Friday, March 03, 2006

Digital Rules at PMA. Film, Not So Much

PMA 2006 has come and gone. The annual photographic manufacturer lovefest has concluded in the town that Mickey built (that's Orlando, Florida, the home of Disney World) and the consensus is (drumroll please) digital is here to stay.

Well, duh!

By all accounts, this was the year that digital photography and digital cameras finally overtook film at the show. The usual suspects trotted out their usual fawning "reviews" over the latest digital this or that (..."Listening to the needs of the marketplace, they made the LCD screen 0.0006 of an inch larger!"). Many of the reviews were of cameras that the manufacturers wouldn't let anyone touch. They had to be spied behind glass because they were either prototypes (and non-working ones at that) or mock ups.

But amid all the flash (sorry, couldn't resist) of the newest digital doohickies was one piece of heartening news courtesy of Fuji Film. The company introduced two new professional films at the show. That's right. I said film. As in, well, film.

Fuji announced Fujichrome T64 Professional Film, a new ISO 64 tungsten-type color transparency film that it says "delivers ultra-fine grain and optimum tonal scale and gradation under tungsten lighting." It also announced Fujichrome Provia 400X Professional Film, which it says provides "new levels of color saturation in the ISO400 class." 400X will replace Provia 400F. Both films will be available in 35mm and 120 size.

Any other year, this would have hardly been news. In fact, it would hardly even get noticed. Oh, wait, it hardly did get noticed. Amidst all the fancy new digital stuff, the photographic press hardly took the time to notice these two films, let alone write about them.

But the fact that Fuji is still committed to film in any form is good news for us analog types. The fact that Fuji is even doing R&D into analog products, when others like Kodak and Agfa are curtailing or dropping film altogether, is good news. It means that film will be with us for a while longer. It may not be available in the variety it once was, but at least it's still around.

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