Curry’s, a major electronics retailer in the UK (part of the group that includes Dixon’s and PC World) has now stopped stocking cassette tapes. They’ve already ditched video recorders. This group are the major electronics outlets in the UK, and others (including supermarkets) generally follow their lead. It’s hard to find a video recorder anywhere other than a second-hand shop now.
Well, that’s progress. I’m not troubled by the loss of the cassette tape. The digital voice-recorders are much smaller, lighter and have no moving parts, hence no background noise. Also, it’s very easy to transfer a voice-file to computer for analysis with these devices.
Videos can go too. DVD’s take up far less space than videotapes, and you don’t have to rewind them. You can find any part of the recording in seconds, rather than having to fast-forward to the part you want, then rewind later. My latest video camera is one of the hard-disk types. It doesn’t need tapes, and copying to computer for analysis is a breeze. It also has a 32x optical zoom, and 800x digital zoom, although I can’t imagine why. At that zoom level, you’d need a lead tripod to have any chance of keeping it steady.
What does bother me is that these shops have also stopped selling 35mm film cameras. They sell only digital. Well, okay, for most applications a good digital camera is perfectly fine. For snapshots, even the cheap cameras are pretty good. I have, and use, digital cameras because of the ease of transfer to computer, because there’s no film cost, because you can see what you’ve photographed straight away, and because of their infrared capabilities.
Now, I don’t mind moving to digital for sound recordings because a digital sound file is just as good for paranormal evidence as a tape. Videos, no matter how they’re recorded, are equally valid.
Photographs, though, are far too easy to tamper with when they’re digital. As evidence of paranormal activity, they’re compromised. Saying it’s still on the camera means nothing. Changing the time and date stamp on a file and copying it back to the camera is child’s play.
A real negative is hard to tamper with. You can introduce fake ghosts at the printing stage. It’s not easy, but it can be done. If you’ve fiddled around with the negative, it’s relatively easy to spot that, no matter how carefully it’s done. The film camera, and the negative it produces, are the best tool for anyone looking for proof of the paranormal.
So I’ll be taking greater care of my 35mm cameras in future, and maybe watching Ebay for some cheap spares. I hope the film is available for a long time yet.
If that film vanishes, so does any hope of producing that absolute, incontestable photo.