Perry Oosting is Dutch, lives in Amsterdam, and commutes to Hasselblad’s headquaters in Sweden. Before joining the Hasselblad board and then becoming CEO of Hasselblad, he was CEO at Vertu, a luxury mobile phone brand, working in London for 5 years, and before that over 10 years with Bulgari, Gucci, Prada. By profession is a Gold and Silver Smith, working 3 years in North America.
When Perry joined Hasselblad, there was a partnership with Sony, producing a number of Hasselblad branded products, which has now ended. We spoke to Perry about working for Hasselblad:
Hasselblad are a great iconic brand, so he grabbed the opportunity to be CEO with both hands. He is enjoying the role, although 2015 was a difficult year for Hasselblad. Hasselblad changed direction, and spent a lot of time rebuilding Hasselblad back in Sweden. It was a year with financial constraints, and there were no new products released, but a lot of work behind the scenes. Starting to rebuild the Hasselblad brand, based on the historical foundations of Hasselblad, and what Hasselblad stands for: optical quality, Swedish craftsmanship, living history, iconic design.
Going back to Hasselblad’s core values, has Hasselblad invested heavily in Research and Development?
Yes, compared to when I joined, we now have 6 times more people working in R&D, we spent a year (2015) in preparation, and it’s in R&D that the development of future products is going to secure your future. If you look at Goteborg, Sweden, there is a great resource of talent to pull from for people, with Volvo, Ericsson, and other consultant companies available to help develop great things.
We now have 6 times more people working in R&D at Hasselblad
Has Hasselblad changed direction then, for example stopping making Sony products?
Yes, we stopped Sony development last year, and we have a strategic goal to widen the audience, but we would rather do this using our own products, rather than Sony (branded) products. This doesn’t mean we are entirely against partnerships, just that we need to find and work with the right partners.
We have a strategic goal to widen the audience, but we would rather do this using our own products, rather than Sony (branded) products.
Has the DJI investment changed Hasselblad’s direction?
No, they have a minority investment, and they have invested due to their belief in our business strategy. We have not changed strategy due to the investment. We would love to do more on the product side with DJI, but both companies are very busy. There is a huge pool of talent there, and we would love to work with them more. We have done two joint events with them, but beyond that there’s no product, yet, on the market. Strategic direction will remain the same.
You spoke about broadening the appeal of Hasselblad, and the new H6D product sits at the top of the market, what will you do to broaden the appeal, and do you plan to release something lower down in the market?
What would fit is something aimed at the pro-sumer, which we see as the dedicated amateur, passionate enthusiast, semi-professional, already shooting with a DSLR. Someone who is looking to see what’s next for the photographer to get to the next level. Part of this audience already buys into Leica, and our first step would be to look at this area, and look at price, and also portability. The new H6Ds we are launching have the best in class ergonomics in terms of handling, but they aren’t the most portable.
You have other companies such as Pentax in the medium format market, with the 645Z, that are quite competitively priced, and quite portable for a medium format camera. Is this area something that Hasselblad will be looking at?
Portability will be key – but how and which ways it will be portable is yet to be announced – it’s better to scream about something when you have something to say, and our ambition towards that direction is there. The good thing is that more people will come to medium format, and people are much more interested in quality.
There is more interest in the market in photography, in quality, in taking time to take photos, and people are interested in upgrading to medium format because people want to take their photography on to the next level. If we can widen the usage, it will be a more interesting space. Particularly with a brand like Hasselblad, which we call living history, the moon landing was great, we were the first camera on the moon, in fact there were 12 left on the moon, only 1 came back, but there are so many other stories to Hasselblad. Iconic images, the cover of Abbey Road, the Beatles, shot with Hasselblad, Richard Avedon Pictures, Steve Jobs portrait picture, Tim Flack shoots with Hasselblad. We want to bring across more of these kinds of stories.
The Hasselblad Masters Competition is also part of the story of Hasselblad as well. We normally have 4,000 people applying, we now have 12,000 people, 3 times more people applying, and there is some really great work there.
The introduction of higher resolution cameras, such as the 36mp Nikon D800, and 50mp Canon 5DS, has challenged photographers to take more time to get the best quality pictures – Do you think that people are going to need to work hard to get the most out of the new 100mp camera?
It’s not necessarily the megapixel count, it’s more how you use the equipment, and we started from scratch with the H6D, from ground zero, so that we could deliver what people were asking for. For example, USB3 instead of firewire, a new screen with higher resolution, much better live view, completely new UI, increased shutter speed from 1/800 to 1/2000s, higher ISO, dual slot: SD / CFast, 4K video, it’s not a video camera, its primary purpose is stills, but by the way, it also does video.
