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View Full Version : How much longer for 4x5 color film?



Thom Bennett
16-Apr-2013, 08:38
I know this may be a difficult question to answer but...

How much longer will Kodak and Fuji make 4x5 color film, both negative and transparency? At least five years? Less? Any good, solid facts available to answer this question? I'm thinking of dumping my 4x5 gear and strictly shoot larger formats in b&w and use (gasp!) digital for any color I need to shoot. Kind of thinking out loud.

Thanks,

Thom

Oren Grad
16-Apr-2013, 08:56
Any good, solid facts available to answer this question?

No.

vinny
16-Apr-2013, 08:58
17 days

dsphotog
16-Apr-2013, 09:00
Stock-up!

Light Guru
16-Apr-2013, 09:03
Any good, solid facts available to answer this question?

I'm sure that the people who have that information are under non disclosure agreements.

Drew Wiley
16-Apr-2013, 09:27
How much longer till Seven Eleven no longer sells corn dogs? How much longer till an asteroid hits the earth? I shoot LF
color film quite a bit and print it in the darkroom with a real enlarger. I'm not worried. Change happens. I'm not going to let all sorts of "what if" fears tamper with my work. I adapt, but that has been the case for decades. All the current digital goodies will go obsolete just as fast, maybe faster. Software gets outdated. Gadgets wear out. Manufacturers change.
What do you WANT to do? Otherwise, go examine the entrails of an owl, or consult some voodoo priestess down in the
swamp there somewhere.

Randy Moe
16-Apr-2013, 09:42
@Drew LOL

Thom Bennett
16-Apr-2013, 09:43
"What do you WANT to do?"

Gather as much relevant information as I can so I can make an informed decision as to what is best for me.

Drew Wiley
16-Apr-2013, 10:16
Why are you doing this? What objective? Stock photography, personal images, what? Do you LIKE working with film or with
digital gear? Hard to make good images if you hate the workflow. Do you intend to scan the results, print them optically,
or do direct digital capture. Your personal taste and work preferences are every bit as integral to this as hypothetical end of
the world film scenarios. You could just as easily invest a ton of money in digital gear and find out twenty days later the
mfg is out of business and no longer backs up the warranty, or has technologically moved on to something else. Then if film,
you have a basic choice between chromes and color negs. One is dependent upon Fuji, the other largely on Kodak. The quality
of the current color neg films and printing papers is simply remarkable. All kinds of options out there. But NONE or them is
risk free, or safe from some form of obsolescence. What comprises "digital" today probably won't represent "digital" tomorrow.

Steve Smith
16-Apr-2013, 10:19
Ten years ago, it was about three years.


Steve.

Thom Bennett
16-Apr-2013, 10:24
Now that's information I can use! :)


Ten years ago, it was about three years.


Steve.

paulr
16-Apr-2013, 10:28
Drew he's asking a simple question. I didn't see a request for condescension, platitudes, or psychoanalysis. Either you have some information on the future of film availability or you don't.

It's stupid to pretend these questions won't be relevant to anyone. Some people are faced with making investments in equipment and knowledge. The expiration date on that equipment and knowledge makes a difference.

BrianShaw
16-Apr-2013, 10:31
Drew he's asking a simple question. I didn't see a request for condescension, platitudes, or psychoanalysis.

For some those options suggested by Drew are valid research methods. :o

bob carnie
16-Apr-2013, 10:31
Personally I believe we are within 10 years for colour negative film, transparancy sooner, I will stock up when the time is right with colour neg.
I have the same feeling about silver gelatin fibre paper, once again I will stock up when the time is right, or make it myself.

Simon Liddiard
16-Apr-2013, 10:33
Useful as insight into the long term stability of the market is, does it actually matter? The images you make now using 4x5 will still be your work if/when the medium becomes obsolete. The experience and knowledge you gain by shooting LF (and the fun you have) will not be wasted. If you want to be conservative, don't drop any 5 figure sums on high end kit. Even if you do, and 4X5 stops being manufactured next summer, you could still use the equipment with paper, or adapt it to shoot wet plate. Analogue photography is much more versatile than digital IMHO.

Drew Wiley
16-Apr-2013, 10:51
Do you plan to work in a studio or walk about with this hypothetical gear? Let's imagine you plan on doing just black and white work with a view camera, then stumble upon something that would be stunning in color. Are you going to be able to
carry a parallel digital system? If so, how, and at what expense? Do you want to have an extra filmholder with color in it,
just in case, or plan to pull out a DLSR instead, which utilizes a completely different method of visualization and composition? How complicated do you wish to get? I can sure think of one good reason for dumping 4x5 color film usage -
namely, 8x10 color film!

Kuzano
16-Apr-2013, 11:02
Life don't work that way. It's a crap shoot. Look around.

Thom Bennett
16-Apr-2013, 11:02
Thanks paulr. I was expecting a little bit of a spanking for asking the question and I know it is a difficult one to answer. I have also asked someone associated with a national lab the same question but I certainly don't expect them to fully know either. Hell, Kodak and Fuji probably don't know. They have to sell enough to make it worth their while and, when that number goes below a certain point, bye-bye color film. I'm not worried about my 8x10 b&w work because, if and when a time would come that no one was making commercially available b&w film, I'll just learn to make my own or learn wet-plate, etc. Color just seems to be a different animal since, as far as I know, it is extremely difficult to make your own color film.

I put together this 4x5 kit just before Katrina. I had been doing quite a bit of editorial work and was just expanding into some commercial architectural work so I decided to invest in the 4x5. Since Katrina, however, I have been working for someone else (shooting digitally on 4x5 w/MFDB) but periodically do some small commercial jobs on my own to keep my toe in the water. I'm just trying to look ahead at the next five to ten years and think of how my equipment is serving me. On the one hand, since I do just a few outside gigs a year, I'd like to keep doing them on 4x5. On the other hand, I can realistically shoot those jobs on the digital gear I already have and am thinking of ditching the 4x5 and putting that money into another larger format. I've watched Polaroid go away; I've watched Fuji discontinue their 4x5 color instant film so my question seems legit. And, as I said, I'm just thinking out loud and thought there might be other people who are interested in the state of 4x5 color film.


Drew he's asking a simple question. I didn't see a request for condescension, platitudes, or psychoanalysis. Either you have some information on the future of film availability or you don't.

