After a very particular year and in the hope that things will slowly normalize in 2021, it is interesting to make a sort of point of the situation with regard to the film market by going to see what are the current conditions and prospects of the various producers and, consequently, the availability of the raw material to maintain and develop our analog passion.
Let’s start by saying that in 2020 there has also been some new market entry, in particular by Lomography; and from these we start for an overview of the films on the market.
Overview of films on the market
Since 2019, the Austrian company has given a new shape to its film offering, combining new types, some of which are also constitute by new emulsions, with the classic offers of rebranded films; we therefore continue to find the classic negative colors in sizes 135 and 120 and classic sensitivity 100, 400 and 800 ISO and the black and white films Earl Grey and Lady Grey. X-Pro slides and XR redscale film remain available, although with limitations in formats.
As for the 110 format, the Lomography range includes the Orca forefather in black and white, the negative Tiger 200 color, the Peacock slide and the Lobster redscale.
Alongside this consolidated offer, we mentioned at the beginning, Lomography integrated the offer by introducing new packages and emulsions along two main lines: Kyno Films in black and white and Lomochrome Films in color.
The films of the Kyno category were particularly successful already in 2019 and were further strengthened in 2020 and currently include four different emulsions: Potsdam, Fantòme, Babylon and Berlin, each with its specific yield and treatment characteristics well described in the appropriate pages on the manufacturer’s website; all films are available in both 135 and 120 format.
The Lomochrome family, on the other hand, consists of Purple, already in circulation for some years, a color film characterized by a purple cast which varies with the variation of exposure from 100 to 400 ISO and Metropolis, a new color emulsion with kinematic rendering. Both are available in sizes 110, 135 and 120.
Fortunately, there are no surprises in Kodak’s range of professional films, all of which are still available although not homogeneously in all formats:
|Ektar||135, 120, 4×5, (on request 5×7 and 8×10)|
|Portra 160||135, 120, 4×5, 8×10, (on request 5×7)|
|Portra 400||135, 120, 4×5, 8×10, (on request 5×7)|
|Portra 800||135, 120|
|Tri-X 320||4×5, 5×7, 8×10|
|T-Max 100||135, reel 35, 120, 4×5, (on request 5×7 and 8×10)|
|T-Max 400||135, reel 35, 120, 4×5, (on request 5×7, 13x18cm and 8×10)|
|Tri-X 400||135, reel 35, 120|
The discourse for consumer films is different: the Colorplus, which is occasionally found only in batches now close to the deadline, officially remains on the market the Gold 200 and the Ultra-Max 400, both only in 135 format. To these is also added the Pro-Image 100, a film not officially present in Europe but easily available; available only in 135 format, although it belongs to the prosumer category it is rapidly, unfortunately, reaching prices aligned with professional films.
Fujifilm has streamlined the line of available films over the past two years but has also reintroduced Acros into a new formulation, Neopan Acros II, available in sizes 135 and 120; the offer of color film is limited to the PRO 400H (in 135 and 120) and the Fujicolor C200, presented with a new package recently but for which what has already been said about Kodak ColorPlus applies. Nothing precise is known, however, about the films of the Superia series, the information of which is still present on the manufacturer’s website but which is difficult to find in stores.
Different discourse for instant films, on which Fujifilm relies a lot and from which it makes most of its profits in the sector: the Instax are available in the three formats (Mini, Square and Wide) both in color and in black and white and periodically special versions with black or colored or themed edges are placed on the market (especially for the Mini format).
Rollei’s offer has been consolidated since 2009 and has remained fairly stable; there are films always available in multiple formats, while others have disappeared from the shelves while remaining in the manufacturer’s offer plans (sorry for, in particular, the shortage of RPX25); at the moment the films generally and easily available are as follows:
|Ortho 25||135, reel 35, 120, 5×7, 8×10, 70mm coil|
|RPX 100||reel 35, 120|
|RPX 400||135, 120|
|Retro 400s||reel 35, 120|
|Retro 80s||135, reel 35|
|Infrared, 20||reel 35|
|RPX 25||reel 35|
Fortunately nothing to note also for Ilford’s offer, very complete for emulsions and formats and to which was added at the end of 2019 the new Ortho Plus 80; the Kentmere films available remain the two classic Pan 100 and Pan 400 in loader and 35mm coil.
Also worth mentioning is the annual Ilford ULF campaign, which allows you to book batches of the main Ilford emulsions packaged in less common coils and formats.
Then all the other producers remain, more or less known and large that propose consolidated lines such as Foma (with the Pan 100, 200 and 400 and the 320 Retropan in all the main formats), Bergger with the Panchro 400 and Polaroid Originals (ex impossible) with the color and black and white snapshots although among these we note the dismission of the Spectra format.
Finally, Adox has introduced improvements to its emulsions in the last two years and is currently present with the films CMS 20 II, CHS 10 II, Silvermax, Color Implosion and Scala.
Trends and prospects
As seen, availability remains wide and able to meet most of the needs especially with regard to black and white photography; the colour continues its decline with the reduction of consumer films and their price increase that makes them absolutely uncompetitive with those of professional rank proposed essentially only by Kodak: when the price difference, for example, between a Fujicolor c200 and an Ektar is just over one euro it goes by itself that the choice falls on the second. Kodak, for its part, has announced yet another price increase from January 2021, in the order of 20%, and probably such an announcement will not be missed by Fujifilm during the year.
A further trend that has now consolidated in the last two years is that of the almost total disappearance (perhaps only Ilford keeps them stabilmenet) of the 24-pose 135 loaders in favor of those of 36: it could affect those who shoot sporadically and already struggle to complete a 24-photo roll.
Also on the price issue, to note the very high level now reached by slide films, although all of excellent quality: we are in the order of 13-17 euros per single roller, difficult to prefer the give to a digital photo at this price level. Fortunately, Rollei and Lomography seem to keep their price lists quite stable.
In the field of instant photography, Fujifilm’s offer now seems complete with the recently introduced Square Monochrome, which covers the last piece, but still lacks quality cameras as we have been repeating for years; Polaroid continues to improve the quality of its emulsions, but they remain far from the originals. The real lack remains that of an heir to fujifilm peel-aparts (except for some impromptu and very expensive offers), a lack that makes obsolete and unusable the splendid Polaroid Land Camera and the medium and large format backs.
The community of analog photography enthusiasts, on the other hand, continues to grow and there are more and more resources and sharing opportunities available, but we probably have to be careful about some possible negative repercussions that may arise in the short to medium term:
- Effects of Brexit on the availability and cost of Ilford/Kentmere/Kodak films and products
- Adaptations to environmental regulations, which could lead to further divestitures
- Availability of development chemicals, in particular C41 and E6
- Aging of the camera and equipment fleet and gradual disappearance of photoriparators
All in all, however, the future still looks rosy 🙂