Also Digital Slide Conversion

The Back Box Evolution 1978-2021

The Beginning - Camera Sales And Diamonds  — I worked, since I was sixteen as I graduated high school two years early being more self taught.  I never went to the second and eight grades, I was advanced…My first jobs were in the camera industry in New York, the Mecca of the retail camera business.   It was not so different from buying a car.  

Creative cheating produced profits. It was prevalent in the entire industry… It was not my way and I passed on retail sales, as, and because the way it was being conducted. You needed to lie… In essence it was provoked by a group intent of profit and they are still around today…  lets just say they were right wingers and I was  a left winger.

The camera business developed and was tied to the diamond business, diamonds made great financial gain when raw futures turned into fabulous gems.  But to raise the kind of funding you needed to play that market, it took cash.

Selling cameras worked, you got paid mail order by credit card, cash, etc and you bought diamond futures.  You bill for those cameras from Canon, Nikon, and others had generous terms, known as the 2-3% discount for thirty days.   I can do a lot of money by having a million dollars free for thirty days. The industry was supported by those thirty days and it was a cash cow.

The camera business, the retail sales “ fueled” a great part of the Diamond business, ever wonder why they are so close together in NYC.  Literally it was an out the back door to a relative in the diamond business, great profits were made for their cause, and yes things change and the same folks now own the diamond mines, and diamonds are ( No pun intended)  “hard currency”.

📸  LENS SWAPPING -  A NOT SO BETTER LENS  —  You wanted a camera and then you were pitched on an Upgraded variable 28-80mm unknown brand lens which was real slow junk they sold you on, costing them about 19 dollars and it was the switch. If you bought a Nikon or Canon, Pentax, you gave up the 50 mm F.2 superbly sharp and fast lens factory lens and got a junk Japanese or Chinese “ Knockoff lens”    

Result: Bad pictures, slower lens… And then the dealer ordered in a body only for your good authorized lens he now owns and had a factory camera and lens for sale at full price and the game started over again with the next customer. The mail order guys were not your friend.  
’s not what they tell you, it’s what they don’t.  A friend commented, sounds like “ Car Selling One Oh One”.

📸  THE BIGGEST LIE  — The next step was the ten dollar cheap glass protective filter on the cheap  “ Upgraded 28-80mm variable junk lens”,  from the knockoff companies they talked you into.  The cheap glass filter that cost 87 cents just made 9.13 profit and you now had a great camera body with a crap lens and a crap filter.  

In mathematics, crap plus crap equals crappier.  The broken dropped lens on display on the counter was supposed to ward off bad spirits and to persuade you to buy the filter.

No one in particular, all the dealers in NYC were doing it. It was a huge mail order rip-off.   So the local camera stores learned how the game was played.   Then they ordered bodies, no lenses,  they had plenty of base lenses from the victims and made a second killing.

If you dropped  a two pound camera on a hard surface that piece of glass will not prevent mount moves, cheap lenses with poor fits, rim damages, a hot of other bad things, and just maybe if that “ Protective filter” was poor glass, ruin every shot you took with slow film. 

📸  DOUBLE DIPPING  —  A cheap price for the camera, the newspaper and magazines were before the internet,  but did you want the strap, lens caps and other accessories ( which came free in the box initially, extra)  It was like buying a car and being charged extra for the tires and then they sold you undercoatings and protective sealants for the paint.  The phony price wars amongst the NY camera dealers.

📸  GREY MARKET PRODUCTS MADE THINGS VERY BLURRY  —  It was very competitive and there were Grey market  ( products brought in from other than factory distributors, in a  sense Black Market stuff ) dealers all over the place.  Even film destined by KODAK to go to “ Slobovia”  got dragged off the docks and sold to US retail stores.  Overseas prices were cheaper and some never made it to” Slobovia”, all part of a scheme…  Band H and Adorama both have their own supply lines and sold greenmarket.

The grey industry much owned by the one of the Hasidic tribes who ran the operation. They were and are devoted and intense people, and sometimes got in your face.  One year, at the show in Vegas with my wife, there must have been a contest to see who sold the most film, for one of the younger ones, one got too close…

📸  When we attended the PMAI shows in Las Vegas decades ago, ( we and 35,000 others) the grey market Hassidim ( an Ultra Orthodox Jewish Sect) literally climbed on you and bugged you to buy grey market Kodak from them.  Then when entering it was like a gauntlet…

I am an American, I swore an oath to my country, I am a Jewish believer,  with a Rebbe in the family and I observe when I can, and work with my connections with the community, regardless of the help needed, and by whom, or what they believe, and I follow a more moderate conviction mixed with science and intellect, live and let live philosophy and believe we are all God’s children.

