Film really is superior

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by rolleiman, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. rolleiman

    rolleiman Member

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    Recently I was going through old Rolleiflex negs in black & white shot in the 1960's, they were still as good as the day they were processed. By comparison, much of the digi stuff shot over the past 12 years and stored on disc, while working as a press photographer has gone "corrupt". I've heard of this happening to other photographers.
    So spread the word, get more people using film; if processed and filed correctly, it will last a lifetime or more. I returned to my film cameras upon leaving newspaper work, suddenly finding myself enjoying photography once more.
     
  2. momus

    momus Member

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    Yep, film is very archival. The one caveat is that it's archival if you shoot "real" B&W film. I was rummaging through a big box of photos and negs from 12 years ago and had a very unpleasant surprise. Most of what I was shooting back then was either color film or that C41 B&W stuff. The negs had faded so much I had to throw them away. Ditto for the cheap prints Walgreens had made for me. Now I shoot nothing but Tri-X and print my work on fiber paper, so no more of that nonsense.
     
  3. Mark Feldstein

    Mark Feldstein Member

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    As a photojournalist I've been singing that same song since nearly digital day one. I've actually developed a niche shooting film for clients rather than digital for the corruption reason, among others. I've seen or heard about it over and over. Personally, I don't trust the digital files to last. If the deadlines aren't so much a factor, as with features vs. hard news, I'm going with film.
    Mark
     
  4. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    In my experience, this is one of the reasons for using film that a lot of people understand. When I say "you can leave the negatives in a shoebox for fifty years and then someone finds them in the attic and they're still good", that makes perfect sense to almost everybody (the exceptions are the ones with an excessive faith in cloud storage).

    Pity about that C-41 exception---it's one of the reasons I don't shoot it much. I think I remember, though, PE saying that the longevity of modern C-41 materials was enormously improved; not to Kodachrome levels or anything, but enough to make a meaningful difference in terms of the transgenerational shoebox.

    -NT
     
  5. Double Negative

    Double Negative Member

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  6. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    ... and Beta video recorders were superior to VHS. It's not always the best that survives.
     
  7. mweintraub

    mweintraub Member

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    Yes, but they survived and advanced even after it's death as a consumer format. BetaCam [Oxide] is the same as BetaMax and BetaCam SP was a different tape formula, but still the same idea.
     
  8. Prest_400

    Prest_400 Member

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    Agreed. The archival quality of film can be quite remarkable and to me is a nice "feature".

    IIRC, Color negs have less longevity compared to E6 materials but is the difference quite pronounced? I recall a pnet discussion about it and Ron Andrews quoted more stability on E6 compared to C41. Something about different couplers mentioned.
    RA4 paper is quoted between half a century to 200 years. There is still a huge volume of it used by photofinishing, perhaps will slowly improve is R&D is put on it.
    Well processed B&W on Polyester base seems the ultimate thing, together with proper FB.

    All will depend on storage, added to processing. Hot and Humid and it will be sooner gone.

    As of digital I too don't trust it. I lost a couple of folders (probably misplaced) and mistrust it. Operator error but I am much more careful with the physical archiving way.
     
  9. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    A thousand years ago (1983) I shot a wolf at the San Francisco zoo (and boy were the zookeepers mad!) and to this day, I consider it one of my best ever shots. It's a color negative, probably Kodak Gold 200 IIRC, and I have, in the past few years, taken it out of its sleeve and printed it. The negative has always been treated very carefully and it was processed by a good lab, back in the day. It still prints fine. No fading that I can see. It's been my experience that color negs last just fine if they were processed correctly in the first place. I doubt my own, self-developed color negs will last, assuming everyone's dire predictions of the consequences of using that dreaded blix concoction are true.

    YMMV :smile:
     
  10. omaha

    omaha Member

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    I was having a conversation with my oldest daughter over the weekend. She is a young mother with two little kids. All of her photos are digital. I highly encouraged her to get prints made and put them in albums.

    "Its ok...I have everything on Facebook and that's secure" she said.

    "Can you still log in to your MySpace account?" I asked.

    Point taken.

    Even if, in theory, your digital files (be they cloud based or not) will be perpetually accessible, there are a thousand human factors that can get in the way. In my daughter's case, she admitted that she couldn't even recall her MySpace user name, and she no longer has the email address she had at the time, so password recovery is probably not possible.

    Print. Your. Pictures!
     
  11. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Sounds like bad processing or abysmal storage, or both. My stuff has gotten no special storage, and I've usually lived in hot areas with no air conditioning. But the other day I found some negatives I took in July 1973 with a 126 Instamatic, and they look great. The prints look fine, too. Looks like ol' Fotomat did a good job, because I have some later 70's prints from some other company that are yellowed. I also have some negatives and prints from Lincoln Color Labs from 1974 that still look good.
    In 1980-1982, my mother got lots of reprints from negatives taken from 1953 to 1959, and they came out nice and are still nice. I recently looked at the negatives, and they still look good, too. There might be some fading, but if it is it's not severe.
     
  12. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    A darn good point, that.
     
  13. JohnRichard

    JohnRichard Member

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    The Google Machine will not last forever.

