Future of 120 film

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by rfshootist, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

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    Hi to all,

    at the time I (once again) think about shooting more MF film, that would mean to invest seriously in a MF system with interchangeable lenses because I find the fixed lens of my TLRs too limiting now, especially on the wide side, not that much on the tele side.
    And the tilt&shift lens which I want to buy since a long time would be bought for the MF system then, not for my 35mm systems.

    What bothers me is that some know-all and know-better experts keep saying that 120 film is the first one who will have very serious restrictions in choice and availability soon, sooner than 135 will be concerned ,because 120 is much more used by pros than by amateurs and the pros who haven't done it yet will replace their MF systems all by digital.

    Not really knowing the whole pro world I can't believe that anyway, because I know that some pros still use 120 and 4X5 for magazine work and say this won't change very soon.

    For me personally the question is shall I invest a considerable amount of money in a system, which probably has no sufficient film supply from 2010 or 2015 on ?

    I'd be interested in your opinions, maybe there are some pros among us who really KNOW what's going on in the professional MF world, opposite to what some self taught digital soothsayers BELIEVE based on hearsay ? :smile:

    Interesting also the question if there are enuff amateur MF cameras in use
    to justify economically the 120 production for some companies in future.
    My personal expectation is that the film niche will be large enuff to keep the 120 film alive, maybe only two companies but with a reasonable portfolio anyway.

    Regards,
    Bertram
     
  2. Fotohuis

    Fotohuis Member

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    We can not guarantee anything for the near future but at least all new Rollei films are also introduced in 120 rolfilm format. Also all B&W Fomapan negative films are available in 120 rolfilm format.

    Sure, our choice will be more limited in the future but WE will go on till at least 2025 ! :tongue:

    best regards,

    Robert
     
  3. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I don't have a crystal ball and my track record on predictions is pretty shakey. I do think the selection of 120 films will shrink, particularly color negative film. I think there will remain a niche market for 120 black and white and, possibly, color transparency but the choices will be narrow. The price will also be higher than what we're used to. Personally, I hope Ilford can continue to provide HP5+ and PanF+ in 120.

    If you are considering buying medium format equipment, it's pretty much a buyer's market right now. Don't let the future availability of film deter you.
     
  4. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Hello Bertram,

    I certainly have no inside track on the future of MF film, but if I were you I would buy with confidence. Although there is not very much new research and development into new films by the bigger companies, I feel there will be enough demand for film to keep it in production for some years to come.

    Bill
     
  5. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    My advice is this: When I go sky diving, I do it because of the thrill, not because statistically, it is safer to do so than driving my car.

    Art.
     
  6. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    Without having the remotest idea of the answer to this question, how many 120 cameras are being manufactured today? Is that number (whatever it is) a good indicator of anticipated 120 film supplies?

    Steve
     
  7. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Live in the present. Don't worry so much about what the future may bring.
     
  8. fred

    fred Member

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    The future of 120? :smile:
    You can see it between a 20-24 inch print coming from a 120 or a 135 negative.
    Film photography for b& w "is" the future... :smile:

    Fred
     
  9. arigram

    arigram Member

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    There aren't many 120 film cameras in production or development at the moment though. Even Hasselblad is slowing going to digital-only. MF cameras with interchangable backs though have a better chance to make it through as far it suits the companies to produce them and not just intergrate the back with the body and make just large 35mm-like SLRs like the H2D.
     
  10. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Fewer number of emulsions? Definitely. Will still be around in 10 years? Hopefully.

    You can still buy film for 9x12 cameras, and they stopped making those in the 1930s. However, in a film vs. digital world, digital is winning. It's all a matter of demand -- can demand sustain supply?

    I'd hate to be left with only one choice: digital with its limited dynamic range, generic grainless look and its seeming need to upgrade at a ridiculous cost of $1,500 every 18 months.
     
  11. 127

    127 Member

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    I use 127 film. Kodak discontinued that ten years ago. I still have no problems getting all the film I need. I don't have much choice, but I have enough choice. Officially NOBODY uses this stuff, but that hasn't stoped Maco producing the stuff and selling enough to make it commercially worthwhile. Ferania still make 126. 110 is available from Fuji and a couple of others.

