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Kodak To Stop Making Black and White Paper 501

Swirsky writes "For those of us who remember spending quality time in a dark room with Kodak Rapid RC paper and a bottle of Dektol, here's some bad news - Kodak will stop making black and white photographic paper. Black and white photo work (especially because you can use a safelight!) is a wonderful way of introducing someone to photography. I guess if we want to do it, we'll have to use home-made emulsions on paper. As a pro photographer, I'm bothered by this, though admittedly I haven't done b/w darkroom work in years."
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Kodak To Stop Making Black and White Paper

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  • First I hear they're essentially getting out of the film business, now they're starting on paper too... I guess they're really heavily banking on digital..
    • Digital? (Score:3, Informative)

      by khrtt ( 701691 )
      Digital has never been Kodak's strong side. They made a comparatively decent digital camera way back when, when no one was making good digital cameras anyways. So, WTF?
    • by sgant ( 178166 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @07:06AM (#12861624) Homepage Journal
      How long will these cameras last? How long does the storage medium last? Yes, they have inkjet printing inks and paper that will last 70 years now...but that's just the print. What about the "negative"?

      Here's my point...I could go into a camera store that sells used equipment, buy a Leica from the 40's or 50's and still run film through it. Will people still be running a digital camera they buy today 60 years from now? Will they even be able to get the info off of it?

      You could take a negative from Ansel Adams that he made way back in the 20's and still make a very find, high quality print today. Don't have to worry about making any interface or program to read the data or worry if the media is still viable on a disk somewhere. Hell, with his 8x10 negs you don't even need an enlarger, could make a contact print with a lightbulb if you wanted.

      Digital photos taken today won't be around 60 years from now...sorry, but that's the fact. You would constantly have to keep upgrading and transfering your shots to the latest storage medium just to keep up. Can anyone honestly say that you'll be able to read a CD 60 years from now to get the pictures off? Maybe if you find an old computer in an antique shop...maybe.

      Not to mention the fact that the camera you buy today is obsolete a year from now when something better AND cheaper comes along.

      I don't know, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.
      • by Asic Eng ( 193332 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @08:10AM (#12861919)
        My grandfather was an avid photographer, and because of that I have a photograph of my great-great-grandfather, which I cherish. I only have a fraction of my grandfather's photographs though.

        There used to be a huge stack - mostly he used glass plates. Very durable this stuff, but heavy - so of course some 20 years after his death someone threw them away. Most of the pictures were lost, only the slowly-fading paper prints were left. My uncle painstakingly scanned all these and put them on CDROM. Now almost everybody in my family has the CD.

        Sure, the CD-format won't be around forever, but once the next format comes around I can easily copy stuff over - it will be very little work (especially compared with the first conversion to digital). As long as somebody cares enough about the pictures, it will be easy to preserve them. And of course, if nobody cares about the pictures enough anymore they will be lost eventually - just as happened with those glass plates.

      • We are coming up on the quarter century mark for the CD format, CD-ROM is slightly younger but it's still been around a while. Its sucessor DVD includes the ability to read the older media because it costs essentially nothing to add. All optical formats even being considered today will read cd-rom media. That means we are looking at at least a half century for being able to logically read the media. Now if you store your photos in a proprietary RAW format then you probably won't have much luck 20+ years dow
    • Re:Kodak... (Score:4, Funny)

      by The Spoonman ( 634311 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @09:24AM (#12862402) Homepage

      I guess they're really heavily banking on digital

      As someone who lives in Kodak's home town and has worked at the place, I can tell you that's probably not the reason. Much more likely than not, the manager in charge of B&W paper probably ate the lunch of the manager in charge of "digital stuff" and the digital guy convinced the senior managers to eliminate the other's division.

      I joke, of course. Kodak's core decisions are usually based on less rational reasons than the one I gave...

  • Duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by koreaman ( 835838 ) <uman@umanwizard.com> on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:31AM (#12860759)
    Black and white pr0n sucks. And we all know pr0n is the only useful application of photography.
  • Who cares .... (Score:5, Informative)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:31AM (#12860764) Homepage

    Ilford fine grain semi-matte was always way better than any muddy paper kodak made.

