resurgence in film camera interest or not?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by David Lyga, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Honestly, I have found it to be increasingly difficult to buy film cameras during the past two years, approximately synchronized to the Great Recession. Is this true? Are they now more costly? Do they, like vinyl records, refuse to die a dignified death?

    A few years ago people would take ANYTHING for these cameras but now...NOT! Anyone experiencing the same: talking about the mass market type, NOT the Nikon F series, NOT the Leicas, NOT even the Bessa. (But, also, not the Holga or Diana). Types like the Minolta SRT, Pentax Spotmatic, Canon Tlb, Mamiya DTL. These were workhorses and I would take two of same any day for one Nikon F. - David Lyga
     
  2. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I work at a university art department and some of the students that are serious about photography and want to explore it beyond the digital realm are discovering film cameras. There are those Hipster types that like LPs which are also attracted to old cameras also. There was an art student that had a Hassie 500CM around his neck and said he loved shooting with film. Luckily, our school still has a wet lab with enlargers so students are getting a taste of the analog world.
     
  3. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Not what I'm seeing: e.g., check the closing prices on recent SRT 101 auctions under the Big Tent. Nikon F100 bodies? Shocking!

    True, though, that the days of 15 buck Spotmatics are over.

    If anything Gresham's Law seems to be in play: junk's driving the gems into hiding.

    Got my best deals off the 'Bay on medium format gear in 08-09. Still gloating about some of those...

    There's such a huge reservoir of mid-market gear that "supply" arguments behind any apparent rise in price just don't hunt.
     
  4. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    In my market there are lots of great cameras going very cheap. Some Nikon and Leica are of course holding their value. My guess is that because film cameras are not being replaced with new models and as used cameras are being bought up or just wearing out and become more scarce prices will go up.
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    When I visit camera fairs here in the UK there's film cameras galore being bought by young people. Prices depend on how old and how well amde, so I bought a new Canon D300 last year for £10 ($60) but a nice Exacta was mush more asw were Spotmatics etc.

    It's noticeable that on Ebay there's far less analog equipment these days, this is for twom reasons, first there's almost no new equipment made and secondly many who went digital have offloaded their analog equipment by now.

    This cycle was predicted but it's been slower because of the financial crisis caused by the US mortgage market's collapse.

    Ian
     
  6. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    It's noticeable that on Ebay there's far less analog equipment these days, this is for twom reasons, first there's almost no new equipment made and secondly many who went digital have offloaded their analog equipment by now

    And third just might be that demand was waning anyway--crash or no crash.

    Unless it's collectible, mint/NOS-in-the-box, it's not going to go for much. Most of us are up to our arses in film gear and newbies aren't going to load up, whatever the price, as long as film and processing access continue to move towards the endangered species list.

    20-somethings interest in film tends to be fleeting. Like with vinyl, they might buy and play an old Dual table till it breaks but will they upgrade to a Rega? Doubtful.
     
  7. M Stat

    M Stat Member

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    It was not too long ago, when I was building up a Leica system, that one could go to B&H or KEH and find literally pages and pages of listing for Leica lenses. Now there are few to choose from. Back then I picked up a pristine 35mm Summacron for around $1,600. Now the same lens in the same condition goes for around $2,400 to $2,600. I thought it was the introduction of the Leica M9 that was responsible for the higher demand and prices of Leitz lenses now. Just a theory.
     
  8. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Maybe. It's a rarified market. Hardcore Micro 4/3s shooters are bidding up the prices of fast manual primes in mounts with adapters to popular models, mostly for video. Film bodies are what's piling up. Good glass? Not so much.
     
  9. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    I'd like to think film would last a long time if we were down to one supplier. Certainly there's enough analog shooters to fully support one manufacturer. Lack of competition might hurt product quality but film would stick around.

    Admittedly, I get enough stares at public sites or transportation platforms when I have even one SLR on my neck: I must be nefarious. :smile: None of the cops, guards or DHS folks pay any attention to the thousands of phones with 6MP cameras wandering around. They key in on me. Never been stopped though. Not yet anyway.

    s-a
     
  10. BradS

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    You cannot be serious....the simple fact is, that you can't hardly give this stuff away these days. have you really looked? I personally have a ton of good used gear I've been slowly trying to get rid of. I've some stuff posted for sale here at what I think are rock bottom prices and am open to offers - there is just no serious interest.
     
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  11. Ian Grant

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    What contradicts that is the rising prices for many of the more desirable items as fewer come up for sale and an increase in film sales.

    Ian
     
  12. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    These are really just the same old dead horses that deserve a decent burial. Collectibles/mint/NOS/rarities sell; mid-market/abused/common stuff doesn't in N. America. The "increase" in film sales is apparent only after a decade of calamitous decline--simply put, it's not increasing if tracked as a secular trend--sorry! What else explains the disappearance of labs and film from the mainstream market?
     
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  13. wblynch

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    Lab disappearance is follow-the-crowd mentality.

    People believe they can't make money so they bail. The next guy over sees that and bails (before he loses out).

    Wal-mart and Costco put millions of mom and pop minilabs out of business by underpricing them and then decide they can't "justify" keeping their services running. So they bail.

    An inventive photo lab could make lots of money in both digital and film services but, for a lot of people, a little work is too much work. They like it better when they just open the doors and the business floods in. When the flood stops they aren't happy with a flowing stream, they go searching for a new flood.

