More Doom and Gloom Chronic Depression? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

In light of recent posts regarding old line photographic suppliers suffering from digitalis---ending or cutting back on the production of traditional photographic materials in favor of digital, especially "Old Yeller" --- I was wondering if anyone knows what Agfa's commitment to LF and traditional photography is? 8x10 and other sizes except for 4x5 in Agfa film have long been discontinued(in the US anyway) Their website appears to be ultra hyped on their digital products with no mention(I least I couldn't find it) of their celebrated elixir "Rodinal." Could Big Orange be today where Kodak's marketing people say Old Yeller is headed in their reputed five year plan? Or will Agfa grab the LF baton when Kodak stumbles? Any thoughts?

-- John Kasaian (, February 18, 2002


Don't be so negative- Ilford is strongly commited to large format B& W film. In fact they have expanded the availability of extra large film sizes for ultra large format users. They commonly stock 4X5, 8X10, and 11X14 film and will supply an array of larger sizes on request.

-- Mark Nowaczynski (, February 18, 2002.

Hi All, Are you aware, that in manufacturing that, The original suppliers of chemicals, no longer make the chemical needed for film, paper, and developer. also, chemicals produced today are purer that years ago, and are harder to work with. Machinery, wears out and the older technology that built it no longer exists, parts impossible to obtain. New machinery a lot built inhouse, as there is no on shelf inventory of what companys need for there unique product line. Every one that makes film, is going thru the same thing, we just do it differently from each other. Bill

-- Bill Jefferson (, February 19, 2002.

That explains a lot. Seriously.

-- Mark Parsons (, February 19, 2002.

Its a matter of economics. Market profits can not be sustained forever. This is why a new markets(digital) have been created. Some film manufactuers are slowly reducing their exposure to the old economics or products for more profitable ones. Does this mean that older technology products will dissapear. No! Howerver your loyalty to a specific product may have to re-considered. The world is a large place. Ckeck it out.

-- Terrance Blomgren (, February 19, 2002.

Unlike traditional photography, the digital industry runs on built-in obsolesence. New chips, new software, new editions of old software, new and ever smaller computer designs, etc. Digital is a gravy train for manufacturers. Their joy is a never ending cycle of new products. As practitioners of traditional photography, we are fast becoming antiquarians. I suggest that we embrace that fact. Like with other forms of fine-art "printmaking," supplies will remain available, if only by mail from small manufactures, and new cottage industries serving our needs will most likely come into being.

-- Arthur Gottschalk (, February 19, 2002.

Just because a technology is no longer growing, or even declining, does not mean that firms cannot profit from serving them. What typically happens is that the production and marketing shifts from large public corporations that require high and rapid return on investments to privately-owned firms that are flexible enough to generate long-term sustainable revenues from older technologies. As it becomes difficult to manufacturer film on a giant volume basis, smaller firms will develop the tooling and machining to produce it profitably, and probably better, on a smaller scale.

Remember, what will sustain traditional photography is the fact that it is not merely a commercial/industrial market. There is significant involvement of craft workers (in the traditional sense of the word), and artists. It is these workers who will sustain the market (albeit smaller). The key to the sustainability of a market is not growth alone, but value. It is craft and fine art, not commercial users who create the highest value end of the traditional photography market. Sailing vessels ceased to be a serious commercial product 100 years ago, yet there are probably as many sail-powered boats and suppliers than ever before. I would guess that manufacturers in this business make more money, not less, on a margin basis than in the heyday of sail. The same could probably be said for bicycle and analog watch makers.

Lastly, everyone assumes that new technology is always superior to old - that is often not the case. Some technologies trump older ones because manufacturers can save costs. In the case of photography, traditional materials and techniques will remain because it will always generate products that are intrinsically different than digital. I think it is clearly true that digital photography is not a perfect substitute for conventional photogrphy - they both have their strengths and will increasingly diverge as digital imaging comes into its own instead of following in the path of traditional photography. The value placed on traditional photography, and its inherent uniqueness will sustain it for a long, long time.

-- Andrew Held (, February 19, 2002.

Since you mentioned Agfa, thought you might find this email from them interesting. It concerns a film I was using to make interpositives for enlarging 8x10 negs for platinum. For what it's worth:

Subject: GO230p Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 15:04:06 -0500 From: To:


Sorry, the product GO230p in no longer available. It was a film with a variable gamma emulsion. Contrast could be altered with blue or yellow filtered light. It was ideal for continuous tone gravure, for enlargements, to make standardized contone positives from non-standardixed contone negatives.

It was a 7mil thick material that was processed in a Continuous Tone developer like G7C.

We do not have a direct replacement for this material anymore since the demand is no longer there.

Regards Bruce Vir Senior Support Engineer

Have to rethink my whole process now, I guess. Time marches on.


-- Bill Marsh (, February 20, 2002.

It seems like "Agfa" might be how the Dutch spell "Kodak"(Or is it German?)----John

-- John Kasaian (, February 22, 2002.

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