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Is Film Dead?

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There is something great to all those who wait

Like Guinness film will always be here

The M8 is the best replacement for 'film' and with Alien Skin film plug ins it's hard to get out the film M6

But it will not beat a roll of BW contacts, the first view of those memories

will last forever

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Film may not be dead, but it's certainly comatose. Ask Kodak. They tried to ride their film cash cow until it was almost too late, believing that film would always be in demand. Now they're going like mad to catch up in the digital world. Let's face it, we've reached the point where with 21 megapixel 35mm sensors and medium format digital backs, nothing less than about an 8 x 10 view can equal digital. Even then, unless you're in a studio where you can precisely match the lights to the film, digital can beat color film hands down. I guess in a way it's sad, but it's the way the world works. Wet plates are gone too, along with flash powder.

Wet Plates are alive and well in the fine art and alternate process photography world.

 

And Flash Powder is still being used.

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In 2002 I shot something like 250-300 rolls of film, mainly with an M6. I bought an M8 at the beginning of last year and shot no film whatsoever in 2007. I could never have imagined that happening before I bought the M8.

 

Film isn't dead, but it's quickly becoming a non-mainstream product.

 

I never bought into the 'waiting is best' theory. After I'd shot a roll of film I always wanted to see what was on it.

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I know that I can't afford a P45+ for my landscape work

 

Woody Spedden

 

I just bought a Phase One P20 back for my H'blad V for £3,000. ($ 6,000) 4,000 exposures on it, must be what ? 3 years old. You'll get that + back for the same in 3yrs time. The next generation of MFDB is coming, the pace never slows in digital.

It's the D3 argument. The files (P20) blow away the M8 but I use them both in totally different shooting conditions. I could add the D3 and cover another niche but couldn't get that under the wife,s radar.

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What's the situation in your area for film processing? Around here, we are down to one pro lab for E6, and that one keeps reducing the number of film runs. Most camera stores still process color neg, but not many will do b&w. I'm glad I haven't broken down my darkroom in the basement.

 

Brent

 

We are down to one good one here in Fort Collins and there are several still in Denver. Our lab here has reinvented itself by becoming a printing specialist for digital files using large Epson printers. This, in addition to the lab work, has allowed them to remain profitable. They tell me they will remain in the lab business for an extended time but of course it is hard to tell. They are not cheap, but at least they are here.

 

Woody

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If you use film you will know film is not dead. If you observe other camera users you will know film is not dead.

 

If your own experience and that of your eyes is not enough, then arguments such as film's archival properties, its value in legal terms as substantial evidence largely beyond manipulation, its economic properties (for now) arguably cheaper than maintaining and upgrading a digital camera + computer + hard drive backup arrangement may suggest that film will be available for longer than any photographer currently alive.

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I have several boxes of film in cryogenic storage and will revive it as needed, which is not too often.

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In my heart I believe that the days of film are numbered. I just don't know how big the number is.,

The choices will dwindle right along with the demand for it. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see, in my lifetime, film being destributed only a couple small boutique operations. I truly hope I'm wrong.

Even though most of my stuff is now shot with an M8, I like knowing I can break out my recent purchase (a canon P) and go old school.

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As I've said before, film is dead in the same way that unsliced bread is since the introduction of sliced, or horses are now extinct since the introduction of the motor car.

 

Really, this sort of discussion makes me......irate.

 

I use film for about 90% of my photography. Film & digital are - to me anyway - two different mediums, with their own strengths and weaknesses. I use digital where I need to otherwise I still prefer film to be honest. It gives a different look.

 

I still haven't found the perfect digital camera for me yet. When I do I may start doing more digital stuff. But until then I'm very happy using film thanks.

 

Many many pros still use film in preference, where the speed of digital isn't necessary. If you are an amateur photographer then really why do you need speed? If you use digital because you like to use the latest gadget, fine. If you use it because you prefer the look, fine.

 

Yes film useage will keep decreasing for a while as more happy snappers buy digicams to replace their broken film cameras - or simply use their mobile phones (mobile phone photography is ever increasing as the in built cameras become better, that's why places like Jessops are in trouble). But I think we're probably near a levelling off or even slight increase in film useage.

 

The net result may mean having to buy from specialist dealers or via the net, it may mean having to post you films off for D&P because there isn't a pro lab near you but so what?

 

Simply the 'is film dead' issue is a non issue, but it could be a self fulfilling prophecy if enough of you believe the hype.

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Guest tummydoc

One of my neighbours participates in a muzzle-loader club. They mould their own lead bullets and on weekends they dress up like Davy Crockett and reinact the Alamo. It's a nice hobby and they have a grand time and none of them takes themselves so seriously that they get into shouting matches on the internet trying to claim that their old-time guns are as good or better than modern ones. I wonder why photographers get so riled-up about film vs digital. I love my old Leicas and for as long as it's available I intend to shoot some film now and then. But when I need to take pictures, as opposed to wanting to exercise my collection, I reach for a modern digital. Family and friends want pictures on CDs or via e-mail, they don't want to wait while I have film developed and then scan it. I know I'm contributing to the ultimate demise of film production by not buying more of it than I do, but I honestly don't think there are enough die-hard film lovers to keep the big manufacturers interested for long, and even if small manufacturers can produce to scale, the question of the processing infrastructure remains (other than for those who DIY, which is an even smaller subset, especially with regards to colour film).

