Film and digital arte two different media. My take for over 20 years is that that digital is just a different way to capture an image alongside B&W, Colour negative and positive, Instant films etc.
The argument of long term permance is valid, but it's cheap to save digital files in a number of ways to ensure they won't be lost although few do this. A fire couldn wipe out many of our negatives and prints.
I'm scanning all my important negatives at high resolutions and these are going to a record office to be archived alongside negatives, prints are going to a gallery. In ther short term scans will be held in in at least two sites.
My take is both originals and digitalm forms need archiving well.
There's a blast from the past. I remember the big deal about the BBC Domesday Project in the mid 1980s, commemorating the 900th anniversary of the original (and still readable) Domesday Book. Not even 20 years later it took significant effort and some good fortune to resurrect the project in a form usable on modern computer systems, and had it been left another few years it's conceivable that it could have been lost altogether.
Originally Posted by clayne
hey here's an idea for an ontological film fanboy slogan--
Originally Posted by cliveh
Ian the reality is that it is *not* cheap both in storage and time. That's the crux of the whole digital archiving thing that so many are trying to clarify.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
Yeh, film is GREAT - however, I worry like sh_ _ that it won't be here tomorrow.
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Agreed. I've long protested that the physical original was a big plus, but recent events have made me reconsider this a bit. That single original does bring some unavoidable preciousness to the negative or slide that an endlessly repeatable digital "original" might trump. Might. Again, there is no real answer here, only best case scenarios that either is capable of winning.
Originally Posted by clayne
Well, over the long haul that remains to be seen. What is seen as cheap today may not be cheap in 100 years when scanners or silver paper may not exist. Heck, the lightbulbs or electicity we rely on for printing might not exist in any reliable or "cheap" fashion. Nothing is sure anymore.
Originally Posted by clayne
Old films will remain. The negatives we've all made - assuming they've been well processed, well conserved and have not been destroyed through fire, flood or mold - will exist. But the technology to reproduce them may not. Scanners only exist today because there was a need for them over the last ten or twenty years. Once the technology of film has become so obsolete that it is no longer of interest the means of accessing it will die. How many of us can play any of those incredible performances captured on wax cylinders or view any of those stereo cards as they were intended?
Originally Posted by DF
Permanence is a rare thing. I'd love to hope that my grandchildren could print negatives of my kids as babies should they desire - as I've printed negatives of my parents as babies or my grandparents as young adults - but I seriously doubt that it will happen. It will likely be possible, but as possible as getting a wax cylinder performance onto your ipod is today. That I cannot see any of the videos I made of my kids as babies drives this doubt. I've been pretty careful to keep current, but the transfer of videotape to a long-lived format has proven so unwieldy that I;ve let it slip away. This does not bode well for the future legibility of anything we might make today, an arcane negative, already surpassed in numbers made (I'd suppose) by digital images, especially.
That in 150 years someone will be able to hold a negative up to a window and see an image, and be capable of accessing what that is an image of is indeed a plus. But that image may only be able to be accessed in such a fashion. Those DNG or JPG files on my hard drive or phone may be more, less or equally legible in 150 years - there is no telling. The Kodachromes my aunt made on her trip to Paris in 1953 are still here. That is a point in favor for film - of some types. I'm doubtful that any of the Kodacolor 100 negatives I made in the 70s will fare anywhere near as well as positives or negatives. Those prints are already fading, already pale substitutes for the experiences they recorded. Less vibrant than my memories in some cases. My APX25 negatives? My carefully processed archival prints? They've fared better thus far. But pictures made with such care and attention to process represent a small proportion of the images made between 1860 and 1990.
It does seem to come down to what level of interest one takes in making sure that something can last. It has certainly become easier over the last 15 years to have a digital format that can continue to be accessed - USB seems to be somewhat backward compatible, and TIFF and JPG have been around a relatively long time. DNG seems to be becoming another "standard" for the time being. An interesting thread.
Last edited by sepiareverb; 09-04-2013 at 09:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.
One of my first experiences with the unreliability of digital images was back in the late 90s. I hadn't yet gotten into film, mainly because my parents wouldn't pay for any of my interests. My dad had a camera that recorded on floppies. We spent a few days in Gettysburg filling up three or four disks. That doesn't sound like much, but the camera was very low resolution, so I had quite a few pictures. On the way home, the disks rode in the motorcycle's storage compartments through 100+ degree weather. When I got home, one of the disks was still readable, but every file on it was corrupt. I've had similar experiences with Compact Flash and SD more recently. As for the ones that made it home, I have pictures that I simply can't find. I've changed computers and platforms so many times over the years, there are digital pictures I'd like to have that are lost. One of the best pictures I ever took on digital exists today only as a slightly damaged print made on a very bad printer.
I used a Sony Mavica for my work as a QC inspector in 2000/2001. Within 5 years half the images on the 3.5" floppies would either not open or open only partially (the top of the image would be there, the rest was just grey). Flash cards are not floppies, I know, but it definitely was a message to me about the ethereal nature of digital data. Digital is great for perfect copying, and by the use of check digits and such, able to avoid data distortion. The problem with that is, if it degrades it doesn't take much for it to completely fail, where analog will still be usable when degraded.
Last edited by lxdude; 09-05-2013 at 02:49 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.
After all these years of digital music, I finally found ONE music file that may equal a 2-track 15ips open reel tape. Here is that file:
Another problem with digital files, as stated above, is that it does not take much to corrupt the entire file (unless you really know what you are doing to get the data back). Audio CDs and Audio/Video DVD formats, while "digital," were designed to compensate for some issues either in playback (low-end hardware) or with physical defects/damage to the disc itself. They can continue playing and "gloss-over" some bad data.
However, a data CD/DVD does not do this (aside from the typical redundancy and parity designed in all modern storage media formats). So a small problem with the disc can make a file worthless, or even render the entire disc unreadable (again, unless you are very good).
Both film and digital can be backed up and kept safely, but the average person will do neither, even if they have the knowledge and/or means.
My maternal grandfather used to develop and print himself, back when my parents were children. The negatives were sleeved and sat in cardboard boxes, unknown to me, well after he passed. I only discovered them recently after my grandmother died. There was no effort or expense in preservation beyond boxes in a closet. Try that with digital!
Even if there is some fading with time, or small physical damage, it will not make the images irretrievable. Horrible color shifts or badly degraded negatives can still produce an image of some sort. Its not like losing half a frame will prevent the other half from being viewed. Film is robust.
I hope to print the negatives some day, and will probably scan so family members can view the pictures on the web. The negatives, however, will probably outlast me.