In 2014 I did a round-up of five films that were still in production, all films I’ve used and could recommend from experience. It’s proven to be one of the most popular things on the site.
Two years later, I’m pleased to say that all five of those films – Agfaphoto CT100 Precisa, Fomapan 200, Fuji Superia 400, Kodak Ektar and Kodak Tri-X – are all still available, some in a range of formats. News of discontinued films keeps the photographic forums busy and makes it sometimes feel like analogue photography is down to the last handful of emulsions; it’s not.
So below is a list of five films to shoot with – three of which you can buy right now, and two which will hit stores in the coming months. In fact, one of them was a secret until a few days ago.
Fomapan in the Czech Republic has been making film since 1921. Their 200-speed film is a nice mid-range film, great in sunshine and with a pleasing old-school graininess. Fomapan 100 is their sunny day emulsion, with pleasing contrast. Some have likened it to the original version of Agfa’s APX 100 film, while others think it has some similarities to old emulsions from before World War II. Fomapan 100 is a fantastic film for trying black and white in good light – in the UK, you can get a roll of 35mm for little more than £3 a roll. I shoot it a lot when I’m in Istanbul, where it’s even cheaper, little more than £2 a roll. [35mm, 120, 4×5, 5×7]
LOMOgraphy does more than sell people toy cameras that spring light leaks and revived Soviet curios; they also sell film, including their own branded range. LOMOgraphy 100 is their 100-speed emulsion; since the sad demise of their LOMOgraphy Xpro Chrome 100 film (really Kodak Elite Chrome 100), I’d say this is the best film in their stable. It scans beautifully, and tends to have a decidedly warm cast in strong rich light. The other great thing is the price – a three-pack in 35mm is less than £10. The packs says ‘Made in USA’ so it’s undoubtedly a Kodak film. Definitely worth having a pack in your bag – it really works well with cameras like the LOMO LC-A, and that warm tone can make really punchy pictures. [35mm, 120]
I shot a roll of HP5 on a trip to New Zealand recently, pushing it to 3200 to take pictures of a massive World War One diorama. I’d forgotten just how good HP5 looks when it’s pushed. This film has fantastic contrast and fine but atmospheric grain; it’s a worthy rival to Kodak’s fantastic Tri-X. There’s been an Ilford film bearing the ‘HP’ (Hypersensitive Panchromatic) name since the 1920s – HP5 has been around since the 1960s. Though it is essentially a 200 speed film, it’s designed to be shot at the box speed of 400. But HP5 will easily handle push processing up to 6400 (four stops). If you’re wanting to shoot in low light, and don’t quite want the extra chalk-and-charcoal contrast of Tri-X, use HP5. You won’t regret it. [35mm, 120, 4×5, 5×7, disposable camera]
Ferrania Chrome 100
Italy’s Ferrania made film from the 1920s until the middle of the 2000s – they were one of the early victims of the digital revolution. That meant the end of the Scotch Chrome range of slide films, and Solaris print films. But the Ferrania story, it appears, is not over. In August 2013, the new Film Ferrania company announced they’d return to making film, starting with a re-engineered version of the Scotch Chrome 100 film, available for Super-8 and cine cameras aswell as 35mm and 120. Since then, they’ve raised a huge amount of money to refurb the old Ferrania factory in northern Italy, some of it via Kickstarter. The timetable has faltered of late, thanks to serious flooding and the discovery of asbestos in the factory, but Film Ferrania still intend to release their film in the next few months.
In fact, Film Ferrania founder Nicola Baldini said in a recent interview: “Everything is now scheduled for the spring of 2016 – almost exactly a year delayed from the original schedule.” Slide film fans, who’ve been having to put up with Fujifilm’s consistent price-hiking of its dwindling range of slide film, will be counting down the days. [35mm, 120, 16mm cine, 8mm cine]
Japan Camera Hunter JCH Streetpan 400
In the last week, there’s been some more news to make film fans a little more optimistic – there’s a new brand of black-and-white film, coming not from a leading photographic brand, or even a giant retailer, but from a website. JCH StreetPan 400 comes from analogue site Japan Camera Hunter. Founder Bellamy Hunt has re-branded an old surveillance film made by Agfa. But unlike some ‘new’ films, this is not something that has been given a new bade (I’m looking at you Agfaphoto CT100 Precisa) but a film that has been brought back into production.
Hunt says he wanted something that mirrored the contrast and grain of Fuji’s discontinued Neopan 400 film – that’s one of the films I’ve been most upset to see go. Neopan had fantastic contrast and lovely grain – I used to use it for my Soundcheck Sessions project, where I would push it to 6400, and the results were consistently fantastic.
As the name might tell you, JCH StreetPan is aimed at street photographers, a community that seems to avidly supporting film. Streetpan 400 should be out later in the summer. I’ve ordered my first brick, and I can’t wait to put it through its paces. (All pics below have been kindly provided by Bellamy Hunt)
Obviously, this is just a smattering of the films still available. What are you using? Let me know by leaving a comment below.