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Digital Vs. Film

TWICE:Film camera sales leveled off at around 15 million to 17 million units a year from 1976 to the birth of digital photography. When digital camera sales slow, will they level off higher or lower than film’s benchmark?

Hoffman: I think digital cameras allow you to really take the experience down to almost every age within a household. I have a 2 year-old who, the first thing she wants to do is see the image once you take the picture. I don’t think we would have given her a [film] camera and say go crazy, take pictures, do whatever you want to do, let’s get your point of view. So yes, I think we are going to see a natural leveling off. But I think you are going to get households with more cameras in the home.

Carr: My opinion is a little bit different. I think that the digital point-and-shoot will have its place in a certain market segment, but in terms of growth, it’s going to be in imaging devices. Just about everything is going to be able to take pictures, and the camera phone is just the beginning. Your PDAs can take pictures. You will have imaging chips imbedded in just about everything, so getting the everyday shot may not necessarily need a traditional digital camera.

Lee: What’s the baseline? What’s the bottom? I think that it’s going to be different than film because of the lifecycles. A lifecycle of a film SLR camera was maybe five, seven, 10 years sometimes. I mean, we had one model that sold for 20 years. In the digital world it’s between six months and 18 months. So just from that I think that the digital market will be very different than the film market was.

Lundeen: I agree, and I think in the near term the digital camera, because it’s dedicated to capturing a great image, will maintain enough of a distance in its image quality from the image capture devices Nancy’s talking about that it should continue to be a very healthy market.

Lee: And the benefit of what Nancy’s talking about is that people will be more aware of our industry and that will benefit, I think, most of us.