2011 – the year of new film.

Recently I wrote a post on the excellent Film Photography Podcast’s Flickr forum about 2011 being the year of new film.

Much had been made of the demise of Kodachrome.
It was reported like it was the end of film and analogue photography.

Wrong!

Kodak still makes motion picture film for Hollywood and the like.
They’ve continually brought out updates to their film stocks.
The most recent being their Vision3 film which is only a couple of years old

Kodak historically didn’t share technology between their different divisions. So the film aimed at consumers didn’t have what the film aimed at professional photographs had, and the pro film wasn’t the same stuff as the movie film.

Well until now.
They’ve release two films in a row, Portra 400 and Portra 160, which have both inherited the tech from the motion picture film, as has their excellent Ektar 100 film. So they all have digital style super fine grain.
Maybe you could look at it another way and say that Kodak have dropped 4 old emulsions and replaced them with 2 new ones but on the other hand, check out what they can do.
To me, the new Portras look vastly superior to the old versions

It is not just Kodak who has released new film.
Rollei have also been busy.
There are a lot of Rollei branded films available at the moment.
These are mixture of new film and some left over from the collapse of AGFA.

AGFA went bust several years ago and were then broken up into smaller parts.
They made tons of stuff which is still being sold today and slightly confusingly, they also make completely new film which uses the AGFA brand name.
Rollei’s ‘Retro 100’ branded film is actually the old AGFA APX100 film but their ‘Retro 400s’ branded film is a newer film made by AGFA in Belgium and is derived from aerial surveillance film.
This is the stuff I used for my last post on the Holga.

The new films they offer are called Rollei RXP 100 & RXP 400.
This stuff is shockingly cheap and comes only in double packs or in bulk rolls
The cost of the double pack is less than a single roll of comparable Ilford, Fuji or Kodak film.

There is, as always, a caveat.
The film canisters are not DX coded so they may not work correctly in more modern automated film cameras or cameras that don’t allow manual mode or manual override of the film speed.

Ilford also have a new line of black & white film out called Kentmere.
This is a budget line and is cheaper than their usual film and looks very similar to the RXP film.
I think there has been some sharing of technology between the two companies but the films are not identical. They have slightly different development times.
Kentmere is only available in 35mm and unlike Rollei they come in DX coded cans.

Here’s an odd one for you.
I read an interview on the Holga Direct blog with an Austrian duo going by the name of Revolog who make limited edition special effect film.
Special effects, I hear you ask?
Yes, effects like lightning bolts or green orbs or scratches or weird colours.
Pretty cool looking stuff that would be great fun to play with.

Lastly there is ADOX from Germany, who bought over a lot of the old AGFA machinery and hired some of the AGFA boffins.
They set about trying to remake AGFA’s 400 speed black & white film.
It’s a work in progress film at the moment and it is only available in their first coating version.
The aim is to build on the old film but improve it in every way (and the old film was highly regarded so I’m hoping for great things).

At what other point in the history of photography would you get to play with so much new stuff and experimental film?
I bought a load of these films and will (slowly) get around to playing with them all.
Film won’t go back to level of popularity that it had before, it will be a niche thing rather than mass market. The ease and convenience of digital and the way that people use and share photographs has seen to that but this isn’t the end for analogue photography.

It’s the beginning.

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4 thoughts on “2011 – the year of new film.

  1. Cheers Rick

    I honestly believe that film will never die, sure it has a different role and a different place these days but it’ll never go away.
    The quality of film now is so much better than the old stuff ( I feel ) can’t wait to try out the new Portras.

  2. I think and hope you are right. Yes, as long as the big and small film manufacturers continue to invest in new technologies, emulsions, etc then we have an exciting time ahead for film enthusiasts.

    Best Regards
    Rick @ HolgaDirect

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