The rising interest in film photography was reflected by one London dealer who told me he just couldn't get hold of enough secondhand quality cameras in good condition to meet the demand. Possibly many photographers are getting disillusioned with the sheer cost of keeping up with the latest digital developments. "New models" being introduced every year drive down the value of your current model at a faster rate than a new car loses value.
It seems strange that the major manufacturers like Nikon etc., don't seem to have noticed a resurgance of interest in film, and re-launched maybe their FM2n........or maybe they have a vested interest in not noticing?
It would seem to me that Nikon would re-release some of their better 35mm cameras, namely the F100 and FM3a. Or maybe release new models...the F200 and FM4a. How sweet would that be?
Originally Posted by rolleiman
Why not capitalize on this resurgence? I suppose, like you, they have a vested interest in discouraging film use so they can sell the latest D-series cameras.
Canon users are shaving down the aperture coupling prong of our K-mount manual lenses, Nikon users are buying AI-S lenses for HDSLR video, and us film users are stuck buying from an ever-shrinking pool, and ever-increasing price list.
Remember the days of picking up a Yashicamat for $10? They're over. The latest crop appear to be selling for a little over $200 on eBay.
We can't rely on Lomo either. They sell Russian TLRs for over $300. But at least you can still buy them new.
Completely anecdotal, but it seems like film has slowly been gaining interest, particularly with youths under 25 or 30 since about 2008, and really becoming noticeable by about 2010. But it is still a small market compared to the digital juggernaut and will probably remain so. Like it or not, digital is here to stay.
I'm guessing the numbers aren't quite yet there for Canikon to re-introduce or introduce new SLRs, but could be in a few years if interest continues to build. I agree that Lomos and Dianas and Fuji Instaxes can't sustain the new film camera market. We really need something between the $40-$120 toy/fun cameras and the $2400 Nikon F6. It would be awesome for Nikon or Canon or Pentax to start manufacturing some more film SLRs. Or perhaps for Sony to resurrect old Minoltas and Konicas, even for limited times. Didn't Nikon re-release their rangefinder in a "millennium edition" for 2000? Don't see why we couldn't have a 2012 limited edition Pentax Spotmatic or Nikon F100.
No old models are going to be re-released. The possibility of making a profit is nil. The tooling (molds, dies, fixtures etc.) is gone. They haven't even made parts for them for years now. Assembly lines were long ago converted to make something else. Contracting for new circuit boards, making new tooling, setting up assembly lines, training people, all that is very expensive. There are lots of parts inside an F100, and every one would have to be re-created. And the demand is not there. A brand new, old stock F100 can still be bought right now from B+H for $700, substantially less in actual dollars than what they used to sell for, or what it would cost now to make.
A Spotmatic would be just as difficult. They have been out of production for nearly forty years. Even the K1000, essentially a K-mount Spotmatic, has been out of production for about 15 years. And why would they produce a new Spotmatic when clean used ones can be found for under a hundred bucks? Same as the F100, it would mean starting over. Worse, some of the skills required to make them the way they used to have disappeared, something Nikon learned with their re-issues of classic models.
Nikon also learned with the FM3A that once-common parts can be hard to find, demonstrated by the difficulties with obtaining suitable meter coils, which had been readily available a little more than a decade before. They had to buy a secondhand FE2 and remove the meter coil from it to see how it had been made by the old supplier, in order to understand how to make new ones. Even stamping brass top and bottom covers, once the most common way of making them, was becoming a lost art, and they had to rely on the knowledge of older engineers to understand how to do it. Nikon lost money on the FM3A because of the switch to digital, and discontinued it in 2006. I'd guess they're still smarting from that one, and aren't likely to want to re-issue it when they couldn't sell enough a mere 6 years ago.
It's true that Nikon replicated a couple of their rangefinder cameras; they did so knowing they would lose money doing it.
It was more difficult than they expected. They did not have examples of the cameras, and had to buy secondhand ones. When they dismantled them, they were not able to figure out how the viewfinders had originally been fabricated, which made them difficult (some thought impossible) to replicate. They were able to do it, but never did understand how it was done originally.
That knowledge, the "tricks of the trade" in the old days, had been lost as design and manufacturing techniques changed. Nikon had a tough time re-creating with all the best modern tools, facilities, and engineering knowledge, what they had been able to do in early post-war Japan with the technology, materials, and techniques available at the time.
Cosina still makes film cameras, for example the Nikon FM-10. They are not built to the level of Spotmatics and F100's but are usable and perform well. Even so, a clean F3HP will cost less than a new FM-10, and something like an N90S (F90X), a very capable machine, is far less.
Last edited by lxdude; 07-05-2012 at 04:12 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.
I had a Cosina branded K mount camera which I gave away on one of the forums. Something like that would probably do 99.9% of everything anyone wanted.
Originally Posted by lxdude
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There certainly is some revival going on. Me? The amount of film I shoot nowadays seems to be growing every month. I have also gotten into medium format photography and done my first RA-4 prints. My wife has also gotten into shooting film with her father's old OM-10, having been doing digital snapshots for many years before that. I have also been able to convince at least three or four friends of mine to try shooting 35mm film or to switch to it from digital. On Tuesday I bought a cheap Canon film SLR (1000f) and a cheap lens in order to try to convert my teenage sister. We'll see what comes out of that, but the initial reaction was good -- the SLR resembles enough the digital Canons, so that it isn't shameful to shoot with it...
Its hard not to draw parallel's between film/digital and vinyl records/digital , all be it will about a 10-15 year lag.
The mid 1990's seems to be the absolute nadir of music released on vinyl, you couldn't give your record collection away, even to charity shops. CD's were the only way. Now vinyl is very much back. Yes, its still a small market share, but its being purchased by a wide demographic who love the way it sounds and the tactility of owning a physical item. Many old albums have been rereleased and almost all new albums are now also released on vinyl often with a digital download code included. I'm sure film will be the same, and the major manufacturers will start to support again what will be a niche, but important, part of the imaging market.
It seems that Cosina, with their Voigtlander Bessa series, have demonstrated there is a growing demand for film cameras, why not Olympus with a relaunched OM1n?..or Nikon with an FM2n?...I would be surprised if all the tooling for these basic mechanical cameras has been lost or destroyed. I suspect the major manufacturers are ignoring film enthusiasts, since there is more money to be made in producing digital cameras with built in obsolesence.
Are us film users going to be totally in the hands of Cosina and possibly Leica for future new supplies of film cameras? And then only rangefinders?
My Lab processes 150 to 200 rolls all weeks. 35mm and 120; Color or Black&White. You get to talk to the technician in both cases to give him instructios.
" A loving and caring heart is the beginning of all knowledge " ~ Thomas Carlyle ~
Cosina can manufacture cameras to any specifications. They used to manufacture Contax G and G2 IIRC, and they also manufacture the Zeiss Ikon rangefinder as far as I remember, and those are cameras built to very strict quality standards.
Besides Canon, Nikon and Sony (and maybe some other producer, I don't know) produce full frame digital SRLs and I imagine that converting those to film wouldn't be a problem.
The APS-C digital SLR could be converted to APS film as well.
That is, all what above could be done if there was a robust spike in demand for new SLRs. At the moment there is a huge quantity of used SLR which, with a bit of service, can be rendered very reliable tools and this makes producing new SLR not a very economically compelling proposition.
The real gauge of film "revival" is film consumption. You cannot buy used film on eBay and refurbish it