    Or Portriga -- Agfa is good too.

    • Agfa was good.
    • yeah, I always used Ilford Multigrade IV; I don't know if I ever tried Kodak paper... but if Kodak discontinues Tri-X pan (iso 400 movie film, it's grainy but sharp, which is a weird but attractive combination) I'll be very sad. hell, they probably already did discontinue it. Sad.
    • Re:Who cares .... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Withershins ( 884293 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @04:01AM (#12861121)

      As a photographer for 21 years, from 1957 to 1978, where lots of my work came out of a B&W darkroom (and where I did the work with my own little hands), Illford was popular but crap compared to the control one had with Kodak Polycontrast papers (although the Illford filters worked better with Pollycontrast).

      I taught photography and darkroom technique as well as working in advertizing, technical and photojournalism photography. Perhaps your pictures were muddy on Kodak paper because you didn't know how to make a good negative. The extra gamma (contrast) of Illford papers was often a crutch for bad photographers.

      And the only way to let your photo speak for itself instead of being pseudo art was to use a glossy paper (matte and semi-matte was for the photo clubs) although ferrotyping was silly.

      So, now my dream of an exibit of my old work (including the first Woodstock Festival as well as the Vietnam anti-war protests in DC and NYC and Berkeley) in 16x20 and larger is dead?

  • Image editing.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by euxneks ( 516538 )
    Why bother with Black and White photography when you can do basic filtering like black and white and sepie on most digital cameras? Am I missing out on something that Black and White Film has? Does it have better contrast or something?
    • Re:Image editing.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Deanalator ( 806515 )
      I think the point was that working with black and white film is fun. A more extreme case would be a pogo stick company not selling pogo sticks any more. There arent alot of people these days that go to work on a pogo stick, although many people do enjoy the occational pogo now and then, just for old times sake.
    • It's like asking why someone would load Linux on a G5 when they've already got Mac OSX pre-installed. The reason people stick with film is because it simply one of those old habits that die hard.

      At ISO135, there is no film that can outperform a modern DSLR's sensor. In addition, a DSLR can take many more shots before a change of media is required. In many cases, the film winds up being computer-scanned anyway, so the loss of resolution during the scanning stage drops the "actual" film resolution by a hu
      • you: At ISO135, there is no film that can outperform a modern DSLR's sensor. me: But, a $50 Pentax body with a $150 pentax lens and a $6 roll of film is only SLIGHTLY beaten out by a 12+megapixel camera costing well over $2000. Pentax, olympus, minolta, etc. Aslong as we're talkinga serious camera company a 50mm f1.7 is going to lay down some serious resolution. And, this is 35mm. When I'm going for commercial work I bring out the 8x10 and shoot ISO/ASA100 transparencies. Scanned at 2000 DPI you get 8x
    • there are things you can do in a dark room that just cant be done in digital with a computer. Solerization(sp) is a great example where u light a match right as the image begins to apear on the paper in the developer, and can result in some very interesting prints. Also have u tried freezing a wet film strip??? the ice does some neet things to teh emultion that can also make. the darkroom is a fun place and i do not want it to die on me
      • Re:Image editing.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by famebait ( 450028 )
        "Solarize" and "posterize" are right there on the menu in any decent photo app. They are essentially just simple curve manipulations and really simple to copy in software. The ice thing might be more complex; haven't seen the effect myself.

        I'm sure hands-on darkroom work is enjoyable and has a completely different feel to it than digital, and I can understand why many photographers stick with it. But the claim that you can technically do things you can't on a computer is, when it comes to the finished im
    • Film also has more latitude (the range of light in a scene, from pure black to pure white) than digital does. Plus the random/analog nature of the film grain adds something to the photo. Sometimes photographers purposely manipulate things to create more grain.

      Finally, I think there is more uniqueness in 'wet' photography than in digital, adding anther level to the art. It adds to whatever the thing is that makes a piece of art special. Each printed photo is unique, and is slightly different from the n

    • Re:Image editing.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pax00 ( 266436 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:58AM (#12860885)
      well.. yes... you are... you are missing out on ALOT... I am a simi-pro photographer.. I grew up with a camera in my hands... I have had several years of professional schooling.. but I still don't call myself pro.. I don't know everything..

