Reflex vs. The Cynicism of Camera Enthusiasts
Today, Reflex introduced, well, the Reflex--a new SLR film camera to be hopefully manufactured and brought to market upon being funded via its Kickstarter campaign.
Just to touch on specs, we're looking at a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second, a built in flash/continuous light with three power levels, and perhaps most interesting, interchangeable lens mounts and interchangeable backs. The full specs can be found at the hub for all things analog photography, EMULSIVE.
But the specs and the announcement, while important and exciting, is not exactly what I want to get into. What I want to get into is the camera's (potential) place in an industry and how many photographers and enthusiasts seem to view it.
While, as of this writing, the funding has already had a nice start to it, and there is a slew of positive comments and support on social media, there has been some cynicism and shortsightedness that seems to surround it as well. Let's delve into some choice bits:
Sure, opinions all of them--everybody has one. But this is what they mostly fail to realize: the film industry NEEDS CONSUMERS. As much as we enthusiasts think the world revolves around us and our wellspring of knowledge of how it was back in the day and how it should be, it does not.
Yes, you can buy a Pentax K1000 in used working condition for under $100 (this is the main argument, repeated time and time again), but the pitfall is that one needs to know what they're looking for, how to judge condition, etc. And if they get a bum camera? It's a headache. This turns off newcomers, gift givers, and generally a large part of the consumer market. Second hand products do not drive an industry.
"But but but, there's so many available," you say. Yes, I know, someone should do research and know what they're buying, I know I know I know, you're a knowledgeable enthusiast willing to spend time learning about the finer points of camera function and condition, and you probably think everybody else should be too.
What about the friend/significant other/spouse that wants to buy a camera as a gift? The parent/grandparent? The casual shopper that is looking for an analog camera to get started?
The industry needs consumers. Say it with me: "The industry needs consumers."
Well maybe that consumer isn't you, if you're happy with the Zorki that you got for a steal from an estate sale and performed a CLA on yourself. More power to you. But Grandma isn't going to deep dive into some sweet thrift store nectar and break out her mini screwdriver kit to do an overhaul because Grandkid wants a camera. Grandma needs to be able to walk into a Best Buy and plop down some money for a consumer product. This camera, while it won't be in a Best Buy near you any time soon, is a very small step closer to a NEW product being available in the market. It's a small step towards (gasp!)...GROWTH for the film industry!
Fujifilm's Instax line of instant cameras and film has been largely popular and successful, due in no small part to the fact that you can walk into WalMart right this second and buy a camera and film without having to scour Google for hours for information. You can grab it from the shelf, bring it up to the register, and you're done. Or do a quick search on the website of a reputable retailer, hit the Buy Now button, and you're done.
Yes, I myself have a collection of vintage cameras and lenses. I don't need the Reflex, and you may not need it either--but the industry most certainly does.