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View Poll Results: For which format will film be available longest?
120 will outlast 135 65 39.16%
135 will be the survivor (for a while) 101 60.84%
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The longest Survivor: 120 or 135 format?
Old 11-28-2012   #1
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The longest Survivor: 120 or 135 format?

The clerk in one popular store in St. Louis said that 120 film will live after 135 is gone, because of the detail 120 can capture. In another store, one that serves both amateurs and Pros, the opinion is that 135 will last longer, because there are so many 35mm cameras.

What do you think?
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Old 11-28-2012   #2
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135 will last longer I think, many entry level and toy cams are in 135 format. The sales of this market segment is growing.
More emulsions are available in 135 too AFAIK.
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Old 11-28-2012   #3
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I think it's a toss up. The speculation depends on who's talking and their particular biases.

I suspect both film types may be around for about the same amount of time, despite the fact that with "full frame" digital, 35mm film is well outstripped by dynamic range, sensitivity, and resolution. Medium format digital is not the same as medium format film, either in format size or in cost of equipment, so there is more logical potential for 120 film to be around longer. But these things rarely operate on logic alone.

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Old 11-28-2012   #4
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I'd like to hope that 120 would survive since I have a lot of medium format cameras. However, with Fuji still making 35mm film cameras (at least in their home market), as well as the tremendous amount of still functioning 35mm cameras still around, I would think that 135 will be around for quite a while. Who knows, maybe 120 will survive as a "fine art" product like the store rep said. Meanwhile, I'll just keep shooting my Mamiyas, Fuji's and Zenobia's.
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Old 11-28-2012   #5
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As someone who only shoots 220 and 4x5. I don't think medium and large format has a chance, except Ilford who has their own loyal customer base for custom-sized ultra large format films. 35mm has a much bigger market.
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Old 11-28-2012   #6
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135 will outlast 120 until the last die hard Leica M shooter takes the last roll of Tri-X to their grave.
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Old 11-28-2012   #7
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As long as there is a market for one, the other will be around since they both start off as the same stock.

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Old 11-28-2012   #8
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I think if 120 disappeared analog photography would be over for me.

135 is ok in a mix but on it's own has little appeal.
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Old 11-28-2012   #9
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120. all movie making will be digital.120 will be left as a niche market covered by the Chinese and a few european companies.Leica will have no bearing what so ever.
I`ll be long dead so does not really matter either way.
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Old 11-28-2012   #10
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I hope 120 will outlive 135, but it will probably no matter have lasted longer than 135, it has 33 year head start
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Old 11-28-2012   #11
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An invention from the cinema technology the only surviving? 120/220 is the real photography medium
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Old 11-29-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil_F_NM View Post
As long as there is a market for one, the other will be around since they both start off as the same stock.
Not really, no. 120 and (small size thin) sheet film can both be made off the same base, but 135 generally is different - it lacks the gelatin anti-warp back coating of the bigger formats, and has a thicker base with a light-piping prevention dye.

135 has potential future issues as the required anti-light-piping substrate has no other application. If film volumes get too small to absorb the minimum amount that can be produced at a reasonable price, we might be out of a suitable acetate or polyester base, and the 120/sheet alternative, clear film, means that we'd have to load the cameras in a dark bag (which would predictably kill all applications outside the enthusiast market).

120 has rather complicated spooling and a backing paper with little to no other applications - issues with the backing paper (like chemical fogging of the film or poor opacity) already are occurring among the smaller makers, and the last automatic 127 spooling machine was scrapped years ago (all 127 available in the last years was hand spooled by one blind staff member at Fotokemika). But the clear stock needed is shared with many other industries, spooling machines are a task for a small machine workshop, and any printer can provide the kind of mediocre backing paper the smaller makers use by the thousand, so the outside dependencies are resolvable even at a very small volume.

Film industry insiders tend to be more worried about the fate of 135, as it is dependent on one externally procured unique product that has a very high minimum production volume, and as its customer base is used to extremely competitive or even destructive pricing and probably would not stay along over a dramatic price increase or loss of daylight loading convenience.
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Old 11-29-2012   #13
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I would guess roughly the same. 35mm is easier and cameras are more plentiful, but it's easier to replace with digital. If you use medium format on tripods with slow film, and scan/enlarge carefully, you're going to have a harder job replacing that with digital.
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Old 11-29-2012   #14
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Thinking about the rate of change in technological time, I'd give film maybe 10 years at most, but at the extreme outside, a human generation...perhaps 30 years. It is only a matter of time before the camera makers nail the actual look of 35mm or 120 film. Software does a pretty good job now. Five more years of technology advancement, combined with the economics and practical issues involved in film production, will kill any incentive to continue film production.

