The medium-format cameras by the Swedish manufacturer Hasselblad, enjoy a legendary reputation and were – at least back then – probably the best cameras in the world. Not surprising that NASA chose exactly this brand during their equipment selection for their Moon missions. At that time, everything revolved around photographic quality of taking the pictures and moreso, around the reliability of the cameras. Back then, you did not have the opportunity to immediately examine whether a photograph turned out well, because all material could be developed only after the return to Earth. So, with regards to cameras there was the need to hedge one’s bets – inconceivable, if those photos would have turned out a complete flop.
The Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 that made the first manned Moon landing possible, by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, had several Hasselblad cameras on board. A specially equipped Hasselblad 500 EL Data Camera was used on the Moon’s surface. It had a réseau plate, which created the famous cross-shaped markings on the Moon pictures. The camera had been equipped especially against electric charges and extreme temperatures, and as you can see, it did a reliable job.
Almost all cameras that were used on the Apollo missions remained on the Moon, due to weight issues. It was preferred to take rock samples on board, and of course the magazines with the exposed photographs (which could be detached from the cameras). Probably only one Hasselblad camera made it back to Earth. It was used by James Irwin on the Apollo 15 mission in June/August of 1971. This camera was auctioned off by the Viennese gallery »WestLicht« for 660,000 EUR (at that time approx. $ 900,000) in March of 2014. It’s new owner is Terukazu Fujisawa from Japan.
Time again it is fascinating how the mere fact that an item has been on the Moon, creates an exclusive collectible that reaches top prices. Well, the Moon just has this exorbitant radiance.
Photos: NASA, Hasselblad