Film Photography is Dead!

Many years ago, I heard an older friend of mine refer to another really old guy saying “he’s dead, but he doesn’t know enough to lay down”

So it seems is the situation with film photography despite the film photography supporters and pundits constantly declaring a rebirth and renaissance. Film photography may not be actually dead yet, but it’s going to figure out how to lay down pretty soon. It’s not from the lack of film either, it’s the cameras

Back in the early 2000’s we all thought film was really dead. You could buy flagship film cameras from the eighties and nineties for $50-$60 or thereabouts. I passed on a few Nikon F3s in great condition that were well under a hundred bucks. Because I, like many others thought film would be completely gone before 2010 and the cameras would be nothing more than paperweights. Despite popular expectation and prognostication, film is still here 10 years later in 2020. It seems there are a few folks keeping it on life support. Fuji, Kodak, Ilford, and a few others are still producing and selling film. While you really can’t drop it off at the corner drug store for processing, in most cases, there are enough mail-in labs, easily found online, to accommodate most shooters. Of course, there is always the “develop at home” option for the hard-core hobbyist. Rest assured, the film manufacturers will continue to make and sell film as long as there is a profitable demand. The demand will wane when the cameras begin to really increase in price due to rarity, ultimately leading to disuse.

The price increase is already under way. That $50.00 Nikon F3 from 2005 is now (in the same basic condition) a $500.00 camera and they are increasing all the time. Unfortunately the supply of serviceable examples is decreasing and that is partly what is causing the price increase generally seen across the board in film cameras. The supply is decreasing due to unrepairable problems. It is cheaper to toss the broken camera than to have it repaired, as a rule, even if it is reparable, no one is making replacement parts anymore. The repair people have to cannnibalize another camera to get parts to repair the first one. The extinction of a certain camera model only depends on the rate of attrition.

The problem will reach critical mass when shutter mechanisms start failing at rapid rate. In some cases certain parts can be made by various machining processes, at a price. Shutters and light meters are really the only things that cannot be made individually for anything resembling a reasonable price. As to the light meter? Ok you can use “sunny 16” or an external meter. However, if the shutter fails, you are done. The major manufacturers no longer make those old film camera shutters and you cannot adapt a shutter from a digital camera. Your only option is to take one from another camera of the same model (that has had a different failure). Since no new film cameras are currently being produced, it’s only a matter of time before we run out of donor cameras. Then, as the remainder fail, the amount dwindles until that particular model has gone the way of the DoDo bird. Thus it will continue across models until only a few cameras exist in working order, and their use will not support the film manufacturers at a level that will maintain profitability. At that point it’s over.

Of course there remains the hope that someone will start making film cameras anew. An independent company cannot do that. The engineering and pre-production costs are too high to make it a profitable venture. Recently Nikon cancelled the F6 (their last remaining film camera) which was pretty much prohibitively priced at some $2600.00 USD and a while back Canon discontinued their EOS 1v in 2018. Yes, supposedly the Nikon FM10 is still available but, a cursory Google search does not produce any new options for purchase, only used. So we can surmise that it is also out of production at this time. The major camera companies just do not see demand for new film cameras. When they do, they just end up competing against themselves. Take the Nikon F6 at $2599.00 brand new. A lightly used F5 in generally good condition can be found for less than $500.00 USD all day long. There is just no market share there. Besides, film aficionados are really not looking for modern cameras. They are looking for vintage cameras. They enjoy the haptics of manually focusing, setting the exposure, and advancing the film. Modern “do-it-all” film cameras from the late 1980’s onward do not offer that experience. They are more akin to shooting a DSLR which does not align with the “film experience”.

The only film option that may remain for the longer term is large format – 4×5 and 8×10. Those cameras have always been made by smaller companies and, indeed, there are new companies making them as I write this. They are, essentially primitive simple machines that rely on zero technology. lenses are readily available and replaceable. However, since the shutter is generally in the lens, we might run into the same shutter problem as we do with other film cameras. The shutters in view cameras, though, should have more life left as view cameras are not shot near as much as SLRs or other roll film cameras. We will see.

