The Giant Step for Mankind

5961_690px.jpgA man told me once that the camera used in the moon by the Apollo 11 team was a Nikon, it was back in the days of the dawn on the Internet, when computers, cellphone and websites were yet to be ubiquitous, for a few years, I was made believe that Nikon was indeed the moon camera.

Boy, that man and I got the fact wrong.

It was until I was seriously learning photography that I got my hands on a UK based photo publication ‘Practical Photography’—which was my favorite photo magazine that time—when it featured an Apollo special issue to commemorate the man’s first moon landing and moon walk that I learned, it was actually a specially engineered Hasselblad medium format cameras that made it to the moon with the Apollo 11 team, they had 4 70mm Hasselblad 500 EL onboard including the backup cameras to capture the images of the orbit, the atmosphere and the moon itself.

There were technical & logical reasons for choosing a Hasselblad:

    – They needed a camera body large enough to fit the custom-sized buttons for the crews to operate (they wear large gloves)
    – They needed a high resolution camera and the compact-sized Hasselblad medium format was a logical choice for their sharp lenses & reliability

Here’s what Hasselblad had to say about it:

Simply put, NASA chose Hasselblad to go into space because we had the best cameras on earth. A claim that we are still proud to make today, forty years later.

The Hasselblad 500 EL was based on the acclaimed 500 series camera, modified with electronics, custom-sized button as well as space friendly body, the camera would capture historic images for the mankind’s most important achievement.

Record has it that they captured a total of 1407 exposures; 857 black & white and 550 on color film, and my curiosity was set to find out where to find these images, thanks to google, the Lunar & Planetary Institute hosted these images under the Apollo Image Atlas Gallery. It doesn’t stop there. High-resolution images are available for download too, how awesome!

Head over to the 70mm Hasselblad Image Catalog (Apollo 11), or the Hasselblad in space web feature from the cameramaker, or see the now retired space camera from the collect space discussion forum.

Looking forward the upcoming new race to the moon!


The Boston Globe featured some awesome images on the Big Picture Gallery, and the NYTimes have some reader’s memory feature, finally The Apollo Archive has a dedicated collection of all Apollo mission images. (via