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Is Film Dead?

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........ 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...................

 

Yes, of course, but my website consists almost entirely of photos made with film. I'm referring more to those wonderful photos I have of my parents and my childhood on good strong fiber paper. There's a certain quality to those that are missing from digital prints made at Costco - if the memory card even makes it out of the camera and that far. Yes you may get more hits on your website than visitors to your gallery, but is it about quantity over quality? Heck, my shoulders would be a lot better and my bank account a lot fatter if I could just work with my cell phone camera. Alas someday that may be what is considered good enough.

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with most amateurs there is NO output period. The images end up languishing on memory cards or computers, merely emailed back and forth. With digital we are slowly but surely losing the concept of photography as a pursuit with a tactile end. Kind of sad.

 

Well you're right of course. I never had so many prints as back 10 years ago when there was no other way to receive an image but to send my film off to Mystic and wait for the cheezy prints on ugly Agfa paper.

 

These days, I just don't do 4x6 or 3x5's at all.

 

When I have something worth printing I do it up right and I print my own stuff. Usually an 8x10 at least, or maybe a 13x19. And I print on this gorgeous Hahnemuhle paper that's like nothing I've ever seen before. I probably print maybe one out of one hundred shots. That works fine for me.

 

There aren't many commercial labs that I miss particularly. I bet there are some printers out there that could make my pathetic stuff look better though.

 

A&I Photo in California did great lab work for me and, though I haven't used their digital services, I would expect them to be first class.

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This is one of those interesting questions that sends motion picture "film" shooters into a tail spin. I'm a still guy, shot film with M Leicas for decades for newspapers starting in the late 1960s and had to give them up when the LA Times where I worked for needed fill-flash color day in and day out.

 

About six months ago I phoned my old friends and called the long-term loans due. I got back my two m4s, my two m6s, and my four lenses. This followed three multi-leg international flights in eight weeks with a 48-pound bag of digital stuff on my shoulder. I shoot for my own books and I realized that lightweight Leicas - now two m6s and an m8 - and those same four lenses - weigh 16 pounds. So a great deal of my next book will be on Provia. (The digital Leica is backup.)

 

Each year since 1984 I've attended the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) conference in Las Vegas. This is a gigantic lecture series and trade show for film and video shooters as well as TV, radio, and other electronic communicators. Each year for the past dozen years, I've met with the guys from Fuji film and the (different) guy (every year) from Kodak "imaging" who each insist that "as long as cinematographers demand film for their projects, we'll manufacture what they want." And they promise to make it available in still photography configurations.

 

I also subscribe to a couple of cinematographers' journals in print and on-line, and I read with increasing regularity that "I can't believe it took me so long to go to digital imaging! I'll never shoot film again!" from one director of photography or camera operator after another. The Hi-Def video cameras take pride in chips available for them that mimick the "look" of virtually any film emulsion. I am looking forward more than ever to this April's NAB to ask Fuji and Kodak reps just how much time film has left?

 

Keep watching the motion pictures at a theater near you and read the credits carefully. Cinematographers in the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and British equivalent (BSC) are the ones who really are motivating Fuji and Kodak to continue manufacturing film. Ordering two or three or four hundred-thousand feet - or a million feet for "Titanic"...and the Ring cycle...and Harry Potter - of one emulsion or another speaks much louder than when we buy 100 or even 1000 rolls. When Hollywood - for better or worse - finally says it no longer needs "film," get a freezer, and buy all you can get of the emulsion you love. Ernst Haas did it with Kodachome 25. Months after K25 disappeared, we all realized how smart he was.

 

Sorry to be so long-winded but it's an important question.

 

Is film dead? No. But do monitor the patient's health closely.

 

 

randy

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Greetings-

 

We all have opinions. So while I enjoy my new 8, I still hold to my 6's and R4 (and Hasse). I still do the darkroom thing. I like Tri X and Provia. The Provia will most likely be the first to go, but the elegance of silver gel will live longer than we may think.

