Chemical Photography as AM Radio?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by chad_hahn, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. The latest issue of Popular Photography has a letter comparing the
    brouhaha over digital vs. chemical photography to the dust up in the
    fifties and sixties over FM vs. AM. FM, with its superior fidelity,
    was going to eradicate AM. Of course, AM is still around. It is used
    for talk radio while FM is the choice for music.

    Do you think there is a place in the world for both types of
    photography? If that makes Leica users like AM radio station, which
    would you be? I think I would be a Flea Market of the Air.
  2. <img src =><p>
    I think a better comparison is analog radio transmission vs. digital radio transmission. Besides photography, one of my other hobbies is ham radio and short wave listening. I love the idea of radio signals skipping across the atmosphere and ground to get to me thousands of miles away. Digital signals beamed to a satellite, then back down to a receiver, is somehow just not the same to me – no element of chance, hit and miss, or “natural” physics.
    What good will your old huge old Collins tube rig be when all the signals are digital? What good will your M2-7 be when film is ……….
  3. The reason AM radio never died is because FM tranmission is line-of-sight and in mountainous/valley areas FM reception is bad or impossible.

    Film vs digital is more like black-powder guns. There are small companies who produce the black powder and percussion caps and other paraphernalia for the niche market of enthusiats and collectors, and several manufacturers make reproduction muzzle-loaders and cap-and-ball handguns. That is where I eventually see film going. I no longer believe it will die for a long time, if ever, thanks to the black-powder model.
  4. <img src =><p>
    I hope Jay’s right, but I find myself shooting my Springfield Amory M1911A1 a lot more often than I do my black powder 1858 New Army .44 ;-)
  5. I'm a shortwave listener too, and the same thing with digital vs analog is happening now, albeit perhaps to a lesser extent. I think it's to a lesser extent because people who listen to shortwave like the "art" of picking up far-away stations, even though the sound may not be perfect. It's the same with photography really. Yes, there's grain and dust spots, but we like the grain, we like the craft of it. There's no craft with anything digital. You pass control over to the digital voodoo and the computer geek teams who designed the stuff. A person is in more direct control of things in the analog world, and that's a nice feeling. I don't own a Leica, not that I wouldn't if I could afford it, but I do use prime lenses, so I can't be all bad :)
  6. I'm no digital guru, but it seems like the difference is more like the difference between single-shots/bolt action rifles and semi-autos.
  7. CD's are definitely more convenient (smaller, faster) and the audio is digital. Similar to digital photography.

    Vinyl is still preferred by many enthusiasts/professionals for the un-reproducable sounds and tones. Unfortunately, not many people use vinyl anymore, let alone have record players. I hope FILM never goes that way.
  8. I still use vinyl: Linn LP-12, full Linn system for the stuff that hasn't come out on CD's.

    Use a boombox for the CD's I have.
  9. Steve, if one day you find your Linn missing... don't blame me! ;)
  10. <<Better analogy might be Vinyl vs CD's>>

    No, no, no, no, no! Turntables will always be useful to play existing records even if no more vinyl records are produced. Film cameras will become useless if film production/processing stops, and even in freezers film will not last indefinitely. Film cameras and black powder guns both depend on the production of *consumable* products where DIY is not an option.
  11. Carl, not sure where you're going, Smith?

  12. "Film cameras and black powder guns both depend on the production of *consumable* products where DIY is not an option."

    Good point Jay, but diehard chemistry guys like you could always go a bit more retro and do the soup-your-own-wet-plate thing with a view camera or even with the cut film holder for your old Hassy's ;)
  13. I think it's more like tubes... Sure you can get better more accurate sound, and there is no need to change tubes in a solid state amplifier, but the sound is much more depthy and natural.

    Digital produces good images that cannot be pushed nearly as far, if at all. And i am not even sure about fidelity, as CCD images always look to me a hair better in color and contrast than VHS, Betamax SP at the most (I ahev said this before...) After all, it is basicly the same technology.

