Photography

Goodbye Fujifilm FP-100C

The last instant pack film is dead. Fujifilm has discontinued FP-100C, a color film.

fp100cI’m sure this is old news to some of you, as Fujifilm announced this at the end of February. Prices immediately jumped on remaining inventory. I bought three packs before prices shot into the stratosphere.

I’ve shot Polaroid packfilm cameras off and on since the 1970s, when my grandparents bought me one new for Christmas. I was charmed that I could get a print in 60 seconds, but wasn’t impressed with the the prints themselves. The colors were weird, and worse, they darkened with time.

In comparison, the Fuji films were wonderful. The black-and-white FP-3000B, which was discontinued in 2013, had good tonality and range. The FP-100C’s appealing candylike colors made it a go-to film on a bright spring day. Better still, the prints stay bright for years.

And both films yield great sharpness when used in a camera with a capable lens. Photographers who put instant backs on their medium-format cameras got stunning results. My old folding Polaroid Automatic 250, with its decent lens, returned solid results. It was such a pain to use, though, that I gave it away and bought a rigid-bodied Colorpack II to replace it. I loaded one of my last packs of FP-100C into the Colorpack II recently and took it out to shoot spring color. I started with my freshly bloomed daffodils.

Daffodils

Up close on a bright day, the Colorpack II even creates a little bokeh. It’s not great bokeh, but that this lumbering brute of a camera does it at all pleases me greatly. The film does lose detail in the highlights, though, as you can see where the sun hits the top of this fire plug.

Plug

I took the Colorpack over to Holliday Park one afternoon. The Ruins, a huge art installation on the grounds, is being renovated and somewhat reworked. This is where they’re washing out concrete.

Wash Out

The Colorpack also came along with me to work one day. It’s conspicuous camera and it attracted a lot of attention around the office. Many of my young co-workers had never seen a packfilm camera before. This orange Vette in our parking lot doesn’t belong to any of them.

Vette

The callery pear trees have all finished blooming now, thank goodness, because the flowers smell like rotting shrimp.

Pear trees in bloom

One morning’s sun lit my living room well, so I tried an available-light shot of my bookcase. On the middle shelf are my Pentax ES II, Spotmatic SP, and H3; and my Yashica-D and Yashica-12. My Canonet QL17 G-III is hiding on the top shelf. The camera and film don’t give much shadow detail. I couldn’t even bring any out in Photoshop. Sharpness is off, too. If I had to guess, the camera probably went wide open (f/9.2) for this shot, and that’s when the lens is probably at its softest.

Bookcase with cameras

Finally, on an overcast day I finished the pack by shooting my house. I think this print’s flat colors show well that FP-100C is born for a sunny day.

My home

I’m going to miss the Fuji pack films terribly. I shot two or three packs a year and always really loved the experience and the results. I know I can always buy (crazy expensive) Impossible films for my Polaroid SX-70, but the hard reality is that image quality just isn’t very good. The pack films and associated cameras truly were the pinnacle of instant photography. It’s a real shame that their era is ending. Yet it’s remarkable that their era lasted as long as it did.

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27 thoughts on “Goodbye Fujifilm FP-100C

  1. The only hobby photography I ever did was with an old Polaroid from the early 60s. It took lovely b&w photos that had a classic softness about them. Even in the 80s, it was about $1 a picture, and I eventually lost interest in it. I wonder if I still have it? Even if I do, it sounds like its picture taking days are over.

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    • Polaroid photography has always been expensive. I loved shooting my Polaroid camera as a kid, but it was way cheaper to buy film and processing for my old garage-sale Brownie.

      If your Polaroid camera is from the early 60s, the film for it has been out of production for a couple decades now.

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  2. I was crushed to find out Fuji quit the pack film (Fuji is great for dropping film like bad habits) especially since I had just bought a couple of very nice Polaroids for use. Damn the luck. I must have a dozen or more polaroids that no longer are serviceable, that includes my modified pinholes. Curses……

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  3. I’d wish there would be a dislike button here, ’cause I hate the fact that first my most beloved Fujifilm FP-3000B and now the FP-100C as well is dead! No more peel apart film anymore :-( I own two folding cams for those nice films and will never be able to use them in future… I still got two handfull of these good old black’n white films in the fridge and perhaps two or three of the color ones – but when they are gone, I will not pay 3 or 4 time as much as the normal price: so RIP Fujifilm FP-Series!

