Classic Camera Usage Growing

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by classcamera, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. I do camera repairs as something of a cottage industry, repairing mostly Non
    SLR, Pre-1960 German cameras and in the last year, I have been continually
    swamped with repairs. I have also noticed that the dreaded demise of film
    manufacture has been greatly exaggerated, as there seem to more available now
    than ten years ago (write to Kodak and demand Verichome Pan be returned).
    Where is this increase coming from? My customers are all in two categories:
    Collectors, and Fine Art users, are there other markets? If so, who?
  2. I would guess from people who got tired of adjusting the contrast and saturation on 1000s of digital files. ;) I also think Classic Cameras have finally grown to the kind of popularity that Classic Cars have been enjoying for years. I think with the dramatic prices falling after the digital rush, alot of people who had always dreamed of having certain cameras have finally been able to afford them. Its really opened up the market and allowed people who are not professionals or wealthy amateurs to get access to high-end gear. For decades the market has been formed based on what the companies wanted to sell US... now we the consumers have the chance to get what we actually WANT on the used market. For those reasons I think the big players really made some miscalculations by changing to AF mounts in the 80s, and forcing people to abandon perfectly good bodies and glass. Ive also noticed a resurgance in prices... this whole year Ive seen prices going back up on used gear whereas last year you could easily get your hands on pro-gear that was virtually being given away as pros unloaded their old film equiptment. It still happening, but the demand for this used gear is pushing the prices back up.
  3. "write to Kodak and demand Verichome Pan be returned"

    Wouldn't that be nice? Of course if Kodak did that, they'd probably want to market it as a super niche item and charge a premium for it. The company marketing Rollie films did just that with rebranded Agfa APX films. Ridiculous, but it is nicely packaged in a wooden "cigar box." Go figure.
  4. I agree that the prices are going back up on classic gear. I use Nikon MF and I am glad I picked up a few items when prices were low. I paid 199 for a Nikkor 85 1.8 with a factory AI ring and now KEH has it for 369! I also paid about 250 for a Nikkor 35 1.4 AI and KEH is now selling it for 415! Got them both about two years ago but I still think that is a huge jump in price. Glad I got them when I did.
  5. A lot of wedding pros seem to be rediscovering film for a variety of reasons. The "savings" on film is just an illusion when you figure that every few months your digital camera has become obsolete it seems, but that old film camera just keeps crankin' 'em out after twenty ot thirty years of hard use. The lab worries about color balance and there's no all night computer sessions "post processing" all of the way too many exposures that digital seduces you into making. Skin tones look smoother on film, it has more exposure latitude and captures a longer tonal scale than digital. There's no "OMG, I can't retrieve any images off my film card!" to worry about. At the print end you still pay the same amount for an 8x10. If you really want digital manipulations you can scan the negative.
  6. Make that verichrome ortho.
  7. Yeah I agree Al... I think the digi die-hard are just trying to justify the money they are spending on gear! My sister is discovering the cost of photopaper and ink for her home printer is going to run her about the same as getting prints done at a lab for cards shes sending out with photos in them. And when she ran out of ink at 11pm when she wanted to send out a bunch of cards the next day, that was a pretty major inconvienence!
  8. It probably has more to do with a lot less people being able to fix older cameras due to retirement and other issues than a resurgence in classic cameras.
  9. Right on Al. I do like my digi for a few quick color shots when I don`t have time to process though.
  10. The only conclusive answer to the film v. digital question that just won't go away, will be film sales reported in end of year results not only by Kodak and Fuji but by the likes of Foma, Lucky etc.<br>
    It would be very encouraging if film sales are seen to be plateauing or even rising slightly this year.Long term I remain very optimistic about the future of film and wet processing. I think it will always hold an appeal for those who want to explore and experiment with the processes and to produce top quality black and white prints in a traditionally "photographic" way.<br> There is a clear and often cited parallel with people who drive vintage cars or stick with vinyl recordings. Both are examples of exercising a preference for a different quality of experience. A "different" quality not a "better" quality as I feel we are not comparing like with like .<br> While the advantages of digital are overwhelming for many commercial and news applications,where those pressures do not exist many of the perceived "advantages" of digital output also cease to exist.The question now is really about the enjoyment of two very different approaches and processes that CAN continue to co-exist without one falling ENTIRELY by the wayside.<br>
    Digital imaging is still a very young medium and I think that it is a mistake to compare it directly with analogue photography as the two media are essentially very different in their underlying assumptions about the veracity of the end result and the mind set that this engenders.As time goes on it is likely that further advances in the digital arena will make those differences ever more apparent. There is no reason why, as long as a certain commercial mass is maintained, that the two approaches cannot co-exist as equally valid but very distinct. <br>
    I do use my digital camera side by side with my analogue gear. Like many of us it has taken over for Ebay listings, equipment records and holiday/family snaps. However when instant gratification is not an issue or I wish to take my artistic leanings for a walk, my preference will always lie with my film equipment.I derive more satifaction from the tactile pleasure of its use and the application of the learned rules of exposure and focusing than any fool-proof system can give me.
    If I am proved the fool then no matter.
  11. The number of repair techs is decreasing.