It's stupid to pretend these questions won't be relevant to anyone. Some people are faced with making investments in equipment and knowledge. The expiration date on that equipment and knowledge makes a difference.

Brian C. Miller
16-Apr-2013, 11:16
.. Either you have some information on the future of film availability or you don't.

It's stupid to pretend these questions won't be relevant to anyone. Some people are faced with making investments in equipment and knowledge. The expiration date on that equipment and knowledge makes a difference.

Nobody has that information. Nobody on the planet. The only thing that can be done is to look up various "demise of film" articles, and take a look at what has been published, and extract from that. That's all that can be done. Kodak is still producing truck loads of film, just not as many truck loads as before. What we see is something similar to an inverse exponential curve, where there's a huge drop, followed by a long tail. So what will happen in the future? It depends on whether Kodak can keep sucking air.

What if:
What if Kodak doesn't emerge from bankruptcy, goes into full liquidation, and everything is sold off or demolished? That means Fujifilm will be the sole producer of color film. That means no more special order sizes for color. It's possible that Fujifilm might import 160NS over here for 4x5 and 8x10.
What if aliens land and their drive systems interfere with digital cameras?
What if there's a film craze for 4x5 point & shoot cameras?
What if ...

I have no idea at what point the production line will stop for 4x5 color. Kodak no longer makes regular cuttings of 8x10 film, and there's no more Kodak E-6 produced. What's in the future? I have no idea. I know that I correctly predicted the sequence of what would happen, but that's an easy call. The prediction of a time frame isn't something that any of us can do. Fujifilm was diversifying like mad in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and they didn't spin off various divisions into separate companies, so film is about 1% of Fujifilm's revenue. Kodak didn't diversify, and they spun off successful divisions.

My best prediction is that Fujifilm will be the last producer of color film, but I don't know when that will be. And I don't know when it will be "lights out" at Kodak.

(added) Fuji dropped the 4x5 instant film simply due to lack of demand. The packets were twice as expensive as the next size down, and you couldn't get the negative from them without some work. Demand had dropped off for Quickloads, or else Polaroid was making Quickloads for Fujifilm like it was making Readyloads for Kodak.

Kuzano
16-Apr-2013, 11:20
Drew he's asking a simple question. I didn't see a request for condescension, platitudes, or psychoanalysis. Either you have some information on the future of film availability or you don't.

It's stupid to pretend these questions won't be relevant to anyone. Some people are faced with making investments in equipment and knowledge. The expiration date on that equipment and knowledge makes a difference.

I'm sorry, but I answered with both condescension and platitudes. I didn't throw in psychoanalysis because I don't have the credentials. The question may be relevant, but it should be obvious, even to the poster that no one has anything close to an answer and anything that most responders can come up with is simply a WAG. We see a lot of that lately.

As far as my Crapshoot comment, the OP or any of the rest of us could have been at the finish line of the Boston Marathon lately.... Now THAT'S Relevant. Yes folks.. gather in big crowds???

Bottom line, the answer to the question simply is "Shoot 4X5 until no one sells it any more". Then shoot what you have in the freezer. Then check out eBay for the hangers on who had it but decided to raise the price to exorbitant levels and sell. When you can no longer buy it, and none is left in the freezer, and nobody on eBay is selling, you're done. The last sheet of the film you want will be found on eBay.
You will not find an unexposed box of color 4X5 film on Sotheby's at auction, or at least that's what I would think.

Not sorry for the condescension and platitudes. Sorry I took the time to post.

Randy Moe
16-Apr-2013, 11:25
Ok, what is the oldest film people have shot, that still works?

BrianShaw
16-Apr-2013, 11:31
Hell, Kodak and Fuji probably don't know. They have to sell enough to make it worth their while and, when that number goes below a certain point, bye-bye color film.

I'm betting that they know. Maybe not the exact date and time, but they know the sales and production trends/issues better than do we. While none of us agree with business decisions and practices, these aren't totally stupid people. (Anyone is invited to disagree and even be condescending of my obviously naive opinion.) I'm betting that the dirty little secret they aren't telling us is that they've already coated the last batches of LF color and are just "keeping us happy" by selling whats already in the warehouse. After that... then the big announcement that these products have been discontinued. Isn't that the established trend from our consumer perspective?

Drew Wiley
16-Apr-2013, 11:56
Some of these newer color films like Portra and Ektar are home-run products that seem to be selling quite well. There would
be no logical reason to suddenly discontinue them. But in terms of cynical answers ... try answering this one ... how many hundreds of times does the same damn question have to be asked on both this forum and apug? Seems that those who have a vested ideological interest in film becoming extinct answer one way, those who actually use it another. If people could actually see what film and paper is currently capable of, that is, in some format other than barbaric web images, they might change their mind entirely about which form of technology is ahead and which is behind. But again, how you like to do
things is a different matter.

Drew Wiley
16-Apr-2013, 12:07
Brian - all you gotta do is look at the batch codes to figure out they're running this stuff rather frequently. By narrowing down
the lines to certain very versatile high-quality films, rather than a lot of redundancy as in days of old, they're insuring sustainability. Of course, there are CEO's and MBA's who could probably destroy the moon in a month, but it's hard to imagine the market for color film outright disappearing anytime soon. And if it was discontinued say a decade from now,
one has another decade in the freezer or until the chemistry runs out, but realistically another twenty years. Probably every
digital device in service today will be obsolete long before then. RA4 printing paper is quite healthy because exactly the same
papers can be used both optically and with laser printers. And if anyone goes around telling people the best days of color enlarger work are over, they're simply parrotting some web BS by people who haven't even tried printing recent materials,
or are otherwise incompetent to do so. In many ways this is potentially the golden age of color photography because you have both paths open, with many hybrid options inbetween.

BrianShaw
16-Apr-2013, 12:16
Brian - all you gotta do is look at the batch codes to figure out they're running this stuff rather frequently.

You could be right. I believe that for 35mm and 120, but I don't get to look at many batch codes for color sheet film. I don't shoot enough to be shooting any LF color that is currently in date. :)

paulr
16-Apr-2013, 12:21
IBottom line, the answer to the question simply is "Shoot 4X5 until no one sells it any more". Then shoot what you have in the freezer. Then check out eBay

No, the answer to the question is "I don't know."