 

Viva creative expression, viva the M. As someone more estute than me once said "you can do anything with a Leica."

 

always my best (for even better mages),

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Guest stnami
Yes you may get more hits on your website than visitors to your gallery, but is it about quantity over quality
As far as the images are concerned it is just about things being in a different form in the www world. What is important image sequence, size,type etc on the www doesn't mean it can be transferred to a print and visa versa, they are different entities.

 

quantity over quality
. I don't think of my audience in those terms:p

 

 

The people of today are not starting from the same photographic premisses as you or I did with film being the mainstay, they have a greater and more flexible platform to start with than we ever had

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Film is not dead yet but when?

New generation start with digital camera. They don't start with film.

Will they know the different? Will they care?

No new film camera and the current film camera is gonna stop soon.

I just hope it is not coming soon.

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Hey Russell

 

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

 

Best

 

Woody

 

Woody, During the summer I'm in Manitou Springs, which is my real residence. Nowadays, during the winter I'm down in Florida. Yeah. Either would be fine, but let's wait until summer.

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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.

 

Personally, I think discussions like this are quite valuable. If nothing else, I think they serve to remind us that film has several wonderful qualities that have not yet been duplicated with digital imaging. These reminders might have the same effect on others that they have on me, which is to motivate me to put some film in my M6 and get out somewhere with it. The more people take this course of action, the better the chances are of film will continue to be part of the overall picture.

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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.

 

Maybe it's up to some of us "old guys" to teach them why they might want to dabble with film from time to time.

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Ernst Haas did it with Kodachome 25. Months after K25 disappeared, we all realized how smart he was.

 

I guess my IQ just went up, I have about 170 rolls of the 2003 batch in my film freezer...:-)

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Hey Russell

 

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

 

Best

 

Woody

 

I get down to Denver now and then, Live in Aspen. Looks like the "Fort" will be busy w/ Foto-3 this June, I might make that: Foto3 Conference

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A while back we had a thread discussing whether photography was dead (based on a Newsweek article with the title, "Is Photography Dead?"). I think this article, Is Film Dead?, about the film/digital issue is a lot more thoughtful and eloquent. Personally, I'd like to think film will still be around as long as I have a desire to use it. I know I'll never shoot another assignment with it but I do want to be able to use it for personal work. Eventually, perhaps I'll get over this love affair with the M8 and start using my M7 and M6 again.

 

Film isn't dead, getting it processed is in my area. My nearest lab only turns the E6 on twice a week. Do I want film processed in a line that's not maintained day to day. I've got rolls and sheets of E6 that need to be developed, only I don't know where to send them. If anyone knows of a good E6 in the UK please let me know.

I wonder if the economics of running a E6 line will kill it before the desire of photographers to shoot E6 film has gone.

 

Kevin.

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Randy's explanation of the role of cinema in future film production makes it pretty clear that we are bit players in our own destiny. So it doesn't really matter how many of us still shooters want to keep using film--it will be dictated by the motion picture industry. I suppose that's only appropriate, since they already give us our fashion trends, fascilitate our desires to smoke and drink, show us what behavior is cool and tell us emphatically whether we are beautiful, ugly, too fat or too thin.

 

I ran across an interesting piece that was posted on a blog a few months ago and has some bearing on the discussion here. The blog is called smogranch and the writing below was titled, "Filtered."

 

 

"Recently, another photographer approached me and asked what Photoshop filters I use on my images. Now, I do use a sharpening filter, and I do have a custom, warm-tone for my black and white images, when I feel they would look better warmer, but I knew this person was not referring to these basic filters or actions, but rather the “sets” that are available all over the electronic frontier.

“I don’t use any,” I replied. The photographer looked somewhat puzzled, then smiled, said, “Okay,” and walked away.

About an hour later the same photographer approached again and asked, “What I meant was, what action sets do you apply to your pictures?”