Thats the way the Reform, and Conservative Jewish believers are,  and do not follow the faith with tough radicalism as the Hassidem do, too radical for me. Every religion in the world has a splinter group that goes too far.  But thats another story… A Brooklyn story…

One young Hasidic gentleman got too very pushy, our name tags said the store name and he got too close, and in my face, almost aggressive to me.  First he stood too close to my wife, rule one, then he put his hand on my shoulder, rule two … his third mistake…  telling me this was a good deal…and we were friends...

I told him, we are not friends, I don’t know you and backoff… he held on a millisecond too long, time for good old close quarters training from the service, he squeezed, I went reactive, blocked shoulder forward,  grabbed his wrist, spun it back and he dropped to his knee.  He left holding his hand. I might have snapped his wrist… Luckily, security was standing ten feet away…and saw the whole thing… He was asked to leave,  just too exuberant for his cause…   

Kodak Cheated  —  KODAK NEVER PLAYED STRAIGHT or EQUAL WITH DEALERS  —  One day in the store the UPS truck pulled up and dropped a carton of film off.  We received our film and chemicals from Kodak as a franchisee and expected to pay the same as everyone else who was on the “KODAK PLAN”.  That was what we had been told was the process, equality for all dealers.

Down the street a K-MART had opened and advertised it’s new Camera and Film Processing department. So I decided to see what they were up to.  Film, namely KodaColor was $2.00 wholesale a roll and retailed at $3.19.  Thats what we paid for it and thats what it was supposed to sell for.   At K-Mart I bought two rolls for four dollars.  Everyday low pricing…  They were selling at my wholesale cost.

Back to the store and that package that came that morning, the driver saw Kodak and thought it was for us.  But it was for the K-Mart Store.   Low and behold the invoice said ten bricks of twenty rolls = 200 total.  But there was twelve bricks in the box.  240 rolls.  Thats how Kodak cheated the smaller  and independent dealers.  Invoice correct, over packaged with additional merchandise.  We told other dealers and Fuji film became very popular in Florida.

Fuji Film Drops In  —  About two weeks later a representative from FUJI came buy. Toms knew him.  We had met at the PMAI and sampled his film and I liked it.  And was compatible with our chemistry.  We then became one of the first Fuji film dealers in Florida and sold a lot of film and the customers liked it too.  Better pricing too.  We told many of our other dealers…

Fuji handles greens well and Florida had a lot of green and great skin tones.  Then we investigated a new chemical company that was producing chemicals for the giant labs and we cut most of Kodak’s chemistry out,  when they agreed to sell in smaller quantities to dealers like us.    

And we sold more processing, better chemistry and the proof of the pudding is Kodak is gone now, many said they got too arrogant and Fuji is very healthy and doing well world wide. And Rochester is gone… some of the land is reclaimed but nothing great.

New York Bait And Switch  —  There was so much bait and switch, and there were twenty dealers to choose from by mail and those camera magazines. It was an experience, I was brought up differently,  I did not care for it and made some new friends.  I met a real gentleman  by the name of  Joseph Ehrenreich from a place on 17th street In the City, with a brand I had not heard ofNippon Koyagaku who was selling optical gear like telescopes, binocs and microscopes, eventually getting into being the US  distributor for Nikon and Nikon Cameras.  I carried Nikon for fifty-seven plus years till I went with SONY.

Another wonderful guy by the name of Marty Forscher, the Dean Of Camera repairs and alterations. You had a Nikon and wanted a certain Minolta lens to work with it?   No problem, see Marty.  Thats what it was like before the internet, it changed all things, some for the good, some for the bad and there is the whole story of the industry as I saw it in the beginning years. 



Change Is Both Good And Bad  —  The entire industry as we knew it has died with the demise of the retail camera store.  We went from selling product, teaching, training, seminars, comforting mess ups, fixing bad work in the lab, passing knowledge on to customers with classes and a learned higher level series improving the people skills and their science of photography, the art of light...

We went to cellphone photography, the popularity… selfies… who doesn’t love one self?  And the ability to show the world.  We became the buy it, use it, abuse it, and throw it out generation.  I simply do not buy high end anymore on some items.  

