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fotolebrocq

Future of Film

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Apologies in advance if this is a recurring theme. I want to go back to film and am thinking of either an MP or an M7 to go with my M9. I used to do all my own D&P and enlarging in the seventies but I have been reluctant to spend more money on a camera now if film is going to disappear. What is the collective opinion?

 

Cheers, Tony

 

Fotolebrocq

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Buy the camera.

Enjoy it.

Film is here for a very long time to come. You may not have the massive array of different emulsions we did in the early 90s, but you will have film to load in your M6 for a very, very long time to come.

 

(notice the plug for the M6 over the M7

)

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There is no serious reason to bother. The product portfolio is streamlined from time to time. Even if Kodak and Fujifilm woud disappear there are some small companies out there that produce nice emulsions.

 

But there are also new films on the market. The quality of films you get has never been better then nowadays.

 

Regards

Steve

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Kodak recently introduced a new Super-8 motion picture film in May 2010! I faintly remember my dad's Super-8 camera, 30 years ago.

 

Since it's obviously economically worthwhile to keep even such relics from the past alive in today's competitive environment, my bet is that we might not even live to see the day when photographic film finally goes extinct.

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If it makes you feel any better I recently dumped all of my Leica digital gear (two M9s, and a few lenses I only used to fit specific needs) and committed to an all-film workflow for nearly all of my projects and assignments.

 

I've held on to my Nikon digital gear for news/deadline work, but that's a small portion of what I do these days.

 

I'm shooting with Mamiya 7IIs for most things, with some Pentax 67 thrown in for special applications (longer lens, smaller DOF with fast lenses, closeups). I love the look of the large negs (portra 160NC and 400NC), especially the subtle color, texture and highlight rendering of film. I also love the workflow of shooting and editing film then scanning only the best work.

 

And I love the fact that my entire kit--and it's extensive since I need backups and special-purpose lenses for my pro work--cost less than one M9 by a good margin.

 

Perhaps the look can be approximated with digital, but why bother trying to make digital look like film when you can shoot the real thing!

 

I say go for it. And I second the recommendation for an M6. I have two and I'll never let them go, even though I'm not really shooting 35mm anymore. They're wonderful cameras and will last a lifetime (probably a few lifetimes).

 

If you are shooting with the M9 an M6 would make a wonderful backup. It will give you a different look when you want it, an option for shooting in harsh conditions when you don't want to put your M9 at risk, and it may just make you slow down and think about your photos in a different way.

 

Film will be around until people stop buying it...

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Noah - point taken. Where I am at the moment, the M9 suits me and my work. But I have an M6 sitting in a box at home which will get used once I can get my home darkroom sorted out again, and will only be prised from my cold dead hands when the time comes to pass it on to the next generation. I fear that no digital camera will ever get this treatment...

 

One follow up - and I know this is perhaps better in the post processing section - but Mods - please indulge me. Noah - what scanner are you using? I've held on to my Nikon LS 4000 - which still does a good job and now that I've persuaded it to run under 64 bit Windows 7

- but am not sure that I want to make the investment in Imacon...

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I usually compare Film with analog vinyl records.

When CDs came along, records were supposed to become extinct (digital recording was "sooooo much better", remember?); However Vinyl managed to carve a niche in the high-end market, thus guaranteeing itself a future.

It is my firm belief that every audiophile worth its salt today should own a decent turntable, as well as every serious photographer should own a decent film camera...

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Apologies in advance if this is a recurring theme. I want to go back to film and am thinking of either an MP or an M7 to go with my M9. I used to do all my own D&P and enlarging in the seventies but I have been reluctant to spend more money on a camera now if film is going to disappear. What is the collective opinion?

Cheers, Tony

Fotolebrocq

 

I am using both film and digital. I do not see them as substitutes but as complements. I am confident film has a future, particularly if I restart developing my own. I continue to "invest" in film cameras and it is a good time to experiment with kit I could not afford a few years ago.

 

I am sure you will not regret adding a film M camera to sit alongside your M9.

 

Chris

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Second trip for my M9 for focussing issues. If its not corrected properly this time, I will be off-loading all of my digital Ms (M9+M8) in addition to one M7. I will keep the other M7 with 35 Cron Asph when I want the atmosphere derived from the grain in 35mm B&W film. Otherwise, I will shoot my Mamiya 7II with 43mm and 65mm lenses. If I end up in an all film workflow, I'll sell my Coolscan 9000 and pick up an Imacon X1. With the sale of the M9, M8, M7 and five Leica lenses, I'll still have cash left over. Nice thing about the Imacon is that it also handles 4x5 very nicely, with some limitation on scan resolution (2040 ppi).

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For what it is worth.

Durst-Pro-USA states 2009 was their best year since 1994.

