Whither the camera industry?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by fmw, Dec 2, 2006.

  1. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I just finished reading an interesting article in the current issue of Digital Photopro magazine. It talks about where the camera manufacturing industry is headed. He made some interesting, if not controversial prognostications.

    Nikon announced that they will stop manufacturing film cameras in 2007. The author believes this will be the case with all 35mm camera manufacture very quickly. He believes that film will become prohibitively expensive for pros to use and will disappear faster than film photographers think. He believes only the amateur market will keep it alive for a while.

    Bronica no longer makes cameras. He believes there won't be a medium format film camera left to manufacture at all in short order. He sees companies like Mamiya and Pentax disappearing.

    The industry believes that the sale of point and shoot digital cameras will peak in 2007 at around 27 millions units and will decline after that to be around 23 million by 2010, and go down from there. He thinks there is still growth in the DSLR segment of the business but not in the point and shoot end.

    He sees a big shakeup in the DSLR business. Companies like Pentax won't make it. Canon will be the ruler and Nikon the #2 survivor of the shakeup. Electronics companies that have entered the market recently (Sony, Panasonic etc.) may or may not continue to make DSLR's into the future depending on how their experiments in the industry go.

    My crystal ball isn't even as good as the author's so I have no way to judge the comments. It is interesting fodder for debate, though.
     
  2. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    read that article as well ...
    a lot of speculation in there though :)
     
  3. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I do hope the thirt world continues to make at least 35mm film med format would be good but who knows. I always said it is pure economics.

    film is prohibitively expensive for pros now. whatever it is vs nothing is too expensive.
     
  4. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    I don't see a company like Mamiya disappearing as long as they can use digital backs.
     
  5. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    As much as I like film, I don't shoot it much. Ilford has become prohibitively expensive and why should I even bother? I get more control in digital and it's much faster.

    I don't know if film will be completely elliminated. The DSLR explosion is mostly happening in the countries with healthy economies. The less fortunate parts of the globe will keep producing it.

    The question is - why shoot film? Why should I spend time and money, if I can just keep it digital? There is no solid reason anymore. A 500 dollar SLR gives you wonderful quality pictures.
     
  6. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I think it will be a matter of choice with some people as long as there is a choice.

    For me I shoot one piece of film or paper a day, It isn't cost effective but it isnt prohibative either. I like all of it the loading of film holders, the spending twenty minutes setting up the shot, the exposure calculations, the shot itself, the loading and processing of the film, even the scanning of it and working it through my digital darkroom. For me and me alone, I see no reason to change to digital.

    Thats just me. I no longer have a problem with digital users since that is about all that's left in the world, except those few film users who will soon be called retro photographers as well as me.
     
  7. CMan

    CMan TPF Noob!

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    I don't think film will completely die, for a while. But I do agree with many of the points made in this article; especially Canon and Nikon being on top.

    Point and shoots will stay popular in my opinion; the average person isn't like us. They want something that fits in their pocket and takes pictures that are good enough.
     
  8. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree film will not die that quickly ... but developing labs will. And that has started already as they did depend on all those tourist snapshots, which these days are almost exclusively made digitally and often printed at home.
     
  9. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    And therein lies the whole problem. Digital backs for MF cameras are REALLY expensive. Not many photographers can afford to put a $25,000 digital back on a $1500 camera body. It is the lack of availability of affordable digital backs that will be the ruin of medium format photography, in my opinion.

    Pro photographers aren't selling off MF gear because film is expensive. They are selling it off because they can't get affordable digital backs for their equipment and the DSLR is the more practical way for them to turn digital. Even Mamiya's new digital body is $12,000. That's a big price to pay to use $3000-5000 worth of existing lenses, regardless of how good the lenses are.

    The least expensive Hasselblad digital is around $12,000. The 39 mp one is $25000. I can see a few commercial pros using them but not many wedding photographers. You need high dollar billings to amortize that kind of equipment. I just don't think the available volume of business is enough to keep these products alive. Pros are a small part of the camera market. These companies need amateurs to provide volume. It isn't going to happen with $25,000 Leaf or Sinar digital backs, regardless of how good the image quality is.

    The only hope for medium format, in my opinion, is the development of affordable digital backs. I don't know enough about the sensor business to even have an opinion about whether or not that is possible. If I were Mamiya I would be in a life or death struggle to try to solve the problems, however.
     
  10. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    But you aren't typical of photographers in general, Mystery Scribe. You love tinkering with the old gear and with your exposures. That is how you pursue the hobby. It is great, but certainly not typical.

    I had sticker shock the other day when I had to pay $10 to have a roll of 120 E6 processed. If that were $20 I would either make the commitment to shoot more and process myself or I would abandon 120 E6 entirely.

    Even the black and white 120 stuff that I process myself gets digitized for printing and viewing. Super image quality but not overwhelmingly better than what comes out of my D80 Nikon. With the D80, I slip out the memory card, slip it into the card reader and I'm off and running.

    Not many people want to go through all that stuff to get an image. I realize you and I do, but it isn't typical.
     
  11. I hope MF backs come down. But I see film for amateur becoming something akin to vinyl for music. It will stay around, become an odd niche, there will be some who feel strongly that it's better - but ultimately there will follow a generation that can't even fathom a world where there was no digital version.

    I miss film the same way I miss vinyl. I remember handling the medium carefully but the equipment more roughly, I felt wasteful a first for replacing items I already had ananalog versions of, and now that I'm all digital I couldn't see going back.
     
  12. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I agree with everything being said. I tested digital when it was 4mega pix as the largest and told my son in law to go out and sell his 645 because it was going to be useless.

    Since then the printing of the files got a million times better so now there is little difference. For me now it is the ritual not the actually image alone. No thank god I'm not typical. If what I do was typical, then everyone would know what a no talent hack I am.

    It is my hope the film and chemicals stay around till the end of my live. I have a feeling I'm going to bemore in favor of free trade though. The black and white I shoot comes from hungary. The color most likely will come from China. I expect china will make some version of the old kodak films for a while and japan might continue to make fuji/ If not korea might. If worse comes to worse I will pack up the two hundred bucks worth of 35mm and convert all my 120 cameras to cutfilm. Make a few glass plates and learn to eat more eggs.

    Oh I'm with fmw I don't have a printing darkroom anymore. I never liked that as much as working with cameras. Probably because even as a pro, I sent the stuff out. A color darkroom isn't practical unless you have a high volume and black and white photography stopped being profitable years ago for the average portrait studio.

    I never much liked following the pack, so I think that if I went into photography today. I would probably work weddings digitally and try to shoot custom retro portraits during the week. There is a quality difference but most people are not willing to pay the price for it. Especially not in my area.

    Color film will most likely go first since it depends on very high volume sales to stay afloat. But even those plants may get moved part and parcel to the smaller nations to boost there economies.

    Ben Laudin might wind up chairman of the kodak clone for all we know. No I think digital will phase out film but I thought that a long long time ago and still I built film cameras. I'm like the guy who has the 1957 chevy belair. He can't really afford to drive it and the parts are hard as hell to find, but he has no plans to sell it.
     

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