Test-Driving the Hasselblad Stellar Special Edition Digital Camera
There is elegance in the application of excellence, and one look at the Hasselblad Stellar Special Edition Digital Camera should crystallize this concept. For those who appreciate the beauty of ultimate design, the value of fine materials in an era of plastic, and the cognizance to employ a graceful and dignified camera at an auspicious event, here is the camera for you.
Hasselblad, the company known for designing and producing the finest professional medium-format camera systems, has made an excursion into the luxury compact-camera market. One of the resulting models is the Stellar, in three distinct color-and-wood combinations. It is a device for the select few who want a camera that not only provides excellent imaging, but also offers a superior level of attention to detail: details in ergonomics, materials, and panache. The Stellar is more than your next camera—it's a collector’s item.
The physical presence of the Hasselblad Stellar is difficult to put into in words. It's a compact shooter with a gracefully designed wooden handgrip and high-grade materials all around. It begs to be held and, when you do hold it, the Stellar rewards with a perfectly balanced feel. The camera is adorned in your choice of five restyled metal body casings, and you get your pick of a very comfortable rare wood or carbon-fiber grip. It also sports finely crafted Italian leather wrist and neck straps. I had the opportunity to shoot with a two-tone orange-and-silver Stellar that featured a wenge wood grip. For those not up to speed on exotic wood, wenge is a dark, tight-grained, mar-resistant African hardwood.
First impressions count for something in this world, and the lacquered wood box that houses the Stellar affirms that this camera is held in high esteem. It's both impressive looking and form fitted to hold the camera and straps snugly. While the case is a nice bonus, the Stellar is really meant to be proudly seen and used. Remember, this camera takes high-resolution pictures and videos.
Imaging is handled by a large, 20.2MP 1" CMOS sensor, and its Carl Zeiss lens opens up to a bright f/1.8 at the wide end of the zoom range. A rear control dial and customizable front control ring enable you to make changes to the camera settings quickly and easily. To better guarantee sharp, blur-free images, the Hasselblad Stellar features optical image stabilization. Video capture is available at 1080/60p, with Dolby Digital sound and full manual control. Like the body, the operation controls are made of durable, handsome metal.
The specs of the Hasselblad Stellar are shared by the Sony RX100—a camera that virtually redefined the point-and-shoot class of cameras. Having owned and enjoyed that model, I found the layout and controls of the Stellar to be assuredly familiar and its compact build and wooden grip add a great measure of ergonomic security to the experience of using this unquestionably fine camera.
The Hasselblad Stellar Special Edition initially sold for more than $3,000.00. For a limited time, B&H is offering these unique cameras for far less, and will include the aforementioned straps and box as well as an 8GB memory card, anti-dust pouch, and Adobe Lightroom download. Is it worth the asking price? Sensible sedans and luxury automobiles are equally capable of transporting you from point A to point B, but the latter provides a carefully orchestrated ride that makes driving a pleasure. This is what the Stellar is about. There are only a limited number available, and right now you can get one for less than a third of its original asking price. Hanging around your local Rolls Royce dealership won’t catch you a break like that.