photographic film - alive and kicking

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by gunter_caus, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. Yesterday, after (too) many years, I visited Grobet, a knwon photo store in the centre of Antwerp (Belgium). I was a regular customer in a previous life, you know ... the one without children. If you were interested buying photo chemicals, films or papers, it was the place to be. You had to go down the cellar, which felt like a very natural thing to do when you were in search of light-sensitive products. The guy behind the counter is still same one as back then. And he still shares his enthousiasme with the same fire, as if time had no effect on us or anything at all. It was with a small heart though I approached him, because I was about to ask him if he had ever heard about photographical film lately. His answer was quick but foremost surprising. "OH YES! In fact we sell much more film than we ever did before, especially medium format. Fifteen, twenty years ago someone would walk into the shop, Hasselblad strapped around the shoulder and written on the forehead "did you notice me?". Now to be honest, these guys were not too many, because these kind of cameras were quite expensive at the time, and they still are if bought new. But today, medium format is flourishing thanks to a vast second hand market, everybody knows that. And as medium format cameras became more accessible, many, many more photo enthousiasts feel seduced to buy one and take it at hand. Especially the latter is important. Someone getting started with medium format film today does it for a very good reason, and thus people buy film, lots of film apparently.
    Now that's a reflection I really wanted to post here, because every now and then people raise the question when film will disapear. Are they out for a funeral party, or are they just sick worrying? Well, let me tell you this: film is alive and kicking. Hallelujah!
  2. If you are the sort of person that hangs out on Classic Manual Cameras (and even Modern Film Cameras) you will find lots of all format cameras. Shooting with them necessarily means using film.
    Here in the USA, one outfit that has been in the film business back to the stone age is Freestyle. Look at their website for a treat, even if you don't actually buy anything from them.
  3. No, film is not going to die. I still like film, it is the reference medium by which I compare any digital image to. Unlike others, that ditch their film cameras and lenses in favor of the high tech versions, I keep and use the oldies. My Hasselblad system is simple to use and can do a lot. The MF prints are very sharp and reveal the wider tonality offered by silver halides over the ink versions. Used film equipment offers a tremendous value because it was high quality made and robust. The film is delicate, and, if treated with the respect it deserves, can be magical and pleasing to the artistic mind.
  4. I wonder if this thread will get 81 replies like "is it time to ditch medium format".......
  5. Film is going to be with us for a long time, but sales are decreasing. That a shop sees an increase means only that
    other shops have stopped selling it, and that there are fewer camera shops than there were.
  6. A Rolleiflex appeared in the window of one of our local photographic retailers the other week and within two days it had gone.
  7. I still love certain MF films, and hope that the film choices improve or are at least maintained (having seen a lot of my favourites discontinued). But we have to be realistic about how much film is really selling. Even if we assume that all the MF cameras, which were dropped from usage by professionals (and some amateurs) in the past 10 years, were sold on to new enthusiastic users, that is still unlikely to maintain film usage at the rate which prevailed years ago. Are amateur enthusiasts, shooting at the weekends and evenings, likely to use as may rolls of film as professionals shooting a number of jobs per day? Hardly.
  8. stp


    Some of my favorite films have been discontinued, it's especially hard to find much in 220, and my favorite local lab has closed. For me, the writing was on the wall. Film will continue, but it will never be like it was. I'd be much more enthusiastic if I shot and developed my own B&W, but I don't and never did. I've given up on my Pentax 645NII, from which I got many good photos (IMO, of course) and my Hasselblad 501cm which was a joy to use and really challenged my eyes regarding composition. I'm now entirely digital, and I still enjoy photography as much as I have for the last 40 years.
  9. I was in A&I recently and saw a Yashicamat amateur enthusiast bring in about a dozen 120 format rolls for processing.
    I think young People are catching on to film. They are wise.
  10. I only recently got into film photography, but I've been at it for over three years now, and I still find it much more satisfying a pursuit than digital. I keep my trusty 5DM2 at hand for my kids' birthday parties and other special events that I want to make sure I don't miss (partially because it also is such a fantastic digital video recorder as well), but when I want to focus on photography as an art, I always bring along a trusty 501cm, RZ67, Yashica, etc, a few rolls of color neg, a few rolls of slide, and a few rolls of B&W. Developing at home afterward is just as rewarding, especially when pulling a fresh roll of slides from the Jobo and hanging to dry. The image you see initially becomes an even more beautiful expression as it dries, and really does seem magical that all you need is light, a lens, and some chemistry to capture the world around you.
  11. "A Hasselblad smiles while a Nikon rejoices. Both shutter click in unison voices."
