Will Digital Photography cause a collapse of the analog business?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am sure this topic has been discussed before, but I could not find it in the list of questions. I just spent thousands of dollars to build a darkroom, but I am continually having nightmarish visions about analog photography going the way of the 8 track tape and the LP - does anyone have any ideas about the possibility of the big paper and chemical companies ditching their products to go digital? If most commercial agencies switch to digital, the chemical, paper, and film business will eventually no longer turn a profit. The only remaining users would be fine art junkies, and that may not cut it. It would be the low point of my life if after a year or two of working in my darkroom, I found that I no longer could obtain paper and chemicals. I guess I would be forced to turn to painting and drawing. Someone please assure me that this will not happen anytime soon.........

-- James Webb (jwebb66@yahoo.com), December 13, 2001


What the hell is 'the analog business'? In our area we have pine logs, cedar logs and a lot of others. We have log home manufacturers and guys who hire out skinning logs. But nowhere do we have Analogs.

What do they have to do with photography?

If you wonder if pixelography will kill photography, the answer is no.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), December 13, 2001.

Don't throw away your brushes. Certainly it's coming, but no one knows how quickly, nor how completely. The replacement of Vinyl LPs by CDs was expected to take many years, but it happened virtually overnight. Will the same happen to silver based photography? "Fasten your seatbelts, cause it's gonna be a bumpy ride."

-- Wilhelmm (bmitch@home.com), December 14, 2001.

Well, last weekend I bought the new single by my favorite artist on vinyl, developed in pyro, printed with Azo and Ansco 130, photographed with my 60+ y/o Deardorff, and spent 2 hours reading about Daguerre- and I'm supposed to be part of the next generation of photographers who are supposed to be the ones to entirely embrace any and all digital technologies. Yeah, digital is going to take over in many areas, but when you consider photography as a whole in all markets in regards to all demographics worldwide, there isn't a snoball's chance in hell that analog is going to die any time soon. True, we may have to fight to keep some of our preferred materials in production, but so long as I live there had better be film and chemistry at my disposal. Otherwise, heads will roll.

-- David Munson (apollo@luxfragilis.com), December 14, 2001.

There are more parts available for Model A Fords now than there were in 1951. Why? Because there are more knuckleheads with $ that insist on keeping these oil slinging air be-fouling rattletraps going than ever. Photography will be the same way. There's plenty of knuckle heads.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), December 14, 2001.

My vote is that it is coming, and coming fast, but will not be a carte-blanche victory. I hope to see smaller companies, like Bergger, pick up business when Kodak and the others end their film production. I will certainly live to see the day when Kodak closes it's final film production facility for North America. Film will still be needed where the digital infrastructure is weak (Africa etc) for for here, I think we are certainly going to see the day when film ceases to be prevelent, or easily avaible. I work 1/2 time in retail, and I am selling digital on par, dollar for dollar, with analog, though because they are cheaper, film cameras sell more numbers.

I have NEVER in 6 years of retail sold a new MF camera, let a lone a view camera, but I have sold dozens, if not into the hundreds, of $1500-$8,000 digital cameras, to both pros and amateurs. The death- knell for film is far from here, but there's someone playing with the bell-pull, though you might not want to know it. I just hope that smaller, specialty companies will keep enough film and paper on the market so I can do what I love to do...and then I can scan it and throw it on the web and into digital format for easy consumption!


-- Eric Boutilier-Brown (ericbb@evolvingbeauty.com), December 14, 2001.

Do not bother. "Analog" photography will survive. Try to make an exhibit print (100x70 cm) from 24x36 mm fromat negative (I know it's LF forum), it's common among photojouranlists and wildlife photographers. When you make such a print from negative, you of course get big grain, loose some sharpnes, but it is looking natural for the eye, it's often even pretty. Try to do the print in the same format (100x70cm) from very good digital camera, such as nikon d1x. You will get an image with a lot of squares - pixels. Nobody will tell you it is looking fine, because an image made from squares is not looking natural. There is also a lot of people who don't accept images made from pixels, they want to see that the picture was created in a traditional way, to be sure it wasn't manipulated, (this attitude is very common among my friends from Polish Union of Wildlife Photographers). Next case: when I'm going to shoot outdoor I preffer to take a lot of film than a lot of batteries, laptop, cabels, etc. Eric is right that there could be no kodak's films in USA but they will be in Africa. The films also will be in Poland and many other countries in middle-eastern Europe for a very long time. Why? Because people from these countries are not as rich as in USA, and new technologies are much more costly here. (Just imagine: photo equipment -except of that produced in European Union - is in Poland about 60% more expensive than in USA, and when you are earning 1000$ monthly you have a very very good salary). So it is natural that people here are using things longer, and do not buy so many new items as in USA, UK, or Germany. So there will be a lot of film users who will need provia, velvia, t-max, etc. Sleep quietly.


