Sunday, 22 February 2015

Four years on

It's now four years since I began this blog, and two years ago I took the opportunity to reflect on the state of film as I then saw it. Appropriately for my 100th post, a further two years, on it's worth reviewing film photography once more. For black and white film at least, the market of available films has been stable, if not actively positive, with more new films appearing than being discontinued; as colour film tends (or tended) to be made by the bigger companies in larger volumes, this appears to be going through a period of rationalisation, although as I very rarely shoot colour film, I am not so aware of issues of its availability and as a result, it is a little outside of my review here.

In terms of formats, the near- (and briefly) obsolete 110 and 127 have both made a return, of sorts. Lomo have produced both colour and black and white 110 cartridge films, while Rera Pan 100 is currently the only available black and white 127 format film (Rollei Nightbird is also available as 127 format film, but being a 'redscale' film this is somewhat limiting).

After the demise of Fotokemika, which affected a number of their lines, Adox has continued to produce film, paper and chemistry. Their 'type II' versions of CHS 100 and CMS 20 films replaced the no longer available original films, and Adox also introduced the entirely new Silvermax 21/100 (which I've tested and liked the results), available in 35mm and Super 8 as Pan-X Reverso.

Notable discontinuations include Kodak BW400CN, a film I have used in the past, but only when unable to get Ilford XP2, which leaves XP2 as the last C41 black and white film. Meanwhile Ilford have had problems with Harman Direct Positive Paper due to Ilford Imaging Switzerland, a separate company which made the emulsion, closing down. Macodirect are currently selling Imago Positive Paper, which is apparently the same emulsion coated onto different paper, and presumably there is a limited supply of the stuff, although I have only previously used the original Harman DPP.

Of Macodirect's wide range, the excellent Rollei RPX films have been supplemented by a RPX 25, and this, as well as RPX 400, are now being manufactured as sheet films. For the large format photographer, this has provided a welcome medium-price range, between Foma's black and white offerings, and the higher priced Ilford and Kodak films.

Finally, although it pertains to colour film, perhaps the most exciting news of recent months has been Film Ferrania reaching their Kickstarter goal to allow them to begin to process of making colour reversal film once more - in 35mm, 120 and Super 8 and 16mm formats- in a scaled down refitting of some of the old Ferrania factory buildings in Liguria. The original company had been bought by 3M with the result that the Ferrania name itself disappeared for decades, but within five years of the factory closing down, the first batch of new Ferrania film is scheduled for production this year.

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