News and commentary about film and Nikon film SLRs:
Fujifilm UK just gave a one-year advance notice of the closing of their E6 lab in Britain. All pre-paid mail vouchers must be used before November 1st, 2014.
This seems more like a partnership ending than the closing a facility, though. Fujifilm's E6 processing was done by CC Imaging, and they will continue to process E6 film after November 2014. What's really happening here is that Fujifilm is getting out of mailer business and having their own branded E6 processing.
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It's Kodak Alaris, apparently.
That's the name of the new company that will be handling Kodak's old professional imaging business, the one that made all the films and paper we all hope continue on. Under terms of the bankruptcy agreement, the old Eastman Kodak shed this business to the United Kingdom's Kodak Pension Plan (KPP) in exchange for removing the pension obligations. KPP has now created Kodak Alaris, the company that will actually sell the films and papers.
In an article in the British Journal of Photography, the company is quoted as saying that they don't expect to be adding or subtracting any film products in the future.
The businesses that are now in Kodak Alaris are: retail photo kiosks, dry labs systems, paper and output systems, film products, event imaging solutions, and a document imaging business. Sales of more than US$1.3b are expected this year, and the new company has over 4700 employees worldwide.
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Fujifilm this week announced the instax mini 90 Neo Classic (is there enough room on the little camera for the name? ;~).
While not a film camera—it's an instant camera that prints credit-card sized photos (46 x 62mm) as its output—it is nice to see that the old analog options haven't completely all gone away, and the joy of "instant" photography hasn't been completely forgotten.
On the other hand, one has to shudder at press releases that have lines in them that say "The new instax mini 90 Neo Classic targets not only women…but now also men." Woo-hoo! 100% more potential purchasers!
Obviously, I needed to immediately go look and see what the previous instax cameras looked like. Ah, it's color that was the attractor: as in pastel pink, pastel yellow, and pastel blue.
If you want to see the full instax line, use this link [advertiser link], though note that because of the holidays, B&H hasn't caught up to the Fujifilm announcement as I write this.
Much of the film production still going is for Hollywood and the cinema, though this, too, is on a downhill path now that we're seeing feature films go digital in both production and distribution. It used to be, however, that there were many companies repurposing cinema film for still photography. Today we heard of one getting ready to do that again.
Cinestill 800 is a tungsten-balanced (3400K) high-speed motion picture film with the Remjet backing removed and then repackaged into 35mm canisters. The resulting film can be processed in C-41 or ECN-2 solutions. The film is native ISO 800, but can be push processed to as high as ISO 3200 if need be (results in higher contrast).
Because the film is tungsten-balanced, it's really an indoor film. You could shoot it in daylight at ISO 500 with an 85B filter on the lens, though.
Cinestill also has a listing for another new film, Adox Color Implosion, which is a muted color ISO 100 negative film.
Ilford has opened a new processing, scanning, and printing lab in San Clemente, California. Like its pre-existing twin in Cheshire, United Kingdom, this new mail order lab can process any makers black and white film in the 35mm and 120 formats, though prints are made on Ilford paper only. Turnaround time is said to be two to four days. Prepaid mailers are available from some dealers, or you can order directly through the Web.
- Develop 36-exposure 35mm: US$12
- Develop 120 format: US$8
- 5x7 print upgrade: US$5
- 2nd set of prints: US$7
- Scans for Web download: US$10
- Scans to USB flash drive: US$5
- Scans to CD: US$16
Shipping is additional.
Ferrania made a blog post this week indicating that they've starting the R&D project to resurrect the Ferrania films.
Wait, what? What are Ferrania films?
This Italian maker wasn't much known in the US, but they produced film under the Solaris name (100, 200, 400, and 800 color negative) and rebranded this for others in Europe, including Lomography Society. Ferrania closed their doors a couple of years ago, but apparently some of those involved have been trying to get it restarted, and that appears to now be happening.
