View Full Version : Loosing my nerve??????

16-Feb-2005, 00:09

For reasons too complex to describe here, I find myself in the position of having a fair sum of cash that "MUST" be spent on camera gear.
Initially I was thrilled at the prospect of buying a new Wista or Sinar with a shiny new lens but, here I am, one week later, full of doubt.

What if I spend all this money then find I can no longer get film?, Should I go Hasselblad and hope the resale value holds up if I get twitchy about materials.
The bit that hurts the most is, I am actually looking at digital cameras (will I ever face a mirror again?) but can't live with the obsolescence rate which is about three months.
And never mind is film dead, judging by the exponential rate of development in camera phones I guess the next question is "Are DSLR's Dead"

I am not a rich man by any standards regardless of my opening comment and really don't want blow it at this point.

I need Guidance.

Frank Petronio
16-Feb-2005, 00:26
Large format film has more practical reasons to survive in the digital era than 35mm film. The only digital backs capable of out-resolving 4x5 film are very expensive and difficult to use in the field, requiring longer, scanning exposures. With the exception of the latest 22mp one-shot chips used on the latest Phase One back (at $25K), there is nothing close to 4x5 on the market. And it is doubtful that there will be, as it becomes uneconomic to create a high res, low cost back for a smaller market.

Also, while the major players may get out of film, the manufacturing technology has trickled down to smaller operations. There are several "boutique" film manufacturers, and given that people still make Platinum prints and you can buy classic films roll films (like turn of the century (1900) 828 and such) online, I wouldn't worry too much. Color E-6 might go away, but black and white will always be around.

That said, if you have that much money burning a hole in your pocket, you'd be foolish not to consider a good DSLR (Canon 1Ds2 perhaps?) and compare. As nice as large format is, it is even nicer to be producing images, and you should get what will make you satisfied and productive.

16-Feb-2005, 00:46
Now you're really scaring me!

Colour E-6 going away, that's my preferred medium.
Don't say it's true!

John Kasaian
16-Feb-2005, 02:20

Assuming that there is no practical reason for this gear you find that you "must" buy(unlike, say, you have to plow it back into a business in order to keep the IRS lads from taking you to the cleaners) then get what makes you happy. If, OTOH you do have to make an investment in your business, buy something that will make you(and the IRS) more money. Those medical imaging machines that take in the womb baby portraits seem to be hot ticket items right now!

Graeme Hird
16-Feb-2005, 03:07
If you MUST spend the money, buy something you'll enjoy using for many years and don't worry about resale value. You have to get rid of the money anyway - enjoy the feeling and equipment.

Personally, I'd be buying something really nice from the secondhand market. You'll get more camera for your buck, and most resale losses have happened before you took possession. A mint Arca Swiss and a couple of Schneider SA XL lenses are on the top of the wish list around this house (at least in the "Male - Nearly 40" demographic.)

(Oh, and don't listen to Frank - E6 film will be around for some time to come yet ....)

16-Feb-2005, 03:43
Just to clarify things:

I am not in business, next to god and my family photography is the biggest love of my life & the cash is really a gift of photographic shop vouchers.

I am a peasant but have enough vouchers to buy something in the order of a new Hasselblad 503CW (should I wish). The vouchers have a six month expiration date and cannot be transferred or changed for cash. In a word (or three) I am lumbered.

In the UK I am considered low life because I could only afford an MPP MKVII with an old angulon, whereas a Linhof would be seen as acceptable.
Actually, that's probably not true, though there is almost a class war here over what you have in your camera bag.
I want to continue photography as long as I draw breath but don't want to invest in something which I can't use in say,,, 10 years time.

Thanks for the reassurance on E-6 by the way.

Calamity Jane
16-Feb-2005, 04:15
"don't want to invest in something which I can't use in say,,, 10 years time."

I think you just answered your own question.

Go with your top quality sheet film camera and you'll still have it in 30 years. At worst case, you may end up changing a bellows in 20 or 30 years or have the shutter serviced but it'll still be trucking! :-)

If you buy digital, what's the chance that the electronics will still be working in 30 years? (I work in the electronics field, have been since the days of vacuum tubes, and I wouldn't plan on more than 10 years from ANY electronic equipment.)

. . . . oh to have such a delema!!!

Edward (Halifax,NS)
16-Feb-2005, 05:14
Tony, if I were you I would take advantage of being in the UK and pick up a gently used walnut Gandolfi Variant and a mint/new lens to put on it. Even if it looks like E-6 will be on its way out, you can put a case in the freezer and that will keep you going for a long time.

