it. But that was during the launch of the new-digital-camera-a-day firestorm; it is long gone. In retrospect, I should probably have held on to it…..The dual control feature has not returned on any other camera. Looking at the Luna, it appears they bulked the NEX 7 up a bit; it also looks like they screwed up the positioning of the dual control wheels. Is that the same messed NEX 7 up hot-shoe configuration?

    • Funny thing, Wayne, I always intended to get an NEX-7. I even watched an over-priced used version in the window of the now-defunct R.G.Lewis for several months (the commission seller wasn’t for moving and consequently it didn’t sell. He probably still has it). Somehow, though, I never tried any of the Sony APS-C offerings and went straight to the RX1 and A7. All gone now, though.

  3. Just a pimped-up Sony NEX-7 and they did not even replace that wobbly Sony kit-zoom lens with a Zeiss lens. I visited the Photokina back in 2012 and as a long time Hasselblad user visited the Hasselblad booth. There I saw this "thing" for the first time. In my bag I had my own NEX-7 with 18-55mm kit zoom which I took out for comparison… "…what the bl…y hell is this? A hoax? At that price?" I thought and that was the end of Hasselblad’s high reputation as far as I was concerned. Victor Hasselblad must have rotated in his grave…

    • Couldn’t agree more. I hope they sacked the marketing consultancy that suggested the Lunar(tic) would be a good idea. What was the other disaster, the RX100 — Stellar or something equally inappropriate? Falling star, more like it.

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