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Random analog thoughts...
Old 10-21-2018   #1
Guth
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Random analog thoughts...

I joined this forum almost one year ago. I ended up here because I bought a rangefinder camera over 18 years ago and was thinking that I was finally going to sell it. This seemed like the best place by far to gain some information on the current marketplace for such cameras. Fast forward to last month and instead of selling the camera I finally loaded it up with film and starting using it again instead.

I've been hanging around here a bit more as a result and have found a number of the conversations to be interesting. I've noticed a few things over the past few weeks that have lead to this post. Back when I bought my camera I don't think anyone noticed it or cared about it in the least. I've now had multiple people (all younger individuals) ask me question about it. More than once this has happened when someone saw me changing out film. I'm also surprised that random people actually know about Leica cameras. Like I said, back when I bought my camera nobody paid any attention to it.

I'm chalking some of this up to the "analog revolution" as I like to call it. I've noticed more and more young people embracing older technologies. Please bear in mind that I'm not talking solely about hipsters. On a recent trip to Victoria B.C. I lost track of how many shops (retail shops, coffee shops, etc.) were playing vinyl records and I saw other people out on the streets with film cameras. Here in Portland where I live it's just more of the same. I also see lots of young folks around here riding older motorcycles with carbs that need to be adjusted and tuned. I can't quite put my finger on why this is. For example, I think it's funny that people are willing to spend as much as they are on new vinyl LP's that were recorded digitally to begin with. So it would seem that there is something to do with the process or rituals involved in vinyl playback that appeals to many younger individuals. I would imagine that the same might be true for film cameras (all this aside from what film brings to the photos themselves).

What's surprising is how this has impacted the marketplace when it comes to vinyl. The number of companies now producing turntables is mind boggling. I'm watching my local music store evolve as records consume larger and larger amounts of the store's footprint. (I'm one of those guys who never gave up on playing LPs.) I checked in with my local camera store to see if they had received any Ektachrome and they answered yes of course. That was followed by the fact that they quickly sold out their allotment.

I do not think that these things are unrelated. I believe that there is a growing segment of the population that are finding greater appeal in a variety of analog technologies and it would seem that the number of people involved are growing at a decent clip. Sort of like the rise in the popularity of micro brewed beer if you will. As I write this, I wonder how long it will be before we see new film camera designs sitting on camera store shelves. I imagine that most will laugh at this, but that's exactly what happened when people used to talk about turntables a number of years ago as well. Interesting times.
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Old 10-21-2018   #2
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I think you're on to something.

In my case, I was present at the creation. I ride a 73 Honda. I restore tube amps and record players. I've got thousands of records, some of which I've had since the 70s. I shoot film, my first camera was a Diana - the original.

I build and shoot guns, collect vintage pieces.

I also work in IT, cybersecurity. I'm a Linux geek and heavily into um various technical things.

Best of both worlds.

But I won't drink craft beer or wear plaid ironically.

Gotta draw the line somewhere.
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Old 10-21-2018   #3
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lol, great response bmattock. Sounds like we're on a similar timeline and wavelength. I work in IT as well. I find that I need a certain amount of balance in my life between the new and the old. The older I get the less I enjoy "some" of new technologies and what they bring to the table. After I finish a craft beer, I'm going to spend some time with my acoustic guitar this evening, or my therapy as I like to call it. (I almost never play electric and gave my old Fender tube amp away to my brother as a gift a couple of years ago.)
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Old 10-21-2018   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guth View Post
lol, great response bmattock. Sounds like we're on a similar timeline and wavelength. I work in IT as well. I find that I need a certain amount of balance in my life between the new and the old. The older I get the less I enjoy "some" of new technologies and what they bring to the table. After I finish a craft beer, I'm going to spend some time with my acoustic guitar this evening, or my therapy as I like to call it. (I almost never play electric and gave my old Fender tube amp away to my brother as a gift a couple of years ago.)
Sounds like a fine evening. My therapy this evening was watching Arsenic And Old Lace with the missus. Monday night, I'm going to see the English Beat, my one concert a year.
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Old 10-21-2018   #5
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It is growing. I was in a coffee shop earlier today, grading some papers. Three young ladies (16 year olds, I'd say) walked in, two of them with film cameras around their necks. They were the furthest thing from "hipster".

