Will There Be Any New Breakthroughs In Film Photography?

on November 16, 2021

Not going to enter into a debate about which is better - analog or digital - or to take one side or the other. I've done the one and do the other and in both cases I'm just grateful when I can see the faces in the pictures and the horizon is straight. But I am curious as to whether there will be any new developments of value in the analog field in the future.

I was drawn to this speculation earlier in the year by the news that the Perth photo markets were set to reopen in November after a two-year hiatus. I wondered if there would be a flood of secondhand digital or whether we'd see the same old run of film cameras. I also experienced the shock of the old encountering the new when I went to a hifi retailer seeking a small CD player for a studio system. Oh Dear Me, I can buy amazing new Bluefi things that are probably better, but if I do not want to start up with new technologies, I'll be reduced to whistling or singing for entertainment.

Back to cameras. Will we see any new films? Or any new film sizes or formats? Unlikely, unless they do some new task that cannot be done on a chip. Having said that, there may be some forms of scientific measurement and recording that can best be done on a big plate or film.

Will we see any new brands? Well, new companies pop up every day, often impelled by speculation and pre-ordering via sharing schemes. And there are a lot of lateral thinkers in the design bureaux that start these companies. In some cases the routes of their thinking are the old ones, but who is to say that someone will not try something new.

New lenses? For sure. If you think the camera brand makers are prolific, you haven't seen anything until you go into the new lens market. Granted, many of these optics are recognisable by the simple fact of being optical knock-offs, and many of them are copies of something that wasn't all that good to begin with, but standards are rising and the opening up of some of the proprietary protocols for mounts and controls mean we'll see some innovation yet.

The real tough bit would be to get popular processing and printing back on the street. You can get superb analog work now from professional labs but general popular access to the technology has rather drifted away.

And no, I won't do your 35mm in my bathtub for you. We need it for making the gin.