August 23, 2009 @ 9:49 pm
For film enthusiasts, it could hardly have been any darker or colder that eleventh day of January … 2006. Word began to spread like wildfire in photo forums around the globe. What started with a low murmuring whisper rapidly escalated into a raging, unstoppable whirlwind of fire. Far and wide — people came together to discuss the news and comfort each other as if it were the day Don McLean sang to us about when he narrated his epic American Pie. It was the day that Nikon USA issued a routine press release with the deceptively bland title of: “Reshaping Nikon’s Film Camera Assortment”. It was a day for Trojan horses. It was a day that would reshape photography forever — and it was a day which read in part as follows:
With film cameras accounting for an ever smaller percentage of Nikon’s total sales volume, the company has decided to concentrate its vast resources toward those business categories that continue to demonstrate the strongest growth. Consequently, as Nikon focuses more on the digital camera business, the company must adopt appropriate measures to ensure its continued success. With that, the Nikon film camera lineup will be reshaped, allowing more of Nikon’s planning, engineering and manufacturing resources to be focused on the digital products that now drive our thriving industry. The measures that Nikon will adopt include discontinuing production of all large format Nikkor lenses and enlarging lenses, as well as several of our film camera bodies, manual focus Nikkor interchangeable lenses and related accessories. Sales of these products will cease as supplies are depleted.
Film advocates and Nikon manual focus enthusiasts everywhere — had postponed into the distant future a day which digital photography would sweep them aside — but today the big shoe dropped. It was a moment of historical proportions that would tip the course of the future. It was the day that 35mm would die. It wouldn’t be long now before the great yellow grandfather would take our Kodachrome away. Old school masters were stunned — perhaps more like blind sighted. Nikon’s revelation was discussed in the same somber tones as if our favorite celebrity had just passed away. It didn’t matter if it were James Dean, Elvis Presley, or Michael Jackson. If you were from any other generation but the present — each of us felt just a bit of the same.
… Nikon will continue to produce the manual focus 85mm f/2.8D PC Micro-Nikkor(R).
Only a single specialized tilt-shift lens for commercial product photography had won a temporary reprieve. This lens had proven itself extremely popular as a macro lens, and was the only modern tilt-shift still left in Nikons line up.
With the interests of its customers in mind, Nikon will offer continued post-sale service for products whose production has ceased for a period of 10 (ten) years from Nikon Inc.’s last date of sale.
Ten years? In just ten years all official memories of legacy Nikon Ais, Ai, the Nikon mirror lens, and most Nikon manual focus product would be but distant memories? Scrubbed from Nikon’s list of replacement parts? Nikon had broken the last barrier. A new era was about to start, and we had to jump onto this new train or be left behind. It was the old timers I felt sorry for the most. The ones that had taken that Photoshop course six times — only to quit in frustration at exactly the same place each time. The ones who knew how to work the knobs on their cameras, and roll there own reel of black and white. The same ones with dark developer stains on their fingers, and fixer splash onto their shirt. The ones that came out pie eyed after six hours in the darkroom to proudly show their latest one-of-a-kind production. The big dogs – they were in for the worst. Many would just fade away. There was no place left for them but on the forums, where they could reminisce and wax gloriously to younger audiences about the days when they could practice their lore. Old soldiers, whom if you still look hard today, are but on the cusp of fading away. Vivere disce, cogita mori … or … learn to live but remember death. If the subject of Nikon News, views and tips piques your interest, be sure to come back and visit the Nikon News Hound from time to time. Or bookmark our RSS feed. We’re not a rumor site, but we hope to add valuable, intelligible comment and analysis to new and old Nikon technologies and how they might apply to photographers today.