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How much longer can photographic film hold on?

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film will always remain the choice of a niche market - especially b&w which can be processed yourself

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We are lucky we live in Japan and a lot of people still use film, there is plenty of film available on the big shops, including big formats. I really hope film doesn't disappear,there is something about b&w film that digital will never be able to reproduce.

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As far as I am concerned, it is already dead.

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I used to love taking good photos, but since the emergence of digicam, I lost interest. Everybody and their poodle are snapping pictures left right and center for free... boring.

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A friend showed me Kodachrome slides he took of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Still with fabulous colour after all these years. By comparison, retaining digital images reliably is a lot harder. Writable CDs and DVDs are not reliable over time. Hard drives break down. How long will data on SD media last - and who could afford to archive their photos on SD cards?

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I missing putting photos in albums and still get nostalgic for the good old days of film cameras.

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I had about 60cameras at my peak 7-8yrs ago, down to about 30 now, most are still capable of fine pics,I used to always have one of my classics with me to snap pics wherever I happened to be, but since I left the city I have shot less. And will be thining the heard some more.

I use digital but like this article, storage & computer crap have turned off bigtime in recent years, it simply is NO FUN(for me) to mess with pics on my computer & I hate trying to store them & keep from losing them or how to categorize so I can find them, thats not what I like about photography.

Another thing is quality of cameras today except for a select few is SO BAD, they are garbage within a couple years, I have cameras form the 1920-50s that still have decades of life left with a bit of maintenance. Sure the cameras of today take great pics dont get me wrongm but they are essentially ALL disposable cameras if you think about it, sad in a way

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I have used both, and like both for different reasons. The thing that strikes me about good film photography now is that it really stands out as being different in a world totally saturated with digital imagery. Digital imagery is quite generic in appearance and is easy to spot for it's manipulation and trickery. Skillful film imagery is strong, impressive, has presence. And some of the best proponents of it are Japanese at present. It's definitely strong enough to hold it's own and demand a place, it's just that the mass consumers won't bother with it.

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I missing putting photos in albums and still get nostalgic for the good old days of film cameras.

There's a recent invention called a "printer" that you should look in to.

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hokkaidoguy

The quality of the print from a digital camera is not as good as a photo taken with a film camera. Also, I think most people with digital cameras may be like me; they store the photos on their computer or on a DVD, but can't be bothered to get them printed and then put them into a photo album.

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I still love the ol Film camera and do keep the photo-album filled(there is a story to it)as it has Photos from 100+yrs ago in it.

At the same time I also appreciate the Digital Camera as it allows me to share photos, videos quickly, cheap and easily with my overseas Family. If I want to add a pic to the Album, I print it out on good paper.

For me not really about which one is better, they got different benefits and uses.

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Digital pixels are square, film's are round. The difference is certainly there as round pixels look better, blend into each other in a more pleasing way. The trick with all film is to find an archival format that lasts and film and negs ain't it. The Japanese summer just kills film and negatives even when stored in relatively safe humidified boxes. The humidity juts rips them up. The colors too quickly fade, so all have to be scanned and stored on ever-changing digital formats. DVDs are it (for now). Floppies, zip drives and who knows what else have all come and gone so who knows what it will be in a couple of years? Scanners are cheap and I'd advise anyone here to scan and store on multiple hard drives to be sure. Believe me, photos become increasingly important as one ages so keep two sets in two two different locations to be safe.

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Got to say some of my friends take great(published) pics with both mediums. Deterioration of actual film is a worry but none of my negatives have suffered, depends on storage.

Of course the nature of Photo-albums is changing but a good photo in your hand still feels good and can be put into the wallet, etc. Did a lot of film development myself in school helping out teachers prepare for an exhibit, etc.

Believe me, photos become increasingly important as one ages so keep two sets in two two different locations to be safe.

100% Agree here, many friends now cry for digital photos that they have no backup or printed copy off. My family got photos going back 100+yrs, we scanned most of them but they ones passed around are the originals.

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DVDs are it (for now). Floppies, zip drives and who knows what else have all come and gone so who knows what it will be in a couple of years? Scanners are cheap and I'd advise anyone here to scan and store on multiple hard drives to be sure. Believe me, photos become increasingly important as one ages so keep two sets in two two different locations to be safe.

For me the above is a PITA bigtime & a crash or two & you lose it, yeah sure film degrades over time, but so do digital files & yr files can become orphaned if you dont keep up with the jones of technology, I just dont enjoy it

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If film ceases to be available then photography will be dead for me and I will quit

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Go to Yodobashi camera and buy real film. It is not disappearing anywhere fast. I tell my artist friends to come and visit and then mail it back to the states.

If you want to preserve your regular and digital prints and are in Japan, get yourself some of those cedar boxes. They work fantastic at preserving. Only take them out when someone wants to see your work.

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The quality of the print from a digital camera is not as good as a photo taken with a film camera.

I don't think that's entirely true anymore. Maybe if you're talking about a point and shoot or cellphone camera printed off at home vs. 35mm SLR pro printed it might be, but in comparisons between my battered old canon F-1 and my 1ds (3rd gen) - I have yet to see anywhere film gives me an edge in image quality.

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koiwaicoffee: "We are lucky we live in Japan and a lot of people still use film, there is plenty of film available on the big shops, including big formats."

I like the smaller prints you get in Japan, and always notice how massive regular prints are back home if a friend sends me one or someone who got them printed their shows me. That said, while there still may be a lot of film in Japan, it's still grossly overpriced, and never mind processing costs! Last time I got a proper role of film developed, 8 years ago or so, while the film itself was not too expensive I think a roll of 36 exposures, double prints, was about 1700 yen or so (vs. $4 or so at home), and they still charge you for the print if you accidentally stuck your finger in front of the lens or screwed up some other way. The best part of doing photography with film is making the negatives and the prints yourself, but I haven't found too many darkrooms in Japan, either, and out of the few I have all but one were being used as storage closets (one place didn't even know they had one!). The one that was functional you could rent for very high cost.