      I have used digital and manual... I have used 1hour processing and I have processed by hand.. I have worked in digital dark rooms and real life dark rooms... all of these tools have a time and a place... their pro's and their cons.. but I still think my best work is done in a dark room...

      the dark room is one of the few places that magic still occurs... there is something amazing about placeing a piece of blank paper and shining a light on it.. dipping it in a chemical and seeing an image appear before you...

      This is very sad news that they are working on taking this away from us... This is litterally a dying art form... this is the difference between a hand woven tapistry and mass produced articals... this process is still young in so many respects.. photography hasn't even been around for 200 years...

      I will agree with other posters that said that there are still other companies.. but how long until they follow suit?
    • Yeah, you can do whatever you want with digital, but make sure your printer is up to the task. Epson and HP both have good photo printers that make use of gray and light gray ink in addition to black. It makes a HUGE difference in the quality of B&W prints, and a noticeable difference in color prints.
    • Re:Image editing.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cei ( 107343 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @03:20AM (#12860987) Homepage Journal
      The beauty of photochemical work is that it fails in interesting ways...
      • Re:Image editing.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by djdanlib ( 732853 )
        For example...

        Reciprocity failure.

        That's when your exposure SHOULD be one thing by mathematics, but it doesn't come out right - so you have to change it to something else that SHOULD be wrong instead. There are tables of that data everywhere.

        I'd really like to see some smart chemist or mathematician try to figure that one out!
    • Although many people are switching to DI (Digital Imagery) I am sticking with my old-fashioned manual focus film cameras. (may the gods of /. smite me for my ass-backward ways. No you cannot install Linux on my camera.) To answer your question, Black and White photography is a matter of aesthetics. There are simply some things that photograph better that way. I have found that architecture, aircraft (especially vintage planes), machinery and the human form are all photogenic in black and white (Pr0n is in c
  • by orangeguru ( 411012 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:34AM (#12860779) Homepage
    Well another pre-press and printing technology gone. so what? I will never miss the chemicals and different kind of paper.

    Anyone miss Lithography ... or cave painting?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithograph [wikipedia.org]
  • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:35AM (#12860787)
    Ilford is so much better, and Kodak relying on their band name is more expensive. I still use a few hundred sheets a year of black and white photographic paper and I hadn't even heard about this.

    When Ilford stops making paper that will be a sad day. Kodak stoping isn't even newsworthy.
  • by Zimok ( 893058 )
    Out with the old, in with the new..
  • by nzkbuk ( 773506 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:38AM (#12860799)
    I'm bothered by this, though admittedly I haven't done b/w darkroom work in years.
    This is exactly the reason why they are stopping the product. The poster is probably representative of alot of photographers (and people in general) with a "Hey that's a great thing to start people on this, but I no longer use it myself"

    It's economics 101 if you don't make a profit out of something then don't sell it. Yes I know about loss leaders, but this couldn't be described as one of them. I'm sure there will always be a market for black and white photography, but so much is going digital that I think b&w specific film and paper are past their sell by dates
  • Supply & Demand.
  • Follow the money. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ViX44 ( 893232 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:40AM (#12860807)
    Kodiak paper is best, but it's a bear to work with. The real question isn't so much digital replacing conventional, but one of profit and user effort. Sure, professional photography will always have some sort of want of traditional methods, but which is more appealing to the tyro...having to buy special paper and mess with chemcials and the extensive setup required to render good images in the old method, or to shoot a dozen shots, delete the ones that weren't quite right, edit it on the computer, and throw it out to dozens of friends via email, DArt, et cetera. The I-gotta-have-it-now generation much prefers to spend a large chunk now and have easy, even if printer-limited, quality and the flexability of electronic distribution than muck with the consumables required for classic photography. So, let's sell digicams in bulk and get their money now, rather than take the ever-dwindling profit trickle of classical photography product subscription.
    • Although the limitations can be simulated, as well, I think there is something to be said for learning on a restrictive system of film/paper photo printing. The lack of immediacy and the higher value of a given shot means that people who use (or even start by using) these limiting methods will be forced to think more about the process beforehand, and end up better at photography, even when using quicker digital methods.

