Since 2014 I’ve seen a few unique film emulsions be discontinued, but I’m sad to see news that this time a film camera has been discontinued. I remember seeing that news back in October, but reading Johnny Martyr’s thoughts has made me want to comment on this myself.
First of all I agree with a lot of what Martyr says; if we can’t be bothered to buy new and support the companies still making cameras, etc. new, then we can’t expect those said companies to still make them after a while. I’ve had plenty of arguments over the last few months with people who would never consider buying a new camera (and these are wannabe pros), whether for still photography or motion and honestly these people are thinking poor, and not thinking professionally. If I were making a living from all that then I wouldn’t be trying to get all my equipment dirt-cheap and using it until it breaks, I’d want something reliable and if that costs more, then I’d consider it a work investment. That would make having the F6 worth having, I think, because it would last a long time, would come with a warranty, and would still be serviced by Nikon for years to come.
Even more than the F6, the new camera I really wanted was the Kodak Super 8 camera probably made by Logmar, that has still not gotten past the prototype stage. I’ve heard a few references to it this year, evidently Spike Lee’s COVID music video was shot with it, but Kodak lent him a few prototypes for that. Of course talking online to people about that camera is an exercise in futility, because how dare I suggest they invest $2000 in a brand-new camera instead of spending $50 on the ‘bay for an untested pile of junk. I suppose that the last time I talked about the camera I wasn’t too thrilled with the price either but the more I think about it the more it doesn’t seem like too much if it’s well-designed, reliable, and will last a good long time.
But while I mourn for the passing of the last film SLR, I can’t bring myself to mourn for the Nikon F6, mainly because I never really wanted one. Evidently Canon was making the EOS-1v until just a few years ago, and no one really noted that being discontinued, but then knowing that the two last SLRs date to the turn of the millennium and were the kind of fully-automated high-tech gizmos that I’ve been avoiding most of the last decade has a lot to do with my ambivalence. Leica’s high-tech pinnacle, the M7, was introduced and discontinued about the same time.
It should also be noted however that Leica introduced something of a throwback around the same time, the M-A which is totally free of all electronics (and also still makes the M-P which has an integrated light meter). Personally, I see this as Leica listening to what consumers actually want, and that is a solid, reliable mechanical camera (and evidently demand for film bodies is exceeding supply). While I agree with a lot of Johnny Martyr’s sentiments, I think that if Nikon went the route of reintroducing a non-battery-dependent mechanical camera, there would probably be a lot of people interested in buying one brand new! I know I would be one of them. I’ve tried researching just what the Nikon FM3a cost when it was sold new, evidently in 2001 when it was first released around $800 ($1200 in 2020 dollars), but possibly it was only going for $600 by 2006 ($800 in 2020 dollars). To buy a NOS FM3a today would cost $1200-1500 but there are people doing it. So if there are people willing to pay that much for a camera that hasn’t been made in 15 years, are there enough people that would be willing to buy one brand new from Nikon if they brought it back? For $1500-1800 (maybe a little bit more)?
Because that’s what I want to see happen: I want Nikon to replace the $2600 F6 with a reintroduction of the FM3a (at $1800) and I think they could find a customer base willing to buy them. Heck I think that even if the camera cost as much as the F6 did there would still be lots of people interested, that is half the price of a Leica body. And also I mentioned it before but considering the 50th anniversary of the F2 is next year, what a brilliant time to think about bringing that camera back! Nikon did after all make limited edition reproductions of the S3 in 2000 and the SP in 2005; they could do it again. (Also Nikon, if you’re reading this, make film scanners again too!)
But if the F6 is all there is and now Nikon will be all-digital going forward, there are still lots of things we can buy brand new, from minor accessories to manual focus lenses. I bought a few accessories myself nearly a year ago. And I think my New Year’s Resolution will be to buy at least one brand new AI-s Nikkor lens. Because this very well might be a case of “Use it or lose it.” Of course the other possibility is that Nikon had a stock of brand new accessories, lenses, bodies, etc, and really stopped making all that stuff many years ago, and we’re just now getting down to the last of the stock. In that case Martyr’s original article might have helped the F6 end just that much sooner by increasing interest and demand…