Reader John to me: Do you know anyone in your vast collection of friends who might make good use of a Nikon F5? I’ll never do film again and it’s just sitting there on a shelf, staring at me. I would be willing to let it go for the low low price of…uh…nothing. But, I don’t want to give it to someone who'd just flip it on eBay. I could do that. I would like to get it to somebody who’d use it.
Me to reader John: Hmm. Nice offer, and I will have to think about that.
It’s a bit of a paperweight…they go on eBay for only $350 pretty consistently, which as you know isn’t a lot relative to its original cost, and they burn through batteries, meaning it has to be someone who’s willing to cycle rechargeables. And there’s no real call for its talents of high frame rate and focus tracking and so forth.
I think your wisest move might be to find a school program that's still oriented toward film and donate it to them. It would be the kind of thing that kids and newcomers might be interested in experiencing without wanting to own. If it belonged to a school or a community program, it could be a shared loaner and a lot of people could find out firsthand what a big pro camera feels like.
It's an interesting question. It's probable that cheap, bad cameras might be the least desirable cameras in the world, but it's possible that the relative position of "pro" and "advanced amateur" (AA) film cameras have flipped in the days since digital. Pro cameras might actually be less desirable than their AA brethren.
Inverted values: The Sinar on the left was more expensive new,
but less desirable now
That seems to be happening with view cameras...wooden folding field view cameras are still sought after, but professional monorail studio cameras—which were more expensive and of higher precision when they were new—are not as useful to anybody now. The Swiss Sinar P2 on the left was one of the best and most expensive professional cameras when it was new, but it's being offered by shueido on eBay right now for $1,379, while the older style American Deardorff 5x7 (with 4x5 reducing back) on the right is being offered by irohas for $2,780. (Both of these examples appear to be priced at the high end of the range.) Their relative desirability has been flipped upside down.
Is it possible that, among good cameras, late model professional film cameras might be the most unwanted orphans?
But if you know of an educational program still based around film that might want to add reader John's F5 to its arsenal, let me know, and I'll put you in touch.
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Featured Comments from:
Tom: "If the F5 is undesirable then I probably own the most undesirable accessory for it, a Forscher Polaroid back. Can't have put more than a couple of packs through it before digital came along."
Mike replies: You have seen me and raised me! That's even more of an unwanted orphan.
Jim Grey: "As a guy who's collected film cameras for more than 40 years I can say that the semi-pro cameras are usually much, much more pleasant to use than their full-pro counterparts, without significant loss of functionality."
Scott A: "Considering the comments from a few weeks ago it is interesting that my daughters' school program is still based around film, one of the reasons being because it is cheaper. Apparently film and chemicals are cheaper than the computers, software and printers they would need, and need to continually upgrade, to stay relevant.
"Two of the other noted benefits being the extra deliberateness required when shooting with film and delayed gratification. Apparently this is something the school really values as teenagers are too dependent on instant gratification and the inherent delay created by using film is good for them. Unfortunately for me I am stuck in a quandary. I have a pile of digital cameras but long got rid of my film ones. I am loath to purchase a film camera just so my daughter can take the photography elective."