This Nikon magazine ad came out in the 1980’s. My friend Joe and I wanted our Nikons to look just like that. But we were in high school and didn’t get very many assignments to shoot in The Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma (where our hero, the owner of the F3, was apparently off to–after he finishes the generously poured scotch). So we took matters into our own hands. We bashed our precious Nikons on rocks. Sometimes, against each other. They looked a lot cooler that way. Joe even sanded down the black paint on the finder of his F3 to show off the brass underneath. What can I say. We were kids.
That’s what sold well in those days–durability. There wasn’t really that much a camera could do back then, from a marketing perspective, other than be solid and reliable. Flash forward to today and we have the Olympus OMD-EM1. Durability is for sale again! This camera looks pretty tough. But there a lot of people who still use an F3 to shoot film. Will people still be using the OMD-EM1 30 years from now? Not knocking the Olympus–quite the reverse. It’s too bad that such a well-made machine will essentially be thrown away in a few years. But that’s the fate of all digital cameras, just like computers.
On the bright side, digital cameras, at least mirrorless ones, have extended the life of a lot of old lenses. I recently bought a Nikkor 200mm f/4 lens for my Sony Nex7. It’s compact, built to last forever, and sharp even wide open. I paid, unbelievably, only $70 for it. The last circular polarizing filter I bought cost more than that!
It’s in excellent shape, especially considering it’s at least 30 years old. There’s hardly a mark on it. This time, I plan to keep it that way.