Again, I knew what they were talking about, but I tried explaining it again. “I don’t use anything like that,” I said. “I resize, dodge, burn, slight sharpen and bingo, call it good.”

This time the photographer not only looked puzzled, he looked frustrated.

I explained to him, “Look, I know these custom actions are very popular, and they produce a wide array of looks and feels, but I don’t use any of them.” “I just do what I did in the wet darkroom, or as close to that as possible.”

 

I think what this relates to is fantasy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Harry Potter, but I didn’t read the book. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Lord of the Rings, but I didn’t see the movie. I’m not really into sci-fi and many of the image filters give the pictures a surreal look and feel, and that just doesn’t suit the style of photograph I’m trying to make.

 

When I’m making pictures I’m really trying to focus on light, timing and composition, nothing more, and trying to make my decisions and my pictures IN THE FIELD, not at the computer once I’m back at home.

 

Many of the portrait/wedding images I see have a look and feel that is way beyond anything I have seen in reality. Layer masks, coffee-colored skies, hyper-real colors, extensive retouching, etc.

In fact, with each passing year I see the level of manipulation going further and further. Case in the point, the car shooters are now, in some cases, being pushed out by CGI. My first response to this was, “When will this happen in other genres of photography?”

Why hire a shooter when you can CGI your pictures. Some photographer friends of mine laughed, but already I’ve seen two fashion spreads that are nearing this plateau.

 

One retoucher I met said that he felt we were now in the middle of the time period we would look back on and laugh at, saying, “We are in the middle of the period when we didn’t know when to stop,” in regards to retouching and manipulation.

Simply put, the idea of "perfection" is now what is expected. I prefer real or slightly flawed.

 

Several months ago I returned to the wet darkroom for the first time in years, and began to, once again, print silver gelatin. One of the FIRST things I realized after viewing these images, was how far I had gone with my digital prints. I realized I needed to pull back in almost every regard, sharpening, color, etc, and just how easy it is to get carried away by the technology, and the ability to get into every nook and cranny to “adjust.”

 

For me, the bar is reality. I don’t see with vignettes, with layer masks, with hyper-intense eyes, or with clarity beyond 20/20, so why should I see that in my pictures?

 

Again, this is just a matter of opinion and preference, but I was asked about this recently and thought I would write it down.

 

Happy Snaps."

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I have about 50 rolls of Astia in the fridge that need to be run through.

 

I've got 20 rolls of Provia in my fridge for the past 7 years and I'm still waiting to get my hands on a Fuji GSW690 III. But seems like I'll have to settle for a Mamiya 7 II if I can't get one

Film dead? Nah.. its like painting and photography. Different approach, same objective.

 

MB

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Randy's explanation of the role of cinema in future film production makes it pretty clear that we are bit players in our own destiny.

 

I thought cinema stock - colour at least - was different from C41 or E6?

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Film isn't dead, getting it processed is in my area. My nearest lab only turns the E6 on twice a week. Do I want film processed in a line that's not maintained day to day. I've got rolls and sheets of E6 that need to be developed, only I don't know where to send them. If anyone knows of a good E6 in the UK please let me know.

I wonder if the economics of running a E6 line will kill it before the desire of photographers to shoot E6 film has gone.

 

Kevin.

 

I've had good results from Peak Imaging (they're based in Sheffield)

 

Nik

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Hi All,

 

Great discussion! I'm brand new to film, having just purchased a Leica MP and some excellent lenses. I love the process of laying out my slides on a light box and editing in this manner. It's slowed my process down to a more deliberate pace and made the experience so much more enjoyable and artistic. E-6 has been a wonderful thing in my early photographic joy. I print or scan them constantly.

 

Only one place (NewLab in SF) processes the stuff and I fear weekly that they will stop. While I also enjoy digital, I'll keep going with this new-found film joy as long as I can... using full manual and film has taught me so much about my shooting in a short time!

