2017 – Film the comeback kid?


2017 has arrived with a bang,  and now nearly 3 months in a big portion of the talk in the photographic world has been about film.  Yes that Silver based, emulsion on an acetate base that captures light, that old out of date technology that nobody uses anymore because its so expensive etc etc etc.

Why has there been so much talk about it, well its simple, photographers are finding the love of film for the first time, or photographers who started with film and gone digital are also now going back to film (i am one of the latter) in some capacity.

Okay Okay, i can hear the choruses now, why go backwards, why shoot film?

For me, the answer is it slows me down, makes me more selective of what i will shoot and how i shoot.  I mainly shoot 120 roll film in a Pentax 645 or Bronica S2a. These cameras give me 8-12 frames in the case of the Bronica, or 16 frames in the case of the Pentax, so i can’t use the digital mantra of spray and pray and pick from thousands of images later on, I have to be careful and chose wisely.

The big thing with film is it is not only photographers going back to film,  several major motion picture directors including JJ Abrams, Christopher Nolan have committed to shooting some massive projects, including the last 3 Star Wars films on film stock.

Why? Because once the film is shot, edited and mastered, the negative is there, and will be there in 50+ years, whereas digital files, will have to be converted, and storage mediums changed with a rather high frequency to keep the files useable.

It seems like there are new films, and old films being announced as coming back almost every month, and it’s not just small companies like Lomography who are keeping things alive,  Adox, who produce Agfa,  the new Film Ferrania company in Italy, Kodak and others are all still producing, and re-introducing films to the market. The other side to this is Darkrooms are being re-commissioned, or in some cases, brand new darkrooms are being built, by Universities/Colleges, Schools and  in camera cafes as community darkrooms.

On the film side, lets start with the big Yellow & Red… No not Hulkamania to you wrestling fans, but Kodak.

Yes Kodak – THE legendary film maker who pretty much dominated film markets with classic emulsions like Kodachrome, Ekta, T-Max, TriX, Portra and many others, but suffered immensely in the digital age by not embracing the tech early on (despite building the first ever digital camera way back in the 1970s) which ultimately led them filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the USA in Jan 2012. But after basically a decade (they really never accomplished much between 2006 and now) they have made big waves at the beginning of 2017.

Kodak making big waves i hear you question, yip big wave, Kodak  has released a new Super 8 movie camera, that also records sound onto an SD card, so when you send the roll of film for developing, send in the SD card as well and sound will be added to your movie and sent back on DVD with the roll of film.

As part of that announcement, Kodak also revealed that they are reviving one of the most popular slide films ever in Ektachrome, which will be available in Super8 and also 135/36 from late 2017.

Kodak also are apparently investigating the feasibility of bringing back Kodakchrome.. which if that happens is a REALLY big deal as Kodachrome had a very unique processing formula and the last lab that was able to process it anywhere in the world closed the line to process Kodachrome in 2006!

Kodak are not the only ones bringing out ‘new’ film.  Thanks to crowd sourcing and a group of passionate investors, legendary Italian film company Film Ferrania is back from the dead, and returning their classic colour slide emulsions to the market in 35mm, super 8 and 120 formats, and also they have announced the return of the P30 Panchromatic 80ASA black and white film which is about to be released in Alpha testing form!

Ilford still make their classic films, PanF, HP5, FP4, Delta 100, 400 and 3200 Professional and SFX 200 are all still available, in 35mm and 120 formats.

There are Agfa, Rollei, Adox and a heap of other brands still around making film in a variety of formats,  Fujifilm still have films available too, the legendary Velvia, Provia and NPH films plus Acros B+W and some consumer level films.

The cool thing is there are blogs popping up all the time about film photography, and lots of people getting into it, or going back to it.

Its not just films that are being made again, papers are being made for printing, and there are lots of interesting products being developed too.  Lomography are becoming well known for re-creating some amazing old lenses, such as Petzval and Daguerreotype Achromat types as well as Juipter and Minitar lenses.

Another cool product for film photographers, especially those who would like to develop their own film at home  is on kickstarter, the LAB-BOX  is a modular design to process film at home without resorting to using a darkroom or large change bags.
The kickstarter had a modest goal of 70,000 Euro, and with 21 days left to run (7th March 2017) it had over 490,000 Euro pledged and they have added a fourth stretch goal.

Currently looking on the likes of Trademe (NZs version of ebay) or Ebay there are heaps of film cameras available, and still at reasonable prices, but i can see prices will inevitably rise as more people start looking for film cameras again.

Here at Southern Cameras (Located inside Dunedin’s Musselburgh Pharmacy) we have a range of film in stock, with Ilford B+W, Lomo color and B+W, and others arriving,  As part of the resurgence, we have created a few Intro to film packs in both 35mm and 120 to get photographers who are either new to film, or returning after a long digital hiatus, some different emulsions to see  differences and what films they like the look of once processed as each manufacturer produces things a little differently so the end results often have different tones, color saturations.



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