If you have the slightest interest in film photography and use the internet (I assume both of these are true if you’re reading this) by now you know that Nikon has announced their photography contest for 2014. And yet again, all film photographers are banned from entry.
What’s a good Nikonian to do?
Nikon still sells film cameras. You can buy two options from their web site- representing the two opposite ends of the film photography spectrum. You can buy a FM-10 SLR. These are marketed to the art school crowd. Good, basic, no-frills cameras to shoot black and white in so you can learn how to develop. You can also still buy an F6- Nikon’s ultimate professional film SLR. It will never get better than this camera from Nikon, the last of the storied F line dating back to 1958. They’re not cheap, and I assume Nikon still makes a penny or two selling them. In fact, since Cosina makes the FM-10 and all Nikon does is slap a badge on them, there should be good profit in them. And thanks to the F mount, the majority of new lenses can be used on older film bodies. In fact a F3 from 1981 can use all but the G series new lenses, so film shooters are still customers.
Some folk will talk about unit sales versus digital, or supposed advantages one way or the other as reasons for banning film. I think the truth is more than that.
Take a look at the difference in development cycles. The F6’s predecessor, the F5 was introduced 8 years prior. The F4 was introduced 8 years prior to that. And so with the F3. It was a regular development cycle that could produce a fresh member of the line up at a regular basis.
Take a look at the D series- the digital professional bodies that carry the flag now. The D3 was introduced in 2007. In the 7 years since, they have produced the D3S, the D3X, the D4, and the D4S. In a year less than the old cycle, five new cameras have been researched, developed, and introduced. The development cycle is in on afterburner now.
Every new body has some new whiz-bang technology that is a MUST to have. They all play to the desire to have the latest shiny thing. And it is the shiny thing that sells them. I know digital photographers, professionals who spend all their time behind a camera shooting, who will switch from this system to that system to buy the latest and greatest, only to repeat it every year and a half or so. It’s a ruthless treadmill that they’re on. And an expensive one.
If you want the bigger, better results as a digital photographer, you have to get the bigger and better camera. If you want the bigger and better results as a film photographer, you have to work harder. You have to hone your craft, improve your eye, see things better and differently. And the film shooter can do that by just shooting more. But shooting more doesn’t make Nikon any money.
Nikon doesn’t care if you’re a better photographer. They want to sell you a camera with a new feature, which you believe will make you a better photographer whether or not that’s true. Their changed development cycles and continued profitability depend upon it. Your photography is not an art. It’s a cash cow.
So, no film shots in their contests. There’s no money in film for them.
Besides, can you imagine if a film shot actually won, beating out all the billions of dollars in R&D?
What if it really was the photographer, not the camera?
Me? I’m shooting Kodak today. Happy International Kodak Film Photography Day. So shoot. Make your work better. Shoot film. #IKFPD 2014