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Are we all being conned by digital?

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filmforever
9 Mar 2011 - 2:44 PM

Recently, in conversation with a veteran camera repairer, he recited the case of one of his customers who was quoted 700 for repairing his top of the range digi SLR.....All that had happened was one of the tiny receiving pins for the flash card had become a bit distorted, so he could no longer insert it. The importers told him it was "unrepairable", and they'd have to supply and fit a complete new unit.

It occured to me that the manufacturers are no longer interested in offering a full repair service like they used to for film cameras at a reasonable price......they simply want to encourage you to ditch your damaged camera and buy the "new updated" model. To this end, they ensure that parts for your current (i.e. "old") model are not going to be around for very long, and the new model will invariably take a different battery and SD flash cards instead of CF.

If they did offer a full repair and servicing dept., doubtless they'd have to employ more technical staff, and that would impact on their profit margins.

Back to the independent repair man.......He reckons the average consumer digi, is uneconomic to repair, the cost always outweighs the value, IF you can get the parts. You need to be a brain surgeon to operate on much of the upmarket, really complicated stuff.

Seems the days of photography as an affordable hobby are numbered.....It can be more expensive to service your digi, than to service your BMW.

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9 Mar 2011 - 2:44 PM

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filmforever
9 Mar 2011 - 3:12 PM


Quote:
Your washing machine or boiler repairman won't replace a faulty component on a circuit board, they'll replace the whole circuit board. I really don't think this is a film v digital phenomenon.

I take your point, except that a washing machine will usually last you a good few years, and it won't cost around 4,000 to replace!

MrGoatsmilk
9 Mar 2011 - 3:16 PM

My cameras have outlasted the washing machine and the dishwasher

KenTaylor
KenTaylor e2 Member 92980 forum postsKenTaylor vcard United Kingdom2 Constructive Critique Points
9 Mar 2011 - 4:21 PM


Quote:
I take your point, except that a washing machine will usually last you a good few years, and it won't cost around 4,000 to replace!

The `life` of white goods is around 5 years that depends of course on its use.
The mass produced lounge suites you see adverised on TV have an equal life span while top quality would be 10 times the price or more that you will be still sitting in 30 years from now. Any accidental damage it will still be worthy of repair.
At 4000 to replace, and 700 to repair, albeit from an independant, sounds steep but as tool for a professionial it sounds cost effective .

User_Removed
9 Mar 2011 - 4:29 PM


Quote: My cameras have outlasted the washing machine and the dishwasher

Precisely.

In 55+ years of photography I have never had to have any camera repaired or serviced. I appreciate that was a very stupid thing to say as I will now drop mine in the river next time I am wading in for a shot.

That's probably why it would not be economic for manufacturers to have proper service/repair departments - very little need for them and not enough work to keep such a department busy. At least the odd freelance repairer can aggregate the work from all brands into one workshop and maybe repair watches and suchlike as well.

But the general point is, of course, quite correct. We live in a "throw-away" society where it is simply uneconomical to repair most things. But that has been, at least partly, compensated by the hugely better reliability and longevity of most consumer goods.

Remember when cars had to be serviced every 3000 miles and needed a new engine after 30,000 (if they hadn't rusted to dust before then). Nowadays 12,000 - 20,000 miles is the normal service interval and when did you last see a rusty car of less than 10 years old? It's down to better materials, closer tolerance engineering and far superior lubricants. In fact, most car faults these days tend to be electronic rather than mechanical.

Remember when TVs regularly needed new CR tubes and new valves. When did you last hear of a TV requiring any repair?

Heavily mechanical household goods such as washing machines do take a bit of punishment but even they have much longer operating lives than 30 years ago.

I guess that most consumer "durables" get thrown out and replaced, not because they have broken down or are beyond repair, but because high-pressure advertising (or maybe just technological developments) persuade us that we need a newer model.

Last Modified By User_Removed at 9 Mar 2011 - 4:30 PM
randomrubble
9 Mar 2011 - 4:40 PM


Quote: In 55+ years of photography I have never had to have any camera repaired or serviced.

I guess you're not a Canon user then.

mattw
mattw  105189 forum posts United Kingdom10 Constructive Critique Points
9 Mar 2011 - 4:43 PM

Well - to give a different account - my 5D (mk1 ) had a fault last year when the mirror fell off.

Took the camera into fixation, and they repaired it straight away, no hassle, as a warranty repair despite the fact the cameras was over 4 years old - they even couriered it back to me free of charge.

Regarding the 700 quote - was this from a recognised service centre? And which make was it? Nikon and Canon have good service centres to cater for their pro customers.... do the other manufactures have the same?

thewilliam
9 Mar 2011 - 5:11 PM

She-who-must-be-obeyed wanted a wide-screen television, even though the 4:3 set works perfectly. The old one has proved unsaleable so far. Not even at 99p on eBay!

I've been doing photography for 55 years myself and even during the 40 years as an amateur, I clocked up about a dozen repairs to my Pentax, Rollei, Leica, Nikon and Hasselblad kit. In 15 years as a full-timer, I've had as many.

Last Modified By thewilliam at 9 Mar 2011 - 5:12 PM
strawman
strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
9 Mar 2011 - 5:13 PM


Quote: Seems the days of photography as an affordable hobby are numbered.....