    We already know the amount of film use has cratered.

    The conclusion that since one repairman has more business means that classic camera use has increased does not appear justified.
  12. I'm one of those guys that help keep the classic camera repair guys "swamped". I make no apology...I love the old folders and TLR's and have since 1969 when an elderly neighbour lady gave me her Kodak folder in exchange for removing the excessively deep snow from the roof of her house. My first classic and I'm sure the source of my love of folders. That camera has long since gone to where-ever classic cameras go when they die...the dump! Too bad, that camera and I had many good times together. But all is good, I've adopted many since then.

    Up until a couple/three years ago the garage sales, swap meets and second hand stores around my neck of the woods were excellent places to find a good selection of classic cameras. Then suddenly the classic camera river dried up with none to be seen. Blame it on Global warming, I suppose.

    Today I was out to a half dozen shops and all I could find were a couple plastic Nikon point and shooters and a few of the "Time" and/or kids toy cameras.

    Even that old stand-by *bay is showing a big void opening up in the stuff I'm most interested in. I'm sure I don't have them all.

    Where have all the nice classics gone??? Well, I know I do have a bunch of them and so do many of the folks on this forum but we cannot have them all in our possesion!

    I have a buddy that works at the dump so I asked if he sees them there...Nope!

    I believe people are keeping them, sending them to be restored by guys like our buddy Mark and putting film through them again.

    I think it would be interesting to poll the repair fellows and see how much of their business is repeat and how much is new. That might give some stats that could point to some trend or another.
  13. The pendulum doesn't swing and then stick in one spot; the mania over digital may be
    plateauing. A backlash or some kind of reaction to digital, however minor, is inevitable; it's
    human nature. I too have noticed a general rise in interest in classic cameras. <p>Steve
    Salmons' post says it all perfectly.
  14. I'm in a similar position as Mark. The majority of my work is leaf shutter cameras, knob wind LTMs and earlier TLRs, and SLRs like Nikon F and Spotmatics.

    I do have a few folks who send their cameras that are collectors, and just want all their gear in working condition, but the majority are real shooters. Many emails that I receive start out with "My trusty (Rollei 35, Zeiss folder, Canon III, etc) has finally started acting up after years of use", or something to that effect. It seems to me a lot of people are still shooting, and wanting service for their film cameras.

