Why Film Makes Business Sense

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Shangheye, Dec 27, 2008.

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  1. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    Well, sitting here contemplating a new year ahead, a very likely difficult one at that, I found myself realising that maybe the world has changed. In our past boom of technology development, where disposability became the credit card of capitalism, people bought the next camera that bought them the next Mpix's, that gave them the street cred, but most likely all the time kept the same Flash Card or SD card. The single most fundamental principle of digital technology, is the fact that the technology for quality and resolution resided in the camera, not so much the lens or that CF card.

    Now, people won't be buying those camera so much. They will think...well you know maybe 10Mpix is enough for my 6x4 print, i'll save and pay the gas bill...but film...well, you don't buy film, then you don't make pictures with a film camera. The margin does not reside in the camera, but in it's sustainable use in the form film. No upgrade necessary. What upgrades are needed will occur simply becasue the markets are now niche for film cameras. There will always be buyers and limited competition. But film...we all need that!

    So over the next year, the users on this site have the opportunity to demonstrate to the major brands that film makes business sense...so just like I intend to, make a New Year resolution to work out what you can afford and give your favourite brands a big order for 2009, and remind them that we are out here if they need us, because we definitely need them.

    Wishing you all a happy and inspired new year...

    Kal

    PS Had no idea where to post this thread...but philosophy seemed just dandy...:D
     
  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I certainly hope so, but in my heart of hearts I know not to hold out much hope for the death of conspicuous consumption. 90% of the population are zombies who are told what to buy not by logic or sense, but by the other 10% of the population.

    I try do do my part by never buying anything digital new, and by using film for what little paid work I do outside of work, where I must shoot digital due to sheer volume, cost, and speed issues. I shot a Grammy Foundation red carpet spread for the Musician's Union on HP5 and a pair of F-1s. (See my pic to the left.) I usually do headshots with a Mamiya TLR and transparency film if there is no rush. I prefer this viewing method and format for headshots. The few weddings where I have been *the* photographer and not the assistant, I shot on 645 color neg. for the portraits, but my 35s were not reliable enough at the time to shoot the candids on film. (They have since been fixed.) The goal is to use film whenever possible, as it makes things much easier, less time consuming, and better quality. Try explaining any of that to Joe the Consumer or Joe the New Wave Commercial Photographer, though, and you will end up red in the face.
     
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  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Fuji has been promoting this idea already.

    Shoot on C-41 film, hand the shot film to a lab to color correct and print proofs, then go back to shooting.
    When the proofs come back form the lab, sit down with the client and sell the prints or album.
    Take the money and send the print order to the lab, go find more clients.

    No in house back end processing work for the photographer makes a lot of business sense. It does though require a lab you can trust and the willingness to spend a little cash on processing.
     
  4. nsouto

    nsouto Subscriber

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    Just ordered another bulk roll of pan-f, and another screen for the f6.
    And I am going to use the cameras a lot more in 09, if that is possible!
    Particularly the rb67, which hasn't seen much light of late: been too busy with 35mm
    and the Arax 6x6 and its gorgeous CZJ lenses...
     
  5. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    You opened my eyes Shangheye!
    From a capitalist´s point of view, digital cameras are nonsens.
    The use of film reminds me somehow of my double-blade shaver:
    When I bought it many years ago it only cost a few bucks, but every
    package of razor blades I buy seems disproportionally expensive to me,
    but they are necessary to use the shaver :surprised:
    I assume Mr. Kodak had the same in mind when he selled his cheap
    Box Cameras nearly a century ago.
    Indeed this epiphany won´t stop me from buying more film :wink:
    Greetz, Benjamin
     
  6. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Modern technology allows the best of both worlds. The lab I use in SLC will process the film and provide low res scans that upload to an online picture service. The client peruses the online gallery, and places their order. The lab receives the order, collects the money, times and prints the order, sends it to the customer, and sends me a check for the mark up.

    So much easier than doing it all myself, making an arse negative in front of a puter, and if I count my time as money, I'm way ahead.
     
