I realized today that my film scanner (a Nikon Coolscan 9000, for those of you who care) was discontinued a few months ago. It looks like Nikon is getting out of the scanning business. A quick check of eBay confirms that my machine is now worth roughly twice what I paid for it a few years ago. While many manufacturers have decided that the film business isn’t viable, it also refuses to die. Kodak made big waves in the last year with the surprise introduction of two new pro-grade color films for still photography. Apparently they’re doing quite well.

The resale value of digital cameras is not that different from automobiles. You pay a massive premium to be the first owner, after which it loses value rapidly. If you wait more than 10 or 15 years, you’ll probably have to pay someone to take it off your hands.

Film equipment is different. I bought my Leica used in 2006, and due to stable supply its resale prices have more or less tracked inflation. Assuming I sold it today (not happening!), that would amount to a free 5-year rental. Not bad. Owning well-loved but discontinued equipment like the Coolscan is starting to look like an investment.