Get The Feeling The Analog Camera Business Is Dying?

from the a-few-data-points... dept

Just a week or so after Nikon said they were mostly getting out of the analog camera business to focus on digital, we find out that Konica Minolta is getting out of the camera and film business entirely, selling off some assets to Sony. Apparently, the company is “the world’s third-largest maker of photographic film” following the giants in the space, Kodak and Fuji. The company has also done very little in the digital camera space, which explains why they’re exiting the photography market completely. It’s interesting to see the analog film market die, because people have been predicting it for so long (I remember reading an analyst report in 1996 saying it was imminent), but it hung on for much longer than some people expected. And, of course, it’s not dead yet and there are still people who use film cameras for very good reasons — but with major companies pulling out of the market, the message is pretty clear.

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Comments on “Get The Feeling The Analog Camera Business Is Dying?”

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Mark says:

another abandons film business

I think about all this does is illustrate who is in the “snapshot” or amateur photography market. Those who catered to this market by concentrating on programmable and automatic cameras are finding out how little customer loyalty they bought as these customers switch to smaller, lighter, lab-independant print-on-the-home-PC image makers. There will be film cameras for many decades to come, and the fringe manufacturers of films will go by the wayside. There are still things film can do that digital cannot. Like record images without batteries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: another abandons film business

I guess you can either carry tons of film, or tons of batteries. Personally, I can get more pictures out of four AA batteries than I can 13 rolls of film.

A good friend of mine is a professional photographer, he used to tow the same company line as you do, however his “film is better for x” senerios are getting fewer and far between.

Mark says:

Re: Re: another abandons film business

Oh, no doubt there. Film will come to be the mark of unique individuals. Like sextants, Altair computers, and the original wireless, ham radio. I think there’s a difference between dead and “glory days” though…Film will definitely become part of the fringe as us old farts die off.

? says:

Re: Re: Re: another abandons film business

I would argue that sextants are still produced, and realitively easy to produced when compared to what is involved in the production of film. Altair computers are collector items, and don’t get used up like film, and ham radio, while unique, still has a niche market that is based off of common technology and won’t be going away any time soon as the common man can pick up a book, and build a ham radio setup.

I just don’t see that with film. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the film industry has “home brews” and the production of film will become more and more difficult, and costly as the demand for it dies off (and thus, companies with the ability to produce such products), and that is what will end that era.

The only saving grace might be some executive at a major imaging corporation like Kodak who is willing and able to sell the company, and its stock holders on

Mark says:


There are still diehards to listen to vinyl records on turntables. Some audiophiles are even building new tube ampliphiers because they sound more “pure” than solid state. There will be film users for a long time too. There are always fringe groups, catered to by small boutique companies. But when all the big companies get out of a technology and only the boutiques are left, it is reasonable to say that the technology is question is dead (for the mainstream).

Michael says:

Re: Film Diehards

As with the slide rule, the 8-track, and the vinyl album and cassette tape, the film camera demise is written on the wall. We don’t need people to abandon them- only the manufacturers to stop upgrading and producing them. Like the Commodore 64, no matter how fond you are of it, there just isn’t anything new available for it anymore. Digital cameras, on the other hand, will continue to evolve, getting better while getting cheaper.

I have a Minolta and a Nikon 35mm at home… interested, anyone???? 🙂

Vasco DaGameboy says:

Re: Re: Film Diehards

Right now, digital technology (at least consumer digital technology) cannot produce a picture as rich as film. There’s a reason that movie makers don’t shoot with videotape, which has been around for quite a while. Tape is great for newscasts and home movies (I doubt anyone still uses a super-8 film camera to shoot little Bobby’s soccer games anymore), but when making a movie, film is still the overwhelming choice. Yeah, George Lucas uses digital, but he’s not making Gone With the Wind either. I imagine CGI effects work better on digital than sprawling landscapes and close, interpersonal exchanges.

My point is that consumers who mostly use cameras for pictures of the kids and Uncle Leo’s 80th birthday party will eventually find film to be too cumbersome and go completely digital, just as they abandoned home movies for video cameras. Professionals, however, will be some time before chucking film. Just like 8-track lived on for years in the radio and recording industry, long after consumers dumped it, film will be around for all of our lifetimes, just in more of a niche environment.

