The End of an Era: The Dying Days of Film

Film sales are down to 20 million rolls from nearly a billion in 2000.

Via the AP:  How much longer can photographic film hold on?

At the turn of the 21st century, American shutterbugs were buying close to a billion rolls of film per year. This year, they might buy a mere 20 million, plus 31 million single-use cameras — the beach-resort staple vacationers turn to in a pinch, according to the Photo Marketing Association.


Scott’s Photo in Rochester finally switched this year stopped daily processing of color print film because fewer than one in 20 customers are dropping off film. A decade ago, “we could process 300 rolls on a good day, and now we see maybe 8 or 10 rolls on the few days we actually process,” owner Scott Sims says.

The hold outs tend to be older, and poorer individuals (i.e., who are less likely to be computer enabled/technologically savvy or who simply have a fondness for film) and certain  high-end fine-art photographer and the like.

As an amateur photographer myself who used to use film (lo, these many years ago), I can’t imagine going back to film (although I have a nice Minolta 300x gathering dust if someone wants to pick up the dying art of film photography…).

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. JKB says:

    It is interesting seeing the reverse commoditization of these old technologies. Developing film won’t go away entirely but what used to cost a few bucks will rise in price till only the high end fashion photographers use it. That is if someone takes up the capabilities to make film and the associated chemicals. The last new typewriter has been made, how long will typewriter ribbons be available?

  2. Rick DeMent says:

    I don’t know … they still make carbon rods for carbon arc search lights that haven’t. been made since WWII

  3. DC Loser says:

    Film will become a niche product, but won’t totally go away. There’s just something about using film that will keep attracting people who want to go against the grain. They said the same thing about vinyl and turntables 20 years ago.

  4. They said the same thing about vinyl and turntables 20 years ago.

    Yes, I thought about that comparison when I was reading the piece.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    It won’t disappear but it will come close. The same thing will happen to the book: as DC says, it will be a niche product.

  6. John Weiss says:

    Old tech never goes away. There are still Atari fans!

    Funny thing: last year my 23-year-old son and I were perusing a garage sale. He bought a typewriter; he’d never seen one before! He took it back to the house he and his buddies shared, and the typewriter was the star of the show for about a week!