I was reading the Photographer's Notes at the back of David Plowden's Vanishing Points, and he is very downbeat comparing the materials available today with those he used to use (Panatomic-X and Oriental Seagull gr. 3):

"Although Oriental Seagull is still made today the quality is so poor that I consider it unusable. Happily I have nearly five thousand sheets of the old formula paper frozen. When that is gone I shall close the darkroom for good as in my opinion there is no high-quality silver printing paper being made."

"Sadly, like all conventional photographic material, the quality of Pan-F has also deteriorated to the point where I find it no longer reliable."

"however, that too [TXP 320] has recently been reformulated and not for the better. In my opinion the best film on the market today is Ilford HP-5, which I have used extensively."

"I am tired of being frustrated by the ever deteriorating quality of the conventional silver-based film and paper that I have used my entire career."

So my question to those with 30+ years in the biz is, Is he correct? Do you think today's materials suck compared to what used to be? The guy's got 50 years of experience as a photographer and printer; maybe he's just too tired of it all to make the effort to adapt? Are those of us just getting into analog B&W now doomed to mediocre photos?

thanks in advance,
JT