Over the last two years as I’ve “rediscovered” film after putting it aside for a decade I notice one thing that most people are surprised about is that I can still buy film, and new film at that – not stuff that expired years ago.
The truth is despite financial issues with Kodak, film is alive and well and not going anywhere anytime soon. The films available today are far superior in most ways to the stuff I used to shoot back in the 80’s and 90’s as well – except in the case of Tri-X which is just as awesome as it ever was.
The biggest thing that ensures film will be around a while yet is Hollywood – film is still used for a great deal of commercials, television and movies, and even to archive movies that where originally filmed in HD digital. The same “Vision 3” technology that Kodak puts into that film footage filming “The Walking Dead” is that same technology they put into their Portra pro film line that I use in wedding photography.
Here’s a great short piece “Film. No Compromise” that is well worth watching. While they are specifically talking about the moving industry you could replace “movie” with “still photography” and have the exact same conversation. The one quote in there “I’ve never seen anyone shoot film and want it to look more like HD” really strikes home. I know a lot of film photographers – and I’ve never heard any of them say they wish their film photographs looked more like their digital captures. On the other hand photoshop actions and lightroom presets to mimic the film look (most of which not only fail, but really fail horribly) are the biggest rage right now. Everyone wants to look like film shooter Jose Villa without learning how to really shoot film – they hope some action or plug-in will transform their Canon or Nikon digital files into the next best thing and end up with stuff that has the same “over-shopped” blandness of 80% of the other clueless photographers out there trying to “mimic” the look and feel of film.