    There could be fewer repair people, but who knows that for certain? From the looks of sites like KY Photo, it would seem that people still want to shoot their film cameras, in any case.
  15. I've sent a number of my film cameras out for servicing this last year and a couple more are out right now. I don't send them to the same person but to whomever I've come to know are "specialists" (if you will for lack of a better term) in the particular brand/model of camera I need looked at. The answer to my inital query is always the same, "I'd love to look at your camera but be advised that I have a back log and will not be able to look at it until....[usually some weeks from now]". That doesn't sound like "one repairman has more business...", that sounds like a lot do.
  16. I'd have to agree with Patrick's first post, at least in my own case. Digital is ridiculously convenient, but for everything else I love film.

    To Patrick's point about the price of cameras coming down, that's my attraction. A few years ago I got into Medium Format because all of a sudden it was, gasp!, affordable! Five or ten years ago a schmoe like me could never even consider buying several medium format bodies, a slew of lenses, finders, backs, etc. My Bronica outfit would cost ten grand in 1990 dollars. That's beyond the realm of dreamland for a hobbyist like me- it would never even have been a realistic consideration. I think I have maybe 800 dollars in it all total. It's still the same pro gear it was before prices came down...

    Now I can buy any camera that piques my interest. I have a shelf of 35mm gear from rangefinders to SLRs of various flavors, a TLR, and I finally broke down and got a Pentax *ist DS so I could say I have a DSLR. It's secondhand and cost me about 350 dollars. How long did it take your first SLR to drop half it's value? My new DSLR took about a year.

    I have cameras that were dream machines in the days of yore, and spent less in total than many people have on two or three lenses. (or one single piece of L glass, lol.)
  17. I think there are several factors that lead to the usage of classic camera is increasing:
    1. Easiler to get one : With the support of internet and web-shopping services, you can get one buy a simple click. You can not do the same job when computer and internet is not popular.

    2. Cost reduce and you can affort one : THe price reduce due to the shops needs to cut the cost so as to fight with the internet and web-shop services. Your income is increased when compare with 1950 but the camera's price won't raise as fast as yours.

    3. Some of the photographers, like us, started to go back to film: AS I have wrote in a topic before, I hate spending my valueable night to correct the contrast, focus, etc. of phonos taken fautly. I gave up this high-salary job but I don't fell sorry about about that (It is reasonable to stop correcting someone's work with fautly finished).

    4. Partick's point is correct, people can own their deam now :
    with income increased and camera cost does not change, a high school student can own a Leica.

    However, lacking of well trainned repairman is a promblem to the classic cameras. THe new repairman don't know much about the cameras. If you have send them a camera, I am pretty sure that they will turn it to a junk.
  18. Well that was one of the better threads in a while. To answer several queries regarding the break down of my business; I would say new customers are about 10-15% annually, Repeat business is 50-60% and 25% are Shops in the local area (which are really both new and repeat). Since my repair focus is kind of narrow (pre 1960, Non SLR German cameras), I do get a lot of collector business in the repeat customer category. Most people if they have a Super Ikonta B, will try to get the A, and C models and perhaps even a Non-Super Ikonta as well. At the moment new customers are almost exclusively Fine Art users, and students, so perhaps they will soon be collectors too. Also, this last summer saw a first for me, most 75% were giving me more than one camera to do at the some time. ?Here this was my grandfathers and this came form a garage sale, can you fix them?? It is nice to see them being used, and after all that is my goal for fixing cameras in the first place?to see them get used.

    At any rate, thanks for the good thread, and Scot, I will get you Contax done soon, as all it needs now is to be put back together.
  19. Steve Salmons stated "It would be very encouraging if film sales are seen to be plateauing or even rising slightly this year.". If you can manage to navigate their awful web site, go to the Ilford site and read their press release on the future of film:

    They feel film sales (at least black & white) have plateau'd.

