The future of film

The future of film doesn’t look bright.

First, James Cater write Film is Alive!… But it May Have a Terminal Illness, where the author expands on how the tech satellite to film is backwards: minilab and cameras, neither of these are being developed or even manufactured.

Second, the industry is in turnmoil.

The spun-off company that still make Kodak film, Kodak Alaris, is looking to sell its film and paper unit, for a meager $34M, and this shortly after announcing that the just revived Ektachrome 100 slide film would be made available in sheet and 120 format in April, in addition to the currently available 35mm.

Meanwhile, Tetenal, the European film chemistry manufacturer face closure after 172 years of activity. And this is bad news, even after CineStill new chemistry announcement.

PetaPixel has a closer look at Tetenal:

Without Tetenal’s chemistry branch, a lot of photographers, photofinishers, labs, printing companies and even the once so mighty Kodak itself might be left out in the rain, as Tetenal reportedly produces not only chemistry for EU distribution under license from Kodak but directly produces source chemicals for Kodak’s U.S. manufacturing.

and

Another immediate effect of Tetenal’s demise might be a supply glitch for RA-4 paper chemistry that many labs, finishers, and printing companies rely on.

This does not look good at all.

CineStill powdered film developer

CineStill has announced a powdered version of their film developers, one for Black & White and one for colour C-41.

Beyond saving on shipping, the price of the kits themselves are more affordable. The Df96 monochrome development kit costs $16.99, while the Cs41 color development kit costs $24.99, $3 and $1 cheaper than the liquid versions, respectively.

The price difference is small, but Living in Canada I can’t easily order liquid film chemistry from US retailers. So should make it easier to ship.

Reflex, a new 35mm film camera design

Petapixel had the news about Reflex, a new 35mm film camera design:

The Reflex combines old, time-tested designs with exciting new ideas to create a brand new concept of what a manual film SLR can be for the modern generation of photographers.

Head over to the kickstarter page that explain it in more details. Here is the summary:

  • Modern mechanical and electronic components.
  • Interchangeable mount, by default with a M42 threaded mount, but optionally K, Nikon F, Canon FD, etc.
  • Interchangeable back: 35mm film magazine.
  • Built-in Flash and continuous LED light.
  • Modular, “open-source” and connectivity (like Bluetooth Low Energy). The intent being to have open specifications for third-parties to provide accessories.
  • Battery with USB charger.

Still at the Kickstarter level, already past half of its funding as I write this, on the first day, Reflex plans to ship in September 2018 with the specifications still subject to change. The pledge that gives the camera body in its barest configuration as a reward is at GBP350 (~CAD$590). You get the M42 mount, no lens. I believe this is reasonably priced.

My thoughts:

It is good to see that there are some people interested in make film cameras, beyond the booming instant photography. Yes there is Japan Camera Hunter’s project of 35mm compact camera project but it seems to be just a project.

The supply in used film camera is nice, with quite many affordable units, but it won’t be eternal. Something fresh is definitely needed for the survival of film photography.

The design is also interesting. It doesn’t try to be too complicated or gimmicky, the two major innovations are the interchangeable lens mounts and the removable film back. The former is a dedication to reusing older lens, without having extra adapters, and the later solve one of the issue of film that we can’t change film type without finishing a roll (or hacking by rewinding the spool, been there, done that). Some would argue that the flash or continuous LED light are gimmicky, but the Bluetooth Low Energy part is interesting. I like geotagging and this seems to be the perfect fit. It would be terrific if we could get the exposure information and DX that way as well.

And with all the comments, Shootfilm has an opinion on the matter.

The Elephant in the digital darkroom

The Elephant in the digital darkroom talks about how Film is coming back to Hollywood:

It’s an inexpensive archiving system, a highly effective means of preserving the motion picture heritage. Archived 35mm film stock remains stable for centuries under proper climactic conditions. With digital, however, the film industry is discovering that its core assets, its digital motion picture masters, aren’t as permanent as the film stock they’ve replaced.

I have always thought the same about still images, that under the guise of looking more convenient, that digital wasn’t as good as an archival medium.

What about the shoe boxes with pictures from your family members?

What about those lost rolls from unknown artists that happen to be an historic treasure depicting everyday life, like for example: Vivian Maier ?

This is the digital conundrum: we shorted the photographic workflow, we make it “easier” for the photographer, we make sharing more pervasive, but we also made the archival life shorter. Between the cloud services that disappear, recordable CD/DVD that disintegrate over the years, the hard drives that crash, the stolen phones, there is a lot of uncertainty whether your photos are safe or not and whether future generation will see them or not.

I wish good luck to the archivists of our future.

Digitizing negatives

David Lam show us his rig for digitizing negative using a digital camera and explain the rational behind his choices.

Back in June, Petapixel had an article about DIY film scanning with LEGO and an iPhone, an interesting alternative approach.

At a time where film scanners are mostly things of the past – where the new models are a niche segment in which flatbed scanners reach the quality that the traditional film scanner used to have, where the old models are abandoned by their vendor whose software was so mediocre that it doesn’t run on modern PCs and where the high quality machines are so expensive, it feels like the best way is to actually use these digitizing devices called digital camera that are quite common. Everything is in the setup.

Fujifilm film price increase

Bad news, Fujifilm Announces Big Worldwide Price Hike on Film according to PetaPixel:

This latest price hike will hit your wallet pretty hard — hence the dedicated announcement.

“The price increases are substantial and it would be an increase of at least double digit, but will vary depending on products, markets and regions,” Fuji says. You can expect to see the price tags change starting this month.

An increase of about 10% in the us according to Fujifilm USA.

Some people suggested to buy anything but Fujifilm. If only they were not the only one in some market segments.