Filmless cameras? From Silver to Pixels

| February 4, 2008

My father was a professional photographer for 18 years among his other professions.  He did it all – door to door making house calls for baby photographs, weddings, bar mitzvahs, studio portraits, magazine covers, trade publications, transferring images to ceramic tiles for headstones, etc… I would spend hours taking photographs and developing my film and shooting prints.  I can still smell the difference between the developing solution and fixing solution, a hint when you are working in darkness.  The viscosity was different too.   There was a man who would come around and recover silver from the impregnated paper in the solutions somehow.   It was a little bit different than uploading a memory card device to your local retailer or buying color toner cartridges. 

I recall him telling me in the late 70’s, early 80’s that there would be filmless cameras.  Of course his photography colleagues couldn’t imagine that.  Particularly, with 2×2 plate film, complicated lighting, meters, filters, etc…  Of course by 2000 digital cameras started to become mainstream in American households and now you can’t find a professional photographer who shoots anything but.

It is everything technology should be – faster, cheaper, easier, more cost-effective (particularly for unwanted shots or if proofs are never reviewed….albums ordered….), there is less loss.  You print want you want, disregard the rest, no negatives to store.  Memory is so cheap you can keep the others for viewing and sharing.  Of course all of this has led to other issues with the ubiquitous ability to capture images through compact cameras and camera cell phones with seamless uploading and invasion of privacy.

Of course, outside of mammography, most hospital radiology departments are using digital X-ray and pathologists’ microscope cameras are digital.  I doubt if most instutional medical photography and illustration services departments even have the capability to develop film.  I posted a previous note on Kodak’s transformation from film to digital and now there is news from FUJIFILM of the same (see below). The digital drive has helped cut loss and spurred new growth and revenue.

A far cry from shooting 35 mm slides and printing powerpoint slides to slide for lectures and presentations and that wasn’t so long ago. Our residents do not know of that, hoping your slides are correct and back on time or slide projectors or even microcasette recorders for that matter. 

The power and ability to view digital slides seems more of an evolution rather than revolution, starting with increasing use in education, research and shortly I believe in widespread clinical use as discussed here with FDA clearances and the like.  The residents of today will be making diagnoses from monitors in conjunction with microscopic diagnoses.  Much like the photographers of today know not of mechanical but digital and have adopted it into their profession, replacing silver with pixels.

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Fujifilm phases out medical film production in the US

STAMFORD, CT, USA – (HealthTech Wire) – FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA, Inc. announced today that the production of medical imaging film products at FUJIFILM Manufacturing USA Inc. in Greenwood, S.C., will be phased out. It is anticipated that production of these products will be discontinued by April 1, 2008.

Over the past decade, the medical imaging industry has been undergoing a steady transition from the use of medical imaging film including double and single emulsion and dry films, to digital image acquisition and softcopy diagnosis via Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS).

In fact, Fujifilm is the world market leader in digital X-ray with more than 52,000 CR systems sold, and a leading PACS provider with well more than 1500 Synapse® PACS installations around the globe. Although Fujifilm Greenwood has been producing X-ray film products, the market shift to PACS systems has led to significant declines in the overall sales of medical film. As a result, FUJIFILM Corporation has decided to consolidate the production of all medical film to one facility in Japan.

"While we must adapt our business to the changing landscape of the medical imaging market, Fujifilm remains unwavering in our efforts to meet the existing demands for medical film," said FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA President and CEO Makoto Kawaguchi. "As is our history with all of our medical imaging products, Fujifilm is committed to the quality and innovation of our extensive medical film lines. The ongoing and stable delivery of film to our medical customers will continue without interruption," Kawaguchi said.


Category: Digital Pathology News, File format

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  1. Ya today for digital cameras don’t have any film.So many radiology departments are using digital X-ray and pathologists’ microscope cameras for their purposes…