Re: PHOTOFORUM digest 5960

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On 2012-03-28 17:16, asharpe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
On Wed, March 28, 2012 2:34 pm, David Dyer-Bennet wrote:
Ilford is not dead, their products are still out there.  And so are Adox,
  Arista, Efke, Foma, Fuji, Kentmere, or Rollei (yes, film; may be
rebranded, though).

(Digital has clearly won; film sales must be down 90% or some such.  But
that's not DEAD.  People who want normal photo tools should choose digital.
People who want film can still buy film, though, and that's as
it should be -- so long as there are enough of them.


Sure, you can still buy it. But unless you develop the film and enlarge
the prints yourself, the actual processing of the file is what has become
more difficult. The processing was the part of the problem that had become
so cheap and automatic that it wasn't an issue. That was always the rub
with film; there was a lot of serious technical work to do after you
pressed the shutter release (there is, of course, work to do in digital,
too, but it pales in comparison). Now, processing establishments are rare
and expensive, and they will certainly get more rare, and more expensive.

I actually got into the darkroom *before* I got my first SLR. The serious photographer path lead VERY quickly into the darkroom, because it gave you so much more control and saved you so much money.

People who came along later and had easier access to color probably didn't make that step, I agree; that was a problem for them to overcome, since without good custom printing you're only half a photographer (you don't have to print yourself, but few of us can afford even *decent* custom printing early on). Some people stepped up and actually got good at color printing, but I never did (never got good).

But then, it's B&W that's important to continue, and important for art, and that's still easy to process yourself. And darkroom equipment is available cheap :-) .

Of course, a technology doesn't ever really die; Sally Mann still uses wet
plate; there are plenty of folks who are willing to get down and dirty
with chemicals to create their own emulsions.

That level of thing couldn't keep Kodachrome going, though, and I doubt it can keep E-6 going either.

But as a *commodity*, yes, film and film cameras are becoming dinosaurs,
and soon will be (if they are not already) prohibitively rare and
expensive to use for all but the determined enthusiast.

I don't think so. Used 35mm cameras will be around cheap for at least another 50 years, maybe 100. B&W film and processing chemistry will be around a long time too.

Actually, *scanners* are the thing that's going to be the problem -- already is, not much in film scanners available any more, and software problems too. So people who want a full-on retro workflow are in some ways better off than those who want to mix modes.

This has nothing to do with better or not; we have already learned that
the best doesn't always win (Beta vs VHS, Blu-Ray vs HD DVD, etc.). I have
a Spotmatic that works very well with the M42 takumar lenses I have (of
course, the camera was designed for them), but unless I am willing to
invest in a small darkroom (ferreting out the rather expensive chemicals
and paper, which, for the time being, are still available) develop the
Tri-X myself, and enlarge and develop the photographs, I just don't have
the time or resources for it.

B&W chemistry isn't expensive or hard to find. That's why we have the Internet! It makes small markets easy to serve.

Paper is a bit expensive, though, I'll admit. Let's see -- 8x10 B&W is just under $1 / sheet. I don't really remember what I paid in say 1982; I think perhaps about 1/3 of that, maybe, but who knows?

Of course I could scan the negatives into digital form, but then a fair
bit of the advantages of film (and photographic paper) are gone, and I
might as well start from digital.

I don't think so, actually. *Maybe* for really traditionalist B&W workers, but Galen Rowell for example was convinced to go to digital printmaking long long before digital capture was a serious tool. He was convinced by the quality of the prints he could get that way.

I'm not telling you, or anyone else on this list, anything that they don't
already know. But I will tell you that digital photography rekindled the
love of making photographs for me, and that is a very powerful effect,
easily trumping the affection for old photography processes and gear.

My photography also took a definite leap upwards in energy and volume when digital reached me.

Of course, the old takumars are on my Pentax K20, now. And you'll notice
that a lot of my photographs look like they were taken on black and white
film. But the days of film as a commodity substrate for photographs are

I was fighting grain from about the first day I hit the B&W darkroom. For me, digital is *SO MUCH* better than film there's just no comparison.
David Dyer-Bennet, dd-b@xxxxxxxx;

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