Is it an endless megapixel race? No, 100mp is great, but we already had the Hasselblad 200mp multi-shot solution.
Hasselblad are back, on the pinnacle of what people expect, with a true professional camera. Is it an endless megapixel race? No, 100mp is great, but we already had the Hasselblad 200mp multi-shot solution, which started with the H4D-200ms, and then the H5D-200ms, so museums have the high-resolution solutions they need, so they are also going to be interested in seeing the 100mp solution as well.
But it is up to the user to decide whether they need 100 or 50mp. We think from a brand point of view, the 100mp camera needs to be part of our portfolio. We are not doing it from a marketing point of view. Product and food photographers might need that resolution, plus all the features that the H6D can provide.
Do you think the introduction of a 50mp Canon DSLR has influenced the market?
Yes, there is the trading up trend. And there is a progression from a DSLR up to medium format, for improving quality. I think there will be more as well, with others coming into the market, Pentax came into the market, and more will come from a business point of view and an image point of view, meaning the market will expand. We will have to stay on top of our market. It starts with the H6D, and we will build on that with more products in the future.
Will Hasselblad be releasing a roadmap?
No, we think it’s better to over deliver rather than over-promise and then under-deliver. We would prefer to surprise the market with new products.
What do you think of the market overall, for example with the expansion of the market with full-frame mirrorless cameras from Sony?
It’s good, it confirms what I said, that there is more interest in photography, and younger generations are now getting into photography. Yes, they all use their mobile, but they’re looking at composition, how to express their creativity and they need different tools than just the mobile phone. If you look at our Instagram account, there is increased popularity and use of the V camera, and the CFV digital back, and it’s very popular with the younger generation, looking at composition, looking through the viewfinder, etc.
The new H6D features Wi-Fi, does this work with tablets etc?
Yes, this works with tablets, both iOS and Android, giving you full control over the camera, with live view.
Will the Hasselblad lenses cope with the 100mp sensor?
The Hasselblad lenses are all compatible, and if you get a new lens, then it supports the higher combined shutter speeds, (1/2000s), if you have the older lenses, then you’ll get a boost in shutter speed from 1/800 to 1/1000s. They are all compatible with the 100mp sensor.
When will the H6D cameras be available?
The H6D-50c will be available in April, and we have tried to make sure there is not a long delay after announcement. The H6D-100c has a June release date.
Where will Hasselblad be going in the future?
Especially from where we are now, we plan on making Hasselblad much more accessible, and that started with the H5D at a special price. In December we did 25% of our annual volume, which was amazing, so price sensitivity is important. This also saw an increase in lens sales by 3 times.
We will be launching the H6D on the 75th anniversary of Hasselblad, and launching this new camera we want to provide something amazing and reward those with investment Hasselblad lenses, so we will be offering excellent trade-in offers, for example you can trade in the H5D-50 and get up to 11400 euros on the H6D-100c, or 10,400 euros on H6D-50c. We will continue to sell the H5D-50c for 12500 euros.
Compared to Phase One, we are at a very competitive price point, and also from a trade-in point of view. Especially for our Hasselblad customers. We should also be more proud of our lenses, they are fantastic, but we don’t talk enough about it.
We also spoke to Ove Bengtson, Product Manager, about the new H6D. Ove joined Hasselblad and product developer in 1982, and has worked for Hasselblad for 34 years.
Can you tell us more about the new H6D?
We have completely redesigned the electronic hardware in the sensor unit of the camera because we have added USB 3, a full touch-screen, Wi-Fi on all models, support for the new 100mp sensor, video recording up to 4K. That puts some really tough requirements on the hardware, and firmware, which has been re-designed from the ground up giving a much more responsive camera, it’s much faster,
We have dual cards, SD card for compatibility, and CFast (not CF) because we need the speed, we can write up to 400mb/s required for 4K video. RAW files are 60 megabytes from the H6D-50c, and around 120 megabytes from the H6D-100c. 4K video is recorded at UHD resolution, at 25fps, but we are looking at increasing the number of frame rate options, for example, 24fps, 30fps for the US market.
We are using a Sony sensor, and we are able to get 15 stops of dynamic range from the sensor, which is very promising, to be able to get great highlight and shadow detail. We are also able to get over 560 shots from the H6D compared to 350 shots with the H5D, so we have increased the battery life mainly due to the new hardware.
The touch interface on the H6D is very quick to use, and you can change settings without having to go into the menus, using the control screen, which you can swipe down from the top in any mode. The touch-screen is designed to work in photo and playback modes, making it intuitive to use. We have both the touch-screen, and buttons to control the camera, which gives the user the choice.