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Should I get rid of my M4P?

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Paul wrote regarding Ansel Adams:


"The photos began to produce cash-flows towards the end of his life, after being turned over to business managers."


That's exactly my point! He began to make good money late in his life printing very old negatives. There's nothing wrong with that, which is what Al Kaplan is doing (as do many other photographers).


There has also been considerable criticism by some forum participants against "self-promotion" but that's exactly what Ansel Adams did with his business manager in the 1970's.


There's nothing wrong with 1) making money from old images and 2) promoting our wares.

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i don't think i actually said that film was "better" -- only that it retains qualities that

digital doesn't share -- and i thank you for sharing the story of miss trumbull's lock

of hair. that is, of course, exactly what i am talking about.


i guess on a certain level it is that i am disgusted and amazed and the disposability of

our current culture. Objects and tools like Leicas were made to last, and you just

don't see that in most products today. And your comment about the TVs -- well, i

actually have a friend with a functioning Zenith TV from the early 1970s, the colors

are just a bit off -- but otherwise it continues to beam the airwaves and cable

connection into the living room.


in a rapidly changing world we take comfort in the familar. for example, the

demolition of old buildings in the neighborhood is upsetting not just because those

buildings may have been historic, but because it is the erasure of our personal

memories and landmarks. it's no accident that as land lines become obsolete, people

start collecting vintage telephones. Or advertising and movie posters. or old

typewriters. Nostalgia as a force is i believe very powerful, in our economy and

culture. it's easy to mock. but why not just admit that we all share it to greater or

lesser degree?


now i am one of the very few working photojournalists that i know of who continues

to shoot film in any quantity. this is where, and let me emphatically qualify this, FOR

ME, for me, film remains the medium of choice for all the reasons i listed before. I

think it's great that you can now access faraway libraries from the comfort of your

computer. but i'm not a library, not even a small one. i simply don't have the money,

time, inclination, or desire to set up a truly proper digital workflow, with proper back-

ups and archiving and so on. i know plenty of photographers who do. but why should

I? where is the compelling reason??? other than for the minority of jobs with very tight



I KNOW HOW TO DO IT WITH FILM! i know how to label and file negatives and contact

sheets, and then i leave it alone until i pull a negative to scan or print. No constant

backing up, no worries about it all crumbling to dust. i invest in the proper acid-free

storage materials, keep everything in a dry, dark room, and it's all good.

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For Better Or Worse!...


I keep trying to express this idea but seem to make no progress:


Film is NOT better or worse than digital, just different, much as watercolor is different from oils in painting.


I use both film and digital...I use the tool for the job.


Today I received a "Texas Leica" with much enthusiasm. This is a 1970's Fujica GL690 6x9cm film camera.


Film is NOT dead; just readjusting to market changes. That's all.


I totally love digital, and love film.


This Saturday I'm photographing a large wedding in Oakland CA using digital for 90% of the imaging. I'm also taking my Leica M2 (B/W) and will also play with the Fujica, in B/W, as well.


When I process film nowdays, I either scan the large negs or have CDs made from the 35mm and digitize the images.


Maybe someday I'll get back into a darkroom. There is nothing better than a finely crafted silver rich print.


This is what I mean when I say that film and digital can work together, hand in hand.


I just do not understand what all of this Digital vs Film BS is all about.


This is like the "Neverending Story!" Let's knock it off already!







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Sorry I misspelled you name above, Alan.


Who can argue with what you've said? I certainly won't, but it's worth keeping in mind that Ruskin's Pre-Raphaelitism of mid-century, and later in the 19th century, the Arts and Crafts movement, expressed their disatisfaction with the "modern age" in much the same terms that you just did.


Nostalgia (which actually derives from "nostalgia de'pays"--or "homesickness") in turn owes its origins to the military culture of the late 16th century--it was the mysterious malady that afflicted troops who found themselves far from home. I suppose that we'd now call it separation anxiety or depression or some such thing, but it concerned early medical practitioners sufficiently that they named it such.


This longing to return, as it were, to a more familiar place predates our modernity and may be, for all I know, an essential attribute of the human condition; but there's hardly anything unique, except perhaps in scale and pace, to our own experience in the present--the past is irrecusable. Change is inevitable, mourn, accept, or resist it as we may.


I think of Ezra Pound's line from -Hugh Selwyn Mauberley- (1920)


All things are a flowing,/

Sage Heracleitus says:/

But a tawdry cheapness/

Shall outlast our days.