For the ten thousand dealers, closed doors and for some bankruptcy.  We had many customers and friends, photo trips and seminars, thats all gone now.  

Twenty years ago the average attendance at the PMAi trade only show was 35,000 people from all over the world, and took a week to go through it in Vegas. 

Five days on the floor which took the entire LVCC both levels and no computers or cell phones in those days. Radio shack mini-walkie talkies were the communication.  I still have mine. Doesn’t work but its impressive on the shelf.

Few independent Camera stores without a lab survived the onslaught of the big box, the web and cellphones. Something like less than 450 independent stores are left in the entire country. The pic at the top is from my last convention and roundup…thirty-three trips there.

Trade Shows  —  The Photo Industry Vegas Trade Only shows are gone, replaced by the CES, which is all cellphones, TV’s, toys, computers and gaming in addition to about 50,000 companies selling cell phone covers.  

Photography is now a state of electronics, where at one time it was a country all its own and covers and extra batteries are hot.

Basically it is China on display  —  The majors (Nikon and Canon, SONY and Fuji, Panasonic) knowing there aren’t enough dealers to support the thousands of dollars it cost to do a show went to retail shows, smart move.  

One day of the usual three day show is dealers ( maybe) the next two or three are open to the public.  COVID 19 killed all that too

The retail shows allow the reps get to talk to thousands of end users. To my knowledge the public or retail show at the Javits in NY and one in Anaheim are whats left in addition to trade specific (Wedding Seminar - Kelby Photoshop - and Pro Organizations) which are shrinking in attendance as well.  

The Wedding Market - Cellphones  —  The wedding market is crippled too.  I never took on low end Weddings, left them to the warriors, the cheap 100-300 dollar end of the business is not a means of survival.   If you did fifty-two weddings a year at $200 dollars you didn’t make the poverty level.  Thats a part time job, and if you edit a lot it’s a five dollar an hour job and a lot of liability.

Then you walk in the hall and see disposable cameras on the table, and everyone has a cellphone.  The millennial’s, brought up on smart phones are not traditionalists.  Few aftermarket sales of albums and coffee table books cut into profit.  You give them a decoded disk and they will make their own or not care at all.

The better cellphones have cameras equal to the point and shoot which killed that market.  We sold ten point and shoots to one DSLR.   People spend 1000 dollars for a phone they’ll dump in two years but won’ t buy a decent camera for a lifetime. The camera was inconvenient and the phone glued to their head is their communication lifeline.  Today those cameras excelled over any point and shoot made.  Phone algorithms, Sony Chips, and Tamron Lenses, in Apples do the trick.

 🌇   Breaking News   —  Canon is downsizing and putting dealers on notice  —  Canon USA has updated its authorized dealers list, removing dozens of dealers from its network. According to Canon Price Watch, this change took place on February 13 and initially involved 86 authorized dealers; however, Canon reached out on February 18 to clarify that certain dealers had been removed due to ‘ administrative errors’ and that they had since been added back on to the list.  ( That means a significant order for Canon got them off the sh*t list) 

Sources speaking to the website claim the changes were made as a way to cut Canon USA's operating costs. Online-only dealers and small stores were primarily affected by this change. Canon says that it added back in some dealers, including military exchanges, which were initially removed by mistake.

As of February 18, a total of 71 authorized dealers had been removed by Canon, including destinations like 33 Street Camera, Maui Digital Imaging, Rochester Institute of Technology, Santa Monica Camera, Camera Center of New York, B&C Photo and more. New York and California experienced the largest number of removals.

LIST OF REMOVED DEALERS WE ARE FAMILIAR WITH  —  Johnson Photo Service,  Rochester Institute Of Technology,    KEH Camera Brokers,   Mack Camera Service and many other friends there.  Several on this list no longer exist

Election Work, Sports, Pooling And Retail  —  Time to punt.  After the really sick two election cycles, I am off the list for working with politicians. No more election paid work as a shooter.  Getty and others get the gigs.  No mas, No mas…   It’s a circus, competitive even with credentials.  Don’t think for a second when a critical shot can happen you don’t get bumped, pushed or shoved out of the way. And the security carrying a load of cameras can get dangerous.

