Not a rant, but a quick look into the situation of film photography in 2017.
This is the first part of a review covering film and cameras, the second part following very soon.
All the photos in this post are shot on expired film….
I thought about this post when I read Stephen Dowlings very excellent piece about the film options that we film photographers have nowadays. You can read it here on KOSMOPHOTO.CO.UK.
In fact, when you show up anywhere with a nice vintage camera the question you hear most often is: ‘Can you still get film for that?’ Second most frequent is: ‘Does the Leica IIIa use color film also?’ 😉
And the answer is ‘yes, we can’ as Barack said! And much more so than even 5 years ago.
There are plenty new films – rebranded, old stock and some really new ones coming to market these days. Just think of Kodak releasing a ‘new’ Ektachrome soon, Ferrania releasing their P30 and working hard on slide film, Bellamy Hunt and Stephen Dowling launching their films (partly rebranded, partly new stuff). Anyways, film is in better shape than anyone could have thought during the so called digital revolution.
Of course, there are plenty films being discontinued too. I’m looking at you, Fuji! Too entranced by the (merited) success of their Instax instant films, they slowly but surely kill off their excellent film stocks one by one. Sure, their huge factories are overkill when scaled to the present market for film, but they could find solutions. Downscale their machinery like the guys at Ferrania do. No, they prefer to turn their back on film. Shame on them.
But there’s more than those new films and still existing emulsions around! There’s tons of expired film to grab from eBay, out of dank and musty cellars. Some well stored in freezers, some having spent years in hot and cold attics….
But should we use those films?
As an aside, yes, I have a beard, I shoot old film cameras and I prefer tight jeans, but I’m definitely not a hipster type. Anyways my beard is too unkempt for that! I’m just an older guy who likes what he does and sticks desperately to it, despite the siren calls (and real advantages) of digital.
And I’m definitely not an expired-film-shooter!
Why should we shoot expired film, not being hipsters who are just interested in off colours, unpredictable results and light leaks… and showing off their shiny Canons and Nikons.
For one thing there’s the price! Expired film can be had for very little money, sometimes free from unsuspecting people. Though some stuff like Kodachrome sell for a hefty price, normally even on eBay expired film can be an interesting alternative.
But apart from that what could be the motivation? Stupidly I tested my Canon EOS 650 (see the review HERE) with a roll of expired Kodak Farbwelt 200 – a film tailored to the german mass market. The film has expired in 2008 and was stored in a camera bag in a cupboard… not ideal, and the results show it. Certainly not a great film it must be capable of better things than this ugly, grainy stuff…
The red leaves were really RED and stood out from dark green foliage. So it’s moot to use expired film for testing cameras. The results tell you nothing.
You might conceivably try to get this look by design of course. But well, for me it’s quite rare to do that. I prefer to use current film and tweak developing to get that look. At least I can decide more or less what I want to achieve.
But for me, the biggest argument against expired film is this:
When you shoot expired film you work against the film manufacturers!
If everybody bought just new film there would be a further, noticeable increase in film sales, reconfirming the manufacturer. Making them richer of course, but keeping them in business too. Enticing them to bring us more emulsions, to restart old film stocks and perhaps even Fuji might reconsider their policies… who knows.
So let me plead here for you to try to shoot exclusively new, fresh film. There are plenty around today, better emulsions than ever before! Some preferred stock has disappeared and that’s a shame but let’s not risk the death of further emulsions. Let’s use them and encourage the manufacturers, encourage guys like Bellamy Hunt and Stephen Dowling and others to release nice stuff.
Let’s use film responsibly and not work against our best interests.
Of course if you find a nice roll of Neopan 1600 for free…. USE IT! 😉
Thanks for being here!