  7. marsbars

    marsbars Member

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    As long as people are willing to pay for something no matter the cost things stick around. The selection may dwindle, but it is still there. I only shoot photos for myself, not for profit. As the norm goes I am the perfect candidate for a digital system. Most of the time I can't afford to develop and print what I shoot. So my stuff goes to the lab in batches when I have the cash. Every year I think, maybe I should cash out of the film end and get a digital and just be done with it. But then I have someone comment on a print that I finally had the money to make. The first thing that they say is how many mega-pixels was you camera. And the look on their face when I tell them that it was on a 20 year old camera with film. Usually they will look at me in disbelief until they look at the grain and notice that it isn't perfect. That there are imperfections and actual shades and tones. That is enough for me to keep spending my few extra dollars on a few more rolls of film.
    I suppose that one day I may have to switch but that day hopefully will be a long time coming. Hopefully never.
     
  8. Ken N

    Ken N Member

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    When the economy is questionable and your sales projections for 2009 are an unknown, changing to an expense-base business model makes a lot of sense rather than committing to a fixed cost model by buying new digital cameras and computers this winter in anticipation of the new business year.
     
  9. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    Excellent point Ken. I do not claim to be a soothsayer, but I'm gonna love the 2009 profit reports for all those Digi camera companies. In business school I was tought that the real test of a business model is how it does in a downturn....I think some film companies are going to find they do OK....digital camera companies? Film is now a differentiated niche business, limited competition, and a loyal fan base. I don't actually want it to compete with digital...I just want film companies to get positive re-inforcement that their model makes sense...becasue if it makes sense in 2009...when does it not make sense? K
     
  10. david b

    david b Member

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    Panasonic and Sony are saying their 4th quarter numbers are going to be way down and have already started to lay off people.

    2009 is going to be an interesting year.
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I think this economic downturn is going to be terrible for photography. And for art, and for pretty much anything not related to immediate survival.

    Good deals will be had on used gear at places like KEH- it's the pawn-shop effect, with people looking to turn anything into cash. But the profit margins of just about any business are going to be razor thin for a year or more.

    Sorry to say it, but my outlook isn't rosy at all :sad: But people may learn how to do better with what they have; that is perhaps the silver lining. I think a lot of people are about to discover how much useless material fills their lives. That could be a good thing, I suppose.
     
  12. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you amortize it out, camera, media, computer, software, upgrades, you will find that you are likely saving money, plus it's parsed in bite sized pieces. The biggest fallacy going on by far is that D is cheap. Easy maybe, but not cheap at all.
     
  13. John Bragg

    John Bragg Member

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    I have a good few years worth of developer stashed away. Film is cheap in real terms and I have all the cameras I am likely to need. I have no plans to go digital as it is for me a completely different medium and so I will continue to use film happily.
    Digital sales are based on the upward "more is better" spiral and if the depression that is affecting us globaly continues then sales of new models will inevitably slow to a crawl. It doesn't matter how good the latest model is if it is out of reach economically, whilst a roll of film is still only a few pounds/dollars/euros and can be bought on an as needed basis. It makes economic sense to me...
     
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  15. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    The flip side is that if it turns into a real struggle around us that struggle will provide lots to photograph. The worse the struggle gets the more our artful portrayals will mean in ten years.
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Hopefully this economy will weed out some the people who call themselves photographers who have been able to fool people simply because they have spent a lot of money on expensive crap. A bad economy is very bad for people without real skills, but gives the truly talented a chance to excel.
     
  17. david_mizen

    david_mizen Member

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    i second nosutos comments re arax must get more czj lens ie sonnar 180 and may be a 50 mm my local camera store dread my shop visits because i insist they get the film i want, if they don't there's plenty of places who want the printing work and the two go hand in hand from my point of view.

    Besides there are plenty of competitions to enter and that a good form of promotion.
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    huh?
     
  19. nsouto

    nsouto Subscriber

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    :D

    sorry 2F/2f, that was hilarious!
     
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  20. nsouto

    nsouto Subscriber

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    Yikes mate! Come up for air!
    :tongue:

    The sonnar 180 and the 50 flekie are guilty of making me use more 120 film this year than I ever used before! Next year I'm using them less, in favour of the 6X7 gear. But they won't be forgotten, that's for sure.

