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Ty G
15-Aug-2010, 07:11
Do you think 8x10, etc sheet film will eventually go away forever? Will the LF cameras become door stops? Or, do you think view cameras will have a place in photography for many years to come? Will digital backs take the place of film holders?

Just some thoughts I have been having; may explain why the questions later.

Ken Lee
15-Aug-2010, 07:35
Your question has been the subject of considerable discussion.

You might find it helpful to read some of the earlier threads on the subject. The forum has a built-in search function that makes it fairly easy.

Ron Marshall
15-Aug-2010, 07:53
Even if sheet film disappears collodion and Daguerreotype would be there as alternatives.

Have you heard of these?

Beautiful cameras, by the way!

John Kasaian
15-Aug-2010, 08:00
A kinda inflamatory question. Just sayin'...

Nathan Potter
15-Aug-2010, 08:09
All things go away eventually. Even the chariot is no longer in wide use. Not to mention the recent horse drawn iron mowing machine I used as a kid. Things evolve over time, as my botany professor Ray Torrey of UMass Amherst used to emphasize.

OK, I need my first cup of coffee this Sunday morning!

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

engl
15-Aug-2010, 08:23
The low number of LF photographers under the age of 30 should be a hint about where LF is going. 4x5 and 8x10 is probably safe (in terms of film/chemical/development availability) for another 30-50 years, in the same time a sub-2000$ 4x5 digital back might be available at the current rate of sensor development.

But who knows...

Frank Petronio
15-Aug-2010, 08:37
Nah sensor development is mature and near the end of rapid development, there is no reasonable market for a 4x5 inch sensor. We don't need more megapixels as it stands, the best we're going to get are incremental improvements in dynamic range and ISO with the small sensor formats we've got.

Film is made in large sheets and cut into rolls or sheets, so any manufacturer can cut any size you want. For a price ($20K I think?) Kodak or Ilford will cut whatever format you want as a special order. I'm sure the smaller manufacturers will do the same.

Eventually Kodak may shut down its line when demand falls but sales of B&W products have been steady for a decade or even improving, thanks to the hobby market. The others will follow and fold up but there will probably be at least one small-scale manufacturer continuing to make film for generations, if not forever. It would be a nice stable business once it all shakes out -- to be the only film supplier left -- even if there were only 20-30K film photographers that is still a nice living for small team.

Color may end being painful, it is expensive to do large format color as it is already, but B&W film will probably never die, at least in our lifetimes.

Or 2012, in which case who cares?

Rayt
15-Aug-2010, 08:54
Four of my friends bought Chamonix and Shenhao 4x5 cameras within these few weeks. They were attracted by the high quality and low entry price. I equate Chamonix with what Honda did for the motorcycle industry 50 years ago. There is a 3 month waiting list right now for a Walker Titan 57XL. People are buying cameras that's for sure. Bill Maxwell told me recently (in an hour long phone call) that he is getting more orders for 8x10 screens this year than the last ten years combined. I am not worried.

cdholden
15-Aug-2010, 08:56
Do you think 8x10, etc sheet film will eventually go away forever?

Many people predict the date as December 21, 2012.

Argh. Frank beat me to it.

Richard K.
15-Aug-2010, 09:14
...........................|||||||||||||||||................

Just some thoughts I have been having; may explain why the questions later.

OK time's up. Explain...:rolleyes: :D

Steve Barber
15-Aug-2010, 09:16
Do you think 8x10, etc sheet film will eventually go away forever? Will the LF cameras become door stops?


It will be available long as people are willing to pay for it. If you buy more, it will be available longer.

My personal opinion is that film will be available until there is a commercially feasible form of fusion power. The first time I remember someone putting a date on the availability of commercially feasible fusion power they said in 30 years time. Each time, since then, that someone has estimated it, the estimate has remained that we would be able to rely on fusion as a source of power in 30 years time.

I will not say how many times that deadline has passed, but I no longer look forward to seeing commercially feasible power obtained from nuclear fusion in my lifetime. If you are alive now, I would suggest that you consider the demise of film along the same sort of time horizon.

Michael Gordon
15-Aug-2010, 09:18
"When will sheet film be obsolete?"

2164. Let's all get back to work....

John NYC
15-Aug-2010, 09:46
Nah sensor development is mature and near the end of rapid development, there is no reasonable market for a 4x5 inch sensor. We don't need more megapixels as it stands, the best we're going to get are incremental improvements in dynamic range and ISO with the small sensor formats we've got.


While I think there is a market for a 4x5 inch sensor, I don't believe there is a mass market for it. Artists and people who print huge enlargements commercially will want that eventually.

We have easily available 24 bit / 96 KHz audio technology, yet no one will pay for it. Almost every one I know except for my musician friends and a couple of audiophiles think that 256bps (or less!) mp3/aac whatever is plenty for music. It is simply "good enough" for most people. But yet that high end audio will always be there for a price, I believe, if you want it.

What I think there is a market for is a way for your camera to automatically produce images that look astounding on LCD screens, without having to sharpen them judiciously, fix the blowouts, etc. That is how people are using their cameras these days. So, back to your point, in the coming generations of digital cameras, people won't care about megapixels once we've all gotten to about 24MP, they will care about all these features that make their images look better on screen at <3000 pixels wide (that would be a 30-inch monitor with 100 pixels per inch... the likely upper limit to what people are willing to buy and park in the houses in the mid-term future I would think.)

Vaughn
15-Aug-2010, 10:46
Well seen, well exposed and well developed sheet film will never be obsolete.;)

They might eventually fade away, but that will take awahile!

Ivan J. Eberle
15-Aug-2010, 10:51
Photocell and eventually photo sensor technology is evolving. On a parallel track to the ever-smaller more megapixels crammed onto a silicon-based chip, there is something else afoot. Photocells are the first big jump; solar panels are becoming ubiquitous and cheap as the technology migrates to printed-on-anything from encapsulated under glass.

