So who owns a Hasselblad Stellar? C’mon, be honest!

hasselblad-stellar-special-edition-cameras-2

So who owns a Hasselblad Stellar? C’mon, be honest!

UPDATE: According to the poll below almost 50 of my readers here have purchased and bought the Stellar. Guess that they have been selling as this poll only represents the readers HERE. Thanks for voting!

So I was going through e-mails today and someone I know purchased an orange special edition Hasselblad Stellar. You know, the Sony RX100 clone made by Hasselblad for 4X the cost of the Sony RX100. Well, the RX100 can be had for $500 today and the standard Stellar goes for $1995.00 yet it is the SAME exact camera with some added bling and flash and pizazz. Believe it or not, some do care about these things as when you have a good-looking cameras that also performs well, it does indeed inspire confidence in those who like this kind of stuff. No, it does not create better photos than a Sony RX100 as it is the exact same camera on the inside and besides, it is the photographer than makes the photos and creates the images, NOT the camera.

I was remembering my time with the original Sony RX100 and thinking back to how great of a camera that it is. Now with the RX100 III coming out, I am excited to see the latest evolution of the model. The new RX100 III will feature the integrated EVF and other new features and it will come in at $798. If it lives up to the RX100 1, then it will be well worth the cost for those who want a high quality pocket rocket of a camera. The original RX100 is a HUGELY capable camera that some dismiss due to size yet it does so many things so well…I expect the III to be amazing.

Hasselblad-Launches-Special-Edition-Stellar-Compact-Cameras-396469-2

Which leads me back to Hasselblad and the Stellar. I was in NYC a while ago and was able to go into a shop and handle and examine the Stellar. At $2000 I was having a HARD time understating it and trying to figure out WHO would buy one and why. I asked the shop owner if he sold many and he said that yes indeed, it was much more successful than even Hasselblad had hoped. Well, I called BS and chalked it up to sales talk.

To put things into perspective Leica has the X2 which is $2000 new yet I prefer the Sony RX100 to the X2 for the speed, size, low light ability and overall versatility (video , macro, etc)  – so if I had $2000 and had to choose between only a Leica X2 or Stellar, I would take the stellar and I would have just as handsome of a camera with an equal build, more solid feel, faster AF, video capability, better lowlight, closer focusing ability and better resale.

Back to my handling with the Stellar…The shop owner pulled out the black carbon fiber version and the camera was housed in a glossy all wooden box. Had to be the fanciest packaging I have come across to date, even putting to shame Leica packaging. When I opened this box, the camera was perfectly nestled in its location with a luxurious and soft leather strap attached. I picked it up, turned it on and saw the “HASSELBLAD” logo pop on the screen. I have to admit, it felt much nicer than the Sony version. It was more solid and hefty and the grip was quite handsome. Still, 4X the cost of the RX100 (at the time it was 3X the cost) was overboard and I was not getting it. Sure we have the fancy luxury packaging. Sure we have the Hasselblad name and logo and yes we had the much more solid buttons and a better tactile feel to them. The fancy choice in wooden grips was also very cool. Wait.. now I was getting it.

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The more I held it and thought about it, the more I started to understand why some would choose to buy such a camera. It looked the part, it felt the part and it had the name that many associate with incredible cameras and optics. It was a much better feeling and looking RX100 and it gave a sense of pride. Of course, I did not buy one but I did try to get a discount offering to review it for the shop if he sold it to me at a discounted price. He offered me $22 off the price, and of course I declined. 🙂 I was hoping for 50% off which I knew would never happen.

While I do not think I could or would ever spend 4X the cost of the RX100 for a “Stellar”, especially since the improved RX100 III is almost here for $798 I do understand it more after handling it and seeing what it was all about. I would pay about $1000 for one personally, as I did love the look and feel of the black one. The RX100, even Version 1 is still a pretty “stellar” camera as it is and capable of fantastic IQ. To have one in a more hefty and better made body wold be nice, and the grip felt great.

