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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Been down a thousand highways and they're all the same / Another empty place where I can hide my shame
— Steve Earle, Shadowland
January 12, 2006
Nikon Says Goodbye to Film

According to Wired Magazine Nikon is moving heavily out of the film business.

An excerpt:

Nikon’s Focus Turns to Digital

Nikon, the Japanese camera and precision equipment maker, said Thursday it will focus on digital photography and stop producing most of its film cameras, except for a few professional photographer products.

“Nikon will discontinue production of all lenses for large format cameras and enlarging lenses. This also applies to most of our film camera bodies, interchangeable manual focus lenses and related accessories,” it said in a statement on its British website.

The company expects stock of analog products to sell out in retail distribution in the summer of 2006.

My concerns?

In a word: lenses.

First, I shoot Canon gear so this announcement means not so much to me. I’ll never shoot Nikon gear - I don’t like the ergonomics, but mostly I have too many lenses.

Digital cameras have two little secrets that many people conveniently overlook: the first, and most obvious one, is batteries. They like them. They love them. They suck back batteries like there’s no tomorrow. This is, of course, the general weakness of the Society of the Future™

The second, and less obvious one, is the size of the sensor chip. The vast majority of sensor ships are smaller than a standard 35mm negative. This means all those lenses you’ve been shooting for decades — sized for 35mm lenses — change in length.

On a Canon Digital Rebel XT the conversion factor is 1.6x. This means my sexy 400mm f5.6 lens and teleconverter combination becomes a 640mm f5.6 lens. Even sexier, right?

Hold your horses: what about that incredible ultra-wide 20mm lens I have? Suddenly it becomes a fairly dull and not so wide 32mm lens.

For years, photographers everywhere protested everytime somebody came out with a film format smaller than 35mm — APS in particular was the subject of much scorn. Suddenly, with digtal cameras, everbody’s falling all over themselves.

Canon makes the 5D, and made the 1D which have full frame chips. With full frame chips coming down in price, I expect that a sub CDN$2,000 full frame camera will replace the 20D in the next revolution, and all my lenses will work well. This I will seriously look at.

Nikon has spent years manufacturing lenses for the “full-frame” 35mm format, and suddenly they need to rejig all their lens factories?

Huh. Odd strategy.

There’s been a long standing rule in camera equipment: good glass is always a good investment. If I were shooting Nikon, I’m not so sure I’d think so right now.

Thankfully, I shoot Canon.

Posted by skooter at 10:08 PM This entry is filed under Camera, Technology.

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