It's not a huge leap from there to expect a technology jump of something similar to 4x5 and larger sheet film. Relatively crude but cheap and effective sensors. View cameras themselves could become hot items if and when that happens.

Imagine something in the way of a sensor nearly identical to the present day form factor of sheet film, say in a sheet film or Grafmatic style holder that costs under $100 and is near-endlessly reusable. (Preferably one that shuffles between the sensor and 6 sheets of silver-halide film. As long as we're prognosticating, that'd be my pipe dream).

Ty G
15-Aug-2010, 11:29
A few things brought up that did not cross my mind, thanks all for your thoughts. I ask not to stir up a hornet's nest; no secret, I build cameras for wet plate and dags, but for the last couple years I have thought about diving into the field film camera world. Last year, I think, I was asking about film registration, and through that found S & S holders. I was thinking that I could come up with a very nice 8x10 format based around those holders. Why S&S? I like the look and the guys there seem nice and dependable. Right now, I have a Wisner 8x10 that I am doing a little work on and I keep looking at the brass work and movements and telling myself, "I can do that."

But, what I was thinking is that knowing my luck, by the time I got it going, no one would be using them, and guys would be getting rid of them at garage sells for 50 cents. I know, that an extreme analogy, but just thoughts rambling in my head.

Richard K.
15-Aug-2010, 12:12
I'm pretty sure that you could finish several before nobody wants them anymore AND find film for them...:D

Darryl Baird
15-Aug-2010, 14:38
...snip.... Bill Maxwell told me recently (in an hour long phone call) that he is getting more orders for 8x10 screens this year than the last ten years combined. I am not worried.

That is an amazing quote. To my mind, it bears looking a little harder at why the LF trend is expanding.

Dave Wooten
15-Aug-2010, 14:39
about the time water color and oil paints and stretched canvas.

I think digital as we know it now will be obsolete-replaced by new technology-more efficient means of capturing, storing and reproducing information are evolving. You techies are aware of that. Those in the art world who chose to use film as a medium, or wet/dry plate etc., are more secure in their medium than one might imagine....only a few years ago you had to look long and hard to find anyone who could even pour a plate. Non commercial emulsions and processes are routinely being created by artists. It has been rumored that some very poorly processed plate photos used in documentary projects have brought thousands per image. who da thunk it. Only if the art world rejects the medium will it become extinct. Pounding 3 D images out of a rock and creating images with egg whites and colored earth are alive and well.

likeoras
16-Aug-2010, 23:11
The low number of LF photographers under the age of 30 should be a hint about where LF is going.

While I'm just one person with a singular experience, I'm an under 30 photographer that shoots 4x5 and is in the process of learning wet plate; I personally know over a dozen other 20-30 year olds actively shooting LF. It's alive and well (at least in my circle of friends and acquaintances) as it offers a counterpoint and a sanctuary from digital, digital, digital.

On a related note, a lot of what's being talked about in this thread with regards to LF vs. digital has been technical (sensor size, cost of production, etc.), but the thing that I think will guarantee the viability of LF for many years to come is the experience.

The view camera comes built in with a ritual, and rituals are psychologically electrifying. Think of the Japanese tea ceremony, a Catholic mass, or even your morning routine--there is a meditative, transporting mysticism whenever there's a ritual involved (yeah, I read a lot of Joe Campbell). The view camera is slow, allowing all of the senses to steep and absorb every stimulus surrounding the photographer. It's really beautiful, and it's unique to the format/tools.

Sheet film will be obsolete when the companies that make it decide to stop production. Like Polaroid. But I sincerely believe that as long as there are people caught by the experience of shooting LF, people will continue to find a way to keep the process alive. Even if it means establishing a sovereignty apart from manufacturers (one of the reasons I'm teaching myself wet plate, including how to make/procure materials on my own).

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to advocate for the "spiritual/existential" aspect of LF because I feel naming it is critical to grasp its importance and continued relevance.

GeorgesGiralt
17-Aug-2010, 01:43
Hi !
We can't compare sheet film with watercolor or canvas. Film is made using heavy industrial processes depending on a set of very different materials. (bone gelatin, chemistry of silver and coloring agents, plastic... etc... )
So if one of these raw components disappear, film is gone. If the regulations about nasty chemicals evolve, we could loose film (think about the demise of cadmium in the B&W printing paper).
So we will one day, loose film. This will arose gradually. We will loose one manufacturer at a time, and forced to use the small niche maker in the suburbs of nowhere... Then we will have to convert to collodion or other historical processes. Provided the chemicals will not be banned....
As per a digital back in very big size, I do not think it will see light one day. Too few customers, and the possibility to use shift lenses in smaller sized gear will prevent the giant digital back to show.... Look at the medium format digital backs available. Who will pay that much money for a hypothetical gain in printing size ? (and this gain comes at a huge price because you've to get huge computers to process the images with huge RAM and processing power....).
Things change and evolve said the Buddha.... So will we ;-)
P.S. I've seen young people very attracted by my Sinar Norma and very excited to learn that view cameras can still be bought new... Hope, there is hope.

Armin Seeholzer
17-Aug-2010, 02:28
In 40 years 3 months and 6 days it will be gone, but at thad time we can get an electronical film for to put into the Filmholder and we still can use the cameras but no chemical films anymore only electronicle film with 1'000'0000 MP and 16 f stops contrast and......