      It's similar to the fact of most graphic design studies requiring students to start with
  • by Shadowell ( 108926 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:47AM (#12860840)
    Although I expect to see about a 100:1 ratio of B&W is dead to not dead, here's the thing. B&W is hardly dead, it's simply being moved into the realm of art rather than production photography. When was the last time you went to a major gallery and didn't see silver based prints? True, digital is overtaking, if it hasn't already overtaken, typical every day photography. But, silver halide is anywhere but dead. Remember platinum prints? Go to a high end gallery and you'll see lots of them. Not practical in any way for every day use, and even possibly for a lot of typical fine art work, but it's not going anywhere.

    Other than in a classroom, you don't find all that many people printing on Kodak B&W papers anyway, and it's been that way for a long time. I'm a phto student/beginning pro photographer and the only time I've printed on Kodak is when it's been given to me. There are other papers that are cheaper and work as well, if not better.

    Call it trolling, or flamebait, or whatever, but the biggest thing you have to understand is that the fine art world of photography is not going to die no matter what becomes popular. Hell, there are still people shooting tintype, because they can, and because that's the nature of art. Not what's popular, but what they create and what sells.

    Kodak can sit and spin, they aren't the only supplier of B&W paper. It'd be worse if they got rid of their chemicals, which I do use, but also wouldn't be the end of the world. There are many alternatives besides Kodak.

    Ranting maybe, but this has been a major topic on many photo boards (it's not new news really), and life goes on.

    This is as stupid as arguing that RC paper is better than fiber base, or visa vie. It all depends on what you're doing.

    And yes, I do shoot digital too. And large format. I won't give up any of them, they all have teir place, and each have their strong points and weak points.
    • Your point about photography as art is spot on.

      One of the long-term effects of that shift will of course be higher prices for all the materials and services.

      It's also worth noting that photography's share of the art market (both galleries and auctions) has grown tremendously in the last ten years. A lot of people get into collecting through photography.
  • by sTalking_Goat ( 670565 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:48AM (#12860843) Homepage
    I took an intro Photo class last year. We all used Ilford papaer. It was a hell of a lot cheaper...
  • by geekboybt ( 866398 )
    I took a photo class last Fall at Moorpark College [moorparkcollege.edu], and their photo program begins in the black and white darkroom. Sure, digital is the wave of the future (or today, depending upon your views), but with the hours I spent in that safelight, I really learned to appreciate b&w photography. Furthermore, since color can be more difficult, what would you prefer students do to learn photography? There IS more to the art than Photoshop 1337 skillz. Note that I am somewhat biased; I used the Kodak paper almos
  • This is really sad. Especially since sometimes, black and white photographs just look better.
  • I don't mean a camera with a color sensor that just gets desaturated. I want a dSLR camera with a sensor designed strictly for black and white.

    I think it makes great sense. Current technology could probably give you 32-48 bit dynamic range if all you sampled was black and white and forgot about color. (current color cameras are around 12-16 bit) That would make for incredible quality images and I bet it would sell quite well within the pro and artists market.

    • Umm, no.

      The depth is controlled by the property of CCD itself. For a very expensive professional version of a CCD, saturation probably occurs about 32,000 electrons per pixel. For a commercial version, it'd be much less than that. To-date, there is no CCD camera (that I know of) which can achieve a dwell depth of 1e9 electron per pixel (or 32 bits).

      To beat this, one can read out a CCD very FAST. Or more realistically use something like a CMOS detector that sort of allows you to read out from each one of
    • Such an animal does exist... or at least did exist. Check out the Kodak DCS 760M [luminous-landscape.com], which is now discontinued. It was a monochrome-only B&W professional digital SLR. While it's not 32-bit, it did yield fantastic images.

