The evolution of film

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by JBrunner, May 31, 2006.

  1. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If for some reason that other technology didn't exist, and all the R&D money went towards advancing the capabilities of film emulsions, where would we be now, and what innovations could we have expected, or be expecting in the future?

    This is one of the random things that floats around in my head.
     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    You would have 2 electron sensitization. It would have come about 2 - 5 years earlier, IMHO.

    That is about it for now, as film and paper technology is so mature.

    Dyes would have gotten better, and prices would have come down a little (but in the face of oil prices that might have been mitigated). And, you would probably have better keeping and reciprocity, although they are a lot better now that just 5 years ago.

    Remember that higher speeds are limited by radiation and heat death. Even the 24000 speed film would have had that as a limiitation. The higher the speed, the more sensitivity to radiation and heat.

    PE
     
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  3. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    No increased exposure latitude for non-chromagenic films?
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Increased latitude implies greater density range. At present dmin + 3.5 - 4.0 is about the practical limit, and most instuments will not read above about 4.5 IIRC. Printing over that range, with the limits of a normal paper is probably impossible. Paper can only get to a Dmax of about 2.2.

    Now, if you got more latitude, how would you use it. Most modern films have more latitude, and I see a lot of complaints about it longing for the look of Super XX or the like which had less latitude than present day films.

    Which do you want?

    I know, the answer is both. So, if there were no digital, you would probably have a range of old time and more modern films with short and long latitude among other characteristics. However, due to the limits of a reflection print, you would not be fully able to take advantage of it in a print. You would mainly use it in over and under exposure situations rather than where you need better latitude in one given scene.

    BTW, motion picture film has that longer latitude you want. It uses lower gamma, longer latitude film to capture the original and then in the reversal projection print uses a higher contrast film with a higher dmax to get a beautiful transparency which actually surpasses any direct transparency film on the market today.

    PE
     
  5. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Kodak would have no doubt come out with (and eventually abandoned) yet another proprietary film format: 111, 128, 630, the "circle", ASP, etc.

    (just kidding) :wink:
     
  6. Dracotype

    Dracotype Member

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    You might be closer to the truth than you think...

    If R and D were still on film, we would have a proper ultra high speed film with grain like 400. Slide film might have more latitude, but I am not sure that is possible, not being savvy in this deparment. Black and white slides might be more commonplace as well.

    You asked.

    Drew
     
  7. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I'm guessing an autofeeder 8x10 sheet film cartidge, but that would be mm, not inches.
     
  8. bob01721

    bob01721 Member

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    I would see things moving in an entirely different direction. R&D investments try to stay in front of the crowd. With film, the "crowd" is... casual snapshooters -- by an overwhelming majority. And it's been that way for a long time.

    So I think the R&D investments would aim at things like consumer-level desktop mini-labs. A snapshooter could drop a roll of 35mm into the hopper on top -- and a minute or two later... 4x6 dye-sub prints would come out at the bottom, all stacked neatly in a tray. Developed films would be ejected in full strips, wrapped in a long archival sleeve. Maybe higher-priced models would incorporate a cutter to spit out wrapped negs in 5-image strips. "Getting your Kodak prints back has never been faster or easier!"

    I see drug store equipment as the functional design paradigm. It's pretty much as foolproof and bulletproof as it needs to be. So... we'd start there and the primary R&D goals would be smaller, faster, and cheaper. I'm thinking of something a little smaller than a desktop printer. It should deliver prints in "around" two to three minutes. Priced around $1000US (ballpark), I think it would sell enough to establish itself as "the next thing," the way film scanners did.

    And these desktop mini-labs would leverage the chemistry and paper sales, too! Who's yo Daddy!
     
  9. DBP

    DBP Member

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    Wasn't there a prototype at Photokina a few years back of a self-serve photo-kiosk, with a developing process that did not return the negatives?
     
  10. bob01721

    bob01721 Member

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    Don't know. But that's exactly where I think Kodak's R&D dollars would have gone. Stuff like that. Making the "snap-to-print" time virtually instantaneous.

    Do you remember the price of this machine??
     
  11. DBP

    DBP Member

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    Maybe in the $10K range, and maybe developed by Fuji, but my memory is pretty dim on the details. I just remember thinking that I would never want to use a machine that ate my negatives.
     
  12. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    If for some reason wet plates and gelatine emulsions hadn't been invented, and all research went towards improving Daguerreotype, where would we be now? WOW!!!
     
  13. bob01721

    bob01721 Member

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    I agree! Tear up the prints if you must, but don't touch those negs! :smile:

    $10K sounds pretty good. They're only one order of magnitude away on the price. So... what's that? One or two generation until we see a desktop version under $1K?

    I think the Kodaks and Fujis would have put their biggest chunks of change into this kind of technology, and much smaller amounts into the development of new emulsions for an esoteric part of their business. Compared to what they bring in on the consumer side, we "serious shooters" are an important -- but not a big -- part of their business. We're a drop in the bucket.
     
  14. bob01721

    bob01721 Member

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    We'd probably be painters.
     
  15. msage

    msage Subscriber

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    I read a article about these machines a few years ago. I think it "enhanced" the latent image so they could be read and scanned. You got a CD and prints, but no negs because they were not "developed" in the normal sense of the word.

    Michael
     
  16. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Until the last few years, I saw an almost frenzied effort to improve the motion picture stocks, sometimes so fast that an emulsion would get revised just as I started to feel really familiar with it. Motion picture still probably represents a sizable amount of total film footage. I know on one good year I shot close to 600,000 feet, just little old me. I'm still shooting allot, but I'm not doing as many movies, and those are the film eaters.

    The rapid evolution of motion picture stock has tapered off quite a bit, but I would have expected to see continued improvement of color rendition under mixed color temperatures, perhaps getting to the point of a totally self adjusting spectral sensitivity, (if that's the correct term) if it would be technically feasible.