-- Lukasz Zandecki (lz34246@gsk.com), December 14, 2001.

There is a lengthy article on the latest 'British Journal of Photography' (12/12/01) named 'Surviving in the Shadows' which looks at the state of darkroom processing and its future.

-- Xavier C. (xcolmant@powerir.com), December 14, 2001.

Did photography kill painting?

-- Chad Jarvis (cjarvis@nas.edu), December 14, 2001.

The simple answer to your question is yes. Many applications are now digital, and as the capacities of CCD capturing, image storage, and printing expand, and costs decline, the remainder will become digital.

Phase One offers one gigabyte sacnning backs for large format. Epson offers digital printers at 1440 dpi and 44 inch width producing pro lab quality prints.

I could go on, but I've mentioned those above two products as they relate to both LF photography and large prints. The only reasons for not going full digital today are 1) cost, 2) skepticism(either a lack of knowledge or a refusal to learn), or 3) you enjoy the traditional printing process.

As to control over the process, Photoshop is more enabling than a traditional darkroom.

You're more likely to get a defense of the traditional process on this site than many others, and it's one of the reasons I like this site so much, but for commercial shooting, traditional is dead. I'd expect you will still be able to buy traditional supplies well into the future, but the major manufacturers will at some point put it into the "hobbiest" category - not where you want to be.

-- Michael Mahoney (mike.mahoney@nf.sympatico.ca), December 14, 2001.

James: Yes, digital will eventually kill off traditional silver based photography, but not yet. In a few short years technology will reach the point where it ought to be with quality and cost. We LF photographers here on this forum are rather thin on the ground already. How long has it been since you have seen someone shooting LF outside of your circle of friends who share your interest? The last LF shooter I saw in my part of the country was 20 years ago, although I'm sure some may be in the area. The camera stores in my area don't stock LF film, but will special order if their suppliers have it. One of the camera stores in my area, which is well stocked with things photographic, said the only reason they stock black and white stuff is for the students taking photography courses. It just makes me want to go out and beat my head on the pavement to think of it, but I think major manufacturers are trying to wean us. Look at the products that have disappeared during the last few years. Black and white has already moved into the realm of the hobbyists and the purists such as we are. It is not pleasant to think of, but photography has always been in a state of change, and the change now is to digital. Ready or not, it is coming and our way is going. Do I like it? Hell no.


-- Doug Paramore (Dougmary@alaweb.com), December 14, 2001.

Someone please assure me that this will not happen anytime soon.........

Seeing this coming, I sold all my darkroom equipment a few years ago and now do all my post-exposure work on my computer.

-- Darron Spohn (dspohn@photobitstream.com), December 14, 2001.

Digital has almost completely taken over in colour printing. It will, in time. But the real question back to you is: In what areas? No matter how good digital prints get they do not have the same visual qualities as a silver or platinum based print. Silver chemical based photography will I am sure become more marginalised, but will still be around long after your hard drive has gone soft. LF photographers are well placed to exploit the exceptional qualities of the medium. Just do the work and let the future look after itself


-- Robin Coutts (robin.rocket@virgin.net), December 14, 2001.

Silver based photography is a durable creature but it has had a turbulent history. Tintypes were still widely used 40 or 50 years after good paper products were available. Pyro came and went and came back strong. I attended a seminar in the 1970's where Karsch lamented the rapid decline of good black & white products. They are declining again but I always seem to be able to replace a lost product with something as good or better.

Until the Xerox machine, almost every business and government office had a copy shop which produced photo copies of records on silver based material. My first driver's license (1959) was duplicated on silver based paper. The Xerox technology and the rapid rise of the type C direct color print in the 1970's hammered the black & white market so that such giants as Dupont, GAF (Ansco) and others abruptly discontinued their black and white products. Eastman has been slower to leave the field but their recent actions have been pretty speedy.