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I mean, would we expect Hassleblad to release it at $500? No! $1000? No, as it would not be worth it to them due to the added expense of the wood grip, packaging and the fact that they pay Sony to be able to use the body. Their price of $2000 is a little much IMO but about right for what you get. Those who DO buy it will value things like exclusivity and style and NAME. Leica does the same with some of their cameras. Models like the D-Lux are rebranded Panasonic models that go for a few hundred more than the Panasonic version. Leica offers a better warranty, lightroom software and better design and they charge $400-$500 for this. Hasselblad is charging a $1500 premium but there is a MUCH smaller market for the Hasselblad Stellar than there is the Leica D-Lux 6, so they will never sell as many which means they have to price it higher.

Now the new “Special Edition” stellar is here and comes in at $3300! Insane.

This takes me back to the start of this article. A guy I know and respect bought one and LOVES it. He had the RX100 and has a Leica M as well. He was thrilled with the orange SE stellar and had zero buyers remorse. He is not a rich guy, just an average guy who really loves to shoot. He loves his Sony RX100 so much he decided to splurge for one in his favorite color of orange. He is as happy as a man can be.

The bottom line is that when we use and shoot with what makes us happy then WE are at our happiest and most positive. This helps to motivate and the result CAN BE better photos. So nothing wrong with someone buying what they want and what they enjoy as long as it makes them happy. Many love to bash these cameras but there is no point to that really. Those who bash it are NOT the target market for the camera. Just as those who bash Leica will never buy one or own one. The fact is that there are those who do buy them and do love them and even if that number is very small in the grand scheme of things it just adds to the value of the item, even if it is a rip off of a dated camera 🙂

BTW, I will be reviewing the RX100 III and A7s soon and am looking forward to it.

So my question is to the readers out there:

WHO HERE HAS BOUGHT A STELLAR? Hasselblad says it has been a huge success, so who has bought one? Anyone here? If so, answer the poll below with a yes or no! 

[polldaddy poll=8117525]

67 Comments

  1. P.S – I just bought 2 more Stellar SE’s from B&H, champagne/zebra wood at $649 each. One i might give to my daughter as a college graduation gift, the other might end up on Ebay at something like a $1000 price point (including 64gb SDXC memory card and extra battery). I would make a $300 profit on it, will see about that. But I love the champagne/zebra wood combo, all the other woods seem so “bland”… nice colors, but nothing special to them. At least the zebra wood has beautiful, very contrasting grain running through it, I like that!

  2. Hi all, I just bought a Stellar Special Edition champagne/zebra wood from B&H Photo (bhphotovideo.com), they are selling them right now (@1-5-16) for $649! And before you dis’ me for doing that, follow me here….

    I got into 35mm photography back in my Vietnam days, bought my Pentax Spotmatic there, along with the requisite 80-200mm zoom lens, 28mm wide angle lens, closeup lenses, bellows unit, extension tubes, Vivitar 283 flash, all the appropriate gear. Got back to the states, carried all that stuff around in my camera bag for many years… through trips to Disney World, Busch Gardens, the beach, wherever we went that I figured I would want pictures from.

    But now, after carrying this (what seems like)10 pound bag of camera gear with me all those years, I am SO TOTALLY OVER THAT! All I want now is (basically) a point and shoot camera that takes high quality pictures, something I can slip into a pocket instead of having this10 pound bag hanging from my shoulder! So when I saw this Stellar from B&H for $649, I grabbed it! I know Hasselblad is known for high quality cameras, and a Carl Zeiss lens is among the best there is.

    Of course I would not pay $2000, or probably even $1000 for this camera on my budget, but at $649, I could not resist! So now I have this very high quality, pocketable camera, to easily take with me anywhere. And if the 100mm zoom range doesn’t get me close enough to the subject, at 20 megapixels quality, I can still Photoshop zoom in to the area I was envisioning when I took the picture.

    So that’s why I bought my Stellar SE, ’nuff said?

  3. Yep, I did.
    Amazon blitz selling at 0400 CET = 780€. (Mahogany “regular”).
    And I’m loving it !
    I’m only able to take good pictures with a special and superlative object (Leica M8 bespoke, Rollei 2,8GX Expression, Rollei FW 4.0 Weitwinkel, Rollei 35S Platinum, Leica S2, etc…). I really don’t care if it’s snobbish, ’cause I am snob… I like beautiful and rare objects… even if they’re outdated or too expensive.
    It’s good for my mental health. So…

  4. Friend brought one in to show me – he got it as a gift. I,loved it and promptly bought two, one for me one for a friend. Really looking forward to using it. About usd 900 each so,price seemed ok.

