It’s official. Thanks to the success of last year’s release of Ektachrome E100 in 35mm, Kodak Alaris has announced plans to bring out the film in 120 and large format sheets this year.
Kodak’s Alaris UK’s Andy Church made the announcement during this week’s episode of the film photography podcast Sunny 16, and later exclusively confirmed to Kosmo Foto by Kodak Alaris HQ in the US.
The re-release of Ektachrome came, of course, hot on the heels of the return of the high-speed TMax P3200, which was released in early 2018 after being discontinued in October 2012.
But Church also hinted to Sunny 16 that the resurrections may not stop there. “We’ve had a very positive response from the market, and that’s fuelled the fire a little bit in terms of thinking about what we can do next. We’re certainly looking at having conversations about other films we could possible bring back and other things we could bring to market.”
So which films should Kodak bring back from the dead. Kosmo Foto, looking through the list of Kodak films of yore, suggest these.
This 125-ISO film was one of Kodak’s best-loved black-and-white films, especially by landscape and travel photographers, though this couldn’t ultimately save it from the axe back in 2011.
Originally launched way back in 1938 (making it older than the venerable Tri-X), Plus-X was superseded by TMax 100. The film had an old-world feel to it, in contrast to the more modern TMax emulsion; it’s similar to the differences between Tri-X and TMax 400.
Plus-X is fondly remember, not least by Church himself, who nominated this as the film he most wanted the company to bring back.
Comeback chances? High, given that the similar Tri-X remains a staple of the Kodak line-up and Fujifilm has axed Acros 100.
Despite the recent good news about Ektachrome, if you want to shoot slide film you have to be happy shooting 100 ISO (apart from Agfaphoto’s rebadged RSX 200). That’s great for summer vacations, sunny-weather street photography and studio work with decent lighting (and a tripod), but what if you want to shoot something with more challenging light – a concert, natural light indoor portraits etc – you’re going to be struggling.
The last of Kodak’s higher-ISO slide films, Ektachrome 400X, had already gone by the time Kodak pulled the last of its slide emulsions in 2012. This left Fujifilm with the higher-speed slide market to itself until it pulled Provia 400X a year later.
With Ektachrome E100 launch going so well, could we see a higher-ISO equivalent following not to far in the distance?
Comeback chances? There’s a definite gap in the market, and 400 ISO is a hugely useful speed suited to many styles of shooting.
These days, the Ektar range is limited to just one, 100-ISO film, but in the past there were a slew of films sporting the Ektar name, including Ektar 125 – and Ektar 1000.
This high-speed colour negative film was discontinued in 1994 (35mm) and 1997 (120), and the Ektar name wasn’t resurrected until the launch of the new Ektar 100 in 2008. Again, high-speed colour film – admittedly, a specialist emulsion – is wide open since Fujifilm pulled the plus of Superia/Natura 1600.
Is there a market for it? The healthy sales for Portra 800 and Cinestill 800 would suggest there is.
Comeback chances? Average, but better if Kodak Alaris decide to broaden the Ektar range.
Think of Kodak print films before the era of Portra, and chances are you think of Kodak Gold. Gold was the consumer print line for much of the 1980s and 90s, the kind of film that people loaded into their cameras for holidays, parties and special occasions. It took a generation of memories, and sported some of Kodak’s most distinctive packaging.
Kodak already has two 100-ISO colour negative films in its line-up, Ektar 100 and Pro Image 100. The latter is widely regarded to be a version of gold that was tweaked for sale in Asia and Latin America (it was formulated especially for darker skin tones). In the process it lost some of he saturation and warmth of the original Gold 100, something also lacking in the finer-grained Ektar, which has a slightly more cyan bias.
Plus it would be an excuse to re-use Kodak’s glorious old-school logo for a revamped Gold range. It’s a branding no-brainer.
Comeback chances: Good. Years after its demise, Kodak Gold is still with us, at least in 200 and 400. Pro Image 100 is only available in boxes of five. There’s space for another film in the market and Gold 100 is a classic choice.
Elite Chrome 100
The slide film market used to have a clear delineation – professional films such as Kodak’s Etachrome and Fuji’s Fujichrome, and consumer-grade emulsions like Kodak Elite Chrome, Agfa Precisa and Fuji Sensia. The pro-spec films were produced to much more exact standards – you could be assured of colour balance from roll to roll – while the consumer films were more robust, and didn’t need to be kept cold stored.
Kodak produced a range of Elite Chrome films – 100, 200, 400, and tungsten-balanced films such as the 160T – until a decade or so ago. All of them were fantastic films, with the 100-ISO version having another ace in its sleeve; it was a brilliant film to cross process (see examples above). Lomography sold a re-branded version of this film as its Xpro Chrome 100 film for some years.
Releasing a cheaper slide film – Ektachrome E100 sells for £14 in the UK, not exactly cheap – will help ensure E6 photography survives; the more photographers who use it, the more labs will continue to offer E-6 processing.
Comeback chances? Fair. Ektachrome can be tweaked, and Kodak could once again dominate slide photography after nearly a decade of Fujifilm monopoly.
What is your choice for the next resurrected Kodak film? Let us know in a comment below.