Hasselblad Lunar First Impressions Review
Sure, it might look nice, but a mahogany shell on a NEX-7 just ain't worth an extra $5,000. Fact.
It's certainly fitting that one of our final reviews from Photokina seems to wrap all the extravagance on display here into a single, infinitely dense black hole of shameless and unoriginal decadence. The Hasselblad Lunar, which will launch next year with a modest price tag of about $6,500, is the unabashed "one percent" of cameras. It’s what Marie Antoinette would use were she alive today. It’s a camera of such disgusting, aristocratic indulgence that it makes Liberace’s Christmas costume look like a poncho doused in the salty tears of dying pandas.
Okay, I exaggerate. But there’s a reason for our flabbergastitude. The Lunar is nothing but a shell—a profligate mass of stained wood and shiny aluminum shrouding an actual gem of photographic engineering: the Sony Alpha NEX-7. Given the price of the NEX-7 (approximately $1,300), there is no reason in the world to buy this product—unless, of course, you are the type of person who uses the mere cost of your possessions as leverage in asserting your worth among a class of facile patricians who wouldn’t know value if it slopped out the back end of a thoroughbred dressage horse. But enough ranting.
Design & Usability
Let us be clear, the Lunar looks nice, but it's designed poorly. When asked the difference between the Lunar and the NEX-7, a Hasselblad representative described it as such: “Well, with the Lunar it’s all about image. It’s also molded perfectly to your hand. I mean, you can just hold it for hours.”
Finally! A camera that you can just... hold. For hours! Forget innovation! Forget originality! DSLRs are the new gold-rimmed umbrellas! Let’s drop an extra $5,000 on a metallic tote. To be fair, though, Hasselblad is not exactly trying to trick consumers. The company is blatantly pitching this product—which is still in the prototype stage—as a “luxury camera."
So now you’re probably thinking, surely there must be some difference between the NEX-7 and the Lunar. And you’re right. The Lunar has two Hasselblad logos (we're guessing those are $1,000 a pop), two “H” logos (maybe $500 each?), a rubber grip (it’s red, which is expensive, so that’s another $500), and a “Lunar” logo that on its own wouldn't be that expensive, but since it’s in cursive it costs $1,500. So there. That’s the $5,000 difference between the Hasselblad Lunar and the Sony NEX-7.
In all seriousness, Hasselblad has supposedly tinkered with the insides to make it more "precise," but we can't imagine that they're going to significantly improve on the already excellent NEX-7 formula. The true reason behind the exorbitant price disparity comes from the "luxury" material design. Unfortunately, even this luxury design is executed poorly. Yes, the grip is more comfortable than the comparatively skimpy one on the NEX-7, but the shell design is so shoddy that you can practically see through to the NEX-7 buried underneath. (And anyway, the slim design was one of the headline features of the Sony camera.)
We realize that this was simply a prototype on display at a trade show, but better execution wouldn't solve the clunky interface. For example, the NEX-7's Tri-Navi control scheme has three control dials that are all easily accessible with just one hand. But the Lunar has three dials covered in a useless "luxury" finish that makes them difficult—nay, impossible—to manipulate with one hand. And even if you somehow find this unwieldy design strangely appealing, is it worth the beyond ridiculous price gouging?
To add insult to injury, your $6500 only gets you a rebranded Sony 18–55mm kit lens (which cost just $150 extra with the NEX-7). That's approaching scoop-my-eyes-out-with-a-spoon-I’m-so-irked territory. You'd think we could at least get that sexy Zeiss 24mm f/1.8, but it seems that even the new 16-50mm kit from the NEX-6 would be too much to ask.
See: Sony Alpha NEX-7.
I was hesitant to say this when I first started writing this review, but at the behest of fellow DCI writer Chris Snow, here it is: You’re a fool if you buy this camera. If you really want a “luxury” NEX-7, go down to your local camera retailer, buy one, take it to a custom wood decorator and have them build a shell around it. You can even infuse it with luscious waves of chocolatey amber, or whatever. To be honest, though, if my closest friend did that to my already-awesome NEX-7, I would probably never speak to him again.