SARA PALIN —  Several years back I covered  Sara Pain-land, a VP candidate for a month, on tour in Florida.  Never again, you learn a lot backstage, the things voters don’t get to see.  I have never witnessed a more dysfunctional screwed-up family like this one.   

I thought I was filming the sequel to “ One flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”.  Her tribe was like that TV show the Beverly Hillbillies who found oil on their land.   She found a GOP credit card and blew 150,000 dollars of voter money on her wardrobe. An estimated 50,000 was wasted on other crap for her tribe.  In my final story on her it all gets summed up…

Really sick and just when things went back to normal, T-RUMP came along and the Democratic party called me. It was a mistake to answer the phone.  As someone put it mildly , “ He could suck the air out of the room and then in a massive explosion blow it out his ass.

We have little or no Major Sports coverage anymore as it is all contracted, as it is all Press pools, Getty, Reuters, etc, and  frankly when I covered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during preseason my temperature gauge attached to my shirt registered 115 degrees on the field and at my age now (77)  thats asking for a heart attack and thats not joking. The kids can have it and I might add what it pays.  I did however later on get the heart attack.

Our hockey team is closed environment and pooled, and our baseball team is so screwed up, and more shooters than customers.  And they are fighting for a new stadium, a joke, you win first then ask for a stadium. Now the three teams in Tampa re winning big and we may see some great upgrades after COVID-19.

And what newspapers?  Printed media is a lost art and papers buy from the pools.  I survived because I was able to go out get the story and the pictures instead of a two person crew.  The Good News: Tom Brady brought a serious look at Tampa Bay Sports and convinced the rich, you have to pay for talent, it’s not free.

Where Have All The Camera Stores Gone?  —  Business wise a camera store can be a financial disaster these days.  At one time Pinellas County,  FL  and Hillsboro County, FL  had eleven full line camera stores surrounding Tampa Bay including mine.  Almost one camera store for every gun shop.  

Today there are NO camera stores, but hundreds of gun shops.  Both retail and pawn stores selling guns.  I was in my prime an active wing, skeet, trap, and competitive IPSC three gun combat shooter, but thats not what the bulk of these gun stores are selling today.  War weapons, killing tools… I have been forced to full time carry a defensive weapon. 

At the yearly trek to Vegas, for the PMAI trade show we met with our Nikon Representative, who became the US sales manager.  He told us about “Big Box Stores” and the effect they would create eventually dominating and controlling the US retail market.  For every flagship pro camera level sold, the big box stores sold a hundred newbie or entry level cameras.

HE WAS RIGHT…AND then came Amazon and shopping changed.  Needless to say, what I spent on gasoline, finding a parking spot  a mile from any stores front door and mixed shopping meaning five stops and starts, and that parking on a 95 degree day with a heat index of 105 was no fun.  The gasoline saved is enough to pay for my prime membership.  Heatstroke avoided, thats just age. 
Buying on the web is where the money went.  B&H and Adorama own the industry, a billion dollar one.  Also the market items are not the same stuff made in the USA years ago. 
The last independent retail camera store dealers, are mainly selling Chinese disposable products to maintain profit but those customers are dwindling as the cellphone allows cross shopping and seeing who has the best pricing.  Most eBay stores are shells, just order takers, no warehouses, no facilities, no staff, no overhead.

 Almost any camera released in the last 5 or so years is more-than-good-enough to capture almost any subject, and do it extremely well.  
There was a time when peer pressure and curiosity had everyone out buying their first “real” camera, but almost anyone who wanted to try photography now has, and most of those people won’t feel the need to buy another camera for a very long time (if ever) because they’re not actually interested in photography any more.  But show and tell with a cellphone is the method of communication.
Elevating self-documentation into the main photographic “art form,” social media made proper cameras less necessary for the kinds of photos that most consumers want to take.  As noted photographer Wong puts it, “You don’t need 61MP for your selfie photographs, you don’t need ISO100,000 to shoot that slice of cake, and you certainly don’t need a super-telephoto lens to shoot your cat licking her paws or you dog licking his butt.”
In my view, the vast majority of modern-day photographers are doing what is safe and known instead of breaking new ground. In what is probably the most controversial point of the Wong’s whole video, he says, “I don’t see anything truly thought provoking and revolutionary from the work of today’s photographers.”