As we have discussed before the purchase price in real world terms has fallen. Walk a basic camera like the OM1 or FM2 forwards in time to today's costs and you would be paying @ 1,000. Factor in the film and processing costs and it rises further. So you need to look at total life cycle costs. Also things like shutter have a greater number of actuations for digital because people take more pictures.

that you can buy a DSLR for @ 300 new strikes me as great value, compared to even 10 years ago when an entry film camera was @ 130.

Re the bent pin send it over as I think I could change the connector.

strawman
strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
9 Mar 2011 - 5:35 PM

Also not everyone buys 4,000 cameras, so if you are spending that much are you at the affordable end of the market? Most people are able to buy modern digital cameras at about the same price as the film ones 20 years back when you factor in inflation. So given the loss of film processing costs if it only last 3 years, cost less in terms of total costs, does it matter????

I run what is just classified as a classic car. It consumes petrol quicker per mile than its modern equivalent. It has an incredibly short 6,000 service interval and those in the know say it should have 3,000 mile services. If I were running it through garage servicing it would cost a lot more to run than the modern equivalent. The modern car is easier to service (the only difference is the need to have a service light reset box), but no need to reset idle speed for example all you do is change fluids and filters.

I also run digital and film cameras. Economics the digital cameras win hands down, but because I like to use a rangefinder sometimes with manual everything I keep it. It costs me more per year to run than my compact, and takes 1/10 of the photographs and not a lot of difference in the end quality.

If we ran life by economics how boring. So by all means enjoy your film camera, but please stop trying to run this scare story on the cost of digital. We choose to have hobbies. They cost, life is short then you die. So enjoy what you enjoy.

filmforever
9 Mar 2011 - 5:54 PM


Quote: Also not everyone buys 4,000 cameras, so if you are spending that much are you at the affordable end of the market? Most people are able to buy modern digital cameras at about the same price as the film ones 20 years back

The person concerned was a professional, they tend to feel they need to purchase the top of the range model.....although with the financial returns in most areas taking a tumble, how they are able to afford to, I don't know.
20 years ago, a new Nikon FM2n (the choice of many professionals) cost me 249. Are you saying that inflation would cause the same camera to now cost around 4,000?....I doubt it.

strawman
strawman  1022006 forum posts United Kingdom16 Constructive Critique Points
9 Mar 2011 - 6:20 PM

The FM2 is closer to a D7000 in the Nikon line up now. As you know the FM2 may be durable but its lacking in functionality. and it exited production for a reason, economics. List price in the 90's $745. 249 is a very good price from memory when it was current they retailed for over 500 new back then. Its a basic camera, well made and durable but somewhat basic. It is hard to give a Nikon equivalent as Nikon dropped manual focus mechanical cameras. And like everything some things they re good at, others not so good.

As for the affordability of being a professional yup its a question, but its nothing to do with film or digital now (the rot started before digital was born, video pretty well started the rot). And what professional cameras are you comparing it with. A D300S would be a start model and give results comparable to a FM2, a D700 another viable option and even a D3 is just over 3,000.

regardless the economics point you towards digital for professional use. Lets assume at least a film per day, that's @ 250 films a year. Lets assume a pessimistic life of 3 years. 750 films. Cost of D3 @3000 so @ 4 per film for film purchase develop etc. Use more films costs rise. 5 films a week sounds low for a working professional. Just a thought. A D3 can take a lot more than that.

Anyway, if you enjoy film use it and enjoy it, life on the other side is not so bad. But either way it happened and people moved. You can still get film and film cameras, so enjoy.

Last Modified By strawman at 9 Mar 2011 - 6:24 PM
miptog
miptog  83532 forum posts United Kingdom61 Constructive Critique Points
9 Mar 2011 - 6:38 PM

The cost of labour, and having to replace a component, rather than a part within the component, in conjunction with the sophistication of modern technology, means that any repair will be expensive, and the cost of repair may not be economical.

filmforever
9 Mar 2011 - 6:53 PM


Quote: The FM2 is closer to a D7000 in the Nikon line up now. As you know the FM2 may be durable but its lacking in functionality. and it exited production for a reason, economics. List price in the 90's $745. 249 is a very good price from memory when it was current they retailed for over 500 new back then. Its a basic camera, well made and durable but somewhat basic.

Durability was a primary consideration for the news photographer at that time. Photographers of my generation tended to have a sound knowledge of exposure/when to correct for lighting conditions etc. the knowledge was in the photographer's head, not the camera. If you knew what you were doing you'd get just as good a result with the FM2n as you would with the far more expensive (at the time) F4.

500 for a Nikon FM2n??...you must be thinking of the titanium version which was far more expensive than the basic one.
Like all working photographers at the time, I converted to digital around 2001.....(3,000 per body, Nikon D1)....the subsequent faults, compared to my fault free film cameras, made the experience a disappointment, and to top it all, they tended to pack up in the rain.
I appreciate the current digis are a big improvement over their forbears, but I don't believe the leading models offer value for money,
especially considering the rate of depreciation over the years.

Since I left the profession early, I've gone back to my film cameras. Because I was brought up with them, they're the ones I work best with.....My original Nikon F, still working perfectly, is now worth three times what I paid for it. How many digis will even be working in 35 years time?

cameraman
cameraman  11227 forum posts England1 Constructive Critique Points
9 Mar 2011 - 7:04 PM

In 1976 I bought a new Nikon F3AS. It cost me almost 400. I also bought the motordrive (5 frames a second, top notch stuff) which cost another 400. Allowing for inflation that puts the total price to about 4500. If you compare that to a current D3 I don't suppose there is too much difference.

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