    I took over the upkeep of my grandmothers photo albums some years ago. She stopped in about 1995 or so because no one wanted prints.
    She smiles every time I bring her future proof prints to put in a new album. We now have over 40 years of albums complete.
     
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  15. Prest_400

    Prest_400 Member

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    Completely agreed! An acquittance told me something similar about printing and he mentioned it's too expensive, no one does it, all just goes to Facebook.
    It lead me to researching the printing market and revived my interest. I happen to shoot and not print much (in both media).
    For less than a drink at certain bars, or a meal; one can get 100 4x6" prints. Quite worth it. Other thing is that it takes effort...

    Both media are reliable in their own ways, only is that it needs a certain type of effort to keep well.

    I found Ron's post on Photo.net about C41 fading. It is an interesting read, here it is: http://photo.net/film-and-processing-forum/00a8CD?start=10
    John, your just reminded me about letter writing; Really few people do written correspondence (thinking young'uns). A british ladyfriend of my mom usually writes and told me to not worry about replying as she expects no one to do it.
     
  16. JohnRichard

    JohnRichard Member

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    I quite often want to write people letters, however I agree; it takes too much precious facebook time to find a pen and write someone a letter.
     
  17. nonuniform

    nonuniform Member

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    Digital data storage is one of the under-exposed (pun intended) topics of digital media. It's not news that magnetic media will suffer dropouts. It happened with tape, and it can happen with hard drives. Usually, I hear of hard drives dying due to other issues, bad sectors, etc, but there is a solution, and it takes a bit of planning.

    I have 2 copies of everything, on-site and off, that I constantly migrate forward onto new hardware every year. No, I don't sample every file to ensure that there is no corruption loss, but I do sample a meaningful percentage.

    So, I budget an extra $1k every year for storage, and I update the media with newer, usually larger, devices (hard drives currently). I don't use or rely on cloud services, because really, I have almost 2tb of data and that will just never make it to or from any cloud service without additional costs.

    I'd rather have digital color stored correctly than forcing myself to only shoot black and white film. (Note, I still shoot a lot of 4x5 C-41).
     
  18. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Digital files, as in stored on a hard drive, cloud, viewed on a screen, in a browser, social networks, etc, are essentially worthless and prone to eventually disappear. Anyone really dedicated should at the very least get serious about printing those files for some chance at archival. I have been shooting a bit of digital lately but it is for a photogravure project so for every image there is a digital positive and, more importantly, a copper plate from which beautiful prints are produced that will outlast me and my children. This is the ONLY way I can justify using a digital camera for some of my work. Film is and will always be king.
     
  19. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Film has a physical integrity. I rest my case.
     
  20. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Hopefully the latest C41 B&W film such as XP2+ has vastly superior archival properties to the earlier versions such as XP1 and the latest C41 colour neg film range is a vast improvement on say early 1970s colour neg.

    I cannot comment on the longevity of XP2+. It is maybe too soon for anyone to comment until at least another 20 years have passed but I have first hand experience of early 1970s colour negs and some have begun to serious deteriorate whereas I have traditional B&W negs going back to the early 1950s which produce prints as good as the day the negs were first processed.

    pentaxuser
     
  21. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Regular B&W will always be best for longevity (as long as the film base holds up).
     
  22. Prest_400

    Prest_400 Member

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    :laugh:

    Add a print in too, when you get around to do it! :D

    Now I happen to have a bunch of prints of people, and I want to send them off to them. Some to relatives and friends from afar. Others are friends on my same town, but seems impossible to track them lately.
    I have a central post office near my route and given some free time and my tendency to stroll; I will mail some. :wink:

    Back to the Chromogenic longevity topic; In 20-30 years, there should be quite some improvement and current materials should be quite better, Ektar and Portra compared to previous generation materials.
     
  23. omaha

    omaha Member

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    not to be morbid, what happens when you die? Who is going to take over all that maintenance? How can you count on there being someone who is both interested and technically proficient enough to turn all of those digital files into something visible?how will they even know where to start? How can you trust but all of that gear what just get tossed into the bin?

    you sound like a very dedicated and skilled hobbyist. All the same, you are still trusting that's some unknown person in the future is going to be there in order to utilize all of those photos.
     
  24. James in GA

    James in GA Member

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    I'm a old lab rat. We hate the drug store labs they use waterless C41 & RA for paper.
    No true fixing.
     
  25. Iluvmycam

    Iluvmycam Member

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    Yes, prints are akin to the negative for the digital photog.
     
  26. Iluvmycam

    Iluvmycam Member

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    When all tumblers have clicked I may have a dozen or more digital back ups at 3 sites. Once digital is gone your fudged. I can never have enough back ups. And I use SD cards like film. I never erase them. Have been saved many times by this alone when I screw up and delete a file. As long as you have a master print, you can recover 90% to 95% of an image.

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:150_'Dye_Transfer_Scans'_2012_Daniel_D._Teoli_Jr_LLR.jpg

    If you use SD cards like film, every few years give them a charge in the computer. They claim to have a 10+ year lifespan without a charge.

    But archival or not...I just love the look of film...

    (nude warning)

    http://danielteolijr.tumblr.com/image/46285276239