On the upside, almost every new Photoshop worker eventually gets the bug to learn and try the older processes, in other words to become photographers instead of image handlers. I believe that nitch market manufacturers will expand for years to come and we will have access to some fine black & white materials--Bergger is making some exceptional film and paper and can't seem to keep up with the demand. Many retiring baby boomers intend to build elaborate black & white darkrooms in their dream homes and these are the consumers who have been driving the markets for many decades. Now is a great time to be building a black & white facility, great bargains are out there on discarded darkroom gear that is far from obsolete.


-- C. W. Dean (cwdean@erols.com), December 14, 2001.

My personal feeling is that the decision to work in digital or conventional photography is really driven by what you want to do. The fact that you can still get the chemicals to produce cyanotypes despite the fact that they're almost ancient technology shows that new tech very seldom completely replaces old tech. Of course, if you do catalogs or advertising people are probably going to think that you're stupid for not using digital within a few years.

The fact of the matter though, is that there are going to be people willing to buy film, paper, and chemistry for a long time into the future. I know that once we get to the point when film is no longer available I will have been in my grave for a long time, and I'm only at the quarter century mark right now.

-- Nathaniel Paust (paustne@whitties.org), December 14, 2001.

Everyone, thanks for all the thoughtful and well put ideas about this change in photography.

It is interesting to know that some say yes, some say no. There are a lot of unknowns out there right now concerning the future profits and production of traditional photographic methods (I apologize for using the word analog, after the first poster I realized "traditional" would have been a better choice). Mr. Jarvis mentioned that photography did not kill painting, which is true, but the companies making film and paint were different. There probably was not much of a decline in paint sales because painters and photographers are usually a different breed, with some exceptions. The current problem more closely resembles the music industry, who ditch old methods when a new and perhaps better method becomes available. The big photo companies who make traditional cameras and materials are in the strange position of having to make products that directly compete with their core old-line products. As the new products become more popular, their old ones will decline in profitability. If the level of profits continues to decline, the board members may decide to drop the old products because of stock holder complaints. Money has no passion for history, culture, or beauty, money only begets money. Mr. Boutilier-Brown stated that smaller companies like Bergger may see an increase in profits if the big companies reduce the quality and quantity of older methods, and this makes sense. I think the specialized, smaller companies will thrive, and that gives me hope that traditional photography will continue into the future, but the bigger companies like Kodak may become digital-only, which I hope does not happen. Mr. Zandecki mentions that poorer foreign countries will most likely continue to produce the traditional products because most citizens cannot afford the newer technologies, which will allow a photographic import business to thrive if the American photo companies move exclusively into digital.

I guess I still have reservations about it, but life is a gamble, nothing is secure, and if I ever do find that I cannot practice traditional photography because the materials no longer exist, I still have some tubes of paint and some brushes waiting for me in the studio.

Thanks again to everyone for their ideas, and happy holidays!

-- James Webb (jwebb66@yahoo.com), December 14, 2001.

Heck, there will always be an England . . . they still make the bellows, they still make the film and chemicals, they still make Gandolfi's, they still revel in their eccentrics (God bless them, every one). Commercial applications will become 99% digital, as will most color applications. Large Format Black & White will live on in some manner. Carbon paper is still available. People stil hand make furniture using solid wood. I expect LF B&W will be marginalized and things will get more expensive with fewer choices. But it will live on.

-- Donald Brewster (dpbrewster@prodigy.net), December 14, 2001.

This subject seems to come up about every month so I will add my updated 2 cents worth.

There will always be a supply of papers and film for silver based phtography. It may be limited to one or two suppliers and a handful of films and papers and the cost will increase but the demand will be there. I know several people in their early 20s that are much more interested in pursuing images with conventional film, paper and darkroom. A couple do output with digital but still work with film.

The demand will be there because a lot of people will embrace a more traditional hands on approach that will gain in appreciation as a fine craft among the general public such as woodworking and engraving. People will embrace it because it will always have certain qualities that cannot be duplicated by digital, and some people will be so sick of the prevalance of computers everywhere else in their lives conventional photography will feel more personal and human.