  20. There is more classic stuff on EBAY and people are becoming more aware of the various film formats larger than 35mm and the increase in quality. Digital is great for convenience, but it's a pretty bland product. JPEG is the great photo reducer in more ways than one.
    SHoot in RAW? Oh sure, process 345 RAW files and you'll be reaching for a revolver.
    When I go to photo swap meets I see the same old 35mm mid-80s to 2000 35mm SLRs over an over. But german stuff and odd folders have never really lost their value. Say what you want about Fleabay, but it has put more of this stuff in circulation. That's a good thing for film.
  21. Its a mighty leap from 'one repairman has more work' to 'classic camera use is spreading'. I agree with the person who said it's because there are fewer repairers. Years ago, all the major manufacturers had their own repair departments. I had my Fujicas repaired by Fuji in New Jersey several times. Those repair departments are all now gone. The independent repairers are dying off, leaving the business or retiring. Soon it will be as hard to find a skilled camera repairer as it is to find a watch repairer. Who in their right mind would enter the business now?
  22. I collect mechanical cameras and shot film for fifty years but I believe any thoughts that film is making a comeback are wishful thinking.

    Yes, one repairman may be swamped--but there are a lot less qualified repair personnel available.

    If you think film is coming back go to ANY store or camera shop which two years ago had large film displays. Now its down to almost nothing. More film sold this year than last? Not a chance.

    Commercial photographers having second thought about digital? Some may miss film but they aren't flooding back to than medium. If they want to compete they have to go digital.

    Digital as expensive as film? No?not unless you print every exposure. Case in point: In 2002 we went to Maui. I shot 16 36 exposure rolls of film. Of 575 exposures I probably had a maximum of 250 that weren?t duplicates and were worth keeping. Film costs, processing and printing everything at minimal size probably cost $300

    This year we spent two weeks in Europe. During that period I stowed away about 1,000 shots on memory card in a Nikon D100. But about 900 were what I would call keepers because I was able to edit as I shot. And when the photos were transferred to the computer I could use the ?film? for another 1,000 shots. I only printed selected photos on our printer (it is fairly expensive). But I put together a nice hour-long DVD with music background family members can see what we did if they so desire. Quality? The 6.5 megapixel Nikon shots were as good?in some cases better?than what I can produce with an F3HP ?plus I don?t have to spend hours scanning the negs.

    While in Europe we toured in Frankfurt, Munich, Innsbruck, Venice, Florence, Luzern, Paris, London and the U.K. We were constantly surrounded with literally thousands of people with cameras. I made it a point of looking for people with film cameras. I saw less than 50 on the entire trip?and that includes P&Ss and disposables.

    Film camera prices increasing? Maybe on some premier models but people are almost giving away many of the classic film SLRs. And ALL film camera prices, with the possible exception of Leica) are much lower than they were in 2002.

    Digital plateauing? Absolutely not. Most members of the current generation never have shot film and never will--a lot will shoot all their photos with their cell phones and never own a stand alone camera, digital OR Film.

    I have a collection of about 60 mechanical cameras. I still occasionally shoot film--mostly black and white. I enjoy the process. But I do so knowing that while film will likely be around for some time, it no longer is a mainstream medium--unless you count the folks who buy the point, shoot and throw away cameras.

    I?m not saying get rid of your film equipment. I?m keeping mine. All I?m saying is face facts. Digital now dominates photography and that dominance will become stronger with every passing month. And no amount of reassuring each other is going to change the facts. Film is fast becoming a cult hobby.?faster than I thought it would happen?but it?s happening, nevertheless.
  23. I don't think digital increases the number of "keepers". Instead people blast away blindly and delete what may or may not seem good. And I wonder how many good shots were missed because you were "chimping" the LCD screen rather than looking around at what would be good to shoot next? Several years ago I decided to shoot with Rolleiflex TLR cameras because with only 12 shots before a reload you tend to be thinking and using your brain while shooting and anticipating the surroundings.
    35mm began the "Shoot now, think later" style of photography. Digital just takes that to an even higher level of excess. Classic cameras teach people to slow down and think before shooting. Ansel Adams called it "previsualization". Digital completely defeats that mental preview.
  24. Aside from the always expected carping from the Luddites, most observations are on the point. It's just fun to play around with these oldies. There's also more than a little truth to the fact that we can now afford cameras we lusted after in our youth. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia.

