David, interesting analysis. I like the hard numbers. Though I appreciate the data, I wonder what if anything can be done? Art has lots of waste inherent in its nature. I am sure one who works in stained glass might have waste inherent to the process. I personally try to do the most to minimize my waste without compromising on vision/quality, etc. (eg I bulk load my 35mm), and do think it a nice discussion on consumption. Thankfully I dont consume much (from a hobby standpoint), though I could spend my hobby watching TV; I would rather 'waste' some film here or there than the alternative of watching TV and only consuming power!
Agreed...the strong base and margins allow easy handling and filing, and there is obviously a saving in area of emulsion compared with larger formats (not starting a format war!). And cassettes and plastic spools are easily recyclable.
Originally Posted by MattKing
In another world, Barnak might have made his Leica for 70mm movie film, and we might never have had 120.
As it was, 70mm for still work never really took off except for specialist uses.
35mm film and how much we are required to waste
A digital camera has a functional life of probably 20 years before a fatal, catastrophic electronic failure renders it unusable. This is required in order for the product line to endure the median stress levels the average consumer is expected to present, and keep remedial maintenance costs under control.
Yet, these camera will typically be obsolete, abandoned, or shelved permanently within an average of two years.
By my extensive calculations, it appears that digital technology has about 90% built in waste!
PentaxBronica said: "As for wastage, this annoys me with later bodies. My Super A insists on winding and shooting three times at the start of a roll before it will meter properly or allow you to select a shutter speed..."
This is the primary reason I really dislike the later bodies like the Maxxum or EOS: you are not allowed to deviate from the 'required' loading. Give me an SRT or Spotmatic or even an AE-1 any day. I waste little as far as leaders go.
MattKing: you bring up a valid point with your assessment that all is not bad with this waste. In fact, I would wager that a 35mm frame is probably going to pass a critical lab test as far as flatness in the camera is concerned. (i.e., The percentage of film that 'supports' the flatness outside of the picture area is a large percentage of the whole.) Not so with medium format: In fact, size 120 can begin to 'bow' inward if left in the 'taking' position too long (days, weeks?) before actually snapping the shutter. The size of the negative usually makes up for it but, in fact, (and this is very important here) this 'historical tolerance of waste' is testament to the extreme precision that has been dedicated to this tiny format. Truly, it is compelling to realize just how large careful 35mm work can be made and still look great. Indeed, with Technical Pan, '4 x 5 quality' was often spoken of with careful 35mm work.
zsas: No, waste is not necessarily inherent in nature, but only sometimes, as with the overkill of a Peacock's feathers which serve to attract a mate (but hinder much of its other aspects of living). As a rule, nature is rather efficient, zsas.
And, finally, blockend, yes there is a bit of hypocrisy here with being a vegetarian and using gelatin. I also wear shoes but those I get from thrift stores (and you would be surprised with the quality I am able to obtain, with patience!). I know, fully, that David Lyga would be happier not using this animal by-product but also animals are killed (indirectly) when we grow and harvest vegetables. I try to minimize this onslaught. But your point is fairly stated. (I refuse to refuse pasta, as I am half Sardinian.) - David Lyga
Last edited by David Lyga; 01-14-2013 at 08:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Hi David - Re read my statement. I never said nature doesn't have waste, I said the nature of art produces waste.
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So you did, zsas. I am very angry that I missed that! - David Lyga
Ahh np David. Funny you should "pick on 35mm film", what about all the waste in printing traditionally b/w and color? On a volume level it is probably more waste! Look at all those borders with no images....yikes! My bin of waste is huge! Btw I use my leaders for fixer strength testing too
Last edited by zsas; 01-14-2013 at 04:39 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I say this not to insult OP but to offer my thought on the subject.
I think OP is seeing only the negative side of the design. The 35mm film, obviously, is the most successful format ever created in film photography. It is also the longest living. (other than sheet films) As far as I am concerned, it owes its popularity to its efficient and practical design. Yes, efficient. The film base acts as not only an image recording surface, but also transportation mechanism. Loading is just by hooking the leading end of the same film. Other than canister and spool, there is no other components, such as backing paper and tape. It offers reasonable compromise between image quality, size, and cost. It's hard shell provides level of protection in rough handling in consumer environment. It wastes film surface but saves by not using backing paper and gummed tape.
I am not sure what it is to gain by having this analysis and discussion about 35mm film. Its an established design widely adopted by the industry and consumers. I'd rather be pleased about this implementation than complain about its inefficiency. To me, this is truly a matter of seeing glass half-full or half-empty. I try (sometimes) hard to see the former in my everyday experience.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
It occurs to me that there is an amazing irony about David's question.
Until recently, the vast majority of all 35mm film made was used to make projection prints for movie theatres.
In order that they could be projected a limited number of times, and then quite promptly discarded.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
tkamiya: yes, your points are valid and I brushed upon these by confirming that there were advantages such as ultra flatness.
Still, I think you might err when you infer that it is not a topic for discussion. YOU make valid points here so this discussion is confirmed, in essence, as being 'valid'. However, you do not have to agree. But, judging from the comments and viewings, I think that the topic has merit and that merit does not have to concur with David Lyga's 'take' on the matter in order to matter to sensible people.
Certainly, I started by stating the negatives about the 'negatives'(!) but your list of advantages I think are interesting and, more importantly, correct and thorough. There is a good side to this waste. I do not know if that good side completely supplants all the negatives but they should also be stated in such a post.
Yes, MattKing, there is an inherent irony but, remember, those theatres have to keep showing and showing the films without getting booed for stopping the projector. - David Lyga