Will film become extinct?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by lensworker, Feb 6, 2005.

  1. lensworker

    lensworker Member

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    We've all heard that Kodak is on the ropes and Ilford is foundering, and that Leica (God forbid) is having difficulties thanks to the digital "revolution." This makes me wonder if film will disappear altogether at some point, although the soothsayers claim that film will be around for "quite a while" or for "the forseeable future."

    IMO, the fact that people are still using view cameras is a good sign - these so called relics of the past have endured in spite of all the innovations in photography over the decades. If E6 and B&W film disappear, it will truly be a black day for those of us who prefer making images "the old fashioned way."

    Does anyone out there have any information or thoughts to share on this issue?
     
  2. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Well, I still haven't seen a digital, camera or print, that can match an 8x10 contact print. I'm sure they will get there someday, but I'm not worried about it.
     
  3. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Nope, no thoughts at all, this issue has been discussed to death, does not need to happen again, if you want to see what has been posted, use the search function read through all of the preiviously posted thoughts, good information there.

    Dave
     
  4. McCarthy

    McCarthy Member

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    I agree with "Satinsnow"/Dave
     
  5. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Well this is a monthly even here on apug asking the same question in differnt ways. No film is not dead. No tradtional analog cameras are not disappearing. Yes the future is starting to look a lot better now that the manufacturers have downsized to the current market size. No, none of the film manufacturers are gone and are going to disappear.
     
  6. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    In addition, Kodak is not on the ropes, Ilford appears to be recovering nicely and Leica will surely bend to the will of the consumer and make a digital camera on the future. Other than that, nope film will not dissappear.
     
  7. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    No, film will never become extinct. Availability of emulsions may become more limited (right now we have maybe the greatest selection of film emulsions in history) and costs will no doubt increase. But the market for film use by artists, professionals and hobbyists will always make it a profitable concern for someone.

    Here are a couple of reasons:

    Necessity is the mother of invention. There will always be some enterprising individual who will come up with a way to coat sheet film with modern emulsions for a niche market in a small production facility.

    The cost of labor, and production are so much lower in Eastern Europe, China and emerging African and Southeast Asian economies that film operations will either be moved to these countries or facilities by Kodak, Ilford etc eventually sold off and re-established there. There are numerous examples of very old technologies being manufactured overseas. For example, the only manufacturer of vacuum tubes is either in Russia or somewhere in Eastern Europe. A friend of mine who restores old short wave sets from the 30s and 40s says that tubes are always available, some of designs not having been produced in the US since the 60s.

    I think one needs to also realize that a switch from huge manufacturers to smaller ones is actually a good thing. Smaller companies understand the ups and downs of the market and can adjust production accordingly. They are not working on a dozen different products, but focused on a few. Smaller producers are much better at responding to the needs of the market and welcome input from consumers. Business models that focus on one product (film and paper) will often take more chances on innovation. Many times when the one or two giants leave a particular market it provides an opportunity for many new players to enter, helping keep the overall costs to consumers reasonable. Operations are much more streamlined and decisions based on making a few products well is always better then making many mediocre products.

    One argument I would like to dispell is the notion that only a company like Kodak has the technical and financial resources to come up with new products. To put it nicely, BS. That simply buys into the myth that it takes a huge company to innovate. A study of American history will show time and time again that individuals on a small scale are the true innovators. Traditional photography is no different. We can see examples all the time by varoius participants on these forums who have developed new techniques, products and chemistry to better the craft for all of us.

    One thing APUG has been doing a good job of is to keep information flowing about availability of products and status of various companies. One thing we can do pro-actively is to send our individual concerns and thoughts on the industry to the various manufacturers and let them know that there is a strong market for analogue products and that we support companies who continue to have an interest in us.
     