So, for now, if you shoot film, just enjoy it,  don’t pretend it’s not dead or it will really surprise you when it decides to lay down.

As always, stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.

On Negativity and Decay

I get a bit discouraged from time to time when I realize that a great deal of photography features distress and negativity. I am, of course, referring to the standard images of war, pestilence, disease, and homelessness. I understand that there are socially active photographers that feel they need to bring certain conditions to light in the hope of changing the world and good on ‘em. I also understand the media concept of “if it bleeds, it leads”. Yet I cannot help but think that we, as a society, would be better or if we spent more time than we do with the photography of say, Martin Parr, or DeWitt Jones.

Another bothersome thing, or trend, if you will, in photography is what we can refer to as “decay porn”. This is exemplified by the whole “urbex” (urban exploration) fad of going into abandoned or otherwise restricted spaces and photographing/videoing them. Not to mention that every film photographer ever, has to take at least one photo of an abandoned gas station. Admittedly, I have been guilty of the gas station thing and a few other abandoned and dilapidated structures. I struggle with the psychology behind making these images. What are we trying to document? Is the motivation nostalgia? If so, why are we showing the worst remnants of the past? Why, as a society are we so fascinated by decay and destruction? Perhaps these images demonstrate a certain amount of societal angst, and a sense of “there but for the grace of god go I”? I think it’s worth considering. Perhaps though, on the other hand, it’s a way of rationalizing our future against our past, and dealing with the inevitable mortality of everything.

Even a simple genre like landscape photography has been infiltrated by this phenomenon. It seems we now need to make our landscapes moody and dark because they sell better. Or is it reflective of an ever growing societal inability to fully accept change at the current pace?

Of course, there are plenty of positive images out there, most are taken as a personal memory of a particular time, event, thing, or person. They are soon forgotten and few people ever see them. Except now, maybe on instagram. Which just might be the whole point of instagram. Others are taken as part of a personal documentary project by amateur photographers and may one day be published, or not.

I, myself, have a relatively small Instagram following and don’t really care if it gets bigger. I follow a few photographers and a few photography related hashtags. Ultimately I am among the guilty because I rarely ever give a “like” to a “pretty picture” I usually look for photographs that stimulate a strong inner response. However, not all images that generate this inner response are negative. I do look for positivity, especially in the challenging times we live in. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find though.

Years ago I subscribed to Outdoor Photographer magazine for one reason only – to read DeWitt Jones’ monthly column Basic Jones where he explores the inner and spiritual side of photography. In one of his columns he made the argument for what he called “random acts of senseless beauty” an ideal that is easy to quantify but difficult to execute. The challenge of course, for the thinking photographer is to create a “pretty picture” but with meaning.

Meaning is the core of photography. As a photographer, meaning is possibly the most difficult thing to convey. Authors are free to express their views and concepts in words through a nearly unlimited available vocabulary with which to convey their ideas. For a writer there is a broad spectrum of ways to express themselves. Photographers are not similarly blessed. Compared to writing, the photographic arts have a somewhat narrow palette available. 

Perhaps this is the motivation behind the negativity in imagery. That anger, sadness, and regret are stronger emotions that leave a more profound imprint on the psyche than are joy, happiness, and anticipation.

I have deliberately not captioned any of my photos in this post. The technical details are unimportant and the meaning (if any) is up to the viewer to decide.

In the end, all photography matters and what you create is up to you. Try a few “random acts of senseless beauty” it just might catch on.

Stay safe and see the world you own way.

Thanks for reading.

Single Image Sunday

Here we are on another Sunday. My last few single image posts have had a negative slant or were trying to find positivity in a time when there is so much negativity as a result of current events.