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    • In the 70s I always badly wanted an SX-70 camera, but even the low-end ones were out of my reach. I got one as an adult, and found that the packfilm cameras actually delivered better results! So I doubled down on packfilm cameras — and now here we are, at the end. I have two packs of FP-100C still in the fridge and then that’s it for me.

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  4. I do hate to see this film go. I didn’t use it often, however I enjoyed the experience. There may be some hope in that the Impossible Project is trying to get Fuji’s machines. Although I imagine if they do the film will be a lot more expensive.

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    • Yeah, if resurrected pack film is north of $20 a pack, I think I’m out. I bought one pack of Impossible SX-70 film and I’m pretty sure that will be enough for me. It’s hard for me to get my head wrapped around spending $3 per photo for the luxury of using my SX-70 camera. I would imagine resurrected pack film would cost the same.

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  5. I was among the masses disappointed by the discontinued packfilm. I started stocking up on fp100c for my wedding but continued when i saw that they had recently discontinued 3000b, i knew it would only be a matter of time. A lot of my wedding pictures were shot with my 180 and they came out fantastic. I really did enjoy the film considerably. After some thought i realized i wanted to put as much support as possible into companies who support film. I sold my 180 and 360, along with my entire stash of pack film and put it all into the impossible project film. It’s expensive, it’s low fi, but they started from scratch and it get’s better every year. Fuji only has maybe 5 years left making film and then Kodak and ilford will be our only options.

    The best part of the whole FP100C news is that there is evidence suggesting that Fuji stopped production in 2012. Who knows what other film is already discontinued. Velvia? Provia? Superia?

    Further, i have probably close to 10 packfilm cameras here including 2 360s that i’ll give away to anyone who wants to try packfilm before it’s gone. If you know anyone have them get in contact with me.

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    • I hear the 180 is just wonderful, and might well be the pinnacle of packfilm cameras.

      I’m very intrigued by your statement that you think Fuji will be out of the film business entirely in five years. I have wondered whether film will become a niche product made by smaller companies. It feels like that’s the direction things are going. It sure seems like the scale at which Kodak, Fuji, and I presume Ilford must make film is not sustainable anymore. I’m rooting for the reborn Ferrania, as that might just be the size and scale of an operation that can be sustained. But of course, it would almost certainly mean film prices would soar. I shoot a lot of Fujicolor 200 because I can get it for about $2.50 a roll… I’d miss that.

      What a generous offer! Hopefully you’ll get some bites from my readers. Readers: you can contact Joshua through his blog (click his name above to go there). Or go to my About page and contact me via the form there, and I’ll forward your message to him.

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  6. Jim, great article and beautiful results! Perfect images that’s well suited to show off the best of this film. I totally agree with you about Impossible film. I applaud their efforts, but the truth is that it’s nowhere near as good as native Polaroid film was. And as for packfilm, you are again right, it is very surprising it lasted this long! But with results like this, come on, buy three more packs, keep shooting a pack a year, and you’ll have three more years of great shots! :-)

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    • Sam, I was actually shocked about five years ago to learn that packfilm was still being made! I bought some packfilm cameras and some film and got busy!

      I have two more packs in the fridge. Then that’s all she wrote for me!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Andy Umbo says:

    I am bat-crap mad about this…I read about the cancellation a few months ago, and went to the B&H photo site to buy some (this is ‘test’ film for my Hasselblads when I’m shooting color transparency)…the price had shot up to 18.99, and now it’s 24.99! Of course, you realize this is for a 10- sheet pack! I checked my last invoice for this, from 2013, and it was 8.99 for a pack. The ‘two-pack’ boxes of the Polaroid version of this (20 sheets total), when they killed it, was about 16.99 a twin-pak! I’d be hard pressed to believe Fuji is raising this while they’re making their last batch, I’m pretty sure it’s the sellers that are gouging us on this.

