It’s a bright Monday morning of June, nothing seems out of the ordinary, coffee, toasts and orange juice… openning the news and why not, let’s check IG. Everything seems fine until emulsive.org drops the bomb: Acros100 is coming back from the dead
It creates the expected effect: sharing, retweeting, sending PM’s to all the photographer friends. Fuji, the good old Fujifilm that have rised their pricing 30% straight up for all their film line and chemistry just a few months back, discontinued their FP instant film, all their B&W line and is still unexplainably sustaining a large amount of slide films on stock, is on the news with something to bring into the table!
In a nutshell, there were about 40 something companies that used to manufacture B&W back in the day. B&W film is relatively “simple” (big quotes here) film to make. When color came into play that was another story. The process is highly complex and that made that from those 40, only 4 companies in the world were able to survive the color transition: Agfa, Ferrania, Kodak & Fujifilm.
We all know where those companies are (or are not) these days, and there are many reasons for it. We ended up with 2 key players that each managed to stay in business in a completely different way, surviving and if possible thriving within the transtition. How? Well, it comes to one word, diversifying and applying technology everywhere they could. This was the recipe followed by Fujifilm specially.
NOTE: (I know, you are probably wondering what has this to do with Acros? Well, you need to see the bigger picture with me here)
Kodak filed for bankrupcy back in 2012, it was all know that. In the meanwhile Fujifilm was just unvieling their X-series cameras that wasn’t the success it is today, but it was enought to get people hyped. Truly the situation was night & day.
Long-story-short, 2019 Kodak is still alive and actually bringing new films to the market, listening to film photographers who still love their product and putting some skin on the table with Ektachrome, PMax3200 and their Vision-3 line up for cinematographers. They went back to the roots and even if it is probably not enough to sustain the structure of the whole company only with film, they gave some love and photographers answered with their love & sales back. Wondering why Portra 400 is out of stock in all Europe? Because it’s basically sold out and sales outstand their estimates!
Fuji on the other side took a different road, at the moment, film sales are about 0,8% of their revenue, they had to move on and they did it successfully for their numbers and shareholders. We don’t blame them, it’s hard to imagine how difficult is to manage a sinking ship until you are on one. But it is true that Fujifilm felt a bit more Fuji and a bit less film every year.
Even if Mr. Komori (current Fujifilm CEO), who has been in the company for more 40 years, says that Fujifilm is still deeply committed with film and they will be the ones to manufacture the last roll of film if the day that film cese to exist ever comes. It honestly felt quite hard to believe those words even if he says so and it’s written in his own book, seeing everything that was going on for the last years with the company. From a film photographer’s perspective Fujifilm has been doing moves driven by profit, which is understandable for a company of that size, but also, something that truly has been attached to the Fujifilm brand is, without a doubt, QUALITY (capitals letters intended). Fuji Pro 400H is a film that was introduced in 2004 and today, it still holds up to the highest quality standards, even with Portra 400 new release in 2010 many photographers still prefer 400H tonality and latitude. And when it comes chemistry, even if it’s more a lab related thing, Fujifilm still is the king over every other manufacturer.
There has been a lot speculation that Fuji is not manufacturing film for many years now, rumor has it that it is all frozen and they are just taking it off the freezing chambers and repacking it. Plus all the discontinueing of products certainly didn’t help to send those rumors away…
BUT, this changes everything.
Fujifilm will be producing new film, so they still manufacture emulsion for all those who deny it. And as a lab, Fujifilm has been producing the highest quality chemistry for years and there hasn’t been anyone able to match it. And so they did with their film, so they will most definetely produce the new Acros with the highest quality standards for sure.
Not only this, it means that perhaps film is experimenting a real growth or at least they are bouching for it. We can’t ignore when a giant moves, same happened with Super 8, we are without a doubt in a Super 8 come back and even if Kodak’s Super 8 brand new camera is still not in the market their film is and their announcement plus Ektachrome return was a massive influence for everyone.
If Fujifilm is starting to back up the analog reinassance this is big news, like BIG news. Our friend Nico made a really nice analisis on the situation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ys3PbjsWwng and we couldn’t agree more. Fuji announced it will be release in Japan only at the moment, but no doubt it will get into everyone’s hands soon. And then it will be our turn, as photographers to put our money were our mouth is. If we do our part, buy the film, use it, share the results and have this new tool to create photography work (did you know Acros was only orthopanchromatic film available?) it’s most likely that Fujifilm or other companies will take things into consideration.
We strongly believe there is a domino effect, and also, Kodak deserves full credit also for kickstarting this with the announcement of Ektachrome and re-release of PMax3200, now Fujifilm comes into place and who know what’s next. We are small community, we do not make a lot of noise out there, but certainly there is a common love for analog that perhaps goes beyond what we are aware off.