Quote Originally Posted by OzJohn View Post
The biggest user of RA4 paper is the consumer photofinishing industry where most of the prints so made are from digital images! Minilab makers are heavily pushing "dry" minilabs based on inkjet and here in Oz they have managed to get them into a few large retailers at the expense of Kodak and Fuji RA4 equipment. Cost is still the big problem though and operators report that the consumables are significantly more expensive than RA4. For consumer purposes at least, make no mistake, the print quality is more than adequate and if the sponsors of this technology would see fit to reduce their prices, they could mount a serious challenge to RA4 which, of course, would impact on the longevity of RA4 for all users.

The other big user of RA4 is the prolab sector and while most such labs do inkjet, it is a premium product on specialty papers and other substrates. By far the majority of everyday pro printing is done on RA4 even though most of the imagery is created digitally. Most pros that I know actually like the look, feel and colour of RA4 paper and would not give it up without a fight, particularly that of the high-end printers like the Lambda. Also, most prolabs these days produce at least some of their output on minilabs and I don't know of any prolab yet using the inkjet variety.

IMO RA4 has a good few years left in it and who knows how we will print colour photos in 10 or 15 years; there may be a completely new technology.

On the subject of cinema prints, the three largest film distributors here in Oz have announced that they are not going to suppy 35mm prints from early 2013. This is causing smaller cinemas in regional towns to either close down or stump up about $100K to buy a basic digital projector. No doubt this trend is worldwide and the loss of film sales for cinema prints must severely impact the manufacture and longevity of all colour film as has been foreshadowed in many threads here over time.

Isn't it ironic that it is entirely possible that digital will cause the demise of colour film while it is still proping up the market for colour paper? OzJohn
The film distributors are doing this for financial reasons, the problem for them is that there are film projectors that were built in the 1940's and 1950's that have run 3 shows a day since new and the only repairs done are the occasional replacement bulb. With some decommissioned due to digital, there is a ready supply of other parts, that could keep these things going for another century. A cinematic print is over 2km long and weighs in at over 100kg, it's to some degree fragile and must be kept cool, so it needs special handling in shipping. It also requires a skilled projectionist to splice together and load into the projector.

A digital copy looks like a DVD, they can stamp them out by the hundreds and ship it UPS or FedEx in a flat rate envelope for under 20 bucks. As for operating it, the guy who swept up the popcorn after the last show can reload the player.