Thursday, January 12, 2006

Twilight For an Old Standby

I bought my first nice 35mm camera -- a black body Nikon FTn -- at the company factory in Yokohama. I've used and abused a variety of Nikons and Nikkormats under trying conditions over the years -- riots, wars, mountain climbing, keg parties -- and would never consider switching to another make, let alone a digital camera, until fairly recently. That's when the technology built into the large-body digitals caught up to the price and then the price started falling.

So I'm going to hang onto my present Nikon N65 with its nifty array of Nikkor lenses for a while. In fact, the DF&C (Dear Friend & Conscience) will be using them on a forthcoming expedition to South America, including some time in the harsh climes of Patagonia and Cape Horn. The photos she'll return with will be stunning, I'm sure, but make no mistake -- it's twilight time for the good old 35mm.

In a sign of things to come, Nikon United Kingdom has announced in a roundabout way that it is in the process of discontinuing 35mm sales. Buried at the bottom of a press release sent out earlier this week in the UK that extolled its expanded digital lineup is mention that mechanical 35mm camera lenses will no longer be sold in the UK market once stocks are depleted. Two 35mm large bodies will still be on offer, but for how long?

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Update: Nikon, confirming the UK news and then some, announced today in Tokyo that it would stop making most of its film cameras and lenses in order to focus on digital cameras.

Nikon said it would halt production of all but two of its seven film cameras and would also stop making most lenses for those cameras. The company will halt production of the film camera models "one by one," though it refused to specify when.

A company spokesman said Nikon made the decision because sales of film cameras have plunged, down 16 percent at the end of the firm's last fiscal year, while digital camera sales jumped 75 percent in the same period.

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