No one asked for advice or attitude. The defensiveness around here is thick enough to cut with a knife.

Thom Bennett
16-Apr-2013, 12:39
"...but it's hard to imagine the market for color film outright disappearing anytime soon. And if it was discontinued say a decade from now,
one has another decade in the freezer or until the chemistry runs out, but realistically another twenty years."

Any facts/numbers to back this up? Is there industry information somewhere that can be studied? That's all I'm asking.

Drew Wiley
16-Apr-2013, 12:41
The politeness police are back. And indeed, I don't don't know either.... but I am pretty good at forecasting. And routinely seeing evolving batch codes on even 8x10 color film tells me the stream isn't stagnant. Too much of this topic becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy generated by doomsayers. Maybe we should flood the web with rumors that some particular inkjet system will be extinct in a couple of years (entirely possible), and that people should start hoarding that, then see what happens. There's no certainty in any of this. Equipment-wise, I'd call digital the riskier investment if you want alleged LF quality, unless you can amortize it rapidly. Film is expensive, but how many shots do you need? How much do you outright
waste? (But please do waste ... it's good for film sales!). Gosh. Film could disappear tomorrow and I'd have ten times more
shots on hand to print from than I'll ever have opportunity to print. Even one more year of 8x10 color film being around would equate to five more years of printing. I'm going nuts just trying to select shots from a single outing last summer.

paulr
16-Apr-2013, 12:55
If you were in a position of starting from scratch and investing in all new equipment, you'd be asking the same question.

Drew Wiley
16-Apr-2013, 12:58
Thom .... sorry for the runaround. The politeness police are probably correct in reining in folks like me. But the same question
does come up over and over and over again. Trying to second-guess manufacturing corporations in this day and age is tricky
at best, and has a lot to do with how I personally make a living. I have a pretty good track record reading the tea leaves in
this respect. It appears Kodak is stabilizing and that they have no immediate incentive to stop manufacture of color neg sheet film. They're already ceded chrome film to Fuji. They might try again to sell the distribution rights, but in the overall scale of things, I wouldn't worry any time soon. Cine film is a different topic and only partially related. It's all some kind of
tradeoff. And I wasn't simply being cynical by pointing out how virtually everything in the digital world is itself susceptible
to rapid obsolescene. But trying to read stock reports or marketing blurbs by any of these companies can be a bit misleading.
They send out all kinds of trial balloons in this respect. So probably just seeing steady batch changeover is about as close as you're going to get to the truth, plus the very significant fact that both Kodak and Fuji are still updating and fine-tuning their critical photosensitive product lines. With Kodak this means color neg film and RA4 paper, and with Fuji, paper, though they
have officially announced a continued committment to chrome film. Things aren't stagnant by any means, and that is a good sign. But you aren't going to get any sign from heaven assuring anything in this respect. As a professional buyer I deal with
all kinds of manufacturers, and our mantra is, "there is nothing constant but change".

paulr
16-Apr-2013, 13:10
Of course everything in the digital world (or any world) is subject to obsolescence. But it's relatively easy to make calculations concerning value and timing with the information that's available. And we don't have to worry about the core technology disappearing. It will someday, but that day is way farther out than the lifespan of any particular piece of gear.

I bought a digital camera last year with the assumption that It would be useable for a decade or so, and that I'd want to keep using it for two or three years. This worked into my appraisal of its value. As it turns out, the thing paid for itself in four months with money saved on film and processing.

If I were fully set up for color printing, with a drum scanner or a color darkroom, and was happy with the results and economics, then sure, I'd keep doing my thing as long as I could. That's a lot different from having to choose a technology to invest in from scratch right now.

Randy Moe
16-Apr-2013, 13:16
You will not be using that digital camera in 10 years.

Use the heck out of it right now as fast as you can.

Better and cheaper will be here yesterday.



Of course everything in the digital world (or any world) is subject to obsolescence. But it's relatively easy to make calculations concerning value and timing with the information that's available. And we don't have to worry about the core technology disappearing. It will someday, but that day is way farther out than the lifespan of any particular piece of gear.

I bought a digital camera last year with the assumption that It would be useable for a decade or so, and that I'd want to keep using it for two or three years. This worked into my appraisal of its value. As it turns out, the thing paid for itself in four months with money saved on film and processing.

If I were fully set up for color printing, with a drum scanner or a color darkroom, and was happy with the results and economics, then sure, I'd keep doing my thing as long as I could. That's a lot different from having to choose a technology to invest in from scratch right now.

paulr
16-Apr-2013, 13:18
You will not be using that digital camera in 10 years.

Read what I wrote.

Steve Smith
16-Apr-2013, 13:20
You will not be using that digital camera in 10 years.

I almost got ten years out of my Nikon D100. It broke last year so I have replaced it with a D3200. I don't expect that to last any more than five years.


Steve.

Peter York
16-Apr-2013, 13:21
Unfortunately, Fuji and Kodak will not help you answer your question. Both are horrendous with respect to customer communications. There are posts on this forum concerning the overall financial health of Fuji, and the overall health of the film industry, that you may want to investigate.

Your best bet is to stock up on film and freeze it.

Drew Wiley
16-Apr-2013, 13:36
Darkroom equip can be had at bargain rates at the moment, and color printing can be much more cost effective than
inkjet. Time-wise it's a wash. Whether you put a neg into a carrier oR plan to scan it, you still gotta clean the thing or
face some ordeal of spotting afterwards. The tricky part for the younger generation is being able to acquire the space to install a darkroom. That's the complaint I always hear in this expensive real-estate area. Lots of folks seem to want to do it. And the chemicals are not pleasant to deal with. Result-wise, these new films and papers are remarkable. But like anything
else, ya gotta learn the rope. Don't get something for nuthin. But that seems to be what folks expect nowadays - want a
machine that does it all for them : Garbage-in/garbage-out.

Randy Moe
16-Apr-2013, 13:39
http://nepp.nasa.gov/whisker/

Corran
16-Apr-2013, 13:53
Keep your eyes open. Deals are around to be had. Last year I bought 8 50-sheet boxes of Ektachrome Plus, outdated, for about $150 ($0.38 a sheet). Cross-processing works perfectly, and doing it in E-6, the colors aren't too bad considering it's 10 years old. I've picked up a few hundred sheets of Kodak Portra 160 and 400 for less than a buck a sheet. I've got plenty for 3-5 years from my estimate.

