Thursday, January 12, 2017

Kodak Ektachrome Film Redux

Perhaps the most surprising announcement at this year's otherwise humdrum CES came from Kodak, the former giant of the photography industry.  In a move that has to cheer analog photographers dismayed to see one favorite film after another discontinued, the company stated that it will return Ektachrome color reversal film to production after a five year absence with the first batch set to hit stores in this year's fourth quarter.  According to the press release, a Super 8 motion picture film version will be produced in Rochester and will be sold by Kodak directly while a 135/36 version will be made available to still photographers by Kodak Alaris, a spinoff company headquartered in the UK.

And the reason behind this radical change of direction?  According to Steven Overman, Kodak’s chief marketing officer and president of the Consumer and Film Division:
"We are seeing a broad resurgence of excitement about capturing images on film. Kodak is committed to continuing to manufacture film as an irreplaceable medium for image creators to capture their artistic vision. We are proud to help bring back this classic."
As if this weren't enough good news for film enthusiasts, Overman went on, in a podcast recorded at CES, to further state:  "I will say, we are investigating Kodachrome, looking at what it would take to bring that back."  That's hardly a promise, of course, but the very fact that such a move is under consideration is heartening to analog photographers who know from experience that Kodachrome was the best color film ever made.

Meanwhile, for those of us who still shoot black & white film, Ikigai Camera, a Japanese film store headquartered in Australia, announced on its blog a "new" film designed to replace one long since discontinued by Fuji.  Described as the "brain-child of Bellamy Hunt of Japan Camera Hunter fame," the film supposedly recreates many of the most desirable features of Neopan 400.  According to the blog post:
"StreetPan 400, while not a new emulsion, is a modernized version of an out of production AGFA surveillance film that has been brought back to life (and back into production)"
I'm not quite sure how an Agfa surveillance film would come to have the same properties as a discontinued print film, but I have to admit that the sample photographs shown on the blog certainly look good.  Though I've always shot Tri-X myself, I'd love a chance to experiment with this film and see what prints I could get from its negatives in the darkroom.

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