Checking the Pulse of Film Photography
Old 05-21-2018   #1
dave lackey
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Checking the Pulse of Film Photography

It has been awhile since I backed away and thought about the overall perspective of film photography. Time to check the pulse.

It is sad to think that with Fujifilm getting out of film at an ever-increasing pace, we have lost a great source of film. Regardless of their reasons, we are being left stranded with few options. I cannot say I like Fuji any more, but that is just me.

Maybe it is good for the financial health of Kodak and Ilford that the market shares will shift to those left. Maybe not.

The pulse is weak, right? Since we drive the film market but depend on suppliers for film, we are in a pinch. What can we do?

Is it time to plan ahead for film shooters to stock up and fill our freezers? I wish I had bought tons of Acros and other films long ago and still had the luxury of using preferred films of choice.

But I do have a year's supply of 35mm and looking at stocking up on bulk Double X, and 120 film.

What do you think?
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Old 05-21-2018   #2
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I admit now to shoot more digital than film. But when I shoot film, both 120 and 35mm I like it very much. For B&W I like Ilford and try to support it. For color I have not a preferred film, sometimes Kodak, sometimes Fuji.

And I shoot Impossible/Polaroid...

At my age, being realistic I think film production will survive long enough for my needs...

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Old 05-21-2018   #3
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I never like(d) any FujiNoFilm. I like Ilford film but thier greed is same as Kodak now.
I don't have money for greedy.
My final solution is old stock cinefilm. It is OK in bw developer and enlargable.
For now I have couple of regular bulks.
I quit from LR and MF, waste of time and now money.
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Old 05-21-2018   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I never like(d) any FujiNoFilm. I like Ilford film but thier greed is same as Kodak now.
I don't have money for greedy.
My final solution is old stock cinefilm. It is OK in bw developer and enlargable.
For now I have couple of regular bulks.
I quit from LR and MF, waste otf time and now money.
FujiNoFilm... LOL...!!!! Love it and hope to see it on the blimp one day.
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Old 05-21-2018   #5
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I think the pulse is strong Dave. I have been using Ilford film since 1976 and have always been able to get what I need easily. There are a number of alternatives available as Ko.Fe points out, and the internet increases the ease of getting those. I see film as a healthy niche survivor, with many years to run before its pulse ceases.
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Old 05-21-2018   #6
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I still shoot a good bit of film. Little color film except in 810, but the occasional roll of 35 goes through a camera. B&W is all film save snapshots with the XPro2.

I shoot Portra 160 and soon some 400 in 810.

B&W is:

Rollei Ortho 25 in 35
Rollei RPX 25 in 35
PanF+ in 35 and 120
Fp4+ in 120 and 810
Hp5+ in 35, 120 and 810 (I still have some in 45 in the fridge, but barely ever use that)
ORWO UN54 in 35
ORWO N74 in 35
5222 XX in 35

Down to my last couple of rolls of EFKE 25.

I also just got in some Delta 100 120 that I used to shoot a lot of, but had slipped out of rotation.

And coming soon, some HP5+ in 1114.
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Old 05-21-2018   #7
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It depends.

The INSTAX market remains strong. FUJIFILM just announced a new INSTAX camera, the SQ6. They also just signed a global INSTAX promotional deal with Taylor Swift. FUJIFILM sells a lot of film. Some people believe the FUJIFILM X and GFX series cameras only exist because of INSTAX profits.

Otherwise, the non-INSTAX the film market seems to be a glass half-full or half-empty proposition. It seems FUJIFILM is not interested in other film formats. Does this mean the global demand for other formats is to small to meet FUJIFILM's return-on-equity born income growth business goals? Some say the only reason Kodak remains in the film business was a huge run of cinema film. Others point to pockets of growth around the world. Every report of bad news about film usage will be meet with report about revived interest in film photography. For instance, the recent Netflix film "Kodachrome" was shot using 35mm Kodachrome film. The optimist will see this as a good sign for film while the pessimist will point out this is the last film in history shot using Kodachrome.

I think following the market prices for used high-quality film cameras is a valid way to gauge what's going on in film photography.

As a group, people using film now are unlikely to significantly increase their usage. New non-INSTAX film photographers are required for growth. Growth will increase the demand for used film cameras. So long-term price trends will tell the tale. I think stable equipment price levels would be reason for optimism.

