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News & Insight

Nikon Bans Film Images From Its Annual Photo Contest Again

By Kishore Sawh on July 7th 2014


Nikon has been a photographic staple for almost a century now, and for almost half of that has hosted the Nikon Photo Contest International. It was meant to provide a chance for photographers the world over to “enrich image-making culture for professionals and amateurs alike.” What began in 1969 now continues under a slightly different moniker as it’s now just the ‘Nikon Photo Contest.”

[REWIND: Shortage of V3 Cameras Prompts Apology from Nikon Japan]

That’s not the only change. As noted in the quote from the photo contest’s site, the structure has indeed changed; it now incorporates video, and probably most surprisingly to many, the contest no longer permits the entry of film images. There have been many who’ve pleaded with the organizers to change this decision, but it seems to no avail. The official word is:

Image data files created with any digital devices including smartphones, digital still cameras (including medium and large-format cameras). Images that have been retouched using software or by other means will be accepted. Retouched photography using camera app or photo editing app is also accepted. Both color and monochrome images will be accepted. We will not be accepting any entries taken on film.Scans of photographs taken by film cameras are not eligible.



Nikon has, it seems, to have forsaken film. They will allow video, and images retouched by software, but not film. I find that somewhat incredible. While they fully, and clearly state their recognition of the now almost entirely digital landscape of the business, it does seem strange that they would enforce such a restriction for the competition. After all, Nikon sort of made its name with film, regardless of what Millennials think.

The theme of the contest this year is ‘home,’ and there are, of course, prizes to be won, including rather nice sums of money between $3,000 USD and approx $10,000USD. If you’d like a full breakdown of the rules and stipulations, please find them all spelled out here – and best of luck for those involved!

Source(s): The Phoblographer, Nikon Photo Contest

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Branko Sreckovic

    ‘Again, folks, these contests are marketing tools; marketing sense is the only sense they have to make.’ by Stan Rogers

    Sad alas true statement. Yet I disagree with its consequence. ‘We, the people…’ Not that but: ‘We, the buyers have power…’
    One should see National Geography serial of NG photographers, especially “The last roll of Kodachrome”. Take a look at those pics and everything would ‘click’ clear. Camera was F6. The same result could be achieved with older entirely manual operated equipment e.g. lens from 68′? Try to match results with D810 with D70? It is only 10 years between them. Or to match results obtained from bulky direct view cameras with present digital cameras? If possible what is the price difference?
    Nikon holds price category but they lower the quality/price category for one or two place comparing roughly with film cameras. Remember focus issues with D7000 or oil spots on D600?
    I was dedicated Nikonian since 1989…

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  2. Ipek Amdahl

    It really is a shame. Film is a beautiful format, and I’m so happy that even though digital photography has taken over the world, film still lives. Nikon specifically not allowing film is very odd.

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  3. Emilio Savov

    They allow images created with cell phones but not film images ? How stupid of Nikon to do that ? There is no “apple to oranges” to me .. a great image, is a great image, it doesn’t matter if it’s done on film or digital…. unless the judges judge by the fact of sharpness, to a level where it starts to scratch your eyes and make you turn away. Now a days I’m going back to film shooting more and more .. it’s so pretty .. film has a soul.. I know it’s old, hard to do it and time consuming, but .. it is really where the photography started from and I love when you’re able to go back to the roots. But when such a big name like Nikon refuses to award an image just because it was done on film … that makes me sad .. and makes Nikon to look from bad to worse in my eyes … and I’m a Nikon shooter … :( ..

