When man took the first steps on the moon, a camera captured the moment forever. Today those pictures are a part of history. And so is the camera that was used to shoot them. The Hasselblad camera.
The first space photographs were taken with Hasselblad cameras. One Hasselblad is still orbiting around the earth. It was dropped by an astronaut while on a space walk. Do you know that a few Hasselblads are also lying on the moon? They were left behind to save weight on the return trip from the moon.
There’s something about the Hasselblad that makes news — almost as much as the events it shoots.
It could be because it is one of the world’s most superior cameras. Photographs taken with a Hasselblad are of a very high quality. So the world’s most historic moments have been captured on the Hasselblad. And some ‘out-of-the-world’ moments too.
The origin of this high-profile camera is as interesting as its experiences. To know how it originated, we have to go back in time to yet another historic moment.
It was the year 1939. Adolf Hitler’s Germany had just invaded Poland. Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. World War II had been sparked off. One day, a German Nazi plane was shot down for flying over Sweden. Although Sweden had not participated in the war, it was friendly with the Allies. And so, hostile to Germany. While digging into the wreckage of the aircraft, Swedish troops came across an aerial surveillance camera. It is a special kind of camera which enables a person to shoot pictures on the ground while being airborne. The crash of the German plane had not damaged the camera at all.
Sweden needed such superior cameras to keep an eye on the movements of the Germans, who were hovering near Swedish territory after having invaded Sweden’s neighbours –Finland, Denmark and Norway. It turned to Victor Hasselblad, a well-known photographer, and asked him whether he could duplicate the camera.
“I can make one better,” replied Hasselblad. He started work in a shed along with Ake Tranefors, a person who worked on machines. The result of their efforts was ready in 1940. The Hasselblad was born.
The Hasselblad is world famous for being precise, sturdy and dependable. The first 240 cameras were made by hand. This was followed by a type called model Ska4 which had a square format. During the war, the Air Force Survey camera MK80 was produced. From 1948 to 1990, 22 new models were produced and in the 90s, 10 more new models appeared, according to a report in ‘The Deccan Herald’.
But what about the man who gave the camera its name – Victor Hasselblad?
He was born in 1906 to a wealthy business family. A shy boy, Victor took long hikes in the country and formed a great interest in birds. He took to photography in his early teens. Right from the first, he showed an interest in camera design. He studied camera and photography abroad. He had a special passion for bird photography. He wrote a book “Flyttfagelstrak” (The Migratory Bird Passages), which is read widely by bird lovers even today.
During the years 1923 to 25, Victor worked in camera factories, learning all he could about various production aspects. When he returned to Sweden, he was well equipped with knowledge about his field. In 1933, he married Erna Nathhorst who was to back him fully on his project. He started the Victor Hasselblad AB, a camera manufacturing unit, in 1940. It has grown into a giant company today.
Victor Hasselblad died in 1978. His legacy, the Hasselblad camera, lives on. And it still makes news.