I'm not saying that film is *dying*, my vision is that for the *consumer*, they'll call it "dead". They'll go for the digital since "they can do just as good as the pro's/studios on their inkjet" or something (I've heard it already at some conferences). Just like now, the computer industry isn't "dying". Just the interest and educational aspects in it. With all the hack's who "graduated from the top of their class at _______ school (some community college)" and are taking jobs for 8.00 an hour that the experienced people wouldn't think of it, the industry is becoming a "generic" market. I think that's a better term. And of course, more hacks...
I'm saying that film will become that "generic" market, with further spreads between film and digital users. Hell, Comdex, the largest convention for the computer industry went bankrupt a few months ago! But, CES (*Consumer* electronics show) is still around...
Look at B&W now, may people are charging something like 30-50% MORE to do it because they list it in their literature as *speciality* work. Huh?
It used to be (in the computer industry) that consumer and pro users were fairly close together in equipment quality, software, etc. And the only "hacks" were the Shareware people. Now, it's more like a tennis court, spread between two worlds with a large, definitive line/net in between. The problem today is that one side is somebody whose only played tennis with a computer and you've got Andre Aggasi on the other side! "But, I've won the *hardest* level on my game!...I'm just as good." People expect the $600.00 computer to be able to do the same work as a $2000.00 box. Wrong. Doesn't work that way.
So, what I'm saying is that the consumer out there will get frustrated with their 35mm P&S (or Canon Elan somethings) because their pictures "didn't look as good as some pro's" and "I must(! know why, this camera is just good as theirs". Of course, not understanding that it's not the camera's fault (well, it kinda is somewhat) but rather it's their fault for being non-educated on the subject. So what do they do? They go and get a digital. And Photoshop (or some crippleware image editor) and edit the hell outta their image. Then, they'll print it out and hang it on the wall (direct framing not matted..."uh, why is the picture stuck to the glass?") and tell the whole family that their image is better than some pro who spent years, much money, and mucho headaches learning the process.
What has happened is just as in *many* industries...instead of the consumer being better educated on what they are doing wrong, they are getting dumber and dumber because the devices they use are doing it for them ("I got this camera with 2 zillion point autofocus and 9 trillion programs..." (look at Nikon with their "image database that matches the exposure to the scene" in the F100) without them understanding the concepts. This, of course, leads them to think that they're getting better (falsely) and makes life for the rest of us living hell.
David, I have all the color equip somewhat because I can do it faster than a lab (not for production prints, but rather for custom work). Plus, I get to keep honing my skills in color, so when they do screw up or something, I can communicate with them better. There has been quite a few times where the lab printed an image (quite well) for what the operator saw, but I had seen the image differently and felt that the image had more feeling differently. So, I did a guide proof of it in my lab and sent it to the pro lab. They corrected the images for what I saw and were far less b*tchy when I called them and told them "I was including a guide print". I use one of the larger labs in the country and they are all great people. (It's kinda like doing every job as a competition job, with guide printing and all, it's easier for the lab to *see* what you want rather than having to *mentally envision* what you want) And, sometimes, I'll do my negs up for C-41 (an hour after the shoot) and contact sheet. Then, I'll pre-crop the images and send them to the lab for finals. It cuts down from having to wait for the proofs to come back on time critical, "need it in a week" jobs without the rush pricing!
I guess this whole thing ties into the discussion at hand (on building a REAL darkroom) because I'm saying that before you go digital for any reason, understand the concepts of real photography behind it first. (Look at how many people use Photoshop, but don't understand why the "dodge" and the "burn" tool work like they do! Or, "what's a mask?" When the day digital becomes the "common" thing, you'll understand better! I just see it as a change in the tool, just like the change from seeing handtools in a garage to seeing air or electric tools...people are still using both, but the *consumer* tool-time-man will have every pneumatic, hydraulic, and electric tool in his arsenal, yet won't have a clue when his Milwaukee 6HP ____ won't fit into the space to cut something. (I have a ""friend"" who is this stupid...owns almost every Mac tool, but can't use half of them to save his ass)