Is there really a strong interest in film photography?

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Agulliver

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Not only that, but if the motor goes out on your turntable, you can spin your records around with your finger. Sure, it's not perfect, but at least you can hear something. Try that with a CD. I had a Dual turntable in college. The motor wore out after four years and I couldn't afford to fix it. To be honest, I didn't spin my records around with my finger. Later my wife gave me a CD player. Do you have any idea how quiet the background is on a CD? It was a revelation.

It has been said that the biggest thing test audiences noticed when CDs were first rolled out was the lack of noise, rather than any improvement in the sound quality. I can buy that, especially if they were used to low end record players and low end cassette decks. I didn't get to hear CD in anything like good listening room until 1987. And it struck me that they sucked the life out of the music. The problem with quantisation and just the sense that "something vital is missing" is very real with 16/44 sources. DVD-Audio which is 24/192 feels the same as listening to a record or reel to reel tape. Doesn't quite sound the same, but feels the same. All the life and emotion is there. So it's not simply digital vs analogue. The big revelation for me was upgrading to a decent (but definitely not high end) turntable in 1991. Best decision I ever made in the world of A/V.

Worth noting that the men who actually came up with the CD red book format described it as "mid-fi, at best". It was never supposed to be some great hi-fi thing. That was Phillips' US marketing team. Who, as US marketing teams tend to do, lied.

I am unsure what you did to wear out a turntable motor. My Systemdek is going as strong as ever at 31 years old this month. It's predecessor, a mostly plastic entry level thing still serves as my office turntable. It's predecessor is a Garrard 1025 based device that my dad bought in 1967. OK, some twenty years later it was running slow and put in the loft for a further twenty years. Whereupon I eventually got it out, removed and cleaned the induction motor and it works perfectly again. It needed just 40 minutes of work that any vaguely competent home enthusiast could do. I am no mechanical engineer. My mum's old Dansette from 1964 is also still spinning the black wax. Only repair it needed was a grommet between the deck and plinth. Heck, I have a circa 1930 wind up gramophone that runs. I've actually never encountered a worn out turntable motor! And I know a lot of people who play records.

Much like record players, cameras were made at all price points and often the more simple ones still work without even needing CLA. Box cameras, entry level 120 and 35mm cameras from the 50s often still work pretty much as when they came off the factory line. They're great for people just getting into film for the first time. Often the 70s and 80s electronic cameras are more hit and miss regarding functionality....and cannot always be made to partially function if something goes wrong. Some mid level brands such as Zeiss-Ikon folding cameras almost never go wrong.

It is also true that "anything with a shutter" can be sold these days, and vendors tend to know that buyers are going to use these cameras....with film, not to put on display or make a "trendy" lamp out of. A few years ago when my partner and I would be scouring market stalls and charity shops for old cameras, the sellers would look on quite amazed when we'd buy something and then pull the required film out of a pocket and load it up. Now, they're often quick to say "You can still get film. I believe it's all working"....though I did encounter one charity shop where the staff member I spoke to thought that both Kodak and Ilford had stopped making film. I happily showed her Ilford's web page, and she promptly added £10 to the price tag of each camera in the shop!
 

faberryman

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I am unsure what you did to wear out a turntable motor...
I too am unsure what I did to wear out the motor in my Dual turntable. I don't think I played it more than other college students at the time. Yet, after four years, the turntable stopped turning. I took it to the repair shop and they told me I needed a new motor. German turntable motors were expensive, and I was not in a position to pay for the repair. I must not have been the only person to experience the problem. Dual sold replacement motors.

If you prefer listening to vinyl, then by all means continue listening to vinyl.
 
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George Mann

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Worth noting that the men who actually came up with the CD red book format described it as "mid-fi, at best". It was never supposed to be some great hi-fi thing. That was Phillips' US marketing team. Who, as US marketing teams tend to do, lied.

It was engineers at Sony who came up with the red book standard, and since Sony was bankrolling the whole thing, we were stuck with it.

Lifeless midfi sound that distorted high frequencies and lacked inner detail, you bet.
 