    Youse guys has got it all wrong,however. Never mind Verichrome, bring back Kodachrome 10 or at least Kodachrome II!
  25. I don't know much about film making a comeback, or going away for good. Neither seems all that likely to me, but I can tell you where I am.

    Two years ago I was content to be a 35mm hobby photographer with what was once a top of the line 35mm slr, (Canon EOS-1n) and I prepared to be content with it until I blew through the shutter life.

    Then the bottum dropped out on MF prices about the same time I learned about the work of art that is a Rolleiflex. I got one. And then another. And recently a super graphic. Where will it end?

    I wouldn't call myself a collector, as they are all shooting cameras for me, but as the number of cameras I own increases it becomes harded to say that I'm not.

    Anyway, the ability to afford cameras that were once beyond my wildest dreams is a major driving force behind my buys.

    As far as film having plateu'd, I may have to suggest that it is temporary and coincides with the fact that digital has plateau'd a bit too.

    Like computer shoppers who buy based on nothing but CPU Megahertz, the digital market is, by and large, driven by megapixels. This has really helped sales over the last few years, as every year you could get way more megapixels for your dollar than you could the year before. (Just like me getting a super graphic for the price I paid for my 1n.)

    However, the more sensors you cram into the same space the more expensive it is to manufacture, and you also increase noise a bit. Not a big deal before, but now that a 10 megapixel slr WITH lens can be had for less than $600 it'll be hard to convince prosumers to pay more for 12. (How big are most people printing?!?!?!?!)

    It seems, to me at least, that digital has hit a hurdle, but with all the money that it has made so far, tons of people ware working on how to clear that hurdle. The challenge will likely be how to shift market perception to something other than mega-pixel count. (Sensor size? Processing algorithm? Latitude?)

    The intresting thing will be to see when digital returns to its screaming sales pace, will the price of old cameras and film sales drop further? Maybe. Affordable full frame digital SLRs might finally convince me to put the EOS-1n away for good. Maybe not though. I wouldn't be willing to part with the Rolleis or the Graphic. I guess only time will tell.

    One last thing I have to say. I have shot with digital plenty of times and it was never a mindless shot fest, hoping to get something good. I took as much time as I do with film. Thats just the syle I happen to shoot, and I imagine thats true for a lot of people. Sure, you get use the automatic mode and get a pretty good shot, but its not gonna be as good as would be if you consider every aspect of the image before you fire that shutter. I imagine the factors that determine the time someone takes on a shot are subject matter, and depth of knowledge, not format.
  26. Digital doesn't increase the number of keepers--it just allows you to eliminate obvious non keepers while still in the field. I grew up shooting film--never even liked motor drives, so I don't "blast away" hoping for something good to happen. But after I shoot maybe three similar frames, I will review them and there will likely be at least one that obviously doesn't work. So, I'll dump it. Over the past 20 years, with the advent of less expensive motor drives and AF, I suspect film shooters have been as guilty of "blasting away" as many digital shooters.
  27. speakng for myself as a photo major there is alot of awesome teachers of the traditional process.and also you dont get the "magic" of devoloping and printing out your own work on photoshop like you do with film
  28. Megan, I've been a PJ for 35 years. And I can tell you that after you spend many hundreds of
    hours in a darkroom, usually half the night after putting in a 14 hour day shooting, the
    "magic" just somehow goes away. :)

    I'll take digital any day.
  29. Jim, The only time the "magic" went away for me was when I was working full time in photographic processing which I did for some 14 years. So I know where you are coming from here. However as soon as I changed job (into IT support)I found that the "magic" soon came back. And now the last thing I want to do is spend time tweaking images in Photoshop and sorting/backing up image files. Everything has the potential to become a busman's holiday once a degree of necessity or obligation is introduced I suppose.

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