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Monday, 19 January 2009

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Part of the reason film is/has gone away is because people are throwing in the towel. I personally like B&W film and still shoot it. If you like it, use it. If you like it, but make up excuses about why you shouldn't use it, it will go away...

Really like your blog on Polaroid and Luddites. I know a fellow worker that eventually quit his job and went back to University, He did dissertation on the Ludditites. He said, contrary to popular myth, they were not against progress, they just did not want to be replace by machines and thier work reduced to unskilled labour. They were craftsman, ownwers and producers of their work. I dare say, we all wish we like that.

On the Polaroid film issue, I used to use alitte known instant slide film made by Polaroid. I think it was designed for presentations and the like, mostly. I bought and fed it through a light tight box, turned a crank, waited five minutes, an reverese the crank action. Voila, out came instant slides! Beautiful heavy grainy structure with an ISO of 6-12. Beat that! Have an example on line at http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=30911
Unknown to me the film was highly unstable over a long period of time and colours shifted and up close, clustered like rainbow bands.

John R

I'm attempting to adjust to things like cellphones, satellite/cable TV, Internet and digital cameras. Unfortunately, it is not often easy.

When I got the current cellphones for the wife and me, the young lady at Verizon had difficulty understanding that I really only wanted to make and receive phone calls. Of course the phones we have do a lot more but I choose to ignore those features.

I've actually had cable TV for about 30 years--nothing fancy just basic "expanded" service. The minimum available where I could get the Weather Channel, National Geographic and Animal Planet. Then Comcast started dropping channels and when National Geo disappeared, we got satellite service. Within two months, the receiver died and I enjoyed spending the better part of a Sunday afternoon programming the replacment receiver. It works but I think I achieved a new level of verbal profanity in the process.

I've had fewer problems with digital photography than any of the other technologies. After immersing myself in every opinion on the Net and buying a dozen or so books on the subject, I finally threw out the books and stopped reading forum advice and started making good pictures. (photographer Eddie Adams offered essentially the same advice in a video I saw on a website.)

So I don't guess I'm a total Luddite after all although I did run four rolls of HP5+ earlier today--the first film I've done in months. I kind of like the look of the negatives so I guess I'll put the batteries back in the M6's and shoot with them some more. I've pretty much closed the printing portion of my darkroom but I have a nice scanner I've hardly used, waiting on me to give it a go.

But Polaroid? I never could get my head around Polaroid. I've had several Polaroid cameras, all bought by following someone else's bad advice. Out of the numerous packs of Polaroid film I've exposed, I can count on zero fingers the number of pictures I've kept. I've never understood the fascination people had with the process other than its serving as a test mechanism for making "real" photographs.

I'm with you Mike. Sometimes we're forced into change whether it's actually for the best or not.
I'm in my 30s but I don't have a cell phone because, damn it, I just don't people to have the expectation of being able to reach me any old time they feel like it! I don't even answer my land line most of the time.
I still buy LPs just because they're more fun than downloads! There has been some fantastic reissues on 180g vinyl in jazz, country, classic rock etc. There is some pretty hot sounding remastered CDs out there too. Rhino's remaster of Chicago Transit Authority is amazing!
but I prefer records overall because it's just a more fun experience for me. Same with film. I have some great film gear, some favorite emulsions, and where I live processing is fast and cheap. I have a decent scanner and no deadlines so I can happily exist in an analog/digital hybrid world (musically and photographically) for the time being.
So I'm off home now. I'll snap some frames of Neopan in my Leica CL on the way, but don't try and call me tonight - I won't be able to hear the phone ring while I'm rockin' out on Guitar Hero on my PS3!

Now if they only would make film for my 1965 Swinger camera I would dig through the boxes in the attic and find that camera. NOT!

My first camera was a Polaroid circa 1970/1971. I have fond memories of that big ol' simple camera.

Last year I bought a Polaroid back for my Mamiya RZ67 and began re-discovering this stuff, both in color and b&w. It definitely has unique visual characteristics that can be exploited.

But, frankly, while I'm pleased to see that Ilford/Harman has assumed this challenge I don't think it will be a long-lived venture, particularly with the anemic state of corporate finance world-wide. Instant film is very much a relic and Fujifilm already occupies the vacancy that Polaroid would leave.

And didn't I see Canon announce a consumer digital camera with a built-in printer at the recent CES?

My late mother used to mouth an expression that I could never decode: "You can't win for losin'!". But now I think I have a clue to its meaning.

I agree that change for the sake of change makes little sense; refusing to change for the sake of that, also makes little sense.

I'm in the middle of an experiment where I'm taking daily pictures with my Pentax *ist DS digital SLR and with my Argus C3 using Ilford HP Plus b&w film. The experience is reminding me both of the advantages of the old manual film cameras (bombproof, easy to adjust, doesn't need batteries) and the disadvantages (can't tell how the picture turns out until later, have to pay for both film and processing, must scan if I want to share it with more than my immediate family without paying for publishing).

I honestly don't think that I would have become as polished a photographer as I have if I didn't have access to a digital SLR and the unlimited free images it allows. Practice makes perfect, and it was too expensive in the film days for me to practice all that much.

(On the flip side of that, every picture that wasn't a complete loss was treasured, simply because they were one-offs with no do-overs, and because you couldn't be profligate with your captures.)

I can't think of many good reasons to keep Polaroid prints coming -- you can now buy a dandy little home printer the size of a cigar box that will make prints as good as Polaroids in a minute or two, without the use of a computer-- but I can think of good reasons to have Polaroid slide film back.

But it seemed to me that the ISO was higher than that mentioned here, or I wouldn't have been using it. Seems like it was around 80 or 100. But, you can hardly find *any* slide film any more, outside a pro camera store; and once you find it, you have to go back to the same pro store to get it processed, and the whole deal can take a week or more, with a lot of inconvenience, and that's all dead time, when you don't get to see how the photos worked out.

I used to make reproductions of art works (from books) for slide-based talks, and Polaroid was great for that. Make a few shots, run them through the grinder, and find out on the spot whether you had what you needed.

In case nobody's noticed, projection of digital photos is really crappy, because you're essentially projecting a TV picture, and when you see a TV picture projected the size of a garage door, you are *not* happy with the result. But a slide, even that size, was okay. I know there are digital-to-slide services, but not everywhere, and it still takes days for the turn-around if you do it on the net, or two long drives if there's a place around home to do it. (Every big metro area usually has a digital-to-slide service, usually around big universities because the slides are used as I used them, in lectures. But usually, there's only one service per big metro area.)

if anybody has any work-arounds of the projection problem, I'd like to hear them. I' ve got an Epson digital projector that cost ~$3,000 and the images suck, so don't tell me to get a better projector. (The new Leitz digital projector costs $14,000 or so, and the images still suck, but the *lenses* are terrific.) I remember overhead projectors from high school, but is there such a thing as a high-res overhead projector? If I could make prints with the 2-minute printer, and then use an overhead, I'd do it. (Those opaque projectors advertised from art stores, like Dick Blick, are worse than digital, in my experience, and I've tried their two most expensive ones.)

Sorry about the rant - but good projection is something I could use, and I'd appreciate any ideas.

I'm not sure the loss of an artistic material can be equated with having to move to a cell phone or cable TV because old technologies and the means of communication change. Polaroid materials have their own character, and it is sad to see them go--another narrowing of photographic possibility. If it was only about instant pictures, there would be no issue--digital give us instant images with genuine ease and in staggering number. But they don't look like Polaroids--just as digital images don't look like film. Photographers are facing a dramatic loss of materials, because manufacturers are driven by the needs of the professional and consumer markets, both of which find digital dandy. Is this loss of choice understandable? Yes. But it is not good for photography. More power to these people who are trying to keep choices open for all of us.

Bill Poole

I am not against evolution in capture and output methods but I do really miss Polaroid Type 55 and Time Zero film. I think the photographic community is poorer with the disappearance of these film stocks. We are also going to miss the amazing prints created by some artists on papers that are no longer available. The one that bothers me the most is the loss of Centennial Printing Out Paper. Will we no longer see the gorgeous contact prints created by artists like Linda Connor with their amazing depth and tone? http://www.creativephotography.org/exhibitions/upcoming.php I saw this notice today when I went to purchase some of this paper today:

"Despite assurances from a year ago, we regret to report that Harman Technology (the company that bought and shut down the Kentmere production facility in December, 2007) has informed us that they will not be able to produce Centennial™ printing-out paper. Unfortunately, in the current economic climate, the cost of procuring the Centennial™ POP formula and the R&D required to bring it to market through another manufacturer prohibits us from attempting to re-establish this product.

To our knowledge, there is no POP being manufactured today. Introduced in Munich in 1884, it has been one of the most long-lived printing products in the history of photography.

We thank you for supporting our efforts to maintain POP over the last 2 decades, and we are sorry that Centennial™ will no longer be available to you.

Chicago Albumen Works 1/8/09"

I am absolutely sure we will be seeing more notices like this in the near future and it makes me very sad. Progress is great but some things absolutely can't be mimicked.

"But it is not good for photography."

I don't think it is either, Bill. What I'm saying is that we can't stop change.

Mike J.

Mike, your timing about getting a cell phone might just be right. I hear hand-crankable cell phones will most likely be introduced in 2012. This is important because you will have to charge them before using them.

But seriously, one of the biggest changes we badly need is a data transfer mechanism that is at least 1000x faster than Firewire or even eSATA. The amount of time it takes to move the bazillion bytes of data between flash memory cards to computer to backup drive to backup-of-a-backup drive is beyond ridiculous when measured against the modern data crunching needs that have far outpaced an era for which USB2 and Firewire were designed. While I shudder at the drop in value of my current farm of terabytes worth of hard drives would experience the moment this new data transfer port becomes standard, the day can't come soon enough.

Vinyl? Hey, I am sad that CDs have slipped away. I remember when the head of recording at Mowtown turned to me over lunch and said, "we are not sure if CD's are going to be a viable medium." Now we have MP3 downloads that are so oddly compressed that it has squeezed the ever loving music out of the mix.

I have a new column at Red Dog Journal, and my announcement this month was me, the die hard monochrome film photographer, going digital. I had to come to terms with exactly what Mike has said above---there comes a time when the energy towards the past has to make its way towards the future.

And I have had a cell phone for less then a year now. But my wife has kept the shot I sent her from my cell phone camera at 11,000 feet in the bristlecones of the White Mtns---its her startup screen shot. How could I have seen that before it happened? It is meaningful to her and personal.

Someday soon we will all have more megapixels than common sense---and we will be back to the beginning. Photography isn't about the equipment....it is about how we feel through the lens.

Pete

In 2000, before I ever touched a computer, I was fond of telling people that I had lived a very productive 40+ years without one, thank you very much. Currently, the computer has taken the place of the myriad of galleries I no longer have access to in NYC, and also serves as a much improved TV and newspaper replacement. I still shoot Tri-X, but if there was a "stripped down" FF D700 that was "affordable" (and didn't "crop" my lenses), I would definitely make the move and eventually get a printer as well. There finally comes that time when you can no longer deny that the ship is listing. I just think that for most of us it's about what you need most- and what you can afford.

PS- I always thought the SX-70 as a rather cool (and affordable) exercise in square format.

The thing is, without offering any new Polaroid camera you are selling to a small audience that is going to get even smaller as people lose interest and cameras die. It's like offering a great redbook DAC while the offering of CD transports spirals down to virtually zero.

I have two Fuji Instax cameras and use them a lot. They are great fun and I've been learning how to make them work for my eye.

I wish these Polaroid guys well, but won't hold my breath. I knew someone would try and save Polaroid because, well, as many seem to believe, Polaroid simply can't be allowed to die. Like you, I'm ambivalent.

Oh, and by the way, the iPhone with various apps is the new toy camera. Goodbye Polaroid, hello iPhone.

I never expected to find an "antiquity" of Luddites (you know, like a pride of lions or a gaggle of geese) on the internet. CDs are superior in every way to vinyl. Digital cameras are now superior in every way to film. And if you'll use a telephone, why won't you use a cellphone? It's the same thing, only better, because it isn't tied down to one location. 400 channels are better than three channels. If you want to hear jazz, there are many jazz stations that stream audio on the internet. Oh, and vacuum tubes burn out. And so, unfortunately, do some people.

Is anyone still using glass plates?

Didn't think so. Times do bring change.

Tomorrow's events is the greatest example of big-time change.

I still miss b&w film. Haven't any room for a lab. But when I do it's back to b&w or maybe not.

I was wondering what bit of Polaroid related news made my servers traffic spike over the weekend maybe it was this.

I wish Fuji would see fit to run off a batch of PN B&W film.

Saw a guy shooting daguerreotypes*** the other day at the Met at the Temple of Diadur, with a modified 150 year old camera (he was a photography professor). He was shooting a portrait, @20 second exposures in daytime, of the outgoing director of the museum. Metal plates, deadly poisonous mercury, and they had to be "fixed" almost immediately after shot using a giant portable darkroom. His assistant would hand him custom premade positive(?) plates for each of the shots wearing gloves. The camera was huge, black hood, bellows, the works.

Just goes to show, where there's a will, there's a way.

I do have one observation though... if god shuts off the power grid, how will we document the fall of man? Digital will seem like a cruel joke because the film guys will have all the best shots.

Replacement for Polaroid is another Polaroid... http://www.electronista.com/articles/09/01/10/polaroid.pogo.camera/

And just like with Fuji and Kodak instant film, there are other alternatives... http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/8/view/4484/camera-and-printer-combined.html , or
http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/digital-cameras/first-look-zink-camera-has-a-printer-in-its-back-232964.php

Of course, the die-hard Polaroiddites [Polaroid Luddites] amongst us will never capitulate.

Just pretend that you are still using film, even when you are not. Do what Fujifilm does. They still use "film" in the company name, even on their digital cameras. Fujifilm has Provia and Velvia simulation modes on their cameras' menus. Maybe some company will put a "Polaroid" mode on a camera. Couple the camera to a compact dye-sub printer, and you have a Polaroid substitute for the 21st century. While they're at it, why not 4X5 view and daguerreotype (more difficult to spell than "resuscitate")picture styles. Then we could make like Ansel Adams, Carleton E. Watkins and Timothy O'Sullivan without all of the baggage (literally speaking).

The comments you make on vinyl along with the comments from Ms. Leibovitz that you use to back up your point show a misunderstanding of how these markets survive. You have the assumption that a medium must be the one "of the future" to be viable or survive, something that simply isn't true. The chaos in the film industry comes from a shift from a large dominant market share to a much smaller one. It will never again compete to be the dominant medium, but it does not signal the disappearance of film, or even close.

Vinyl is long gone as the main popular means of listening to music. However, this truth does not contradict that the market for it has actually grown in the last 10 years and probably will be relatively stable in the future. A vinyl enthusiast can find new stuff as well as a mountain of old releases for the next few decades at the least. Additionally, new releases have seen an increase in quality, with 180g records and excellent packaging, because the market is now composed of people wanting quality vinyl and there is no need to market cheap stuff to the masses. Vinyl is here to stay, and anyone predicting the death of vinyl is as wrong as those predicting its return to its standing as the medium of choice.

Similarly, just because digital is here as Ms. Leibovitz says, that does not mean film must go. Professionals would be well-advised to learn to use digital, because the support services for film will decline, and certainly favorite emulsions will disappear as the market corrects itself. But a determined film user can still use film, and the ones that will remain won't be cheap consumer films now sold at wal-mart, but those admired for their unique and high qualities. Film will become what vinyl is already: a medium for people who want that film quality (I'm not saying the quality is better vinyl vs digital or film vs digital, but it is undoubtedly different).

Polaroid is a slightly different beast with less room for error because there is only one manufacturer, but has a good chance for survival with a small market operation. There are so many used polaroid cameras and backs around that any interested party can get one at a reasonable price even if no new ones are ever manufactured again. The emulsions (especially those catering to professionals) produce a unique enough look that there will be a market for it. Polaroid transfers are trendy with arty kids and supposedly fuji doesn't give the same effect as easily, so that adds some more sales. The success of the new effort will have far more to do with their business model. If they try to make polaroid as big as it once was, then it's doomed to fail, but if they correctly estimate their potential market and design their production schedule and distribution means to optimize for the smaller market, that market could be a solid and stable one. There are still hundreds of people continuing to use daguerreotypes, and I imagine there are thousands that would buy polaroid film on a regular basis for decades if it remains in production.

QUOTE: For instance, I've never yet owned a cell phone**

I don't have one. I don't intend getting one either.


QUOTE: Is anyone still using glass plates?
Didn't think so. Times do bring change.

Actually yes, people are coating their own and you can buy them ready coated.

None of us are forced to do anything we don't want to. If we don't want a cell phone we don't have to have one. If we want to use only film then we can do that. If we want a manual transmission car (actually the norm here in the UK) then that is what we can have.

No need to be sheep and follow the rest of the herd, just do what you want to do, not what you think others want you to do.

The Impossible Project, huh? I'll believe it when I see it. Noticed one of the people involved was behind Lomography - so even if they pull this off it won't be cheap!

A good argument, for traditional photography, can be found in the wonderful portraits of Hiroh Kikai.

Kikai uses a ‘Blad, loaded with b/w. He only shoots a small number of frames. The results are some of the finest portraits I’ve seen in a good while. If you wanted to try something similar you only need a second hand camera , a couple of rolls of film and you’re away. However, if traditional b/w film disappears off the market, what are photographers like Kikai supposed to do? The cost of MF digital backs is prohibitively expensive for most people.

John Camp- Re the Polaroid slide film, I could not find the ISO markings on package Saw only 6. So set my ISO at 12. bracketed (ony one-too expensive) and have two great shots from the shoot.

Hey Bill Rogers, I know your comments were tongue in cheek, but what are you and I going to do with all those perfectly good turntables, cameras, phones, etc... replace them with new toys? Or keep using them until they no longer work as our ancestors did? What are the consequences of all these unwanted products that are being introduced at breakneck speeds, not only to us North Americans, but to peoples who never even seen micro-digital devices.

John R

Bill R,

I apologize if you were begin facetious, but just in case you were serious, or if someone took it seriously and agreed with your comments, then:

"CDs are superior in every way to vinyl."

Still debatable; if CDs had not been stuck at 16-bit/44.1KHz, maybe no debate; as it stands, CDs are actually old technology, introduced commercially a quarter of a century ago. Anyway, the point is rather moot, as MPEGs dominate, and MPEGs are generally inferior to vinyl in terms of sound quality.

"Digital cameras are now superior in every way to film."

No, Tri-X, among others, is still better than digital color to monochrome conversion (I started digital and switched to film, best move ever).

"And if you'll use a telephone, why won't you use a cellphone?"

Cell phone reception is often bad, sometimes nonexistent; batteries frequently die during conversation. You have to coddle the thing like a baby, remembering not to leave it behind at the bar, feeding it regularly; plus, how many people have had their landline phones stolen?

"400 channels are better than three channels."

Not if it is 400 channels of junk.

"If you want to hear jazz, there are many jazz stations that stream audio on the Internet."

Agree

Steve Jones
Tokyo

QUOTE MYSELF: No need to be sheep and follow the rest of the herd.

I think I meant flock!

"Is anyone still using glass plates?"

Yes. Sally Mann for one.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Khn5GN9cHWA

Generally, any communication or recordation technology that is replaced by something of greater utility, becomes an "art" process.

It will be interesting to see if in our future, a "gap" has started to form in the time we are in, in this process. Digital in different fields is replacing "analog", but the analog being replaced, like the digital, is reliant on large scale industrial production. Hard for an individual to do the older one.
It is not like, for instance, when photography "replaced" painting for historical depiction and most portraits. The individual could still easily maintain painting technology, and painting was "freed" from its utilitarian role to move towards abstraction.

I for one, would like some film for my SX-70. I used to do the manipulation thing with it, lots of fun.

I use digital cameras and workflow nearly all the time now, and on occasion use film, mostly in 120 & in B&W.

I like the level of control in post processing I have over color. Apart from that, i do not consider it better than film, I consider it a good fit to my life at this time. It is simply easier, and once the camera is purchased, somewhat less costly (though i am not sure about that :).
Doing B&W in digital (assuming you print) is actually more spendy than color, though, since your printer will be at a higher price point.
I do not miss the darkroom though, well usually not........


Well, there is one application for which I miss Polaroid: as an icebreaker when traveling. I (and many others) found that when taking photographs of people in another country where I was not fluent in the language (basically most of the world) handing a stranger an instant Polaroid print of themselves went a long way towards allaying suspicions and communicating friendly intentions. This was particularly true with children/parents in third world countries. It combined the centuries old tradition of bringing a (very personal) gift as well as frequently inspiring wonder at this near magical technology. I found that this approach almost never failed, and it was worth carrying an inexpensive Polaroid camera in addition to my SLR in order to allow for this approach. It left behind small groups of people with big grins on their faces admiring themselves in these little prints.

You can partially emulate this by showing the people their "instant" photo on the digicam LCD but that involves you handing your (expensive) camera around a crowd of people that you do not know, and it does not allow you to leave them with a gift of their own photograph. I suppose you could go back to your hotel, make some prints, and return to pass them out, but it most definitely would not have the same effect.

Bill wrote: "CDs are superior in every way to vinyl." I'm no audiophile, but I have to differ. CDs may have the potential to be superior in every way, but the manner in which a number of them are actually recorded is definitely inferior. Enough so that I've taken to sourcing original vinyl LPs for certain recordings I really love. Perhaps someone who knows about this stuff can explain it to me; all I know is what I hear.

I owned a naturally aspirated manual transmission automobile (87 Accord) for eighteen years, and not forking over the extra few bucks for the fuel injected version was a big mistake.

I could certainly live without a cell phone, I like mine though becuase it rarely rings, but I always have it with me. Funny thing though, the female members of my family absolutely couldn't live without one, yet their phones are perpetually either (a) dead (b) at home when they're not. One of my favorite things is when we go on vacation and the women have to do without becuase they forgot their chargers, which they always do. Of the recent technological advances though, I will say that I am the most pleased with the coming of HDTV. Its not as good as being at RFK stadium, but it sure beats analogue. ch

Well said.

I heard it said that life with progress is easiest when done like surfing: leaned slightly forward, but not too much.

I'm just miffed that materials I consider good are being taken off the market. I like Polaroid 54 and 55. I use them a lot. I have the equipment (not cheap) which allows me to use these films. Now that equipment (which still works just fine, thank you) is obsolete. This was not the idea when I purchased it. It is built to last and to be serviced should it get out of alignment. Now this is all wasted. I could get a digital back, but the price is prohibitive and would entail schlepping a computer around as well as the film dark slides and camera I have with me when in the field.

Well done Mike for getting things stirred up for a good old rant.
To me progress in its thin material sense is often a misnomer for the vehicle by which corporations make money. It would be nice if the majority of consumer preferences made were more discerning or less greedy so that the herd instinct could be countered, however, this is not the case and so real choice suffers. The passing of an expressive medium like film is of grave concern, to me akin to the phasing out of oil paint,say. I'm not a follower of King Ludd nor am I a blind follower of technology, both ways lead to the paring away of our human qualities in one aspect or another. "Ease of use" seems to be the 'techno-fanfare', it makes me sad and concerned mainly for my children ( but thats because I'm a grumpy fart on these issues).
There is nothing wrong with film, there is much wrong with its demise.

My serious interest in photography began with digital, but I've recently started using film and, even more recently, started developing. Part of the motivation was that I bought and old Rollei in a junk shop and wanted to use it (cool object that it is) but, as I get more into the history of the medium I also like learning by doing. Also the whole experience of using a film camera is different - the time taken, the care taken, the magic when you actually get to see the finished result. If it is all just about getting a particular result then maybe digital wins, but process matters too.

Based on input from a half dozen commerical pros I talk with regularly, film is over for them because clients want digital and started insisting on it in 2002. Unless you shoot film and scan to CDs (at your expense), corporate clients will not hire someone shooting film. They want the files, man.

For the rest of us...well, I have four primary film cameras and just got an orphaned Nikon F5 (which I may use for pounding dents out of cars instead of taking pictures). I expect to be able to feed these cameras as long as I'm around and interested in photography. Enthusiast niche markets are strong and lucrative for the few who care to invest in them. Takes a while for the business models to evolve, but film is bigger than LPs and will support a few brave companies.

John Krill wrote:

"Is anyone still using glass plates?
Didn't think so. Times do bring change."

Wrong answer. There is no reason not to use the wet plate process on glass plates if you really want to. Sally Mann is a notable example of someone who does:
http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/mann/clip2.html

"Digital cameras are now superior in every way to film."

I so don't know what this means. For example, are we sure that in 40 years the images from a digital camera will be as recoverable as the ones I recently scanned from film of that age? Or is there really a digital camera that can duplicate the exposure latitude of color negative film? Or can digital capture approach the characteristics of particular films after long exposures? I also seem to be able, using film, to make images in backlit situations without purple fringing and other lens aberrations.

Digital cameras accomplish many tasks very well, and are certainly the best tool for most busy professionals. But they have their own set of problems.

One could as easily say that modern computer-corrected lenses are "superior in every way" to the glass of forty years ago. But there are photographers who regularly reach for that older glass because of the special character it gives their images.

Quoting Steve Smith: "No need to be sheep and follow the rest of the herd, just do what you want to do, not what you think others want you to do."

Wish I'd said that.

Bill Poole

Yet again late to the party and once more off topic here, but you recently mentioned Netflix. I don't have an account there but am considering it. They do have many TV shows on file. At least some of the Sopranos is choice, as are many other programs. Might be worth a look.

-- Dave
P.S. What's a cell phone?

The new Polaroid/Zink PoGo technology holds promise.Imagine a 5X4 Polaroid PoGo back that can be loaded with print stock or negative stock.
Good luck to the Impossible Group.I'll be among the folks with cash in hand for boxes of Type 55.

-Thomas Must.

I don't understand people's aversion to cell phones. Just because the phone is ringing, you don't need to answer it. You even know who called you, so there's no need to pick it up. The phone allows you to be reached when you want to be, it allows you to call when you need to call. If you let it tether you, that's your (or your job's) fault.

As someone who has grown up with computers and all the amazing things they make possible, what I really find amazing is that we can put light on a piece of paper covered in chemicals and it will turn into a representation of a scene. Computers taking pictures? Ah, just add it to the long list of amazing things that they make possible.

