There is no film vs. digital.
Originally Posted by PKM-25
Film lost. Digital won. The baton has been passed to the progeny.
The web's standard downsampled scans cannot create a comparative environment, and frankly, a lot of digital output is superior. There is pretty much no objective way to say: "See. This is film and it is better than digital." You have to ask how many digital users really care and would even migrate to such a comparison. Not near enough to make a market difference. Flickr is awash with groups trying to do just that. You'd be howling into a hurricane. There is no outcry of consumer angst over the quality of digital output driving people to such comparisons. In fact, quite the opposite as the sales numbers show. The vast majority of people worldwide do digital because they prefer it. Period. All the technocrats in the analog side, bitter and all, are not going to change that.
Frankly, the key to film's survival is to not fight against digital. It is to accompany it. Lomography, parasitic as it is, has the right idea. Film is quirky, imperfect, subjective, stereotyped, nostalgic, humbling, slow, analog, limiting, unique, frustrating, archival, surprising, disappointing, and fun. To get where film can go unpredictably, digital requires hours of Photoshop or a Hipstamatic code driven by impersonal, third-party algorithms. It's the fast food of creativity. Digital can be very sterile, if technically precise. Film is uniquely stylistic and constraining in a manner that can liberate: "Well, I've only got Tri-X!". Digital often is a lot of silly work. Film can, if done right, offer a different, less perfect path that is more alchemy and Romantic than yet another session in front of a screen. "You press the button, we do the rest" is exactly what a lot of consumers need these days, albeit affordably. Film has the opportunity to be the thoughtful, philosophical kin of digital, whose muscular presence will from now on be the market norm, and overwhelmingly so as analog fades into a almost a sect-like niche. In the vast world of horticulture, film could be the equivalent of all those people who love orchids.
The binary superior vs. inferior argument plays to digital's strength, not its weaknesses. Where film advocates absolutely lose the argument and the interest of consumers is where there is a qualitative comparison to digital, because that is an argument film will always lose, especially as digital continues to evolve. Digital is only just starting to realize its full potential as an image capture system, and that's a horse film cannot catch. So analog film's other strengths must become core to the marketing. George Eastman had it right decades ago.
The caveat is that film cannot exist without a certain volume of production and economy of scale, without which it disappears completely. This applies to both the cameras and the film inside, and an economical way of processing those images and getting them in multiple ways into the hands of consumers looking for the difference film offers. My concern is I have yet to see a comprehensive plan to make that where both he right and left brain arguments coalesce into a financially viable market structure. The vision and the money are not paired and I am afraid that the path may only be known in hindsight because people are fighting long lost battles in the present. By then the factories are shuttered and no one is willing to risk reviving analog.
Maybe Ilford can struggle along for 20 years on refurbished AE-1's, but I doubt it. I would not extend credit to that company unless I saw their plan to re-capitalize the installed roll and cartridge film camera base as it suffers from the inevitable entropy all mechanical products are subject to.
Last edited by Aristophanes; 01-05-2012 at 10:09 PM. Click to view previous post history.