Survival Vs Slow Death  —   John Williams - MANUFACTURERS REPRESENTATIVE
“People come and ask me what happened with Showcase, an ATLANTA company who’s been in business for 40 years, and the answer is that the curve between making a little money and losing money has intersected, so now we’re at the point we’re not making but losing,” says Williams. “And a business can’t be sustained very long if you’re losing money, so that’s kind of where we’ve arrived.”

“It’s a very interesting from an economic view-point where you have essentially a city of almost 5 million people and here we are the only photo-video specialty store in the city with a 40 year track record and we found that we are unable to sustain our business in a profitable fashion.” 

“Now, I often think to myself maybe it’s something we’re not doing or something we did wrong and so forth. But we have a lot of experience and I have spent my whole career in the photo business, and that’s about 50 years. I’ve seen from both sides of the desk not only this position but out on the road and I visited hundreds of dealers (as a manufacturer’s rep in the past) and did business with them so it’s a very difficult position.”

The state of Georgia has not done itself a favor. Georgia is not only going to lose the sales tax that was generated on a regular basis out of this location, but also there are other fees and taxes that they collect during the course of the year which is immediately going to drop to zero.”

“So the State is essentially forfeiting in excess of a million dollars, which is a small amount and before you know it is a 100 million and then 500 million and now it is almost approaching ‘real money’.”

“The decision to close the business is extremely difficult for a lot of different reasons most of it is that I’ve never done it before and there are no guidelines as to how to go about it. How do you deal with personnel, all kinds of issues and insurance? It’s kind of unfortunate especially when you have personnel who have been with the company, not perhaps for the entire forty years, but we have a number of employees that have been here over 20 years. And they didn’t stay here for 20 years because they weren’t good at what they did, but they happen to be very good at what they do.

#1: AN “UNEVEN PLAYING FIELD”  —  “The first thing is that we’re all operating in an uneven playing field which has been influenced by the failure of states, in this case Georgia, to require the collection of sales tax from retailers operating outside of state,” Williams says. “Failure to come up with a way of collecting sales tax has put a burden on our company and others in the state that is currently 8%, soon to be almost 9%, so I’m operating at an 8% disadvantage.”

“Now I can tell you that the state is collecting their 8% from me, and that in many cases far exceeds the percentage of profit that I’m making on merchandise. The state makes more (profit than Showcase) on many of my sales, which strikes me as being an unsustainable number.”

#2: INFORMATION BOOM  — “The second issue has to do with the amount of, shall we say, digital information that’s now available,” Williams says. “In the old days customers would sometimes seek information or seek pricing for a product by using one of the several photography magazines that were available, so they thumb to the back, find the product and see what the price was in the back of the books.”

“Sometimes that was reliable and many a times it was not. Well today the consumers do not have to worry about a magazine as they have a computer in their hand in their smart phone that will tell them instantly what the product sells for here and elsewhere so they have an instant comparison shopping. And well, I’m fine with that and we are very competitive with almost everybody else in the whole country.”

“However the consumer, more often than not, now is not coming in to listen to our conversation about the product, the value that we bring to the product and what special offers that we might have. What we’ve seen over the last couple of years is steadily declining store traffic and as the store traffic has declined the sales volume follows that and has been shrinking.”

#3: MANUFACTURER MARKETING —  “The third unsustainable issue is that manufacturers have come up with a marketing strategy that involves rebates, often referred to as instant rebates, when we take them out immediately,” says Williams. 

  • “As an example a $1,000 camera might have a $200 instant rebate so the way it is set up to work is that, I have a choice whether to offer the rebate or not. But I can assure you that the consumer knows there is a rebate and I’m having a gun held to my head and told by the manufacturer you basically have to offer this to your customers.”

  • “Here’s how it works: I sell the $1000 camera to the customer and then I deduct the $200 instantly, so $200 of my money is gone. In order for me to collect the rebate from the manufacturer I have to file various documents on a timely basis and hope that they honor and fill those requests in a timely basis. That could be weeks to months so in a fact they’re holding my money for weeks to months. Now when they reimburse me for the $200 instant rebate they do not reimburse me 100%. The way it works is they reimburse me 80%, so it’s an 80-20 arrangement where the manufacturer reimburses me $160 and I’ve essentially given up $40 of my money on the sale.”

  • “So as I said before, this is just another unsustainable proposition that’s going on in the industry and dealers are putting out tens of thousands of dollars and in some cases hundreds of thousands to support the manufacturers’ rebate programs, which are only being reimbursed to the tune of 80%. Once again, it’s an unsustainable model.”

