Film Photography News — October 2023 Recap

Spooky Scandal, Film Discounts, 3 New Cameras, and a New Lens

10 min read by Dmitri.
Published on . Updated on .

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What’s new? 🎃

October 2023 turned out to be a busy month, packed with film photography lore and events. The loudest story was the controversy around the CineStill trademarking fiasco, but that shan’t take the wind out of the overwhelming number of positive news.

Namely: Discounts on 120 film and a new lens from Lomography, big Fujifilm money flowing into their Instax brand, two new compact “reusable” cameras, a new Leica Sofort, a new giant list of public darkrooms, and photography as a mental health treatment in the UK.

Last but not least, the Polaroid Now I-Type Camera winner is revealed below! 🎉

Image courtesy of Lomography USA.

Polaroid Now I-Type camera giveaway winner announcement! 👏

Thank you all who participated by posting analogue photos to the thread! I appreciate the new creativity and the passion outpour on this tiny website. Reading the comments, I’ve learned a few things, and I know I’m not the only one who enjoyed perusing through the wonderful submissions.

Now to the business at hand. I shuffled all 81 comments and pulled out one winning name, which is:

2life 🎉

Congratulations! I’ve sent the email with further steps and will mail the camera with fresh film as soon as I hear back.

For those who haven’t won yet, there will be more contests of the same format coming soon. I thought this was a positive experience, and I hope that many of you will come back to try again.

I would also like to invite everyone reading this to revisit the thread of the Polaroids and other analogue photo replies. There are some truly excellent images out there. Some are celebrating life-changing experiences; there are incredible happy accidents on film, “hacks” that let you take better flash photos with the SX-70, lovely coming-of-age memories, unique discontinued Polaroid SE colour prints, and many more neat things to discover.

There are no notifications on Analog.Cafe comments yet, so if you posted something earlier, there’s a good chance you may’ve missed a reply. A good way to check is to head over to your profile page (you can find a link to it on the account settings page, right underneath the “Save” button). You can also see the entire site’s feed on Analog.Cafe/comments.

I am still working on improving how the comments work here. I built them “from scratch” for a welcoming, privacy-focused experience. Your feedback is appreciated! ❤️

A new lens from Lomography.

This week, I got to test the new Lomography lens, made for mirrorless cameras (gasp!)

Indeed, this lens can’t be mounted on a film camera, even a rangefinder. Still, I managed to make a few exposures via freelensing with my Olympus PEN FV (which ended up being my favourite of the row).

I also borrowed my friend’s Sony a7III to see how it works at its native focal distances.

At the time of this article/letter’s publication, there are just two days left on Kickstarter to back this lens. Being nearly 200% funded, I’m sure it will end up at the Lomography shop later next year, but it may cost more.

Learn more about the Lomography Nour Triplet V lens in my in-depth review.

Medium format film on sale at Lomography.

Seeing any kind of film on sale can be a rare occasion, but this month, Lomography has slated some of their medium format prices up to 30% off following the announcement that warned of dwindling interest in 120 film. I summarized it in further detail here. The discounts can be found here.

CineStill trademarking fiasco.

Where to begin? Perhaps the best place to start is to acknowledge that the scandal that was brewing for months became public with a lie.

The lie was in the title of CatLABS’ recent blog post, “We got Sued by Cinestill :(” Having read their account, I posted a comment summarizing the 3,000-word article. It became evident the next day that CatLABS are, in fact, not getting sued, and the cease and desist letter they got was at their own lawyer’s request.

But after the CatLABS post went viral, there was nothing that CineStill could say in its defence without being accused by some of lying or coaxing those who publish their side of the story into writing “fluff pieces.”

The newfound perpetuation of the misinterpretation of what it takes to make the film products CineStill sells didn’t help either.

CineStill 800T, CineStill 400D, and CineStill 50D.

CineStill’s films are not just re-spooled Kodak motion picture film, despite having been called as such repeatedly by journalists, bloggers, and social media personalities covering the curfuffle.

