Only recovered Apollo Hasselblad camera comes up for auction

by | Jan 31, 2014 | Apollo, History, NASA | 0 comments

Space memorabilia and camera collectors (this writer counts as both) will be in a frenzy as the world’s only still film camera to have been carried on the Moon and returned to Earth, a Hasselblad EDC (a modified EL), comes up for sale at auction.  The example on sale was carried by Apollo 15 astronaut Jim Irwin.  There are, of course, other lunar Hasselblad cameras in existence.  But they were all left on the moon by NASA whose reasoning was that instead of bringing back the camera bodies (the film backs were recovered), they could carry more lunar rock samples back instead.  The full story is here:

http://www.space-travel.com/reports/Sole_camera_from_NASA_moon_missions_to_be_auctioned_999.html

While less compact than 35mm cameras, Swedish-built Hasselblad cameras were known for their image quality due to their medium format film (it carried more detail than 35mm) and due to the high quality Carl Zeiss lenses carried by the cameras.  The cameras were also famous for their build quality and quick interchangeability via their switchable film backs.  Likewise wedding and fashion photographers of the 1960s and 1970s also came to appreciate their old fashioned leaf shutters which allowed a greater range of flash synchronisation speeds.  

Having proved their worth (C versions) on earlier Project Mercury and Gemini missions, Hasselblads became the cameras of choice (albeit in the motorised EL/EDC variant) for NASA and its Apollo astronauts.  Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong famously carried one mounted on his chest while walking on the lunar surface and used it to photograph Buzz Aldrin on the Moon – but then, in a mission oversight – famously failed to get himself imaged properly.

The expected sale price of the Apollo Hasselblad is circa $200,000.  It may be a poor investment if NASA, China or Russia get their manned lunar return programmes up and running and recover the other ones left on the lunar surface.

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