Cheers Armin

eddie
17-Aug-2010, 03:26
i think a good business model is about doing one thing very very well. as soon as you begin to branch out into new territory your profits will decline, work flow will increase etc etc. this is just my experience and opinion. obviously it is possible to do...and has been done but i think it is especially challenging for some one in your position. if you ran it like a huge business like kodak built cameras in the early 1900s then it would work.

i would say making the best wet plate camera as quick as you can while still maintaining quality would be what i would do. as noted above more and more people are trying wet plate. making back to fit common cameras would be a good thing as well as making more and more cameras.

an assembly line with several QUALITY craftsman doing much of the work you do will allow you to make better cameras faster with less time spent doing it yourself.

the wet plate camera manufactures we have now all have a huge waiting period to get the cameras to the public. before other types of cameras were added to a line i would be sure that the market was buying all they could of the product that i already make. i would want people coming to my shop and buying cameras because the quality was top notch AND the wait time was very very short or non existent.

there are several manufactures of film LF cameras now that are producing awesome cameras for a very reasonable price. some in china and one in vermont.

again, if i could do it.....i would have a factory making wet plate cameras by a gang of top artisan craftsman......but as i noted in my 1st paragraph i am unwilling to branch out into territory that is new to me as the cost to do so may financially break me.

i hope you are able to continue to make WP cameras. i hope they become better and i hope we can get them faster with better hardware and new innovative designs. i have been trying to get a WP camera maker to add certain design improvements to the cameras but this has proved futile at this time. maybe some day we could talk about them together. it would be great for you and the wet plate community to have an "improved" camera.

good luck.

eddie




A few things brought up that did not cross my mind, thanks all for your thoughts. I ask not to stir up a hornet's nest; no secret, I build cameras for wet plate and dags, but for the last couple years I have thought about diving into the field film camera world. Last year, I think, I was asking about film registration, and through that found S & S holders. I was thinking that I could come up with a very nice 8x10 format based around those holders. Why S&S? I like the look and the guys there seem nice and dependable. Right now, I have a Wisner 8x10 that I am doing a little work on and I keep looking at the brass work and movements and telling myself, "I can do that."

But, what I was thinking is that knowing my luck, by the time I got it going, no one would be using them, and guys would be getting rid of them at garage sells for 50 cents. I know, that an extreme analogy, but just thoughts rambling in my head.

Thalmees
17-Aug-2010, 11:19
Hi,
Thanks Ty G for starting this thread.
I do not think that obsolescence is a correct word when applied on photography.
On the other hand, the last decade has proven beyond any doubt that the same word(obsolescence) is the best word describing digital arts/digital imaging(the alternative newer technology by which film may compared).
This is the reason why we have this type of questions repeated for many years. Why this very old Gel/Silver invention is still under use and receives higher demand, while the much newer digital tool did not take much time to obsolete ?
Its not even logic by today terms to have something that does not obsolete only, but even resisting obsolescence, like photographic film.
Film availability today has another valid meaning. At the same cost, digital quality(output and tools) is not justified for MF&LF photographers, as an art medium.
I can trust my 30+ years camera and 10 years outdated film to serve me on 2021 better than my 2 years old digital camera.
Its very possible to have many digital generations obsolete, or even the whole digital technology obsolete, before we can say film has obsolete: Quantum film: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4088144/Quantum-film-threatens-to-replace-CMOS-image-chips?pageNumber=0
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=60579

cyrus
17-Aug-2010, 11:22
I was talking to a guy to order a stainless steel sink for my darkroom. He said he's never been as busy making and selling these -- and large ones too.

JON BUTLER
17-Aug-2010, 11:58
I quite like the thought of sheet film ceasing production, I would coat my own and it would make my prints more unique.
JON.

paulr
17-Aug-2010, 15:09
The title of the OP is "when will sheet film be obsolete," which isn't actually the same as "when will it be gone forever." Obsolescence is an interesting term, and a little harder to pin down. There are other technologies that are broadly considered obsolete, but still enjoy small cottage industries and pockets of enthusiasts.

The trouble with film, as others have pointed out, lies in economies of scale. For technological reasons, film has (so far) proven impractical to manufacture except on a huge industrial scale, which means that below a relatively high threshold, all production is likely to cease.

This means that without some ingenuity on the parts of small-time manufacturers, obsolescence is likely to equate with it being completely gone. But it's possible to imagine ways in which this wouldn't be the case.

Sevo
17-Aug-2010, 15:27
The trouble with film, as others have pointed out, lies in economies of scale. For technological reasons, film has (so far) proven impractical to manufacture except on a huge industrial scale, which means that below a relatively high threshold, all production is likely to cease.


What technological reasons would that be? Speciality films have always been made in volumes far below a huge industrial scale. That photographic films generally have been made in very large scale throughout the past forty years is due to market demand and the usual economies of scale applicable to every product - which determine the pricing rather than feasibility.

Drew Wiley
17-Aug-2010, 16:01
For big budgets, what could threaten both sheet film and current digital sensor technology might be what is already being done with astronomical and medical imaging mirrors - the ability to instantly electronically conform the image plane shape to special configurations. It would make our view-camera range of movements pale by comparison. This is one reason I believe that affordable sheet film as we know it will
be around a lot longer than digital capture as we now know it. High-tech will be making
roadkill of itself from time to time. And consumer electronics/digitial will always be about rapid self-obsolesence in order to keep the profits flowing. And I figure that if
sheet film does become scarce, I'll probably have already become roadkill myself by
then!

Bruce Schultz
18-Aug-2010, 04:38
As an owner of one of ty's cameras, I can tell you if he decides to dive into making film cameras they would be top notch. Ty is obsessed with quality.

Frank Petronio
18-Aug-2010, 06:00
There is a video out there I saw last year of a fella who made a home garage-based film manufacturing machine. He need the base material and the chemistry, but I imagine the raw materials in some base form are always going to be industrial staples. We use films for more than just film.

With the demise of the large corporate manufacturers, I can see ex-Kodak employees setting up a small-scale operation.

And price-gouging. Well, not gouging in the evil sense, they would have to charge a lot in order to make it work... it won't be cheap. Check the prices of that Impossible Project stuff lately?

BrianShaw
18-Aug-2010, 06:51
Check the prices of that Impossible Project stuff lately?

I've heard the term "recouping one's investment" in other situations. I think that is what IP is doing, but they'll have to recoup from someone other than me!

BetterSense
18-Aug-2010, 07:01
I was talking to a guy to order a stainless steel sink for my darkroom. He said he's never been as busy making and selling these -- and large ones too.

