The last few weeks I’ve seen a great deal of moaning about two new film photography products that have been launched on the crowdfunding platforms. Those product being Silberra films and the new Reflex camera. Here’s my thoughts – not so much on the products themselves – but instead around a disappointing attitude I have witnessed toward them.
That’s right folks, I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed!
Readers of this website will be aware that the primary topic of discussion is 35mm film cameras – specifically rangefinder and compact cameras. Those who especially close attention will know that I don’t really like SLR cameras, and the very regular readers of this site will know that I only really shoot two films, Portra 400 and HP5+.
Knowing this, you might then wonder why I’ve just committed to spend £350 on an SLR camera and a bunch of random B&W film. This is a camera that a I probably won’t shoot that much, likely could have blagged a review copy of when it was launched anyway; and a bunch of film that will probably either sit in a draw until I give it away or only get shot when I forget to buy some more HP5+
I’ve bought these things – committed my hard-earned cash (cash that I actually can’t afford to spend at the moment) – because I want the film photography industry to thrive and grow. Now, arguably I must be in a financially positive enough position to be able to make these decisions without too much concern. I’m not on the breadline, I will find a way to pay.
If I couldn’t find a way to pay, I would consider the next best thing to chuck £10, £5, perhaps even just a quid. If I was really skint, I might not chuck any cash at either. That would be sad for me and sad for the products, but it would be understandable – not everyone has spare cash.
But even given the unfortunate position of being so broke as to not be able to chuck even a quid at each of these crowdfunding projects I would still maybe ‘like’, share and wish them my best on the posts on social media etc. And that is all bearing in mind that these are products that don’t really apply to me and my personal tastes! Why? Because…
I want the film photography community and industry to thrive!
… I want the film photography industry to thrive! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not for one minute suggesting that people shouldn’t be entitled to share their opinions. But there is having an opinion about something, and then there is unnecessarily and strongly disparaging a product just because it doesn’t sit within your specific sphere of interest.
Take Silberra films
These guys are trying to bring new films to market. To start with they are working on reformulation of – as I understand it – Agfa stocks. These might be reformulation, but they are still new. Beyond this they intend to start producing new films using their own kit, from scratch. This is extremely impressive, and it should be encouraged wholeheartedly!
Yet people are moaning – to paraphrase “not more film”, “more rebranded Agfa”, etc. Seriously? What kind of reaction to tangible growth in the film industry is this? This is what we want in our community, growth; more actual film products to feed the growing market. Yet we as a community are finding ways to complain…?
Personally, I might not shoot it. I don’t shoot Fuji superior, but it still annoys me that Fuji are killing it off. I don’t shoot FP4, but I’m not going to deny its right to exist just because it’s more black & white film that doesn’t specifically appeal to me!
Then take the Reflex camera
With all of the massive amount of used cameras out there, it would be impossible for a new SLR to appeal perfectly to everyone. As I say, it doesn’t entirely appeal to me – it’s an SLR for a start, but it also has a LED light that I don’t get, a flash that I will never use, and I’m not sure I like the look of the shutter button on the front either.
But, these are opinions, they are simply based on my experiences and preferences – they don’t mean the camera is a complete write off for me, and they certainly don’t mean that this camera is a complete write off for everyone else. More specifically, they don’t mean – to paraphrase one of the comments I read – “this camera is destined to fail”.
More importantly, this is a new film camera to market! A new 35mm film camera at that! Designed from scratch, by a start-up. This is something we in the film photography community have been waiting for. A new brand, making a new camera.
It also has some new and innovative design features. Interchangeable film backs and interchangeable lens mounts are brilliant ideas in combination – the latter allows this one camera to potentially be used with any SLR based lens of yore. This gives it such wide appeal, and straight away provides a level of compatibility and potential upgradability not seen in this type of camera before.
So why is the community picking holes in it? What mentality is driving these snide comments I have seen on social media and in the comments on other blogs? Why are some people writing this new camera off before it’s had even the slightest chance to prove itself? I honestly cannot fathom any of this!
What makes me feel the most disappointment is that I genuinely felt a part of a community that was supportive of itself and that wanted itself to grow. What I am seeing is a community with a lot of moaning people who seem hell-bent in cutting their own noses off to spite their faces. I really would like to urge the community to think about all this from a slightly broader perspective!
If these products succeed, more will follow!
Let me just say that again. If these products succeed, more will follow! And what follows might actually be a bit of kit that will appeal to your specific requirements. It might even come at a price that suits you too. If these new companies succeed, they will help prove the market, they will provide building blocks for themselves to innovate further, but moreover will also provide impetus for more individuals and companies to follow in their wake.
The big boys might even start getting wind. Cosina night bring the Voigtlander cameras back, even the likes of Olympus, Nikon … probably not Fuji… … … ok, it’s quite possible that none of the big boys will come back to the market… but without these new smaller companies proving there is strength in our community – and strength in the marketplace it provides – nothing is gonna happen! No new film, and no new cameras – we we’ll be left with an ever decreasing pool of second-hand cameras and a floundering film photography industry as a whole!
We aren’t even talking faux film stuff like that recent Yashica shite. We are talking bona fide, real, legitimate film products.
So come on, please, for the love of film photography, stop the bloody moaning, and start backing these new-to-market film photography companies!
Let’s help build the industry around our community, not try to kill it before it’s even had a chance!
Here’s some links:
Chuck a quid, more if you can, if you can’t afford money, bury those personal opinions, and share these campaigns far and wide for the greater good – as long term, it will pay off for all of us in the community!
More similar thoughts from Mike from shoot film co can be found here