    • I wouldn’t give it to you for free and wouldn’t sell it to you. Because it’s a great looking camera and it’s cheap at the moment. So glad I bou it 🙂

  5. Steve I can not believe you think that the Sony RX100 will give you better IQ than the Leica X2.
    X2 has a Larger sensor , so the Noise is better and the Colours are better than the RX100.

    • What I said was the Sony is more versatile and holds its own with the X2 for IQ, as it does. I said the RX100 is faster, smaller, can focus closer, has a swivel LCD, good video and is damn good all around. I have seen photos from the RX100 that blow away many I have seen from the X2. The X2 is also not so hot in low light and yes, the RX100, IMO, beats it for low light use. I have used BOTH extensively. I have owned both. The X2 looks nicer and is an attractive camera but today, in 2014, I would much rather have an RX100 for $500 than an X2 at $2k for all of the reason I listed. Either camera can deliver the goods but the Sony allows you to do much more to get there. Below is a great link with a great story and images about the RX100.

      http://allanmcleodroney.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/what-camera-should-i-buy/

      • Point Taken and I respect your opinion and I now agree with you.
        keep up the great work steve.

  6. Steve: I’m confused about one thing. You state that the Hass is the exact same camera (+grip), but you also state that the buttons are better, and I think someone said wi-fi was added. So what, exactly, did Hass add to the camera? Also, you mention a $3300 version, but didn’t mention what Hass added to it for the extra $$$. Personally, I wouldn’t buy the Hass, but I would not call anyone stupid or an ‘idiot’ for buying any camera they like. I pre-ordered the MKIII (from this site), and I see on the BH website my order is ‘processing’. I’m waiting with ‘bated breath’. I’m also excited to ready your MKIII review when it comes. Thanks for the great work.

    • NOTHING was added to the camera, it is a RX100 inside 100%. Nothing more, nothing less. The outside has been enhanced with better materials and constriction. It feels very solid and well made. The dial and buttons are solid and have a quality feel. It is basically a better made (and some would say better looking, others would say more ugly) Rx100 V1.

  7. Come on. Everybody realizes this is not a real camera to use.

    This is like the Leica “special editions” to commemorate this or that anniversary or event or photographer or organization, in special paint or ‘leather.’

    It is designed to be a collector item, purchased and carefully preserved by collectors. And bought and exchanged by collectors.

    Mock it now, but you’ll flip at what it will be worth in 20 years.

    • Of course it is a camera to use! $2k is not outrageous..we pay that for our Fuji’s, Sony’s and Olympus cameras when it is all said and done. This is a better made, tougher version of the RX100. Id use the hell out of it if I bought it. $2k is HARDLY in the same league as the Leica limited editions which run $30-$50k. HUGE difference from $2k.

  8. I will not criticize the quality of the camera: as almost anyone said, the original Sony RX100 is a solid camera, so any experienced photographer could be exceptionally nice images with it.
    I will not criticize the price: anyone can spend his/her money as he/she sees fit, after all we covet many different things, so we have different priorities on how we want to spend our money.
    But I must say this:
    The. Camera. Is. FUGLY.
    Its un-aesthetic “qualities” are so strong my eyes feels like someone threw sand on my face everytime I look at it, the cthuloid shape of the grip seems straight out a lovecraftian nightmare populated by gygeresque alien lifeforms, the iridescent colors seems choosen from a palette born out of the lsd-fueled imagination of a Syd Barret-era Pink Floyd fan.
    I was against the death penalty…. but now, my life is utterly ruined by the work of this unnamed “camera designer”.
    🙁

  9. OKAY! OKAY! I’ll admit it, I don’t own one. Never will after being a life long Hasselblad owner.

  10. I have the RX100 mk1 and it suffers from overblown highlights .. very bad compaired to many other compacts.

  11. I did, and I found it cheap, I was looking for one that has a diamond as shutter button.. I bought two of them, one for my visits of my oil fields in the desert, and other when I go take pictures at my penthouse in Burj Khalifa.. I’m thinking to get 3 more for my wife’s very soon.. Steve great website, I love how you take photos with those cheap leica lenses.. great work!.. 😀