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My Dual is still running well and I bought it in 1972.
 

Agulliver

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I had a Garrard turntable that my ex-wife kept. Hmmm.

some Garrards are record killers, some are good, one or two are outstanding. Only in recent years has the Zero got the acclaim it deserves. My dad's old one is made from a Garrard 1025 deck in a wooden plinth with electronics made by a small company in London in the mid to late 60s, I have a likely date of 1967 for the purchase. Now that is a nice but unremarkable idler drive model with a ceramic Sonotone 9TAHC cartridge. Sounds very nice, though with some audible noise from the idler system. Still kicks the shit out of Spotify Premium, which is the other music source in the household in which it now resides. And as the tracking is just about 3g it doesn't damage records. New styli are still available for just a few pounds and even NOS original Sonotone cartridges, or modern new ones made in China are around for reasonable cost like £30. Even the autochanger mechanism works after 55 years, though it did need a little coaxing back into life after twenty years of inactivity.

What I'd like to see is film to become as popular as vinyl records again. I can go to my local Tesco (for non-Brits that's our biggest supermarket/grocery store chain) and buy not only a half decent selection of LPs but three models of turntable, one of which is actually not bad. A few years ago HMV and Amazon UK announced that turntables were their biggest selling Christmas present items. If a shop like Tesco begins to stock film again, that will be a potential game changer. Boots the Chemists still do (sort of the UK Walgreens) but it's patchy as to which branches sell it and what they have in stock. If Tesco or another big supermarket take the jump and find that it works, the market will tangibly increase again.

Happened with vinyl, when Sainsbury's took a gamble on offering an Iron Maiden LP with the Iron Maiden branded beer. It flew off the shelves and the CEO decided to try and stock a small range of records. They flew off the shelves so the range was increased to 30-40 titles, then increased to some Sainsbury's exclusive editions....Tesco and others followed suit and the already increasing UK vinyl market doubled the following year. And the following year. I laugh at EMI selling off their Hayes record manufacturing facility. Luckily the developer turning it into flats kept 1/3 of it for record manufacture, rehiring staff who EMI had let go. The company that arose from those ashes is now selling records back to EMI because EMI can't make their own!
 

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some Garrards are record killers, some are good, one or two are outstanding. Only in recent years has the Zero got the acclaim it deserves. My dad's old one is made from a Garrard 1025 deck in a wooden plinth with electronics made by a small company in London in the mid to late 60s, I have a likely date of 1967 for the purchase. Now that is a nice but unremarkable idler drive model with a ceramic Sonotone 9TAHC cartridge. Sounds very nice, though with some audible noise from the idler system. Still kicks the shit out of Spotify Premium, which is the other music source in the household in which it now resides. And as the tracking is just about 3g it doesn't damage records. New styli are still available for just a few pounds and even NOS original Sonotone cartridges, or modern new ones made in China are around for reasonable cost like £30. Even the autochanger mechanism works after 55 years, though it did need a little coaxing back into life after twenty years of inactivity.

What I'd like to see is film to become as popular as vinyl records again. I can go to my local Tesco (for non-Brits that's our biggest supermarket/grocery store chain) and buy not only a half decent selection of LPs but three models of turntable, one of which is actually not bad. A few years ago HMV and Amazon UK announced that turntables were their biggest selling Christmas present items. If a shop like Tesco begins to stock film again, that will be a potential game changer. Boots the Chemists still do (sort of the UK Walgreens) but it's patchy as to which branches sell it and what they have in stock. If Tesco or another big supermarket take the jump and find that it works, the market will tangibly increase again.

Happened with vinyl, when Sainsbury's took a gamble on offering an Iron Maiden LP with the Iron Maiden branded beer. It flew off the shelves and the CEO decided to try and stock a small range of records. They flew off the shelves so the range was increased to 30-40 titles, then increased to some Sainsbury's exclusive editions....Tesco and others followed suit and the already increasing UK vinyl market doubled the following year. And the following year. I laugh at EMI selling off their Hayes record manufacturing facility. Luckily the developer turning it into flats kept 1/3 of it for record manufacture, rehiring staff who EMI had let go. The company that arose from those ashes is now selling records back to EMI because EMI can't make their own!