    Film and digital: Vive le difference!
  12. Film is alive and well, but getting a print made by an enlarger is next to impossible unless it is done by yourself. A scanned and digital print from a negative, especially a B & W negative, is disapointing. No sense of depth.
  13. Along these lines, you can still get traditional analog prints made at Bllue Moon Camera, in Portalnd Oregon. Sendout service available.
  14. I thought I was the old one only foray into digital is with my cell phone.
    4 hasselblads and a Canon F1 are my tools.......I don't even use zoom lenses.
    Hand held light meters too.
    Lets keep this a secret guys.Okay?
  15. I'm 33 years old and the only cameras I'd ever purchased with my money were digital. While on a vacation in one of the US National Parks, I bought a photo book by Tim Fitzharris. In it were these incredible images with lots of technical stuff in the captions I didn't understand. "Fuji Velvia" "Pentax 645" etc. I researched it and decided to try my hand at medium format film. I bought a Mamiya RB67 for $300 and some Fuji transparency film and the rest is (recent) history. Love looking at those transparencies on the lightbox - it's the next best thing to being there.
  16. Gosh, I can't be the only one who enjoys film and digital, can I?
    I find both processes amazing, and perfectly usable. I prefer film for portraits of my family, and often for vacation. Film makes an excellent hard-copy, impervious to computer crashes. The bigger the film, the better - right up to 4x5 or 5x7 negatives. But for daily snapshots, digital rocks. No need to scan, and 12 MP in a dSLR or a waterproof point-n-shoot is amazing.
    Sure, film is in decline. Or has been. We'd need to see sales figures from the makers to know for sure. But I keep buying the stuff. Local lab keeps selling film and chemistry to me and others like me. I don't think film sales are in free-fall anymore.
  17. I shoot both - I like digital but I love film. I think the thing I like best is the feel of film bodies. While my 5DII and 1D
    feel good myF1s and Leica M bodies Re so much more tactile
  18. I also shoot both digital and film. I use a Canon 40D for wild life and a Toyo 4 X 5 View camera for land scapes. I also still have my dark room and it is used on a regular bases. No film is not dead and I believe that what we will see, is that the strong will survive and film will be available for as long as I will want it.
    Yes the price of used equipment has come way down. I can remember looking at the price of an RB67 and thinking, I have to feed the children first. Well I have had three RB 67s, only gave them up when I could no longer hand hold them.
  19. I also shoot both digital and film. I use a Canon 40D for wild life and a Toyo 4 X 5 View camera for land scapes. I also still have my dark room and it is used on a regular bases. No film is not dead and I believe that what we will see, is that the strong will survive and film will be available for as long as I will want it.
    Yes the price of used equipment has come way down. I can remember looking at the price of an RB67 and thinking, I have to feed the children first. Well I have had three RB 67s, only gave them up when I could no longer hand hold them.
  20. Well, let me tell you this: film is alive and kicking. Hallelujah!
    Film sales are down 98% from 9 years ago. That kick is more of a twitch.
  21. I shoot both digital and film for my wedding photography. It's not uncommon to find me in the thick of things with a Nikon D700 + 17-35mm f/2.8 on my right shoulder, a D300 + 80-200mm f/2.8 on my left and my Pentax 67 with 105mm f/2.4 hanging from my neck. Clients love that I shoot in film, and usually love the results. I also tote around a Mamiya C330, a few lenses, a Nikon F100 and FM2N for good measure.
    I develop all of my color and black and white at home and even offer handmade prints a la carte in my wedding packages.
    The new Kodak Portra 400 and Portra 160 really make it all work out. I love both of those films and they're both available in 220 which makes MF at 6x7 more manageable at 20 shots a roll.
    I'm not saying it's something that I'm going to offer forever, as the cost really is prohibitive and if I can't find a way to incorporate it into my charges I may reserve my film shooting for more personal work. But, for now, I love it and my clients love it.
  22. Oh Edward, Your photographic soul was long ago lost when you stopped shooting Elite Chrome 100;-)
  23. Well let's see what the future brings.
    I shoot only film (never owned a digital camera other than cellphone). The only digital camera in the house is a compact for my wife. I do use that digital camera for experiments (catching lightning during storms) and for photography I am not interested in (chasing kids around the house). For anything I am interested in, I take my ETRSi.
    Digital still lacks some depth in the image rendering that I find so attractive on film. However the ease of use of digital is a big factor in the modern world. People are willing to sacrificy a lot for their own convenience. That's the sad truth.
  24. Lubos, you can tell yourself that story to make yourself feel good about sticking to your roots, but it doesn't make it an objective fact.
