35mm: where to from here?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Roxy d'Urban, Apr 29, 2005.

  1. Roxy d'Urban

    Roxy d'Urban Guest

    All this recent deciding on whether to swap some of my Nikon lenses for a
    Leica M6 and Leica lenses had me a bit concerned over the future of 35mm
    film processing. Will it still be around? Will I be able to purchase and
    process it anywhere?

    I spoke to a friend of mine who owns a Konica mini-lab close to where I
    work and asked him if he has seen any considerable diminishment of his
    film processing work (i.e. enough to consider ditching film processing as
    a service). His answer was an unequivocal NO.

    Most of the pros using his lab still shoot film, especially the wedding
    photographers and while he doesn't sell a lot of 35mm cameras anymore,
    there are still many people out there using their P&S cameras to take
    snaps and have prints made from them. Enough to keep his processing
    business thriving. What we fail to see as photographers who are on the
    leading edge of the digital revolution, is that there are millions and
    millions of people behind us, many of whom see no point in owning a
    computer, let alone a digital camera. They are perfectly happy to use
    their 35mm P&S cameras at parties, Xmas, etc.

    A common gripe amongst those leading people who own digital cameras and
    who use them prolifically, is that they just don't find the time to print
    the photos they take. It's inconvenient to take your memory card to a lab
    and have prints made. Then, if the print is lost in the future, there is
    no negative to have a re-print made. Many of them are going back to using
    their 35mm cameras when they want permanency.

    This mirrors my experience with digital photography exactly. I hate the
    work involved with it and it's why I have reverted to using 35mm for my
    personal photography. My main concern in doing so was a fear that 35mm
    would fall by the wayside in the digital age.

    It was good to hear from somebody who deals with these things on a daily
    basis and who believes that there is still a future for 35mm film.

    What's the story at your local lab?
    Roxy d'Urban, Apr 29, 2005
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  2. Roxy d'Urban

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Yes. You can even still buy glass plate film.
    If you mean "anywhere" (i.e. "is there anywhere I can get this film
    processed?") the answer is yes. If you mean "everywhere" (will there
    be minilabs in every drugstore like now), hmmm, there will probably be
    some in every town for a fairly while, but fewer than now.
    Local camera store minilabs are taking a beating even though they do
    digital prints. Pro labs are surviving, I guess. I don't know anyone
    who shoots film in any serious way any more. I occasionally print
    digital shots on my home inkjet printer and haven't yet taken any to a
    store to be printed, though I might try that.
    Paul Rubin, Apr 29, 2005
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  3. Roxy d'Urban

    Alan Guest

    I use both a DSLR and 35mm. Right now I'm using the 35mm farrrrrr more, I
    find it more rewarding. I'm processing my B&W, E6 and C41 films at home, and
    providing I can continue to buy the chemicals, I don't see why I can't
    continue to do this for many years to come. At the moment I'm only printing
    B&W at home, and scanning colour negs and slides to print digitally if
    required. This keeps cost to a minimun also.
    After all, B&W has hardly changed in 50 years but you can still buy
    everything needed to process and print it, without a computer in sight.

    ......And I "moved" from digital to film, having become interested in
    photography through digital. I'd like to try Medium Format next!

    Alan, Apr 29, 2005
  4. C-41 is supposed to be not all that dificult to do yourself. And even
    E-6 can be doen at home.
    Well, I can't affort to have every frame printed professionally, and
    consumer prints are not upto my standards. I just scan everything, make
    digital index prints (9 photos on a 20x30cm). And then I print the
    best frames at 20x30cm or bigger.
    That's why they invented the Internet. :)
    In my experience, shooting print film requires much more (digital) work
    than shooting digital. High-res scans are basically to only way of judging
    shooting techniques and the quality of the film. Many frames that look
    good on a 10x15cm print are not all that great when printed at a larger
    35mm will live as long as long as enough people keeping shooting 35mm film.
    Philip Homburg, Apr 29, 2005
  5. Roxy d'Urban

    Roxy d'Urban Guest

    Still requires the end user to do some work, though.
    I disagree partly with this statement. In my view the work is transferred
    to the lab. Most of the good labs have a scanning service and the people
    doing the scanning tend to be knowledgeable about the film types they come
    across, etc. In most cases I am using either Fuji Chromes or Kodak negs.
    We don't get too many exotic type films in this neck of the woods.
    Hear, hear. Shoot a roll today.
    Roxy d'Urban, Apr 29, 2005
  6. Roxy d'Urban

    Mark Lauter Guest

    A common gripe amongst those leading people who own digital cameras and
    They never heard of DVD? Would they throw their negatives away? No. Why
    through away their digital counterparts?
    Mark Lauter, Apr 29, 2005
  7. Roxy d'Urban

    Roger Guest

    I'm pleased to hear you have some input from a lab owner. As I still
    print most everything I do, film or digital, I do make a trip or two a
    week to a camera shop. There never seems to be a lack of activity,
    although they are part of a chain and will not discuss business
    (volume or strategy).