  12. I get a little of the appeal. When I consider my favorite cameras, they tend to be older models with better build; better tactile feedback; just an all around greater sense of quality and craftsmanship than newer plastic models. My Rolleiflex TLR; my 70’s era compact rangefinders; my Minolta 7 & 9 and some of the older autofocus lenses. Now I’m shooting a D7000 and a handful of nice lenses. The 70-200/2.8 VR II is excellent of course. The 35/1.8 and 85/1.8 are really good lenses for the money … but they’re not very satisfying. I can’t expect more for the price, but I’d pay more for lenses that are just more enjoyable to use. That speckled black plastic shell just feels cheap, like it’s a “for now” lens until I can buy something better.

    I’m definitely not a luxury guy. Forget Hasselblad, for sure. And I doubt I’ll ever own a Leica, though I think there’s more value there than these Hasselblad rebadges. But the Oly f/1.8 primes and the Fuji X lenses I’ve tried all have a nice feel to them … they’re not consumer grade, but also aren’t priced for yacht owners.

    It’s a tough market. In some ways, the niche guys have it easier. They know their market; they’re looking for profit margin, not volume. The Nikons & Sonys & Canons of the world have to figure out what compromises will maximize sales. (Except for their own niche products).

  13. A rebranded Sony or Panasonic is still just a Sony or Panasonic, albeit in Emperors new clothes (IMO). For those interested in VFM, I doubt they are the target market. For those who neither know nor care that these models are just rebranded ‘ordinary’ cameras and have the money to splurge… then really… who cares?

    Personally I feel Hasselblad in particular is debasing the brand name of a once titan of the photographic industry. a brand that has photographed some of the most glamourous and famous people, and some of the most iconic advertising images, and is now reduced to applying some tat to the side of humdrum everyman* camera and worse… ‘Certified by Hasselblad’ on the side of Vertu smartphone. Oh the shame of it. They must be desparate.

    *but very good camera

  14. I saw that orange bottom, and for a moment I thought I was looking at a Hasselblad version of the Panasonic GM1…

  15. So let me get this straight, if you buy a Leica for 4x the cost of a Sony equal (A7r or some such) that’s ok because of it’s “feel” and “design”..which has nothing to do with image quality.

    But if you buy one of these Lunars, your an idiot because you just paid 4x the cost of a camera with the same image quality.

    JUST SAYIN, pretty much paying more for no better image quality is the same regardless of Lunar or Leica…

    • Well, to be fair to those who say that..the Leica M is an original camera, one of a kind and it is not a rebranded Panasonic or Sony. It is teh only digital RF on the market and all built with premium parts and again, 100% original. The Stellar is an RX100 with beefed up dials and buttons and a new look on the outside, much like what Leica does with the P&S “Pana-Leica” cameras. Leica ups the price on their Panasonic copies by $500 or so. These are raised by $1500 so many have issues with that. I do not, especially after I saw one in person. If someone wants to spend that kind of money on it, then they should be allowed to without ridicule.

    • My take on it: when you buy Leica, you’re buying real quality. You may not value it (I certainly don’t value it enough to part with that much money) but there’s substance behind it. They make money, but the camera costs a lot to make. Economies of scale work against it, but people are willing to pay for that, too. With the Lunar, you’re just kind of fooling yourself. Lipstick on a pig. Emperor’s new clothes. Sure, it (arguably !) looks better; it feels better … but only on the outside. And only the body. The lens is the same plastic lens with the shiny metal outer shell that zooms like a consumer zoom. The innards are still the same Sony innards that riff raff like the rest of us use.

      BTW, you can’t really use IQ as a yard stick for price today any more than in the past. You can buy DSLRs with a 3X or more price range with the same IQ without even changing brands, and you’re paying for build quality and features as well as economies of scale (Rebel outsells 1Dx and undoubtedly has a much, much lower profit margin). And yes, I know they don’t have the same IQ, but the 3X price range compares low end to high end within APS-C or FF. You’re paying for a sensor with microlenses that’s produced in small numbers just for Leica bodies. You’re paying for the rangefinder itself. And there isn’t really any competition to compare it against.