    Many of us feel that it would be you who are sacrificing a lot to preserve your present choices in imaging. There was a day when there were quality compromises for the convenience of digital, but that day is past (has passed?).
    For me, modern digital, even without the excesses of HDF, presents a tonal range from shadow detail to highlight detail that is difficult to match in film without reviving Polaroid Type 52 or "print-out" papers. Even digitized film will often be better in this way to the human eye than are the original slides or negatives.
    Glad to hear that about the 220, Ryan. When I tried recently to find 220 film, all I could get was five (refrigerated) rolls of out-dated film on eBay. No one seemed to have any in stock at all.
  25. +1 for film. I recently bought a second hand Mamiya 645 with 2 lenses (80+210), grips etc for Eur275 and love it.
    The mechanics are wonderful and approach you need to take with manual focus makes me slow down.
    The anticipation of film is more fun and hopes of making a great picture are much higher than with my D90.
    I will shoot both cameras but for portraits, the Mamiya is more fun. I still need a 45mm for landscapes and I will be all settled :)
  26. Now if only someone-- anyone-- would make 220 B&W film again I'd be very happy. Carrying several loaded A12 backs to the shoot or into the field is so much more trouble than using 220, IMHO.
  27. +1 for film, too. I personally don't understand the "either/or" mentality. I made 900+ frames on my D3S shooting football yesterday. I just picked up a Canon A-1 for less than $100 and run TMAX through the superb, old, chrome-nose FD lenses. I'm heading out for my annual walk-about in September and will be running TMAX and Pan F through my RZ extensively. I run Ektar/Portra/Velvia through my Nikon F6 nearly every week. Tomorrow morning I have a group shot I'll use the CLS attributes of my D3S for and it'll look great because of the ability to tweak and modify light on the spot.
    Tools in a tool box. Passion for them all.
    There's never been a better time to shoot film, in my estimation. Emulsions are better and more sophisticated than ever before. The new Portra was specifically designed for a digital work flow (scanning), not darkroom printing. I'm much for comfortable with the idea of investing money in a long-term tool, like a film camera and great glass - not dependent on the whims of the sensor technology business - and then shooting the package forever. Superb lenses are superb lenses, no matter when they were made. Film is film - from one camera to the next. It sickens me to have spent over $5K on a digital camera that has "a life span." Yes it makes me money, yes it's a fantastic camera, but like it or not, it's consumer electronics and it's probably gonna die at an inopportune time, long before my F6 will. Then I'm going to have to drop another $5K to be as functional.
    Digital & film are two sides of the same coin to me. Both have their purposes; one doesn't preclude the value of the other (but I love shooting film).
  28. Now if only someone-- anyone-- would make 220 B&W film again I'd be very happy. Carrying several loaded A12 backs to the shoot or into the field is so much more trouble than using 220, IMHO.
  29. JDM, nothing about photography is objective in the end. No amount of scientific measurements make a photograph work for all people. It is my view that film is better for me because that is so. If it does not look the same for you I don't care.
    And the part aboud sacrificing quality for convenience is true in more areas than just photography.
  30. The OP sounds like a description of me. Shot digital only for several years and then discovered the joy of MF film after going through all my dad's medium format stuff from the 50s and 60s and digitizing it. Now I own a whole bunch of film cameras, mostly MF and love them dearly, but of course still shoot digital for a lot of things too.
  31. John Crane, well said. And, beautiful work in your portfolio!
  32. Lubos, I agree with your point, the bottom line is what the imagemaker likes. I shoot both, I treat each exposure in a digital as I do on a film camera. One shot, one kill. I'm not one to want to spend time on a PC going through tons of digital images. Not for me. I'd rather spend that time composing. I carry that workflow dicipline of the past getting 24/36 exposures on 35mm and 10/20 exposures on 6X7 format with digital. I strive in making each exposure count as if it was the only one left. There are times when a small band will do performing a favored tune (digital capture) and then there are times when an orchestra (film) is mandatory. I'd rather hear the depth and dynamics of true musical instruments being played by their masters (film) than hearing that produced on a synthesizer (digital). I know of shooters who converted totaly to digital capture and most agree that they spend too much time going through the many images on the PC. I've got 4 decades shooting film and know what it will do for me and the way I capture and present images. No worries about archival issues either. Lubos, you're right 100%. I don't care what anybody has to say about who, what, when, where, why and how I make my images! I capture and make mine with film BECAUSE I LIKE IT over digital when push comes to shove. If anything, I use digital when scouting locations and commit the final image to film. Why? Because I like it!! It works for ME!!