It makes sense that as overall demand drops, and larger/less agile entities get out of the business, that other companies will experience an increase in business. It doesn't mean that overall demand is increasing, though.

cyrus
18-Aug-2010, 07:51
It makes sense that as overall demand drops, and larger/less agile entities get out of the business, that other companies will experience an increase in business. It doesn't mean that overall demand is increasing, though.
True and also lets also not forget that even the death of film doesnt necessarily mean an end to darkrooms (and demand for sinks.) Many alternative processes can start with a digital negative and finish in a darkroom.

However there's a core of people who are still dedicated to film. Me for example. I just picked up an old Rollei that uses glass backs and plan on figuring out how to coat them with emulsion if I have to, should film die off. We will form a continuing market for a manufacturer. The number of available films may be signficantly reduced, and the prices may shoot up, but film won't disappear. Will it be "obsolete" is a different issue which depends on how you define that word and whether it is a relevant question (arguably, film is already obsolete.)

I sorta enjoy the fact that I'm sort of a minority in being a film photographer in world full of teenagers armed with cellphone cams. That makes my work all the more unique. I was at a nude workshop a few days ago where I was the only one using a film camera. The other photogs were ignoring the beautiful nude and were instead fascinated by my film backs! Many of them told me that they intended on buying film cameras. While many film photographers go digital, it seems that at least some digital photogs go film!

stevebrot
18-Aug-2010, 10:39
To the question in the original post...


Sheet film will become obsolete when it no longer has a purpose and people cease to use it.


Steve

Michael Kadillak
18-Aug-2010, 11:42
Sheet film will be around for many many years. Fact is that we still have an enormous selection of this product as we speak and others will enter the market if the opportunity exists. Everyone is freaking out about a natural market consolidation that needed to take place because clearly this is a different market for sheet film than it was 10 + years ago. I cannot tell you how many times I hear of people frustrated by the fact that the images that their technology produces looks virtually identical to a myriad of others posting images in the same arena. They try to tweek things to get their "look" and there is only so much that they can do. Film on the other hand has a lock on the individual personalities of a wide range of B&W film in a wide range of developers let alone how one prints these negs. That alone is why film will continue to draw the interest of photographers that want to reach for the pinnacle of where art and craft come together.

engl
18-Aug-2010, 11:47
While I'm just one person with a singular experience, I'm an under 30 photographer that shoots 4x5 and is in the process of learning wet plate; I personally know over a dozen other 20-30 year olds actively shooting LF. It's alive and well (at least in my circle of friends and acquaintances) as it offers a counterpoint and a sanctuary from digital, digital, digital.

On a related note, a lot of what's being talked about in this thread with regards to LF vs. digital has been technical (sensor size, cost of production, etc.), but the thing that I think will guarantee the viability of LF for many years to come is the experience.

The view camera comes built in with a ritual, and rituals are psychologically electrifying. Think of the Japanese tea ceremony, a Catholic mass, or even your morning routine--there is a meditative, transporting mysticism whenever there's a ritual involved (yeah, I read a lot of Joe Campbell). The view camera is slow, allowing all of the senses to steep and absorb every stimulus surrounding the photographer. It's really beautiful, and it's unique to the format/tools.

Sheet film will be obsolete when the companies that make it decide to stop production. Like Polaroid. But I sincerely believe that as long as there are people caught by the experience of shooting LF, people will continue to find a way to keep the process alive. Even if it means establishing a sovereignty apart from manufacturers (one of the reasons I'm teaching myself wet plate, including how to make/procure materials on my own).

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to advocate for the "spiritual/existential" aspect of LF because I feel naming it is critical to grasp its importance and continued relevance.

Actually, Im under 30 too. Unlike you I do not know any other people around my age doing this kind of photography, but I guess that could change if I interacted with local photographers more. Either way, I think it is pretty safe to say that most LF photographers are older than the average digital photographer.

My point is that the things you speak about, the experience of shooting a 4x5 film camera (a beautiful process indeed!) is something not widely known or appreciated by younger photographers. Anyone with a photographic interest anytime between year 1840 and 2000 knows the darkroom, understands film, learnt about view cameras in photographic classes, were surrounded by photography from LF cameras, had people around them owning/using LF gear, maybe even had one themselves. Even with this huge exposure to LF, there are not a whole lot of people doing LF today.

Now consider young people with a photographic interest. The world revolves around digital, a photography class is taught with DSLRs and Photoshop, "dads camera" is a Canon 5Dmk2 now. They think it is cool to see someone composing under the dark cloth because they have never seen it with their own eyes before, it is historical.

The above is not a bad thing, but I think it will greatly reduce the number of people getting into large format, which will eventually affect film/development price and availability. Considering the extremely small quantities which are sufficient for maintaining some specialist film today, the world will probably vanish in an accidentally created black hole before 4x5 and 8x10 film goes away.

paulr
18-Aug-2010, 13:36
What technological reasons would that be? Speciality films have always been made in volumes far below a huge industrial scale. That photographic films generally have been made in very large scale throughout the past forty years is due to market demand and the usual economies of scale applicable to every product - which determine the pricing rather than feasibility.

Are any of those specialty films manufactured with equipment designed for small runs, or are they made on the same huge volume machines used to make the mainstream films?

Wayne Crider
18-Aug-2010, 13:48
The more who shoot, the more it will be around, tho I worry about the color film. Recessions and the cheapening of photo sales are probably the biggest threats to any film continuance nowadays. Already some of the smaller sizes are disappearing because of poor sales.

But If you are interested in making a film camera I would be very interested in one in this design, although I read they are originally plate cameras.
http://www.antiquewoodcameras.com/waterbur.htm

Once my current 4x5 project is finished I may try and do it myself if I can get a better look at one. It looks pretty straightforward as a project camera and very classy looking, and that brass lens certainly makes it appealing.

Thalmees
18-Aug-2010, 15:03
the world will probably vanish in an accidentally created black hole before 4x5 and 8x10 film goes away.
Film will continue as an art medium, tool and process, due to unique characteristics. Market and demand has no effect to do here, I think.