The other factor will be the general decline in people over the next 10 to 30 years who are able or interested in repairing film cameras, and parts to repair them. The viability of continued film production is only one bit of this equation. Most film cameras made over the last 20 years depend on some kind of now obsolete electronics to function fully.
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Old 11-29-2012   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pickett Wilson View Post
It is only a matter of time before the camera makers nail the actual look of 35mm or 120 film.
I doubt that that would make a difference, one way or the other. Film has a potential of survival because it has a tradition people can tap into - but what people make out of that tradition is entirely modern, and extremely variable. Ten years ago, DSLRs were considered to have beaten film as they had become capable of the lacklustre look of overprocessed scans of oversaturated slide film filling the ad spreads of the period. But soon after, Lomography redefined "the actual look of film", eventually spreading from hipster artists to art directors/art buyers and on to the great unwashed. By now that look has become so universal as to make the fake-Lomo Instagram the hit of several seasons in a row.

A year or two on, "tradition" will be something else - perhaps not even film, we might soon encounter recursions to early electronic photography, people already are dabbling in "retro" video stills printed on a CSC or playing around with digital scan backs. But as long as mainstream digital cameras are still in the imitating period and devoid of all originality, they cannot themselves spawn a tradition - and as long as that is so, people will look to film (and accordingly play with film, if only to figure out what they want to execute, at full blown marketable product scale, with a digital device) when looking for inspiration from the past.
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Old 11-29-2012   #16
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If 120 goes then I'll have to move over to making my own large format wet plates. It's not too big a loss I intend to do that someday anyway.
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Old 11-29-2012   #17
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My predictions for the next 20 years are:

1. No problems with film supply, though there will be changes in the films available

2. After 20 years the film-period cameras become increasingly difficult to maintain or are further marginalised in use. Lomography cameras continue to find a market as the primary alternative to digital.

3. There continues to be production of 120 and MF pinhole cameras, such as the Harman Titan and others. These continue to work indefinitely with no complex mechanical components to maintain.

4. Film will become more expensive.

5. Photographic chemicals will be widely available.

I think there is something fundamentally appealing about the analogue photographic process that will not go away - there will always be a set of people who continue to be fascinated by the magic of negatives and the darkroom.
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Old 11-29-2012   #18
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Canvas, brushes and oil paints are still available........
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Old 11-29-2012   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sevo View Post
120 has rather complicated spooling and a backing paper with little to no other applications - issues with the backing paper (like chemical fogging of the film or poor opacity) already are occurring among the smaller makers, and the last automatic 127 spooling machine was scrapped years ago (all 127 available in the last years was hand spooled by one blind staff member at Fotokemika).
Funnily enough, I logged on to say "What about 127?" I have some deliciously weird 127 cameras, and I'm really hoping that they're not going to be relegated to the shelf when my last rolls go.

Incidentally, has anyone noticed that in the UK this chap is selling 120 on resized spools for 620 users?
http://www.photosupplies.co.uk/shop....hopid=02111201

Spoilt my first roll by not being careful enough tensioning it, so looking forward to testing the second one.

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Old 11-29-2012   #20
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How many medium format cameras are still being used for film?

How many 35mm cameras are still being used for film?

My own sense is that both formats will still be around when, someday, I don't wake up.
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Old 11-29-2012   #21
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Are there any real numbers out there for how much 35mm is sold vs. 120 film?
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Old 11-29-2012   #22
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This from 2011 for total rolls:

"A report by The Associated Press suggests that within the next 9 years film may be going the way of the Dodo. Film sales have been declining by 20% each year, with sales as low as 20 million rolls of film expected this year. Sales of film cameras are expected to be similarly low at 100,000 this year, compared to the peak of nearly 19.7 million in 2000, despite new film cameras being announced, such as the Lomo LC-A Wide. "
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Old 11-29-2012   #23
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Worry about it when it happens.

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Old 11-29-2012   #24
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Quote:
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Worry about it when it happens.
Hence my concerns about 127! I know it's far from your favourite format, and I can appreciate why, but it suits the toys in my sandpit and I reserve the right to sulk if I can't play with them.

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Old 11-29-2012   #25
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Hence my concerns about 127! I know it's far from your favourite format, and I can appreciate why, but it suits the toys in my sandpit and I reserve the right to sulk if I can't play with them.