  8. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Film is going to become extinct no matter what anyone thinks. You and I are also going to pass one day, as well as our children's children. The earth's orbit as well will eventually dacay making life on this planet impossible. What I'm trying to say is that creation, life and technology will always move on. Nothing is forever except God, (and that is an opinion of my faith), and that you can always expect changes. The most important thing is to take advantage of time and enjoy what you have now, or what you want while it is available. Film is here now so shoot it. If we support it, it will be available for us. This forum is a very strong voice for film and traditional methods and the last I saw, there are still ads in various catalogs for traditional items. Enjoy now. When things at last change, enjoy the changes. The adventure doesn't stop at death, nore will photography stop when film passes. Make the picture, more important than the technology. Don't make the changing technology more important then the eternal message thru your photography.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I checked my extinction meter, pointed it at an average daylight scene, adjusted the dial, and it didn't point to "film" so I guess I don't need to worry about film becoming extinct today.
     
  10. kwmullet

    kwmullet Member

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    Hey -- maybe APUG could use an Eliza feature! Next time someone asks "Is film dead?", "What does Analog mean?" or some other such monthly or weekly FAQ, the Eliza-bot could just drag any number of duplicate responses into that thread, but make it ONLY visible to the person who posted it.

    Threads like that make APUG seem like a bridal magazine -- same stories, only the date at the top changes. (*then again... maybe I just haven't had enough coffee yet*)

    Does anyone else think that perhaps an appropriate collaborative project would be an FAQ witih pointers to threads containing common issues? We'd just need somewhere where we could share and revise a document before submitting it to Sean for his consideration.

    -KwM-
     
  11. Thilo Schmid

    Thilo Schmid Member

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    Yes, film will definitly become extinct. Nobody knows when, but in 100 million years will it be :smile:
     
  12. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Exactly. Humanity will one day be extinct (in fact, one can make a good argument that our survival beyond the present century is precarious), and once we're gone, film will go with us. Short of that, there will likely come a day in some distant future when all the remaining chemical photographers in mankind's interstellar range have to make their own materials because at one or two per planet, it just doesn't pay to ship the stuff from world to world (even if you can somehow prevent extreme cosmic ray fogging and loss of speed in a multi-century journey). On the other hand, by that time it will likely be possible to simply dial up "Tri-X 400, ca. 2005, 135-36" on your Universal Duplicator and come back in five minutes to find a DX-coded cassette holding 36 exposures of fresh film (from a specification a thousand years old), and your stocks of material reduced by a few grams of steel and generic organics, a gram or two of silver and a bit less than a gram, combined, of chlorine, bromine, and iodine.

    For myself, I'd be overjoyed to live long enough, in reasonable health and vigor, to see that day...
     
  13. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    No, there is evidence that film has the ability to reproduce (pun intended). As it develops intelligence it will replace humans as the dominant species on the planet.

    Matt

    BTW, Kodak just became the #1 supplier of digital cameras in the US. I don't think it is going away in the near future.
     
  14. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    while I do not buy into the idea that mankind is causing global warming, I do believe that current warming is a precursor to a coming ice age. So 50,000-100,000 years from now there will be plenty of fresh frozen paper and film waiting to be unearthed from the receeding glaciers.
     
  15. Thilo Schmid

    Thilo Schmid Member

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    This reminds me of a joke:

    Two planets meet in the universe. The first one says: "Hello, old fellow. Nice to meet you. How are you?" The second one replies: "Not that good. I'm suffering from "Homo Sapiens".
    "Ohhh, that's nothing serious. That goes away, that goes away..."
     
  16. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    It will probably become extinct in much the same way as:

    Vinyl records (still the preferred choice of DJs and many hi-fi afficionados)
    North Sea oil (when I was at school we were assured it would have run out by 1980)
    Steam Power (even nuclear powered ships only use that technology to produce ..... steam ... for the turbines!)
    Glenn Miller ( MIA December 1944. His estate makes more money now than it did when he was alive)
    Elvis (used to be just the one, now he works in every car wash and probably the odd photographic shop)
    Monochrome Photography (cheap colour processing certainly saw that off, I don't think!)
    Incandescent Light Bulbs (fluorescents are sooooo much more efficient, we are told)
    Radio (not a hope for that once there was TV for the masses)

    I could go on and on (and frequently do!)
    Best wishes to all,
    Steve
     
  17. hasselbladuser

    hasselbladuser Member

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    Hi all,

    please take into consideration that making movies will take place on emulsion for a long time to come. I know the first digital cinema has opened it's doors, but for a long time 35mm will be dominant, we're talkin terabytes of information when going digital for that. And guess who is a very large 35mm manufacturer??? Yes KODAK.

