With Kodak filing for bankruptcy the press has been full of proclamations about the death of film. But film is still profitable for Kodak: http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/2140216/-film-division-profitable-kodak The shame is that the press seems to equate the company’s troubles with the manufacture of film, and the rise of digital imaging only, when the truth seems to be more complex
Some of these statements have been extreme, implying that no-one used film any more. Film is far from “dead” http://www.japancamerahunter.com/2012/01/kodak-film-is-not-dead/
What’s more interesting perhaps is the desire of many to proclaim the death of film. what is it that drives this? It appears, on the whole, to be made by people who have little interest in or knowledge of photography. Camera-making companies obviously have some interest in encouraging people to buy, and one way of doing this is to introduce a must-have new technology, especially one that is constantly updated. But I suspect that there are also some who like the drama of announcing the death of one kind of technology, simply for the effect.
Another concern I have with the stuff about Kodak, is that there is little discussion about actual values and quality. One thing I have lived long enough to see is that new technologies are a simple exponential improvement on what they replace. Analogue sound is a good case in point. There is no way in the world that a CD is better in terms of sound than vinyl played on a resonable system. Every time I listen to vinyl records now, I wonder how I was ever persuaded otherwise back in the 80s.
In case I’m cast into the luddite category, I can assure you that I am myself the owner and user of two high-end digital cameras, a Canon EOS 5D and a Leica M9. I use both of them frequently.
I bought my 5D four years ago with considerable enthusiasm. I was excited about this new medium, and went mad taking photographs with it. I bought Photoshop and loved the convenience of “dry” processing. And the clean surface you could get was at first quite entrancing. But I soon realised that I really wanted to go back to take film. At first I couldn’t really explain this to myself. It was a gut feeling that something was not quite there in the digital images. I bought a Canon ESO 1-V and began taking – I don’t shoot! – black and white. Oh what magic was therein revealed, once more, as it had already done a couple of decades before with my dad’s camera. The subtlety of the light as it shifted from highlight to shadow, and the feeling – and this I think is it – that there was a layer beneath the surface, like the darker undercoat a painter uses to reveal depth in the surface.
The problem with digital is that it is all surface. Clean, sparkling. and transparent surface. Of course that can have its own beauty, but if given the choice, I would still prefer the deeper, richer image of film. And you can see the difference instantly. Look at images on the screen and you can tell if its digital or scanned film.