The good thing will be that non-digital equipment of the highest quality will be easily available and relatively inexpensive on the used market. Chemistry is a non-issue as you can make virtually anything you need from bulk.

Finally, I personally wrestle with this issue from time to time. I start to consider investing in a pricey scanner and printer, that it will save me time and be more convenient. Then I think about my two enlargers both D-2s over 30 years old, my cameras all used, most of my lenses except for 2 were purchased used. I begin to wonder, how many iterations of scanners, and printers and software will I have to purchase and learn and adjust to over the next 30 years, while the D- 2s if taken care of will still be perfectly capable of producing the highest quality prints. It doesn't really matter how limited the tools are. A good photographer will learn to produce the finest images with what he has available.

-- James Chinn (jchinn2@dellepro.com), December 14, 2001.

Cameras for art photography should be judged on how much information that they capture. This can be measured objectively in a lab. Objectively even scanning backs that cost tens of thousands have a long way to go, especially if you are trying to capture a scene with anything that is moving. The latest issue of PhotoTechneques reports that a new emulsion process will improve film by a factor of 4 and will be in production in two years. Last time I was at Motorola they were still using film to make chips so film is likely to be around for a long time.

Once I have a negative that I want to use for something besides making a fine art print, I can really see the advantages to scanning it into Photoshop right now.

However, most of those advantages are advantages of convenience, not capability. I can “interpolate” my negative by making an internegative, and I can mask, dodge, burn, and change contrast locally with multi contrast paper.

P.S. I believed that “records are going obsolete” stuff and stored my records and sold my tube amp and turn table, to buy indestructible unscratchable CDs. Anyone priced a MacIntosh tube amp lately?

My big fear for film is that what Rush calls "environmentalist whacos" will begin to ask why we need all these harsh chemicals, film, silver etc, and regulate us out of film.

I am old enough to have lived through several transitions simular to film to digital. Automated check out lines at the grocery store take longer than good casheers with crank registers did. We are still a long way from the promised "paperless office". TV doesn't educate or replace books, it is what someone called "a mind eating device". Computers don't help people think better, just faster. You can be stupid at the speed of light now.

Point is, I wouldn't expect digital convenience to improve photography. I think a book I saw at Barns and Nobel the other days sums it up. It was titled: "Learn Photography in a Weekend"

-- Neal Shields (shields@ftw.com), December 14, 2001.

Two Questions ...

Did TV kill the Movies ??

Why do so many succumb like sheep to the slaughter to the ideology of 'the medium is the message' ??


-- Walter Glover (walterg@netaus.net.au), December 14, 2001.


Nice response.

Simple answer: no, silver based photography isn't going to die any time soon.

Even now, for our photo work (catalogs, manuals, etc.) all our photos start as silver. The images are subsequently scanned. While this might change, I don't think it will soon.

But even so, go to your local "big" camera store (not a mall or chain outlet). Look at all the sizes & types of film they offer. Doesn't look like they think silver based photography is going away soon.

Then too, all those wonderful electronic circuit boards start life as a silver-based photographic mask, which is photographically printed on the boards to create the etch-resist mask. Without photography there are no electronics these days

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), December 14, 2001.

"Did TV kill the Movies?" Something seems to have done it.

-- Wilhumnh (bmitch@home.com), December 14, 2001.

Why does everyone assume that digital will keep getting less expensive and better? Won’t diminishing returns kick in eventually? At what point will digital image quality be good enough to slow down the R&D expenditures? Why should high end digital capture and printing be any less expensive than traditional photography???? You think they’re going to give away the farm? Many of you seem to be chanting the mantra of our time: Technology will triumph over all. Hmmm, looks like it went too far in the Matrix. Yet, I think it will triumph over silver based photography, after all, the prime directive has become: Anything good must be diminished or destroyed. Some thoughts:

For starters, we need to look at what’s driving the market and what forces exist to stimulate cost reduction for very high end digital capture and printing products. I suspect that a huge majority of the photo market is the snapshot application. At some point Joe Six- pack is going to be happy with the cost and quality of his disposable camera, or his digital replacement of 35mm. Ditto the photo journalist/wildlife crowd who shoot pictures for illustration. At this point, why would industry spend big R&D bucks to develop megabyte LF packs that cost what a box of Velvia does when their isn’t a huge market for it? The professional Med & LF market is quite static I’d suspect, and the trend toward corporate mergers, cost cutting, and a sick economy, will make it more so.