  • by jvarsoke ( 80870 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @02:57AM (#12860875)
    Kodak makes great film (T-MAX 3200P, Tri-X), but their Variable Contrast paper has never really been of Fine-Art quality. The images always seem muddy. I've never really gotten a good print out of Kodak paper, and only really use it for contact prints.

    Ilford makes a lot better paper, especially their Fiber VC glossy. And Agfa makes an incredible Resin Coated (RC) VC glossy (MPC 310), with incredible tonal depth.

    I just can't wait to burn through my remaining Kodak polycontrast paper.

    Nobody serious about B&W printing will miss Kodak. And if anything it will just mean Ilford and Agfa (who are both struggling) will enjoy a larger market-share. Maybe even Oriental will make an American surge.

    For those of you who are curious about what traditional photography has over digital in an age where digital is approaching (and soon exceeding) the resolution of film, it mostly has to do with art, and the feel of the print. For journalism, tourist shots, birthdays, and pr0n, you won't get much for the hassle of chemicals. But there's an organic quality that digitial is missing, which affects artistic expression.

    It's kinda like this: a CD of Jazz music played over a solid-state stereo has a completely different feel than a staticy record of Jazz music played over vacuum tubes.

    Which is better? Well, it's purely subjective.

    photos @ http://www.ghostmanonfirst.com/ [ghostmanonfirst.com]
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @03:01AM (#12860903)
    Even with colored paper, the black crayon is usually the first color to run out. Then I have to use the purple crayon to finish drawing Bruce Wayne's "other" car.
  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @03:11AM (#12860948) Homepage Journal
    I introduced my daughter to photography the same way I learnt. I gave her a Pentax K1000 with a few lenses and an extension tube set, a good supply of ilford b/w 400 and a book on the Zone System [wikipedia.org]. There's so much to learn that starting with the basics is mandatory. Taking pics by point and shoot is to photography what using Windows and using a mouse to point and click is to computer literacy.
    • There's so much to learn that starting with the basics is mandatory.

      Why not start more basic than that with a pin hole quaker oat box and contact prints? I know i'd be less sad if my niece killed a quaker oat box than my Olympus OM-1.
  • There are several other manufacturers of B/W paper, including Agfa and Ilford. Go search oh bhphotovideo.com and you get dozens of resuls from half a dozen manufacturers for fiber-based paper alone. If anything, Kodak left the market because they were the least competitive.

    (How a self-proclaimed "pro photographer" can be so unfamiliar with the market as to think that Kodak was the only manufacturer of B/W paper left is hard to understand.)
  • "I guess if we want to do it, we'll have to use home-made emulsions on paper."

    No other company does B&W paper? Having done black and white paper development, and having a rather nice experience in the romantic qualities of the safety light while helping a fellow student rock the chemical bath trays to develop her photos, I too am rather sad.

    Fond memories.

    Still, if it helps, you can always put your SD card into a chemical trough...
  • by skazatmebaby ( 110364 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @03:17AM (#12860971) Homepage

    Maybe, I'll be able to pull this off easier with my (future) kid

    http://www.jasonadamreed.net/images/cartoons/calvi n/ch941106.gif [jasonadamreed.net]

    Care to see any of my Black and White Photography [prolix.nu]?

  • Somewhat sad, but (Score:3, Informative)

    by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @03:24AM (#12860999)
    Don't get me wrong... I still like film as a medium. It's beautiful, high resolution per volume, and requires pretty base fundamental technologies. That old medium or large format camera from the early 20th century is still going to outperform digital in terms of raw resolution. Small format is debatable, esp since color resolution was getting close to that of old B&W the last time I checked. Contact prints, while lossy, is as low tech as you can get. I use to get away with using an old slide projector and an easel on the wall.

