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Alexander Winfield

Film cameras set to appreciate?

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I was having a nice conversation with a camera owner and he mentioned to me, according to conversations he had with other camera folk, that movie film cameras are set to appreciate in the near future and I wanted to post this to get some feedback from the community here.

 

I do agree with him, since these cameras are not being made anymore, film is still available and people enjoy the film look and working with film. These cameras could turn into a nice commodity and maybe hard to get your hands on in the future.

 

Love to hear your thoughts,

Alexander

Edited by Alexander Winfield

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It is possible. But as time goes on maintenance will become more difficult so the value will be in owning a couple of identical cameras so that parts and boards can be swapped out as necessary. Not sure if that raises or lowers the value of the cameras however. The other issue that people may come to appreciate is that the features built into film cameras are what they are and don't get changed whereas in Digital the next generation of camera usually means some features are improved, but others are taken away and the camera person has no choice in the matter.

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I tend to doubt an appreciation. There are just so many 16 and 35mm cameras out there right now because of rental houses unloading them and all kinds of other sources. Also, despite things like film Ferrania, there is still a timidity about investing in film cameras as no one can say for sure that there will even be film to shoot 3 years from now. Kodak WILL stop eventually. Now it's just a matter of when and if they will sell it off to someone else who will downsize it to meet modern demand. If they don't, high quality film will go away and you will be left with lower end and more boutique films like Ferrania and far lower demand for cameras and film.

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Unfortunately I don't think so. There are vastly more cameras out there than the dwindling demand requires, and as more labs shut, more film stocks get discontinued and digital cameras get better I can't see the trend reversing. The best case scenario is that it might stabilise to a small niche industry, but the cameras themselves won't be getting more valuable, that's for sure. As time goes on they will become less reliable and require servicing by an ever diminishing pool of experienced technicians, reducing their value even more. In the end they will fetch more as collector's items and curios than working machines. I've already accepted the fact that my more than 10 years of training in the repair of pro film cameras is now an obsolete skill, which no-one is prepared to properly pay for any more. These days I just focus on optics.

 

In this country film is all but dead for professional productions, the only people still shooting film are generally students and experimental filmmakers who often just use Bolexes and can barely afford the film stock. I spoke with an experienced AC recently who mentioned that even if a production wants to shoot film, there are now so few ACs who know about film that it becomes a problem just getting reliable crew. I work for a rental house that has over 30 film cameras (and associated mags and accessories) taking up storage space, and they basically never go out. Some day they will either go to a museum or get sold off for a song.

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Yea, I think camera body prices will dwindle to practically nothing. Lenses on the other hand, they are holding steady due to digital cinema cameras ability to use a wider range of mounting types then their film-based predecessors.

 

We have many more years of "film" production in front of us, both professional and boutique/student/experimental. As a consequence, I think rental houses aren't quite ready to completely abandon film quite yet. We've seen 16mm be tossed into the gutter, but 35mm will be a while, mainly because there isn't a perfect substitute. Arri's new 65mm Alexa maybe the first step towards a "film-less" world and if they can match this new format with a 6k projector, all bets are off.

 

Three things will kill off film;

- IMAX dumping film entirely

- 6k - 8k digital projectors

- Increased expense on purchasing and processing film

 

Once that happens, film camera bodies will be worth nothing.

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First as to availability of film: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/print/770300 and others report Kodak has finalized deals with the major Hollywood studios that will allow film to remain alive, at least for the near future. This marks the completion of the deal that Kodak said was near-final last summer, when negotiations began.

Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. have all reached agreements with Kodak to purchase undisclosed amounts of film over "a few" years that would be enough to extend Kodak's film manufacturing business. The value of the deals were not disclosed.

As to cameras: Just look at other items in the world from watches to clocks to guitars. Digital watches did not drive the deaths nail through mechanical, vintage or antique watches. The advent of single lens reflex cameras did not doom range finder cameras( See Leica prices). Most importantly electric guitars did not doom acoustic guitars, why? it doesn't produce the same sound only a close sound but just not ever the same organic feel.

Beyond that there is always myriad children of the sixties and seventies that always wanted to play Kubrick and have the disposable income to buy something shiny and well engineered merely to own it now. Prices may be stagnant now but as cameras disappear in the future the prices will go up.

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