Until the end is really upon us, there will always be deals. I imagine I might still have some of that EPP when the SHTF and I can sell it for a profit! Scanning makes color-correction and spotting a lot easier. Hybrid analog/digital is the way to go for color in my humble opinion (don't start Drew).

Brian C. Miller
16-Apr-2013, 14:10
Thom, your question actually seems to do with commercial shooting. You currently have 4x5 and 8x10, and the actual question is whether to drop 4x5 and get something bigger than 8x10.

The real question is, how would a larger camera help your business?

I presume that you are now using your 8x10 commercially. Therefore, this camera is giving you a commercial advantage over other photographers. What do you intend to do with 11x14 or 16x20? Wet plate and platinum? That's a perfectly fine option. There's a fellow in Seattle who runs a portraiture business using 11x14 wet plate.

Should you sell your 4x5? That depends on what it gives you, and that's something that only you can measure. And you can measure it.

The one thing that I recommend that you don't do is make a measurement based on trying to read the tea leaves of film availability. That doesn't work. What you need to do is simply figure out how to sell your photography. Does the 4x5 pull its weight? Yes or no? Will a larger camera (investment) give you a competitive edge over your competition?

There a portrait shop in SF that does tin types. You can just walk in off the street, and get a 4x5 tin type portrait made, no problem. IIRC, there's at least a couple of YouTube videos. Can you do the same thing? Of course.

So it all comes down to what you can do with the equipment that you have, or plan to have. A 4x5 camera isn't obsolete if color film isn't available.

Thom Bennett
16-Apr-2013, 14:33
Brian, sorry for the confusion. No, I do not use the 8x10 for commercial shooting; strictly personal work. (Restoring an 11x14 and looking at 7x17). I contact print my large format negs and 4x5 is too small for me in b&w. Yes, I've seen the youtube vids of the tintypist in SF. Very cool idea. Thanks for your input.


Thom, your question actually seems to do with commercial shooting. You currently have 4x5 and 8x10, and the actual question is whether to drop 4x5 and get something bigger than 8x10.

The real question is, how would a larger camera help your business?

I presume that you are now using your 8x10 commercially. Therefore, this camera is giving you a commercial advantage over other photographers. What do you intend to do with 11x14 or 16x20? Wet plate and platinum? That's a perfectly fine option. There's a fellow in Seattle who runs a portraiture business using 11x14 wet plate.

Should you sell your 4x5? That depends on what it gives you, and that's something that only you can measure. And you can measure it.

The one thing that I recommend that you don't do is make a measurement based on trying to read the tea leaves of film availability. That doesn't work. What you need to do is simply figure out how to sell your photography. Does the 4x5 pull its weight? Yes or no? Will a larger camera (investment) give you a competitive edge over your competition?

There a portrait shop in SF that does tin types. You can just walk in off the street, and get a 4x5 tin type portrait made, no problem. IIRC, there's at least a couple of YouTube videos. Can you do the same thing? Of course.

So it all comes down to what you can do with the equipment that you have, or plan to have. A 4x5 camera isn't obsolete if color film isn't available.

Thom Bennett
16-Apr-2013, 14:38
Drew, no problem. I'm sure one reason the question comes up over and over is that photographer's are concerned about the availability of materials they use or intend to use in the future. I'm just trying to get a read on what's going on in the color world.

"So probably just seeing steady batch changeover is about as close as you're going to get to the truth, plus the very significant fact that both Kodak and Fuji are still updating and fine-tuning their critical photosensitive product lines."

That does sound like a good way to monitor color film usage.

"...they have officially announced a continued committment to chrome film."

Now that is good news. Thanks for you insight.




Thom .... sorry for the runaround. The politeness police are probably correct in reining in folks like me. But the same question
does come up over and over and over again. Trying to second-guess manufacturing corporations in this day and age is tricky
at best, and has a lot to do with how I personally make a living. I have a pretty good track record reading the tea leaves in
this respect. It appears Kodak is stabilizing and that they have no immediate incentive to stop manufacture of color neg sheet film. They're already ceded chrome film to Fuji. They might try again to sell the distribution rights, but in the overall scale of things, I wouldn't worry any time soon. Cine film is a different topic and only partially related. It's all some kind of
tradeoff. And I wasn't simply being cynical by pointing out how virtually everything in the digital world is itself susceptible
to rapid obsolescene. But trying to read stock reports or marketing blurbs by any of these companies can be a bit misleading.
They send out all kinds of trial balloons in this respect. So probably just seeing steady batch changeover is about as close as you're going to get to the truth, plus the very significant fact that both Kodak and Fuji are still updating and fine-tuning their critical photosensitive product lines. With Kodak this means color neg film and RA4 paper, and with Fuji, paper, though they
have officially announced a continued committment to chrome film. Things aren't stagnant by any means, and that is a good sign. But you aren't going to get any sign from heaven assuring anything in this respect. As a professional buyer I deal with
all kinds of manufacturers, and our mantra is, "there is nothing constant but change".

Nathan Potter
16-Apr-2013, 14:59
So it all comes down to what you can do with the equipment that you have, or plan to have. A 4x5 camera isn't obsolete if color film isn't available.

You don't need color film to print color. It is relatively easy to take B&W separation negatives of at least still subjects then combine into a color print digitally. You would need color print paper for an all analogue process at the end but the digital print process is already high quality and will not go away very soon. Hell you can do motion using a special three image Technicolor camera setup for 4X5.

I wish someone would redevelop the Autochrome process by moving it into the 21st century. I'm sure that using modern manufacturing equipment could bring that antique process back to and well beyond its original glory. Color carbon is an intriguing and beautiful process. Both of these are analogue print processes that can be used with B&W 4X5 negatives by converting to larger format for contact printing.

Ultimately we can silver halide coat our own film base material with a fairly simple setup. I've done the equivalent using photo polymer emulsions on plastics by spin coating under safelights. I can do 8X10 size with sub micron thickness accuracy across the film surface.

I view the 4X5, 5X7 and 8X10 camera as an experimental tool whose use is not limited to a specific type of pre-manufactured color film.