The current goal is to produce Solaris FG-100 Plus (ISO 100 negative) and a new ISO 100 slide film, as well.
One interesting side note on Ferrania is that they were one of the last producers of oddball formats (e.g. 110). They claim that they have the equipment to produce 110, 120, 126, 127, 135, 220, Super 8, Double 8, 16mm, 35mm, and 70mm formats, and will produce them as demand warrants.
I've been getting a lot of folk sending me messages about Ilford declaring bankruptcy. Yes, indeed, Ilford Imaging Switzerland is apparently insolvent. But that's the Ilford that makes mostly Galerie photographic inkjet paper and was bought by an investment firm from Oji Paper of Japan, which was the entity that got the Ilfochrome and inkjet paper business when Ilford originally went through bankruptcy in 2004. The company now in bankruptcy is not the Ilford Photo based in UK that makes the B&W film and developing chemicals.
This is probably a good time to remind people of what happened during the original bankruptcy: the main brand name and the color end of the business went to Oji Paper, the black and white side went to Harman Technology, a company created by former Ilford managers. Harman also made inkjet papers, but those appeared under the Harmon name, not Ilford. Yes, confusing. When brands die it is rarely pretty how things turn out. But the good news is that the film-producing side of Ilford is still in business, and as far as I know, healthy.
We're going to have this same problem with Kodak, too, since Kodak did the same kind of splitting up of various units in bankruptcy, many of which retain the right to use the Kodak brand name. Worse still, the brand name in Kodak's case is also licensed by the main company to others in several cases, such as cameras.
So be careful when you see the word "bankrupt" associated with these split-up entities that only refer to the brand name.
I'm not sure it's been announced externally yet, but an internal Fujifilm bulletin from Fujifilm North America Corporation tells of several more films no longer being produced:
- Provia 400X (Fujifilm recommends Provia 100F as a replacement)
- Neopan 400 (Fujifilm recommends Neopan 100 Acros as a replacement)
- Velvia 100F in long roll form (special order; Fujifilm recommends Velvia 100 in long roll as a replacement)
As usual, the culprit behind the discontinuation is listed as "decreases in world-wide global [sic] demand."
The Kodak and Fujifilm choices are now down to 20. (For those that get upset every time I mention a number associated with those two companies, at the moment Ilford seems to be stable, so don't get paranoid and think I'm writing that there are only 20 types of film available on the market. My point has been, and remains, that the two companies that dominated film production are slowly whittling their offerings to the point where we're near bare bones. In this round, we lost two ISO 400 films, leaving only negative film with higher ISO in the Fujifilm lineup, and no color slide film with an ISO greater than 100.
The Instructables site now has something you might not have thought was possible: the full set of information necessary to "print" your next 35mm film camera. That's right, print. As in using a 3D printer to create all the parts necessary for a working 35mm film camera. Better still, it's sort of an SLR and you can make it work with your Nikkor lenses.
The thing I like about this project isn't so much the actual camera itself, but what it suggests about the future of film. High-end audio was saved by the enthusiasts, partly by some with big pocketbooks, partly by others who simply ventured in and created what they wanted. This 3D printed camera is an example of the latter.
The confluence of Kickstarter and 3D printers bodes well for the future of enthusiast-inspired products that continue to support those that are still interested in film. Indeed, I've put my money where my mouth is and have supported several of these projects, not so much because I wanted the end result, but more because I want to encourage those that are exploring this space.
WROC TV in Rochester is reporting that Kodak is shutting down the plant that makes acetate base. Most film gets put on an acetate base, so this is a rather serious issue, if true. (Update: some films use a polyester base.)
While Kodak apparently has a large stockpile of acetate already produced, once they shut down the acetate-making machines, they won't likely be turned on again, ever. Kodak would eventually be dependent upon another manufacturer for acetate some time in the future (remember, the group selling film is in the process of being transferred to the Kodak UK Pension Plan).