We had a great little conversation on SLRs vs rangefinders.
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Old 10-21-2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayernfan View Post
Three young ladies (16 year olds, I'd say) walked in, two of them with film cameras around their necks.
Yes, this is much more along the lines of what I’m referring to. Don’t get me wrong as I’m not hating on hipsters here, but I do see the appeal of this sort of thing stretching way beyond the “hipster market”. That’s one of many reasons that I find this all so interesting. In the turntable world there has been a renaissance of many different formats such as belt-drive, direct-drive, (and other more obscure drive systems). This would be the equivalent of seeing a renewed interest in both new SLR’s, and new rangefinders for use with film, not just in the use of film itself.
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Old 10-21-2018   #7
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I still use my Pioneer stereo receiver ('69), and play my great collection of vinyl, many analog cameras and a frig full of film. Life is the way I want it now. But I just bought a DSLR (FF). I don't think it is going to turn me on. But I'll keep you posted.

Brand new Pioneer Receiver and Dual Turn Table; 1969:

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Old 10-21-2018   #8
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Are there music companies that actually made vinyl records from digital recordings? I wondered about that, and found this little nugget on an audio forum

"A properly mastered vinyl record from a digital source will sound better than a poorly mastered CD from a digital source." So yes, it happens.

That makes sense to me. All things being equal, which of course they never are, vinyl SHOULD sound "better" than a CD if you have a really good turntable, needle, amp and speakers. Most people don't. But for sure, music that is recorded using analog mics and recorded straight to vinyl will be of higher quality than a digitally recorded CD IF the people doing the recording knew their stuff.

I have a cassette tape of Bob Neuwirth's "Back To The Front" album that was recorded mostly in someone's living room using analog mikes (the album, not my cassette), and it has fantastic sound quality. You think that you're in the same room listening to them. This is an acoustic album, which is analog's forte, but go to youtube some time and give some of the tracks a listen and see what you think. Good stuff.

While we're on the subject, a really cool guy who owned a record store in Daytona Beach showed me about 30 years ago that mono sounds better than stereo. Stereo is an artificial way of recording, mono is straight from the source, and if done properly the sound is fresher and clearer in mono.

My take on the film thing is that when you see it happening in coffeehouses, it's hipsters, and that's a different thing than film making a resurgence. That's just fashion. Having lived in Portland a few times, I'm well aware that it has a lot of hipsters.
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Old 10-21-2018   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guth View Post
This would be the equivalent of seeing a renewed interest in both new SLR’s, and new rangefinders for use with film, not just in the use of film itself.
It's happening. Several people/companies are at work on it. The demand, particularly among the compact and rangefinder crowd, is there.

As for turntables, I thoroughly enjoy my SL-1200MK5.
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Old 10-21-2018   #10
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We think this is all new to us, but hasn't each generation used the obsolete stuff from the preceding generation, rebuilt, repaired, cleaned up, new old stock, and enjoyed it right along?
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Old 10-21-2018   #11
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We think this is all new to us, but hasn't each generation used the obsolete stuff from the preceding generation, rebuilt, repaired, cleaned up, new old stock, and enjoyed it right along?
Except for manual transmissions. The kids can play, but they can't shift.
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Old 10-21-2018   #12
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Except for manual transmissions. The kids can play, but they can't shift.
Ain't that the truth!

(I drive a Honda Accord with a manual transmission. Still not reconciled to automatics. Still prefer manual focus on my cameras. )

- Murray
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Old 10-21-2018   #13
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My son inherited my 1999 Audi A4 and is proud of the fact that it has a manual transmission. I was surprised to learn that he has more than one friend who also drive cars with manual transmissions. These are the same kids who came by their drivers licenses just a bit later in life choosing to get around largely by mass transit instead after turning 16. These days I get my manual transmission needs met by a Honda S2000. (I also own a t-shirt dedicated to The Manual Transmission Preservation Society, lol.)

