Is film now just a digital storage medium? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

Applied Science Fiction (ASF) appear to have made good on their promise of a 'dry' processor for colour film. The rumour is that they've put their first 'digital PIC' unit out in the real world for evaluation.
Since the final output is a scanned digital file, and the film image is destroyed in the process, this effectively relegates film to being a digital storage medium, like Smartmedia, or Compactflash.

Is this one giant leap down the road to promoting universal acceptance of digital imaging?
Now, I don't consider myself to be any more paranoid than the next man, but I rather think it is.
Once the compact point'n'shoot masses get used to the idea of having a CD returned with their prints, and not a set of negatives, then I think the general demise of film can't be far behind.
If you're still wearing sabots, prepare to throw them now!

-- Pete Andrews (, November 13, 2001


But, Pete, if film were to go away then no one would need the digital PIC either. Now, if they can just tweak the process to handle B&W negatives with options for N-, N, and N+ development...

-- Bong Munoz (, November 13, 2001.


I suspect silver-based photography will be around for quite a while.

For example, I was at my local photo store recently and remarked on the large variety and quantity of films they stocked. The counter man thought there were just too many millions of cameras already out there, in use, for film to go away anytime soon. Many believe if you buy quality equipment it should last a lifetime, so the need to buy a new technology isn't as pressing as the digital camera manufacturer's would have us believe.

The art director at the company where I work, of course, uses digital imaging software and manipulation techniques. Still, most our product shots originate on silver-based film and are then scanned. The photographer uses electronic flash, with multiple "pops". This technique doesn't seem usable for digital imaging, and I don't know if the digital cameras/backs have the sensitivity needed for one-pop flash work.

She (the art director) believes silver-based photography will be around quite a while, too. Her point is that you can capture a high resolution image faster on film than digitally.

Finally, I suspect that all printed digital images have a much more finite life than silver based images, at least for black and white. Simply because the digital prints are based on dyes, where as black & white is based on metal.

I suspect film and digital photography can and will co-exist, and each helping to build the market for the other.

Time, of course, will tell.

-- Charlie Strack (, November 13, 2001.

How does the process work with an 8x10 negative for contact prints on Azo? Or for contact printing on any other paper? Or contact printing using platinum/palladium, albumen, cyanotype, carbon or so many other creative processes? Or with polaroid originals for polaroid transfers? As for the 'masses' wanting digital, Cd's or computer images, don't hold your breath. Sitting around waiting for a damn computer to come on, download, display on crappy cheap screens, print out on printers used once every 3 weeks with the constant cost of head cleaning & drying cartridges, computer glitches, power fluctuations, balky CD drives, kids jelly smeared hands trying to put in a CD and all the other damnable computer related problems... looking at a photo that comes back from the processor in the supermarket, on Fuji Crystal Archive, while you shop, is a lot easier. Not to mention the fact that this is a B&W list, not one for the fake B&W printed on color paper. Computers are nice, but a real pain in the butt. Looking at photos, especially photo quality in real prints from excellent printers, is NOT a computer project. Try as they might, the best digital B&W is not where the best real negatives & prints in B&W are right now. Don't think they will be there in the forseeable future either. Just opened a show of "Scenic Utah" at the city Museum Gallery in Brigham City, Utah & a few digital prints are really nice. But put next to fine Ilfochromes in color or next to 12x20 platinums & 8x20 and 8x10 contact prints on Azo and Forte, there is no comparison as far as total tonal range, sharpness & fine detail. Computers are fine for "as good as" statements when you compare. But "as good as" gets you Madonna, not Marilyn Monroe and no matter how you slice it, "as good as" in Madonna is definately not marilyn. In digital prints, "as good as" is a substitute for the real thing, not the real thing. If you want the real thing in pixelography, use it for its own sake & explore its possibilities & quit trying to imitate real photographs. It is a creative medium in its own right & will only get better, especially if you push its strengths & quit trying to force it into a copycat only medium.

-- Dan Smith (, November 13, 2001.

Response to the above comments by Dan smith....I wish I had said that!! A wonderfull response.

-- Melvin (, November 13, 2001.

I imagine many people spoke the same way about painting in the 19th century. Here we are in the 21st and people are still painting with oils, watercolors, acrylics (a 20th century development), drawing with charcoal etc. Photography did not supplant painting and after a brief period of emulating painting, photography found it's niche. It is even considered art. I can see digital taking over the commercial field someday but as long as there are companies like Bereger, Forte, Ilford et al making photographic materials, there will be people like me to buy them. I plan on using my darkroom until "The last silver halide crystal is extinct". RO

-- Robert Orofino (, November 13, 2001.

Hey! Don't shoot the messenger. I was quite surprised myself, that ASF actually got this thing off the ground.
When it was previewed at Photokina it met with so much scepticism that many reviewers thought it was some sort of hoax.

I do see a sinister long-term anti-film, or pro-digital, agenda behind it though, because the process seems quite ludicrous from any other perspective.

-- Pete Andrews (, November 14, 2001.

I'll just add my two cents here (or is that five in Canada?)

I'm a software consultant, and as such spend many hours working on computers. I'm well versed in what they can, and can't do.

Back in February I purchased my first 4x5 (Calumet 45N), with one lens. I had some moderate success with it, but was making made slow progress. Hiking through the mountains forced me to get something a bit more portable, so I picked up a Toyo AII. Two more lenses,and I'm loaded for bear.

I was still having problems making that 'eye-grabbing' print tho. I took a course with Ray McSavaney in Yosemite in October, and learned *a lot*. Negatives improved, prints improved.

To bring a somewhat long story and end, I finally made that one print that, when mounted, just about floored me. There's just something about a silver print, and the effort required to make it that makes it all the more special. While in Yosemite I was priviledged to see quite a few Adams originals, and there was also something about them that was special, that I doubt could be replicated with digital technology. Close maybe, but not the same.

So, speaking as one who works in a digital world almost continuously, the break to an completely analog world is a joy. I can't see having as much fun sitting in front of a computer moving pixels around...too easy, really, and once you've made a print, you can generate 1000s of the same prints. Who want to do that? A poster manufacturer. That ain't me!

As I mentioned to one fellow on the workshop: I just might get sucked into this (large format photography). His reply to me: too late.

He was right.


-- Ken Miller (, November 14, 2001.

Digital is going to keep getting better. Silver will always be incomparable. Keep getting those silver prints out there, so people can see how good they are! Inspire the next generation.

-- john stockdale (, November 15, 2001.

OK, wife drags me to quilting show. Machine quilted quilts have better stitching, no doubt, but they tend to look awful. Hand stitching is a bit messier, but boy the whole thing looks better. If you hand stitch a quilt, you arenít going to use gaudy fabric. Carry over to photography, my 8x10 may be a pain in the neck (but much less than a queen size hand quilted epic) and because it is so much work to lug, develop, and contact print, I'm going to take much more care in what I do. The sewing machine didn't kill hand stitching, though I imagine digital will have the same impact as the sewing machine. Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (, November 19, 2001.

Speaking of quilting - my wife's major hobby was the primary reason I took up LF - to compete and perhaps win a bit of wallspace :-)

Seriously tho - she does beautiful stuff, and if my photographs can compete with her quilts, I'll be happy! 'Course, I'm monochrome, and she's color, so it's not really fair - for her!

(Don't tell her I said that)


-- Ken Miller (, November 21, 2001.

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