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Thread: future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

    I searched the past posts, but did not find much recent information. I have been out of LF for awhile...what is the prospect of 8x10 color film becoming obsolete in the near future? It's my guess 4x5 film would outlive 8x10 film as their probably is 50x more 4x5 cameras in existence vs. 8x10. However, after experiencing the digital world myself, I feel the threat 4x5 film will soon have is digital cameras / backs getting better and better. I think within 2 years, 40 MP cameras will be a reality. When the Foveon, (RGB per pixel, is perfected - which is in the works) coupled with increased pixel count, I think 4x5 will be at the mercy of digital also. Of course the casual hobby shooter will not run out and buy such expensive gear, but unfortunately they are not the big buyers of film, which works against what we need.

    My gut feeling is, Fuji and Kodak, as a result of the digital proliferation, will constantly analyze each product line and demand profitability in each film size. Due to the propietary nature of film, I could not imagine them selling the LF film business off. Companies of this size just close the product line. Any rumblings in the industry? Any thoughts? TYIA

  2. #2

    future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

    Film is just paper on a clear background.

    It seems to me that the future of digital is to have your prints made at the drugstore on a Fuji Frontier machine.

    That machine writes to triditional photo paper with lasers.

    So as long as there is a market for the paper I suspect they will keep making film.

    Beyond that, I think digital may actually be increasing the interest in high resolution photography.

    The FBI study equates 200 ASA 35 mm film to 16 meg so even 40 meg doesn't even obsolete medium format much less 4x5.


    http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/fsc/backissu/april2002/swgitfield1.htm


    I am not much of a photographer and the tests I have run with old cameras and lenses show that I can get detail in the 60 to 80 lp/mm range to the edge of a 4x5 negative so again, 40 meg doesn't feed the bull dog at my house.

  3. #3

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    future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

    I'll open myself up for much abuse by saying this, but our days are numbered. I can't say just when, but it's a given that there will come a time when film of any kind is a thing of the past. To believe otherwise is naive.

    That said, I think it (film) will be around for a while yet. The selection is already getting a bit limited and that will get worse, but we should be able to keep shooting.

  4. #4

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    future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

    I don't think film will be taken out of production completely, though I'm sure our choice of film will be narrowed considerably. As the big guys close their doors, the little guys will get more business and get more profitable.

    So we may be stuck with films from companies like Maco, but that will be better than throwing out our cameras.

    Get shooting while you can ....

  5. #5

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    future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

    Graeme, its great to hear from you again! After a long hiatus, I am back on line. Hope all is going well in the land down under!

    BTW, who else makes color 8x10 film other than the big two?

  6. #6
    Scott Rosenberg's Avatar
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    future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

    i know digital is quicker. i know digital is more convenient. i know digital is getting better every couple of months. i know one day there will be a consumer digicam sold for less than a box of 8x10 velvia that will take pictures with more detail than a 20x24. i know all these things, and still i continue to invest in my large format outfit.

    i also know that shooting with my 4x5 is an incredibly rewarding experience for me. the slow, deliberate, methodical process is something i absolutely love. i cherish getting under my darkcloth and carefully composing a shot. there is something special about crafting a photograph, something i've never been able to feel shooting digitally.

    as long as there's film and paper available, i'll be supporting the companies putting it out.

  7. #7

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    future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

    Bill, it's great to hear from you again! How 'ya been? Where 'ya been?

    Now let's locate John Hicks and get him posting here.

  8. #8

    future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

    I scanned a 4x5 neg once on my Epson 3200 at max resolution-I have a MacG5 that has 2.5 gig of ram. It took forever, but the resulting file of ONE negative was 1.4 gig. While not a geek, I am an engineer, and of course you could not really make use of all those bits, but it convinced me that film was safe.

    Look at a good quality contact print from LF. that should do it.

  9. #9

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    future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

    Hi Sal! It's like old times! Nice to hear from ya!

    As for the beauty and nostalgia of shooting film, I do agree.... but my concern is, the big users will convert, leaving a tiny market that larger companies do not like to support. We have seen that in many areas, Bronica went under.... Mamiya is introducing MF digital camera 1st qtr. Mamiya gear on ebay has taken a nose dive as MF shooters are moving to 35mm, specially with the new Canon 16.7 MP 1DsII.

    I certainly do not want to start a digital vs. film war, that is not my motive here. But I would like to share some thoughts, it will demonstrate my concerns. First, any data that you reveiw, digital vs. film, which is more than 6 months old is not relevant. The sensors have improved in every area, noise, size, tonal range, etc. When I read about the direction the makers are moving, its quite impressive. For example, Canon is perfecting the ability for each one of their pixels to record RG&B, vs. now all Bayer sensors only record one color. This will approx. double the recorded data. The sensor sizes are getting larger, Mamiyas first introduction is 22 MP, they will surely be at 35 - 40 MP real soon. Nikon is introducing a new technology that will extend the exposure latitude by turning off the pixels that are nearing over exposure, while allowing the open shutter to continual expose the shadow areas. Just think about a 10 stop image latitude capability with grainless film, no cost to buy film, process film, scan film, etc. Its my best guess, film may loose to digital more for beauty and asthetic reasons, as these sensors / software get better. It will raise the bar on image quality. Up to this point, that has not been the case, except for smaller sized prints, 11x14 and under, except for dedicated scanning backs.

    I will not dispute that well exposed chrome will still not rival a good digital image, but as the image quality gets so good, people will gravitate to digital. I shoot mostly 8x10, some 4x5, and when I got my first digital camera, Canon 20d, I am blown away by the image quality.... even vs. 8x10 film.... not at 60" of course..... it's just the grainless look, the color pallette, just plain beautiful. But I love huge prints, so I don't want to end my LF shooting, I was just curious about the opinion vs. others. About 3 yrs ago on this forum, I used to laugh at people (in the privacy of my home) who thought digital would take over film..... oh well, this is capitalism at its best!

  10. #10

    future of 4x5 and 8x10 film

    Absolutely, digital will completely replace film. Exactly like film completely replaced painting... After all, we all know that it's impossible to buy paint and canvas anymore, right?

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