    When Kodak discontinue 120 - which is still some way off in the future, then there will still be PLENTY of others making film for years after that.

    From past record they stop making BATTERIES for cameras long before they stop making film to fit.

    Ian
     
  12. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    There are always options. You can certainly buy a freezer and a lifetime supply of 120 film today. You can buy the camera and hope for the best. You can roll your own 120 as long as someone is making film. Nobody can predict the future; the best we can do is to guess based on our historical knowledge and personal experiences.

    But you'll never make the pictures you can make tomorrow if yoiu don't buy the camera today. Nobody seems to think that 120 will be gone in the next few years...imagine the images you could make before a few years have passed. Is it worth it to get five years of images out of the camera? Only you know that. I don't know anybody who's predicting 120 B&W film will be gone in five years (except for those who believe all film will be gone in two years...but they were wrong when they made the same prediction two years ago).

    Think back 10 years ago in your life and ask yourself if back then you thought you'd be worried about a medium format camera today. Probably not...do you think your life will be the same in 10 years from now? Will 120 availability matter to you then? Who knows? Truthfully, nobody knows. If you're worried, buy the camera, a freezer, and a lot of film. If you're more laid back, buy the camera and roll with the punches. Remember that you won't take images with a camera that you don't own...if you want to make pictures that you can't make with your TLR, then an SLR will get you at least a few years of enjoyment. What price do you put on that, even if the camera is obsolete in 10 years? (My opinion is that B&W film will be around longer than I will...but that's only an opinion as my crystal ball is not functioning properly.)

    Finally, look at the Bronica S2A system...dirt cheap as MF SLRs go, loads of information on the web about them, lots of equipment available even though they've been out of production for decades, excellent Nikon lenses, and they're built like tanks. Search the web...you'll find loads of information. If you don't have to own a Hasselblad to be "seen", the Bronica might meet your needs for a lot less than you think you'll need to spend.

    I wish you the best with your decision.

    Be well.
    Dave
     
  13. Fotohuis

    Fotohuis Member

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    Sounds reasonable to me: A full frame D-SLR which should measure my needs is about Eur. 3200,00 (5-D) and it should indeed needs replacement within 3-4 years.

    Better to stay with my M7, or EOS analogue. With those camera's I have made money!

    Robert
     
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  15. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Yep. :sad: I have three Spotmatics and three Minolta SRTs. You can make it work, but it would be easier just to be able to buy the correct battery ...
     
  16. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Seems like there are a whole bunch of people in Washington, D.C. that are following that philosophy...
     
  17. hurdy_gurdyman

    hurdy_gurdyman Member

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    :D :D :D
     
  18. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

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    Yes, that's been the question,can demand sustain supply and if so how long can it do so ? I am quite optimistic.
    As long as all we can expect from a digital camera is that converted midtone crap, film will have it's place. There are some photogs coming back already, at least some of those who can still can afford to go back. Many have sold their analog gear for little money tho, have bought digital gear for big money which has now lost 70% of it's worth . In fact they are broke and must start with used film gear again. A Lemming fate.

    IMO the current sensor technology is something like a guarantee for the surviving of B&W and slide film in a not too small niche. And C41 has enuff supporters too among those who scan, I don't expect it to vanish.

    What will happen however when the qualitative leaps are all done with the current sensors and the next qualitative leap comes, who knows ? I really don't care, that will take a long time and it is not sure if any new sensors will be competitive. That's for the lady with the crystal ball I'd say and nothing which would influence my decisions now.

    Emulsonly,
    Bertram
     
  19. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    Just remember this....

    Once color film is invented nobody will use black and white.

    no wait....

    Once consumer-friendly 35mm film is introduced there will be no need for large format cameras anymore.

    no wait....

    Once automatic cameras are invented nobody will ever use manual cameras anymore.

    no wait....

    oh nevermind.
     