Still I don't get the sense that what I'm observing is quite the same as generations in the past rehashing and reusing things from previous generations. Those decisions were often based largely on a lack of money and as a matter of convenience. Younger folks these days are going to a fair amount of effort to seek out and find analog items. They're paying a fair amount more and also investing more time in their pursuits of the older technology than I would have expected.
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Old 10-21-2018   #14
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I guess I’m a 61 year old hipster, since I have (as of last count) 23 typewriters. Perhaps there’s a 12-step program available?
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Old 10-21-2018   #15
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I guess I’m a 61 year old hipster, since I have (as of last count) 23 typewriters. Perhaps there’s a 12-step program available?
Then stay away from Blue Moon Camera and Machine. Nothing but analog cameras and typewriters.
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Old 10-21-2018   #16
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Then stay away from Blue Moon Camera and Machine. Nothing but analog cameras and typewriters.
When I get my DSLR on Tuesday I'll take a picture of my Olympia portable typewriter, and post.
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Old 10-21-2018   #17
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Ironically, one of the businesses that we saw while in Victoria was a place where you could rent time with your choice of typewriters by the hour. That was a new one on me.
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Old 10-21-2018   #18
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Perhaps the answer is: particularly the young(er) people that you mention, they're just fed-up with ephemeral items; they prefer sustainable products.

It would be very intriguing to know how their upbringing was. (And: Who did tell them the secret that economic growth isn't everything in human life?)
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Old 10-21-2018   #19
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I live in a fairly conservative part of Sydney, but it's touristy as well. Not many film cameras around people's necks. However the Sydney Camera Market, held 3 times a year, is drawing more people. Prices are going up, but that's also a reflection of international demand and the fall of the AUD.

People only notice my film cameras when they're obvious, like a TLR or folder. Even the Barnacks don't get noticed much (which I like).

C41 processing is still fairly accessible from minilabs in the suburbs but E-6 and bw are hard to find, and expensive. I process my own bw.

I'm happy that demand for film seems to be increasing. Maybe that will not only guarantee supply, but also help to bring prices down. Tri-X is $20 a roll here (36 exp.) unless you shop around on the internet, where it can be had locally for around $10-$12.
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Old 10-22-2018   #20
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I'm beginning to wish I'd not dumped the old TL12 but something nasty was leaking from the transformer...

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Old 10-22-2018   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
Are there music companies that actually made vinyl records from digital recordings? I wondered about that, and found this little nugget on an audio forum

"A properly mastered vinyl record from a digital source will sound better than a poorly mastered CD from a digital source." So yes, it happens.
Yes, many recordings are Digital sourced and then pressed. IMO the elephant in the room is the loudness war and sometimes pressing maximized masters to vinyl.
It's funny that Digital is supposedly technically better but in mastering for loudness, its advantages are just thrown out of the window. Thankfully many modern botchered CDs have proper vinyl masters.

I miss my stereo, although I use the computer as turntable. Got a vinyl setup from my father on the old family home.

Quote:
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Except for manual transmissions. The kids can play, but they can't shift.
It's curious that in Europe manual transmissions are the norm.
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Old 10-22-2018   #22
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Except for manual transmissions. The kids can play, but they can't shift.
That's mostly an American thing, though. Where I live, I don't know anyone who can't shift. (The reason being, that if you take the driver's test on an automatic you're just allowed to drive automatic afterwards whereas if you take it on a manual transmission car you can then drive both. That's why nearly everyone opts to learn to drive on a manual transmission.)
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Old 10-22-2018   #23
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When I get my DSLR on Tuesday I'll take a picture of my Olympia portable typewriter, and post.

Like this, you mean
?

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-22-2018   #24
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I have one of these sewn to my canvas bookbag:

https://shootfilmco.com/collections/...roidered-patch
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Old 10-22-2018   #25
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That's mostly an American thing, though. Where I live, I don't know anyone who can't shift. (The reason being, that if you take the driver's test on an automatic you're just allowed to drive automatic afterwards whereas if you take it on a manual transmission car you can then drive both. That's why nearly everyone opts to learn to drive on a manual transmission.)
I did not know that. Cool!

