How long do you think B&W papers will be available?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Eric Rose, Nov 23, 2004.

I will be able to buy FB paper for the next X years.

Poll closed Dec 23, 2004.
  1. 1-5 years

    5 vote(s)
    3.8%
  2. 6-11 years

    15 vote(s)
    11.3%
  3. 12-20 years

    33 vote(s)
    24.8%
  4. forever

    80 vote(s)
    60.2%
  1. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    The reality of our lives these days seems to be the shrinking supply of available B&W papers. Especially quality FB paper.

    Put your googles on and stare into the future. Realistically speaking just how long do you think we will be able to purchase B&W FB paper?
     
  2. mikeb_z5

    mikeb_z5 Member

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    The optimist in me says forever.

    Mike
     
  3. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    Ain't nothing like the real thing baby

    Just looked at a list of available papers from the early 80s-the range of choice now is much bigger than it was then, thanks to the efforts of dedicated importers like Retro and Silverprint. Of course there have been some notable casualties, like Ektalure (still have 80 sheets of 11x14-wo!!!) and blue label Record Rapid, but I'd go so far as to say you're almost spoilt for choice (but yah boo to you Kodak).
     
  4. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Till 11PM on Tuesday of next week.

    Actually, after the scares we've been through of late with Ilford, and Forte and Kodak, I've gotten pretty relaxed after those 'storms' have seemed to blow over. Plus the assurance from JandC that there'll be an adequate supply of traditional materials for as long as anyone will want them. Not to worry, I think. If I were about to decide whether to build a darkroom or not, I'd have no hesitation about going ahead with it. (My darkroom is only a year old and I was scared for a while, but no longer.)
     
  5. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I have a complete set of Zone VI Newsletters, begun by Picker in, IIRC, 1972. I pulled them out to loan to a friend a couple of weeks ago and glanced through them. Picker is wailing throughout about this or that paper disappearing. That was 30 years ago. I miss Kodabromide, Medalist, Brovira, Portriga, Velour Black, Ilfobrome, Seagull, Brilliant, etc., too.

    But, thanks to the Internet, we have available more film and paper than ever (those of us away from the big cities anyway.) I can now order a variety of paper from a number of sources. 30-years ago, I had to take whatever the local camera store happened to decide to stock. In many ways, it's better now.

    There will be B&W paper as long as someone can make a buck. Thank goodness.
    juan
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    When I started, Agfa Brovira was the only paper I could get hold of. Then some Kodak papers appeared in the local shops, but I never used them. Ilford was next, first Ilfobrom and next Ilfospeed - with Ilford Multigrade soon to follow.

    Then we got Varycon and Emaks. I still hate these papers, perhaps unjustly. Varycon can at least be used for lith prints from extremely contrasty negatives, while Emaks still turns a ghastly greenish red in Viradon.

    Last time I checked there is Ilford MG, Agfa equivalent, outdated Tetenal, and... The rest I get from other sources: Bergger, Forte, Maco, Kentmere, Oriental, Retrophotographic POP and what have you.

    POP, by the way, hasn't been a "mass item" for almost a century, but is still available. I find that promising.
     
  7. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    IMHO, B&W silver printing paper will be around as long as there is a demand. Right now, black and white prints done on silver paper have the capability to be technically superior to the best black and white prints done with digital media. Most of us can attest to the fact that many people find the production of a B&W analog print a much more enjoyable experience than the corresponding digital process. Conceivably, ten or twenty years from now, a b&w digital image might reach the quality of a good b&w non-electronic print, but I'm confident there will still be a market segment that enjoys doing things the wet way.
     
  8. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I used Kodak Medalist and Kodabromide and Agfa Brovira and Portriga Rapid when I first started printing. They are all gone now. More recently I've used Ilford MG IV and Ilford MG WT exclusively. I decided I shouldn't get used to working with only one paper since Ilford is having problems so I ordered several packages of different brands to try out. This weekend, for the first time, I tried some Forte Polywarmtone, Oriental Seagull Warm Tone and Bergger Warm Tone paper. All nice stuff. I'll be trying other types of the same brands and other brands in the future. I'm sort of amazed at the choices currently available. It's not as bad as it seems. I think we'll have choices in both photographic papers and films essentially forever. I'm personally willing to pay more money for better materials to keep them available.
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    While I'd like to share your optimism I'd like to see my orders for paper come through.

    It's not a time to be relaxed when as a photographer you commit to printing a large body of work and need consistent paper supplies, which can't be met. Not talking small orders - in excess of 500 sheets 12"x16" and larger each time.