And no doubt there were those who viewed the emergence of 35mm photography as yet another triumph of this "tawdry cheapness."


Why should we be exempt?





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I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say, at leat not so in terms of a Leica M4P, film photography, and the popularity of digital, especially with regard to Pantelis' question.


I also don't know how Ezra Pond got into all of this either, unless you're just trying to be pedantic and somewhat obscure, but the issue is really very simple:


Pantelis just wants some advice regarding whether he should sell his M4P and buy a Leica digital M when it appears.


That is a very simple question.


I truly think some of us have wantered into the "Smoke-rings of Our Mind" on this.


Film is here to stay. Digital is here to stay. Both can interact, and, whether one works with film or digital or both is an individual decision.


It's that simple.


Chandos, sorry to say, I don't have a clue what you're trying to say.

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I have a Canon A620 coming this week from B&H because altho I like my Pentas Optio wpi it does not have an optical viewfinder and I can't see a damned thing in the LCD. Which is ironic because it is a waterproof digi and where I use it..sailing and kayaking...there is a lot of (duh) sunlight which makes no sense in terms of the lack of viewfinder!!!


so, I am getting the A620 to be my digital rangefinder and of course will still use my belove IIIf until not one roll of film is available on the face of the earth. then i shall use my IIIf to store the little stash of diamonds i keep on hand for the time when gold is as DEAD as FILM. which of course is going to be really really soon.

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Just opened this thread and its been an interesting read in the [ kind of ] off topic area.


As a Leica user since my mid-teens and for the past few decades its been a great trip.

When I first got into Leica it was purely photography, both work and enjoyment. Back in

the 80s was the first I really came to understand that some people paid as much attention

to serial numbers and odd variations of Leica gear as how well it made photographs ( the

real collectors ). But even before that it was well known that Leica gear held its value very



Things may have changed just recently as I see the used film camera shops around Osaka-

Kyoto closing the past few years. The 'common' Leica gear seems to have dropped in

value, including items like a plain-jane M4-P whatever the condition. Some cameras/

lenses - but especially lenses - will be in demand for some time I think, and like pointed

out there are trends of popular gear.


The original question... The question of holding on to something I think would come down

to - If you are going to use it or not, and if selling it would help buy something you want

more? The value of an M4-P will buy you a nice point and shoot digital, but not a state the

[current] art 'Leica quality' camera. If you want to put the funds from a M4-P as a small

portion of the purchase of say a M8 fine, but the quality of the photography of a film Leica

for personal use will not change in the coming years, only the convenience of processing,

cost and time. Your M4-P will still be a good 'photographic investment' if you choose to

use it.


And I agree (at least understand the argument), "Leicas are just tools" is the popular

mantra, but I love tools and a Leica is my favorite tool in my hands. Also, I love paper hard

copy prints, and slide projection, sitting looking at photographs on the computer is not

fun for me. And I love loading film and rewinding film and the sound and feel of a

mechanical shutter, and... So it becomes more than 'just a tool'. Using my Leica is a way of

seeing, and for me I don't see that changing. Whatever the monetary 'value', I will always

have a Leica for my mind 'investment'.


And finally, an interesting trend. I see a lot of young people with 60s/70s cameras around

their necks or on their shoulder. Its become 'cool'. And my Leicas are the still recognized

ultimate cool camera. Maybe film will be around longer than many digitniks think.

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The whole "tool" argument is sort of worn out. It is as if people who have no sensitivity to the objects they use as they make their way through life are somehow more "objective." Nonsense. Listen to the song on Neil Young's "Prairie Wind" titled "This Old Guitar." Were he a Leicaphile it could be "This Old Leica." Beautiful song, beautiful explanation of how those who love, appreciate, and understand the connections their tools make with the past think and feel. If ya want a big black hunk o plastic or silvery little thing that is cool. But if you listen to this song you can imagine another kind of relationship that takes away from nothing...it does not impair you...it does not mean you are circling the wagons..it does not mean you are a recalcitrant Luddite.
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Actually, I answered Pantelis's question in a straightfoward fashion early on and explained my reasons for doing so. My answer clearly disturbed some members of the forum, who expressesed their unhappiness in rejoinders that I find, well, problematical.


It appears that the Leica Forum appends to the list of topics proscribed in Navy wardrooms: politics, religion, sex. Here one mustn't doubt the "investment" value of Leica equipment, the permanent ascendency of film over digital, and the transcendent virtue of those who believe in both.