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Dear Adrian,

Indeed! But it's disappeared and reappeared before. One may live in (modest) hope. Personally I bemoan the lack of Delta 3200 in 70mm. Oh, they'll make me some -- subject to an MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) of about two lifetimes' worth.

Might be worth contacting Mirko at Fotoimpex to see if the old Croatian machinery survives for converting/packing 127 from master rolls...

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Old 11-29-2012   #26
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Or just make yourself a 127 film slitter?
http://www.filmwasters.com/forum/index.php?topic=3362.0

Why worry? BTW I hear in 2374 there will be so many people we will run out of air...
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Old 11-29-2012   #27
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The significance of that 20 million number is that it shows how incredibly little film people with film cameras actually shoot each year on average. Most of these cameras must be sitting on shelves or being used as jewelry much of the time.
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Old 11-29-2012   #28
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135 will outlast 120 IMHO. There are so many 135 cameras and users (still) that it will be around a long time even if the film (in rolls) and the cassettes are sold separately.

Also, there most likely are uses and environments where image capture is needed where digital is not so practical.

Sheet film will outlast both.
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Old 11-29-2012   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pickett Wilson View Post
The significance of that 20 million number is that it shows how incredibly little film people with film cameras actually shoot each year on average. Most of these cameras must be sitting on shelves or being used as jewelry much of the time.
Which cameras? 100.000 to 20.000.000 would be 200 films per year and newly sold camera - I vaguely remember figures less than one quarter of that for the nineties.

Statistics comparing past and present film use are pretty much useless, as the two highest volume user groups (pedestrian consumers and bulk studio work professionals) have entirely vanished - none of the remaining segments have usage patterns even remotely similar to the "one p-n-s and roll of film per annual holiday with the toddlers" mum or the "sixty rolls of 220 per work day with a staff of eighty" catalogue studio pro.
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Old 11-29-2012   #30
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The survey's wording makes my selection difficult. My guess is that the OP means "which will be the last to be discontinued". "How long will they be available" has a different meaning.

If you are referring to only the 135 film size then at the demise of the last survivor, 120 will probably prove to have been available longer largely due to the fact that it first became available 33 years before the introduction of the 135 packaging.

If you are referring to the raw film with our without a cassette, the answer become somewhat hazy. 35mm film, originally for movies, predates 120 film by nearly a decade, but the perforation pattern required by all modern cameras wasn't introduced until some decades later. In 1909, 8 years after the intoduction of 120, the 35mm perf standard became the "4 per frame" pattern we now use. How much earlier is was used before becoming the industry's official standard I don't know. It possibly predates 120.
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Old 11-29-2012   #31
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Sevo, that 100 thousand is "new" cameras. Folks buying and selling used cameras far exceed that, I suspect. Most who buy these cameras must shoot no film, or only a couple of rolls per year.
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Old 11-29-2012   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pickett Wilson View Post
Sevo, that 100 thousand is "new" cameras. Folks buying and selling used cameras far exceed that, I suspect. Most who buy these cameras must shoot no film, or only a couple of rolls per year.
I'm not sure that makes sense. How do you know the ones buying the new cameras aren't shooting 1-2 rolls a year? You know the 'I bought a Holga and use it as a supplement to my main camera which is an iPhone' but only shoot a few expired films...

We have no data so conjecture is rather weak, fun on forums but not based in reality because of the few data points.

You realise the much bandied about 20 million films sold per year is a figure for USA only consumption? (and was an estimate at that)

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Old 11-29-2012   #33
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Photo_Smith, I guess I don't understand your point. The only point I was making was that with all the film cameras out there, new and those being bought and sold on these forums and eBay, 20 million rolls is a small number. A lot of those camera owners are obviously not shooting much film.
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Old 11-29-2012   #34
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I can see 35mm surviving in bulk mode longer in many emulsions, but am not sure that "counts".

My Czech friends, younger than myself, recall buying it in bulk packages that included what you needed with rolls of film with leaders' tongues cut, but still in one longer roll.

It was also very common to have to mount your own slides by hand after processing.

Kodachrome came with processing in much of the world much longer than in the US, and you had a choice, much of the time, between mounted and unmounted.

I can recall often being asked if my camera was a "slide" camera, or if my camera took "slides" .

Am not sure how it will relate to the survival of anyone continuing to produce cinema using film.

