☞ Get “Community Letters” via email: a monthly overview of the latest news, events, and stories from the film photography community.
It’s been a crazy month of an insane decade. But thankfully, there’s no lack of good news for us film photographers. And so I will start this letter by listing all the blessings we’ve had coming our way this March, including the three new films from Kodak, CineStill, and Japan Camera Hunter. Also, I will not forget Lomography’s new DigitaLIZA film scanning tool, and I will not shy away from talking about the new reads on Analog.Cafe and elsewhere.
Alas, I can not forget the awful war in Ukraine and its effect on the people who are forced to endure it, as well as its echoes within the analogue photography community.
400 Dynamic is the culmination of CineStill working exclusively with our manufacturing partners around the world to utilize the same advanced emulsion technology that is found in Motion Picture film. 400D was specifically designed for still photography, to be processed in C-41 chemistry by any photo lab or at home. In addition, it also features a process-surviving anti-static lubricant coating that will make it an ideal film for both manual SLRs and automatic winding cameras.
CineStill 400Dynamic colour film.
CineStill, a brand famous for adapting Kodak’s motion picture film stocks for still cameras, announced their third colour emulsion this month. The maker of the beloved 800T and 50D rolls will be shipping their new 400Dynamic film as early as April 2022.
Though the company has thus far shown remarkable transparency in the sources and manufacturing process that made their previous colour films, the origins of their new stocks are thus far veiled. Known for pre-processing Kodak motion picture films for the everyday C-41 process, CineStill stopped short of mentioning the Rochester brand as their raw emulsion source.
400D is already being speculated as pre-processed Kodak Vision3 250D film. Based on the sample images provided — the lime greens, punchy yellows, and CineStill’s signature red halos — the guess seems plausible. But it’s apparently wrong.
CineStill describes 400D as a new emulsion created from components made by various manufacturers.
As of this writing, 400D is being pre-sold in limited quantities until April 10/11th in 35mm, 120, and 4x5.
Fugufilm — a totally new ISO 400 slide film from Japan Camera Hunter.
And another one.
Following CineStill’s and Kodak’s (see below) new film announcements, Bellamy Hunt of Japan Camera Hunter promised to release a brand new slide emulsion — made from scratch.
Making film is very difficult. Even rebranding and selling existing emulsions is no walk in a park. But out of all the difficulty levels out there for distributing happiness in a can for analogue photographers, slide film must be the toughest one.
Kodak was able to pull off the re-introduction of Ektachrome E100 back in 2018, thanks to the still-fresh blueprints in the hands of the largest film manufacturer on the planet. But Film Ferrania, in contrast, tried for nearly a decade and failed to bring back the famed Italian colour slide film.
No film manufacturer has the same journey, of course. Film Ferrania managed to turn abandoned buildings into a film manufacturing plant (that currently makes black and white film), Kodak is the biggest fish in our tiny pond, CineStill have shown themselves to be masters of collaboration, and Fugufilm decided to push whatever resources at their disposal to an absolute limit.
So what will the new slide film is going to look like?
Unfortunately, I could not get permission to show any of the samples in this article in time for this publication. But you can easily source the scans on Bellamy’s blog, Street Silhouettes website, and Emulsive.org.
To be honest, it’s really difficult to tell from the images those websites exhibit what the final product would look like. Some show crazy colour shifts; others look like regular colour film with an extra punch of contrast. The results certainly do not match the precision of Fujifilm Provia 400X — an upgraded version of Fujifilm Provia 400F. Nevertheless, photographers need film and having a new stock is a huge deal.
Kodak Gold 200 in medium format.
And another one.
In the early 2000s, Kodak’s Gold and ColorPlus-branded films did not get much love from professional and avid amateur photographers. Instead, they served as workhorses for the masses; general-purpose emulsions made to create the best possible results out of cheap cameras and average techniques. Priced considerably cheaper than the revered Portra and Ektachrome series, Gold comes with a slightly chunkier grain and less advanced colour managing chemistry.
Yet in recent years, Kodak’s cheaper films saw a resurgence in both sales and reputation. Partly due to the swath of colour film discontinuations that lead to the dwindling choice for the newly-growing film photography community.