The other thing I wonder about is the general population’s ability to gain a working knowledge of this digital photo technology. Loading a film canister or using a disposable camera is simple compared to using a digital camera and dealing with all the computer hardware/software involved in printing images. The assumption is that everyone is an MIT Computer Science graduate and that tech support hotlines are fading fast.

This extends all the way to the labs. Sure, Photoshop is a great program, but it’s terribly complicated. You’re not going to get a good Adobe tech. for the same money you’re paying the Wal-Mart print machine operator. Thus the cost of getting the most out of digital is very high. Having a lab do extensive manipulation is TERRIBLY expensive ($120+ hour) and they may not know what they’re doing. And how many people need/want serious photoshop work? Is it necessary for Joe Six-packs vacation pix? What is going to drive the cost down for high end manipulation and digital printing????? As the technology keeps getting more and more complex, why would be expect a wage decrease for those running it?

Another factor is the enormous capital outlay for the equipment. At some point will people finally wake up get off the expensive software/hardware treadmill? Will today’s $2000 Pentium run the new version of Photoshop, or be compatible the latest scanners 5 years from now? Likewise the labs are facing tremendous capital outlays for the latest, greatest digital printers. I’ll give you one guess who pays for this equipment. How about the cost of DSL to get your home-tweeked images to someone who can make 30x40s? Trouble with traditional photography as that the equipment lasts a lifetime. This is anathema for the folks cooking up your digital future. My point is that digital may be the future, but it won’t be an inexpensive future.

-- Hyperfocal Yokel (hyperfocal@attbi.com), December 14, 2001.

If you ever start thinking that digital is king you need to look at the original prints of such practitioners as Strand, Weston or Adams. And, compare that viewing experience with that provided by our modern digital “Masters” and try to detect any significant improvement. You might, as I have, want to scream: The king has no clothes!

No, I don’t think film and chemicals will disappear. People with talent and vision will find a way.

-- Bruce Wehman (bruce.wehman@hs.utc.com), December 14, 2001.

I went in for a chest x-ray the other day. Boy, the set up felt comfortable. Big film holders. Big Negs -- made by Kodak. Sure, digital is probably comeing for that, but the rad people I know say digital isn't good enough for bones. Plus, the cheepest people in the world tend to be doctors (at least up here) and they arn't going to spend on some big machine when the receptionist still uses a manual typewriter. I would imagine that the big sheet film for x-rays must be made in the same factory as our sheet film. I don't know, but I'm sure if it's not, they will merge the two factories as the market dwindles. I say cheem MD's will save us all. Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (dvlastor@sfu.ca), December 14, 2001.

That word was cheep. dean

-- Dean Lastoria (dvlastor@sfu.ca), December 14, 2001.

I read an essay once by a famous German Historian named Hoffman(I can't remember his full name). He studied the growth cycles of businesses and technology. He found that most businesses followed a kind of left-biased bell curve. There was a slow period during the introduction of a technology followed by an extremely rapid rise to a peak with a long period of mature growth followed by rapid, then increasingly more gradual decline. On the right side of the curve there is an extremely long tail. Businesses mature, and technology gives way only slowly with a handful of firms lasting for many decades in the field. Up until ten years ago, for example there was one cut-nail manufacturer in the U.S. over 100 years after the technology had been supplanted by wire nails. Similarly it was only last year that Western Union's last telegraphic customer finally switched to more current technology. This trend of technology has been repeated many times, and the more consumer-oriented the product, the longer the product lasts.

Traditional film, I believe will have a long life for several reasons. First, museums have built up increasingly popular and valuable collections of traditional film and prints. This will always exert a very strong appeal to both collectors and practitioners. Digital photography will develop its own following, but it will wholely supplant traditional photography. As long as these are on exhibit in museums there will be demand for traditional photographic prints. Just as there is demand for engravings, oil paintings and all the other media that have been supplanted at least from a commercial and technical standpoint. Secondly, there is strong evidence that small firms can manufacture complex photographic materials in small batches, at reasonable cost at a profit. As examples I would cite, Ilford, Bergger papers and film, and small camera and lens manufacturers like Rollei, Zeiss and Wisner. Lastly, over the long run, I think that digital photographic processes will begin to diverge from the traditional photographic paths. Rather than attempting to replicate traditional photographic qualities, digital will develop its own esthetic styles and forge a path that is independent from those still working in film. This was seen early in photography when photographers began to move away from painterly traditions and started to develop photography as its own multiply distinctive art form.