I think film will get there. The manufactures were burned terribly when it all collapsed and now are only very cautiously dipping their toes back in. I think the next decade is going to be fun and surprising. I think we may even see one of the big names put out a new camera.
 

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This will have to happen for film to stay viable for the manufacturers to produce.

It'll have to happen for the camera guys to stay viable. They wouldn't be selling to pros, they need to be able to sell consumer cameras. Know what can't be shot on a phone? Film.
 

Moose22

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This will have to happen for film to stay viable for the manufacturers to produce.

Just a side note. The reason film is viable is that some motion pictures still shoot film, and television.

It's a strange, intertwined bunch of markets because some parts are universal enough to keep factory manufacturing lines running. Shooting a TV show or a film uses a ton of film, though digital distribution has reduced that by an order of magnitude since you don't have to make a thousand physical positives to send out to theaters for release. but it still uses way more than your average still photographer.

For there to be a future, for a real incentive to update and bring out new emulsions for still photography, there will eventually need to be new manufactured cameras. Hopefully more approachably priced than the new Leica, though seeing an M6 produced new shows how popular the model is at the moment and that's also wonderful. But I think the hard core movie makers have really been the saviors of us still photographers and I wonder if folks like Nikon, who shut down their F6 line 2 years ago when they consolidated manufacturing in Thailand, but who have in the past resurrected long dead products so have shown the ability, will see the value in the market.

I'm betting they are watching markets and running numbers, but considering the move away from SLRs and the overall decline in dedicated (digital) camera sales in the late teens, folks like Nikon or Fuji who might have the ability are going to be wary of dedicating a line to a new film camera until they can be certain of the market resilience. I honestly wonder if they have teams evaluating what's needed right now. I'd love to know, though obviously if the decision wasn't made Nikon would never say, these companies hold their cards close to the vest.
 

Cholentpot

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Just a side note. The reason film is viable is that some motion pictures still shoot film, and television.

It's a strange, intertwined bunch of markets because some parts are universal enough to keep factory manufacturing lines running. Shooting a TV show or a film uses a ton of film, though digital distribution has reduced that by an order of magnitude since you don't have to make a thousand physical positives to send out to theaters for release. but it still uses way more than your average still photographer.

For there to be a future, for a real incentive to update and bring out new emulsions for still photography, there will eventually need to be new manufactured cameras. Hopefully more approachably priced than the new Leica, though seeing an M6 produced new shows how popular the model is at the moment and that's also wonderful. But I think the hard core movie makers have really been the saviors of us still photographers and I wonder if folks like Nikon, who shut down their F6 line 2 years ago when they consolidated manufacturing in Thailand, but who have in the past resurrected long dead products so have shown the ability, will see the value in the market.

I'm betting they are watching markets and running numbers, but considering the move away from SLRs and the overall decline in dedicated (digital) camera sales in the late teens, folks like Nikon or Fuji who might have the ability are going to be wary of dedicating a line to a new film camera until they can be certain of the market resilience. I honestly wonder if they have teams evaluating what's needed right now. I'd love to know, though obviously if the decision wasn't made Nikon would never say, these companies hold their cards close to the vest.

Point and shoot film cameras. That's what they're going to push. High end, pocketable 'Full frame' 35mm cameras with a fast lens. Something like the MJU.
 

Moose22

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Point and shoot film cameras. That's what they're going to push. High end, pocketable 'Full frame' 35mm cameras with a fast lens. Something like the MJU.

I'd love to see that.

All the kids-these-days are into their P&S cameras. Some blogger used a contax and now they're twice as much on the ebay.
 

Cholentpot

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I'd love to see that.

All the kids-these-days are into their P&S cameras. Some blogger used a contax and now they're twice as much on the ebay.

Yep. Like I said, you can't make a film shooting phone. Kids already have a digital camera in their phone. Want them to buy a camera? Make a modern point and shoot film camera. It'll be the accessory to have.
 