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  4. Stan Rogers

    Um, just throwing something out there, don’t mind me and all that, but isn’t it the case that, whatever else Nikon may be up to, they have at least a passing interest in selling new cameras? Forgive me if my thought patterns seem to be out of line here (I may have had too much coffee, or be under the influence of a temporary vitamin deficiency of some sort), but near as I can reckon, beyond edge cases like flash sync speeds and the like, there’s not a whole lot to choose between pictures shot on the same film stock on an F6 and those shot on a good ol’ Nikkormat or even a Spotmatic. Or between something shot on a 1970’s-era 645 camera and one shot on a brand-spanking-new Hassy H5 or PhaseOne with a 645 film back (which is available for both) for that matter. The same can’t be said for picking between a D70 and a D7100 or a D1 and a D4; the amount of skill and artistry required to overcome the deficit of having a “digital antique” is enormous, and while not having the absolute latest and greatest shouldn’t be a problem, having something that’s more than a couple of generations old will come with a distinct handicap. Yes, it’s true that at a certain level, the equipment doesn’t matter, but at a different level, it really, really does (the camera won’t make you take good pictures, but it will make the good pictures you do take better). You don’t need to look at the EXIF data to tell the difference between the best that can be done with the small-dynamic-range, relatively-low-resolution, heavily antialiased older cameras and the best that can be done with the newer versions. And yes, that biases things, if only slightly, in favour of people who’ve put money in their pockets (or Canon’s, Pentax’s, Sony’s, etc.) recently. If you want a justification, look no further. (The window for this sort of justification is probably pretty small; I don’t expect to see the sort of radical improvements in IQ going forward that we’ve seen since the early aughts.)

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    • Stan Rogers

      It’s probably worth adding that Nikon doesn’t make the FM10 (it’s not even based on a Nikon design, they just license the name to Cosina and provide access to their distribution channel), and that they’ve very likely already produced the last F6 they’ll ever sell. (At $2500-ish, it’s not exactly flying off the shelves, and it’s been in on the market for 10 years. If demand were to pick up enough to require more than parts assembly, it would be an *extremely* low-margin item for them unless the price went up to Leica territory or demand went to a sustainable tens of thousands of copies per month, and would probably a money-loser otherwise.) Again, folks, these contests are marketing tools; marketing sense is the only sense they have to make.

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  5. Kate Hailey

    indeed, a shame. I still have my F5 and shoot with it, along with a variety of other film cameras. It definitely doesn’t make sense.

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  6. Tyler Friesen

    Seems ridiculous to me.

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  7. Ryan Filgas

    Maybe it’s for judging reasons. Film has an overall different aesthetic from the beginning, so there might be some “apples to oranges” debate going on.

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    • Greg Faulkner

      Dunno if thats relevant dude, judging images is so subjective anyway I don’t see how something shot on film should be treated differently. What about VSCO or Replichrome etc etc. Should they banned as well? Nikon should explain the thought process or they come off as having a hidden agenda

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    • Ryan Filgas

      I wasn’t saying that it made sense, just that it might be their reasoning. You’re right though, they should definitely explain it so we don’t sit here speculating.

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  8. Roland Herrera

    What I’m not understanding is why they’d ban scans* of film. If it’s been converted to digital mediums then it shouldn’t matter whether it’s film or not. I can see why they don’t feel like sorting through actual prints, but I guess I didn’t get the memo that digital from the ground up is either vastly superior or inferior to scanned digital.

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  9. Ralph Hightower

    Nikon’s website still promotes two film cameras FM10 and F6, so they are ‘dissing probably what is a small segment of those that buy Nikon camera.
    I own three Canon film cameras, A-1, F-1N, and T-50 (which will become a shelf queen) and a Canon DSLR, EOS 5D Mk III. I add EXIF info to the JPEGs for the film photos, so the model number may be a dead giveaway as to whether it was film or not.
    But with the various film presets for Lightroom and Photoshop, will Nikon arbitrarily toss out digital photos that have a “film look”?

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  10. Greg Faulkner

    Seems a bit short sighted to me, what purpose does it serve

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    • Kishore Sawh

      That’s my question Greg, for what reason? This is the second year now they’ve operated this way with no proper explanation of their decision. That drops credibility in my book.

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    • Greg Faulkner

      Exactly. There should at least be an explanation of the reasoning behind it. Or does a scanned negative shot on an F90x from 2 decades ago look better than a D800 file? I dunno

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    • Greg Faulkner

      Would Nikon have egg on its face if all the best images were shot on old film cameras?

      I would be kinda funny if for all the banging on about mega pixel this and high ISO that and all the new tech the camera companies constantly bombard us with a film camera shot the winning image.

      By banning film scans with no explanation it looks like they have something to hide

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