A bit of reality

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Ian Grant, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Ilford is undergoing restructuring.

    Agfa's in termoil, and rumours persist about what they will or won't be manufturing.

    Ferrania's hanging on only just, but is irrelevant to serious photographers anyway.

    Kodak have shifted manufacture of B&W film out of the US to reduce labour costs.

    It's a time of major shifts in the market place, the weak won't survive, we'll still have excellent film to work with in a few years time

    Ian
     
  2. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Perfectly and succinctly put Ian!

    At the end of the day we are in a consumer market where most people don't want to pay the going price. As a result only the fittest will survive and the choice will reduce. Alternatives will still be around so we are just going to have to learn to use those films.
     
  3. gma

    gma Member

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    It is not film that I am concerned about losing. I do not want to lose Ilford's great assortment of papers and Ilfochrome (Cibachrome). The question is: Will anyone manufacture comparable products to fill the void?
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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  5. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I agree, if the papers do go I think I'll try Forte again although I haven't used it in years because of the inconsistency from batch to batch that I experienced when I last used it. When it's good it can be quite beautiful.
     
  6. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    Les,
    Have you got experience with Foma paper?
     
  7. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I went up to Toronto and had a chance to visit Bob Carnies' shop. He is producing Ilfochromes from scanned film, exposed by a lambda. This process curcumvents most of, if not all the head aches associated with the traditional ilfochrome process.

    The work was great and I know Bob and his crew worked hard to get to this point.

    I love Ilfochromes and for those who feel the same and especially Bob. This news really sucks.
     
  8. Dean Williams

    Dean Williams Member

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    "It's a time of major shifts in the market place, the weak won't survive, we'll still have excellent film to work with in a few years time"

    My view would be that we will still have good quality films to work with for decades. Markets have a way of seeking out needs and supplying such.

    "Agfa's in termoil, and rumours persist about what they will or won't be manufturing."

    Agfa doesn't seem to be in any turmoil. They sold their film/paper/chem division to a buyer that hired 2600 Agfa employees to keep it running. The new buyer says they will continue to produce the Agfa products. The catalog may change from time to time, but that is the case with most all manufactures...new products are added and/or old products are dropped, depending on the market. Slow movers get the axe, consistent performers remain.

    "Kodak have shifted manufacture of B&W film out of the US to reduce labour costs."

    Kokak B&W still says made in USA. They opened a new plant for coating B&W emulsions in the US about a year ago. I haven't read anything about them moving manufacturing out of the US. Can you point me to a source for this, please?
    Thanks
    Dean
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Actually Dean I agree with you.

    But the rumours are that Agfa is dropping larger formats, and looking at dropping B&W completely. They did not manage to sell the consumer division to a third party, it was a management buy out.

    As for Kodak the information is here on this forum.

    Ian
     
  10. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Have'nt tried the paper but used some 120 film several years ago and was not impressed. To be fair though I believe that the eastern block materials have improved since then.
     
  11. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I am forwarding an article that I found on another forum that was sent in response to a thread which began, "No Strong to Surve." It is a bit long but makes interesting reading.

    Sandy



    _Digital outsells film, but film still king to some_

    By Brad Cook bcook@maccentral.com

    While he was certainly not the first to do so, cartoonist Berkeley
    Breathed took the best stab at bringing the future of photography into
    sharp focus when he tackled the subject in an installment of his
    "Outland" comic strip published in the early 1990s. "The camera has
    croaked," laments Opus the penguin as his pal Oliver dangles a 35mm
    camera over a toilet like a dead goldfish. "Photography has kicked the
    bucket, pushed into an early grave by digital computer imagery." After
    they flush it, Opus asks "Should we get a shot of this?" and Oliver
    replies "Naw, I'll make a digital composite of ourselves with an
    enhanced background later."

    Over a decade later, many professional photographers have followed
    their lead, although others still hold out against the inevitable
    advance of digital technology, and few have been as quick to discard
    the old ways as Opus and company. In fact, some, such as Eric Welch,
    photo editor for the Gemological Institute of America, believe film
    could still be a viable alternative, but they're frustrated with what
    they see as Kodak's abandonment of the market.

    "I was a strong proponent of film for a long time," Welch said. "I
    argued that film would always be better than digital and would
    continue to improve. In fact, film could be ten times better than it
    is now, but Kodak threw their research out the window."

    "Nonsense," Kodak Director of Corporate Media Relations, Gerard
    Meuchner, told MacCentral. "We invest in film and will continue to do
    so. We also have said that we will devote more of our R&D to digital
    imaging because that's where the market is headed, especially in
    developed nations. In no way should people misunderstand that
    statement to mean that Kodak won't keep investing in film."

    As an example of this, Meuchner pointed out a February press release
    touting the company's introduction of new Professional Ultra Color and
    Kodak Professional BW400CN films, as well as improvements to its
    Professional Portra 800 film. He thinks "film will be around for a
    long, long time. Film is growing in developing markets such as China,
    India and Russia, which is why we continue to make investments in
    those regions."

    Even Tom Shay, Director of Corporate Communications for Kodak's
    biggest competitor, Fuji, told MacCentral: "I don't think Kodak has
    given up on film. They stopped making film cameras, which may have led
    to that perception. Last year, they introduced new slide films that
    most professionals think are the best in the world."