What will most likely happen is that commercial applications will increasingly shift over to digital as is happening now. Next will come consumers, who were never very discriminating about photographic quality and who will switch over to digital en masse when the technology becomes more user friendly. What will likely sustain the traditional photographic field will be fine-arts photographers and speciality scientific and commercial users - who require the unique attributes of traditional photography. I expect fine arts traditional photographers will continue to develop the art and techniques of photography while small, profitable and innovative small firms (the equivalent of the firms I mentioned before) will continue to advance the science and production of traditional photographic processes. We may see a future without major players such as Kodak in traditional film, and along with it the disappearance of ubiquituous small photo shops. These will be replaced with medium and small sized players that cater ever more efficiently and innovatively to traditional photographers. We will be smaller in number - but we will help move the art and science of traditional photography for many decades to come. If Hoffman's model holds, we will see traditional photographic technology remain in commercial and scientific use for many years to come, while fine art photography will extend that to a virtually limitless lifespan.

-- Andrew Held (heldarc@hotmail.com), December 14, 2001.

If the audiophile market is any indicator, small and nimble producers will take over the production of much higher quality materials at a significant cost to cater to a smaller market.

Commercial photographers will flock to digital in droves initially because of convenience but then the cycle will return where the look of 'traditional' materials becomes the new thing. There will always be a small but steady corp of trad practitioners to keep the market going.

Just as there are vacuum tube/electronic valve amplifiers, 180g virgin vinyl, super turntables, tonearms and cartridges still, there will always be 'analogue' photography materials. It may turn into an industry manned by craftsmen. There will also be those who chant that digital is perfect and that traditional process adherents are only deluding themselves. But that is for you to find out which camp you're in.

That's all my crystal ball reveals :)

-- Erik X (xx@xx.com), December 14, 2001.

They've been predicting the 'death' of Photography for 15-20 years, and they'll be doing it for the next 20, if this scares you out of what you really want to do, then you shouldn't be in Photography anyway.

Photoshop with a great many of its features, mimics traditional darkroom techniques, mimics painting techniques, and takes quite a big percentage of what it does from traditional art. There's nothing original about Photoshop does except execution wise.

Digital isn't going to begin 'swamping' anything until it gets simpler to use, and becomes cheap. Remember all those computer outfits of five years ago, where are they now.

Some of these folks with their myopic predictions are just letting everybody else know that they've been locked up in a room too long with a lighted box.

The rest of the world except for a few places like here and Kuwait can't afford to play with this stuff for 90 days of 6 months or whatever the hell the digital cycle is and then plunk down another small fortune the next line of digital gear. I was that dumb for awhile, but no longer.

I love digital, but I had to catch myself because I was spending incredible amounts of time in a room with a box, and a lot of it was not spent crafting something, but working on what I had read in a manual, or doing updates, or fixing my computer. There's too much baggage that goes along with digital for it to wipe out anything.

It never fails how some of you folks 'hype' digital w/how it rivals, surpasses, wipes out, replaces, kills digital, and you never mention any of the headaches.

There are too many cameras all over the world that people love to use for that market to be completely deserted. I think some in this last generation refuse to see it, only the latest toys which they use are important, and everything else will and should die off.

I still do digital, but when I take my camera to the beach, I'm out there, and even if I don't get the shot I want, I've at least enjoyed life. I don't get the same feeling being stuck in a dark room for 4 hours , looking at a lighted box. The end result is what's satisfying about Digital for me, but more of the whole photographic process from start to finish is what I prefer.

I don't see how you can really be a painter, artist, photographer, or whatever you are, and not want to get out there to see life in action so that you can capture a 'slice' of it as your art.

You know people are always looking for old camera gear to purchase because of their budget which was an issue dealt with in detail on one of these recent posts. You don't see anybody looking around for 10 year old computers or scanners as a way of getting into digital because of a limited budget, and until digital becomes that kind of proposition it remain a necessary tool for a few, and a toy for others, let alone the rest of the world.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), December 14, 2001.

