Over the last few months I have seen your posts regarding the demise of certain films .. and your sense is correct I believe on the industry and the trends,
my two cents is that
Quality loss is a direct result of people not exposing film anymore. The best E6 lab, some would argue *Me* in North America was Colourgenics, followed by Steichanlab, both high quality E6 labs with the best of best Refrema equipment.
Both labs stopped processing E6 film due to the lack of film required to keep their tight control in line. Today we have Toronto Image Works left as the sole provider of quality processing for E6 and C41. Once Ed decides that the volumes do not warrant the effort to keep the plots in line they too will stop.
If I was to put on my future telling optics on I would suggest that within 5 years not only will the big custom labs decide keeping top process control is not worth the effort,for both C41 and E6, but an even more disturbing trend is that the mini lab operations are all converting to dry labs... Blacks in our area has already made the switch with all the others soon to follow suit. ** for those not in our area, Blacks is a monster chain of photo stores**
I had the chance to visit Fuji in Mississauga and was completely blown away by the dry ink lab available that could produce 600 4x6 prints per hour and the quality was outstanding. 10 thousand dollars, which seems like a lot but when compared to a wet Fuji Frontier system or a Noritsu D labsystem is over $250K to get involved > A dry lab i is a piece of cake therefore to get involved with and every Mom and Paw operation will have one within two years.
Its like the trend in printing, now with inkjet I have noticed there are now over 40 master printers in Toronto now, where years ago there may be three or four, Anyone able to buy a 40 inch printer for under 10 k can offer their prints to the public, you even can put the printer in the living room . And the names of their processes are even more confusing than their stated skills on the internet, and half our time at our front counter or when we talk with photo groups is explaining the differences in processes.
What will be left , HOME BREW - plain and simple -PE will have to help all those wanting to prepare their E6 and C41 chemicals.
I still expose a lot of C41 film and we batch process the film on our C41, I am hoping I am wrong about this but we are seeing a disturbing trend of dwindling fresh film, and once the marketing gurus in Kodak and Fuji decide that sales are consistently heading downwards they will cut the product sku's.
We hope to be one of the last standing labs offering black and white processing, and will continue to process our own personal C41 as long as the chem's and film is available. But we are preparing for the future where mixing from scratch, alternative hand coated prints, and probably making the single largest purchase of Ilford Warmtone will be made by us within the next 3-10 years. At my age , there is a time coming where my clients and I will be forced to make the investment and cold storage 10 years of paper. After that I will be wearing Diapers and watching reruns of Dallas and the Price Is Right and won't give a shit about the industry that has been my friend and supplier of a place to rest my head and feed my family for over 40 years.
In Silvano's case I believe they did not make the switch to a complete digital workflow soon enough and as you well know 100,000 square ft of space in Toronto is a monster to cover financially. It was a great wedding portrait lab for many years and its sad to see them go.
Originally Posted by CGW