    I've seen a lot of businesses just fold or cut back here in the US due
    to business conditions. this doesn't mean they don't have some avid
    customers, just not enough of them (Leica is an example of a non-US
    company with the same problems).

    I'm not in the predicting know, but the chain that I do use permits
    printing submissions from the web. I scan my negatives and submit them
    for printing along with my purely digital images and pick them up an
    hour later. This part of their business is busy and many people with
    pure digital work flows are recognizing the possibility of loss of
    information if they don't print. I do know several friends who (are
    very casual photographers and who) have gone back to film for some of
    their work - using both film and digital. They are from a generation
    who is firmly rooted in film, most are returning to their closeted
    SLRs because of shutter lag. They know the difference of capturing a
    picture when the shutter is pressed as opposed to getting it a
    fraction of a second later (as with a P&S film/digital).

    I'm counting on their being a film business for many years to come.
    Maybe not as prolific but still the same, a film business.

    If crossing fingers work, I'm doing that. I'm not tailoring my kit for
    the demise of film. I may be naive, it wouldn't be the first time.

    Roger, Apr 29, 2005
  8. Roxy d'Urban

    Paul Bielec Guest

    I keep a folder named "to print" on my PC.
    Whenever, there is around 100 pictures in it, I burn them on a cd and
    have them printed in a lab.
    I had around 500 pictures printed last summer.
    Paul Bielec, Apr 29, 2005
  9. Roxy d'Urban

    Mark Lauter Guest

    A common gripe amongst those leading people who own digital cameras and
    Throw darn it... throw. :)

    Anway, even if local film processing disappeared there would likely be
    places to send out for quite a while to come.
    Mark Lauter, Apr 29, 2005
  10. Roxy d'Urban

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Judging by Fuji and Kodak, I think they will continue to sell E-6 films for
    a while. I do think Kodachrome will be dead quite soon, due to expense and

    The one hour places want to deal with prints and negative films, not E-6.
    However, if you live in a big city, there is likely to be at least one pro
    lab do do E-6 processing.
    That is similar to what I find in my location.
    Disposable one-time-use cameras are still selling by the millions.
    Obviously, few of us would ever even consider using one of those, but lots
    of others do.
    The manufacturers have always pushed for having prints made. Unfortunately,
    that pattern is only changing slowly, and the majority still do not print
    their digital images.
    One local pro lab closed recently, which caused a flood of business at my
    regular pro lab. They have also had more requests for prints lately, with
    some prints from direct digital. I don't use one hour places, so I am not
    sure how well they are doing. I did notice that another B/W processing
    location recently appeared downtown to compete with another established
    downtown B/W only place. That could be because too many photographers
    complained about the older establishment, so perhaps it just looked like
    another business opportunity.
    Gordon Moat, Apr 29, 2005
  11. I don't have a problem with that for slides (though I don't have any
    experience with having slides scanned, there is a good chance that good
    scans are not all that affordable).

    With print film it is different. The advantage with print film is that you
    can be sloppy with color balance and exposure. The dynamic range is often
    big enough that you have quite a bit of exposure latitude. The down side
    that that lab will have to guess what you meant.

    The big advantage of printing color print film yourself (either analog or
    digital) is that, like with B/W, you have complete control over how the
    print is going to be.

    (Another problem is that most affordable scanning services return 8-bit/ch
    files. Hopefully, they got the scan completely right, because there will be
    not much room for color and contrast corrections.
    Philip Homburg, Apr 29, 2005
  12. Roxy d'Urban

    Longfellow Guest

    Benn watching this sort of posts for a while, so...

    How long do you expect to live? They said radio was dead when TV
    entered the scene; they said B&W was dead when color film came on the
    market. You can still get both quite handily. Same with film, I would
    What does convenience have to do with art? Or do we no longer call
    photography an art? If convenience is a major factor in your use of a
    camera, perhaps you have some specific use parameters? Or is this a
    case of expectation of instant gratification?

    Used to be that the idea was to extract an image from our environment
    that meant something, that had some significance, and that extraction
    process only began with the camera. It was the print coming up in the
    developer tray in the darkroom that was the real birth of that image
    (negs were during gestation, I guess...).

    Now, with a DSLR, the image is captured and immediately inspected on the
    LCD screen. But that image on the screen is both similiar to and
    different from a negative: it's the analogue of a negative, but it is
    ephemeral, even when viewed on a monitor. For it to have physical
    reality, it must be printed. And the process is not finished until the
    print is made.

    So, to that extent, there's no difference between the two mediums. I
    seem to recall one contributer here used the term "snapshootery" as
    opposed to photography. Crude but effective. To my mind, photographers
    create photographs, and snapshooters produce snapshots. Photographers
    are concerned with the creation of the photograph, where snapshooters
    are not, at least generically.

    In both mediums, the creation of a print is optional. I certainly have
    tons of negs I would never waste material to print! I keep them because
    one never knows when a review might reveal a potential image not
    previously recognized. Same with digital image files. Print what seems
    printworthy and keep the rest in suitable storage.