David says:

Re: Re: Re: Film Diehards

Developments in the world of digital photography have been so rapid that these remarks are already obsolete, with most professional photographers already transitioning over to digital shooting. While small-sensor digital point and shoot cameras may not be able to match 35mm film standards yet, you need only move up to an entry-level DSLR to get quite close and to a mid-level DSLR to get all the way there. The resolution of film may exceed that of the digital sensors used in sub-$2K cameras, but ultimate resolution is actually not that relevent. What is relevent is the resolution required to produce prints of common sizes which are limited by the ability of the human eye to distinguish. Even for 13″ x 19″ prints, affordable DSLRs meet this standard. And, since these sensors exhibit very low noise compared with the grain of film, and combine this with accurate color, overall quality can be said to already exceed film (especially since you don’t lose additional resolution in making a print as you do when transferring a film negative to a print positive in an enlarger).

Movie production is a different story. It’s one thing to make a 6-12Mpixel still sensor. It’s quite another to make a sensor that can achieve high-resolution per frame and output at least 24 frames per second. You also require the ability to store and transmit the data, which is voluminous even when good compression algorithms are applied. Finally, for maximum end-to-end quality, you also need to retrofit theaters with projects that are equally capable. This all adds up to quite an expense, which is the key factor keeping the film industry from moving digital in a bigger way. However, as costs come down and as theaters increasingly compete with higher and higher quality home theater setups, these upgrades will take place.

Equating modern digital film technology with home video is a bit ridiculous. VHS home video is approximately the equivalent of less than 0.1Mpixel per frame. DVD quality is still only about 0.25Mpixel/frame. By the time you’re up to full-resolution HDTV at 1920 x 1080, you’re at about 2Mpixels/frame … an order of magnitude more data compared with VHS. For digital movie projection, we’re talking 4Mpixels/frame. Home movies have nothing on this and are not really an appropriate point of comparison.


Andrew Strasser (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Film Diehards

Video stores are still doing wonderfully now that they’ve gotten DVD’s to replace the film they used in videos. The is going to cause an instability of every job related cameras though as with digital media. I don’t need your sales associate for help. Just another way technology is costing our country jobs that will never be replaced. Not the greatest news, but it’s newsworthy for sure to see that the job market that is at an all time high on un-employment after the Hurricanes of this last summer/fall season. I’m sure this helps our job market wonders.

admin (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

can they really last forever? There are already
concerns about the longevity of CD-Rs and similar
media and of course there is the concern about
playback. Will there be a CD drive to extract your
pictures of Johnny’s 2nd bday in 20 years? Or will you
be caught in a never ending cycle of having to
backup to new media and new devices ever 5 years?
Digitial only has one advantage and that is convenience –
something that would only get top billing in our current day
where even 30 seconds is too long to wait.

Howard (user link) says:

Texas DPS finally allows me to use digital camera

I am a Texas Certified Concealed Handgun License instructor, and one of the things I have to do with each student is supply two photographs of each student. The only thing they would accept is “passport” style photos, using Polaroid film, which is getting ridiculously expensive, and harder and harder to find. The DPS finally announced that they would accept digital photos this year — a major savings of both time and money for me.

Texas Concealed Handgun License Classes

Wes Baker (user link) says:

Correction: 35mm is Dying

While I shoot digital, the truth is that 35mm film is dying…and only to a certain extent. The demand for film products has lessened and more film people are going to digital. What this means is that the amount of film products out there are enough to satisfy the current 35mm users. Used glass can last a good time if kept properly. Plus, professionals can still use their medium and large format films and cameras, and those lenses can date from 1960s.

Lordarutha says:

Indoor Photography

Film is a niche market and as said above it will carry on until us old farts die out, one thing I have noticed with digital photography that I don’t like is the quality of indoor shots. Show me a digital camera than can even come close to film taking pictures inside a dimly lit room, or for that matter night shots outside, leave that digital shutter open too long and the ‘noise’ becomes unacceptable. Digital and Film both still have their uses.

Apart from the proffesional photographers how many digital prints do you see? real prints that you can hold in your hand and show people without having to turn on the tv and dvd player for a slide show or turning your computer on.

Most people seem to be happy looking at the pictures on their lcd and I can gaurantee 95% will never be printed.

Now that is a shame!

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