From one side, the process of image making by film is very predictable to the last single detail. The process is very manageable within the boundaries of art making. This is when compared to older alternative methods(which is made more popular nowadays).

From another side, image making by film, has a very scientifically robust and historically detailed and proven methodology that combine the aesthetic and the scientific together. This is when compared to the newer digital medium.
Also, image making by film has an authentic and un-fake-able tool and process(within the artistic boundaries). From what has been observed for the last 10 years, digital images are almost always manipulated beyond art boundaries with no system of methodology or authentic barriers. It lacks the definition and some times lacking the artistic purpose.

Film, compared to both(older alternative & newer digital), has the best aesthetic and scientific sense, taste and logic. This is(IMO) what made film survived and to continue beyond even any optimistic expectations.

Of course, as an application tool for professional purposes(that should be more flexible to the public and market demands), film will not continue its popularity as a functional/application tool, compared to digital, due to decreased market demand. Public & Market demands on photos are for functional/application purposes, and that demands are not concerned with aesthetics, scientific, reliability and authentic part of image making process of photographic film. Demand alone, is not enough to make film to disappear in the future. Other classical arts continued longer and will continue with no queries when they will disappear.

lilmsmaggie
18-Aug-2010, 15:06
Will digital backs take the place of film holders?

Good question. Considering the prices of MF digital backs, it will take some time and the prices for something comparable to 4x5 image size would allude all but the most well-heeled photograhers. Arca-Swiss and Linhof already offer 4x5 dgital cameras and you can get digital backs for others.

As far as sensor size, only the future will tell. That really becomes a question of the expansion of CMOS vs. CCD technologies development.

But if what's happening in the field of astro-imaging is any indicator, there may be a LF CCD sensor in your grandchildrens future:

SBIG STX KAF-1001 (16 megapixel) $11,875

http://www.scopecity.com/detail.cfm?ProductID=6239&bn=SBIG&cn=CCD%20Digital%20Cameras


Apogee Alta U39000 (39 megapixel) $ If you have to ask, you can't afford it. :D

http://www.optcorp.com/product.aspx?pid=14556&kw=apogee%20alta%20u39000&st=0

Frank Petronio
18-Aug-2010, 15:33
Those are the same size chips as the Medium Format Digital Backs used by Mamiya, Hasselblad, etc. and they are not anywhere close to 4x5 size. They're smaller than the film used in 6x4.5 (cm) medium format cameras.

And while Linhof, Alpa, Sinar, etc. make cameras with movements that resemble our 4x5s, they are designed for these relatively tiny chips. The small imaging area requires cameras with tighter tolerances and finer gearing than our usual 4x5s.

There are 4x5 scanning backs that will fit into the backs of a sturdy 4x5, these need longer exposures, they do not have sensors 4x5 size. While they are capable of excellent results within their range of constraints, their manufacturers are scaling back or have gotten out of production because their market has dwindled.

Joe Smigiel
18-Aug-2010, 20:38
... the thing that I think will guarantee the viability of LF for many years to come is the experience.

The view camera comes built in with a ritual, and rituals are psychologically electrifying. Think of the Japanese tea ceremony, a Catholic mass...

Exactly. I can guarantee I won't ever be using a digital back on a view camera.

FWIW, I think I took up wetplate partly because of the ritual aspect. For me there was a visual connection to the Catholic mass.

Ron McElroy
18-Aug-2010, 21:00
I think B/W sheet film will be around longer than consumer level point and shoot digital cameras. The various smart phones will replace these cameras for the average snap shooter.

BetterSense
19-Aug-2010, 05:29
Apogee Alta U39000 (39 megapixel) $ If you have to ask, you can't afford it.

The website says it's 36 mm x 48 mm. That's not even in the realm of 6x4.5, the smallest of the medium formats.

But still, I don't understand why anyone cares about sensor size. Film evolved to use big sensors because it was grainy, and needed to be contact printed. The continual improvement of film resolution led to smaller and smaller formats, because smaller formats have so many advantages. Digital led to even smaller formats because it has more linear resolution than film. Now everyone thinks they should make digital sensors bigger, when it doesn't really make any sense to do so.

D. Bryant
19-Aug-2010, 07:22
Now everyone thinks they should make digital sensors bigger, when it doesn't really make any sense to do so.

Exactly. Take a look at the output from the Leica S2. And the new Pentax D is very appealing by comparison price wise - though it's still out of my budget. But in a few years those may become affordable.

Don Bryant

Jack Dahlgren
19-Aug-2010, 08:02
The continual improvement of film resolution led to smaller and smaller formats, because smaller formats have so many advantages. Digital led to even smaller formats because it has more linear resolution than film. Now everyone thinks they should make digital sensors bigger, when it doesn't really make any sense to do so.

Yep.

As for making digital sensors bigger, that is just swimming against the tide for the most part. Manufacturers are starting to shrink from that sensor size battle:

http://retrovention.com/blog/photography/sony-rumor-no-more-full-frame-smaller-is-good-enough/

Only for the handful of freaks who enjoy the process will large format continue.

-Jack

engl
19-Aug-2010, 11:43
The website says it's 36 mm x 48 mm. That's not even in the realm of 6x4.5, the smallest of the medium formats.

But still, I don't understand why anyone cares about sensor size. Film evolved to use big sensors because it was grainy, and needed to be contact printed. The continual improvement of film resolution led to smaller and smaller formats, because smaller formats have so many advantages. Digital led to even smaller formats because it has more linear resolution than film. Now everyone thinks they should make digital sensors bigger, when it doesn't really make any sense to do so.

Bigger sensors make sense because dynamic range at the image level increases as sensor size increases. That is why tiny sensor digital compact cameras will never produce great images unless makers find a way to increase electron well capacity per area and lower the ISO of the sensor.

Something like a 60 megapixel APS-C sized sensor would require lenses with extremely high sharpness at F2.8 to reach the potential of the sensor (stopping down further would result in resolution limited by diffraction). The P65+ digital back with a big 54x40mm sensor can reach its full resolution with a lens at F8-F11, Rodenstock HR Digaron-W lenses do that easily, in fact a lot of lenses covering MF do great at F8-F11.

