Film Photography News — December 2023 Recap

I Ate My Film Camera. 🎄📸

6 min read by Dmitri, with image(s) by Daren.
Published on . Updated on .

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What’s new?

A new, built-from-scratch colour film by the same folks who make Ilford HP5+ has entered the market this month — I compare it against another new, mostly unknown Ilford colour film. A new edible instant film camera made of gingerbread and icing with an active sugar lens enters my belly (but not before I snap over a hundred photos with it). And a new camera strap by RETO.

🎄 This is a holiday edition of the newsletter. Thank you all for such a wonderful 2023 that’s been filled with creativity, excellent people, film, and cameras. I published 105 articles this year, which feels like a lot.

Yvonne and I are doing “cheers” with some coffee and gingerbread camera bits.

We literally eat a working film camera.

Previously, I bragged about a working instant film camera, built with gingerbread, icing, and crystallized sugar. Many people liked it, and it was written about on PetaPixel, 35mmc, Kosmo Foto, DIY Photography, designboom, The Messenger and CBC News.

But I promised that I’d eat it — which I have.

It felt a little dangerous since the camera had changed a few hands and stood on many counters as I took it with me on a mini tour of coffee shops and dinner spots…

A friendly waiter holding up her portrait, shot with Gingerbread 1 instant film camera. The camera travelled around town for a few days before becoming food. It was never refrigerated.

My bite tasted good. It was a little spicy, still very fragrant and relatively easy to chew despite demonstrating robust building material properties. Its deep brown colour from the molasses suggested that it could have chocolate or brownie-like properties — which I think it did in texture (slightly chewy but a little spongy). It was dry but not cracker-dry.

Betty (who you’ll often notice as an author or co-author of the articles here), Daren (who also authored some things on Analog.Cafe and runs his own blog), and Yvonne (a local photographer, who helped me document this project) at the camera with me. We all had decent-sized bites but didn’t risk finishing the entire thing. As I said, the camera wasn’t exactly clean and parts of its icing had raw egg that was hanging out in the air for weeks.

On the same day that we ate the camera, I built a new one. The completely inedible Jollylook film development unit that made instant film photography possible with the gingerbread camera still looked good and worked well after we cleaned the icing and fondant off it. I also happened to have enough spare pre-baked gingerbread parts to build an entire camera, which I turned into Gingerbread 2.

Darren’s portrait of me in front of a small Christmas tree in my apartment’s lobby. Gingerbread 2 on Instax Square.
Munching on Gingerbread 1 film camera with Yvonne.

Harman Phoenix 200 and Ilford Ilfocolor 400.

One of the most significant announcements of 2023 was a new colour film by the same folks who make Ilford HP5+ film.

Only four factories exist in the world that make colour film; they make Kodak, Fujifilm, Polaroid, and Lomography/ORWO. Everything else is rebranded or expired.

I have no problem with using and recommending rebranded and expired stocks; they have their advantages, which can include price, additional compatibility with point-and-shoot cameras, and availability for the still photo format (i.e., re-spooled motion picture stock).

Testing the new Ilford Ilfocolor film with Olympus Mju I.

But the advantage of a completely new film, “made from scratch,” at a new factory no less, is being able to play with a completely new photographic “rendering engine.”

Harman Phoenix 200 is that new, “made from scratch” film.

Harman is a business that’s been making and selling iconic black and white films, such as Ilford HP5+ (they leas the rights to use “Ilford” branding from another company). If anyone can design a new colour film that’s as good as Kodak’s or Fuji’s, it’s them.

Ilford Ilfocolor 400 is another new colour film with a familiar name on the box. But it’s not made by Harman. I explain what it is, why it exists, and how it compares against Phoenix 200 in the linked article.

New camera strap by RETO.

I’ve got just one more product announcement to squeeze into this year’s last newsletter: KODAK Multi-Purpose Camera Strap.

Image courtesy of RETO Production Ltd.

A good camera strap can free up your hands while keeping the camera accessible. For the past five years, my strap of choice has been Peak Design Cuff. RETO’s KODAK Multi-Purpose strap shares some of my favourite features with Cuff, like the quick-release locks, flat/wide form, and functional/clean design.

RETO is a Hong Kong company that makes simple, affordable, functional, and well-made gadgets for film photographers. This year, I reviewed their new camera, Kodak Ektar H35N — a reusable half-frame plastic shooter with a coated glass optic component. But you may also recognize RETO as a maker of RETO 3D (their modern remake of Nishika N8000 and the first camera made by this team). Today, RETO brands many of their products with the Kodak name, which they license from the Rochester office.

RETO’s new strap is available today at their online store and their dealers.

Latest on Analog.Cafe.

Amber T800 Film Review — I’m comparing Amber T800 to CineStill 800T (in terms of image quality, price, and shooting experience), discussing reasons for its existence, and giving you my thoughts on whether it’s a suitable CineStill alternative.

Building the “World’s First” Gingerbread Camera — I explain how my edible film camera uses an isomalt sugar lens to photograph subjects with fast shutter speeds on a piece of bread loaded with Instax Square film.

My Days With Kiev 60Antonio Miše writes about his large, affordable medium format camera with a hard-kicking shutter.

Harman Phoenix 200 vs. Ilford Ilfocolor 400 — did you know that there are TWO “Ilford” brands, and both of them have recently begun selling colour film? This article explains everything and compares the emulsions in depth.

My Top Five Favourite Film Cameras of 2023 — my top five favourite film cameras from the nineteen I tried this year.

My First Roll With Yashica Mat 124GAntonio Miše writes about Yashica Mat 124G, a simple and straightforward medium format camera.