It’s been a busy year in film photography, if you keep up with the news. Here are all of the new-product announcements I could find since January 1.
- Hong Kong toy-camera company Reto has re-released the venerable Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim camera under its own branding.
- Chinese lens maker Light Lens Lab has released a new collapsible 35mm f/2 lens for Leica screw-mount cameras.
- German lens maker Meyer-Optik Görlitz has released a 35mm f/2.8 Trioplan lens in ten mounts.
- German film producer Adox has announced a limited-edition ISO 200 color film called Color Mission.
- Instant camera maker NONS has launched a Kickstarter to produce an Instax Square-based camera that can take lenses from popular 35mm SLR systems.
- Japanese lens maker Cosina has announced a new 40mm lens for Leica M- and L39-mount cameras.
- Movie-film repackager CineStill released a new home-developing kit for E6 slide film.
- Lomography released new scanning masks in its DigitiLIZA line.
- Kodak released its Gold 200 film in 120 format.
- CineStill has announced a new color negative film, 400D, in 35mm and 120 — and then later announced it would also be available in 220, the first new 220 film in decades.
- Japan Camera Hunter has announced production of an entirely new emulsion, Fugufilm 400.
- Solarcan, which produces cameras that take extreme time exposures, has launched a solargraphy pinhole camera.
- German film manufacturer ORWO has announced a new black-and-white film, Wolfen NP100.
Notice how much of that news is from small companies. The news from the large, traditional companies in the film-photography space has not been as rosy. Prices have gone up, and film stocks have become scarce.
If it hasn’t become clear to you yet that the future of film photography is in the niches, these first four months of 2022 ought to be a giant, blinking neon sign pointing it out.
Small companies serving a niche can’t achieve the economies of scale the traditional film-photography companies could during film’s heyday. Many of the items listed above, even the films, are relatively expensive. Even though good vintage film cameras can still often be purchased for low prices, everything else about film photography is becoming considerably more expensive. It’s pricing people out of the hobby.
I’m fortunate to have pretty good means. I can run with the “cool kids” of film photography if I want to. As a blogger who writes a lot about my film-photography adventures, I’d probably get a lot of pageviews if I could buy, try, and blog about more of this hot new stuff! But there are only so many bandwagons even the most well-heeled film photographer can jump on.
But the bottom line is, for those who can afford it, it’s an exciting time to be in film photography.