In digital era, conventional camera still has fans

by Shinichi Tokuda

Kyodo News

As digital cameras continue to grow in popularity, there remains a group of committed people who still prefer film.

Sales of digital cameras have taken off as amateur photographers like being able to check their pictures immediately after taking them. They also are attracted by the ease and minimal cost of using their computers to store and exchange photos.

However, there are still many devotees of the single lens reflex camera who stick with film, saying it gives their photos a special quality that the digital medium cannot.

Camera manufacturers and sales firms are responding with special events and courses.

Nikon Photo Products Inc., a sales company of manufacturer Nikon Corp., holds the Nikon Juku photo course for film cameras in six cities.

Participants listen to lectures and receive practical training in shooting landscapes, flowers or festivals, depending on the season.

“The number of participants carrying single lens reflex digital cameras has been growing in the last two to three years,” said Kanji Kakimoto, director of Nikon Juku in Tokyo. “Half of the participants use film cameras.”

One man in his 20s called his more than 30-year-old camera a masterpiece. He said he feels a strong attachment to the camera every time he adjusts the focus.

Kakimoto, who is also a Nikon Juku lecturer, said film camera hobbyists claim film still has an edge over digital when snapping pictures of objects such as flowers, as it shows the subtleties of color better.

Fuji Film Imaging Co., a Tokyo-based sales arm of Fuji Photo Film Co., offers a course for women called Photodays, exclusively for film-camera users.

It takes only a week for the class to fill up over the Internet, according to the company.

“We planned (the course) because we thought women would like to experience the strong feeling one gets when pushing the shutter, and the mixed emotions of anticipation and anxiety they might have while waiting for their photos to be developed,” Takashi Ueno of Fuji Film Imaging said.

To attract more people to film, the company launched another course, Acoustic Photo, in May, this time targeting baby boomers. However, much to its surprise, most of the participants in the first course were young women.

Ueno thinks people who want to express themselves tend to be strongly attached to film. He said Fuji Film Imaging will continue to publicize the pleasures of using film cameras.