“It is the worst of times; it is the best of times,” said the hapless photographer searching for the right color film he could use to shoot at Photographica 90. That was me, by the way. In 2022, at Photographica 89, I used my last roll of Fujicolor Superia 1600 to make portraits of cameras, lenses, and the funny, wonderful people who buy and sell them. It was a bittersweet moment, because I knew this ISO 1600 color film was no more. Fujifilm discontinued it a few years ago. I had been saving it for five or six years in the bottom of my ‘fridge. What options will I have now? Will film actually disappear?
But it was also the best of times because, if you wanted to find usable film cameras, especially 35mm SLRs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, PHSNE was giving them away at Photographica 90!
While checking various sites that discuss analog photography, I discovered there was some anxiety among the analog photo people that color film might actually disappear. For now, it seems black and white film stocks are plentiful and more-or-less reasonably priced. Processing B&W, however, is not cheap if sent to a lab. The ubiquitous C-41 color negative processing machines, dip-and-dunk tanks, and the necessary chemicals are still available, but the trend line is down and C-41 chemistry may become difficult to find. Then consider how many people are shooting positive slide film and processing Ektachrome using E-6 chemistry?
Here’s another warning signal: Fujifilm brought back Fujicolor 200 color film in late 2021-22. Hooray! Except it wasn’t Fujifilm at all, but re-branded Kodak Alaris Gold 200. And on March 30, 2023, JapanCameraHunter blogger Bellamy got some of the inside story at Fujifilm. It’s not good news: FUJIFILM SUSPENDS SALES OF COLOR FILM IN JAPAN! and goes on to say that while there are Fujifilm film stocks overseas, it seems Fujifilm will not manufacture film in Japan.
There is a heartening trend, however. Kids. Young adults. People of all ages and stages who like to make photographs in a more personal? artisanal? DIY? Just for fun? way are exploring the tools, materials, and results from making analog images. There were a lot of them at Photographica 90! Let’s hope they will keep coming back for more.
To save you some time, I’ve searched some sites and services which handle film, chemistry, and the like. I even came across some products I last saw 40+ years ago—still very much in in demand and in use. This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a place to start. If PHSNE members and visitors to our site posted a note and told us how their photo film supply is holding up, that would be helpful for many. You can simply click the “Contact Us” link and tell us what you’ve found..
This is the list so far:
British site with up-to-date info on available film stocks
The Darkroom, San Clemente, CA; owned by Ilford
I have been using this lab for 10+ years, with color and b/w. Their blog and film indexes are up-to-date and detailed. Note: Sign up with your name and email to access the blogs.
https://www.filmferrania.com/p30 Note: New film stock and emulsion
https://www.filmferrania.com/orto Note: Just-launched orthochromatic emulsion
Film Photography Project US, Fair Lawn, NJ
Seeing the address “Fair Lawn, NJ” brought back a memory: those yellow pre-paid mailers, and the slides that came home in the yellow boxes. RIP, Kodachrome.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
The b&w specialists
It’s a little hard to figure out what Kodak Alaris is up to, based on their website
Those happy-go-lucky Europeans just want to have fun!
Please let us know if there are new emulsions, chemistry, under-the-radar film stocks … whatever. Drop a “Contact Us” comment. Thanks! – Ryck Lent