There is also the issue of mechanical tolerances with small systems/sensors. The smaller everything is made, the tighter the tolerances need to be in lens element alignment, camera construction, focusing etc. The hypothetical 1/2.3" sized 60 megapixel sensor would need a 8mm lens with peak sharpness at F1.1, requiring impossibly high tolerances to manufacture and focus, compared to a P65+ needing a 70mm lens with peak sharpness at F11, with much more relaxed manufacture and focusing tolerances.

The above obviously only matter to those who have a need for the resolution, most probably dont. It is not like tourists today are using MF digital cameras, but people covering walls and billboards with advertising/promotional photos do.

BetterSense
19-Aug-2010, 12:53
The above obviously only matter to those who have a need for the resolution, most probably dont. It is not like tourists today are using MF digital cameras, people covering walls and billboards with advertising/promotional photos do.

I don't think so; in fact most very large images one sees printed in real life are actually quite low resolution in terms of pixels-per-%width.

I think that a billboard image could be quite satisfactorily shot with a cell phone camera or 110 film...billboards subtend such a small angle-of-view as to equivalent to wallet-size prints. The building-size advertisement mural I see on a building in Dallas is surely lower resolution(per size) than a print from even a cheap digicam. The large pictures of vegetables hung in all the Subway restaurants around here are quite low-resolution lithographs, but viewed from their typical distance they appear very detailed. Most all commercial and print applications, including building murals and billboards, and magazines, have no great need for resolution.


I think the areas that really demand resolution are aerial/satellite imaging, high-end artwork copying, astrophotography, and the fine art print.

Jack Dahlgren
19-Aug-2010, 12:55
Bigger sensors make sense because dynamic range at the image level increases as sensor size increases. That is why tiny sensor digital compact cameras will never produce great images unless makers find a way to increase electron well capacity per area and lower the ISO of the sensor.

The above obviously only matter to those who have a need for the resolution, most probably dont. It is not like tourists today are using MF digital cameras, but people covering walls and billboards with advertising/promotional photos do.

Most photography is about "good enough". If cameras can be made smaller they will be. Image is not everything and even pros are willing to accept image quality compromise in favor of convenience. The SLR is a prime example. But bear in mind the first part of "good enough". Tiny sensors won't cut it, but small ones might.

-Jack

engl
19-Aug-2010, 14:42
I don't think so; in fact most very large images one sees printed in real life are actually quite low resolution in terms of pixels-per-%width.

I think that a billboard image could be quite satisfactorily shot with a cell phone camera or 110 film...billboards subtend such a small angle-of-view as to equivalent to wallet-size prints. The building-size advertisement mural I see on a building in Dallas is surely lower resolution(per size) than a print from even a cheap digicam. The large pictures of vegetables hung in all the Subway restaurants around here are quite low-resolution lithographs, but viewed from their typical distance they appear very detailed. Most all commercial and print applications, including building murals and billboards, and magazines, have no great need for resolution.

I think the areas that really demand resolution are aerial/satellite imaging, high-end artwork copying, astrophotography, and the fine art print.

When I lived in Tokyo, Id easly walk past 30+ pedestrian-level billboards in a day, and in those crowded stations sometimes getting close to the print is not optional. Shinjuku station west exit has a couple of decorative prints so big and detailed Im guessing they are drum scanned 8x10 or bigger, and you get to walk right up.

I agree, a billboard by the side of the road or on a building has very low resolution requirements. Im not saying everyone needs super resolution. Im saying there are those who do (for various reasons, as you say), enough to keep a demand for the highest resolution capturing devices possible, and there are reasons such sensors should not be tiny.

BetterSense
19-Aug-2010, 16:40
and there are reasons such sensors should not be tiny.

Tiny, no. But I don't think they need to be 4x5 inches. They should design them to be exactly as big as they need to be for good performance, not try to make them fit some oversize film format for marketing reasons.

Brian C. Miller
19-Aug-2010, 18:36
Those are the same size chips as the Medium Format Digital Backs used by Mamiya, Hasselblad, etc. and they are not anywhere close to 4x5 size. They're smaller than the film used in 6x4.5 (cm) medium format cameras.

The Hasselblad H4D-60 has a sensor area of 40.2◊53.7mm, ISO 50 - 800, and 1.4 sec/capture per frame. So this one is as close to 6x4.5 as you're going to get for now, all for a paltry $40,000. So extrapolating that technology, a 4x5 back would be 16,353 x 20,430 = 334,091,790 pixels, and cost $501,137,685,000. So call it at 334Mp for $500 billion.

Sure, in some future tomorrow, the InVisage QuantumFilm (http://www.invisageinc.com/page.aspx?cont=QuantumFilm%20Technology) product may blow that through the roof. First it's for the cell phones, and then some time down the road after that, there will be a product for professional photographers. The marketing blurb says 4x, so the Hasselblad sensor would be 240Mp. But I can't see it ever resulting in a full 4x5 back.

paulr
20-Aug-2010, 17:49
Film will continue as an art medium, tool and process, due to unique characteristics. Market and demand has no effect to do here, I think.

From one side, the process of image making by film is very predictable to the last single detail. The process is very manageable within the boundaries of art making. This is when compared to older alternative methods(which is made more popular nowadays).

From another side, image making by film, has a very scientifically robust and historically detailed and proven methodology that combine the aesthetic and the scientific together. This is when compared to the newer digital medium.
Also, image making by film has an authentic and un-fake-able tool and process(within the artistic boundaries). From what has been observed for the last 10 years, digital images are almost always manipulated beyond art boundaries with no system of methodology or authentic barriers. It lacks the definition and some times lacking the artistic purpose.

Film, compared to both(older alternative & newer digital), has the best aesthetic and scientific sense, taste and logic. This is(IMO) what made film survived and to continue beyond even any optimistic expectations.