Just because non-INSTAX film photography is a niche market doesn't mean can't be a healthy market. Thriving niche markets are not rare. It just means there could be less choices for film media. The films that survive can be excellent products. They will likely increase in price.
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Old 05-21-2018   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I never like(d) any FujiNoFilm. I like Ilford film but thier greed is same as Kodak now.
I don't have money for greedy.
My final solution is old stock cinefilm. It is OK in bw developer and enlargable.
For now I have couple of regular bulks.
I quit from LR and MF, waste of time and now money.
Ko.Fe. your posts always crack me up.
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Old 05-21-2018   #9
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The pulse is still beating and I'm still shooting.

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Old 05-21-2018   #10
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There's a range of B+W emulsions outside of the "big 3". I've recently started using Fomapan, thus far happy with the results. Here's a recent shot on Fomapan 400, overcast day, with a K2 (yellow) filter to punch things up a bit. I also have some Agfa and Bergger in the freezer.

Long way of saying that, in the long run, B+W may survive as a boutique film while color is mostly ceded to digital, save for Ferrania.
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Old 05-21-2018   #11
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I don't think it is weak so much as skipping beats. At one moment a new film is being introduced; at another, one or another film is discontinued. Film is in afib.
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Old 05-21-2018   #12
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The release of new Ektachrome as promised would be an encouraging sign and a step in the right direction.

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Old 05-21-2018   #13
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I can tell film is very much alive by the prices of the cameras.

Nikon F3's have risen in price over the last few years.

The Nikon F6 is still in good demand getting almost twice the dollar as say a Nikon D700 or even D600.

Premium Compacts like the Yashica And Contax T have inflated to crazy high prices.

I remember buying a Yashica T4 for 0.65$ years ago... no one wanted those cameras when I joined RFF
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Old 05-21-2018   #14
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To paraphrase Frank Zappa, "Film isn't dead it just smells funny."
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Old 05-21-2018   #15
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Fuji has a history of dropping films, so I wouldn't worry over that. I didn't shoot their film anyway unless it was to buy some rolls of their cheap colour film to test a camera with.

My guess is that the niche B&W film market will remain as strong as it is for some time. Many of us that shoot film won't shoot digital, so it's film or nuthin I suppose.

Right now I'm looking at a Beseler 23C enlarger that is taking up a lot of room in my place, and putting together large trays and expensive papers to do some large printing. It's a lot of trouble and expense to shoot film, but scanning and fooling w/ expensive and finicky ink jet printers was worse. You do what you have to do to get the best results, and I can't get the same look w/ digital, so I have no problems w/ the film workflow. In my mind, film will be around for a long time because it's the only way to get a darkroom made print.
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Old 05-21-2018   #16
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Still shooting about two rolls a week. I went all Ilford a number of years ago because they continue to provide film and paper for wet printing.
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Old 05-21-2018   #17
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I was an ardent defender of film -- still am. But not for small format. With each generation of (especially full frame) digital cameras has eclipsed the technical arguments for sticking with small format film. Dynamic range, check. Low light performance, check. Resolution, check. Plus, film users often scan to get "the best of both worlds". Wow. Talk about a tedious process and you end up with a digital file in the end. Add to this the lack of places to develop color film. That changed in my neck of the woods seemingly overnight. I do not think this bodes well for small format.

Film has its place, however, in:

1. Medium and large format. Digital still cant touch it -- at least not cost effectively.

2. As a tactile pleasure hobby. Yes, it is great fun processing your own film. Yes, it is "magic" making wet prints. Yes, firing off a frame of film still has a special tactile pleasure to it. Yes, vintage camera gear is way cool. And, yes, the output technically is right up there with digital (though in most respects digital has edged out film).

Ultimately, film manufactures will cut lines, others add until "equilibrium" is achieved between supply, demand, and pricing. From an economics stand-point, my take, therefore take it with a grain, is that film in its hayday was elastic regarding price. Kodak raised its price by a dime for 400 speed film, a buyer my opt for Fuji. Now, because film is more of a niche market consisting of die hard film users, it is now inelastic so suppliers can raise prices without it affecting demand. This will prompt price increases. Just my take -- like I said, take it with a grain.
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Old 05-21-2018   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
The INSTAX market remains strong. FUJIFILM just announced a new INSTAX camera, the SQ6. They also just signed a global INSTAX promotional deal with Taylor Swift. FUJIFILM sells a lot of film. Some people believe the FUJIFILM X and GFX series cameras only exist because of INSTAX profits.

