I haven't bought a new camera in years.
Good points made but...
There are some good points made that I didn't think about, but this got a little off the point of the original post. While I'm sure there will be 35mm cameras made for some time, and they will last for many years as well as film for them, the camera companies and film companies will want to revamp the whole system so they have something to sell. While FSLR's will be dropping off the list in time, that leaves only digital, (and MF and LF). Once the market is saturated with DSLR's, they have got to go somewhere. Maybe video/still cameras will be the hot item, but digital still has a long way to go for those that like B/W, or don't want to play with their computer to get a picture the way they want it. The only option I see is a dual format camera, and unless they come up with a 35mm/digital camera, the most likely way to go would be a MF/Digital. Since those already exist, I would think they would be the next hot camera. Ofcourse one can't guess the market, but what I'm saying is it would not surprise me if Nikon and Canon and the other big ones drop 35mm in a few years and go with MF/Digital. Right now the 35mm FSLR is facing strong competition from digital and is losing. Right?
The Japanese (with a few exceptions) largely abandoned film about five years ago. They have ZERO interest in old technology. Japanese makers, led by Canon, have shown that they aren't interested in looking backward.
Much of this is a reflection of the American consumer, which wants cheap and easy.
There are plenty of used cameras on the market, and still a good choice of film from several manufacturers: Ilford, Adox, Rollei, Maco, Efke and Kodak and Fuji.
I'm not going to worry too much about the future of cameras. What will happen has happened.
I don't expect that we'll see (m)any new film cameras out of Japan (except for Cosina).
At least, we've stopped hearing that insipid phrase, "Going digital," every other day.
Just shoot, baby!
Land fills will be loaded with lots of digital cameras sicne no one repairs em.
Film cameras will be in high demand again when people start realizing they bought toys.
Imagine using a 100 year old LF camera again or a 60 year old MF pocket folding camera? Yeah right!
Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.
Let's not look at it from a purely western perspective. 135 film is still in higher demand in less affluent parts of the world, where not everyone has access to a computer or even mains power. And let's not forget a big domestic market for 35 mm film: speed trap cameras.
If I may bend the original poster's question a bit, what will be the last 35 mm black & white film produced? I hope it will be Tri-X, but that's just my momentary preference.
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Actually I was surprised to find film was still popular and easy to have processed in Japan when I was there last year (sadly I didn't go this year). They like the newest things too of course but there was no problem finding places that sold and processed film in Tokyo. Great used camera stores too. Of course most take pictures with their phones but that is true here as well.
Both will be around in the future. Three brief points:
Photography is about physics so until minature sensor cameras can meet or surpass the light capturing ability of large sensor cameras you will see both.
Large segment of population want smaller and smaller cameras. IMO once you been familiar with benefits of larger cameras, the minature ones are just a novelty.
Many say that video and still imagery will converge, but just like music videos and CDs, sometimes you just want the music and not a whole production...
I believe Shanghai Seagull are still making cameras:
In emerging markets the cost and effort of importing secondhand cameras from the West probably means that new film SLRs are competitively priced there.
Kind of hard to beat Leica or even a 35mm SLR at street photography with a 645.
In terms of new cameras, I would think the last film-capable mass-produced model would be one that takes both a digital and a film back to maximize the manufacturer's market - likely MF, because there are models that do that already. I don't follow them closely (because I can't afford them anyway), but I'm pretty sure the latest Rollei/whatever it's branded now and at least 1 current Hassy take backs with either.
I can see LF/ULF cameras being made for some time, because they can be made-to-order and are to some extent already.
35mm - well, there are so many good (semi-)manual cameras out there already, some needing a bit of TLC, some not - I think the future in 35mm is camera repair
i can't wait to take a picture of my thumb with this beautiful camera.
- phirehouse, after buying a camera in the classifieds