      – Dennis

    • Eric… nope. You’ve never owned a Leica. The images from a Sony are not the same. Keep counting MPx… it will make you feel much better

    • I am one of those who uses the Leica M just because of the user interface and the excellent IQ. The high price and luxury factor is even an disadvantage for me.
      Other than that I am totally fine if people a lot of money for a Lunar if they like it, but not a good comparison, but I would buy one. I also bought a Pana LX for my wife instead of the Leica version and I also bought an Oly EVF for my M.

  16. It looks like a garish, poorly thought out design that was thrown together at the last minute. I’m not one to argue with paying more for quality or convenience, but I actually think this thing is a step back from a regular RX100 from a purely aesthetic standpoint.

    Look at the grip: it doesn’t even line up correctly with the upper edge of the camera frame. It looks like a 3 year old child found some spare parts and glued a bunch of stuff together.

    • My thoughts entirely when I saw the pictures. Leica X2 à la carte in the colour of your choice is a much better proposition. (If that’s the kind of proposition you want!)

      • As I said, I’d take this over an X2 as I feel the RX100 is a better overall camera, not only for versatility, size, speed, macro capability, video, but in most situations even IQ.

  17. I don’t own one, however after reading your description I will admit to being interested. The base camera is really good and the work that has been put into the finishing is clearly several notches above what the broader market offers.

  18. Anyone else think this is one fugly camera? I thought the RX100 was a beautifully simple and clean looking point and shoot.

    But as others have said, whatever keeps the company afloat. It’s shenanigans like this that help them develop top of the line medium format cameras. That said, I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who’d rather spend an extra $1500 on point and shoot cosmetics than give the money to charity.

    • the Stellar is definitely not ugly. The design of the grip and the colors are good.

      The Lunar was insanely ugly. Very weak, bad design. The a99 Hassy a little ugly, or better, just boring.

      The Stellar is the only Sony-Hassy that do look good. And it is the only one I understand some rich people buying them.

      However, I do fully agree with your last point!

      And yes, I would never ever buy any of these Sony-Hassys.

  19. I get you point Steve of shooting with what makes you happy, I trully get it. And that is why, one day I’ll by a Leica and couple Lux lenses (if finally I win the lotery, LOL). And that is why I started to collect Ricoh’s, LOL.

    But in this case all that you get, in the end, is an RX100.

    To put it in another way, I can paint my Civic red, put some spoilers and change the logos for Ferrari logos … but in the end … still a Civic.

    Yes, if it makes you happy buy the camera. Honestly I preffer to buy the RX100 and put de difference into a photographic trip (for example).

    Cheers.

  20. Surely people can spend their money anyway they see fit. Who gives a tinker’s cuss if they bought one, none of my damn business. And if it brings in money for Hasselblad, so much the better.

    This smacks of inverted snobbery, with the “true” photographers given rein here to loudly mock from their sanctimonious eyries of superb skills. What wonderfully sensible people they must be; indeed, who could resist this chance to advertise one’s sanctimony.

    Stop dog whistling, Steve..

    But yes, it’s fun to rattle … both cages.
    Mmm, must write to Rolex about those bling diamonds they stick on their Oysters, you won’t find IWC doing that..

    • At least Rolex still makes the Oyster and the movement inside. Overpriced or not, Rolex is an excellent watch, and while rappers will buy the bling models, they also make very nice watches without the bling.

      They are expensive (so is IWC, by the way), but just like IWC, Leica, Porsche and other veblen goods, there is at least a tangible quality that comes at the very high price. My $200 Movado keeps better time than my Rolex or IWC, and the IWC was more expensive than the Rolex, but the Rolex is the one on my wrist most days.

      No different with Leica, Sony and the like. A Nikon D800E is arguably a better camera than a Leica M240, but I know which one I would rather use.

    • I really don’t understand that. You say it’s none of your damn business to tell people (or ask people) how to spend their money, but immediately go into telling someone the way they are thinking is wrong which should also be none of your damn business.