In the USA, or at least in the places I've lived here, having a manual shift car is unusual and becoming rare. It's to the point there are amusing Youtube videos of carjackers abandoning cars after ejecting the owner, jumping in, and realizing they have no idea how to drive it.
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Old 10-22-2018   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
I did not know that. Cool!

In the USA, or at least in the places I've lived here, having a manual shift car is unusual and becoming rare. It's to the point there are amusing Youtube videos of carjackers abandoning cars after ejecting the owner, jumping in, and realizing they have no idea how to drive it.
... Time to repeat this joke:

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A guy down on his luck is looking for odd jobs so he knocks on someones door. "Anything I can do for you for a few bucks?"
"Sure, you can paint the porch for me"
An hour later he's finished;
"All done, but just wanted to let you know your car is a BMW not a Porsche"
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Old 10-22-2018   #27
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No, mine is a portable with a case to take on an airliner. But that is much cooler than mine.
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Old 10-22-2018   #28
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Except for manual transmissions. The kids can play, but they can't shift.
Just say NO! to slush boxes!

30 years of car driving and never owned an automatic transmission.

If you don't row your own, you ain't driving. You're just pointing the car.
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Old 10-22-2018   #29
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Some random thoughts of my own ...

I always dislike this "digital vs analog" discussion. It always ends up in the classic nonsense of "us vs them".

Some old things work very well, to the point that the new things which have replaced them are below that standard. This has happened on two bases: reduction of cost in manufacture so more profit to the people who make them, and increased access to the people who want them due to lower cost. Neither of these bases are bad things in themselves. The difficulty comes when people accept the new that are substandard and assume that is as good as it gets, "there's nothing you can do about it." That's the difficult thing. And of course the other difficult thing is when those expectations and the substandard qualities of the things become the norm and there is no impetus to improve them.

Some new things work very well, to the point where the old things that they have replaced are really and truly obsolete, irrelevant, to be avoided. Do you really want to go back to a day of high energy X-rays in every medical procedure for a film process to achieve a decent image of something ailing you instead of a far briefer exposure to dangerous radiation to get a better picture of the problem? I doubt it. That's just one example: There are many many many. And then there's the downside of new things, the huge substrate of information and knowledge it takes to understand, design, manufacture it, and the "hiding" of all the basic processes by which it works. That's the difficult part.

Old camera technology—film, developer, etc—has its cost. So does new camera technology—bits, bytes, chips, etc. Both have their plusses and minuses. Old*and new music recording technology: the same.

I've lived through this entire cycle so far. I don't cling to old stuff any more than I grasp for new stuff. I play with lots of stuff of both genera in the hope of understanding, of finding where it is advantageous and where it is not. And then I try to learn to get beyond it and see what I want to produce, what qualities am I looking for, to make my photographs and my art. I don't care, in the end, whether what I make comes from old or new, as long as I get to make what I want.

I just bought a nice old Leica R6.2, the last of the mechanical Leica SLR film cameras. I'm enjoying re-discovering and learning anew some of the things I like about film photography with it, and with my Polaroids, and with my other film cameras. I also bought recently a nice new Leica CL: I'm enjoying re-discovering what I love about digital capture, about flexible and repeatable image rendering, about the depth and range of how I can make prints with the new technology, and about how facile and capable this new technology is.

Neither is better than the other in every way. Both help me reach my photographic goals, together, as long as I remain aware, and work hard at it.

What more can one want?

G
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Old 10-22-2018   #30
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I have never left, except for losing carbs back in the '80s. I've always had a turntable, tube amps, just getting back to using film, and listening to vinyl, and enjoying cassettes on the Nakamichi more than I ever did before. Still enjoy some technology. I got my second portable hi res audio player, and when it's not convenient to play vinyl, it's nice knowing I have a lot of high res files to listen to.
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Old 10-22-2018   #31
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Quote:
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I'm chalking some of this up to the "analog revolution" as I like to call it.
Your observations are accurate. Film use is on the upswing across all age groups! Processing labs are operating at full capacity and new ones are opening all over the world. New film emulsions are being introduced (and RE-introduced) regularly. Fujifilm offers an extensive line of Instax instant films for those who can't wait for or afford processing of regular films. That Fujifilm sold 6.6 million Instax cameras last year is no coincidence! The film resurgence has something in it for everyone.


