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Thread: The Future of Film Photography

  1. #11

    Re: The Future of Film Photography

    Speaking from a committed amateur perspective, the general perception (not shared by everybody) that digital will inevitably gain on film due to improving technology is premised on an assumption that film processing technology has ended. But has it? That assumption could well be overturned if, in addition to new film emulsions, manufacturers came up with much improved small scanners, which is surely not unfeasible technically (maybe financially).

    Even with what is available, for modest sized prints, say up to 8x10, the results from a Leica 35mm neg scanned on the old Minolta 5400II producing up to 100MB files and printed on a capable inkjet are superb, and it makes me really happy to know I can keep using my old mechanical film gear with great results, scanned or wet processed! Likewise, 200Mb files from my Pentax 67 negatives are pin sharp to 16x20, the biggest I've printed, and probably beyond. I'm just starting in LF, and I look forward to very satisfactory results going hybrid and scanning on my V750. Just imagine if there was a V1750, or a Nikon 12000? Who knows what will happen? But the 'given' that film is at the end of the line may become untrue.

    I have to admit that underlying this post is my innate unease with going wholly digital, and working with cameras which have become computers, and placing my entire photographic estate at the mercy of changing technology. For pros making their living out of it, they have no choice. I do.

  2. #12
    8x20 8x10 6x9 John Jarosz's Avatar
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    Re: The Future of Film Photography

    or are there real qualities to film that digital photography simply cannot replace?
    Archival storage of images and data cannot be guaranteed by any digital media (yet). If you want to preserve images or data (microfiche) for 200-500 years, then digital will not fill the need.

  3. #13

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    Re: The Future of Film Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by theBDT View Post
    I think this link is appropriate: HERE
    And the music is superb, really fits the purpose!

  4. #14

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    Re: The Future of Film Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by John Jarosz View Post
    Archival storage of images and data cannot be guaranteed by any digital media (yet). If you want to preserve images or data (microfiche) for 200-500 years, then digital will not fill the need.
    With digital, it is not the media that guarantees data continuity, it is the procedure.

    Just like the car does not react to whip...

  5. #15
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: The Future of Film Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by venchka View Post
    Hopefully Kirk Gittings will give us his perspective. Kirk is a professional working primarily with digital while maintaining a high degree of large format talent.
    Thanks Wayne. I'm afraid film is largely dead for commercial work except for the odd concept piece. Since everyone just wants files the workflow of film no longer makes any sense. This is especially true in towns like mine where there are no longer any E-6/C-41 labs. While the equipment is far more expensive (to me anyway I used cheap ancient view cameras for commercial before digital) the savings in Polaroid alone easily pays for it.

    IMHO.......Speaking in pre-recession terms......I am frankly more profitable with digital even with the equipment expenditures, because charges like for film and processing are now digital capture fees and stay in house. Cash flow has improved for that reason too. For quantity commercial imaging, I can turn around a far better product digitally than I could scanning film and 21mp cameras produce a file size that exceeds 98% of my clients needs.

    In terms of image quality. I don't shoot digital MF-I can't afford it and it exceeds my clients needs. A good DSLR is all I need for commercial work and an occasional stitched image produces a file that even meets my personal standards for making a fine print. BUT I prefer working from 4x5 for fine prints even though I don't print large. The LF workflow lends itself to serious imaging and with single exposure capture it doesn't have the problems of stitching in the field.

    With the advent of the new glossy papers by Harmon etc. digital b&w printing rivals traditional silver. Can't speak for color. I don't do color fine art prints and no commercial clients want prints anymore.

    Frankly I think for the most part it is all good right now. I wouldn't consider going back to film for commercial work and have no desire to do my art work digitally. I think we have the best of both worlds at our fingertips. But unfortunately I think film will continue to lose ground in terms of available products and services.

    As per archiving? I have lost improtant negatives through flooding. There was no backup for lost or damaged 4x5 film negatives. But I have multiple backups for film scans and digital capture images on site and off. I feel safer than ever before with digital archiving.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    "When did photography become a desk job?" Kirk Gittings 2009

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  6. #16
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Re: The Future of Film Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Gibbons View Post
    Again, the question is more one of economics than technical.
    That's the short of it. I might say that it has to do with the intersection of the technical and the economic.

    What you can get for how much is constantly changing. What makes sense for you might be different than what makes sense for me. What makes sense tomorrow might be different than what makes sense today.

    Working styles are another difference to consider. Fundamentally, digital and analog are names that we give to workflows, not specific technologies. There's personal preference involved ... you might love/hate working in the darkroom, or love/hate working at a computer. And each workflow has a different set of conveniences and inconveniences. A DSLR is faster and more spontaneous to use than a view camera with film. But a view camera with a scanning back, tethered to a computer, might be more cumbersome than both.

