Recently I decided to sign up to do an AS level in Photography at the local college. The course requires you to have a â??good, basic 35mm SLR cameraâ?, so as soon as I received confirmation of my place on the course I excitedly marched into town to buy one. Iâ??d been saving up a bit and had a budget of Â£200 – more than enough to get a basic SLR I thought. Well, you see it would have been enough if I could have found one.
In my local town centre (which is actually a city centre) there are three photography shops. One is part of a big chain. One is part of a slightly smaller chain and the other is an independent store. I went to all three and not one of them had a 35mm film camera in stock. In fairness the two chain stores did both have a second hand section that did contain film SLRs, but these were archaic to say the least, and to be honest I didnâ??t want to buy a second hand one. I had saved up my money and I wanted to treat myself.
Neither of the chain stores ever stock film SLRs and would only be able to order me in the very expensive top of the range models. The independent store on the other hand was the most helpful and offered to order me in Canonâ??s recently released EOS 300x (which I now have in my possession and love by the way).
The really odd thing about all this though, is that despite not being able to sell me a camera there and then, all three of them had piles and piles of multi-grade paper, all the right chemicals and a plethora of film to choose from.
I asked the independent guy why he didnâ??t keep them in stock and his reply was very simple, â??no one buys them.â?
So hereâ??s my question – What do all the film photographers do when theyâ??re kit wears out. Are they going to have to go digital? This isnâ??t something that bothers me too much. If Iâ??m honest I prefer digital and the flexibility that it offers me anyway, but I bet thereâ??s going to be a mass of disgruntled film enthusiasts out there when this happens.
I even checked the internet. Again, unless you want to buy the very top end kit it isnâ??t much easier to buy a brand new camera from there either. Not using UK websites at least. Does this mean that we really are going to see the death of film? Once all the second hand kit dries up and every piece of existing kit breaks / wears out is that it? Are we going to be left with lots of rolls of film (that we can apparently buy almost anywhere) but have no way to use them?
If you check out most of the manufacturers websites you can see that there are less and less film cameras in their ranges. Some manufacturers have even stopped producing them all together. Is this the real beginning of the end? Is this even a big deal? Will Mildred get together with Trevor? Who knows? We sure donâ??t. What do you think?