Removing rem-jet before packaging is a difficult and time-consuming process, which is why CS’ competitors share the only other machine outside of CineStill facilities in the world¹. Films like 400D, often compared to Kodak’s 250D motion picture film, can’t even be made using those methods as it involves an additional stage of (possibly) coating to retain the anti-static layer. Not to forget the challenges of packaging 35mm film in a metal canister with a DX code on a mass scale (even Lomography can’t do that).

Nevertheless, it’s easy to see now how trademarking three numbers and a letter and policing it by approaching the retailers is a bad look. It’s a card the company played in its attempt to curb the competition from China that sells a product named identically or nearly identically to the one CineStill promoted for over a decade. Unfortunately for CineStill, “800T” is all that they got (as in trademarkable ammunition).

As an outsider who gets nothing from siding with anyone, I think that CineStill is both within its rights and is also mistaken to have taken that approach. But a business can do much worse (where’s my film, Silberra?)

Photography as a prescribed mental health treatment in the UK.

PetaPixel has recently reported about photography being prescribed to some patients suffering from “loneliness and stress” in the UK.

I’m not a councillor and can’t quote any studies on short notice about photography and mental health. But I can tell you from my account that a simple act of pressing a shutter button (along with everything else involved) has given me a feeling of relief on more than one occasion. During the COVID lockdowns, photography was my way of reaching out to the world; it energized a small group of photographers to raise a little money for people in need while occupying ourselves creatively.

Image courtesy of Leica Camera AG.

A new instant film camera from Leica.

Leica Sofort 2 is a stylish Instax film camera with a 28mm Summar 2.4mm 𝒇2.0 lens. The camera is not analogue; rather, it’s a 4.9MP digital sensor with a ~500 DPI² film printer.

The hybrid combo gives the flexibility to add light edits to the images and choose what gets printed. You may also print your digital photos (although in lower quality), and there’s a 3” 460K-dot TFT LCD that shows the same view as the lens — great for close-ups and macro shots.

The camera is set to sell for $389 after the launch date on Nov 9, 2023.

² — I calculated the print resolution using the Instax film dimension chart and the 1,600×600 max print resolution from the official spec sheet. Note that it’s approximate as the number of dots per inch vertically isn’t the same as horizontal (I used an average between the two).

Fujifilm invests an additional $30M into their Instax brand.

Petapixel reported that Fujifilm’s plans to expand its facility that makes instant film significantly next year. They will be making a lot more, which likely means better pricing for us.

Speaking of pricing, despite the rising costs of flexible film media (oooh, it’s not cheap!), I’ve noticed that instant film (both Instax and Polaroid) costs no more at my local store today than five years ago. Considering the inflation, one could suggest that instant film got cheaper over the past few years.

“To Be Continued.” Image courtesy of IUTD.

Two new “reusable” film cameras.

“Reusable” is a relatively new term (for me) when it comes to film cameras. But it’s easy to understand: think disposable camera that you can re-load. This typically means a cheap plastic body, fixed-focus & fixed-aperture lens, and single-speed shutter.

None of these properties make a camera bad or strip it of the potential for innovation. I tested one this month that uses a glass lens component paired with an aspherical resin element to create relatively sharp, flare-free, and overall pleasing-looking photos in half-frame format.

FilmNeverDie’s Nana (listed for $190, offered for $130 during the pre-order stage) is the first on the list of new reusables announced this month. Nana has an autofocus mechanism paired with its 31mm 𝒇9 fixed-aperture lens, motorized film advance, and a metal body. Its intended release date is June 2024. Unfortunately, there isn’t any more information about this camera, not even a picture of a prototype on the website — just a few sample photos and sketch drawings.

To Be Continued by IUTD is another reusable with a stylish translucent cover design but no upgrades to the basic specs: a 28mm 𝒇8 fixed-focus, fixed-aperture lens and a 1/120s shutter. An interview with one of the camera’s designers can be found on Kosmo Foto.

A list of public darkroom printers.

A few days ago, I came across a list of public darkrooms with colour (RA4) processors started by Sonia Mangiapane. So far, there are 49 entries, though I am confident there are many more. I encourage you to look and see if yours is listed (and if not, you know what to do).

Image courtesy of Intrepid.

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