I have about a 10 year supply of Quickloads and non Quickload color film in the freezer; enough to keep my hobby going while I develop alternative color processes. Just can't worry about manufacturers availability. If I had to wild guess about lifetime I think I'd agree with Mr. Elevator (Bob Carne) above - maybe 10 years for color or say 8 to 15 years as a wild guess.

If you are in a business where thruput volume and time are critical the situation is different, but the equipment may be the same. You really ought to be using a high quality 35mm, MF or 4X5 with an appropriate digital sensor. Just the 35mm format now will meet most of the quality requirements.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

Thom Bennett
16-Apr-2013, 15:07
Bob, I missed your post earlier. Thanks for your insight. You are much closer to what the manufacturer's are doing than most of us.


Personally I believe we are within 10 years for colour negative film, transparancy sooner, I will stock up when the time is right with colour neg.
I have the same feeling about silver gelatin fibre paper, once again I will stock up when the time is right, or make it myself.

Oren Grad
16-Apr-2013, 15:22
Thom, I'm not sure I understand precisely what the concern is. If someone could tell you that 4x5 color film was going to become completely unavailable in exactly two years, would you then go ahead and sell your 4x5 equipment now? If so, why? Is it because you are afraid it will lose value if you wait until the very end? Then it becomes an economic question and you'd want to be analyzing likely depreciation costs of your 4x5 equipment vs the new equipment you would need to buy, taking into account reasonable projections of the useful working life of the latter rather than sweeping generalizations about rapid depreciation of digital equipment. Or is it that you would then rather have been spending the time optimizing your technique with digital capture if you'll have no choice but to be using it that soon? That would be understandable, and could be reason enough for you to change now. Or... is it something else?

Drew Wiley
16-Apr-2013, 16:27
Thom - I am in exactly an analogous situation, but from the standpoint of soon retiring and needing to have a cost-effective
way to make very high quality images that can at least significantly supplement my other sources of income, some of which
by definition will be fixed (like social security & pension). I have a full working darkroom which I consider a significant investment. I saw the demise of Cibachrome coming, though it lingered a slow death for a full decade longer than I anticipated, and things were starting to look bleak. Color neg printing in a commercial sense has always been comparatively
easy and cheap but lacked punch. But I invested quite a bit of effort into improving those characteristics using the advanced
color printing skills and equipment I was already familiar with. And now with the advent of new color films and papers there
is a new media marriage made in heaven, and even if Ciba were to reappear affordably, I wouldn't go back to it. I've never
cared for the look of inkjet for my own images. Might be nice for someone else. So in a sense, I've put my money where my
mouth is, invested in quite a bit of film, paper, and more importantly, a lot of time-consuming experimentation (including
many inevitable bellyflops). And now it looks like it will be a homerun in terms of print quality. Of course, the rug could get
pulled out from under me at any time. It happens. It has happened to color printers before. You should hear all the complaints when dye transfer was discontinued. Sounded like the end of the world. One just takes their best shot and proceeds. Life is too short. But in a sense, I do also keep my eyes open to other options, just in case I have to evolve faster
than I orginally anticipated. But at this point in history, film is worth the risk. It's solid. Don't know about twenty years from
now. Nobody knows. I'll probably be sitting in a rockin chair in the old folks home telling stories about how we used to have
to hand-coat glass plates barefoot in the snow....

Randy Moe
16-Apr-2013, 16:55
It was uphill, both ways...

Seems we all are wrestling with age and income.

Drew Wiley
17-Apr-2013, 08:37
Well things are reasonably on target, provided one doesn't get tangled up in a bunch of foolish overhead. So I'm sticking with
the game plan and the kind of equipment and experience I do best and that gives me a distinct niche. If I was younger and
had not already developed a disgust for all things computer (an inevitable side effect of having to make a living with one),
I might have taken a different route. Then there's always the safe exit route if things don't go as planned: black and white.
When I was younger I could burn the candle at both ends and do it all. Now I have to choose, but hope to have time for all
the backlog of drymounting etc. My sensitivity to color chemicals dictates low-volume, high-priced work. But that is what I
enjoy anyway. ... and in the end it's more about the experience of doing it than about another buck. ... living, seeing, discovering...

Andrew O'Neill
17-Apr-2013, 10:05
Your best bet is to stock up on film and freeze it.

That's sound advice, even for black and white shooters.

Iluvmyviewcam
17-Apr-2013, 10:27
No idea...but there will still be a supply on ebay...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kodak-Ektachrome-64T-Tungsten-4X5-Cut-film-10-sheets-EPY-6118-Old-stock-/321098041318?pt=US_Camera_Film&hash=item4ac2ef47e6

Iluvmyviewcam
17-Apr-2013, 10:29
Thom, I'm not sure I understand precisely what the concern is. If someone could tell you that 4x5 color film was going to become completely unavailable in exactly two years, would you then go ahead and sell your 4x5 equipment now? If so, why? Is it because you are afraid it will lose value if you wait until the very end? Then it becomes an economic question and you'd want to be analyzing likely depreciation costs of your 4x5 equipment vs the new equipment you would need to buy, taking into account reasonable projections of the useful working life of the latter rather than sweeping generalizations about rapid depreciation of digital equipment. Or is it that you would then rather have been spending the time optimizing your technique with digital capture if you'll have no choice but to be using it that soon? That would be understandable, and could be reason enough for you to change now. Or... is it something else?

Yes, well spoken post.

Shoot now...worry later.

Iluvmyviewcam
17-Apr-2013, 10:31
Unfortunately, Fuji and Kodak will not help you answer your question. Both are horrendous with respect to customer communications. There are posts on this forum concerning the overall financial health of Fuji, and the overall health of the film industry, that you may want to investigate.

Your best bet is to stock up on film and freeze it.

Is Fuji having problems? I thought Fuji was doing fine since they were in diverse areas?

Iluvmyviewcam
17-Apr-2013, 10:34
Keep your eyes open. Deals are around to be had. Last year I bought 8 50-sheet boxes of Ektachrome Plus, outdated, for about $150 ($0.38 a sheet). Cross-processing works perfectly, and doing it in E-6, the colors aren't too bad considering it's 10 years old. I've picked up a few hundred sheets of Kodak Portra 160 and 400 for less than a buck a sheet. I've got plenty for 3-5 years from my estimate.

