By reading this forum it seems that in the US, in general, digital has taken much more market share than in Europe. In Europe nobody would ever wonder how can people still buy films, for instance. Films are sold at every photography shop (and elsewhere) and are developed everywhere. Until 2007 or 2008 the professional laboratory where I had my slides processed said they saw no diminishing of business in film developing.
The US has a population of around 270 millions against 90 millions of Germany. That would mean that on average Germans consume three times more film than US citizens. That is probably true, and probably holds true for some other countries in Europe.
Just to make another example, I read people in this forum have difficulties in finding a 5 litres kit for C41. I found without any problems two kits which I could order any day and probably would find some more kits with a bit of research.
People in the US are conditioned and trained by high-tech marketers to desire and purchase exactly what the marketers want them to desire and purchase. And just as animals will instinctivly eat themselves to death when presented with an unlimited food supply, so will people in the US consume themselves to death when presented with an unlimited supply of high-tech gadgets for sale.
Right now there is a television advertisement making the rounds. A suburban consumer is proudly watching as deliverymen carry his brand new widescreen 3D HDTV television in its box through the front door of his home. He then looks up to see the delivery truck sitting in his driveway with a sign on it reading "4D HDTV Coming Soon."
"Whoa! Wait. What's the 4D TV?" he asks.
"Pretty much the best thing I've ever seen in my life." comes the reply.
"Can I get that one instead?" he asks.
Cut to a small girl dancing in the front yard while singing "You got the wrong TV, silly head."
And so it is also in the US with digital cameras. And virtually everything else. It's an utterly amazing phenomenon to see.
See: You Got The Wrong TV, Silly Head!
"Some photographers are the poets of purple mountains' majesty. Some are the poets of the placid suburbs. Weegee is the poet of small-timers who died face down on a city pavement at 3 a.m. in a pool of their own blood."
— Richard Lacayo, Photography: Dames! Stiffs! Mugs!, Time Magazine, January 12, 1998
Digital adoption is higher in NA most likely because:
- younger population
- higher penetration rate of home PC's
- larger, homogenous market leading to easier distribution and marketing
It's moot. If the numbers are slightly off in the article, they will be worse soon regardless. The precipitous downward trend is not contested. Do you see any film cameras advertised anywhere at all?
No camera, no film. Legacy product and a used market driven by eBay will not keep a substrate factory open forever. Or for even a few years.
No new cameras doesn't mean no film, or no new films, IMO. The digital revolution brought a huge amount of perfectly fine film cameras on the second-hand market and that killed the market for new film cameras. Film sales certainly declined but did so with a very different pattern. That's not to say that film sales haven't been shrinking in the last ten years, they surely have, but at by far a different rate than film cameras.
If I get all the figures more or less right - I'm going by heart here, don't quote my figures - film cameras virtually ceased selling already in 2002 - 2003. Ten years after the "revolution", there are only a couple camera producers (Cosina and Nikon, maybe Canon) in the consumer market. Then there are all the Leica, Rolleiflex, Alpa, Arca-Swiss, Hasselblad and many others and all the LF producers. It's niche market but it is meaningful they are still alive. The fact that some firms producing enlargers still produce them today is also noticeable.
Film products, on the other hand, is mostly still alive. Practically all film producers that were alive 10 years ago are alive now, with the exception of Konica - Sakura. Agfa still produces film (as an OEM). Most chemicals producers are still alive.
Some are just prematurely singing the de profundis to an industry in a sad anticipation of a death which so far did not knock at the door.
If you see it in terms of "surviving catalogue", as far as film cameras are concerned possibly 98% of the year 2000 catalogue is out of production, while in the film and chemistry sectors probably 95% of the year 2000 catalogue survived.
Actually if we get an "almanac" of the photographic market of the year 1990, some twenty years ago, we might discover that film offering is much broader now than it was then.
Personally I have worries only about the continuation of mass-market laboratories, which I see as the weak ring in the chain.
Film cameras are very easy to manufacture: just take a digital camera (any), and adapt it. When the demand for new film cameras rises again, producers will be easily able to produce film versions or their digital cameras. Or maybe even Jeckyll-Hyde versions, with interchangeable backs, one for film, the other for digital (à la Leica R9 or better).
The sky is still solidly resting on its feet
When photography was first announced, it seemed certain to do away with engraving and etching and other printmaking media. But they are still around. There is enough of a niche market so that one can get everything one needs and there are even new products like solar plates. And now after many years, it's possible to buy carbon tissue and pre-coated albumin and salted paper. It's not a certainty to be sure, but the odds are good someone will continue to produce film for the foreseeable future.
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Recently I've had an interesting and long talk to a Fuji rep at a photo fair. We've talked about the markets, and what is going on on the different markets, too.
The Fuji rep said that the US market is still the biggest market for photo film worldwide, with about 30 million rolls of camera films 35mm, 120, 220 (single use cameras are not included in this figure, they come extra). That confirms what Mr Serger has said here.
He further said in Japan film is still very popular and was more stable during the last years compared to US. In Europe Germany, Austria, Swiss, Italy, UK, Czech and Poland have a relative strong film user basis.
I think the article contains some serious mistakes. First, the author does a mistake experienced analysts try to avoid: He does only a simple linear interpolation of data of the past. But we know from economic and technologic historiy that trends are running only a limited time in linear shape, then the curve in most cases flattened and rebounds take place. We already see it in some areas, e.g. sheet film, toy cameras, medium format, where stabilisation or increasing sales were reported by the manufactureres.
Second, he ignores new market trends like lomography and the resurgence of instant photography by TIP and Fuji (new instax).
Lomography is film exclusively and it is the company with the highest growth rates in the whole photo industry, including digital (you won't find a digital photo company with growth rates of more than 50 % p.a. the Fuji rep told me).
It all reminds me of similar articles ten years ago, when such people said that in one decade, till 2010, film will vanish.
Now, as these guys were proven wrong with their former prognosis, they now say film will vanish in this decade till 2020.
I am convinced we will be here in 2020 with lots of film around and the same discussions, and the same people will say that film will vanish in the next decade till 2030.......
A lot of these articles is only digital marketing: They say you have to switch to digital, even if you prefer film, because film will vanish.
We shouldn't do the mistake to join in this strategy and repeat their marketing phrases by starting doom and gloom threads.
By this we are doing exactly their job, and doing what they want: Discouraging photographers to use film.
Whilst that figure is a fraction of what it once was, it is still a significant number. It might be a bit low for the likes of Kodak and Fujifilm who are set up to manufacture in vast quantities but if there were no film manufacturers, it would represent a large gap in the market which someone would fill.
Originally Posted by Film-Niko
...but if there were no film manufacturers, it would represent a large gap in the market which someone would fill.
Don't you get it? No Kodak or Fuji means the market has already collapsed. That's why they might choose to bail out. Demand would have already tanked relative to what's left today.
Not quite. Kodak and Fujifilm might give up when the quantities are not sufficient to maintain the overheads of their manufacturing facilities. That still leaves a large demand waiting to be supplied.
Originally Posted by CGW
Doubtful. You're assuming demand will be stable, which is unlikely given the plummeting trend in sales. What will prompt withdrawl by the major players is an irreversible decline in demand we're not able to staunch. At that point, there won't be much left for anyone. People kvetch now about rising film/paper prices. I'm thinking your future won't be much fun--or affordable.
Originally Posted by Steve Smith