Thursday, January 12, 2006

Nikon bids farewell to 35mm (mostly)

Nikon has announced it is to end production of most of their 35mm cameras.

As the film camera market shrinks and the popularity of compact digital cameras increases, demand for products that offer advanced features and extra value is continuing to grow. High performance digital SLR cameras are performing well as users shift from film-based SLR cameras or upgrade from compact digital cameras to digital SLR cameras.

As a result of the new strategy Nikon will discontinue production of all lenses for large format cameras and enlarging lenses with sales of these products ceasing as soon as they run out of stock. This also applies to most of our film camera bodies, interchangeable manual focus lenses and related accessories. Although Nikon anticipates that the products will still be in retail distribution up to Summer 2006.

Nikon is going to continue their F6 camera used by professionals. But the rest of us will have to use digital. I suppose that's the way things things are going now. I've already posted about the demise of 35mm film cameras and how I see a place for both, but I'm still surprised at this move by Nikon. I suppose I shouldn't be. Digital is the future for normal users and 35mm will just an artists tool. Still I'd like to see a couple of things change with the digital SLR market.

Firstly large price drops. If they dump the 35mm SLRs, which you can pick up for less than 300 euros, then there will be a huge proce gap between point-and-click and SLRs. Fewer people will want to learn SLR photography if it costs 900 euros just to get started. I know several people who used to just take photos on holidays. Then they got their first SLR as a Christmas/birthday present. They went on to do photography courses and take it up as a hobby. Would they have gotten that camera if a 900 euro digital was the only option? How many people buying digital SLRs are buying a replacement for an existing film SLR? How many people really jump from a 200 euro point-and-click straight to a full digital SLR? Perhaps it could be as easy as keeping the current 6.2 Mega-Pixel cameras on sale but drop the prices as better cameras come out. That would quickly fill the gap, but sales-execs rarely think like that.

Secondly, the sensor has to be easier to clean and maintain and maybe even replacable. I know this is unlikely to happen but it seems that the CCD is the biggest weakness. Dust will get into the case when lenses are switched and then onto the sensor. With film that means one ruined negative. With digital it means a smudge on every photo. Some Olympus Digital SLR cameras come with an ultrasonic sensor cleaner but I've never seen it in operation so I don't know how well it works. A friend of mine just lugged one around New Zealand for 6 weeks, I'll have to see how he got on. Also if I could upgrade my camera by upgrading the CCD that would be cool.

If Nikon are dropping film can Canon be far behind?

[via Slashdot]

No comments: