Film Photography is dying

I love film photography. There is such cool stuff you can do with it. I especially love black and white photography.

I learned how to do black and white developing and printing in high school (how long ago? 1980!) and I still think it’s cool. I’d love to setup a darkroom and play with it some more.

But this does not bode well: Kodak to Discontinue Black and White Paper Production

I understand the issues. I am actually selling some of my film gear and am going to try and buy a nice 6.3 megapixel SLR Digital camera.

Digital is great now that the 6-8 megapixel cameras are out and becoming affordable. 8MP is about the same resolution as 35mm film and that’s great.

You can take your memory card to Walgreens now and have them print your photos right from it, and only the ones you want. You can load up Photoshop and do lots of re-touching and effects and stuff. And it makes it loads easier to get your stuff on the web and share the photos with friends and family.

The coolest thing about digital is that you can shoot thousands of photos for free. The only cost is battery life. Then you can keep the ones you like and toss the rest. Or you can keep them all, it’s only disc space. The way to get good photos is to take lots of photos. On a roll of film, how many photos are actually really good? Five? Ten if you are lucky? And it costs almost $1.00 per photo with film and developing and printing.

But there are still unsolved issues with digital. We still have film and photos from the 1800’s. They are still viable and viewable. Black and white film and prints last a long, long time. Color film and prints are not as stable, but they also last a long time.

But digital. There’s a problem with digital. How do you store the files so you can read them in the future? Sure, you can burn them to a CD, or even a DVD. But how long do CDs and DVDs (especially the ones you burn) last? No one knows.

And then there is the problem of reading them. Will you still have a CD or DVD reader in 20 years? Technology moves on. Do you have a 5-1/4″ floppy drive anymore? How about even a 3-1/2″ floppy? Lots of machines don’t even have those anymore. And file formats change.

This is a huge issue. NASA and JPL both have this problem and they have no solution yet. All the data from the space missions is on old tapes. They are falling apart. They can’t read them anymore because the machines to read them are too old.

They are copying the data to new media, but they can’t keep up, and what happens when the new media is old and can’t be read anymore?

There is something special about black and white film photography. And it’s a lot more permanent.

Think Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, Annie Leibovitz and many, many others who have produced strong imagery with black and white.

And I just love the old black and white archives. Old photos from the 1880’s, the 1920’s, etc. just wouldn’t be the same in color.

There is just something about black and white that I feel is removed with color.

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