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Old 10-22-2018   #32
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Film never left for a lot of us but back in 2004 or so I had an inclination it would hit a low and then return serve.

A lot of this had to do with not so much being “cool” but that a fair amount of young people were just not going to settle for what all the tech hedge funders and middle age label makers would have them believe is “The Future”. Increasingly, this has really played out and it warms my 51 going on 21 year old heart. All assigning labels to younger people does is make your spirt age faster. There was never a need to call people Hipsters, Millenials or any of that other crap that older generations seem to blind them selves with in not even trying to understand where younger people are coming from, what they are now up against and how much we all still have in common.

So lose the hipster labels, lose the millennial labels and lose the notion that young people can’t drive sticks….you are as old as the sh_tty labels and opinions you assign to people you don’t even know.

Back to film use. I started gearing up for a major darkroom build back in 2008 when the crash hit. I was getting equipment for peanuts if not for free. But it took a good ten years to find the space because I want to print BIG. Now I finally have that space and some $150,000 and a decade later, the 500 square foot space is done and prints up to 4x5’ feet. But the best part is how many people are sharing in this now, the passion, the respect for what the craft demands of you and the beauty of the results, regardless of age.

It was never about which was technically better, it is about what is the right fit for the individual or even the day or outing. It’s also a journey regardless of medium and sometimes you want to walk the path, other times you want to skate for a bit and feel a different cadence of that journey. And the journey *does* affect the destination or in the case of a photograph, the resultant image. The journey of film and darkroom printing inspires a different look and feel in my own work and has shown to do the same in others.

So here we are, late 2018 and not only is film still here, it is right where I thought it would be all along, living it’s own unique life amid a galaxy of creative choices with it’s warm voice permeating the visual world of photography.

Rejoice!
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Old 10-22-2018   #33
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Your observations are accurate. Film use is on the upswing across all age groups! Processing labs are operating at full capacity and new ones are opening all over the world. New film emulsions are being introduced (and RE-introduced) regularly. Fujifilm offers an extensive line of Instax instant films for those who can't wait for or afford processing of regular films. That Fujifilm sold 6.6 million Instax cameras last year is no coincidence! The film resurgence has something in it for everyone.

Cheers, Robert
Wow.....I love film as much as the next guy but this above is pure fantasy. Processing labs running at full capacity? NO. My lab does a single run PER week. Every lab I used in Chicago has closed down. No new ones have appeared. E6 labs are almost extinct. Fujifilm discontinues still film emulsions every year.
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Old 10-22-2018   #34
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Wow.....I love film as much as the next guy but this above is pure fantasy. Processing labs running at full capacity? NO. My lab does a single run PER week. Every lab I used in Chicago has closed down. No new ones have appeared. E6 labs are almost extinct. Fujifilm discontinues still film emulsions every year.
Sounds like the film revolution is stronger in the Northwest then in the Chicago area.

This is likely true across the world. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that some regions are seeing more film use than other regions.

I know that in my small neck of the woods cell phones dominate. At a recent high school football game the high school yearbook crew were using Canon digital cameras, I was using a film camera and everyone else that I spotted were using cell phones. This is pretty typical in my area.

Of course, even at a small town high school football game there is no way I can absolutely verify what everyone was using, so most of this would have to be attributed to anecdotal information, which probably isn't worth too much.

I can say that there are no local labs developing film anywhere in my area. If I don't develop it myself I either give it to Wal-Mart, who does not return my negatives, or I send it off to a mail order lab. I send off my color slide film, which usually isn't a lot, and develop the rest myself.

I can buy a very small selection of Fuji 35mm and Fuji Instax color film locally at Wal-Mart and a couple of drug stores. I used to be able to find some Kodak color film but I haven't noticed any of that on the shelves around here for awhile. So for all of you guys who like to run down Fuji, if it weren't for their consumer film stock there would be no film at all available in my small town in Northeastern Nevada.
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Old 10-22-2018   #35
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There's no app for real-life experiences!

