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  1. #1
    snaggs's Avatar
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    Is their money for manufacturers in film cameras?

    Are there still any "spenders" shooting film? Or is this now relegated to people buying 2nd hand camera's on the cheap? If there is not more people buying camera's like the F6.. M7.. then they will cease to exist.

    No body seems to have any qualms about dropping big $$ on a Nikon D3, or countless other digital SLR's. If there is where all the spending is, then no wonder the manufacturers have cut back film bodies.

    Remember that next time you buy a 2nd hand camera! I'd like to think we could maintain a large enough niche market for at least the production of some new cameras!

    Daniel.

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Yes as long as the cameras fill the right niche in the market.

    There are plenty of S/H film cameras around at the moment which is depressing and distorting the actual reality of how many people are buying and using film cameras.

    So while digital has appeared to completely dominate camera purchases for quite a few years now there is also another reality.

    There has been a big re-resurgence in range-finder cameras, which can be seen with MF models from Fuji, Mamiya etc, and the various 35mm models built by Cosina. Then there's the LF and ULF market which is healthy, along with the panoramic cameras 612/617/624 from China.

    So with Fuji looking at probably introducing a new 6x7 folder yes the market is there for new film cameras, but at the moment only for camera models which don't compete with the glut of 35mm SLR's & MF cameras available at next to nothing second-hand.

    Ian

  3. #3

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    I agree with Ian. If you could count the number of film bodies that sold in a single year on Ebay alone it would be staggering! Now add in B&H, KEH, Adoroma, etc...and that's just in the U.S.A. All those people that bought those cameras intend to shoot film in them. Even if it's just a couple rolls every once in a while - those numbers add up.
    It's the excess of second hand gear (and a lot of it good pro stuff at cents on the dollar) that is flooding the market. This makes 35mm SLR style cameras not really feasible to manufacture right now. There is a demand for them, though, as they are all being bought by someone! :-)
    Jed

  4. #4

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    Um, snaggs, how many models of 35 mm cameras are now in production, not counting disposables? 645? 6x6? 6x7? 6x9? How many were in production twenty years ago? And what are production volumes?

    There's your answer.

    There's not much money for many manufacturers in cameras of any size that shoot film, the apparent resurgence of LF notwithstanding. Partly because fewer and fewer people are shooting film, partly because of competition from used cameras. Note that used cameras come to market because their owners are hard up or because their owners are no longer using them. I think that most of the used cameras that come to market are offered by people who have no further use for them, but this is an empirical question and I haven't done the research needed to support my opinion.

  5. #5

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    Just curious, does anyone know where production and/or sales figures would be available for the last 10 years (or more recently)? The industry-wide totals or by companies, broken out by types (35mm, medium format, etc) would answer this question. Please advise if anyone is aware of such a web-site. Thanks for your help.

    My guess is film cam sales are down sharply, digital sales are booming, but I could be wrong about that.

    Paul

  6. #6
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    Selling new cameras is a tough business indeed. The problem is the economic principle of marginal return or marginal benefit.

    How much benefit do you get with Camera X (e.g. a used Nikon F5 from KEH or eBay)? How much benefit do you get with Camera Y (e.g. a new Nikon F6 from wherever)?

    So if you get 92 units of utility from the F5 and 100 from the F6, but the F5 costs $450 and the F6 costs $1,799, which one do you buy?

    The prices of used cameras are insanely low at the moment (not truly insane, of course; this is the market - but the bang for the buck is exceptional if you are exclusively a film shooter as I am). The prices of new cameras are good compared to historical levels, but not good compared to the used prices. There has to be a reasonably narrow gap between the prices for me to prefer a new camera.
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

    Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?

  7. #7
    Nigel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snaggs View Post
    No body seems to have any qualms about dropping big $$ on a Nikon D3, or countless other digital SLR's. If there is where all the spending is, then no wonder the manufacturers have cut back film bodies.

    Remember that next time you buy a 2nd hand camera! I'd like to think we could maintain a large enough niche market for at least the production of some new cameras!
    If you are that concerned, you need to remove the second hand market, or at least constrain it. The way to do that would be to start buying used cameras and destroying them, ensuring that they never be used again. This would lead to larger demand for new film cameras assuming that your premise is correct.

  8. #8

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    Most of the postings here reveal a fundamental lack of understanding of how manufacturing and (especially) marketing work. Manufacturers exist to sell products, and they have marketing departments to create demand. Digital *anything* is a dream come true on both counts. You have to replace the digi-thing every couple of years, even if it is still perfectly good. Whether someone actually wants to buy a new 35mm SLR is of no concern to them. Film cameras last a lifetime (or longer). My OM-1 will never be rendered useless because the drivers don't work on the newest Operating System.

    The situation is even better for marketers. Digital is "new" and "cool", just like the emperor's new clothes. That's what's given us the megapixel mania, with image quality actually degrading as new models push beyond the limit of what the technology can achieve. People don't care about image quality, they just want to brag they have the most pixels.

    Jim hits on a very good point as well. New cameras were always grossly overpriced. They could get away with this because the market had few manufacturers, and they were all willing to play the same game. There is a new dynamic now that never existed before. "That auction site" has created a marketplace for used equipment, creating competition that never existed before. Unless you lived in NYC or were willing to spend months scouring classified ads, the chances of finding a specific piece of used equipment used to be pretty slim. Now you have dozens of choices. And as soon as one piece sells, another one is up for bid.

  9. #9
    clay's Avatar
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    I swear I have been afflicted with this 'glance at a subject line' dyslexia thing lately. So when I saw this post, I would have sworn that it said 'Are there monkeys for manufacturers in film cameras?'
    I just want to feel nostalgic like I used to.


    http://www.clayharmon.net - turnip extraordinaire

  10. #10

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    As I have given this some thought over the past couple of days I developed a line of wishful thinking. As very few new 35mms are being sold and older cameras are getting long in the tooth and parts are not available, as used cameras are being bought the supply is dwindling. At some point a small companies like Cosina or a larger company like Fuji will find a small market for new cameras. The question is what will the price point be?

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