    I don't think compairing it to AM is very fair. Have you seen an ISO 400 film v ISO 400 digital? I think that the noise in the digital is far less pleasent than the grain in film. This thinking that digital is "grain free" is 100% accurate, at ISO 50, at which point printing a ISO 50 slide at the same resolution as the ISO 50 digital, I kind of doubt that that argument stands up, even moreso with larger than 35mm, plus atleast with silver you can enlarge past the grain further than you can interpolate past a cameras maximum resolution.
  14. I think Jay is partly right. Film is, of course, a consumable, so the vinyl vs. CD argument is invalid. But his musket-shooter analogy is off base. Film will become slightly less common. It may well go up in price. But it ain't gonna become some fringe-dwelling hobby like musket-loading. I'm so sure of this that I'm thinking of buying a Heiland Splitgrade for my V35 so I can make fiber-based B&W prints in a more timely manner. Why? Because I like them. But more importantly, from a financial standpoint: Snob Appeal. People pay more money for products that confer status. If everyone has a digital camera spitting prints out of their computer, then there's NO STATUS in it. Sad, perhaps, but true.
  15. Yours is best-case scenario, mine is worst-case scenario.
  16. "Film cameras and black powder guns both depend on the production of *consumable* products where DIY is not an option."

    True of film cameras, but not black powder guns. You can certainly make your own black powder if necessary. People did it for centuries.
  17. "Yours is best-case scenario, mine is worst-case scenario..."

    My 'best-case scenario' would be that film and digital coexist peacfully in the cockfight we call an 'economy.' But that's a pipe dream. So we'll have to wait it out and see who's comes closest to being right. :)
  18. By the way, when the big power failure occurred last week, at first, the only station I could get to find out what was going on was an AM all news station. It took a little while for any of the many FM stations to get going with generators, and when they did, most of them were carrying the AM station's signal. It just goes to show sometimes, there's welcome room for the lower tech solution. All the digital TV was useless. At the same time, there was lots of radio on the shortwave bands, including the ones where Hams operate in Single Sideband - and shortwave is AM too. Unlike digital cameras and all their paraphernalia, film isn't that hard to make. As long as there's a market for it, someone will make it, somewhere.
  19. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    I don't remember which one of the twenty groups I'm in that brought up this web site but you all should read what this guy has to say about the whole Mind numbing debate. I have read and even once and a while involved myself (for which I am sorry) in this on going waste of time but now that I have read this article I'm satisfied to enjoy my film cameras until hell freezes over and try to figure out how to use all the gizmos on my Canon G3 digital (which should happen about the same time).

    Anyway you might also check out a couple of his other articles I think the guy is a genius or something close.


    Mark W.
  20. repairable ... disposable
  21. It's a moral and religious issue: digital is the anti-Christ.

    And I really don't like my use of a Leica being compared to the level of talk radio. Repent!
  22. It's a moral and religious issue: digital is the anti-Christ.

    And I really don't like my use of a Leica being compared to the level of talk radio. Repent!
  23. I must be right. I only posted once. Divine intervention made it post twice.
  24. Jeez, Mark, a genius? C'mon! With comments like this?:

    "For "film" we have slide film (used by most professionals and I) and negative film (used by amateurs)..."

    Bad judgement AND bad grammar.
  25. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Most of these analogies are ridiculous.

    Want a good analogy?

    Daguerrotype. And glass plates and a host of other technologies used for making photographs. They're dead, except for an absolutely miniscule number of photographers.
  26. Jeff,

    You're right on the money. The rest of this is just nonsense.

  27. If Alvin stops making my favorite PENSTIX No. 3013-EEF 0.3mm Black India Ink Marker, will I still be able to draw? Will I enjoy it? Will I get good results? (ok, will I get *similar* results.)

    I remember a guy in college who dressed up in Victorian erra costume. Wrote all his stuff with a quil pen. Used 'thee' and 'thou', as if it was natural. His poetry was still crap!

    Man, I'm just trying to learn how to take/make photographs. Why come up with these odd analogies? I have good memories of sew-up bicycle tires too, but I still ride my bicycle.
  28. You're analogy doesn't work either, Jeff.

    None of the technologies you listed ever had any mainstream penetration. No one BUT pros ever used those type of cameras. 35mm film has been the standard for pros and amateurs alike for, what, 70 years now? It's not going to go away as quickly as some might think.
  29. From someone who will be winding MW loop antennas for experimentation this weekend (great Labor Day project there.. ), it matters not to me
  30. ...atleast with daguerrotypes you run the risk of brain damage and insanity, and wet plate can easily blow up on you. Every process has it's highs and lows, todays processes are for wimps.

