As a film student at New York University, I was disappointed by Frank Ahrens's Dec. 27 Business article, "A Disturbance in Film's Force."

Mr. Ahrens said that the consumer video camera with which Steven Soderbergh shot "Full Frontal" is called the "MiniDV." Actually, the camera is called the Canon XL-1; MiniDV is the format on which the film was shot -- that is, the type of tape stock (i.e., VHS, Beta, HD, etc.).

More important, in discussing the merits of digital tape vs. film, the article doesn't mention the problem of backward compatibility. Currently, images on high definition digital tape stock have a much lower resolution than those on film. And within the next year, motion picture films will be capable of producing images with even better resolution. Furthermore, these films will work with any existing motion picture camera. In this sense, they are "backward compatible." Digital tapes, however, are not; the user is locked into the limits of whatever equipment he or she bought. In other words, to get better images, the photographer, instead of simply buying new tape stock, would have to buy a new generation of camera.

The economics of technological advances are never quite as simple or miraculous as they seem, and perhaps there's a reason film has stood the test of time.


New York