  • “Unfortunately, the industry has become driven by-product, so that the manufacturer regularly introduces new products. Of course we see the pick up in sales but if they’re not introduced by the manufacturer then sales tend to tail off or decline at the end of the life cycle and that’s unfortunate.”

  • “Just as unfortunate is the beginning of the life cycle where the manufacturer introduces a product and is unable to supply the product in sufficient quantities to fill the existing demand. So not only are you unable to fulfill a sale but in many cases it basically stops the sale of other merchandise. The consumer decides I want that particular model so you have kind of a Catch-22 of not selling one cause you can’t get it and you can’t sell the one you have because it’s not the current model.”

The Theology Of Change

  • Film was eaten by digital image making, and that was eaten by digital image creating, manipulating and sharing devices. But like film, digital image making devices are not “ one”.  It’s just not what the “ masses” are looking, seeking. They have moved from popular, the realm of enthusiast only to sales driven by people who just want to capture a moment, be it with friends or in a place, or a selfie, and phones do that better than any other type of digital camera.

  • And their instant and, more importantly, integrated connection to social media and the ability to tweak and share closes the loop. The bump was when they were the only way to capture reasonable digital images, but cameras in phones have more than made up for the quality gap for most consumer uses. 

  • What we have left is our photo enthusiasts and pros that perceive, or actually need a level of quality or unique equipment (high quality zooms, tilt-shift, etc) that phones do not afford and even that gap is closing for many purposes. The industry is shrinking, and will continue to do so as the quality of images from phones, and the capability gap shrinks.

  • I don't think they take "better" photos either, and probably never will, but their audience doesn't care. Any bounce in quality is just bonus points for that audience. It is the few people who do care about that quality gap that are keeping the camera industry alive, barely and thats changing.

  • Smartphones don't likely take better photos than most of us, engaging our photographically-trained brains with modern "real camera" gear. But in the hands of a true beginner, the smartphone actually does take better photos, because the smartphone IS pretty much taking the photos.  Not the photographer. The smartphone offers an AI version of a photographer’s brain to anyone who picks it up.

  • Take the iPhone. When you are running the camera app, it's shooting and storing photos in a circular RAM buffer, a bit like Olympus ProCapture but alternating between correct and under exposures. When you press the shutter icon, you're telling the phone to stop. An AI then picks the best two photo set and proceeded to do an HDR merge. 

  • Unless the light is low, then it uses all eight photos. If the light is really low, the button press takes one long photo to help the AI that figures out pleasing — not necessarily accurate -- color for the low light photo.  Additional AI and a few algorithms and computational engines do your raw to JPEG or HEIF conversion. In short, other than basic composition, the phone does it all.

  • All that software is running, not on a camera processor, but a smartphone SOC faster than your PC was five years ago, with a neural /AI processor possibly faster than your PC’s tensor processing speed today.

  • This is part of the problem. Back in film days, you had to master your starter camera to get better photos, technically, not just artistically. That learning translated to that first good camera, first system camera, etc. But a novice with an iPhone might learn aspects of composition, but they will not learn anything else useful for a jump to some much better (in our hands as photographers) camera. 

  • In fact, that shiny new system camera will likely set them back in terms of the technical quality of photos they capture with that new system versus the phone.  This is no surprise. Apple reportedly has 800 people working on their camera tech. Samsung and others are probably in the same league if not more (particularly Samsung, given they design sensors, they don’t just buy from Sony).

  • As they raise the cost of equipment to make up for the loss in sales, in the long term buyers may decide to add a few more years to their next purchase. It’s hard to tell what the future will be but sales could drop even faster when most people have made the switch to ML.

  • So many camera companies gone with the wind like Rolleiflex,  Minox,  Contax-Yashica,  Minolta,  Konica,  Mamiya,  and Bronica,  was to be expected given the consumer market being so fickle. The rapid rise of the Japanese Yen changed everything after 1990. The future will be a test of resolve for the Japanese companies as to how long they can maintain profits. There is a global market for consumer cameras but not if the prices keep going-up; like now.

  • With that said the next question: if the Chinese decide to step-in to save an ailing Japanese camera company; as with HASSELBLAD of Sweden which is now HASSEL REALLY BAD of China.   Like US hedge fund saving LEICA a company that has nine lives? Or are they just Zombies?

