News and commentary about film and film SLRs (mostly Nikon):

A New Color Negative Film

bythom adox

Better check your light meter. This new four layer color negative film is ISO 3. That's right, ISO 3. One thing Adox promotes the film for is removing anything moving from cityscape photos. 

Adox is a German company that took to trying to revive Agfa film stocks, and then started producing its own new film emulsion (Color Mission) in 2022. 

Kodak Lowers Tri-X Prices

bythom trix

Kodak surprised everyone this week with a price reduction on 135 format Tri-X black and white negative film. The price cut is for both 24 and 36 image rolls. The price cut is regional, with some areas getting a reduction of 30%.

Kodak Stays Committed

In a conference call to shareholders, Kodak CEO Jim Continenza said "We recently renewed our supply agreement for film with our long-term customer, Kodak Alaris, in a deal that will run through 2028. We are committed to manufacturing film as long as there is demand from the filmmakers and photographers worldwide."

Kodak Alaris is the pension-plan fund spin-out that does most of the consumer-facing Kodak work these days. At present, they supply:

  • Professional Gold (35mm, 120 formats)
  • Professional Portra 160 (35mm, 120, 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 12x20, 20x24)
  • Professional Portra 400 (35mm, 120, 4x5, 4x10, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, and 20x24)
  • Professional Portra 800 (35mm)
  • Professional Ektar 100 (35mm, 120, 4x5, 5x7, 6x7, 8x10)
  • Professional Ektachrome E100 (35mm, 120, 4x5, 5x7, 8x10)
  • Professional Tri-X (35mm, 120, 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 35', 100')
  • Professional T-Max 100 (35mm, 120, 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 35', 100', no perf)
  • Professional T-Max 400 (35mm, 120, 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 8x20, 13x18cm, 11x14, 12x20, 16x20, 20x24, 35', 100')
  • Professional T-Max P3200 (35mm)
  • Gold 200 (35mm, 120)
  • Ultra Max 400 (35mm)
  • single use cameras (Sport, Power Flash, Fun Saver, Daylight, and 400TX)

Pentax Considers Going Backwards

bythom 0196

Yes, I know I haven’t posted much on this site recently. Priorities ;~). 

However, Ricoh’s recent press release and short videos warrants some discussion. 

Why such an announcement?

Ricoh is trolling. 

The Pentax camera team that has been working on this project has been trying to figure out their relevance once they realized that they weren’t likely to be a player in interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras. Corporate still backs the lifelong employment idea, so the engineers still have jobs, but corporate also is now trying to solve a financial issue within the company: all products need to bring an appropriate ROI, or else they’re not going to see the light of day.

Here’s the dilemma with producing a film camera. Ricoh themselves point out that 20% of camera owners have a film camera (I believe this was a Japan-only, or at least Japan-centric survey). The question is whether there’s enough interest in film cameras that a new one could be sold profitably today. 

That’s what Ricoh is really trying to figure out by going public with the project. Building a modern film camera from current parts and manufacturing isn’t a big deal, though I suspect you’d want to minimize the mechanical assemblies as much as possible. The questions they have to answer are: (1) what would our costs be? and (2) how many would buy it? It’s the intersection of those two things that determine likely ROI. 

In essence, the team has been working on question #1 and now needs to better understand #2. The problem with that is this: what’s the likely price and capability? Without that information, you can’t get to an answer. This is where focus groups, run properly, can often help sort through the issues and likelihood of success. Press releases? Not so much.

Consider, a Nikon F100 in excellent condition sells for less than US$400 these days. That is a pretty incredible camera in terms of what it can do (autofocus and much more). So the price bar for someone who understands film cameras in any way at all is probably pretty low. 

To me, a modern film camera is most likely going to be faddish, at best, in terms of potential success. While it’s true that a like new Nikon F6 is still selling for between US$1500 and US$2000 much of the time, that also was a product made until very recently, is arguably the best film SLR ever made, and is still (mostly) compatible with current DSLR tech (it’s design was derived from a Nikon D2h). Pentax doesn’t quite have the same base from which to build sales of that kind of product profitably, and the fact that Nikon stopped making it means that Nikon doesn’t, either.

