with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Saying Bye-Bye to Film?

Film cans and prints, photograph copyrighted by Lorelle VanFossenNews is out everywhere over the past few months. Nikon announced it will stop producing most of their film based cameras in order to devote more creative energy into digital cameras. Konica and Minolta, long an embattled pair, are also quitting production of analog cameras. Kodak has practically given up on making film and cameras, laying off thousands of workers around the globe.

Now, rumors are flying that Canon may quit making film cameras, too.

What does this mean? And what does it specifically mean for the photographer?

How Will This Change My Photography?

The overwhelming rush to kill off film and film cameras doesn’t yet meet reality. While digital images are close, they still don’t match high quality, low speed film’s quality. But who goes for quality photography these days? Huh? When everyone has a camera in their pocket, able to take a picture and publish it somewhere on the web within less than one minute of taking the picture?

Who cares if you can enlarge it to 1 to 4 meters across, covering a whole wall while still being able to “see” the picture? Not most digital photographers. Who cares if the pixel quality of low resolution and poor quality digital cameras tends to emulate ISO 1000 film sometimes? Not your common on-the-street-tourist-family-scrapbook photographer.

Quality loses out to quantity, and if the film and camera manufacturers base their company values on mass production and mass sales, then they have to quit the business of making analog cameras and film. Quantity over quality wins.

With more energy and money put into digital cameras, photographers hope that quality in image reproduction will improve. More pixels per point and more colors per pixel. Improved sharpness, improved control, and improved quality are hopefully in our future.

As a medium, the digital camera has totally revolutionized photography, but not in the ways the original nay-sayers and yeah-sayers thought.

It puts a camera in the hands of everyone, which also means that more people are enjoying photography than ever before. It also means that composition, technique, and skill go out the window with the glut of images on the market.

The fear that digital photography would create a glut of faked and digitally manipulated photographs has happened but been highly overrated. It did create a huge panic over the issue of “all real” vs “manipulation”, but photographers have been manipulating and faking pictures since the first camera. Those who are inclined to do that, will. Others won’t. Others will sometimes and not others. Others will take advantage of digital photography and computers to actually improve but not change their images, no different than what has been done in dark rooms for over a century.

It also means that photography, in general, is hotter than ever. Photography classes, workshops, and travel adventures are growing faster than the demand. People want to move beyond family scrapbooks and understand how the camera works and sees and how to improve their pictures.

So what does this mean for us, photographers?

It means that we have to speak out now for what we want to see in our future cameras. Let our voices be known, because the manufacturers are making decisions for us, telling us that we don’t need film or film-based (analog) cameras any more. We are stuck with what they provide us, so you better start speaking out now, or just take what they hand you.

It also could mean that they will really focus on improving digital cameras. Not just making them smaller and tucked into every man-made device (they have cameras in cars to photograph the road ahead, around, and behind!), but making them better by improving shutter release response, faster writing time of the image to the storage medium, better lens choices and options, built-in stabilizers, finer focusing and macro controls…who knows. What do you want in your future cameras?

One Comment

  • Michael J. Glaze
    Posted June 1, 2006 at 2:01 | Permalink

    Just some info to pass on to you….. Re: your bye bye film. Due to the clients that we have at Optechs Camera. Almost all professional. We have NOT sold a NEW film camera of any kind in over 3 years. We do NOT have any FILM in the store. Our coolers have been turned off. Our big seller is Hasselblad H-2 with a Phase-one back. 39 megs. Big file. Phase -one is from Denmark.

    The new name of the store is ‘Optechs Digital’ Glazer’s still sells film and film cameras. Overcast today in Seattle. Michael

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