This week I am posting a “found” composition from 2019 that immediately caught my attention. I was fascinated that someone would actually go to the trouble to create this and then display it in public in this way. A pure burst of positivity. I think we need more of this type of thought now and it, basically, sums up a great deal of my own personal philosophy.

If I could say any, one, thing right now, it would be – “don’t ever let the circumstances win, don’t give up, and if circumstances dictate, create a new beginning for yourself”

This probably has a foundation in my personal situation. I recently quit my job – in the middle of a pandemic no less – due to what could only be described as a toxic work environment with a completely incompetent manager. I was going to try to tough it out until the springtime, mostly due to the pandemic, but that didn’t work out. The job was having a negative effect not only mentally, but the stress was causing physical symptoms as well. It was time to go. Unfortunately, my wife and I didn’t have a very long landing strip – financially speaking – so there was that. However I have since found a new position in the same broad industry. The new position is something I have wanted to do, in the industry, but is at a lower pay rate. I guess the pay cut is the price for quitting my last position on short notice. So things are looking up. Here’s to small beginnings!

Of course the message in this image can be taken in either a positive or negative light. What you do with it is up to you.

I hope you see it as a positive and I hope it improves your day.

Stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.

Welcome to Think-Photo!

So welcome to … Regarding Photography!

To the three or four people that have read my posts thus far and to anyone who stumbles across this, let me explain a few things;

The idea behind … Regarding Photography is really simple. After reading some of the bigger online photography blogs and watching a lot of YouTube content I have come to the conclusion that most (not all) of it is repetitive tutorial content or gear reviews. In fact very little has to do with the actual discussion of the philosophy or practice of photography. Actually, there is very little actual thought or in-depth consideration involved.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. In prehistory (before the internet) the photo magazines of the time were the same way – gear reviews, beginner tutorials, and processing articles over and over, month to month. Rarely did you have much written about the practice of the craft or the history or practitioners of the craft.

These old periodicals and today’s web content have much in common as they are/were profit driven (read advertising) and, there’s nothing wrong with that per se. When it is the overall driving force at the expense of quality content and becomes so obvious as to be intellectually insulting, well then there is a problem.

Two of the greatest photo magazines ever, in my opinion, were Shutterbug and American Photographer (which eventually became American Photo). Both of these have gone out of print and are now completely web based and only shadows of what they were in their glory days – and that’s the case with print media across the board. In a sea of mediocrity though, their print content was exceptional.

Time well spent. Unfortunately, that’s the last print issue of Shutterbug on the top.

So what I think is that, photography, like any other art form, requires as much thought from the creator as it does practice and, frankly, when you are obsessing over the latest and greatest equipment – it’s hard to think about the craft or practice the craft.

So, am I saying gear doesn’t matter? No. it’s just not all that matters.

I do intend to offer some camera reviews at some point. Not of the latest and greatest but how tried and true cameras fit into todays world. Maybe even exploring the current state of film cameras from time to time.

I intend to offer a lot of opinion, as you’ve seen already.

I’ll also throw in some technical material, history pieces, and of course, publish some of my own original photography work. I will have some posts about photographers that have influenced me and also some travel pieces. I do intend to post content on a regular basis – every Sunday for the foreseeable future and hope to build a strong reader base and learn a few new things along the way.

Comments and ideas are more than welcome!

Thanks for reading.

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera”

– Dorothea Lange

5 Reasons to Buy Used Gear!

I am a big believer in buying used equipment. As a matter of fact, the most current camera I own is a Sony A6000.

Why? Because I thoroughly believe in the value both financially and practically that used equipment offers to photographers of all levels.

So, without further ado, here are the five reasons I think you should buy used photo equipment:

1. Value for money. Really, buying used is all about getting as much for your hard earned money as you can. Right now you can buy a brand new Sony A7 with the 28mm-70mm kit lens for $998.00 USD from Amazon or B&H Photo. IF you shop used, from any of the reputable used camera dealers like KEH or mpb, you can get the same combo for around $850.00 USD. Leave off the kit lens and upgrade to the well reviewed FE 85mm f1.8 and you are still probably under $1k. You could probably beat that on eBay.