I wonder: Is that really a big thing? I don't know anyone who has one, nor have I ever seen one that I know of. Or maybe I'm just not the target audience. I know there are some members (HHPhoto? Skiff, I think, or maybe they're the same person?) who like the Instax system but it seems like a niche within a niche, so to speak. But I might be completely wrong.
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Tuff but Survivable
Old 05-21-2018   #19
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Tuff but Survivable

Have a freezer stocked with my favorite films, maybe enough to out last me but anyway, I do believe that film will always be in demand and demand drives production. Perhaps the larger, profit driven film producers will fall by the wayside but that will open opportunities for smaller more dedicated film markers to step up.
So I'm fairly optimistic about the future of film, just like the vinyl records, film will wane and the younger generations will rediscover film...
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Old 05-21-2018   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by css9450 View Post
I wonder: Is that really a big thing? I don't know anyone who has one, nor have I ever seen one that I know of. Or maybe I'm just not the target audience. I know there are some members (HHPhoto? Skiff, I think, or maybe they're the same person?) who like the Instax system but it seems like a niche within a niche, so to speak. But I might be completely wrong.
I was at target a little after christmas, and the store was out of minifilm. A couple was there trying to buy some, and after being told they didn't have any, the couple talked about how it was sold out everywhere. The target guys were talking about how insane the demand was. The had been asked a lot about it that day.

Granted, this was after the holiday, so who knows how many people just got one, wanted to buy film, and then would never use it again.

The film been at the top of the amazon best seller list in all of camera and photo for at least a year. Checking now, it's in the number one and two spots, with a camera at number four.

This is all anecdotal, but I think it does very well.
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Old 05-21-2018   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
For instance, the recent Netflix film "Kodachrome" was shot using 35mm Kodachrome film.
Can you post a link to the production of that film and show if it was, in fact, shot on Kodachrome? The general consensus being that no labs are left to process any rolls of still K14 let alone process 50,000 feet of 35mm stock. Yes, some folks have tried with limited success in reproducing the process but I don't think there are any houses left that have the knowledge, the equipment and the chemistry to make a movie out of the stuff.

As for my own film consumption, I don't shoot enough of it. Such is life on a limited budget. But come the fall, I'm going to be shooting a lot of 16mm black and white.

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Old 05-21-2018   #22
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Film supply is quite important to me as I shoot on average three rolls per week. The B&W supply is very good for the moment so Fuji's pull-out is no worry. Fomapan has been mentioned here, their Fomapan 100 is a very fine grained film that T-max lovers should check out. It really shines in X-tol and it is very cheap. Those who like Acros should check out the Adox CHS 100 II, it's an orthopanchromatic film that resembles Acros, and it's cheaper than Acros. Adox also makes the Silvermax 100 which is really nice.
I'm more worried about colour film for the moment. I think we can forget Fuji, I suspect they have already scrapped their machines and is now selling from freezer stock. They did exactly that with the peel-apart instant films. That leaves Kodak as the only maker of high quality colour film. So for those who would like to still get colour film in the future I think we need to support Kodak, whatever we might otherwise think about this company. At least that is my strategy for the moment.
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Old 05-21-2018   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai-san View Post
Film supply is quite important to me as I shoot on average three rolls per week. The B&W supply is very good for the moment so Fuji's pull-out is no worry. Fomapan has been mentioned here, their Fomapan 100 is a very fine grained film that T-max lovers should check out. It really shines in X-tol and it is very cheap. Those who like Acros should check out the Adox CHS 100 II, it's an orthopanchromatic film that resembles Acros, and it's cheaper than Acros. Adox also makes the Silvermax 100 which is really nice.
I'm more worried about colour film for the moment. I think we can forget Fuji, I suspect they have already scrapped their machines and is now selling from freezer stock. They did exactly that with the peel-apart instant films. That leaves Kodak as the only maker of high quality colour film. So for those who would like to still get colour film in the future I think we need to support Kodak, whatever we might otherwise think about this company. At least that is my strategy for the moment.
Kai,

I completely agree... thanks!
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Old 05-21-2018   #24
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I am definitely shooting more film than digital today. But I have not shot Fuji film in more than a decade because it became vastly more expensive than just about any other brand.

Here it is rare that a day passes when I do not see someone shooting with a film camera on the street. And try buying a medium format camera: dealer stocks seem to be at an all time low and prices at an all time high.

Film is certainly not dying out!
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Old 05-21-2018   #25
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B-9 mentioned how F3's are up in demand. A few years back the market was flooded with them. I also take note that F5's are also up.

Sadly as Acros is disappearing Pancho 400 shows up and P30.