Until the end is really upon us, there will always be deals. I imagine I might still have some of that EPP when the SHTF and I can sell it for a profit! Scanning makes color-correction and spotting a lot easier. Hybrid analog/digital is the way to go for color in my humble opinion (don't start Drew).

I am with you, if I was shooting film. But the BW to color digital conversion is so-so compared to film. Maybe I need more skill at it. Film just has 'that' look to it. Just like the movies nowadays have a digital look that is lost from the old film movies.

Iluvmyviewcam
17-Apr-2013, 10:36
Ok, what is the oldest film people have shot, that still works?

In 1973 I used Gov surplus glass plates from Freestyle that were from 1948 to 1954. They worked fine. Freestyle was founded on expired surplus film / paper products. Some worked fine, other products did not.

If and when sheet film is dead, the devotees will just have to go back to alternative methods, just as the old time photogs once did. Study it up now, so you can have some peace and now worry so much.

If that is too much and roll film is dead. Get a Leica.

Leica is the closest thing to a view cam as far as being low tech. I enjoy shooting with one for all manual relaxation.

Iluvmyviewcam
17-Apr-2013, 10:37
I'm betting that they know. Maybe not the exact date and time, but they know the sales and production trends/issues better than do we. While none of us agree with business decisions and practices, these aren't totally stupid people. (Anyone is invited to disagree and even be condescending of my obviously naive opinion.) I'm betting that the dirty little secret they aren't telling us is that they've already coated the last batches of LF color and are just "keeping us happy" by selling whats already in the warehouse. After that... then the big announcement that these products have been discontinued. Isn't that the established trend from our consumer perspective?


Yep, that is how biz is run.

Iluvmyviewcam
17-Apr-2013, 10:40
"...but it's hard to imagine the market for color film outright disappearing anytime soon. And if it was discontinued say a decade from now,
one has another decade in the freezer or until the chemistry runs out, but realistically another twenty years."

Any facts/numbers to back this up? Is there industry information somewhere that can be studied? That's all I'm asking.

If we look at dye transfer. Kodak disc it in 1994 (I think) It has been going in small dedicated circles for 18 years or so. Pretty dead now. So 18 - 20 years is a good est. As long as chems are around.

Iluvmyviewcam
17-Apr-2013, 10:41
Useful as insight into the long term stability of the market is, does it actually matter? The images you make now using 4x5 will still be your work if/when the medium becomes obsolete. The experience and knowledge you gain by shooting LF (and the fun you have) will not be wasted. If you want to be conservative, don't drop any 5 figure sums on high end kit. Even if you do, and 4X5 stops being manufactured next summer, you could still use the equipment with paper, or adapt it to shoot wet plate. Analogue photography is much more versatile than digital IMHO.


Good points!

Roger Cole
17-Apr-2013, 11:29
You will not be using that digital camera in 10 years.

Use the heck out of it right now as fast as you can.

Better and cheaper will be here yesterday.

Are you sure? I still have my Coolpix 995 I bought in 1993, and use it occasionally. Not often, granted, because for much digital snapshooting my iPhone is good enough and if I take a camera I take a film camera, but I do use it some. Pixel count notwithstanding, the lower noise and better lens mean it spanks the iPhone. Just because something better is available for way less money (I paid over $900 for that camera with a 1GB microdrive, remember those? - it still works too and is still in the camera) doesn't mean you can't and maybe should continue using what you have.

Now for commercial use, yes of course, you'll have to upgrade sooner - maybe. Even that is getting to the point that the clients aren't likely to be able to tell the difference anyway. When is good enough good enough and any better useless?

Drew Wiley
17-Apr-2013, 11:54
Actually, dye transfer is one of the easiest processes to revive. The dyes are commercially available. Matrix film can be custom run (and has been several times). You can mordant your own paper. Jim Browning hosts the Dye Transfer Forum.
I dabble in it, until I have enough time to do some serious printing. It is time-consuming.

Iluvmyviewcam
17-Apr-2013, 18:09
Actually, dye transfer is one of the easiest processes to revive. The dyes are commercially available. Matrix film can be custom run (and has been several times). You can mordant your own paper. Jim Browning hosts the Dye Transfer Forum.
I dabble in it, until I have enough time to do some serious printing. It is time-consuming.

There you go. When there is a will there is a way. So you view cam guys don't fret. Just shoot until you can't and then find a new way to keep doing what you love.

I bet Freestyle will buy up as much of the film surplus they can if they have any notice to a big closeout. Although the devotees will buy loads of it as well if they get any notice.

What has the notice been like in the past when a film was disc? Did you get a few months notice or more before a film was pulled?

sanking
17-Apr-2013, 19:36
What has the notice been like in the past when a film was disc? Did you get a few months notice or more before a film was pulled?

I was shocked when Kodak discontinued B&W papers in 2005. “Kodak will discontinue the production and sale of black and white photographic papers as part of its worldwide digital growth strategy,” said a company statement. "As the imaging industry transitions from film to digital technologies, demand for B and W paper is declining by 25 percent per year and no longer represents an attractive market for Kodak.”

I won't speculate on the month or year of the end of color film, but like Krakatoa, when it blows it goes.

Sandy

BrianShaw
17-Apr-2013, 19:42
Well, I'll speculate a bit: with every second, and every minute, hour, and day we get closer and closer to the end.

Randy Moe
17-Apr-2013, 20:16
Old digital, yes. First digital, http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/coolpix/others/100/ Then Coolpix 900 and 990. Big time with D70, then D700, D7000 and D800. Sold D800, not for me. The best was D700, lost. Now I use D7000 and P7000. I lose my point, but I am tired of the digital race. Printers @%$%@#

I had to shoot video for the last 3 days, yuk!

I think I may just give it all up and resort to Tintype. I'm retired.



Are you sure? I still have my Coolpix 995 I bought in 1993, and use it occasionally. Not often, granted, because for much digital snapshooting my iPhone is good enough and if I take a camera I take a film camera, but I do use it some. Pixel count notwithstanding, the lower noise and better lens mean it spanks the iPhone. Just because something better is available for way less money (I paid over $900 for that camera with a 1GB microdrive, remember those? - it still works too and is still in the camera) doesn't mean you can't and maybe should continue using what you have.

