Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Seven Years On

As February marks the month when I began writing this blog seven years ago, not every year, but periodically, it seems like a good opportunity to take stock of the state of film-based photography. As ever, I haven't written as much as I would have otherwise liked to do. In recent weeks I have updated some of my older camera posts with additional images, especially from the cameras which I've used a good deal over the past few years, namely the Kodak Retina IIa and the Zodel Baldalux, as well as the Agfa Optima Sensor, as I've used a greater variety of films with them. I am, as ever, shooting some odd, obscure and sometimes difficult cameras, as well as current and discontinued films, and continue to observe various 'camera days', which form the majority of this blog's content.

After the closure of Silverprint in London, my 'regular' shop became West End Cameras; they closed their physical store in central London last Autumn: they do still trade online, but I found it useful as a shop to drop in for films and chemicals I knew they'd have, and also to try new things out on occasion too when serendipity provided them (West End Cameras introduced me to Adox Silvermax, for example). There remains KVJ Fairdeal, the cheapest place for Ilford films I know of, and Process Supplies UK (there's also Mr Cad and - a relative newcomer - Parallax Photographic neither of which I've personally used). There are other shops which sell film in London, but often at something of a premium: the Photographers' Gallery's bookshop has a very good range of films (as well as being an excellent bookshop; their website only shows a limited range of what they actually have in the shop), but not at competitive prices.

In terms of available films, the announcement last week of the reintroduction of Kodak T-Max P3200 was received with slightly mixed responses. For the fastest black and white emulsions available, I've tended to prefer Ilford Delta 3200, which, importantly, is also available in medium format, but no doubt I'll try T-Max P3200 again. Although their colour transparency film is still yet to appear, the production of Ferrania P30 Alpha looks to have increased in volume, although quantities are still limited: their last update entertains the possibility that P30 Alpha may soon be available in medium format (120) rolls and 127 format is also mentioned. Of new films I have yet to try, Silberra have an ambitious range of films in different stages of development, including a new, fast (for its type) orthochromatic film; with some of the various other 'new' films appearing, it is not always clear if the films are entirely new emulsions, or repackaged emulsions from some of the remaining manufacturers - films like Kosmo Foto (Foma), and Fotoimpex's CHM 100 and 400 films (Kentmere/APX/RPX) - while its notable that others - such as Bergger Pancro 400 - are distinct products. It did feel like 2017 was a positive year for film photography - Emulsive wrote about all the announcements for new film stocks, and had to keep updating the post to keep the content current.

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