      Also, your comparison to Rolex has a huge, HUGE flaw. Rolex, thought expensive, actually makes and designs their own goods. A rebranded and style added RX100 is another story. There a differences in paying for an original Hasselblad as opposed to buying an RX100 with Hasselblad on it. It’s a valid question: why would one buy essentially the same camera for $1500 more. Not to mention, whether you think you should mind your own business or not, one is allowed to ask. Let’s not forget there are companies dedicated to finding these answers.

      Inverse snobbery on inverse snobbery. Awesome.

      • Oh dear, a little humour at the end offers you ammunition to blow the whole comparison (and a very rough one at that) WAY out of proportion.
        Of course its not an exact parallel (“your comparison to Rolex has a huge, HUGE flaw” – NO! you don’t say so, Suede!! who would have known!!), but it certainly gave you a straw in the wind to clutch! (No, no, don’t thank me.))
        Try not to take things of little consequence too seriously. There, now I’ve told you something. He he.

        I’m not sure of your English comprehension, but nowhere did I “tell” anyone their thinking was “wrong”. What a silly straw-man fabrication. Do you know what that means? Google “straw man argument”. Anyone can ask any question they like, and in this light-hearted article they have, but I also suggested anyone can spend their money anyway they like, too. Got problems with that freedom?

        As for the last sentence, what illogical tosh. And somehow I’d guess you use “awesome” quite often, Suede.. 🙂

  21. Well I respect anybody who bought the camera and to be honest if Nikon release a DF limited edition that cost 3X the price of normal one I would buy it and prefer it over Leica. luxury exist in photography and there is a lot of photographer are collector as part time to photography and I have no shame to say I am one of them, I didn’t buy this camera for one reason that I didn’t like rx100 on first.

  22. I’ve been using “real” ‘blads for about 20 years, still own a 500 and a 200, but mainly use my H4D-50. When Hasselblad first announced the Lunar then the Stellar, I was a little dismayed at the brand dilution. But then I realised that, if this strategy keeps the company alive, enabling them to invest in new professional models, then that’s OK with me. I wouldn’t buy one. But I can see why a certain type of person might buy one…

    • Agreed that if there are enough idiots prepared to spend money on this type of nonsense then Hasselblad would be dumb not to take their cash. Problem is, I don’t see Hasselblad taking the money from pimping out their name to reinvest in new products which might be relevant to people who actually take photographs. They increasingly look like a brand in its death throes trying to squeeze the final few bucks out of their heritage before finally slipping into oblivion. My 501CM is still my favourite camera of all time but Hasselblad in 2014 is just an embarrassment.

  23. I’m thrilled with my Stellar, and the Wi-Fi feature works great with my Vertu phone. I now have a high quality, compact camera that allows me to post photos right away no matter where I am – Dubai, Shanghai, Las Vegas, Cannes, Davos – given it is a Hassy, maybe it will even work on the moon!

  24. I’ll hold out for the “Double Secret SUper Limited Edition” with rhinestones. That will really inspire me

    • I think the Fuji and the Hassy TX/Xpan cameras were roughly the same price though, and were actually very capable professional cameras. This is just shit for rich people to buy because rich people are doing better than ever.

  25. I know a Hassy dealer who sells a couple Stellars and Lunars every week for cash to well-heeled clients who wander by his store. Go figure.

  26. To me the X2 has much more style than the Stellar. And better controls as well since I can adjust aperture and exposure compensation with dedicated dials – I don’t like the typical point-and-shoot controls at all. It sorely lacks a grip, though.

    • Agreed – the Leica X2 has its quirks (e.g. pokey performance), but unlike the Stellar, it’s a real Leica, with a real Leica lens and an APS-C sensor. And its raw images are stunning.

    • Agreed! I use a lot of different cameras but just recently have fallen in love with the X2 all over again and have been shooting with it a lot. Superb color and sharpness.

  27. I think people pay a premium for what they want most.
    What I personally would hope is that someone would make a weather sealed version of a large sensor compact. M43,APC or FF.
    For that I would pay a premium, Ricoh GR or Sony RX1R for instance, and it puzzles me that the great
    weather sealed small mirroless bodies we are getting is not followed up by weather sealed pancakes.
    Fuji, Olympus, Sony… Why is almost only the Zooms weather sealed?

  28. It looks like hassy is taken a page from Leica’s playbook in rebranding a Lumix as a Leica and selling it as a premium camera. 🙂

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