Louie Powell
16-Feb-2005, 05:31
Tony -

Digital technology is continuing to evolve at a frightful rate, and the digital equipment that you might purchase today will be technologically obsolete when you open the box for the first time. I would be concerned that if you spend a sum of money on a digital product today, you will find yourself with a self-imposed desire to spend just as much, if not more, on some new gadget a year from now.

But conventional LF technology hasn't changed significantly in 50 years or more. Yes, some of the companies that supply film to support traditional technology are currently facing business challenges - but that's not new and it's also not unique to film manufacturers. There will continue to be a market for traditional film for the forseeable future. Right now, film is dirt cheap; frankl,y the market can absorb a sizable increase in the price of film and that may have to happen to address the business concerns of the manufacturers. But that doesn't mean that film will become unavailable, just more expensive.

In my opinion, the INCREMENTAL amount of money that you may have to spend because film is likely to become more expensive will be far less than the amount of money that you might want to spend to replace that brand new digital whizaflex a year from now.

16-Feb-2005, 05:51
The great Frederick H. Evans, when he could no longer get Platinum due to the war effort, refused to work in silver. From that point on he never made another print. If they take my film away.......well then.....I'm done

Frank Petronio
16-Feb-2005, 06:02
E6 film may be in your freezer, but labs may have a hard time getting the chemistry and running the processor efficiently. Just like the previous color processes - making color chemistry is much more diffucult than mixing B&W chems...

But I'm talking 20 years out...

Edward (Halifax,NS)
16-Feb-2005, 06:09
Frank, I am talking out my ass on this one, but I expect that if E-6 film goes it will go in LF first then MF, then 35mm. As long as labs are doing 35mm processing they will do hand processing of LF. That should allow for at least a couple of years of processing after LF film is discontinued...

at least that is how things will play out in my imaginary universe.

Brian Ellis
16-Feb-2005, 06:30
I have no idea what will happen tomorrow, much less next year or ten years from now. I think that buying on the basis of what someone believes will or won't happen in the future is foolish because nobody knows. Even digital isn't going to be around forever, if we don't blow the planet up first something will replace it some day, we just don't know what or when. So buy what you really want based on what's available today, then use it and enjoy it for as long as it does the job for which you purchased it.

Steve Hamley
16-Feb-2005, 07:53

Send your money to me. I'll buy camera gear and won't worry about film or digital. Problem solved!


Jim Rhoades
16-Feb-2005, 08:10
Class war over what's in the bag huh? We have that kind of warfare over here too. The guy that wins the show and tell of equipment never seems to have any prints. They are known as measurebaters.

Buy a used, Blad, woody or monorail that suits your photographic needs. Spend all the leftover on film, paper and chemicals.

16-Feb-2005, 08:51
Thanks for your comments gentlemen.
I think the long and short of it is, if I throw all your comments into a blender, the resulting answer will be "Tony, you gotta make your own mind up on this one!" or "Get a life".

"If they take my film away.......well then.....I'm done"

Thanks Robert, that statement is exactly what I feel.

I think I will buy a Blad, at least it will make a nice tea caddy if it all goes claws up.

John Kasaian
16-Feb-2005, 09:24

I see the irony.

If LF makes you happy, I say invest in your kit. You could add some lenses and a stash of film(I tell my wife that it makes the freezer operate more efficiently;-) You could add a camera if the one you're using is wearing out, or try out another format(5x7? 8x10?). You could even buy some plate holders as insurance so you can coat your own. A back up lens is a good idea too---just in case your angulon needs to go away some day for a cla.

I' d avoid wasting money on "magic bullets" or camera bag status. Your film after all dosen't know what brand of camera its been in, only if its being held flat or not and if its been properly exposed(though Linhofs are really really neat cameras!)

These gift vouchers were probably intended to be spent on things which will give you pleasure---now, not in the distant future. Since nobody knows how long we're going to be alive, spend it on gear that you can use now---I may outlive film, but then film might outlive me! What matters is that I make the best use of the time (and film) that I have.

Good luck with your delightful dilemma!

Ralph Barker
16-Feb-2005, 10:24
Tony - if you're working with gift vouchers, rather than cash, a new Blad from a dealer (at dealer prices) may not be a good deal for you. Take a look at prices on the used market (i.e. eBay) first. For all intents and purposes, there is essentially no resale market for medium-format gear. A significant portion of the MF market has been taken over by high-end digital. Thus, while the Hassy is a great MF system, buying new doesn't make a lot of sense.

