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Digital Verses Film Redux

Some brainiac at IBM says that our burned CDs (aka 100s of digital photographs of my children) are only going to last two to five years. We have shoe boxes filled with family photographs and negatives that date back to the 30s and 40s—sure they degrade but I still swoon when I see photographs of my 20-year-old grandmother.

I’m going back to film.


Reid said:

Going back to film? Good luck. Nikon just abandoned film, and other than the high priced F6, will no longer manufacture film cameras, manual lenses for them, or lenses for those antiques called "enlargers."

It's funny, ten years ago there was really only one digital SLR that would accept Nikon lenses, and it was about ten grand for 1.3 megapixels, if I recall. Ten years later, there's only one 35mm Nikon film camera still being made.

Talk about revolution...

Posted on Jan 12, 2006 04:29 PM

Jim said:

You didn't smell that sarcasm, Reid? I think you did.

The crux is that we need a more permanent archival material. You know, like paper.

Posted on Jan 12, 2006 08:50 PM

Reid said:

Sarcasm? I thought that smell was related to your previous post about evangelical emissions.

As for a more permanent archival material, I don't think we'll ever be satisfied. We can only hope storage media keeps getting cheaper (250GB USB drives have become my friend, along with double dubs onto DVD's). And I've even started putting print sized JPG's up at flickr (primarily of the princess), sort of as an off-site storage that other family members can access as well.

And as for Ye Olde Paper and Negatives, they're not really as archival as we'd like to believe. 99% of it was machine processed and printed, right? At, like, Eckerd's, or Walmart? Was it towards the end of the fixer's life cycle? Did the "operator" even keep a close check on that kind of thing?

I've seen poorly machine processed negatives (nevermind prints) go bad in less than a decade.

Posted on Jan 13, 2006 12:29 AM

Noah said:

I just make a complete re-backup of all my work to new DVDs once a year, to replace the incremental DVDs I made the year before - it's not very efficient or convenient, but I've long worried about this issue enough that I consider it worth doing (especially when a decent 50-DVD spindle costs $30-40ish).

This is such a critical concern, though, I wonder why it hasn't been more addressed at large. Maybe the new high-def discs will last much longer, but I'm not that hopeful.

Posted on Jan 13, 2006 07:25 AM

ruminator said:

Hell, I might as well weigh-in. Properly processed black and white negatives can last a very long time, if stored properly. The latter is the critical issue. Poorly fixed and washed film will not last nearly as long.

Color film has a much shorter life-span. I've got negatives that are pretty well hosed from ten years ago. The dyes just don't hold up as well.

I used to have numbers associated with these observations, but those are long since gone from (ahem) volatile storage, AKA wetware.

Posted on Jan 14, 2006 04:38 PM

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