Going further you can get, what at the time of introduction, was a cutting edge camera – the Canon EOS 5D (original/classic) for around $350.00 USD. Add a 50mm f1.8 for around $125.00 and you have, arguably, one of the best DSLRs of all time—for under $500.00 USD.

Of course, these are both examples of full frame cameras. You can do even better with APS-C cameras.

No matter how you slice it though, it equals extreme value for money.

Let somebody else take the depreciation.


Canon EOS T3i Originally Purchased used with the 18-55mm kit zoom, the 75-300mm add on lens, and a LowPro sling bag for $350.00. I added the battery grip and the 10-18mm EFs lens

2. You can buy better glass. The money you have saved on the camera can go toward purchasing better lenses. 

A lot of people tend to buy the highest spec camera that they can afford, then put a cheap lens on it. Um, no. We all know that this should be the other way around and buying a used camera can accomplish this. 

If you shop diligently you can also find similar value on used, high end lenses and put the glass your camera deserves in front of its sensor.

3. Ecosystem. As time has passed, all the major camera manufacturers have added compatible accessories to their inventory like speedlights, battery grips, and remote releases. Third party companies have done the same. As the camera models have evolved, so have the accessories, and many times, the older accessories show up on the used market at deep discounts. Sometimes the newest accessories are completely backward compatible with the older models.

Also, most major camera companies still support their older models with utilities and PDF manuals.



Canon EOS 50D with EFs 18-135mm lens. Purchased used in 2016 with battery and charger for $450.00

4. Lower anxiety. If you are in any way, serious about photography, you have some serious money invested in gear. If you reduce the amount of the investment then loss, damage, or theft isn’t as painful. If your gear is insured (which it should be) the premium will be lower as the replacement value is lower.

5. Ease of use. Older used cameras have fewer features. This is a good thing especially if you are new to cameras or you are starting in a new system — say, a Canon shooter moving to Sony.

Fewer features means a shorter learning curve and most of the newest models have features that aren’t really absolutely necessary to the average photographer. If, after some time passes, you decide to move to a newer model, you already have the foundation in place. So, instead of learning a complex camera from the “ground up”, you just have to become comfortable with the newer features.

So, now that you know why to buy used equipment. The next question is where do you find good used equipment?

Well the first thing that comes to mind is eBay. Now, this is not for the faint of heart, after all, the internet is full of stories about fraud victims and people just plainly being scammed on eBay purchases. 

The very first thing if you are contemplating eBay, is to be knowledgeable enough about a specific item to ask the right questions of the seller. Beyond that, there are a lot of resources  on the internet to advise you on what to look for in an eBay seller such as feedback ratings and return policies.

I have been buying and selling on eBay for almost twenty years and I think that as a platform, their best days are behind them. However, there are still good deals to be found from good sellers if you do a little research.

Next are pawn shops. These can be a real gold mine. Two of my three current cameras have come from pawn shops and were really good deals. Most reputable pawn shops offer some kind of refund policy. The shops I bought from give two weeks money back and one month store credit returns on digital cameras.

Thrift stores are more uncertain. The employees don’t really know the difference between a camera and a toaster so, there is no discrimination as to what is put on the floor for sale and generally no guarantee or refund policy.

So far we have really been into “buyer beware” territory. The next option is preferable but a little pricier.

Web based used camera dealers. KEH camera and are the two big ones. Full disclosure: I am not sponsored by either company nor have I received any compensation for mentioning them.

I have purchased from KEH and it was a seamless, gratifying experience.  When I am shopping for gear, they are one of my first stops. (As a price check if nothing else.)

Both of these companies offer tested and graded gear with limited warranties and the ability to purchase extended warranties at check out. You do spend more with this option, but you gain peace of mind.

So buy used gear, save money and have fun.