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I truly wish it ended like in case of vinyl, however there are some concerns. In case of LPs the supply of equipment has never never dried out completely, and here we've got:

  • We do not have any new MF cameras in production
  • There is only one 35 mm camera still in production - Leica M6
  • We've got still LF cameras - Cambo, Chamonix, Arca, etc - that's great, but there are no lenses available - Rodenstock, Schneider and Nikon discontinued their lenses long time ago.
  • Films - B&W is staying really strong, but color is fading away. Negatives are almost extinct, slides still live, but who knows how long Fuji would want to sustain its range? How long are we going to have Provias and Velvias available? There has been a huge problem with availability of those materials recently. There is reborn Kodak luckily and I hope they will grow, although I never liked their films.

I wonder, why the big guys would not want to have film products along with digital line in the same fashion like Leica. Take Hasselblad - they got new digital V series - what would be the problem to offer film body and film back? The same with Sinar, Nikon and others. I'm afraid, that there is something we are not aware of, that availability of films and chemistry will drop within next years due to some another stupid and nonsense green ideas.

On the other hand, we've got fantastic new initiatives like Intrepid, the demand for film is growing, so maybe in the next years there will be significant improvement. Maybe Hasselblad's move to resurrect V-series in digital outfit is just the beginning to restore entire series? I wish it was like that.

Kal
 
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Chuck_P

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This subject has been on my mind....especially lately since I've decided to reignite my darkroom and return to this forum after 10 yrs.......I have some re-start up costs to navigate since I sold some items.....I've always wondered how long this show can go on.
 

Sirius Glass

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This will have to happen for film to stay viable for the manufacturers to produce.

This is not an "if and only if" situation. One time use cameras and point and shoot cameras can also help to drive up the interest in film.
 

Agulliver

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The interesting thing with the Kodak branded cameras is that they're definitely at the low end of the market, but they *are* affordable and they function. Kind of fulfilling the function that box cameras did in the 1930s. They are a way into beginning to shoot on film that needs very little outlay and which is guaranteed to work. And being new, they might make their way into shops. What could drive film sales up further in the still photography market is if people see one of these plastic cameras, which nonetheless do look good, on a shelf in a store they regularly visit and take a chance. find it fun and continue to buy film. And maybe some will then graduate onto something more serious.

One of the big stumbling blocks to any cassette tape revival is that no truly good cassette deck has been manufactured since around 2004, and some components are simply not manufactured by *anyone* to the standards necessary to equal an entry level 1990s cassette deck. Cassette decks are complicated beasts that need a certain amount of use and maintenance to keep working at their best, and once they're not at their best it is painfully obvious in the sound quality. The majority of those found on auction sites and in second hand shops don't work, or have serious flaws that make them effectively unusable.

Film cameras aren't affected quite so badly, because there are still plenty of older mostly mechanical cameras out there working almost as intended, and one can still take great photos with a 1950s camera where a couple of shutter speeds stick. Just don't use those speeds. However, a new and relatively inexpensive P&S 35mm camera might be viable another few years down the road. At the moment we've got interest in vintage cameras, and the plastic things Kodak is marketing. I'm not knocking them because they fulfil a purpose and look like a lot of fun. They keep the Kodak name alive in the camera market and that's good. But something akin to a 1990s autofocus P&S camera might have a market. I don't know if it could be something as good as an Olympus Mju, that might simply be too expensive to develop these days. But it's possible.

Will the available stock of 1980s and older cameras dry up or stop working? Probably, eventually. And we do need to be mindful of that, because the young people taking up film aren't going to be impressed when they have to buy three cameras before one works.
 
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Yep. Like I said, you can't make a film shooting phone. Kids already have a digital camera in their phone. Want them to buy a camera? Make a modern point and shoot film camera. It'll be the accessory to have.

Leica's taking advantage of the trend by re-issuing its M6. Of course, that will drive down the used prices on their old cameras to a certain degree. But they don't get anything from that anyway.

I could see other mfrs doing the same thing.
 