    It was like this with the video rentals and then Blockbuster came in and killed them off. Now Blockbuster is busted and the mom and pop video stores are long gone.

    I see people begging for reasonable E6, BW and medium format services but they are almost non-existent.

    Film scanning services (fair price and outstanding quality) are also a money maker.

    But, business people are not imaginative. They just want to read Entrepreneur magazine and follow the crowd.
     
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  15. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    I see people begging for reasonable E6, BW and medium format services but they are almost non-existent.

    Film scanning services (fair price and outstanding quality) are also a money maker.

    But, business people are not imaginative. They just want to read Entrepreneur magazine and follow the crowd.


    Truisms at ten paces? Show me the crowd control issues for local police forces keeping those dip-n-dunk customers calm.

    Banks don't carry lines of credit on imagination. Valuations of indy photo labs, pro or otherwise, tanked years ago. They bailed because they weren't profitable, OK?
    My surviving pro lab finally dropped all film services last year. Why? A trickle of film customers and machinery they couldn't justify repairing. They're still afloat and seem to be enjoying a "last man standing" niche market that's been stable. I'm going further afield and paying more for film services that plainly aren't robust businesses. Amateurs dragging in a few rolls a month and ordering a few 8x10s don't pay the bills.

    How do you invent customers? Answer that and you're set!
     
  16. BradS

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    As disappointed as I am to see the loss of so many fine photo labs in my local area, I have to say, I completely disagree with you on this. I suggest that you get a feeling for how much it costs to keep a Fuji Frontier machine up and running. Forget about the initial capital cost of the machine....just look at the daily and yearly operating costs. Just water, electricity, regular preventive maintenance and consumables....forget about repairs, employee wages and insurance, forget about lease costs and all the other business expenses....then figure out how many rolls of film you'd have to process to even break even.
     
  17. Pumalite

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    I'm glad in my town things are as they are. There are 3 labs for guys like me that have been interested in film for years and won't quit. I started at 12. I can find any camera I want, but I buy Digitals for my wife and my children. There is plenty of film and Services. As well as cameras. Most cameras I find and I like are not "dead" or "beaten to dead" I'm happy with the interest and supplies that currently we have.
     
  18. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    My neighbor used to own and operate 3 1-hour photo stores. When digital came along, more and more customers would walk in the door asking to get their digital pictures printed. Her stores "didn't do that". Costco came along and were the first around here to offer digital printing.

    My neighbor got nervous.

    She didn't want to invest in new digital systems, so she shut down the 1-hour photos and converted them to Subway Sandwich shops. She made lots of money in photo and lots of money in sandwiches.

    Imagination..

    There are film processors that are intended to develop as few as 5 rolls a day.

    If one had 3 stores, like my neighbor, they could easily consolidate the film into one place. Not everyone needs 1 hour service. Many people would be happy with overnight or even 3-day service if it meant having a local, dependable, place to go. - with reasonable prices. No one wants to pay $20 for develop, scan and prints.

    The remaining film customers are very dedicated and can be loyal customers.

    One could sublease a small corner and back room of a Hallmark or Stationery store and run their lab out of that. One could even have the lab offsite in a cheap industrial area.

    An imaginative person could figure out there is a lot of money to be made. I think a 20-30 year old person could make a great 1-person business.

    Offer scanning and restoration services. Offer video slideshows. All are cheap and easy to do and fill the time between film rolls.

    People are not ever going to buy enough coffee mugs to keep anyone alive.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    In Vancouver G. King Photo, one of the four surviving full service pro labs, went under last year. Some of their staff were hired by Customcolor, and I think Customcolor may have bought some of their equipment. Customcolor has recently moved to new, expanded premises.

    In the conversations I've had with my usual lab, ABC Photo, they indicate to me that volumes have stabilized.

    I'm cautiously hopeful.
     
  20. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Sorry but that business model failed. How high does the wreckage have to be to catch your eye?
     
  21. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    Good for you guys. The one remaining guy in my town only runs 135, no 120, which I think is a big mistake. He is losing to Walgreens across the street.
     
  22. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    Mister Doom and Gloom...

    I might add that in my town, every CVS, Walgreen's and Costco still does 1 hour color 35mm. Maybe they don't know about the wreckage?
     
  23. Wishy

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    As long as the chemicals and film are available, I don't see a problem with processing.

    When the last prolab* in the country goes, I can imagine I'll be offering a jobo based service - as (no doubt) will a number of other people on APUG.

    *Loose definition, dip 'n' dunk, multi-format, C41/E6/BW
     
  24. CGW

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    More like Post-Gloom and Doom. I'm actually glad to see crappy big box and small-time minilabs fold. Apart from digital, they helped dig their own graves through indifference and negligence: great when they worked but awful as they scrimped on trained staff and basic QC. Probably the main reason I drifted from 35mm before they folded en masse around Toronto. Quality labs are still afloat--thankfully.
     
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  25. ziggy7

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    Here in Jacksonville, Florida...

    Wal-Mart and Costco only print digital files. CVS and Walgreens still process 35MM print film, no chrome or 120. CVS do a nice job and they are only one mile away. Developing and printing a 24 exposure roll is $9 and a disc is $3 more. I dropped off a roll Saturday, and they said they had taken in five rolls in the last 30 minutes. I hope the bean counters at CVS don't kill it.

    We have a real good pro lab in town called Fototechnika. They do most anything you want including medium and 4x5.
     
  26. fstop

    fstop Member

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    As long as there is a buck to be made some one will do it.