I like film right now because I cannot find a camera that is affordable, manual focus and offers the fun and feel of a well made mechanical camera of the past. I love handcraft and the old cameras seem to fit that aesthetic.

I also love manual transmissions like Mike and I think they make driving more enjoyable, just like I view manual focus. Unfortunately, car companies are stuck in a rut. Rather than making cars that are lighter, car companies keep making new cars that are heavier with more powerful engines. All gains in engine efficiency have seemed to be negated by more weight. If you make a car lighter, then you need a less powerful engine, you get better gas mileage, better acceleration, shorter breaking distance and the car is more nimble. So more performance, better mpg and more likely to avoid an accident- what's not to love? But instead of working towards this goal (except for Lotus), you have great engineering companies like Honda working on a V8 in order to keep up with the Germans who have been stuck in a horsepower battle for a long while now. Plus, manual transmissions are disappearing to things like paddle shift and double clutch transmissions. I don't care how quickly the car changes gears or that there is no loss of torque during shifts. Does that really make my driving more enjoyable? Is it really that much more beneficial to not lose torque for half a second? I vote no. Sometimes what is closer to perfection is much more dull.

I am not a Luddite, but I am a purist and I am tired of all the crap I have in my pockets.

Jon A,
I had a wonderful epiphany in my youth--I got a chance to drive in (as a passenger) a Maserati Bora, an Italian supercar of the era. On 35-mph roads I was very familiar with, the driver (late at night, when in those days there was no traffic around) negotiated turns I was very familiar with at 70 mph--and it was completely unexciting. The car was loafing at that speed, on those curves. Apart from the G-force I might have been sitting at home watching TV.

Not long thereafter I got a chance to very briefly drive a little go-kart called a Lotus Super Seven.

http://katalog-automobilu.cz/img/caterham-superlight-1-8-1.jpg

From the driver's seat, you could lean out and put your hand flat on the pavement--as long as you were careful not to burn yourself on the muffler and pipes. At 35 mph, the mirror shook, the engine roared, the steering was twitchy, the pavement swept past just inches from your butt. It was like riding down a Soapbox Derby hill in a shopping cart. VERY exciting...and without breaking the speed limit! I decided right then and there that I didn't care about speed per se--what I liked was the feel of speed. I've never lusted after supercars in any serious way. All "exoticar" means to me is that you'd have to break the law to get the slightest entertainment. I'd rather have a little four-banger that makes me stir the gears to get the most out of it.

Mike J.

Seems like you touched a raw nerve with this post, judging by the comments...

Regarding Luddites and being one, there is a huge political significance to their point of view, wich I have alwayss dismissed as reactionary. Not so sure any longer. The problem with the progress we are experiencing now is whether it is real progress or not. I would say it went the wrong route in the 80's. Globalization, new technologies etc., have destroyed old capitalism and have engendered lots of problems (the crisis we are suffering now) and leave us very little in exchange. Imports from China etc. means low prices for consumers but also means good jobs in the US and Europe are lost, and so on.
Usually improvements in technologies meant better quality of life. Is it true today? What I see is that internet, for instance, is killing newspaper and magazines, and new media is made with small workforces. Recently the owner of a Spanish paper decided to close the web version, 1.300.000 daily visitors were not enough to sustain a workforce of just 40.
Where once there were factories with large staff now there are warehouses tended by fewer workers. Anybody can work there, and, as opposed to skilled factory employees, they can be dismissed easily, and therefore have no bargainig power. hat's the real effect of digital tv, etc.

The main problem with digital photo (and I think both issues are somewhat related) is that it never really exists. Old technology gave us negs and prints, both of wich were objects linked to the subject. Digital pics are never anything but a bunch of bits saved in a fragile hard drive that you need to interpret, you sort of build a version (or 100) and can print it, but there is never really a "photo", just a printout of a file. I'm not complaining. It's true I take more pictures now, and also enjoy the process, but it's as if there is always something missing.

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