    Ian
     
  10. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    As I approach "Old Fogy-dom" I am confident that anaolg/traditional materials will be available for as long as I need them - and beyond. Traditional (wet/chemical/film etc) will become like oil and arylic painting, more of a niche market.
    Which reminds me... I better order some film and chemicals soon. Gotta get some prints made for the print exchange.

    gene
     
  11. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I'm shocked to see that "forever" is "winning" 2 to 1. Picker may have been talking about papers being discontinued 30 years ago, but in my opinion, it is not a valid point, as digital was not the threat then.

    My "vote" is for 12-20 years, but I hope I am wrong.
     
  12. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    If people are willing to pay, it's not difficult for a variety of other businesses to also manufactur FB paper -- maybe not at the volumes of Kodak or Agfa or even Bergger, but in specialized lots. There are plenty of non-photographic manfacturers of coated and chemical-dipped papers, most of them would have no trouble creating small runs FB photo papers (of varying quality) as long as they perceived a market.

    I'll stick with 12-20 years with the proviso "brands I know today"
     
  13. CraigK

    CraigK Member

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    I recently heard a couple of digi-dudes discussing the "fact" that all analog materials will soon go the way of the buggy whip.

    So I googled "buggy whip" and found this interesting tidbit

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3165/is_n7_v29/ai_14176369

    IMHO black and white materials from film to paper will be around as long as buggy whips...and the companies that learn how sell these materials in a niche market will do quite well.
     
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  15. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Niche market, niche market prices... but I get your point.
     
  16. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Everything will cease to be available when the world ends in about 8 years - 2012, as foretold by the Mayan calendar.
     
  17. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Mmmmm but if it was printed on RC the calendar may have faded by then :surprised:
     
  18. olecowboy

    olecowboy Member

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    Was gonna say forever, but I'm 67 so that doesn't seem so long anymore...so I voted 12-20, with emphasis on the 20...Heck, I'm an optimist!!!!!!!!!!
     
  19. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    From what I've read by Fred Picker, much of his complaints were for loss of some film/papers with the offered replacements being inferior, or a manufacutrers change of a product line to a diluted version. I guess they had to justify their R&D budget by coming up with new items even if they were inferior for the fine art photographer. Maybe as the product line gets narrowed away from the mass market, manufacurers will compete thru quality for the remaining fine art market. Any competition will not be in price for the days of cheap film/paper are over at least for us in the US thanks to the shrinking value of the dollar.
     
  20. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Let me ask this. Why has B&W paper and film been sold for the last 20+ years? Colour killed B&W so long ago most kids today don't even know it was once the only way. So tell me if we have B&W today in a colour world why won't we have B&W in the future?

    BTW I'll lay dollars to donuts I will have an easier time finding B&W paper of some sort 20+ years out then any of todays digital wunderkids will have materials.
     
  21. Bruce Barnbaum

    Bruce Barnbaum Member

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    How long will b&w papers be available

    A question has arisen about the future of traditional photographic products. The
    following are my views on black and white photography.
    [tab]I firmly believe traditional fine art products will always be available, though
    the number of choices will likely diminish. Consider several things: first, no
    art form has ever negated the viability of a previous art form. Digital will
    not negate traditional photogaphy. Traditional photography has too many
    wonderful options—as well as by far the best finished product—to be supplanted
    by digital. Second, a lot of people do not want to be confined by a keyboard,
    mouse and screen to create art. Third, fine art photography has always been
    just a very small part of the income of photographic companies. Kodak made
    most of its money off of Brownie cameras and drug store processing; only a
    small percentage from the fine art products it created. The same is true of
    digital vs. traditional: most of the digital market is the snapshot market, not
    the fine art market. So even though there's a lot of hype of digital, and some
    people have looked into digital, there are still a lot of people working in
    traditional methods, and there always will be.
    [tab]As a photography instructor, I constantly see people who have tried digital, and
    have quickly returned or turned to traditional methods. This is not an uncommon
    phenomenon. I feel it will increase as people begin to understand some of the
    shrtcomings of digital.
    [tab]An article recently in the New York Times stated that even the experts cannot
    tell how long digitial memory will remain. So if you make a great digital
    photograph,how loong will that file remain without decaying? Furthermore, since
    digital memory keeps changing forms (from 5 1/2" floppy disks to 3 1/4" flopppy
    disks to zip disks, to CDs, to DVDs, etc.) how often does the user have to
    update and upgrade memory to have accesss to older files. Let's face it, if you
    saved a great photo on an old 5 1/2 floppy, you have no access to it today.
    Furthermore, each time you upgrade and update to a newer memory system, there
    will be some alteration of the original, for no two systems save the information
    the same way. By contrast, I can pick up my first exposed negative today and
    print it. There is no degradation or alteration in traditional methods. Also,
    the darkroom that I built 15 years ago works fine today, with the same
    enlargers, easels, etc.. If I had gone digital 15 years ago, I would have had to
    update my computers, my scanners, my printers, etc. every two years, at the
    outside. The continuing costs of digital are extraordinary.
    [tab]In time, even new photographers will come to recognize that. At that point,
    there will be a slow slide back toward traditional photography, and options may
    increase with it.
    [tab]Currently, things do look grim. Ilford, Agfa, and Forte (which I have used for
    10 years) have all announced bankruptcy. This is devastating news. But each
    company has different reasons for its problems. It's not all digital that is
    driving this spate of failures. Forte, for example, has too large a workforce,
    and Hungarian labor laws prevent them from laying anyone off. They were making
    a profit, but not enough to pay the 350 workers employed at the plant. It may
    take an outside buyer to start again (their physical plant is in perfect shape),
    but with a much reduced workforce.
    [tab]I have no interest in switching to digital. I do not like sitting in front of a
    screen. I like working in a darkroom. It gives me solitude and time to think
    about what I'm doing with no distractions. Further, I recognize that nothing
    has the brilliance of a well-produced silver print. So I'll stick with
    traditional methods. I hope all of you will, as well.
    —Bruce Barnbaum, 11/23/04
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2004
  22. Sjixxxy