    Jeroen
     
  18. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Hey Kev!
    I'm with you on this one!
    Q: "Is it really all analog?"
    A: See FAQ #107 - "Analog for Dummies"

    Q: "Is film going away?"
    A: See FAQ #103 - "Film is Forever"

    etc....
     
  19. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    Terabytes is baby-stuff these days. Oracle, for example, released database software two years ago that can handle roughly 1 million terabytes (8 exabytes). Given how rapidly storage technology advances and becomes affordable this will be an obstacle, cost-wise, for another half-dozen years at most.
     
  20. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Well, let's do a little quick math (after noting that top line films are released in larger formats than 35 mm)...

    For projection on a large screen, from a digital projector (which means the pixels from each frame will be the same place as the last, so they need to be small enough not to be visually obtrusive), we'll need minimum resolution (at 16:9 aspect ratio) of something like 10 megapixels, though standard 4:3 35 mm movie frames, 18x24 mm, are capable of recording something like 30-40 megapixels and it may be possible to see the difference between 10 and 40 MP in projection, as it's often possible to see the difference between 35 mm and 70 mm film in projection (and practically always possible to see the difference between 16 mm and 35 mm).

    So, if we allow a minimum of 40 megapixels per frame, and a frame rate (again, for top line theatric projection, not for the 24 fps 16 mm sound-on-film that used to get shown in the high school auditorium for assembly) of (IIRC) 60 fps, we get 2.4 gigapixels per second. Since skies can show significant banding (which is both distracting and looks cheap) in 8 bits per channel, we'll assume 12 bits per channel for color, or 4.5 bytes per pixel -- putting us at 10.8 gigabytes per second for theatrical quality digital projection. Multiply by a common movie length of 6000 seconds (for a short feature) up to 15000 seconds (for a long one, like Return of the King), and we get somewhere between 65 and about 170 terabytes for a feature film.

    Storing that kind of data isn't a big deal; an optical jukebox with that kind of capacity was available at least ten years ago. Transferring that rate in real time to the projector, however, is quite another issue; that's about 50 times the fastest burst transfer mode my computer can use between hard disk and RAM, and close to 300 times the best sustained speed (though mine isn't by any means the fastest desktop unit around). Compression can help -- but in theaters you also want to avoid compression artifacts, meaning (generally) either a relatively low compression ratio or lossless compression (which only has low compression, relative to JPEG and MPEG).

    The technology to do all this is available -- including the necessary resolution of bright-light tolerant, high speed LCD shutters with optical merging to give the screen size and three color channels -- but at a cost of more than a million dollars a screen, last time I checked, and then you still have to get the data to the theater system. A projector capable of showing 70 mm, 60 fps film is technology at least twenty years old, and stacks of film cans are technology that goes back to the days when George Eastman and Thomas Edison created 35 mm by way of Edison holding up his fingers and saying he needed film "about that wide".
     
  21. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    As the great Frank Zappa (extinct) once stated "Shut up and play yer guitar", of course in this case "Shut up and shoot some film". The more we use, the less they'll want to get rid of it. Plus I agree with the motion picture concept also. By the way, has anyone on APUG ever shot motion picture film from a still camera? I think I'm going to start a post on that.
    Ara
     
  22. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I believe that not only will film be relagated (sp?) to a "fine art" medium and become virtually extinct for the masses but also will movie theatres go the way of the dinasaur.

    With the proliferation of home theater setups and the fact that theatres are basically making their money on the concessions that in 50 years the only theatres will be "art houses". Even though movie theatres have survived as teen and twenty something escape and makeout places I think that financial factors will eventually eliminate them.

    Progress does not stand still and there are a myriad of factors that will halt the mainline process of film. Environmental concern will catch up to third world countries eventually and film and chemistry will be expensive and only used by the "art types".

    The progress in digital will continue and every new generation will fall into it even though you may all have an anecdotal story of some kid who wants to do things the "old ways".

    Do I care. NO. I've only got 25-30 years tops, so there you have it. Life's a bitch. I do however appreciate that I've had the joy of using film/analog for the last 30 years.

    Michael