Every so often film photography becomes fashionable. It has happened before since it was replaced as the primary photography technology, and it is having yet another resurgence now. This time, it is the younger generation – those in their teens and 20s specifically, many of whom wouldn't have grown up with film but have seen it all over their social feeds.
Yoshiteru Hanabusa, the Japanese camera store owner of Komehyo, discussed the increase in film popularity during a radio interview, stating that he has seen an increase of 50% in film camera sales over the past year. He has seen an increase in compact cameras such as Contax, Ricoh, and Minolta and interchangeable lens cameras such as Leica, Nikon, and Olympus. He stated that these brands have been the most popular and are often considered the best film cameras available.
When asked about the customers, Hanabusa stated that although there are certainly older film camera enthusiasts, younger people in their teens and 20s are the main purchasers. Many of these customers are using film after being influenced by social media and the many great film photographers sharing their work. This is evident as Hanabusa said that the development of film images has changed. Instead of waiting to have negatives developed and then printed, people are now only after the digital scans so that they can be shared on social media as quickly as possible.
The store owner expresses his concern for the rising film prices, saying that it is a big problem that is causing a bottleneck in the industry. The demand for film has been so high that the companies who manufacture the film are struggling to get the raw materials for its production, leading to companies such as Fujifilm halting work in Japan for a limited time. This pushes film prices higher, an issue we are seeing more and more.
Many aspects of film photography can be attractive to new photographers, one being the analog nature of making and developing. Some say film photography provides a stronger sense of creation, making an image instead of taking an image.
There is no question that with the advances in camera technology, creating a sharper, cleaner photograph is easier but this can be too clean and sharp for some. Film photography has a very popular aesthetic because of its imperfections and character. Flaws such as grain, light leaks, and scratches have become sought after, so much so that you can purchase digital replications. There is a reason that Fujifilm's film simulations are so popular!