27 March 2016

The Fuji GX645AF (the Hasselblad H1’s shy Japanese cousin)


The Hasselblad H1 camera was conceived and designed in Sweden but the company looked for a partner in the production of this new camera. The successful relationship with Fuji and the XPan, where Fuji produced the camera and Hasselblad marketed it, led to a good business relationship. One of the key choices for the H1 was who would be a supplier of the lenses for the new auto-focus lenses planned for the new camera. Carl Zeiss had been the primary supplier for 50 years and was also a potential supplier. The decision to go with Fuji as a lens supplier was controversial but also brought Fuji in as an assembler of other parts of the camera system like the film magazines.

Like the XPan where most cameras were sold with Hasselblad badging, Fuji retained the option to produce mechanically identical cameras with different styling and with Fuji badging. The Fuji versions of the XPan cameras were labeled TX-1 and TX-2.

The Fuji version of the H1 camera was labeled GX645AF and was predominantly black in comparison to the predominantly gray Hasselblad H1. One question that has intrigued me was how many of the GX645AF cameras were made. They were initially only sold in Japan so were initially rarely seen outside Japan but now many are being sold as used cameras in the international market. The cameras seem to have been manufactured in one initial batch and unlike the H1 there is no year code as part of the serial number. The serial numbers give some clue to the numbers made. Serial numbers begin with 401 0xxx or 40 10xxx and run from 001 to the highest seen in the 600 range implying perhaps 700 or 750 made overall – a very uncommonly small production run. There are a few preproduction Fuji cameras (and Hasselblad badged cameras) with serial numbers beginning with 801 xxxx.


GX645AFa Picture 2


8 March 2016

A Hasselblad Blog

I thought today – Victor Hasselblad’s birthday – would be an appropriate day to begin a blog – something that I’ve been considering for some time.

Victor’s birthday is also the day that the Hasselblad Foundation announced its annual award to an outstanding photographer – the award has been described as the Nobel Prize of Photography. The recipient of this years award is Stan Douglas. The announcement is at

Victor Hasselblad was a fascinating individual – responsible for one of the most influential cameras ever manufactured. His life history is far too complex to try and summarize in a short blog. The definitive biography of Victor Hasselblad was written by Sören Gunnarsson and published in 2006, significantly the year Victor would have been 100 years old. The excellent book is unfortunately long out of print but an English language updated version should be available soon.

One of the topics I plan to explore are the people of the company – many of whom made major contributions to Victor’s concept of what he strove for as the ideal camera. It is significant that Hasselblad’s camera is the point of reference for all what are generally referred to as “medium format” cameras. Larger than the standard 35mm cameras so capable of much better image quality but smaller than the so called large format cameras (4×5 and 8×10) which he felt were constrained in some applications they were capable of being used for because of their size. There is a Swedish cultural and social concept (“lagom”) that describes the idea of moderation in all things. Something that seems to fit Victor Hasselblad’s vision for camera design as well?

Happy Birthday Victor.