Been playing around with Rollie 400S because I can get it cheap in bulk in 70mm and basically shoot a Baby Linhof like a Leica by loading 15 feet of film into a cassette and using a CINE back for over 60 exposures of 6x7 without reloading.

I secured three 15 foot reels, found a JOBO 3013 tank, and even found a Unicolor Roller for $29.00. So I guess I'm digging in.

For 135 I think when I deplete my 35mm stockpiles, I will just bulk load 5222. Pretty much all I need.

There has been some loss, but then also some gain as analog photography redefines itself. To me it is really a mater of how you position yourself. I also have a Linhof Tech IV 4x5. The JOBO 3013 that I will use for 70mm also serves 4x5.

It really is about adapting and recreating/carving your own nitch.

I understand though that this all would be different if I were not a B&W film guy. Color certainly is different.

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Old 05-21-2018   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil_F_NM View Post
Can you post a link to the production of that film and show if it was, in fact, shot on Kodachrome? The general consensus being that no labs are left to process any rolls of still K14 let alone process 50,000 feet of 35mm stock. Yes, some folks have tried with limited success in reproducing the process but I don't think there are any houses left that have the knowledge, the equipment and the chemistry to make a movie out of the stuff.

As for my own film consumption, I don't shoot enough of it. Such is life on a limited budget. But come the fall, I'm going to be shooting a lot of 16mm black and white.

Phil Forrest
Probably just Kodak MP film and not Kodachrome itself. Could be filmed in 16 or 35mm. Haven't seen that movie, and I think the only way Kodachrome may appear is through slides as an object.


OTOH, 13 reasons why 2nd season seems to feature Polaroid (IP) quite prominently, like cassettes were in the previous one perhaps. Just an observation, I've noticed small indie music projects and labels have a demand for cassette by the public.


B&W with Ilford, Foma, et al is a realtively safe market. After all color film displaced it long ago. Adox & Ferrania are consolidating themselves as small integrated factories.


I do shoot color and it's more of a Delicate issue, quite a complicated manufacturing process. Fuji & Kodak and that's it at the moment and they are huge. Fuji's got this ambiguous uncanny attitude and Kodak depends on MP.

Agfa and Inoviscoat do have the capability to make it, Ferrania should be on the way as well eventually.
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Old 05-21-2018   #27
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The consensus seems to be "What, me worry?"

I hope that is the case, however, with the economy due for a recession and the continuing uncertainty with Kodak, I am not yet convinced enough to order a Leica a la carte MP. (I wish!...LOL...)

Maybe the best plan for us all is middle ground, shoot like crazy (like Cal has been doing) and the purchase of extra film used will help Kodak and Ilford, and... stock up as much as possible with bulk film in the freezer. In others, fully commit to shooting a lot of film, with some in storage, just in case we are all wrong.

Sounds good to me.
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Old 05-21-2018   #28
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I mean i`m well aware of the fact that I may not be able to shoot film my whole life. I hope for kodak and ilford and rollei to keep up production but I do feel like the interest in film will fade away to only the few dedicated people.

However I shoot 6-10 rolls a week and really try to support kodak, ilford and rollei equally. obviously i miss acros and have shot most of my final college work on 160NS but in reality most of my work that earns money is on digital and at the end of the day digital will prevail IMO
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Old 05-21-2018   #29
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I believe black and white film will be around for a while.

But I’m slowly forgetting about film. I seem to develop the film but don’t make hardly a print any more.

Matter of fact, even with digital I seem to have lost the desire to have prints made any more.

Could the folks who do the printing be in a dinosaur business as well? I find so many look on their phone or tablet computer then that’s as far as it goes. I know some believe prints are for posterity, but that idea seems to go in one ear and out the other.

When I was doing wedding gigs, it changed as it went from, “let me see what size print should I order;” to, “I want the files on a CD or jump drive or both. And if you don’t I’ll hire some one else.”
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Old 05-21-2018   #30
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Quote:
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I can tell film is very much alive by the prices of the cameras.

Nikon F3's have risen in price over the last few years.

The Nikon F6 is still in good demand getting almost twice the dollar as say a Nikon D700 or even D600.

Premium Compacts like the Yashica And Contax T have inflated to crazy high prices.

I remember buying a Yashica T4 for 0.65$ years ago... no one wanted those cameras when I joined RFF
What he said...