The one big disadvantage to digital cameras is that the files may be easily lost or become corrupted over time, especially if burned to CD/DVD and then deleted from a camera/computer. True, negatives need to be kept in somewhat less humid places, but they may still outlast digital files.

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Ha! We got to use that photography dark room for optics there in Rochester. Kodak moment!

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In my view film and the reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated because a company like Kodak or Fuji will probably not phase out film. They might cut back or scale down their involvement in professional films. In fact all the film manufacturers are most likely doing this. They're all putting more emphasis on output such as paper, dye sub, inkjet, CD's etc. since output is common to both film and digital capture. As far as the ultimate stability goes, the best thing to do is to make a hardcopy of any digital file to a print material made by a major photo company because they are the people that really think about stability. You can always scan the hardcopy later but you may not be able to decode an obsolete or corrupted film file. I'll take my chances with fading dyes and redox blemishes. Those things are fairly restorable if not too bad. Believe me Kodak and Fuji will keep film going as long as possible since it's a top money maker for them. Hence if you can go to a kiosk store and get your film developed into prints and a CD of digital in 10 minutes, that will add some digital pizzazz and instant gratification to film.

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This reminds me of the CD v. vinyl debate. There are still plenty of vinyl fans out there, who stay loyal to the format and film with have a hold over a certain sector of the camera market.

I have a decent film SLR and zoom lens knocking about. The SLR is worthless, but the lens has retained its value.

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I switched from film to digital around 1995.

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forever.Film doesn't blow out highlights and reads the underexposed areas better.It has its own nuance which to purists will retain its worth whatever cost. I shoot digital but I love film and slide prints.

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I switched from film to digital around 1995

I switched from digital to film around 2007. I have a beautiful 60s 6x6 camera that can beat on b&w quality any current digital one.

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Ah_so at 10:06 PM JST - 5th June This reminds me of the CD v. vinyl debate.

I think you hit the nail on the head here. In terms of numbers (dpi, shutter rate, etc, etc, etc) digital more than measures up to (and even exceeds) film, however there are always going to be those people who feel one is better.

Personally for me it's all about convenience. With a digital I can snap off 1000 shots, go home and review them carefully, zooming in to the pixel level if I want and editing out anything I don't want, then only print what I want to keep, all without the nuisance of explosive chemicals and a dark room.

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smartacus - you're right, the quality from a printer is much better than what you could get with even the best photographic process. Check the Canon pro9500 MarkII (an A3+ pigment printer I'm currently using). It's resolution and colour reproduction are much better than any chemical process, and it's prints are rated for 200-300 years under ideal storage conditions.

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As digital filtering and A/D converters have improved it's getting difficult to tell the difference between digital and emulsion. Digital is also more accessable to people - check out photo.net for some good serious work. Of course flickr is out there for the point-and-shoot crowd. I guess there are some nuances in emulsion that digital won't pick up. But I think digital has made serious photography much more widespread (and tougher to make a living at).

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A good-quality digital camera can now capture HDR shots automatically. True, I use Photoshop to merge the HDR photos, but it has a process specifically for that purpose, so "stomping" (as the article puts it) is not necessary.

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I have traveled extensively throughout Japan over the past several years using an excellent small film camera (it's light and easy to carry). Last year traveling completely around Honshu I visited a lot of small coastal towns and had problems finding film for my camera. In years past, I could get film anywhere ... but no more. Even many convenience stores had no film, and many of those that did, did not have the kind of film I wanted. So I learned my lesson ... go digital ... or go hunting for film ...

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For me, photography is film. In 2007, after a 20-year hiatus from photography altogether, I looked into digital and found I didn't resonate with the medium at all. After researching every option, I got a Leica rangefinder and have never looked back. A dozen film cameras later, the oldest a 1962 Nikon F fully overhauled two years ago, I am still devoted to film. I was perhaps the last person in Japan still shooting Kodachrome up till then end of processing last December. Yes, film makers are consolidating their offerings, but in the digital age we now have some of the best films ever produced. And the motion picture industry still uses vast amounts of film. Don't expect film to disappear in our lifetime. But isn't it great to have a choice?

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I doubt film will disappear entirely. Just as vinyl records are still being produced in limited runs, there will be a niche market for emulsion-film cameras and supplies.

Movies may still be made using film, but every year the number that are digitally-made increases as the price of equipment drops. The advantages that digital "film" provide at the editing stage are significant.

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Film forever. It's the only way to truly capture light and them use light to create the art. Digital is different. It is used and has its purpose. I will never print from digital for fine art purposes unless that is the medium required (i.e. a contest). The results are not the same. One is produced from a natural process and the other is a replication of that same process through a limited digital field. Both have their place. But they are like apples and oranges. Both are fruits, but entirely different. And neither one is better.

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"Both are fruits, but entirely different. And neither one is better."

What is better in digital is the ability to get good images at high ISOs, which allows me to shoot indoor events and ceremonies without flash. A good DSLR with a fast lens can deliver excellent images at ISO 1600 - did you ever try to use ISO 1600 film?

The people in the article are using large-format film and of course it gets great results. You can get a large-format digital camera but it costs as much as an entry-level luxury automobile. So either format has its strengths.

To keep this whole thing in perspective it's helpful to realize that 99% of all photos taken nowadays are taken with smartphones. 8-)

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I think Kodak and Agfa will eventually stop producing altogether. There are a couple of niche producers in Eastern Europe and China who may carry on, though.

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