But also, the film’s uniquely saturated warm tones and strong microcontrast make it easy to create pleasing results, and its subdued realism plays well into the modern desire to step away from clinical perfection. Its 8+ stops of dynamic range with ample latitude in the highlights are no small help in versatility either.
Thankfully, the brand that had the most substantial price increases on its line of emulsions this year had listened to their customers and found a way to bring a new, cheaper option for medium format photographers. The new Kodak Gold in 120 is promised to be around 25% cheaper than its Portra and Ektar offerings and should be available at your favourite photography store within the next few weeks.
Lomography’s new DigitaLIZA film scanning tool.
It’s 2022, and most of the film we shoot today is scanned before it becomes a photograph. Unfortunately, there aren’t many great choices of dedicated film scanners, so many have switched to digitizing their emulsions using digital cameras and film holders. But, alas, they don’t always come cheap.
Lomography’s new DigitaLIZA film scanning tool makes the process more accessible for 35mm and 120 film formats with options for both dedicated digital cameras and smartphone options.
In other news.
In addition to their brand-new emulsion, CineStill has announced new E-6-compatible chemistry that promises greater control over your slide film positives, a simplified process, and more dynamic range.
Lomography announced a price hike for their films.
Ilford film and paper chemistry will see a moderate price hike, according to Kosmofoto. The company has also issued an update regarding the defects found in “a small percentage of 120 roll film negatives.”
While this blog is mostly concerned with still film photography, analogue moving pictures play no small part in stimulating the film manufacturers’ market. According to PetaPixel, Christopher Nolan and Jordan Peele are working on a new IMAX cinema camera — a format that uses frame areas nearly as large as those of the 6x7 medium format cameras.
On a more sombre note, PetaPixel has reported on the perpetration of misrepresentation of women in photography. If you, like me, spend a considerable amount of time reading articles on photography, you may also notice the predominance of images of white men holding a camera. Seeing that all day feels surreal, boring, and upsetting.
So how is this blog doing then, in terms of its audience?
For the sake of the readers’ privacy, I stopped tracking demographics back in 2021, but before then, the breakdown looked like 60:40, with most of the readers still being dudes. This, of course, isn’t good enough, and I will continue to examine my writing tone and encourage more women to participate in writing and learning from the content on Analog.Cafe.
And just to be clear: everyone’s welcome; this is an inclusive community with an aim to bring greater diversity and a fair representation.
War in Ukraine and film photography.
I’ve got relatives in both countries — Russia and Ukraine. They’re all safe, for now. But I can’t even begin to imagine what it may feel like for the people having to live through this hell.
Jollylook, a Ukrainian brand known for their paper & wood foldable Instax film cameras made a recent announcement on Kickstarter. The team was recently forced to disperse and flee the ravaged region — with the hopes of returning home and resuming production as soon as possible.
Film Photography Podcast hosts talked about their friends from Svema — a known Ukrainian film manufacturer — who, according to them, are still able to work on making emulsions.
Latest on Analog.Cafe.
“Делень” is a short photo essay about my Ukrainian and Russian relatives and my thoughts about the war, furnished with slides from the 1980s and the early 1990s.
“NFTs and Film Photography” is a collection of my research findings on the wild new trend and technology that allows us to sell rights for digital film scans.
“Rollei 35 S Compact Camera Review” is my in-depth review of an iconic miniature 35mm film camera, perhaps the best one out of the series.
“Focal-Plane Shutters vs. Leaf Shutters” — a comparison guide that should help you form an opinion on two different ways to expose your film.
“Minolta AF-S Quartz Auto Focus D Review” — a shabby-looking camera from the ‘80s (with an alarm clock!) that appears to have a nice lens.
“Ilford XP2 Super 400” — my review of the only freshly-made black and white film that can be developed in C-41 chemicals. Did you know you can also develop it using black and white processes?
“JCH StreetPan 400 Film Review” — this is one of my all-time favourite black and white films for a still camera.
“What Is Aperture and How Does It Work?” — an in-depth overview of all the incredible things this seemingly simple tool can achieve within your lens.