Film really is superior
Recently I was going through old Rolleiflex negs in black & white shot in the 1960's, they were still as good as the day they were processed. By comparison, much of the digi stuff shot over the past 12 years and stored on disc, while working as a press photographer has gone "corrupt". I've heard of this happening to other photographers.
So spread the word, get more people using film; if processed and filed correctly, it will last a lifetime or more. I returned to my film cameras upon leaving newspaper work, suddenly finding myself enjoying photography once more.
Yep, film is very archival. The one caveat is that it's archival if you shoot "real" B&W film. I was rummaging through a big box of photos and negs from 12 years ago and had a very unpleasant surprise. Most of what I was shooting back then was either color film or that C41 B&W stuff. The negs had faded so much I had to throw them away. Ditto for the cheap prints Walgreens had made for me. Now I shoot nothing but Tri-X and print my work on fiber paper, so no more of that nonsense.
As a photojournalist I've been singing that same song since nearly digital day one. I've actually developed a niche shooting film for clients rather than digital for the corruption reason, among others. I've seen or heard about it over and over. Personally, I don't trust the digital files to last. If the deadlines aren't so much a factor, as with features vs. hard news, I'm going with film.
In my experience, this is one of the reasons for using film that a lot of people understand. When I say "you can leave the negatives in a shoebox for fifty years and then someone finds them in the attic and they're still good", that makes perfect sense to almost everybody (the exceptions are the ones with an excessive faith in cloud storage).
Pity about that C-41 exception---it's one of the reasons I don't shoot it much. I think I remember, though, PE saying that the longevity of modern C-41 materials was enormously improved; not to Kodachrome levels or anything, but enough to make a meaningful difference in terms of the transgenerational shoebox.
... and Beta video recorders were superior to VHS. It's not always the best that survives.
Yes, but they survived and advanced even after it's death as a consumer format. BetaCam [Oxide] is the same as BetaMax and BetaCam SP was a different tape formula, but still the same idea.
Originally Posted by Prof_Pixel
Agreed. The archival quality of film can be quite remarkable and to me is a nice "feature".
Originally Posted by ntenny
IIRC, Color negs have less longevity compared to E6 materials but is the difference quite pronounced? I recall a pnet discussion about it and Ron Andrews quoted more stability on E6 compared to C41. Something about different couplers mentioned.
RA4 paper is quoted between half a century to 200 years. There is still a huge volume of it used by photofinishing, perhaps will slowly improve is R&D is put on it.
Well processed B&W on Polyester base seems the ultimate thing, together with proper FB.
All will depend on storage, added to processing. Hot and Humid and it will be sooner gone.
As of digital I too don't trust it. I lost a couple of folders (probably misplaced) and mistrust it. Operator error but I am much more careful with the physical archiving way.
A thousand years ago (1983) I shot a wolf at the San Francisco zoo (and boy were the zookeepers mad!) and to this day, I consider it one of my best ever shots. It's a color negative, probably Kodak Gold 200 IIRC, and I have, in the past few years, taken it out of its sleeve and printed it. The negative has always been treated very carefully and it was processed by a good lab, back in the day. It still prints fine. No fading that I can see. It's been my experience that color negs last just fine if they were processed correctly in the first place. I doubt my own, self-developed color negs will last, assuming everyone's dire predictions of the consequences of using that dreaded blix concoction are true.
I was having a conversation with my oldest daughter over the weekend. She is a young mother with two little kids. All of her photos are digital. I highly encouraged her to get prints made and put them in albums.
"Its ok...I have everything on Facebook and that's secure" she said.
"Can you still log in to your MySpace account?" I asked.
Even if, in theory, your digital files (be they cloud based or not) will be perpetually accessible, there are a thousand human factors that can get in the way. In my daughter's case, she admitted that she couldn't even recall her MySpace user name, and she no longer has the email address she had at the time, so password recovery is probably not possible.
Print. Your. Pictures!