We are not all lambs.

-- Andre Noble (andrenoble@yahoo.com), December 14, 2001.

WOW... well said..all of you..

- What is the price of a decent traditional outfit (enlarger + camera) versus a decent digital outfit (computer + a monitor + a scanner + a printer + a digital camera...)? - How long the digital outfit will become obsolete versus the traditonal outfit? - How long it take for a beginner to pull out a print from a community college darkroom versus how long it take for the same student to understand photoshop and other digital issues?

I have here enough digital outfit that outperform a small service bureau but become obsolete as week went by and a darkroom and traditional equipment that will last as long as I want...

yes..digital slow down the sales of traditional photography equipment and make lots of resellers happy...BUT..

NO.. personnaly, digital will not cause a collapse of traditional photography... The issue is in the mind of the true believers... and I'm one of them...

happy hollidays to all...

-- dan n. (dan@egmail.com), December 15, 2001.

I have a friend who got a digital camera two years ago. He's always at events snapping pictures. As I am with my Minolta. I come back with an album full of prints for my friends to pass around, and extra prints for people to put in their albums, or frames. Hardly anyone has ever seen any of the pictures my friend has taken with his digital. They go home with him and are downloaded to his computer where they stay.

Picture TAKING might be easier and cheaper for the low-end consumer, but actually doing anything with them is a hassle.

-- John H. Henderson (jhende03@harris.com), December 17, 2001.

I agree strongly with Andrew Helds view. When the dark age reappears we'll be able to make our own film,paper,chemistry and probably diversify our methods and materials more significantly than the large manufacturers and their "dished out" formulas and restraint in continuing popular emulsions.Look at the rising popularity in alternative processes for photography and printmaking.I have worked for several years in Londons' top imaging company.When I started there they proudly operated an Art Dept. specialising in fine art printing,platinum,salt..etc...specialised colour printing and neg. development.Two years later most of the highly skilled printers were printing cheesy fashion and editorial spreads or young photographers work who couldn't print their own stuff but needed the best prints possible to hustle up some work.The alternative printers upped and left.The company was more interested in the digital departement which grew rapidly.Investment in a Fuji Minilab system wiped the floor with traditional techniques for the average photographer....very fast and high quality colour prints up to 11x14,speed of service,and the amount people will spend for speed.Many pros will use a set of 5x7 colour en-prints instead of contacts.....and pay $30 a roll! My point here is that we may aswell let them run away with this digital prize.There are people using traditional film and digital with spectacular results...see the Flint/Weissman team and their camera and prints (view camera nov/dec).In the commercial field digital is convenient and fast,but still expensive,to keep in line with photographic tradition.Speed is important in the fast editorial and fashion markets,but this is small compared to the amateur markets who will defnately go digital.BUT....when compared to fine,museum quality printing not even incredibly expensive retouching and output techniques compare to images created initially on film.Alot of Londons top fashion photographers rely heavily on retouched images costing thousands a day,all payed for by the client.The results can be amazing,but usually the retouchers are actually re-hashing an image with new impact to hide the photographers lack of skill,change lighting,mop up skin tone and "defects" in makeup or sharpen the image.....all the things it takes time,patience,experience and consumate skill to produce traditionally.The allure of alternatively produced,hand crafted images will become more specialised and sought after.I've seen this already in the commercial field where salt prints cost more to commission than digital prints and are wanted by more up-market clients.Or a 100 year old colour print process revived into gravure like prints created from digitally manipulated negs from scans of the original being commissioned for $1500 a print! My advice would be to experiment with what appeals to you and suits you.You only live once,so why not do what you enjoy with your time.The smaller film and paper companies will continue to produce high quality and inovative products for traditional photography for a long time to come....and if they ever stop,well there is enough literature out there telling you how to make your own paper,and film wont be much more difficult to produce with the surplus of equipment that'll flood the market.So,take advantage of the cheap darkroom gear,mix your own chemistry,coat your own papers and continue your study of photography without worry,be it traditional or digital,or a mix of both.Why not build your own cameras too?

-- andrey belopopsky (sabaca10@hotmail.com), December 17, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