The bad news just keeps on coming for fans of conventional cameras. Nikon Corp. will stop manufacturing most of its film cameras, and Konika Minolta Holdings Inc. will completely withdraw from the camera and film business. The sad thing is that these makers have long contributed to Japan’s photographic traditions.

Nikon, established in 1917, helped secure the dominance of the 35 mm single-lens reflex camera among professionals and amateurs until the advent of digitals. The company will discontinue manufacturing seven film-camera models. Its top model, the F6, and the low-end, manual-focus FM10 will live on.

Konica Minolta Holdings was formed in 2003 after Konica Corp. and Minolta Co. merged. Konica, established in 1873, marketed Japan’s first camera for popular use in 1903 — the Cherry Portable Black Box. It also made Japan’s first color film in 1941. Minolta, established in 1928, made the world’s first autofocus single-lens reflex camera in 1985.

The watershed year was 2002 when shipments of digital cameras by Japanese makers topped that of film cameras. Last year about 72.2 million digital cameras were shipped compared to only 6.4 million film cameras.

Some relief is in store for film-camera fans. Canon Inc. will still make five single-lens reflex models for those “stubborn fans with strong enthusiasm.” Fuji Photo Film Co., which plans to reduce its film production by 30 percent worldwide, explains that the restructuring is aimed at continuing its film business. The company calls photography a culture to “express all the human feelings — joy, sadness, love and excitement.”

Certainly, digital cameras are handy. But film cameras offer what digital cameras cannot — high-quality images at a reasonable price and a better feel for taking pictures. Consumers deserve the right to enjoy photography in more than one way.

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