I’d guess that you’d need to do what was mostly done with record players in recent years: make a capable one at modest price and try to play off of fad. That likely means that US$500-1000 would have to be the target price, and that the product really just has to be about the basics. Make Analog Fun Again (MAFA). I can just see the hat ;~). The question I have is who would be leading this fad? Because it would need leadership to make it over the noise hump on the Internet to make it a reliable fad. You can’t exactly Tik-Tok from a film camera, after all.  

I wish Ricoh/Pentax luck. But they haven’t made me feel warm and fuzzy about this yet, let alone nostalgic. 

A New Film

Japan Camera Hunter introduced the first new slide film in a long time, the crowd-funded FuguFilm 400. Not yet shipping, this new reversal film is the result of navigating the complex issues of chemical restrictions and bans that have been the bane of slide film processing for some time. Fugufilm 400 will be processed in E-6 chemistry.

Best way to keep up with what's happening with this new film is via Twitter (@fugufilm).

Fujifilm Price Increases

Beginning April 1st, the price of Fujifilm's film products will be increasing, and not insignificantly. Increases will range from 20 to 60% on Superia Premium 400, Fujicolor 100, Pro400H, Pro160NS, Velvia 50, Provia 100F, Velvia 100F, Velvia 100, and Neopan 100 Acros II.

That's not the only increase, though. On May 1st, Fujifilm photographic paper and processing chemicals for color will go up 10 to 20%. And on June 1st, a number of other lab related products and services will increase in price, as well.

Fujifilm cites the increases as being due to rise in raw material and transportation costs that they've been unable to cost reduce or absorb. While it's disappointing that we're seeing such price increases, I'm pretty sure that we'd all prefer that than to have these products go away completely.

Filmbodies is Back

Yes, it's been awhile since I updated this site. That had to do with a file corruption I had to spend some time fixing. I just didn't have the time to get to it in a timely fashion, so the site sat dormant for a bit. I think I've now resurrected everything, so I'll try to be more timely once again. 

I was curious as I finished up the site cleanup as to what's really available in terms of film cameras. I won't spend any time for the moment writing about Kodak or Fujifilm instant film cameras. More on those later. 

But just doing a search on Amazon for film cameras came up with a couple of things I didn't expect. Not that I'd recommend it, but Amazon will sell you an Ilford Sprite 35-II camera with three rolls of Kodak UltraMax 400 film. The camera is a fixed shutter (1/120 second), fixed aperture (f/9), fixed focus one with an unspecified wide angle lens. Basically a bottom end consumer camera, but I was still surprised to find this and a couple of other similar cameras still hanging around. 

Another New Film Appears at Photokina

Somehow I hadn’t noted Adox before, a German company that makes several films (Scala, CHS 100, CMS 20II, and Silvermax). They have a new superpanchromatic black and white film called HR-50. 

HR-50 has a resolution of 280 lp/mm and an ISO of 50 and an extended spectrum that allows it to be used as a near infrared film.

Meanwhile, their older CMS 20 II film is also a high resolution one (800 l/mm, not lp), claimed to be the highest resolving in the world, with particularly fine grain. ISO is 20, though if used for high contrast use you would bump that up. If used with a low contrast developer, the new film can be exposed between ASA 3 and 6 (Adox uses the older ASA values in their product notes). 

Note that CMS 20 II has clear reciprocity failure outside the 1 second to 1/1000 second range, so you will need to adjust exposure for long or fast shutter speeds.

This site’s exclusive advertiser sells Adox films (see advertisement at bottom).

Two More Film Discontinuations

Fujifilm will discontinue two key larger format film stocks: Fujicolor 160NS (120 size) and Fujifilm Vevia 50 in 4x5 and 8x10 sheets. While not critical to the 35mm film user, these discontinuations continue to show the cost/pricing pressure that Fujifilm is undergoing. Low demand basically puts some film stocks at risk due to rising costs. 

Fujifilm 160NS will be discontinued in March 2022. Velvia 4x5" will be discontinued in March 2023, and you'd better stock up on the 8x10 version quickly if you use it, as it will be discontinued in December 2021.

The good news is that Fujifilm continues to give warning before discontinuing films, meaning that you get a last chance to order them before they go away completely. 

New Ilford Ortho Plus

Ilford announced 35mm and 120 versions of a new black and white film, Ortho Plus. This is a fine-grained ISO 80 film (daylight; ISO 40 under Tungsten) that Ilford says is well-suited for landscape work. Lower red sensitivity renders red/orange in your frame as darker than a neutral tonal approach would. It also means that the film can be safely handled in a deep red safelight area. 

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