 

My real problem doesn't seem to be whether Fuji (my fave) is stopping production, but more, who will develop what I create? My fallback plan is to get access to my local community college and start developing myself. Or buy a Jobo if I can muster the money and courage... If anyone has a lead on a Jobo 1500, please let me know?

 

I'm excited to have a camera that is remarkably silent and has build quality that (subjectively) doesn't seem to really be matched by anything else I've touched in person. It's free of electronics (using only a battery for exposure feedback), which is also kind of reassuring.

 

Anyway, here's my plus minus list... hope it helps the discourse here. Thanks to all who expressed views, it was a tough decision to get into film and it's left me both joyous and nervous at the same time.

 

Personal Plusses:

 

+ Slowed down my workflow to a deliberate pace.

 

+ Enjoy editing process without needing to touch a computer. I work on a computer all day, everyday - anything to get free of a screen for a little while is nice

 

+ Film cameras seem unmatched in quality of feel and silence of use.

 

+ For fine art photography (my thing) viewers and galleries seem to appreciate the analog "hand done" skill that went into it. Totally subjective and certainly changing, but when the little tag doesn't say "Digital" on a wall hanging piece, it's a different ballgame.

 

+ My images now have such interesting look and feel. I feel like I can see how one might form and duplicate their own style by using certain film types, etc... I feel less likely to jumo around in style and experiment with knobs and buttons, which has me focusing on the subject matter.

 

+ I like random screwups. For some reason, more of my film screwups have been keepers than ever. Even scanning and processing oddities (yay Diafine) have produced random images that I really like!

 

+ My camera is super quiet and I can get on top of subjects without them flinching.

 

+ People seem to react to me differently when I shoot film. They disregard me more, which I like. I can't explain it, but I like it!

 

+ I feel like the images I've created and printed from film are more hand crafted. The people who ask me for framed images seem to concur. Also, don't know why.

 

+ I can develop B&W myself in my house relatively cheaply. It's very fun, though I can see it as tedious if done in large quantity.

 

Minusses:

 

- Heaven help me if NewLab closes or stops E-6. I'll cry big huge croc tears now that I've found this.

 

- More stuff to carry. Carrying film has increased my preferred super-light pack weight. Minor nit.

 

- My girlfriend is peeved about losing the crisper drawers in our fridge.

 

- Scanning slides and negs is taking me some time to understand. Vuescan helped a lot.

 

- I don't like to stop shooting and change film canisters. I'm not very good at it yet and feel like I'm having a leica parts tag sale whenever it's time to swap out.

 

- If the light or subject changes substantially, it's tough to handle. Do I ditch the rest of a roll, process everything with push/pull, or just settle... I can rewind and reuse, but see item above.

 

In many ways, I wish the "E-Film" concept would take off. If I could jam a 35mm cartridge into my MP when I want to shoot digital... wow... what a dream!

 

Anyway, I'm sure I've missed something - happy shooting, and sorry if these are newb ramblings.

 

-D

 

------------------------------------------

Daniel Nicholas Peknik Photography and Design

------------------------------------------

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Excellent summation Daniel!

I feel very much the same way, as someone who works (with images and video) all day everyday, in front of a computer screen, and who returned to film after about five years of shooting digital.

 

In addition to the lovely 'rounded' image quality (I'm not sure how to describe what I really mean by this - but my film images have some sort of intangible dimensionality that I could never achieve with digital), I find the whole process more satisfying and 'real'.

 

No need to get into the "film is better/digital is better" thing, but one emotional element to film that digital lacks is the significance of the images: after our christmas break in the Basque Country, my girlfriend came home and slotted her digital camera away in the drawer, whereas I took my films along to be developed and now we're eagerly awaiting to see what they look like. The digital images we simply glanced at the same day they were taken, and then forgot them.

 

Of course the big manufacturers would love to see film die - the slow drip of money from film-sales is nothing to them in comparison to the endless consumer-driven sales of whole new cameras every couple of years. Remember when people bought one film camera that they used for the rest of their lives?

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