John Kasaian
16-Feb-2005, 10:38
I agree with Ralph. With Hassys undergoing radical design changes, the 500 series will probably---and sadly--- follow in the footsteps of the 1000: a good camera thats become an unwanted, unloved orphan when the factory stopped supporting the system(hey, this is one of the reasons for getting into lf in the first place for me!)

Rage against the machine! Large Format! Huahhhh! ;-)

16-Feb-2005, 10:43
Sounds like someone gave you a nice gift -- the appropriate thing to do is buy whatever it is that will make you most happy today. But not all of us are able to shorten our horizons so much...

If you are truly devoted to color, I would advise you to go digital. If you are satisfied with or prefer b&w, you can go either way.

Going with film does have the advantage that there is no danger of new silver bullets coming on the market next year. As we all know, there are guaranteed to be digital silver bullets next year and every year, for a good while. But that doesn't mean that today's digital setup can't work and give you years of pleasure and fulfillment in the face of its own market obsolescence.

Personally, I will give up photography if/when film is no longer practical. I am concentrating on refining my color-saturated vision to learn the b&w game, so that when labs go away, I can be satsified doing my own processing.

My opinions, your mileage will vary.

Jim Galli
16-Feb-2005, 10:50
Of interest perhaps. We just made a huge purchase of Eastman Ektachrome here at work as Kodak announced they would no longer make it after a final run and we weren't ready for digital yet. Of interest though was that our management questioned the longevity of the product because we were looking at a 10 year supply. We store at a constant 36 degrees 24/7. I had some 15 year old film in the cooler and set up 2 movie cams next to each other. One with the 15 year old product and one with fresh. Ran them both under same conditions, same scene which was a huge computer enlarged MacBeth color checker and some other calibration cards enlarged to 32X40 size. Developed both films in the same tank at the same time. The 15 year old film surprised everyone including me. It had a measureable loss of D-max and a slight shift to magenta. Both controllable if we wanted to by messing with exposure development times and shifting ph a bit. I could have gotten them very close. Of note is that both of these are asa 400 (we rate at 500) films which are worst case for long term storage. The moral is to buy what you think you will enjoy most and be a little wise about stock-piling some of your favorite emulsion for the future. For instance if you're a Velvia 50 guy, you'd better pick up the phone right now.

Frank Petronio
16-Feb-2005, 11:05
Use the gift vouchers to pre-order the next pre-annouced Canon DSLR lens or body, then resell it on eBay for a small profit because nobody else can get one in their rush to get the latest and greatest next new thing.

Then invest the profits into some new vintage lenses for for fine MPP, and take a photo trip somewhere.

Have fun...

Pete Watkins
16-Feb-2005, 11:50
Come on Tony, give the rest of the L.F. community in the U.K. a bit of help. Get a decent 5x4 three nice lenses and a roll film back. You're covered if 5x4 E6 film goes but you can still use the stuff in your roll film back. There ain't many movements on a 'blad, and what about spares in 20 years time? Good Luck.

16-Feb-2005, 13:21
Hey frank what are you basing the E6 disappearance on? Sounds like a false claim to me.

Tony hassy's are going cheap right now. The resale value is not there. Sorry but it is true. If you like LF then go LF. You do not need the high end. A LF camer is nothing but a shapable light tight box. Spend your money on glass. Put together a nice little kit. I would not put a lot of thought in Frank's claim. 10 years from now you will be using that kit and having a good time.

QT Luong
16-Feb-2005, 13:49
I'd second recommendation for a few nice LF lenses. Even if in 10 years you would be shooting in MF with a digital back, they would still be usable on that system.

16-Feb-2005, 14:01
I haven't paid attention to prices and equipment for some time, I've bought up what I needed and since then have only put money out for materials... That said, I watched the price of my 645 equipment plummet as digital gear rapidly eclipsed its quality.

I don't see much point in MF as the digital gear is already up there in quality, with a far nicer cost-per-exposure, instant feedback, and smaller size and weight.

Neal Shields
16-Feb-2005, 14:13
Already or soon, most prints from digital cameras will be made on traditional paper with traditional color chemistry.

As film is basically paper with a transparent carrier, and B&W is just single layer color, I see no reason to worry about anything going away.


Andre Noble
17-Feb-2005, 21:41
Spend your money on a nice Large Format lens.

Schneider 110XL or 150XL for example.

This lens is 1)Sharp 2)Holds resale very well 3)Image circle will cover 4x5 and 5x7 and 8x10 (150XL)

Then later, with your own money, get a mint Toyo C off Ebay for $200.