Of course, as an application tool for professional purposes(that should be more flexible to the public and market demands), film will not continue its popularity as a functional/application tool, compared to digital, due to decreased market demand. Public & Market demands on photos are for functional/application purposes, and that demands are not concerned with aesthetics, scientific, reliability and authentic part of image making process of photographic film. Demand alone, is not enough to make film to disappear in the future. Other classical arts continued longer and will continue with no queries when they will disappear.

I'm assuming this post is a satire of ... something.

Andrew Plume
21-Aug-2010, 04:38
fwiw, I'm pretty upbeat on the future of sheet fim

in the past five years, we've had new/rebooted entrants from Europe in the shape of weophoto, adox and foma and they offer some, particularly, adox a wide range of different formats too


andrew

Brian Ellis
21-Aug-2010, 08:02
I'm assuming this post is a satire of ... something.

No telling, some of the posts in this thread are really bizarre. The possibility that this one and some others are satires hadn't occurred to me but you could be right.

Thalmees
21-Aug-2010, 12:16
I think B/W sheet film will be around longer than consumer level point and shoot digital cameras. The various smart phones will replace these cameras for the average snap shooter.
Considering the market size of P&S digital cameras, thatís more than enough time for the whole digital technology to change thoroughly. While film will be only a better film by that time.

Thalmees
21-Aug-2010, 15:00
A kinda inflamatory question. Just sayin'...
Yes; And some times it could be evolved to a really bizarre type of inflammation like the one below:

I'm assuming this post is a satire of ... something.
poor prognostic type, Specially If left with no treatment.
Do not know paulr your point? in case if you have any !!!

philip964
21-Aug-2010, 20:01
Sheet film is already obsolete. I can't buy quick load sheets in town any more. There is only one place to get sheet film processed. The only reason I can get film developed there at all is the owner is one of the last big professionals in town that still shoots film.

It is also the only place I know to get E6 35mm roll film processed.

The real question is how long will sheet film or 35mm film for that matter still hang around?

There are still people who shoot black powder rifles, ride horses and read hard cover books made with paper.

At least at this point large format film is still better than digital, but that edge may not last forever.

paulr
21-Aug-2010, 20:28
No telling, some of the posts in this thread are really bizarre. The possibility that this one and some others are satires hadn't occurred to me but you could be right.

It goes on way too long to be a troll. My fingers are crossed that it's a brilliant creative piece, and that it just happens to be over my head.

Cor
23-Aug-2010, 03:54
It goes on way too long to be a troll. My fingers are crossed that it's a brilliant creative piece, and that it just happens to be over my head.

Pheww, I feel better now, I could not understand it, and blamed it on my lack of understanding english..:p

Best,

Cor

Greg Miller
23-Aug-2010, 08:00
The Hasselblad H4D-60 has a sensor area of 40.2◊53.7mm, ISO 50 - 800, and 1.4 sec/capture per frame. So this one is as close to 6x4.5 as you're going to get for now, all for a paltry $40,000. So extrapolating that technology, a 4x5 back would be 16,353 x 20,430 = 334,091,790 pixels, and cost $501,137,685,000. So call it at 334Mp for $500 billion.

Sure, in some future tomorrow, the InVisage QuantumFilm (http://www.invisageinc.com/page.aspx?cont=QuantumFilm%20Technology) product may blow that through the roof. First it's for the cell phones, and then some time down the road after that, there will be a product for professional photographers. The marketing blurb says 4x, so the Hasselblad sensor would be 240Mp. But I can't see it ever resulting in a full 4x5 back.

That math doesn't quite work out. 4x5 = 102mm x 127mm. It would take about 6.25 40.2mm x 53.7mm chips to fill the same area. So the cost of a 4x5 chip (assuming the process scales up linearly, which it does not), would be closer to $250,000. Still not very affordable but nowhere near $500 billion.

jonathan_lipkin
24-Aug-2010, 05:06
Don't know if they have any plans to develop this commercially, but Canon has developed a huge 120MP sensor:

Canon has announced it has developed a 120 megapixel 29.2 x 20.2mm APS-H CMOS sensor - the same size used in its EOS-1D series of professional DSLRs. The sensor, for which Canon has announced no production plans, has a pixel count nearly 7.5 times larger than the company's highest pixel count commercially available sensor. It offers full HD recording (using 1/60th of its surface area) and can deliver 9.5fps continuous shooting. This follows a 50 million pixel sensor of similar format the company developed in 2007.

http://dpreview.com/news/1008/10082410canon120mpsensor.asp

harrykauf
24-Aug-2010, 05:40
smaller than 35mm is not "huge"

paulr
24-Aug-2010, 15:06
Is it the price of silicon or something else that makes it more attractive to make pixels smaller vs. sensors larger?

Oren Grad
24-Aug-2010, 15:52
Is it the price of silicon or something else that makes it more attractive to make pixels smaller vs. sensors larger?

Perhaps the number of non-fixable defects scales more rapidly with surface area than with pixel density, so the cost per usable sensor increases more rapidly with sensor size than you'd expect just from the cost of the wafer. To take an extreme hypothetical case, if a sensor takes up the entire wafer and you have one irremediable defect, that unit is lost, but if the same wafer can provide 20 small sensors, you might still have 19 usable pieces to sell.

Arne Croell
24-Aug-2010, 16:55
Perhaps the number of non-fixable defects scales more rapidly with surface area than with pixel density, so the cost per usable sensor increases more rapidly with sensor size than you'd expect just from the cost of the wafer. To take an extreme hypothetical case, if a sensor takes up the entire wafer and you have one irremediable defect, that unit is lost, but if the same wafer can provide 20 small sensors, you might still have 19 usable pieces to sell.
Right, and its not just the price of the polished or epitaxied silicon wafer as it comes from a manufacturer such as MEMC, Siltronic, or Shin-Etsu, but the additional cost of all or most the manufacturing steps to make the sensor also counts even if it has to be thrown away.
This would be an 8" wafer for a single 4x5 CCD or CMOS chip, as 6" is too close, and 7" is not a standard size. Alternatively, 2 or 3 4x5 chips would fit on a 12" wafer, where the price of the starting wafer is probably somewhere beween $50-100.