    Yeah, I'm using the "no film, no prints" argument nowadays. If they want my custom on prints, they better cater for my other quaintness. Otherwise, nothing done.
    Surprisingly, it's starting to work!
     
  21. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Right on!

    I'm trying to do that on my work too.
     
  22. SilverGlow

    SilverGlow Member

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    I beg to differ Jason.

    You can get a used digital DSLR that provides 98% the same image quality of the latest $8,000 DSLR for about $400 to $1,300. Sure this is more then most used film bodies, but not a lot of money either. As to a computer, well, 9 times out of 10 a person is going to have a computer anyways, regardless of whether he shoots film or digital or both. As to software, you don't have to purchase PhotoShop and there are many cheaper and often free post processing programs out there that are very good. And as to upgrades, no one needs to upgrade their software every time it gets upgrade by the vendor. Skipping 1-3 upgrades is not necessarily a bad thing, and bug patches and fixes are all free too. Memory cards are dirt cheap, as are harddrives, and optical disks.

    I have found in my own personal experience, and looking at countless others set ups, digital is by far cheaper, especially if one shoots a lot. And the cost of a decent DSLR can easily be offset by the amount of money one will save over the purchase of film & processing, and in the first 6-12 months of shooting.

    Still, I prefer film for black & white pictures, and the higher cost of shooting film does not prevent me from doing so, over digital. To point to so called cost savings as a reason to shoot film is a reason that has no basis in reality. I shoot film because I prefer it's look to digital, and costs has nothing to do with it. These days I shoot with film 95% of the time.
     
  23. Ken N

    Ken N Member

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    Call me a vulture if you want, but I'm hoping that a lot of people overextended themselves and need to dump their recent purchases for a fraction of the new prices. I could use a new digital camera, but I'm not inclined to pay the full price to get one. Historically, the prices on legacy gear (like our film cameras and lenses) actually stabilize or increase during economic downturns, but the new stuff goes in the dumper in a hurry.

    I know this is sad, but there really isn't much more film gear that I want that I don't already have.

    ken
     
  24. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    I have to beg to differ. I agree about the second hand DSLR's and in fact that is the point of my original Post...the OEM gains nothing for that...but film companies keep selling regardless of whether you buy a second hand film camera or new.

    On the subject of cost of digital, Hollywood is already facing the crisis of digital storage that is now estimated to be 200 times more expensive than film reels. The main costs reside in issues of back-ups, software long term compatibility...will your Raw file or Tiff be recognisable in 30 yrs? How mcuh will it cost you to convert. How often will you need to find new space to archive back-up in the next 30yrs? The reality is probably alot less than 200 times for a photographic as opposed to move archive (due to file size), but it will be more than film when considered in terms of life cycle costs. I can scan my negs in 20yrs in to any format.....try and open an Amipro file (old Lotus word processing file) today in Windows...K
     
  25. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You can't out cheap somebody who is determined. I see your $1300 dollar DSLR and raise it a $35 Pentax K1000. If you bulk load film that leaves you enough money to shoot about 18,000 exposures. No computer, no software, no upgrades.

    It can be made into a circular argument, but the fact is you don't need anything to shoot film but a decent camera, that can be had very cheaply, and some film. Printing costs are a wash, or in the case of B&W, much cheaper.

    You can make anything you want out of it, but I have the bookkeeping that proves D is more expensive to me by leaps and bounds.
     
  26. Shangheye

    Shangheye Member

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    ...you also only scan the film images you want, at whatever resolution you want (if you want a digital image). With digital you have to keep it all or lose it. If I change my mind...I can always scan a negative I didn't scan before....I get to choose type of print (Analog/inkjet etc)...bottom line is film can be digital...but digital..can't be film? I don't decry digital...the instant feedback helped my photography and commercially has destressed me (I always have digital images as part of any job) in the past....but that does not make it cheaper, and does not mean film is not good business, and definitely does not mean it is better in any way....just a different tool. K
     
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