    For those who think this should have died years ago because pack film cameras were virtually ‘gone’, you should realize that the people keeping this alive were professional photographers who were using it in test backs for their Hasselblads, Mamiyas, and 4X5 cameras, to test for lighting balance, and that their cameras were functional, before putting the film backs on the cameras. Even as late as the mid-2000’s, we were buying this buy the case! Then Kodak killed my favorite transparency films E-100G, and E-100GX, the best transparency film Kodak ever made with beautiful color. That’s when I decided to go digital fro commercial uses. I was still buying about 10 packs of the Fuji-roid a year, tho…

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    • Rumor has it that Fuji stopped production of this film back in 2012 and is just now announcing it. And yes, I’m sure the current prices are just gouging by the retailers.

      I knew that pro shooters used the packfilms to test lighting — but not that they were still doing that so recently. I figured everybody had switched to digital by then.

      I lament the loss of E-100G, too. I still have a few rolls in 120 in the fridge. We aren’t done seeing the film industry shake itself out. I expect to write more Goodbye posts.

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      • Andy Umbo says:

        I think the last time I actually shot transparency film on a job was about 2006. The lack of a transparency available that I liked after Kodak killed E-100G, and the lack of a decent ‘dip-and-dunk’ processor doing same day service was killing the film industry. In 2006, I was still shooting film on assignments when I was in San Francisco, they still had a good same-day processor for transparency around then, but it was dying or dead in Milwaukee. The guy who owned the lab in San Francisco told me a lot of his work was from Japanese tourists shooting 120 Fujichrome!

        I read an article about the Japanese professional photo trade in a cultural magazine in 2008, that said most Japanese professional photographers still used film, they considered it superior! The only reason that they shot digital was based on time/quality needs (as in not caring if there was a lack of quality). I remember thinking at the time, it’s amazing how the U.S. always adopts the fast, cheap method, regardless of quality; and believe me, large format film was far superior to digital, even up to a few years ago. Even today, you’d have to be using one of the highly expensive 120 based digital bodies offering 16 bit color to have a visual result that would match 120 transparency, especially scanned at 24 or 48 bit color!

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        • Transparency film has always been only a fun thing to explore for me. I’ve shot a bunch of E100G in my TLRs and a tiny bit of Velvia 50 in my SLRs. And wow, the color and clarity. Knocks my socks off every time.

          I’m just a hobbyist here; the whole world of photography for press is … not entirely foreign, as I did work in publishing for a while, but on the editorial side. But it’s not a thing I totally get.

          My ex was a pro, but it was mostly portraits and events. That was a different world still. She resisted digital through the 90s and even when we divorced was devoted to film, but my kids tell me she’s now crossed over to the digital side. For what she shoots, I’m sure it’s more than fine.

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        • Andy Umbo says:

          BTW, 5-9-2016, and the Fuji pack film is now up to $29.99, that’s for a 10 sheet pack! It’s like watching the stock market, I decided earlier this year, I was going to get 100 bucks worth, which would have been ten pack, but now it’d be less than 4! I’d actually be willing to pay 30 bucks a pack, if that pricing would make it always available to me, and I could order one of two before every time I had an assignment I could should film on.

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        • $30 is more than I’m willing to pay for the casual work I do with it, but I can see how it’s not too far out of hand for pro work.

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        • Andy Umbo says:

          5-11-2016 The pack film is now listed on B&H as “discontinued”, with no price, and no delivery date. It was list just the other day as waiting for delivery and $29.99; so either they fulfilled all orders from people that had been pre-ordering the last few months, before delivery, or it never got delivered! It would be interesting to know…

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        • Andy Umbo says:

          This direct from Fuji professional customer service:

          “The final shipment was not cancelled. It is likely that B&H has already received and sold through the final shipment and thus updated their website accordingly, or perhaps they determined the exact amount of the film they would be receiving in the final shipment and have now already sold through that amount in pre-orders. I would suggest contacting B&H for specifics regarding their website update.”

          Just an FYI…thanks for the listing on Amazon, but $35.00? Whew…

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