    Horray for mercury vapour!
  31. I think that color film may eventually go the way of the Dodo. Most consumers
    shoot color and a digital camera and inkjet printer is right up their alley.

    Black and white has a huge enthusiast / art photography following
    and it's relatively easy to produce. These are the people who are
    intrigued by the art and craft of shooting, developing and printing film.

    Wouldn't it be ironic if Leica starts to thrive, because they become the
    sole remaining producer of high quality film based / mechanical 35mm

  32. feli-<P>

    If film does go away, this is what i expect:<P>

    in less than 10 years 8x10 chrome will no longer be available<BR>
    in over 10 years 4x5 color will become prohibitivly expensive, left only for very large output<BR>
    in about 10 years the professional color 35mm market will dry up and be replaced by digital<BR>
    in less than 15 years 5x7 chrome will go next<BR>
    in over 10 years medium format will become very expensive in color (rev. or chrome) but not prohibitivly for high paying commercial work.<BR> Medium format will be almost entirely a professional format.<BR>
    in over 15 years medium format color will be rare, most pros will shoot digital<BR>
    About the same time 4x5 color (or at least reversal) will be unavailable (maybe)<BR>
    in about 20 years 35mm will be replaced by digital entirely<BR>
    In less than 30 years silver film will be obsolete for commercial photography uses<BR>
    In 50 years silver photography will be an alternative process<P>

    That is assuming that digital prices will go down at the same rate as i predict the decline of film, which, at this rate would be impossible. I'd imagine that they will though.<P>

    I don't think it's an issue that digital will never be as good as film, atleast objectivly. However, subjective taste will likely always permit some silver market. For me, all I want is better contrast and shadow/hilight detail and better noise management at higher speeds and then I'd be happy to switch.<P>

    As far as paper goes, I seriously doubt that there will not be a need for silver paper in the next 50 years, as i do not predict that inkjet will ever be as good as silver, and i think that there will always be photographers that feel the same, though, output to photo paper will not be as inexpensive as it is now. And for extremely large output, LightJet is still cheaper than inkjet if you shop around.
  33. Anno-

    I think those are some pretty solid predictions.

    I estimate that in less than 5 years from now, digital will have beat 35mm in
    resolution etc. The Canon 1ds is very close.
    But frankly I, and many others, will continue to shoot black and white film, because to
    me it's not just about benchmarks. My Leicas are plenty sharp and I simply get more
    enjoyment out of using them, than a digital camera. I like playing with chemicals and
    printing in the darkroom and that's coming from someone who makes his living
    doing digital image manipulation. I don't think I will live to see the death of b/w film,
    but it sure isn't going to be as dirt cheap as it is today.


  34. It isn't all about mere resolution. There are many more aspects to photography. You want pure resolution, go use an 8X10 camera and contact print.
  35. Steve, no kidding! I think that that is a result of digital camera manufacterers pumping up what they CAN fix, resolution, and completely neglecting the stats on the things that they cannot fix [easily], like dynamic range.

    Try going to Canon and looking up the dynamic range of whatever their highest end DSLR is, I bet you'll never find it.

    However, I think that the dynamic range issue will be adressed when the resolution is roughly similar to film. If they never adress the issue of overall quality (which at the moment isn't much better than video) then film will forever have it's place.
  36. Jeff Spirer - unlike you I love medium format and Leicas but ...

    I believe film will go the way of the panda (rather than the dodo) in 5 years. I think it will be inferior to digital, prohibitly expensive, and a pain to get it printed and developed.

    People are already complaining how hard it is to get Kodachromes developed. Well, I think it will be worse for film in 5 years.
  37. It is going to be a LONG LONG LONG LONG time before digital comes close to the resolution of medium format. Commercial photographers will likely ditch film before that point for most applications.

    The smallest of the medium formats, 645, has a rough (and I stress rough) equivilent to 9000x6750, or, 60.75 megapixel!

    note: This is factored using the 4,000 grains per inch of generic 100 ISO film exposed at middle grey. In reality it is not possible to make this conversion, but most agree that this is as accurate a conversion you can make. I personally think it's a little bit liberal.

Share This Page