eXtensions - Sunday 22 July 2018
Rethinking Photo Workflows (6): A Case for new Film Cameras
By Graham K. Rogers
One of the reasons I started experimenting with film a year or two back after successfully moving to digital cameras was the education that a few specialized apps gave me. Among these, one of my favorites is 645 Pro, but lately some stars like DSLR Camera, Pro Camera and Halide (these I call my first rank) are not only well-made apps, but exhibit the photographer's understanding of what is needed. These apps not only emulate camera input methods, but their developers are enthusiastic about the medium.
In the last year or so - and accelerating in the past few months - there has clearly been a growth in enthusiasm for film. Online articles about such output, the lenses used, and the sources for film are shared enthusiastically online.
Locally there has been a clear uptick in the use of film as a medium, from simple Lomo cameras (a source for these is Siam Discovery Center), through to the Leica M-series and other brands. A colleague who uses Leica and Rolleiflex noted that he has become increasingly aware of younger people who are using film as they want to learn and want to experience the medium. I find this quite encouraging.
Although there is a healthy market for used cameras, here and in other countries, apart from Leica, the Lomo cameras and plastic Fuji devices, no other manufacturer currently makes a film camera as far as I can see; yet some of the major camera makers built solid reputations on their early cameras, some of which remained in production while the DSLR was growing in popularity. Now however, some are predicting the death of the DSLR.
I think that this idea that the days of the DSLR is numbered is wrong for a number of reasons, and I am not alone. Dunja Djudjic on DIY Photography, writing a few days ago outlined the rise of mirrorless cameras. Some students asked me a few months ago about which camera they should buy, and I pointed out the growth in mirrorless, but also said that people like me who have collections of lenses for DSLR would find it hard to start again. The only way I might go dowjn this path is if I had the money for a Hasselblad X1D; but if I had the resources for that, lenses would not be a problem.
I took another path with the made in Thailand Nikon D850 precisely because of the size of the sensor: at 47MP this is slightly short of the 50MP CMOS sensor in the Hasselblad that had so impressed me when I tried the H6D-50 a year or so back. I made the right decision and the quality of the images I am producing keeps me really happy. Here's the thing though, for the first time in a while, Nikon made a profit and part of the reason was the sales of the D850 worldwide.
One would think that defies logic: with all the cheaper cameras Nikon makes, the expensive one is more profitable; but with companies like Hasselblad, Phase One, Leica, Red also working in the high end, it seems that some users are more than willing to pay for quality, something that Apple figured out a long time ago as it fended off the insistence of Wall Street to produce cheaper iPhones.
There was a slight sting in the tail to this as B&H had announced early this year that a case containing new Fujifilm GF670 cameras had been found and more details would be coming in the future. Without a doubt, anyone hearing this signed up right away and the case was pre-sold several times over (the site now shows, "Discontinued").
Nikon FM10 - Image from Nikon USA>
The resurgence of interest in film in recent months, is drawing more people in by the month. Sooner rather than later, the supply of good quality used cameras will dry up and prices will start to rise. As the major manufacturers like Nikon and Fuji probably still have the tooling for cameras like the Nikon FM1, the Canon AE-1 and the Fuji GF670 (even though Canon recently confirmed it was ceasing production of the EOS-1V), it may be possible that they would consider re-entering this market.
One thing did strike me about the recent B&H announcement: was this really an accidental discovery of a case of cameras, or was Fuji (or even B&H) trying to test the waters? There is a market for good film cameras.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
For further information, e-mail to
Back to Home Page