In terms of increasing sales of enlargers to fine-art photograhers, schools, universities and photo academies.

 

Even if film photography becomes or stayes a niche, film and chemicals will always be available. Webshops make all niche-products easily available.

Even if you have to buy it in Russia, there will always be a market for film.

 

So i would buy with confidence!

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Noah - point taken. Where I am at the moment, the M9 suits me and my work. But I have an M6 sitting in a box at home which will get used once I can get my home darkroom sorted out again, and will only be prised from my cold dead hands when the time comes to pass it on to the next generation. I fear that no digital camera will ever get this treatment...

 

One follow up - and I know this is perhaps better in the post processing section - but Mods - please indulge me. Noah - what scanner are you using? I've held on to my Nikon LS 4000 - which still does a good job and now that I've persuaded it to run under 64 bit Windows 7

- but am not sure that I want to make the investment in Imacon...

 

Chris--I'm not suggesting that others follow my lead and dump their digital gear, I just shared my story to demonstrate that I'm (fairly) confident that film will be around for quite a while...

 

For now I'm using an LS 9000 with viewscan (on a mac). I'm mostly happy with the setup, though film flatness is an issue with 120 and I'm still working on a solution. I think the nikons are a great value and probably it's not worth stepping up to an imacon or drum scanner unless you're doing huge prints from 35mm.

 

I don't think I could ever go back to 35mm-format digital. My switch to film actually had more to do with wanting to go to a larger format for more detail and a different working style.

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I usually compare Film with analog vinyl records.

When CDs came along, records were supposed to become extinct (digital recording was "sooooo much better", remember?); However Vinyl managed to carve a niche in the high-end market, thus guaranteeing itself a future.

It is my firm belief that every audiophile worth its salt today should own a decent turntable, as well as every serious photographer should own a decent film camera...

 

This ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

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Chris--I'm not suggesting that others follow my lead and dump their digital gear, I just shared my story to demonstrate that I'm (fairly) confident that film will be around for quite a while...

 

For now I'm using an LS 9000 with viewscan (on a mac). I'm mostly happy with the setup, though film flatness is an issue with 120 and I'm still working on a solution. I think the nikons are a great value and probably it's not worth stepping up to an imacon or drum scanner unless you're doing huge prints from 35mm.

 

I don't think I could ever go back to 35mm-format digital. My switch to film actually had more to do with wanting to go to a larger format for more detail and a different working style.

 

Noah - thanks for the comment. Looking at what you're doing with current projects, I can see why the shift away from 35mm makes sense (though you're a loss to 35mm reportage

).

 

Best of luck with your work - I'll continue to follow what you do with great interest.

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Full frame cameras have advanced in various ways since the 11 megapixel 1Ds in 2003. I don't think anything about film cameras, film technology, film processing, and scanning has improved significantly in those 7 years. Over the next 7 years, digital sensors, digital cameras, firmware, and software will continue to improve while film, film cameras, and scanners will not improve much, if at all. (For instance, the top shutter speed on an M7 is 1/1000 and is 1/4000 on an M9.)

 

So when it comes to versatility, capability, and overall quality, film will be functionally obsolete in a few more years (it is already for many)... whether some people will prefer using it and the look of it, is another matter.

Edited by AlanG

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What rubbish.

 

Film will never be obsolete. It might not suit the way that you work, Alan, but it will not be obsolete. An M3 or M2 isn't obsolete. It still works exactly as it was designed to. Film still works exactly as it was designed to. Enlargers still work exactly as they were designed to.

 

See where I am going with this?

 

Your perception of quality might be completely different from mine.

 

Just because something different has been invented, doesn't mean that what has gone before is obsolete. A pony and trap isn't obsolete in certain circumstances.

 

Obsolescence is a very tricky subject, IMHO. YMMV.

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I agree with the most probable advancement in digital tech over the next 7 years - heck, I'd be surprised if it's anything like it is now - including software, etc., etc.

 

But film and it's tech will be relatively stable (if we can assume it will still be around in some form) at that time. So actually film has been more stable from a use standpoint - which is a good reason to stay with it from an expectation point and investment.

 

So doesn't that make digital from 7 years ago functionally more obsolete and film? It's all relative about now, but it's not just the look or user preference that keeps many still shooting film - many variables and a lack of film-like maturity of product from digital are some other reasons. The old, 'how many high end digital contraptions from 7 years ago will/are still be(ing) used today' - just as we might be saying 7 years from now about today's whizz-bang-special-mega-monsters? Film and the cameras still have the staying power.

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Today's digital cameras will be obsolete in 7 years time, but today's (or even 1954's) film cameras won't.

 

That's what is hard for digital aficionados to contemplate.

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