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I have spoken with young emerging professional photographers who tell me they have never shot film and don't intend to. I think this reality will supersede all other issues regarding film use.

 

It is relatively easy for traditional shooters (David Burnett et al) to use film and digital, but how likely is it for someone who has only shot digitally to say, "I think I'll do that assignment on Polaroid 55PN film." Maybe a few, but only a few.

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. If you are an amateur photographer then really why do you need speed? If you use digital because you like to use the latest gadget, fine. If you use it because you prefer the look, fine.

 

I am an amateur, I don't need speed, I don't need the latest gadget, I don't necessarily prefer the look BUT.....with digital I can shoot and come home and do the work on my computer and not try and find a decent lab, find the time to get the film to them when they are open, wait for it to come back and so on.

 

I've taken a number of classes over the past year or two at ICP in NY. The people shooting film and aren't doing the processing themselves always seemed to have issues with the labs and that is in a city that still has a number of them.

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A well put question and the digital v film debate will probably carry on until film becomes too expensive to manufacture. Maybe we should be worrying about wether the personal print is dying. Will our grandchildren find a box of our favourite prints in the attic in decades to come or will they find a stack of digital media that they may or may not be able to access?

Will they bother to explore them?

Let's face it many of us on these forums are here because we enjoy manipulating fine instruments as much as we enjoy producing fine prints whatever route we used to get there.

Let us rejoice that we share the love of beautifully crafted cameras and that we can share these wonderful lenses. I like the challenge of going out with mates with the same passions and am stimulated to improve my eye and technique by seeing different visions of the same locations or people. They always seem to come up with some good ideas and this pushes me to try harder.

Is film dead? Not if we keep using it enough.

Is digital going to overtake the quality of film?It probably already has in some formats.

Who cares? Let's just have some fun liberating our creative need.

Alain

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Writing as someone who has just made a substantial investment in a medium format FILM camera system...

 

Film is not dead. But, like the polar ice, it is on a very dramatic decline.

 

So why did I buy into film at this late date? It's simple. Film offered me the best price/performance ratio in medium format for the projects I am planning. The camera I chose -- a new Mamiya RZ67 Pro IID -- can be easily converted with a digital back at any time in the future.

 

That film is a pain in the ass and is in rapid and permanent recession is indisputable. But it can also offer compelling economic, and sometimes aesthetic, virtues.

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Absolutely. When I'm out in the mountains I see all those guys with their covered wagons preparing their wet plates, rushing out to shoot with their 11 x 14 cameras mounted on big wooden tripods, then rushing back to their wagons to process the plates before they dry out. Out there they don't need flash powder. It's only when they go into the all-night ten cent bars under the overpass to take those Jacob-Riis-like pictures of hoboes sleeping on the tables that they need their flash powder.

 

But "what the hey," that's fine art and alternate process photography...

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It's not about film vs. digital, about which one is "better". Debating that is a fool's errand.

 

It's about simple manufacturing economics. Sure, there will always be film - of some sort - available. A niche market will attract a niche manufacturing infrastructure, albeit one at a price point commensurate with whatever economies of scale exist.

 

The question is what kind of film will be available? What developers? Will Kodak still be making my beloved Tri-X ten years from now? And as for E6 or C41, how many hard-core film devotees will still use those technologies once it reaches a point where one must mail out one's film for processing?

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There are tons of analogies you can pull out to bolster either side of this argument.

I wonder how many 8-track tapes were produced last year. Or tapes for the old Betamax video players.

At the same time, muzzleloaders are a great example of something that lives on and on. Or how about hand-made longbows. There is a demand for them, so they are produced.

 

In the end, however, it won't be this group of photographers who decide the fate of film. It will be our children and grandchildren. It's really pretty simple economics. If someone can make money making and selling film, then film will live on. If not, film will die.

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Guest stnami
With digital we are slowly but surely losing the concept of photography as a pursuit with a tactile end
........ but our requirements have changed, some still use horses as transport, as there is a need. A wider audience can be reached on the www than in my gallery(tactile) shows...................

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There are tons of analogies you can pull out to bolster either side of this argument.

I wonder how many 8-track tapes were produced last year. Or tapes for the old Betamax video players.

At the same time, muzzleloaders are a great example of something that lives on and on. Or how about hand-made longbows. There is a demand for them, so they are produced.

 

In the end, however, it won't be this group of photographers who decide the fate of film. It will be our children and grandchildren. It's really pretty simple economics. If someone can make money making and selling film, then film will live on. If not, film will die.

 

Film will live on, but eventually it'll live only for fine art and alternate process photography.

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Absolutely. When I'm out in the mountains I see all those guys with their covered wagons preparing their wet plates, rushing out to shoot with their 11 x 14 cameras mounted on big wooden tripods, then rushing back to their wagons to process the plates before they dry out. Out there they don't need flash powder. It's only when they go into the all-night ten cent bars under the overpass to take those Jacob-Riis-like pictures of hoboes sleeping on the tables that they need their flash powder.

 

But "what the hey," that's fine art and alternate process photography...

 

Hey Russell

 

Where are you in Colorado? We should get together for a coffee or a beer.........your choice.

 

Best

 

Woody

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