John NYC
24-Aug-2010, 17:42
Don't know if they have any plans to develop this commercially, but Canon has developed a huge 120MP sensor:

Canon has announced it has developed a 120 megapixel 29.2 x 20.2mm APS-H CMOS sensor - the same size used in its EOS-1D series of professional DSLRs. The sensor, for which Canon has announced no production plans, has a pixel count nearly 7.5 times larger than the company's highest pixel count commercially available sensor. It offers full HD recording (using 1/60th of its surface area) and can deliver 9.5fps continuous shooting. This follows a 50 million pixel sensor of similar format the company developed in 2007.

http://dpreview.com/news/1008/10082410canon120mpsensor.asp

You would think if the images were completely superior to anything today, they would be showing them everywhere as PR... if they were smart. Even if the company had no plans to put the sensor into production, Canon zealots would be using the image samples to validate to themselves and others that they went with the best company with the most assured future.

dh003i
2-Sep-2010, 21:15
smaller than 35mm is not "huge"

No, it isn't, but this is. Canon has just developed an 8 x 8 inch CMOS sensor (http://dpreview.com/news/1008/10083101canonlargestsensor.asp).

dh003i
2-Sep-2010, 21:24
Perhaps the number of non-fixable defects scales more rapidly with surface area than with pixel density, so the cost per usable sensor increases more rapidly with sensor size than you'd expect just from the cost of the wafer. To take an extreme hypothetical case, if a sensor takes up the entire wafer and you have one irremediable defect, that unit is lost, but if the same wafer can provide 20 small sensors, you might still have 19 usable pieces to sell.

Why is the entire sensor lost? What do you mean by one irredeemable defect? One photosite not working, or a few photosites not working?

Why does the entire sensor need to be perfect? Does one non-working photosite cause the whole thing to not work? Or does one non-working photosite merely mean there is one non-working photosite (so what? why does everything need to be perfect?)

I'd gladly take a 4x5 digital sensor with 20 pixels that were always screwed up on every exposure.

Or put in more reasonable financial terms, if someone offered me a 36x24mm DSLR for the price of a normal APS-C or 4/3rds DSLR, around $800-$1200, I'd gladly snatch it up even if it had 20 non-working pixels.

cjbroadbent
3-Sep-2010, 00:55
No, it isn't, but this is. Canon has just developed an 8 x 8 inch CMOS sensor (http://dpreview.com/news/1008/10083101canonlargestsensor.asp).
"Potential applications for the new high-sensitivity CMOS sensor include the video recording of stars in the night sky and nocturnal animal behavior." ???

paulr
3-Sep-2010, 07:36
I'd gladly take a 4x5 digital sensor with 20 pixels that were always screwed up on every exposure.

Interesting question if a sensor needs to be perfect or if they have some qc standard like "no more than .0005% dead pixels."

Think how many "pixels" you lose to dust on every sheet of film ...

I'd think it would be possible, after testing for dead pixels, to have a custom algorhythm attached to the sensor that would have it replace the value from the dead pixel with some average from the surrounding pixels.

Jack Dahlgren
3-Sep-2010, 07:51
Interesting question if a sensor needs to be perfect or if they have some qc standard like "no more than .0005% dead pixels."

Think how many "pixels" you lose to dust on every sheet of film ...

I'd think it would be possible, after testing for dead pixels, to have a custom algorhythm attached to the sensor that would have it replace the value from the dead pixel with some average from the surrounding pixels.

This is currently done for memory arrays and I know that digital camera makers can already map out dead pixels. But there are some things which can't be completely mapped out if they are defective.

AnzaRunner
7-Sep-2010, 12:26
I'm 29, and decided to switch back to film (LF) several years ago after being frustrated with digital. I sold off all of my digital gear, and have not looked back. I think sheet film will be around for a very long time. I for one am willing to pay more for it to ensure that it is still available.

Richard Rau
21-Sep-2010, 21:15
Boy did this thread get off topic in a hurry, or did it? I assume a number of us are professional photographers by trade, and speaking for myself, I use digital photography everyday, as I'm sure most professionals do to earn our lively hood. Good photography is just good photography, no matter what tool you choose to use to get the image, whether it be digital or film! Many photographers choose to still use 35mm film and create some extremely fantastic compelling images. (Some National Geographic photographers still use 35mm film because there is no electricity in remote locations to recharge batteries for digital cameras.) Even Ansel used a Contax on occasion, and made some remarkable images with it. We choose to shoot large format for our own personal work, because we all know the quality and resolution is just spectacular, and can't be approached by other smaller formats and most digital backs (although Leaf just released their 80MP Aptus-II 12 back, which I'm sure is just wonderful), but out of reach for most of us average Joe's.

So when will sheet film become obsolete? The answer is: nobody knows! (Although Van Camper does provide some good points about the state of the industry and provides a good barometer.) The whole supply and demand thing has already been debated to death here, and elsewhere on this forum. As long as Large Format Film is still available, I personally think the question really doesn't need to be asked, and speculation will only cause you stress and anxiety.

The solution?
It's available NOW, so buy it! And keep buying it, and don't worry about it.

Now the availability of coldlight head replacement lamps for our enlargers, that's something to worry about!

Jack Dahlgren
23-Sep-2010, 11:55
Now the availability of coldlight head replacement lamps for our enlargers, that's something to worry about!

I was thinking that an interesting color correctable light source could be made from broad spectrum LEDs, maybe not this year, but they are improving every year.

Ben Syverson
23-Sep-2010, 14:02
B&W sheet film will never be "obsolete" (I'll read that as "unavailable"). Someone will always make it as at least a boutique item.

C41 and E6 is a completely different story. I'm stockpiling.

biglewsmi
24-Sep-2010, 12:15
As of 1pm today sheet film is declared obsolete. Anyone in possession of any of this stuff should send it to me immediately.