  33. Stephen Schäfer explains why his clients require him to photograph using film.
  34. Yes, John Crane, "well said" and another +1 for me.
    This is especially true:
    There's never been a better time to shoot film, in my estimation. Emulsions are better and more sophisticated than ever before.​
    And I've tried to tell this again and again to various friends as they have handed me their unwanted Pentax SLR, Minoltas, Kaiser and Leica enlargers, new Nikon F100 etc etc ...
    Many gauge the future by the rate at which Kodak and Fuji have discontinued a whole bunch of film emulsions. Consolidation had to happen and it has. John Crane mentions that the Portra films are now optimised for scanning, which is just as well, because as far as I know, there is no darkroom colour print that can match the best ink jet for colour stability, quite aside from other image qualities. I sorely miss the results my local lab was getting from Reala, but that's out the window. History. The colour negative > scan > print allows us the best of both worlds, and will be around for a while. Sales of used medium format gear on eBay seem steady, which in addition to all the gear is use, and whatever new sales there are will keep the coating rooms at Fuji and Kodak in business for a good while yet.
    Kodak's discontinuation of some B&W products has been good for the B&W specialists such as ILFORD and ADOX. It's all good for me, and I'm using anything and everything I can lay my hands on in B&W, in all formats including 70mm, both fresh and out-of-date.
    The core of my income is from printmaking, etching and engraving, using tools methods materials which were rendered obsolete centuries ago. 'Obsolete' that is in the commercial printing industries. But there are sufficient artists around the world doing the same to keep alive several competing manufacturers of etching press, paper mills, etching ink manufacturers, as well as makers of fine engraving tools.
    There was no Internet in the mid 1800s, but when the first viable photographic cameras and processes appeared, there was no shortage of doomsday discussions about the certain disappearance of all this stuff that myself and thousands of others use today.
    I don't care about whatever anyone else achieves from B&W digital systems, I really don't. Do whatever works for you, .. go for it. But I also know that there are enough of us photographers who use film for it's intrinsic qualities, for the love of it, who know it, who appreciate what it's about, and simply enjoy darkroom work and do it well, that there will be film around for a long time to come. And whilst a few old Bronicas, Hasselblads, Mamiyas, Linhofs etc eventually grind to halt, for lack of parts, there are new film cameras coming out all the time, and I wouldn't mind betting there'll be a Chinese manufacturer of Hasselblad C lens components to revive your chrome paper weights. They already produce a range of lens caps and lens shades for Hasselblad (I use them).
    AS Bogart said to Bergman: "We'll always have Paris", I say to you we will always have film.
  35. I'm new to this forum and have not posted before, but I had to comment on this topic.
    In my arsenal, I currently have 9 film Nikons and about a dozen other 35mm cameras that all get used, some more than others and none as much as they used to. I also have 4 digital Nikons that are constantly earning their keep. I prefer film both for the look and the permanance, but my instant gratification clients require the digital.
    That said, I have recently dusted off my medium format cameras: an RB67, a Rollei 3.5E, a Yashicamat 124G, a Graflex XL, a Mamiya Universal, a Fuji GW670III and a Fuji GS645S and loaded them all with either TMax 100, Ektar 100 or Neopan Acros 100. That has also meant digging out the heavy tripods along with my hand-held meters and re-learning how to use b&w filters and cable releases.
    All of this equipment weighs almost as much as I do and fills up the back of my car, but you know what? I'm having a ball! I'm finding that my old eyes don't like dim rangefinders quite as much as they used to and that ground glass finders haven't gotten any brighter with age and that I don't hike as far as I used to with a 25 pound bag and a 16+ pound tripod, but the enjoyment I'm getting from these old cameras far out-weighs the weight of the equipment.
    I'm not so sure about color, but for me, black and white film still has a depth and tonal range that digital has yet to approach. I no longer have a darkroom (that's subject to change), but I've found a lab that will give me 4815x5902 pixel scans from 6x7 negs and 4832x4760 scans from 6x6. Can your DSLR do that? I can't wait to see how the Rollei's Planar performs at that resolution!
    There is room for both and I don't think that digital will replace film any more than television replaced radio. Our film choices will become smaller, but as stated earlier, better.
    Whatever your choice, keep shooting and keep enjoying!
    Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts.
    Gary (aka: Geezer G)
  36. According to this recent interview with Scott DiSabato from Kodak’s Professional Film Division, film sales in october 2011 exceeded whole previous year mark. Maybe it's the turning point, and we'll see stable or even somewhat growing sales in the future.
    So I'm not worried at all. Best thing we can do is just keep shooting. Film is alive as long as we want it.

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