Hasselblad, OnePlus, DJI, Apollo Space Missions, and more: An exciting history of outstanding cameras

As a mobile phone user or enthusiast, you probably know of Hasselblad from their partnership with OnePlus. But this Swedish company has a more fantastic history that you may not have heard of. Did you know that Hasselblad cameras have been part of the space programs of the USA’s National Aeronautics And Space Administration (NASA)? Did you know that Chinese drone company now owns the majority share in the company?

Below are highlights of the exciting history of this iconic camera brand with Swedish roots, with details of the feats that make the brand tick.

OnePlus premium smartphone cameras are co-developed with Hasselblad.

The Historical Timeline of Hasselblad

1941: This was the year that the company was founded and went on to become the world’s most advanced camera maker. Their cameras were so advanced that they were highly expensive and used by only the creme of the crop in photography.

1962: The company’s first foray into the world of space travel kicked off in 1962 with NASA’s Mercury program. A modified Hasselblad camera produced high quality images that NASA astronaut, Walter Schirra, shot during his six orbits of the Earth that year [1].  

1969: Three Hasselblad cameras were part of the Apollo 11 space mission to the moon. Yes; Hasselblad, along with Zeiss (another top photography company), were part of the photography equipment used on the moon by American astronauts [2]. But it wasn’t only the Apollo 11 mission that saw its cameras in use in outer space. The Swedish company’s cameras featured in several Apollo missions.

2016: DJI took a minority stake in the Swedish camera company as well as entered a partnership to co-develop high-end camera drones that would combine the former’s drone aerial technology with latter’s cameras. DJI, a Chinese company, is world-renown for its drones which are equipped with top of the line cameras. The investment and partnership would ensure that DJI stayed a top drone maker with outstanding cameras. The DJI MAVIC 3 and DJI Mavic 2 Pro drones are some of the products of the joint development work between the two brands. The stake also earned DJI a seat on the board of directors.

2017: DJI took a majority stake in the company – not enough for the transaction to be an outright acquisition. But enough to be a majority shareholder.

2021: OnePlus and Hasselblad entered into an agreement to co-develop the next generation of cameras in OnePlus’ premium flagships. [3] This put OnePlus on the list of mobile phone brands that had entered into partnership with a camera brand. Other such partnerships include: Nokia & Carl Zeiss, Huawei & Leica, Sony & Zeiss, as well as Vivo & Zeiss. The OnePlus 9 Pro was the first product of this joint partnership.

2022: OPPO and Hasselblad announced a three-year partnership to co-develop industry-leading camera technologies for OPPO’s flagship Find X series. [4] This partnership makes sense, seeing as OPPO and OnePlus have become tightly integrated and now share research and development, among other resources. Today’s OnePlus phones are mostly re-badged OPPO models anyway.

There has not been much of an impact seen in OnePlus camera phones since the partnership with the Swedish camera brand. At least, we have yet to see them take the world by storm the way Nokia-Zeiss flagship camera phones did back in the day, or the way that Huawei’s Leica-branded flagships have done till date. Hopefully, this will change soon. With Hasselblad’s pedigree, OnePlus and OPPO should be churning out some of the best camera phones in the industry by now.

This Hasselblad data camera was a part of the Apollo 8, 9, 10, and 11 space missions.
This Hasselblad data camera was a part of the Apollo 8, 9, 10, and 11 space missions.

Fun Fact: There have been six lunar missions in which humans stepped on the moon, and a total of 12 Hasselblad cameras were left on the surface of the moon, to make room for the lunar rock samples that NASA astronauts had to bring back to earth. 

References

  1. Hasselblad In Space (source)
  2. Apollo 11 Hasselblad Camera (source)
  3. OnePlus And Hasselblad (source)
  4. OPPO and Hasselblad (source)

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