For my part, I agree with you, Todd. That film and digital can coexist is made manifest in the first purchase of a film scanner; that they will coexist is probable, though some writing, at least, is on the wall. Surely twenty or twenty five years down the line, assuming that Leica and this forum still exist, our successors will be droning on about the "perfection" of the first model DMR, the build quality of the early digital Ms, and those never-to-be-forgotten first generation of lenses designed for as yet unknown crop factors. M's will enjoy the status of screwmounts and all will be well in the world


My last was a response to Alan Chin's thoughful post, and there is a universe in which to speak of Ezra Pound is neither obscure nor pedantic, though evidently this forum is not part of it.


Sorry to have befuddled you.





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Yup, they keep cheapening the quality of stuff, for sure. My late model 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 Speed Graphic has a leatherette covered metal body instead of genuine leather over mahogany. The Kalart rangefinder is still fairly bright and contrasty and the focal plane shutter still works. There's a bit of internal haze on the uncoated 127/4.7 Kodak Ektar lens and the shutter speeds down to one second on the Kodak Supermatic shutter still seem fairly accurate. Should I get rid of it just because that size film, what the Brits called "quarter plate", is getting hard to find?
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Pantelis, I think you got the answer right at the beginning, cameras do not make good investments.


I have no intention of buying a digital M, but I find that I don't use my M4 so often (maybe 5 rolls per year), I have plenty of other film cameras, and prices for all film cameras seem to be heading nowhere but down.


With the big auction site giving 5 free listings this Canada Day long weekend to Canadians, I had every intention to put mine up for sale. So, I take out my Nikon DSLR, set up the tripod, dig out batteries for the flashes and start taking auction photos of the M4. Got as far as downloading the photos to the computer, but I just couldn't go through with it. The small size, lovely handling...the fondler in me just couldn't give it up for the few hundred bucks it would fetch. This probably guarantees that I'll keep it forever, 'cuz next time I get the urge to sell it, it'll be worth even less!<div>00HAi3-30972784.jpg.4deb8dc57bd938ad2b05f843d2bdcbd5.jpg</div>

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" cameras do not make good investments."


You might find any near mint condition wide angle Leica lenses are worth substantially

more next year, than they are this when the available stocks dry up.

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If everyone who is interested in Leica Ms can afford film as prices escalate over the years, can we not agree that scanning your film is an acceptable alternative to losing it in a hurricane, and will be able to be done for a long time on better and better digital equipment!?


If I could afford it, I would buy an M and lenses now-- I've got to stick with my Canon P.


Yes, it is partly hubristic-- handing heirlooms down to your kids, so they can see what you fetishized has been going on for thousands of years, before the steam engine. I will chug on.

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Oh jeez. Film will not be dead in our lifetime, if ever. There may not be as many emulsions available, but it will still be made. I just bought an 11x14 camera in the last year. I'm not worried about film being available. Carbon paper is still being made for goodness sake. Once you go digital, you then get on the upgrade and obsolescence wagon every two or three years. If you use the camera, keep shooting. If you don't use the camera, then sell it.
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I came at this in consequence of conversation with the department Sinologist (who's also my pool-shooting partner) a couple of weeks ago regarding the recent surge in automotive sales in the PRC.


Per capita income in China for 2003 and 2004 appears to be $1100-1300 USD, providing China with a rank of 105 among the 190+ countries of the world. This figure reflects the nouveau riche and rapidly growing middle class concentrated in eastern/urban China and is therefore skewed upward. The CIA World Factbook indicates that 150 million Chinese fall below the poverty line. This same source uses the PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) formula to suggest that per capita income in China is roughly equivalent to an income of $6800 USD in the United States today. The disparity between wealth in the countryside and in these urban/industrial areas is staggering, but the PPP figure seemed most apposite in relation to Kodak's announced strategy (see link above) for marketing film and film-based cameras in the countryside and digital in the more affluent markets. I quoted the $6500 from memory and clearly got it wrong.


This market, and others similar to it, I submit *will* keep film alive for the forseeable future, which I never questioned. Whether it will retain a significant presence in the US market, by all appearances, is less certain.


I asked a class of some 60 American college students last fall what a mimeograph machine was. Not one knew, though you can bet world-wide they remain a mainstay of inexpensive, low-tech, document reproduction.





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