Hasselblad moon camera has been sold at auction for $910,000

The Hassleblad 500EL

The 1970′s Apollo space missions to the moon provided us with some of the most famous photographs ever taken. So the cameras that took them are a collectors dream.

The Hassleblad 500EL

Photo credit: AFP: Alexander Klein

The Hasselblad 500EL camera for sale reportedly went to the moon on board Apollo 15 back in 1971. Last month it was sold to the owner of the Japanese camera chain Yodobashi Camera for around $910,000 which makes it one of the most expensive cameras ever sold. Not only for significance but, because they were supposed to be left on the surface of the moon as they were unnecessary weight. There where 14 cameras that landed on the lunar surface and this is the only reported one to return – used by Lunar module pilot James Irwin.

Is more than likely that there are other cameras that returned to earth if you take a look at the original NASA equipment logs:

NASA Apollo camera log


So there is still hope that you can get your hands on one but, i wouldn’t be holding my breath!

There is probably this question on your mind though: How did this camera become available to the Public?

The WestLicht museum said that when James Irwins estate was sold they came into possession of it.  This still does not explain how it ended up back in the hands of Jim because i would assume that NASA would want to hold on to it? I guess we will never know the answer.

Jim Irwin on the moon


There have also been questions about whether it actually landed on the moon or not. The reason why it was taken back to the command module was to record extra footage while orbiting the moon. Some people have said that it was never on the Lunar lander and  was in fact left on the orbiting command module.

There is evidence which gives a good indication that this particular camera was one of the surface cameras however. All images taken by NASA Apollo missions have a number etched onto the film plate. In this case the number is 38.

Take a look at these two images below – the top is the film plate from the recently sold camera and the other is a close up of one of the photos from the surface of the moon:

38 film plate from Apollo 15 camera

number 38 film plate surface picture moon


Looks pretty convincing to me but, some people have said that the number has just been over-laid. It wouldn’t be first time that people have criticised the legitimacy of lunar surface images now would it? The red line shows that the cross-hair does not line up on the moon photo.

I mean yes someone could certainly have changed it but, there are many other reasons such as a faulty plate that was replaced for example.

So do you think that this camera is legit?


Photographer and writer for jhphotographer.co.uk

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