Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/04/26

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Film Demise
From: Johnny Deadman <>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 10:10:30 -0400

on 4/26/01 8:55 AM, John Collier at wrote:

> I am afraid your example is not a good one. I can get new players for all
> the media listed below (okay except the 8 track...). As a matter of fact I
> can get new players for 78 rpm records with a choice of all the various
> speed variations (76 rpm to 80 rpm). Unfortunately digital seems to have a
> reputation for killing off its wounded and I am planning to stick with film
> for the foreseeable future.
> John Collier
>> From: "mdelman" <>
>> Think about the music industry...
>> 45 speed records
>> 33 speed records
>> reel-to-reel tape
>> 8 track tape
>> cassette tape
>> CD

yes, and this list misses out a few


Digital Audio Cassette (now dead except for a few home recording units)
MiniDisc (a crossover technology... obsolescent IMO)
Digital Audio Tape (only pro players available now)
MP3 (here to stay, until the next compression algorithm comes along...)

Most of my music is still on hundreds (maybe thousands) of vinyl LPs, even
though I don't have a turntable since my move over the atlantic. I don't
LIKE vinyl itself, though I do appreciate the thinginess of record sleeves.
However I ain't going through the pain of transferring it to recordable CDs
which have an unknown lifespan, and I'm not encoding it to MP3 until HD
storage is cheaper. So it sits happily in the basement and I bet it will
mostly be perfectly playable in 100 yrs. The same is true of 35mm cameras,
even the oldest of which only need a 35mm film to play the game.

The same is NOT true of digital cameras! I have been through SO many digital
formats, moving and still... eg Umatic, 1" reel to reel, Betamax, VHS,
S-VHS, 8mm, Hi-8, Beta, Beta SP, Beta SX, Digibeta, D1 and so on... what are
the chances in say 25 years time of picking up one of these cameras and
being able to find tape for it, or transfer tape you shot (which has
probably decomposed anyway).

The same is even TRUER of digital cameras currently. Obviously, once the
image is acquired it's just your archiving that determines its
lifespan...and I'll come to that in a mo... but even now the digital camera
is very reliant on its upload interface...memory chips, serial ports, USB
ports... all these change radically from year to year.

As for archiving, we aren't all Smithsonians. Think about the bundle of
photos in your ma's attic you don't even know about. What is the digital
equivalent of that? A beat up 1G scsi disk? Ever tried to resurrect one of
those? Or some no-name CD-R's dad bought at the gas station to dump all his
pix onto? 

My money's on the trad photos, which have a habit of sticking around whether
you like it or not, just like vinyl records do. Whereas with digital at the
moment you really do have to actively intervene (copy, archive, transfer) to
keep the data entire.

- -- 
John Brownlow