    You get the idea ... the realities are dependent on the specific technologies you compare, and they're constantly evolving.

  7. #17
    Maris Rusis's Avatar
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    Re: The Future of Film Photography

    What the pictures look like doesn't count in the long run. Digital picture making can, or soon will be able to, replicate the surface appearance of any medium; film, paint, pencil, whatever.

    If you want to look pictures that have the same relationship to subject matter as film based pictures then nothing touched by digital technology is worth looking at.

    A film based photograph happens when a physical sample of subject matter travels across space, penetrates the sensitive surface, and occasions picture forming marks where it penetrates. If you want this then don't bother with "digital." But why would you so want?

    A film photograph is physically, necessarily, and materially bound to its subject in the same way as a graphite rubbing, a footprint, or a silicone rubber cast. It is a straight line case of a substance direct on substance action. There is no virtual component. If this is what you want then don't bother with digital.

    The film photograph is utterly powerless in depicting subjects that do not exist. The film photograph is a certificate for the existence of subject matter. Physical subjects are a necessary prerequisite for the possibility of a film photograph. If you want pictures of unicorns then you have to go digital. Film won't help you.

    Successful pictures in film photography require that the subject and the film have to be in each others presence simultaneously and that they have to be directly and physically connected at the same (relativistically adjusted!) moment. An actual film negative of the Eiffel Tower cannot exist without the film itself having made a trip to Paris. If this is what you want then don't bother even looking at digital. Remember, a digital picture of a dinosaur is possible without a trip back to the Jurassic.

    Film photographs can do nothing about subjects which may have existed in the past. If you want scenes from ancient Rome or portraits of Jesus then digital can deliver them. But don't presume they are equivalent to film photographs.

    The future is similarly a closed book to film photographs. Photographs can only be exposed in the implacable present moment. Try as you might you won't get the Star-ship Enterprise on film, it hasn't been built yet, but digital will deliver you a whole Star Trek movie.

    No film photography can go into landscapes of the imagination or into the topography of dreams. Digital does this easily. All one needs is a computer, a few image files, and some nice software for pushing pixels. Remember, hallucinations don't register on film.

    Film photography cannot address subject matter which full well exists but is momentarily blocked from sight. If you want pictures of something you missed then digital is your only recourse. Whether anyone would believe such a picture is a moot point. A digital picture offered under oath is a mighty suspicious thing except to the terminally naive. A film photograph requires no oath. It is true to subject although that in itself is no guarantee that the casual observer won't muddle what they see.

    The sole source of energy for a film photograph is the subject and the internal chemical potential energy of the photographic materials. External energy sources, electricity for example, are not at all required. My film camera, film, and chemicals would work just as well in Shakespeare's day or the distant future when dark energy has long replaced electricity.

    Digital of course delivers "appearances" and that can be entertaining but if you need a refuge from a world where "seeming" is indistinguishable from "being" then film photography is one such refuge.
    Photography:first utterance. Sir John Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society. "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..".

  8. #18
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    Re: The Future of Film Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Gittings View Post
    Thanks Wayne. I'm afraid film is largely dead for commercial work except . . .
    "Well said!"

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    Re: The Future of Film Photography

    Dear Maris,

    Sorry, and I do not mean to be rude, but could you tell me what you just said in twenty-five words, or less...

    jim k

  10. #20

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    Re: The Future of Film Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Maris Rusis View Post
    The film photograph is utterly powerless in depicting subjects that do not exist... If you want pictures of unicorns then you have to go digital. Film won't help you.
    You can't be serious. What about every movie ever made before 1990 or so? Take for example the attached image of a unicorn from Blade Runner.

    Try as you might you won't get the Star-ship Enterprise on film, it hasn't been built yet, but digital will deliver you a whole Star Trek movie.
    What about all the Star Trek movies made before CGI? What is the difference in the "truth" between a miniature model of the Enterprise shot on 35mm film, and a digital model rendered using CGI? They're equally "true" or "untrue!"

    No film photography can go into landscapes of the imagination or into the topography of dreams.
    Ludicrous!

    Every photograph, whether it's captured by a digital sensor or an analog one, is a lie. The camera always lies. Even (especially?) documentary/photojournalist photography, which has pretensions of neutrality, often distorts and misleads, whether intentionally or not.

    All photography, whether digital or analog, is the product of someone's imagination or dream. The photographer imagines making the image, and then makes it. It doesn't matter whether it's staged or spontaneous, or whether it takes two years or 5 milliseconds; at some point, the photographer has the idea to make the image, and some time later, the shutter is released.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails unicorn.jpg  

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