Thanksgiving Sunday in the Beaches in Colour
Kodak took a price increase recently, and if you are primarily a colour film shooter, they are for now the only game in town as Fuji Film is still doing its slow walk towards the exit and it has plenty of people steamed about it. I'm a black and white shooter who does shoot a fair bit of colour negative (C-41), read the recent article by Ludwig Hagelstein on the Silvergrain Classics site, and I agree with a lot of what he said. Both C-41 (Colour negative) and E-6 (Slide or positive) film are chemically complicated beasts compared to black and white film like Ilford's HP5 or Foma 100 both in the front end process and with the chemistry to process. Aside from the obvious rise in silver on commmodity markets over the past few years, other raw ingredients got very hard to find during the pandemic, and we're talking about the plastics family of ingredients to make the acetate base for the emulsion coating that goes on top.
The other problem and I'm looking at Kodak in particular here. They recent changed suppliers for their chemsitry, I don't know if that extends to their raw materials. Safe bet a fair chunk of that ingrediant list is coming from China where the plants may or may not be open to make the materials, two the raw materials are also used in other industries for other purposes so you are fighting other parties who might have more buying power and three, getting it to Kodak's campus in Rochester. What a lot of people don't know and it shocked me, Kodak runs with just one coating line for everything and they were running at maximum capacity when Fuji decided to retire Pro 400H. Somewhere a Kodak Manager was swearing more than a full patch Hells Angel would feel comfortable hearing as you need to plan out a year in advance for a manufacturing schedule and that explains why you can't get Portra 400 easily these days but I digress.
I understand the why behind the price hike, not happy about as a consumer, but who would be? The reality is we had it really good for the past 20 years, a lot of people forget as even as recent as the 1980s, film wasn't cheap.
In the end I'm going to be much more seasonal in shooting colour film, maybe from mid Summer to the end of October. Once my 120 stocks of Portra 400 and Lomo 400 are depleted I'll just shoot Ektar 100 as my colour film for medium format. In 35mm I love shooting Ultramax 400, Color Plus 200 and Ektar 100, so I'm not going to miss shooting Portra 400. I just have to be way more choosy in what I'm shooting and when in terms of subject matter. The reality is while Portra 400 is hitting close to $20 per roll CAD, I can still buy a roll of Ilford HP5 or FP4 for half that. Maybe it's time to re-embrace shooting more black and white like our parents and grandparents did because a roll of Kodachrome would be like $35 CAD per roll plus processing if it were still around to today.
Camera: Minolta XD-11, MD Rokkor X lenses.
Film: Kodak Ultramax 400.