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How much longer for film?


Mark Amies

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Leica? Thought they disappeared years ago. Obviously another industry leader talking cr**. These people need to ask the people on the front line what they want to sell not the backroom boffins ramming more so called hitech drivel down our throats. Film is more profittable than digital and its profit that pays the bills!

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Film aint dead with us - its still going gangbusters. Partly due to other labs closing down their film processors, and the general decline in lab numbers.

We are doing plenty of 35mm, 120, APS and anything else that comes along.

We have just sent away over 30 disc films to be done at Film Rescue International in the US and there is a huge profit in that sale.

We are sending off Kodachrome movie film to them for processing and getting back movies in black and white on DVD - again, not lots of orders, but great margin.

The growth of Holga/Diana/Lomo cameras has also boosted film sales, and we are also selling Holgas at a rate far higher than I expected we would.

So film is NOT dead in this store.

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We also are doing great business in film. But you have to be realistic.

APS film finished because the guys making the cartridges stopped making them for example. We were still selling and processing plenty of it but now it is finished.

So what might make the demise of film happen?

One issue is aging cameras. As far as I know all compact zoom cameras have a flexible circuit board between the body and the lens and over time they become less flexible and break.

So there is an ultimate use by date for most of the cameras out there.

Another issue is the age of the film processers we have.

Over time they will have problems and break various bits and pieces and become uneconomical to run. They are quite complex beasts and all sorts of things can go wrong. In the olden days one would just buy a new one every five years or so but at current rates of processing that would be hard to justify even if they are still made in a few years.

A third issue is the age of the customers using film. Yes I know there is an influx of new, young people using film but as a rule many of our customers are pretty old.

They are still using film because they are confused about digital and certainly confused and unwilling to start using computers of any sort.

Each year a number of these customers cease for one reason or another shooting film ...   death or dementia being a couple and so the volume of work from these customers is diminishing.

We can't do much about that but these people were a good market, as far as they could see they had no option but to keep using film and for those only shooting a few rolls a year it made good economic sense!

Younger people do have the option of reverting to digital and I don't see someone using a Lomo or Holga for their whole life!

Not the best camera for a new baby unfortunately!

So lets revel in making hay while the sun shines but be realistic about what may well happen. And it can happen quickly, just look at APS, look at slide film, look at film camera manufacture!

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film is dieing for sure. Many labs have their film processors off because clients with film are very rare. Chemicals are expensive and expire used or unused, so unused the cost is huge.

Also the film processors have more problems because of the lack of new chemicals injecting, too much evaporation compensation, crystalization of chemicals on crossovers, in pumps, film scratching on clogged crossovers or detaching from leader, etc.

The film I believe will be very expensive, for the nostalgics that have great old cameras, but I believe it will be developed home, with home chemical kits or other inventions.

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If you want to increase the amount of film you process then don't alienate your film customers like the big boys do. Stock film, batteries etc that they need. Digital photography has been pushed down thier throats leaving the film shooting public a drift. People get to know that you still welcome thier business, unlike Boots, Jessops and the supermarkets. Our suppliers also have to adapt to a smaller market.

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film is dieing for sure. Many labs have their film processors off because clients with film are very rare. Chemicals are expensive and expire used or unused, so unused the cost is huge.

Also the film processors have more problems because of the lack of new chemicals injecting, too much evaporation compensation, crystalization of chemicals on crossovers, in pumps, film scratching on clogged crossovers or detaching from leader, etc.

The film I believe will be very expensive, for the nostalgics that have great old cameras, but I believe it will be developed home, with home chemical kits or other inventions.

I'm sorry, but if we had taken this attitude, our growth would have only been single digit. We are actively promoting film and film processing - we even have radio ads that we run to tell people we process film, and THEY WORK. We have had a number of new customers who have heard the ad, and when they leave their film, we still offer discounted replacement film, and they also buy albums, frames and MORE film.

We currently have more film on display that we have had for years - we are making a statement that we are in the business of  PHOTOS.

If you want to buy film, take a look at the prices from B&H in New York. Even with shipping, they are half what our local distributor is charging, plus they have a wider range!

Film will only die if we let it.  Have you checked the prices on old vinyl LP's lately? Great margins for those selling into a niche market, which is what film is becoming.

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If you want to increase the amount of film you process then don't alienate your film customers like the big boys do. Stock film, batteries etc that they need. Digital photography has been pushed down thier throats leaving the film shooting public a drift. People get to know that you still welcome thier business, unlike Boots, Jessops and the supermarkets. Our suppliers also have to adapt to a smaller market.

Bingo, right on the mark.

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