Now for commercial use, yes of course, you'll have to upgrade sooner - maybe. Even that is getting to the point that the clients aren't likely to be able to tell the difference anyway. When is good enough good enough and any better useless?

paulr
17-Apr-2013, 21:16
Well, I'll speculate a bit: with every second, and every minute, hour, and day we get closer and closer to the end.

Repent!

Roger Cole
17-Apr-2013, 22:34
Old digital, yes. First digital, http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/coolpix/others/100/ Then Coolpix 900 and 990. Big time with D70, then D700, D7000 and D800. Sold D800, not for me. The best was D700, lost. Now I use D7000 and P7000. I lose my point, but I am tired of the digital race. Printers @%$%@#

I had to shoot video for the last 3 days, yuk!

I think I may just give it all up and resort to Tintype. I'm retired.

Ack, did I actually say 1993? I meant, of course, 2003. TYPO! ;)

Roger Cole
17-Apr-2013, 22:35
Are you sure? I still have my Coolpix 995 I bought in 1993, and use it occasionally. Not often, granted, because for much digital snapshooting my iPhone is good enough and if I take a camera I take a film camera, but I do use it some. Pixel count notwithstanding, the lower noise and better lens mean it spanks the iPhone. Just because something better is available for way less money (I paid over $900 for that camera with a 1GB microdrive, remember those? - it still works too and is still in the camera) doesn't mean you can't and maybe should continue using what you have.

Now for commercial use, yes of course, you'll have to upgrade sooner - maybe. Even that is getting to the point that the clients aren't likely to be able to tell the difference anyway. When is good enough good enough and any better useless?

Too late to edit so I'll just reply to myself - that should say I bought the 995 in 2003.

ramon
18-Apr-2013, 09:42
Your best bet is to stock up on film and freeze it.


That's sound advice, even for black and white shooters.


I would say "only for black and white shooters".

BW chemicals and developers are cheap, well documented and easily accesible to buy. Not the same for C41 or E6.

Have you ever tried to make your own E6 chemicals? There is some expensive active component (CD-3) that only Fuji, Kodak and Tetenal knows (and that some people may have guessed, there is some information on APUG about this).

When the time comes that Fuji and Kodak announce they will stop selling film, for how long they will continue to make chemicals for C41 or E6? Will they maintain the price?

You can have a full fridge with film, but do you also have space for chemicals? And how long is the expiration date for C41 and E6 chemicals?

Drew Wiley
18-Apr-2013, 09:55
Guess we better panic and do nothing while we still have time....

BrianShaw
18-Apr-2013, 11:16
Ya, why procrastinate... all that does is delay the inevitable.

Drew Wiley
18-Apr-2013, 12:02
So if the few remaining sources for amidol or glycin dry up, will all the black and white printers roll up, cry, and die too? As
long as I've been involved in photography some favorite product or another has disappeared from time to time, usually just
as soon as I really got comfortable with it. Murphy's Law will still be around if you give up on film and go digital. That
won't change. You'll still have bad days. Equipment will still fail. Manufacturers and their tech or warranty support will still
go out of business or be bought out by someone who could care less about your problems. Someone's dog just pooped on my
showroom floor. Should I shut the doors and call it quits?

biedron
18-Apr-2013, 17:41
Hey, that's a quotable quote :)


Guess we better panic and do nothing while we still have time....

john borrelli
30-Apr-2013, 18:09
I'm not sure if the real question is how much longer for 4X5 color film or how much for 4X5 color film.

I just spent 80.00 for 20 sheets for "new" Fuji Velvia 100 at a local camera store that still sells some film. That's $4.00 a sheet and that's the most I have ever spent on film. Would I spend $8.00 a sheet for Fuji Velvia? No I would not.

If that's going to be the price a couple of years from now for a good slide film then it's going to be to rich for my blood. I'll hold my nose and go digital.

Roger Cole
30-Apr-2013, 18:58
I'm glad I'm primarily a black and white shooter. That is an awfully expensive price, and don't even talk about 8x10.

But 120 is still quite reasonable. I'll shoot color in a roll film back or in a medium format camera. In fact that's pretty much how I shoot it now, but it's not primarily due the cost (it is partially though.)

Michael_4514
5-May-2013, 18:31
I'm betting that the dirty little secret they aren't telling us is that they've already coated the last batches of LF color and are just "keeping us happy" by selling whats already in the warehouse. After that... then the big announcement that these products have been discontinued. Isn't that the established trend from our consumer perspective?

That just makes no sense on several different levels.

Randy Moe
5-May-2013, 18:51
I wish people would stop posting color images. I find them all together too alluring, for a person that really sees the world in B&W.

So tempting, yet also so deceiving.

Joking, almost...






OK, don't stop, I'll adjust my monitor, NOT!

Shootar401
6-May-2013, 13:18
I'm sorry, but I answered with both condescension and platitudes. I didn't throw in psychoanalysis because I don't have the credentials. The question may be relevant, but it should be obvious, even to the poster that no one has anything close to an answer and anything that most responders can come up with is simply a WAG. We see a lot of that lately.

As far as my Crapshoot comment, the OP or any of the rest of us could have been at the finish line of the Boston Marathon lately.... Now THAT'S Relevant. Yes folks.. gather in big crowds???

Bottom line, the answer to the question simply is "Shoot 4X5 until no one sells it any more". Then shoot what you have in the freezer. Then check out eBay for the hangers on who had it but decided to raise the price to exorbitant levels and sell. When you can no longer buy it, and none is left in the freezer, and nobody on eBay is selling, you're done. The last sheet of the film you want will be found on eBay.
You will not find an unexposed box of color 4X5 film on Sotheby's at auction, or at least that's what I would think.

Not sorry for the condescension and platitudes. Sorry I took the time to post.

You're an ass, just sayin'

Kodachrome25
6-May-2013, 14:43
Drew he's asking a simple question.

Ummmm....not only is it not a simple question, it is one that always starts rampant arm chair, Wall Street-esque speculation. My answer is simply assume that after Kodak is done with their 2015 obligation to make motion picture stock, things could change. So either save about 3-5K in cash right now and then buy and store a ton if you need it post circa-2015 or stock up now.