    But who wants to work in a dark room? You've got the chemistry issue, bulky enlarger issue, and making a room light tight issue, not to speak of working under a safe light. And the printer market is so saturated that you can get an entry level photo printer for $100, an a5 dye sub for $300 and laser for $400. HP has their own photo gray cart for their printers, or you can go with bulk ink and B&W multitone ink.

    http://www.lyson.com/quad-black-tone.html [lyson.com]
    http://www.inksupply.com/bwpage.cfm [inksupply.com]
    http://www.weink.com/ecom/catalog/chromiumbw_-_mak e_your_own_b_w_ink_kits_4228684.htm [weink.com]

    If I was going to get back into B&W imagery... I'd get my self a $100 Canon i960 inkjet printer if not an Epson, hex black tone ink, and go print happy. Lots of control, buckish/page, Ilford classic pearl paper, and go print happy.

  • The article submitter needn't fear (yet) - there are plenty of companies still making B&W film and photo paper (probably the best being Ilford - I've never actually used Kodak paper more than once or twice, I've always used Ilford Multigrade).
  • by Worchaa ( 774320 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @03:37AM (#12861043)
    Okay, so very few people are loading up rolls of trusty old Tri-X-Pan film and going out to shoot. Even less these days know how to handle a decent SLR out of Program AE or full auto-everything mode. VERY few people are doing old-school B&W process developing by hand... and even less are enlarging and printing the negatives they shoot themselves (which would need the paper Kodak's not making anymore).

    We've got good consumer home equipment printing options and affordable big commercial labs (filled with automated equipment and button-monkey "technicians") and digital photo everything within easy grasp and price. Digital photography is cheaper all around and has many noteworthy advantages over traditional photography.

    Also, even the most weenie digicams one step above the Wal-Mart toys has a B&W and Sepia setting, and the good digicams have tons to offer.

    So why fuss or lament ??

    Because the collective body of knowledge, experience and artistry in photography is formiddable, and black & white process is an inseperable part of that. Because printing photos (again, where the discontinued paper comes in) is a whole different world from actually taking the photos. Because artists use B&W and it's the most sensible place for newcomers to start learning since it's easier and cheaper than traditional color process.

    I'm not sad that Kodak for business reasons decided to quit making B&W paper. That was a business decision from an old company that's confused about it's current and future place in an industry it helped define, and trying to survive. I AM concerned that some will view this as the demise of traditional photograhphy. I don't believe it is.

    If traditional small format (8 and 16 mm) motion picture film can survive in a digital imaging world, then traditional photography certainly can.

    Photography has a history of invention and evolution, this is just another step.

    B&W process will move to the edge, the background. It will step away so that newer processes can rise, but it will not be lost, not for a very long time at least.

    While digital process photography will take over the mainstream, B&W process will remain in the hands of the artists and those who wish to learn the craft of photography.

    Bottom line, B&W is not dead, one important company's decision to get out of the business is not it's tombstone, and the value of having a significant body of knowledge + traditional options + modern innovation and evolution leading the way makes the craft all the more rich and strong.

  • Ilford (Score:4, Informative)

    by pvera ( 250260 ) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Monday June 20, 2005 @03:54AM (#12861101) Homepage Journal
    Sure, Kodak is stopping production, but they are not the only ones that make quality B&W photo paper. Ever heard of Ilford?

    When the news came out a couple days ago I thought it was a shame since I used to develop my own B&W film, but quickly realized that even back then I was scanning my films. I almost never printed them so at least in my particular case there is no real loss.

    And sure, we got digital, but in over 5 years shooting digital I am still not too happy with my B&W results. It is nice to know that I can grab a manual camera and shoot some Kodak PLUS-X 125 if I feel like it.
  • by rogerzilla ( 575012 ) on Monday June 20, 2005 @05:37AM (#12861362)
    Everyone I've met has used Ilford or Agfa (although the latter shot themselves in the foot 15 years ago when they discontinued Record-Rapid). Kodak b/w film has always been great (Tri-X is legendary and T400CN is a very good C41 b/w film) but their paper was never all that popular among enthusiasts.

    The general shrinking of the market is worrying though - my digicam just doesn't do what I want it to (big enlargements, shallow depth of field, nice grain) but I can see film and processing getting a lot more expensive. I don't think it will ever disappear though; the lab I use have just bought a few millions' worth of new processing equipment and black-and-white was never completely killed off by colour. I don't think there'll be much R&D going into film any more, but Tri-X is decades old and people still like it :-)

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.