David,

I have complete darkroom (and I have 6 computers in another room for my duties in the computer industry). Being in the computer industry for so long has gotten me too bored to sit in front of the boxes all day and pound away. I have a Mac (yes, only ONE...I hate Macs) in my darkroom for an MP3 player (and I have a database I wrote for it to catalog my negs and keep track of exposure data/darkroom data).

Other than that, my darkroom is set up for B&W RC, B&W Fiber, RA-4, P-30/R-3000, C-41, E-6 and has a bunch of roller-transport equipment in it. This is, of course, in a room of my house. To this day, I cannot stand the look of a digital print, whether off my color laser, dye-sub or a C print from any lab. I just think they look too...uh, digital.

So, I still print all my work through wet process. My commercial work goes to a lab, of course, but my personal work is done by hand.

My personal "forecast" for the future is that "consumer" film and minilabs will die the way CGA graphics did. Why? Because it is more "effective" for the consumer to shoot their 2-4MP digitals and print it on their desktop with PSLE or ULead PI with some Epson...and to a point, more controlable and cost-effective (at least in their mind). Then, "pro digital" will push into the photojournalism field and into the "quick stop and shot" portrait studios as well as bulk-production studios (school pics, Olan Mills type studios, commercial and advertising (look at the Sinar backs for product work&#33, etc). Which will make film-based work a "fine-art" specialist field.

Everybody will scramble to become digital, and as the "older folks" (I mean old-school here, not old-age) who are so good with film die off, people will begin to revert to the look of film (warmer, less pixelated, less of a Crayola palette, etc) and people will begin to look for "specialists" in film-based imaging. That is when those of us who "kept up the craft" will be in demand ($$$!&#33

I surprise a lot of people when they ask me what cool digital I have since I've been working with Photoshop since version 2.5/3.0 and I do a lot of work in Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere and Macromedia Dreamweaver, Flash, and Shockwave. I tell them "I can't stand digital. I think it is so lifeless. To me it isn't photography..."photo + Grafos"="a writing of light". To me, digital is an electrograph (electro + grafos). "

They always say "you must have some digital camera!" Nope, I have a Betacam SP, LCD monitors, my Hassys, and soon to be, a new Wisner (hopefully, 4x10&#33

My advice to many of my clients who ask me the question of "should I go digital?" is to learn digital, and keep up with it, but not to forget the root of where the principles originated (and keep up with them too).

Computers will get cheaper, trust me. You'll be able to buy a whole "digital studio" for around $1000.00 in a year or two. But, I feel that the "analogue darkroom" equipment will go up as it becomes some sort of cult function.

So, David, I'd say...buy yourself a good wet darkroom now (friends of mine at a camera shop are getting truckloads of "studios going digital", "home darkroom going digital", and "selling my _____ to get a new D1_" gear in. You can always "amend" the darkroom later when you feel that digital is the appropriate tool (and you can afford a good, non-consumer version) for what you need to do.