We are in the post-film shakeout era, a time when the world’s film manufacturers figure out what films will continue to be made now that most people shoot digital.
I argue that this era kicked off in 2009 when Kodak canned its seminal Kodachrome color slide film. Kodak has been the leader in film discontinuation, having ceased production of venerable Plus X black-and-white negative film and its entire catalog of slide films in 2011. It appears that its bankruptcy and its outdated manufacturing facilities are major factors in its decisions to discontinue films.
The film business is said to remain profitable, even for Kodak. But film’s mass-market days are over, as only hobbyists and some professionals still shoot film. I think the realities of a greatly reduced scale will cause other films to go by the wayside in the next several years. It will be interesting to see which films survive.
The latest casualty is Fujifilm’s FP-3000B instant film for packfilm Polaroid cameras, a niche product to be sure. Production ceased at around the end of 2013.
I’ve shot a couple packs of FP-3000B over the past couple years and I like it. I’ve shot it in both of my Polaroid packfilm cameras, a Big Swinger 3000 and an Automatic 250, and I find that the film can deliver decent contrast and tonal range. It’s not in the same league as Kodak TMax or Fujifilm Neopan Acros, but for instant film, it’s fabulous.
Here’s a shot from my Big Swinger 3000, which works only with the ISO 3000 packfilms and is rendered useless by Fujifilm’s decision.
The Automatic 250 offers some ability to adjust aperture, allowing for available-light photos inside. It also offers a much better lens. This is where I sleep, recorded by the 250.
FP-3000B stock remains available as I write this; I just ordered two packs from B&H Photo. My Automatic 250 has an electrical gremlin I need to figure out, but when I do I’ll shoot those two packs as well as two packs I ordered of color FP-100C, which remains in production.