    Sjixxxy Member

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    Yeah, I feel there will alway be someone making it, even if it is in really small quantities and/or more expesive then what we have today. Yesterday I was reading into absinthe. Even though it was banned in most countries worldwide about 100 years ago, there are still a few distilleries making it, and it cost a lot more then it did in its heyday. If a beverage can have government bans galore, and a few companies still manufacturer it to serve the niche market, I don't think it much threat to B&W papers. I believe the niche market would be much bigger, and I don't see any banning of it in the future. Unless of course, the digiheads start to get really scared of it, make up some bogus excuse and start a b&w traditional temperance movement.
     
  23. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I agree with Bruce's comments about 1000%.

    I'm reminded of a story I heard some 25 years ago. A photo teacher of my acquaintance had returned from New Orleans and he had spent some time with Clarence John Laughlin, one of the great photographers of his era. Laughlin was livid because all the good photo mounting tissue had been discontinued. He called what was available "styrofoam" and so despised it he said he wouldn't use it. He was asking his guest if he could make some contacts to locate supplies of "real" mounting tissue.

    Not being a connoisseur of mounting tissue, I took this for an eccentricity. While I now realize it was part of his perfectionism, I think we may be over-reacting to the inevitability of changes. Laughlin could still mount his photographs, after all. I think we will still be able to take our pictures and print our negatives, even if we somehow figure out how to become immortal. We may complain about no longer having Tri-X, Pan F, Ilford MG or Forte Polywarmtone, but somebody will still be out there making materials we can use. It may be "styrofoam" compared to what we used previously, but something will still be available.
     
  24. g0tr00t

    g0tr00t Member

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    Forever. The digital camera bubble will burst. Maybe not soon, but in time. People will go back to film and us artists are going continue to create in the darkroom. There is going to be a renaissance era where doing the darkroom is going to be a fad...Ebay will be hit hard and it will be a sellers market. Most of the followers will go back to digital, but some will stay and continue to work the darkroom magic.

    Its a pendulum that keeps swinging....
     
  25. Laurent

    Laurent Subscriber

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    have to disagree there...

    If Lagavullin is to be discontinued this year, then it's the indication of the world moving to an end... :surprised:
     
  26. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I agree

    I just wonder about this generation who will loose their photographic history in a hard drive crash and the CD back up that was left in a window sill no longer reads.

    All the color photos my family took 30 years ago look bad and the B&W ones look good. People ask me to do portraits - I tell them I will only do them in B&W - They now state that is their preference - If they want color - they can go to Walmart. My friend that owns a minilab is going out of business in a week. I will have no more access to color myself. It was fun but for that, I will start using a lab on the net that uses drum scanners and a laserjet printer.

    I still do alt processes - cyanotypes, kalitypes ... If the materials are around for that - we will always be able to get B&W paper - we can even still get AZO and Amidol (still my favorite) - There will be fewer choices - 2 or 3 brands maybe. I am now playing with TMAX film - I always steered away from that one in the past - It is actually not bad - a very different look though - I really notice the difference in tonal rendition - I think I'll keep both TMAX and traditional emulsions on hand - as long as I have a choice.. I just hate paying the specialty prices we will probably need to endure.