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Old 11-29-2012   #35
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I don't see that Picket Wilson. Why? because that 20 million (est) is for the USA. If we take the amount of actual films sold in the USA of 20 million + 30 million disposables then divide them by the population of the USA we get how many rolls per head of population? (it's silly to say each person shoots that many films)

The 20 million* figure was an estimate based upon decline in sales extrapolated over a timeframe, the writer states in 10 years film will die if 1999-date data is used, interestingly enough if we take a shorter timeframe from those figures of 1999-2004 it should already be gone...

It doesn't matter because the figure is meaningless, we have no idea of the ratio of people who buy new cameras compared to use old ones.

What if the users with the old cameras have 5-6 camera bodies and use 100-200 rolls a year?
We have no idea of how many people use film worldwide, let alone the proportion of old cameras still in use, we don't know how many cameras each user owns.
Do you say films per camera or films per user?
How many people worldwide still use film? 50-100k is a figure I've seen quoted by some...

With so little data it's silly to make assumptions

*Figures quoted from PMA (USA)
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Old 11-29-2012   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pickett Wilson View Post
Photo_Smith, I guess I don't understand your point. The only point I was making was that with all the film cameras out there, new and those being bought and sold on these forums and eBay, 20 million rolls is a small number. A lot of those camera owners are obviously not shooting much film.
I believe I posted something earlier in the year that noted that most 35mm film sold today has shifted to single use cameras, which work rather well for some folks who only want a vacation camera, or give them to guests at an event to record what is going on around them. I wonder if it will become cheaper to pull a roll out of a single use camera to feed to a Leica?

I share the feeling the next shift will be away from P&S digital to simply cell phone cameras. I know serious photographers who already have shifted to "quality" very small equipment.

Photography may return to its earliest roots, before images could be fixed, as most images may become temporary as they are electronically formed, some shared and most if not all deleted. I would guess now from what my friends are doing that few of most people's images are printed, and phones eventually fail.

OTOH, I have boxes of negatives that will be tossed when I fail.

Maybe one or two images will glide by when RFF recycles them as someone logs on. ;-)

Regards, John
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Old 11-29-2012   #37
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O.K. Since all numbers are meaningless, I guess that precludes discussion. I can live with that.

I still don't get your point, though. Must need another cup of coffee.
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Old 11-29-2012   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil_F_NM View Post
As long as there is a market for one, the other will be around since they both start off as the same stock.

Phil Forrest
thank you for such an obvious answer. Same film, different cut, they'll die together - if they do.
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Old 11-29-2012   #39
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What dictates the availability of our current form of film in 120 and 135 formats is the motion picture industry. While many pictures are shot digitally, the prints that are distributed to the thousands of projection booths are largely still film.

Film production and projection equipment is 100% paid off, in-full these days, so aside from maintenance using film is pure profit for the movie studios.

Motion picture prints for distribution are a few tens of thousands of feet per-film. More film in one movie than most serious amateurs will shoot in 20 years.

Just about or slightly less than half of the older yet profitable projection booths in the US are still shooting through film so this is where the rubber really meets the road. Many regions in the world have gone solely digital due to environmental regulations and conversely, many regions still shoot only film in theaters.

We've had this discussion before in a few threads here on RFF and it's been hashed out that once digital projection truly takes over in the next few years, there will be no profit for any of the companies to lay expensive (and highly regulated) silver onto plastic backing. THAT will be the end of wide-scale film availability and the still photo market will come to rely solely on production firms such as Ilford and whoever decides to purchase Efke, etc.

As for the very last roll to be produced, I'd say it will be 120 or something similar. Adding perforations to film is one more critical QC step that isn't expensive per roll or per 1000ft can but is over the course of a few million feet of a production run. 35mm film started out for movie projection and it was almost a courtesy that it was used for handheld miniature format cameras. Perfs are another reason that 35mm may die a few thousand feet before 120, simply because of little production issues like cutting and perforation.

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Old 11-29-2012   #40
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I have been an amateur user of film (120 and 135) for nearly 50 years.
I've never owned, used or even handled a digital camera.
For me, photography is using an all-metal precision instrument that has good quality clock-work inside it, with a service life measured in human lifetimes.
Am I concerned about the future availability of film ?
Damn right I am, because for me there's no alternative that suits my old-school, old technology mindset and skill level.
When I can no longer feed my Leicas, Nikon F's, Canon FD's, Pentax M42's, Voigtlander Prominents and Rollei TLR's, my photographic journey will be over and I'll take up sketching and/or painting.
I believe HCB did the same when he became disillusioned with the ''dumbed down'' direction that photography was taking...
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