  • Nikon itself has said that its imaging future is in selling pro and enthusiast-level bodies at far higher average prices than the point-and-shoot and entry-level DSLRs that padded their profits in the aughts and early 2010s. They can sell far fewer $2500 MILC bodies with much higher margins than a $500 DSLR kit, and then sell that MILC buyer another $5K in lenses. That’s the way forward, because the bottom end of the market is gone, happily shooting away with their iPhones.

  • Retrospectively, the smartphone can be seen as combining two killer devices — the PC and camera. It's what the general public wanted and, perhaps more than ever, the ability to share photos is possibly the most important feature. As a result phone cameras, and their software, see heavy investment and rapid iteration. Progress is steep. With the likes of multi-billion dollar IT conglomerates such as Apple and Google snapping at their heels, camera manufacturers need to… stay on their toes!

  • With that in mind, the twenties are perhaps ushering in a second phase of the digital demolition of the camera market. This is something Canon forewarned, anticipating a reduction in the ILC market from what has been a consistent 12M units per year to around 6M.
    The gradual switch of consumers over to mirrorless will add further complications for lens manufacturers. If the Nighties saw a failure to transition to digital, then the twenties may well be about the inability to pivot to computational processing platforms. There are two challenges facing manufacturers.

  • Firstly, they are unable to offer significantly better images out of camera and, as a result, can't leverage the lens-sensor benefits to the end user as a matter of course. There needs to be better integration with smartphones — of which there is some progress — and greater investment in in-camera image processing.

  • Secondly, there's no getting away from the size and convenience of smartphones. A dual-prong approach that also invests in the smartphone sector is needed. You see Leica (with Huawei) and Sony doing this. Samsung saw no benefit in staying in the camera sector, instead focusing it's imaging energies on smartphones. Where are Nikon and Canon in this space? Their silence is deafening and moves being made.  Nikon is now Thailand and Sony is going total mirrorless with no more A-mounts.


Ansel Adams Said It Years Ago In A Letter To Nick Dean ( Photographer)

Ansel Adams
131 24th Avenue, San Francisco 21, California
Telephone Skyline 1 1282
 May 24
th 1958

Dear Nick 
This is just a confidential blow-off! I told WOLBARST! I would be pleased to help in any way I could re: the engravings of the Polaroid pix for the proposed book. Wolbarst (hereafter named as "W") sent some pictures out to me, including 2 8x10s from the 53 negatives. He assures me in his letter that in the book these are to be properly described as prints from the negatives; "no fooling the public". This is OK. 

However, the nature of the pictures (if this is a sample) is disturbing indeed; there is no dignity or devotion to the photographic potentials. As this is a confidential production there is little we can do to inform the Boss - nothing, in fact! But we should be prepared to really issue a manifesto in the future! W seems sincere enough in the limited way of all photo-mag people, but the enormity of the baloney has just fully revealed itself to my over-patient receptors. 

I am very must [sic] disturbed over several aspects of the whole business. W says he has been having terrible times with the packs - bum pods, etc, etc, and I presume that the packs distributed by C. to the professionals may also exhibit such defects. Pirkle Jones has had pretty good luck.

But there is a dichotomy involved!!! The Boss wanted me - and then - as I understand from your recent letter and phone - both of us — to make a subtle "professional" presentation to the professionals to avoid just the kind of thing that can happen with the Sales division approach.

I think I shall have to let the boss know how I feel, and I want to be relieved of all contact with Sales or any promotional activities. It is must [sic] better that I attend to my knitting and report findings related to actual use of the products. All I can possibly achieve is hard feelings on their part and exhaustion on my part. 

My private impression is that American industry is a Humpty-Dumpty on a VERY precarious wall - and you and I should be thinking of what we are to be doing after the Real Crash takes place! Get me straight - I don’t think the attitudes of the P. sales people will, in themselves, cause a crash!  But they reflect the attitude of the whole damn business and industrial complex! 

I understand the Brussels Fair USA exhibit is a real FLOPAROO. Another symbol of our stupidities and the incredible [sic] stupidity of the present Administration!!! VOTE DEMOCRATIC for Gawd's sake!!!!!!!!!!!
It will be swell to see you! Best to you and all ---


P.S. I would like to go on record again with the statement that the use of prints from negatives in the ads is downright CROOKED and the stupes don't seem to realize that people DO suspect there is some "Mon.-Biz." involved; no print can be that sharp!

Mar 26, 2021, 6:23 AM