Thats really it, hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Stephen Willard
6-May-2013, 21:29
Just for the record I am Drew Wiley groupie. If my memory serves me correct I think he, like my self, print 30x40 RA4 prints using a CPI processor that was obsoleted in the 80s. Mine still works fine, and I suspect his does too. In fact, I have three of them.

I have a friend who just paid $10,000 for a new vacuum tube amp. The sounds he gets from that thing are amazingly rich and creamy. Vacuum tube electronics died a fast death in the 60's, yet here we are in 2013 with a 10K vacuum tube amp. I do not believe there is a digital amp that could come close to replicating the sounds that come out of this vacuum tube amp. It is amazing! It just blew me away.

I print and sell big stuff on RA-4 Fuji Crystal Archive paper. 30x40s and 20x50s are my most popular sellers. I buy my paper in 40"x100 foot rolls and cut it to size myself. I can print a 20x50 for around $15.00 and that includes the cost of the chemistry. The tonality I get from my analog prints are amazingly rich and creamy, and I have yet to see any digital inkjet prints come close.

My wife and I still dry our cloths on a cloths line, and we can still buy cloths pins for it despite the invention of the modern cloths dryer. We love the smell and feel of outdoor air dried cloths, and we like the fact that cloths do not shrink when air dried. No modern cloths dryer could ever produce the scent and feel of a cloths line.

We also still cook using cast iron cook wear. There is a lot of high-tech cook wear out there, but none of it can compete with the even heat of cast iron. We get so much more control of the cooking process when we use cast iron.

My gut feeling tells me that the cloths line, the vacuum tube amp, the cast iron cook wear, and the C41 RA4 analog process will be with us 50 years from now. These solutions are not as convenient as the technology that replaced them, but because they produce a far superior result they will be with us for a life time.

I have no doubt about this:rolleyes:.

welly
6-May-2013, 22:25
I've got 140 sheets of Velvia 100F in my freezer. I don't know about the rest of you but as I rarely shoot colour, I know I'm good for colour film for some time to come.

Roger Cole
6-May-2013, 22:44
My gut feeling tells me that the cloths line, the vacuum tube amp, the cast iron cook wear, and the C41 RA4 analog process will be with us 50 years from now. These solutions are not as convenient as the technology that replaced them, but because they produce a far superior result they will be with us for a life time.

I have no doubt about this:rolleyes:.

Hum, so you know it's not the same?

At the risk of missing sarcasm (I mean, the eyerolling and the statement look sarcastic, but the preceding paragraph certainly doesn't SOUND sarcastic, and at risk of pointing out the very, very obvious, clothes lines, clothes pins and cast iron skillets are stone simple to produce. If there's any demand at all for them, someone will make them, and you could make your own clothes line (my folks always did anyway) easier than buying it, and carve out wooden peg clothespins without too much trouble and even probably fabricate springs for that type at home if you wanted. Casting iron is a little harder but not that hard. Probably not something folks will do at home but the demand for cast iron cookware continues to ensure it is made.

Even vacuum tubes and sockets are pretty simple compared to a complex many layer emulsion like RA4 paper, and the chemistry, unlike black and white, is not really used for anything else.

The analogy works as to why some people consider it valuable, but falls apart in terms of continued availability.

But I think you knew this. ;)

Drew Wiley
7-May-2013, 11:24
Hi Stephen - I didn't know I had any following except eleven cats when they hear a can popping open! I've been working on the house since this is a relatively dry
year, and haven't had much chance to color print except some 20x24's. But I have cut some 30X40 sheets off my new roll and will finish calibrating the batch to my 8x10 enlarger in the next day or two. Are you heading into the Winds again this summer? I haven't made any plans except a brief snow slog in a couple of weeks and maybe later into the Rubies in NV. No big blocks of time until I retire in a couple of years. I'm extremely encouraged by the marriage of CAII or current Supergloss
with both 160VC and Ektar.

ROL
7-May-2013, 11:59
I wish people would stop posting color images. I find them all together too alluring, for a person that really sees the world in B&W.

So tempting, yet also so deceiving.

Joking, almost...

I just caught up with my TCM DVR recording of "A Matter of Life and Death" (aka, "Stairway to Heaven" David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Raymond Massey) last night. Heaven is black and white, earth is color. Pretty much as I expected. That settles it. Deal with it. (;))

Randy Moe
7-May-2013, 12:11
I put it at #1 for my next Netflix DVD. I may have seen it, but I sure want to see it again!


I just caught up with my TCM DVR recording of "A Matter of Life and Death" (aka, "Stairway to Heaven" – David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Raymond Massey) last night. Heaven is black and white, earth is color. Pretty much as I expected. That settles it. Deal with it. (;))

Drew Wiley
7-May-2013, 13:18
Then what is hell - digitally colorized black and white?

Randy Moe
7-May-2013, 13:24
We can only hope!


Then what is hell - digitally colorized black and white?

Noah A
7-May-2013, 14:52
Then what is hell - digitally colorized black and white?

Hell is a series of Instagram filters!

ROL
8-May-2013, 09:34
I am not religious. You have mischaracterized humor and FACT. While my post may have strode the line of general acceptability, your critical view of it perhaps says more about your politics than mine.

rdenney
8-May-2013, 15:50
Actually, what drove the action were complaints. Don't take it personally.

Rick "noting that crossing the line humorously or unintentionally or even factually doesn't mean it wasn't crossed" Denney

Kirk Gittings
8-May-2013, 16:14
I am not religious. You have mischaracterized humor and FACT. While my post may have strode the line of general acceptability, your critical view of it perhaps says more about your politics than mine.

FWIW I actually agree with your point BUT no matter-it has no place here and I would have deleted it too as a violation of the rules. I pitch all kinds of stuff I agree with-that doesn't matter in the slightest-same I'm sure with RRRRDDD.

Drew Wiley
9-May-2013, 08:34
Is still believing in the relevance of color film considered a religion? ... (back to the original thread)... I guess if seeing is believing. My gosh, I just finished calibrating
Ole Zeke (my big 8x10 color enlarger) to Ektar and CAII Supergloss last nite, and am itching to get working on real prints. But the quality of rendition of the test
chart patches is pretty amazing, esp for something printed raw without supplementary masking. And no need for a Photoshop subscription either ... (a timely dig,
for those of you who subscribe to that particular religion).