    The issue of digital storage is, however, both relevant and timely.
    Storage permanency is problematic. CDs are now found to have a much
    shorter life than expected, although the most expensive versions seem
    much more archival. Mitsui gold foil CDs are said to be safe enough
    from substrate rot, etc. I presume the same applies to DVDs.

    The issue of digital format is probably not that problematic. Earlier
    less established formats have largely dissappeared, but tiff and jpeg
    are both so widely used now that retrieval will very likely never become
    an issue. Physical medium format for DVDs may well change before
    becoming standardized, but that will occur in the near future in any
    case. It merely requires that one pay attention. After all, storing
    negatives in a hot and humid environment is likely to destroy them
    eventually, a problem resolved by "paying attention"!

    But then I'm an old curmudgeon, not unlike others here, I think ;)

    Longfellow, Apr 29, 2005
  13. Roxy d'Urban

    Chris Brown Guest

    The guy at mine was telling me the other day (when I was picking up a roll
    of 120 Provia 100F) that they're considering expanding their medium format
    Chris Brown, Apr 30, 2005
  14. Roxy d'Urban

    Roxy d'Urban Guest

    I'm speaking specifically about the minions of people worldwide who take
    pictures purely for posterity's sake and to whom the make or model of
    camera is about as relevant as the colour of dog turds.

    Most of the people I know who have invested in a digital P&S have no
    prints to show for their efforts. Quite a few of them are saying they were
    happier with the 35mm because they could shoot it and just drop it off at
    the lab, come back later and see what they got.

    Photographic enthusiasts are a different bunch altogether.
    Roxy d'Urban, Apr 30, 2005
  15. Roxy d'Urban

    Roxy d'Urban Guest

    Maybe things are different where you live, but here only the kids have the
    smarts to burn things like DVD's and CD's. My old man wouldn't use an ATM
    until he had no choice (after my Mom died), and I really don't see him
    buying a PC anytime soon.

    Maybe it's a generational thing.
    Roxy d'Urban, Apr 30, 2005
  16. Roxy d'Urban

    Roxy d'Urban Guest

    That's good practice. I wish I had the same discipline.

    What I have taken to doing now with film is have it processed and scanned
    at the lab. If I see anything I like I get them to print it out for me.

    Digital? Geez, I wish I could find a product shot I did a couple of years
    Roxy d'Urban, Apr 30, 2005
  17. Roxy d'Urban

    Longfellow Guest

    Okay, that's "snapshootery" then (fun word!). Photographic records of
    experiences to share with others is far and away the most wide spread and
    common practice of photography, and in any case is an honorable usage of
    the medium. So my comments were not only off the mark but probably
    denigrating as well: my bad, sorry.
    I suspect that's more a matter of habitual perception than anything
    else. One can take one's storage device and have the same thing done
    even easier, I think. Problem is, unless one hands one's card to the
    person behind the counter and says "Print'em all!", one is involved in
    the process and is confronted with choices not available in to the
    person dropping of the film cassette. What to print? Which ones and
    whether to crop and if so how? Decisions, decisions! Maybe that's the
    point where "snapshootery" threatens to become (the art of) photography.
    In any case, it's where people are exposed to the potential requirement
    of taking responsibility for their camera work, and that makes the whole
    business unacceptably serious (cumbersome?). Not good.

    And I've observed that many people find confronting the automatic kiosk
    is as daunting as addressing a computer. Also, having negs to get
    reprints is handier than having a CD or DVD where one cannot see the

    Probably will turn out to be a generational thing. The younger folk
    will take to digital the same way older generations took to film, I
    Aren't they indeed!!

    Longfellow, Apr 30, 2005
  18. Roxy d'Urban

    Paul Rubin Guest

    I expect something even more extreme. When I started shooting digital
    I bought an inkjet printer figuring I'd pick the best shots and print
    those. In fact I never use the printer and basically don't care about
    prints at all. My pic viewing is 100% on a computer. It's great to
    be free of those boxes and boxes of prints that I used to keep piling
    up and that I've lost a lot of. The prints and negs I still have, I
    want to get around to scanning so I can look at those on a computer

    Prints are mainly of interest to me if 1) I shoot a picture that I
    like so much that I want to hang it on the wall; 2) to give to another
    person. I have very limited wall space and so very few pictures (my
    own or anyone elses) qualify for 1). And most of my friends are also
    computer users and they'd rather get a picture by email than a print.
    Paul Rubin, Apr 30, 2005
  19. Roxy d'Urban

    Mark² Guest

    Sounds like you need some basic categorization...
    I do everything by braod category...then by years as sub to those
    Within each sub-category year, I name folders based on the event.

    In addition to this, many photo viewers offer calendars which will show you
    all images on a particular day, or span of days.

    I use ACDSee and have never lost anything...ever.
    Mark², May 1, 2005
  20. Roxy d'Urban

    Mark² Guest

    Blah blah blah.
    This particular discussion isn't about art.
    It's about mass-market photography (FAR cry from "art"), and film's
    role...or lack of it...in the future of that mass market.
    Mark², May 1, 2005
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