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To Victor, the spoils?

Hasselblad's new 645 medium format camera system - which features enhanced features for digital backs - will arrive in the Middle East in January 2003 and retail for approximately US$1,800 for the body alone.

We have received more information on the forthcoming H1 medium format camera system from the UAE distributors of Victor Hasselblad, Ashraf & Partners.

The H1 is the name given to the first camera system developed by Hasselblad in 45 years, and it is the company's second joint venture with FujiFilm following in the resounding success of the XPan 35mm panoramic camera.

Although intended for both analogue and digital photography, the H1 system is built with particular consideration to the needs of digital photographers.

As Goran Bernhoff, CEO of Victor Hasselblad, says: "We used working professionals as test photographers during the prototype stage, incorporating their ideas and feedback into thinking around this new product."

The H1 is Hasselblad's first foray into 645 format and it is said to feature a fast auto-focus system and a large number of custom controls.

The magazine supports 120 and 220 film while several third-party manufacturers are currently developing dedicated digital backs for the H1. The system also offers interchangeable lenses and viewfinder.

We can reveal that, on the H1, Hasselblad developed the system architecture, software, body and lens shutters, while Fuji was responsible for design and manufacture of the lenses, viewfinders and film magazines. The auto-focus system was developed in partnership with Minolta. All components, however, will be branded as Hasselblad.

Kodak Professional and Phase One are also manufacturing their own digital backs for the H1 system. Hasselblad has announced seven lenses so far; the 50mm, 120mm macro and 210mm will not be available until mid-2003.

Siraj Maideen from Ashraf & Partners expects the H1 to become the most popular medium format camera system “immediately”.

“We already have people asking about the camera,” he says. “We have been promised to have at least one camera to sell in January 2003, with more to follow after that.

"Production is not fully-fledged yet, so in the short term we may not even keep up with demand.”

Ashraf & Partners expect the wholesale price for the body to be just under US$1,800.

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