  20. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    Even in a worse case scenario where 120 film is eradicated in ten years, and you are forced to scrap your MF system, the monetary loss will be substantially less than what the average digital shooter spends on upgrades over the same time period. In fact I think the fear of buying a camera due to future incompatablity in 10 years would be more pertenant to a potential DSLR buyer than a MF buyer. The average digital photographic enthusiast replaces a body every couple of years or so and dumps more money down the drain than someone who could no longer use a MF system.
     
  21. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    I went to a photostore yesterday and noticed they still carry super8 and 16mm films for cine cameras. when did those go uot of production ?
    Søren
     
  22. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

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    That's true indeed. But I am not one of the digital Joe Average lemmings who have accepted that from now on you have to replace your system every couple of years, investing an enormous amount of money each time.
    Where I come from (historically) you bought good stuff, took care of it , provided for adaequate maintainance and kept it for a lifetime.
    I still own a Cord my father bought used in the early 60s.

    Whatever will happen, the supply will last for 10 years more I suppose,
    another ten years more I can store in the freezer, enuff time to justify a 100% write off then.

    It was interesting to see that nobody here wanted to agree to the forecast of some of those "insiders" who say 120 will be in troubles first.

    Reagrds,
    Bertram
     
  23. cvik

    cvik Member

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    I wouldn't worry too much.
    Today you can still get all sorts of film formats:
    8mm, 16mm, APS, 35mm, 110, 120, 126, 127, 620, 70mm and sheet film in sizes from 6.5x9cm to 20x24".

    Of course, some of them are not made by the major manufacturers any more, and the amount of films produced doesn't really matter if you don't like them :smile:

    I doubt 120-film will dissapear any time soon. Film, besides the visually pleasing appearance, still have quite a few technical benefits compared to digital. Wide-angels, shift and tilt is a problem with digital cameras, Depth-of-field at the same field-of-view is a problem (crop factor), digital has lower dynamic range, has highlight-clipping, and larger film formats have more detail than digital, analoge prints have more depth than ink-jet, tonal range in BW-film is typically a lot better and some films are many times as sharp as any digital camera of the same format (for instance gigabitfilm).

    Also,
    If you buy a medium format camera with exchangeable backs you can always fit a digital back later - or sell it to someone who would. I have a rolleiflex 6000-series camera and even ten years ago you could get digital backs for those and modern digital backs are still made for it. Rollei also sells a digital bundle and so does Hasselblad and Mamiya.

    If you follow the digital path, you will most likely have bought many cameras or digital backs before 120-film is gone.

    *imho*
     
  24. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

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    Not as long as I can somehow avoid it . Maybe I'd rather give up photo and would learn to paint then !! :smile:)
    Bertram
     
  25. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Clearly none of us have a crystal ball on this but I figure medium format film will be commonly available for up to about ten years, but it will become increasingly expensive and the number of emulsion options will be very limited.

    At this time image quality available from medium format equipment is still significantly greater than what is possible with the best digital prosumer equipment, even medium format equipment with digital backs. In about five years I expect that to have changed, which won't matter to some people here but it will likely put an end to the production of medium format film cameras.

    Stocking up on film and storing it in the freezer is an option, of course, but bear in mind that film, especially those with high ASA, will continue to increase in B+F from cosmic rays even when frozen. Based on my experience I would predict on average an increase of about log 0.45 over a ten year period for films such as TMAX-400, HP5+ and Tri-X.

    Sandy
     
  26. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Just my thoughts
    A couple things will keep MF going. Sales of MF film (whoo hoo big surprise), and sales of motion picture film. The latter may have a bigger influence then the former.

    The sale of MF cameras may have less to do with film than the direction of digital. If one body can be used for many backs -- as mf cameras can now -- than they may benefit from the the accelerated digital market place. Would you spend 5-8k every couple years on a top end DSLR if your existing body could accept the latest digital back? This assumes the the MF backs will be similar in price and or higher in quality.

    If I were to guess, I would give 120 colour a slow death of 5-10 years. I think B&W 120 will last considerably longer or for my lifetime.

    If digital capture becomes the standard in the movie industry, then movie stock will disappear and (colour) roll film will follow fast.