Virtuality has its place, but it's often subject to someone else's agenda.

I suppose it's not very hygge either.
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Old 10-22-2018   #36
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Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
Sounds like the film revolution is stronger in the Northwest then in the Chicago area.

This is likely true across the world. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that some regions are seeing more film use than other regions.

I know that in my small neck of the woods cell phones dominate. At a recent high school football game the high school yearbook crew were using Canon digital cameras, I was using a film camera and everyone else that I spotted were using cell phones. This is pretty typical in my area.

Of course, even at a small town high school football game there is no way I can absolutely verify what everyone was using, so most of this would have to be attributed to anecdotal information, which probably isn't worth too much.

I can say that there are no local labs developing film anywhere in my area. If I don't develop it myself I either give it to Wal-Mart, who does not return my negatives, or I send it off to a mail order lab. I send off my color slide film, which usually isn't a lot, and develop the rest myself.

I can buy a very small selection of Fuji 35mm and Fuji Instax color film locally at Wal-Mart and a couple of drug stores. I used to be able to find some Kodak color film but I haven't noticed any of that on the shelves around here for awhile. So for all of you guys who like to run down Fuji, if it weren't for their consumer film stock there would be no film at all available in my small town in Northeastern Nevada.
I'd like to see some evidence that labs anywhere are running at "full capacity". I won't hold my breath waiting.
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Old 10-22-2018   #37
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I'd like to see some evidence that labs anywhere are running at "full capacity". I won't hold my breath waiting.
I can't really say full capacity but very busy would be Blue Moon, Praus & Englewood Camera.

Besides, it seems to be your concern and yours alone to call this out, so while we are shooting film and getting the word out how good it is all going, you should put forth the effort to find out just how labs are doing and then share it with us.

Make sense?
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Old 10-22-2018   #38
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I always dislike this "digital vs analog" discussion. It always ends up in the classic nonsense of "us vs them".
My intention was to discuss the rise in use of older, analog technologies in general and film photography specifically. I did not mean to start a digital vs analog debate. My apologies for any stress that I've created.

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Your observations are accurate. Film use is on the upswing across all age groups! Processing labs are operating at full capacity and new ones are opening all over the world.
Eventually I plan to develop my own film. For the time being I've been taking my film to Citizens Photo here in Portland for processing. The first time I dropped film off with them a few weeks back I asked how business was going. The person I spoke with said at this point they are the busiest that they've ever been. That's quite notable as they've been around since the mid 1940's. I was very surprised by this, but when I stopped to think about it some more I realized that much of their increase in business probably has to do with the demise of other photo labs that they would have competed with in the past.

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So here we are, late 2018 and not only is film still here, it is right where I thought it would be all along, living it’s own unique life amid a galaxy of creative choices with it’s warm voice permeating the visual world of photography.
I'd be curious to know where do you see film photography in another 10 years from now? Same question once again, but 25 years down the road instead of 10?
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Old 10-22-2018   #39
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I'd be curious to know where do you see film photography in another 10 years from now? Same question once again, but 25 years down the road instead of 10?
If I answered this now, I think I would be doing us both a disservice by not truly reflecting on it so I will give a more considered reply later.

But I will say right off that one concern I do have for the darkroom based silver print part of it is drastically increasing water scarcity and it's effects on how much water is currently needed to properly wash fiber based prints.

I am really pushing both Kodak and Ilford to innovate even further in terms of chemistry and what it requires to do that and I am also working along those lines my self by installing re-circulating systems on all my print washers, recapture systems on my sinks, etc.

25 years is a long time for our world now and a lot can and will happen. Moore's law has seeped into more than just technology and affects society as well so that is a big and good question.
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Old 10-22-2018   #40
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If I answered this now, I think I would be doing us both a disservice by not truly reflecting on it so I will give a more considered reply later.
That's cool and understandable. It's really just a curiosity on my part as I've put much more thought into such things as it applies to the world of audio and other areas rather than photography. Agreed that 25 years is a very long time for such a discussion. Perhaps breakdowns of 5 and 10 years out might be a bit more reasonable. Thanks!
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