    Welch and other professional photographers interviewed by MacCentral
    for this article have tended to prefer Fuji's film over Kodak's --
    when they're not shooting digital -- ever since the Japanese company
    sponsored the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Today, Shay pegs Fuji's
    film sales at 10 percent of global revenues, although the 90 percent
    attributed to digital covers everything from cameras to medical
    imaging devices. In contrast, while 2003 numbers are not yet
    available, Meuchner said that Kodak's 2002 digital sales, which are
    also a broad catch-all category, comprised 30 percent of the company's
    overall sales, and he expects that figure to hit 60 percent by 2006.

    Getting rid of processing time and costs

    Professionals' dramatic switch-over to film -- 2003 was the first year
    that the entire industry saw digital outsell its traditional
    counterpart to both pros and consumers -- started with
    photojournalists, for whom time is of the essence when shooting
    pictures on deadline. Welch in particular recalls an incident in Sept.
    1997 when he was a news photographer and shot the crowning of Miss
    Missouri at 9:15 p.m. one evening. "By 9:35 p.m.," he recalled, "that
    picture was in layout and I said 'This is the future.' I was using a
    US$13,000 1.3 megapixel camera and the picture was impossible to fix
    completely because it was incredibly magenta, but it was a revelation
    nonetheless."

    Welch's former boss, Ival Lawhon, feels the same way. He switched to
    digital three-and-a-half years ago for his work with the St. Joseph
    News-Press in Missouri and related a recent experience shooting
    tornadoes that were whirling through the area. "I didn't get back
    until 9:30 p.m. but two photos still made page one, and we were able
    to send three to AP," he said.

    Besides timeliness, another factor that has fueled the digital
    adoption is megapixel count. Looked at by many the same way computer
    users point to processor speed, megapixels have reached five to six in
    affordable prosumer cameras, with high-end pro models hitting 12 or
    more. All of the photographers MacCentral spoke to, as well as Fuji's
    Shay, saw six megapixels as the benchmark for producing prints that
    are good enough for not only photojournalists but even people like
    Fred Ward, whose 5.3 megapixel camera can easily capture the sparkle
    of the precious stones he shoots for his continuously-revised series
    of gem books. "My customers can't tell the difference between the old
    pictures and the new digital ones," he remarked.

    Not quite dead yet

    But is digital ready to send traditional film to the land where
    8-track tapes and vinyl records went to die? "150 years ago, when
    photography was in its infancy," said Ted Grant, who recently
    completed snapping shots for a book about women in medicine, "people
    thought painters would go away, but they didn't." He said he hasn't
    switched yet "because they haven't come out with a digital camera as
    easy to use as the Leica M7. I need to be quiet as I do my work." He
    also pointed out that digital cameras can't snap shots as fast as a
    traditional camera can, but he acknowledged that an upcoming Epson
    camera that uses Leica lenses "may be a turning point."

    Grant said that he recently took some black-and-white pictures with a
    digital camera, "but there wasn't the same feel you get from film.
    Film has a smoother look and digital has a sharper edge -- in fact,
    it's sharp no matter what, because the depth of field is greater." He
    believes digital and film can cohabitate, especially when one
    considers that ad agencies and similar businesses need to take
    high-quality shots for sizes large enough to accommodate billboards or
    even the sides of buildings -- they won't switch until digital
    cameras' megapixel numbers reach much higher than they are now.

    Neither Kodak nor Fuji would speculate when digital will be become the
    de facto standard and film will become a niche medium. Shay pointed
    out that "digital photography is still in its infancy. It's made
    tremendous progress, but film is not a stationary target. It will
    continue to evolve too." He sees major digital advancements in the
    coming years arriving not through megapixel increases but with "the
    color palette and dynamic range, areas where film is still better.
    People were fixated on megapixels but now they've come to realize that
    these other elements are important too."

    To illustrate how far digital has come, Tim Jones, who teaches
    all-digital photojournalism courses at Texas Christian University,
    discussed a recent display at the school. A photojournalist who had
    gone to Iraq and Afghanistan to snap shots of soldiers with a 4
    megapixel Canon 1D camera brought his pictures back and blew them up
    to 30- x 40-inch prints. "The quality was amazing," said Jones. "If he
    could get that with 4 megapixels, imagine what he could do with 6 or
    8."
     
  12. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    A Photojournalist would have to be nuts not to use digital. He wouldn't be able survive in an industry that relies on the immediate tranfer and distribution of images.
    The question is: In 2002, How many photojournalists were shooting Black and White, much less B&W large format? If every photojournalist in the entire world went digital in 2003, Why would that have any effect on the B&W film market?
     
  13. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Ian,

    Agfa already dropped larger formats (ie. Sheet Films) a year ago when. And I have heard that "the right people" got their hands on the steering - thats the impression of the people working there.

    Clogz,

    I really like Fomaspeed Variant 3. It´s easier to control than MG4, the base is thinner (but less prone to damages than the thin MG4RC base) and it´s considerably cheaper.

    In the Foma-Shop in Prague they ask the same prize for RC and FB papers. ;-)

    Haven´t used much of the Fomatone MG baryta yet. But that´s cause I am lazy.

    The only downside is that the RC-paper doesn´t keep that well in stock. The emulsion has incorporated developer agents, it gets very soft within 2 years.

    HTH.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 26, 2004