Nothing is really going away I think...its just more or less. I have two record stores within a mile of me...two camera stores as well. They survive thank goodness
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Old 05-21-2018   #31
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Over the last year I got back into shooting and developing my own BW film. There have been some ups and downs, but overall it seems to me that the film market has stabilized for the most part and is improving in some ways at least for BW. Yes Fuji is pulling out, so for me that means Acros will be gone, I didn't shoot their other films. But I keep reading that Kodak/Alaris and Harman/Ilford have shown improving sales over the last couple of years, and we have companies like ADOX and others introducing new films. I think that BW film will be here for the foreseeable future. Not as sure about color, but, to my mind digital is better for color anyway.
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Old 05-21-2018   #32
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Keeping film alive here on my end, though not shooting as much as I'd like to.


To heck with Fuji, I never much cared for their stuff anyway, except the b&w, and I came to that too late.


I've seen the uptick in camera prices, but there are still bargains to be had. One just needs to look everywhere. I own cameras now that I never thought I'd be able to afford.


Unless Nikon comes out with a killer mirrorless system that is somewhat affordable, I'll likely be shooting film until the day I die, which on some days feels like it could be any moment.


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Old 05-22-2018   #33
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Afte Neopan 1600 went away I didn’t really shoot anything Fuji. When I shot slides for stock I was about equal parts Kodak and Fuji, with some Agfa thrown is as well. Shows how long ago that was.
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Old 05-22-2018   #34
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In the past months I've been shooting film almost exclusively. It's always sad to read about big players discontinuing film production. On the other hand there are also some newcomers on the market who fill the gap and see their future there. Fotoimpex is ie. expanding their ADOX production facilities close to Berlin.
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Old 05-22-2018   #35
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Cost may rise and the river too, but film isn't going anywhere. It's all good.
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Old 05-22-2018   #36
davidnewtonguitars
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Cars were supposed to supplant horses & buggies. You can still buy horses and buggies, and even buggy whips.
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Old 05-22-2018   #37
willie_901
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Quote:
Originally Posted by css9450 View Post
I wonder: Is that really a big thing? ...
In their most recent Financial Statement FUJIFILM reports they sold 6.6 million INSTAX cameras in fiscal year 2017. The total Photo Imaging Group revenues for the same period were ¥236.8 billion. However, this is figure includes all revenue from photographic film and paper products including developing and printing technologies.

Who else sold over 6 million new film cameras in 2017?

INSTAX cameras sell from $60 to $130 US. If their wholesale cost is only 1/3 of that, then the revenue for just camera sales could be at least $180 million. Twenty exposures costs $12.40 on Amazon. So, the total INSTAX film revenue stream is not trivial.

PS

The X and GFX cameras and lenses are products of the Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Group. This Group's revenue was ¥105 billion. This figure also includes TV, cinema, security and projector lens sales.
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Old 05-22-2018   #38
willie_901
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Can you post a link to the production of that film and show if it was, in fact, shot on Kodachrome? The general consensus being that no labs are left to process any rolls of still K14 let alone process 50,000 feet of 35mm stock. Yes, some folks have tried with limited success in reproducing the process but I don't think there are any houses left that have the knowledge, the equipment and the chemistry to make a movie out of the stuff.

As for my own film consumption, I don't shoot enough of it. Such is life on a limited budget. But come the fall, I'm going to be shooting a lot of 16mm black and white.

Phil Forrest
My pleasure.

"Despite a credit noting that the movie was shot (to little effect) on 35-millimeter Kodak film, “Kodachrome” will mostly be seen on the streaming platform, whose current business model hastens the destruction of physical media."
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Basically, I mean, ah—well, let’s say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it’s interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states—which has to do with the . . . contest between content and form.
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Old 05-22-2018   #39
css9450
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Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
In their most recent Financial Statement FUJIFILM reports they sold 6.6 million INSTAX cameras in fiscal year 2017. The total Photo Imaging Group revenues for the same period were ¥236.8 billion. However, this is figure includes all revenue from photographic film and paper products including developing and printing technologies.

Who else sold over 6 million new film cameras in 2017?

INSTAX cameras sell from $60 to $130 US. If their wholesale cost is only 1/3 of that, then the revenue for just camera sales could be at least $180 million. Twenty exposures costs $12.40 on Amazon. So, the total INSTAX film revenue stream is not trivial.

That is wonderful news if it prevents or at least delays their discontinuance of other, "regular" emulsions. But Fuji being Fuji, I haven't really seen that happening.
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Old 05-22-2018   #40
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Who else sold over 6 million new film cameras in 2017?
People buy the Instax because it is instant. The technology is irrelevant to the typical buyer.
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