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I truly wish it ended like in case of vinyl, however there are some concerns. In case of LPs the supply of equipment has never never dried out completely, and here we've got:

  • We do not have any new MF cameras in production
  • There is only one 35 mm camera still in production - Leica M6
  • We've got still LF cameras - Cambo, Chamonix, Arca, etc - that's great, but there are no lenses available - Rodenstock, Schneider and Nikon discontinued their lenses long time ago.
  • Films - B&W is staying really strong, but color is fading away. Negatives are almost extinct, slides still live, but who knows how long Fuji would want to sustain its range? How long are we going to have Provias and Velvias available? There has been a huge problem with availability of those materials recently. There is reborn Kodak luckily and I hope they will grow, although I never liked their films.

I wonder, why the big guys would not want to have film products along with digital line in the same fashion like Leica. Take Hasselblad - they got new digital V series - what would be the problem to offer film body and film back? The same with Sinar, Nikon and others. I'm afraid, that there is something we are not aware of, that availability of films and chemistry will drop within next years due to some another stupid and nonsense green ideas.

On the other hand, we've got fantastic new initiatives like Intrepid, the demand for film is growing, so maybe in the next years there will be significant improvement. Maybe Hasselblad's move to resurrect V-series in digital outfit is just the beginning to restore entire series? I wish it was like that.

Kal

Color isn't fading away. Kodak issued Ektachrome positive film in many formats and it's going strong. I believe they're doing well with their Portra and Ektar color-negative films. I'm disappointed that Fuji is pulling back as I use Velvia 50 in 4x5 and 120. But their Provia positive is still going strong.

The market is just adjusting to demand which has changed and will settle down. If the market stays strong, the selection will increase again.
 

Sirius Glass

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The interesting thing with the Kodak branded cameras is that they're definitely at the low end of the market, but they *are* affordable and they function. Kind of fulfilling the function that box cameras did in the 1930s. They are a way into beginning to shoot on film that needs very little outlay and which is guaranteed to work. And being new, they might make their way into shops. What could drive film sales up further in the still photography market is if people see one of these plastic cameras, which nonetheless do look good, on a shelf in a store they regularly visit and take a chance. find it fun and continue to buy film. And maybe some will then graduate onto something more serious.

One of the big stumbling blocks to any cassette tape revival is that no truly good cassette deck has been manufactured since around 2004, and some components are simply not manufactured by *anyone* to the standards necessary to equal an entry level 1990s cassette deck. Cassette decks are complicated beasts that need a certain amount of use and maintenance to keep working at their best, and once they're not at their best it is painfully obvious in the sound quality. The majority of those found on auction sites and in second hand shops don't work, or have serious flaws that make them effectively unusable.

Film cameras aren't affected quite so badly, because there are still plenty of older mostly mechanical cameras out there working almost as intended, and one can still take great photos with a 1950s camera where a couple of shutter speeds stick. Just don't use those speeds. However, a new and relatively inexpensive P&S 35mm camera might be viable another few years down the road. At the moment we've got interest in vintage cameras, and the plastic things Kodak is marketing. I'm not knocking them because they fulfil a purpose and look like a lot of fun. They keep the Kodak name alive in the camera market and that's good. But something akin to a 1990s autofocus P&S camera might have a market. I don't know if it could be something as good as an Olympus Mju, that might simply be too expensive to develop these days. But it's possible.

Will the available stock of 1980s and older cameras dry up or stop working? Probably, eventually. And we do need to be mindful of that, because the young people taking up film aren't going to be impressed when they have to buy three cameras before one works.

Kodak had made high quality cameras at one point the owned and made Graphics and Graflexes but they lost a monopoly case circa 1920's (?) and had to divest making high quality cameras. They also made Retinas, but presently they have no high quality camera design and manufacturing capabilities. To establish those capabilities is too expensive to consider. You can wish all you want, but it is not going to happen, any more that I would like Hasselblad to get back to making Series V cameras, but as long as a Japanese company more interested in digital devices owns the company, that will not happen.
 
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