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Longevity and Future of 16mm Format, Film, and Lenses?


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#1 Karl Lee

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 02:14 PM

After a few months of doing pretty extensive research and weighing all of my options, I think I'm pretty close to pulling the trigger on buying a S16 camera package.  However, in one last thought of hesitation (which I'm sure will pass) before I throw down some money for a camera package and lens, I can't help but think about the future of 16mm, and specifically the long-term availability of 16mm film and processing. 

 

I'm sure this topic has been discussed here and elsewhere previously, but I'm curious about others' thoughts on the longevity of the 16mm format and availability of film stock and processing services.  Certainly, the mere existence of a message board like this proves that there's definitely still an active interest in the format, but I'd be interested to know if anyone else shares my concerns.  On one hand, things like the closure of more and more film labs and Fuji's discontinuation of motion picture film last year definitely seems foreboding.  On the other hand, even with its financial difficulties, Kodak still seems to emphasize its commitment to film, there are still a good number of features shot on 35mm, and NFL Films remains committed to shooting S16 and letting the film "run like water".

 

As I'm really more interested of the 16mm format specifically, what are the odds that at some point Kodak would continue producing 35mm but discontinuing 16mm?  I could see the mainstream motion picture industry continuing to provide sufficient demand for 35mm, but I'd be interested to know how big of a hit digital video has taken on the 16mm market.

 

As for the longevity of S16 lenses, are most S16 PL mount zoom lenses also capable of working with and providing full focal length coverage on 2K digital cameras? 

 

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I'm sure this topic has been discussed many times before, but the closer I get to sealing the deal on a camera purchase, the more I start thinking about things like this!  


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#2 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 02:25 PM

I have absolutely no evidence to back this theory up, but in my view I think 35mm may disappear sooner than 16mm or Super 8, simply due to the fact that virtually every digital camera being made these days is trying its best to mimic 35mm - some with significant success (namely the Red and the Alexa.) 

 

16mm and Super 8 have altogether different looks, which I think would allow them to survive longer.


Edited by Bill DiPietra, 02 March 2014 - 02:25 PM.

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#3 Heikki Repo

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 02:33 PM

I'm quite positive that 16mm film is going to stay with us for a very long time. While no one knows how long Kodak is going to stay with us, there are also other, smaller companies providing 16mm film. This includes both black and white and color (FilmFerrania).

 

As long as there is demand there will be supply in some form.


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#4 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 09:56 PM

A couple thoughts

 

35mm is a universal gauge for stills and movie, you can always cut 35mm down to other gauges.

 

B&W films can basically be made at home.

 

So that is a backup.


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#5 David Cunningham

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 10:04 PM

A couple thoughts

 

35mm is a universal gauge for stills and movie, you can always cut 35mm down to other gauges.

 

B&W films can basically be made at home.

 

So that is a backup.

 

Unfortunately, already perfed 35mm film cannot be cut down to 16mm without massive loss.  (You can only get one length so you're just wasting film).

 

Thankfully, already perfed 35mm can be cut down to 3 Super 8 lengths.  So, that's useful.  In the case of 16mm, you may as well just shoot 2-perf 35mm.  You use the same amount of film in a native wide-screen format and no waste.


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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 12:32 AM

Unless you want a 1.85:1 or 1.78:1 ratio where 2-perf doesn't seem to make as much sense to me as either 3-perf (more costly) or S16mm.


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#7 Chris Burke

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 12:57 AM

It might negate the cost savings, but 1.3x anamorphics used on 2 perf, turned vertically give you a 1.85 or 1.78 image


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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 01:08 AM

That, Chris, is quite the interesting idea.


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#9 Prashantt Rai

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 05:54 AM

Karl,

I did buy an Arri SR3HS last year with lenses and accessories from Munich. Superb camera. 

I have shot 3 ads and a roadie film so far. the latest 'spec' ad I have shot is that of Harley Davidson.

16mm will be there for a long time.

think of polaroid. just when people thought it was dead; the format was resurrected. 

think of ferrania.

think of Nikon launching their own instapic this oct.

so there is lot of development.


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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 09:51 AM

It might negate the cost savings, but 1.3x anamorphics used on 2 perf, turned vertically give you a 1.85 or 1.78 image

 

Beat me to it! ;)

 

I also came across a production about a year ago or so that was shooting 3perf with 1.33x anamorphics (in the usual manner) to maximise use of the 3perf negative for a scope style aspect ratio.

 

Freya


Edited by Freya Black, 03 March 2014 - 09:52 AM.

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#11 Miguel Loredo

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 01:20 PM

Definitely nothing to worry about in the near future. Fuji discontinuation of cinema stocks is precisely in part because Kodak is spected to be there, serving to the whole market.

 

Kodak for Movie films - Fuji for Still films.


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#12 John Holland

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 02:15 PM

No Fuji for both Movie and Stills.
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#13 Mark Dunn

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 02:45 PM

Did you omit a comma? Fuji still make consumer and professional stills film. They have a wider range than Kodak now because they still make reversal.


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#14 Prashantt Rai

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 12:36 AM

Karl,

you are asking about the longevity of a film format. Instead, probe how long a particular digital camera has survived in the market for more than years. these digital cameras disappear in no time. its a fact. What will you do then? you can't even sell those older technology digital camera.


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#15 Miguel Loredo

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 09:35 AM

No Fuji for both Movie and Stills.

  Fuji is strong in still business


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#16 Jeff L'Heureux

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 04:53 PM

I also believe 16mm will be around longer than many suspect, but like Prashantt mentioned above, that's not really the question.  The real question and answer is simply to look at how quickly today's digital cameras come to market and then become obsolete as little as one year later.  I just purchased an Arri 416 Plus package and am fully happy with my decision to do so, whereas just ask all the people who purchased a Blackmagic 4k camera how they feel now that the Ursa is about to come out.  They might say they're happy with their purchase but deep down they're pissed that a better camera is on the way so quickly.  I read somewhere that this is exactly what the corporations wanted with the film industry.  They want a world where whatever hardware you buy becomes obsolete in three years and you have to buy the newest toy from them to keep up with the game, and they succeeded with still photography.  16mm, and 35mm are here and still at the top of their game after 100 years from a quality and reliability perspective.

 

It all comes back to the fact that all of these digital cameras are still trying to emulate the look of film, when you can actually go out and shoot film quite economically if you do your research.  Kodak is very nice to younger film makers and has offered me a great deal on stock.


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