View Full Version : sheet film availability

steve simmons
17-Dec-2005, 08:55
Every once in awhile I hear comments about film going away, sheet film becoming unavailable, etc., etc..

Well here are some facts

Both Ilford and Kodak have agreed to make some previously unavailable sizes, generally ULF, now available. The fact that they are both doing this must mean they feel there is a market.

I have compiled a listing of all the sheet films currently available and there is more than any of us will every use. Yes, some films have disappeared but new ones have shown up. I doubt that anyone's photo career really depends on Super XX or Agfapan 25 for example. Yes, sometimes we have to adapt but I think we should be heartened by what is available.

Relax, shoot and enjoy!

steve simmons

Dean Tomasula
17-Dec-2005, 09:31
How can we access this list? Is it on the VC web site?

steve simmons
17-Dec-2005, 10:15
This will be in the Jan 06 issue of View Camera in an article titles The Future of Large Format Pt. 2.

steve simmons

Barry Wilkinson
17-Dec-2005, 10:35

The Ilford list is here...

www.ilford.com/html/us_english/ILFOPRO/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7023&whichpage=1 (http://www.ilford.com/html/us_english/ILFOPRO/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7023&whichpage=1)

Details of new Kodak offerings are posted here...

www.jandcphoto.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=24 (http://www.jandcphoto.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=24)


Jim Rhoades
17-Dec-2005, 10:48
Steve; It's always good to know that film is available even if we do have to make our own paper. Long live Pt/Pd.

I'll keep what I think of Kodak to myself... No I won't.

Ya don't leave the girl that ya brung to the dance.

Kodak will be sorry.

Michael Kadillak
17-Dec-2005, 10:52
I would only add that we as sheet film consumers should not take the willingness of Kodak or Ilford to listen to pleas of several promoters like myself to serve this market with a cavalier attitude and assume that this is a continuous trend into the future. We need to send a serious financial message of our willingness to step up to the plate and take action. The old addage that talk is cheap holds true here as we hold the keys to the future of both standard sheet film and ULF sheet film in your favorite emulsion.

I am not for a second going to minimize the act of purchasing two or three boxes of film in any way shape or form considering the unit costs or other uncontrollable economic or specific variables for anyone. Please do the best you possibly can. But we desperately need folks with the desire and the financial resources to put some volume into these numbers. As a group we can take a positive attitude at this opportunity crossroad and mitigate a considerable amount of negativity toward the one product that we all need to plan for our future in this craft - quality film.

We could be so fortunate to have these options at our doorstep. I will be stepping up big time (a second freezer if need be) and I hope that you will all find a way to join me in making a serious commitment to the emulsion of your choice.

Happy Holidays!

John Kasaian
17-Dec-2005, 11:19
Great news :-)

Steven Barall
17-Dec-2005, 11:23
I agree with Mr. Simmons. Relax, shoot and enjoy. Also, live long and prosper. On the holodeck you can shoot with all the Super XX you want to not to mention the Dupont Varigam.

William Mortensen
17-Dec-2005, 11:53
"I agree with Mr. Simmons. Relax, shoot and enjoy."

Nah, we should stress out, lock our remaining film in the freezer, and occassionally take it out and hiss over it "the precious, my preciousss..."

"Also, live long and prosper. On the holodeck you can shoot with all the Super XX you want to..."

I have a theory that Tolkien's Elves, over millions of years, evolved into Vulcans. You can see it in the ears...

Getting back to the subject (at last), I need to order a couple of hundred 8x10 sheets of HP5+. Any special way I should do this to show support? (BTW, I ordered it from Wisner weeks ago; he didn't respond or charge my credit card. I'm ready to re-order elsewhere...)

Kevin M Bourque
17-Dec-2005, 12:01
If I was on the holodeck, I sure wouldn't be shooting Super XX. I'm thinking more like Seven of Nine and some of those green-skinned Orion women. Dream big! :-)

Ralph Barker
17-Dec-2005, 12:11
Michael K said, "We need to send a serious financial message . . ."

I agree wholeheartedly, recognizing that the two ULF film manufacturers may interpret "serious" differently. (Kodak might prefer at least one extra comma in the number.) ;-)

Aside from the special purchase arrangements for ULF films and such, my recommendation continues to be to buy through the folks you want to keep around. If you need your local camera/darkroom retailer, buy through them whenever humanly possible - even if their prices are a bit higher. Otherwise, buy online from those who support the things you hold dear. The best way to keep these businesses alive is to help make them profitable.

17-Dec-2005, 16:30

Good news indeed... :)


I have to agree with you in regards to going out and buying LF film in as large a quantity as you can possibly afford.

In support of your suggestion... I'm pleased to say that I've just ordered 10 boxes of 5x7 FP4 and 10 boxes of HP5 for my new toy! :) I've also ordered (and received) some Provia 5x7 from Badger Graphics and will be ordering more in the near future. Unfortunately, Fuji 5x7 isn't even imported into Canada and, therefore, Badger Graphics will get all my Provia/Velvia business in the future.


Couldn't agree with you more... if you increase your distribution channels it simply gets your product out into the end-user's hands that much easier and, in theory, that means more profits for your bottom line! (Of course, this infers that the quality is high and the market needs and wants the product in the first place.) Adaptability means survival in many cases.

Top of the season to all.... and may you all have a grand 2006!


Michael Kadillak
17-Dec-2005, 16:43
I believe that I can add some facts to your comment above Dan.

We attempted to purchase a master roll from Kodak and were heading in the right direction until the lawyers got wind of it. Product liability concerns that are out of the manufacturers hands as to how a third party might represent and/or dispense a legitimate Kodak product tossed this idea into the wood pile. I am positive that the same condition exists at Ilford as well.

The film that Photo Warehouse was previously cutting was old Ilford stock that was sold to them at discount prices clearly without the corporate representation. The savings were passed along to the consumer and everyone was happy. Unfortunately, behind the scenes the fact that Ilford had old film stock conveyed a situation where for one reason or another manufacturing was getting ahead of sales. Photo Warehouse was alive in this venue as long as the corporate inefficiency at Ilford persisted. When Ilford changed hands this was one of the first thing that was excised from the balance sheet.

It is unfortunate that we are no longer able to take advantage of this great deal from Photo Warehouse as it was clearly a smoking deal. However, the fact that Ilford came out of it with a new owner and the hope that there is a new day for them to look forward to is a good thing.


Richard Martel
18-Dec-2005, 09:01
I think sheet film will go the way of vacuum tubes. Since the advent of the transister, vacuum tubes, once used in most electronic devices have plummeted , almost to the point of being nonexistent. The last holdout is the CRT vacuum tube now being replaced by the LCD display. So...If you equate vacuum tubes (valves, to our freinds across the pond) to sheet film all may not be lost. I just Googled vacuum tubes and came up with plenty of sources. Buggy whip aficionados may not fare as well.

Michael Mutmansky
18-Dec-2005, 09:20

I disagree with on you this.

I don't think it would be too difficult for a small company to make a buisness arrangement with Ilford or Kodak so that there is oversite by the manufacturer to ensure the quality control on the cutting and packaging operations. That is, I don't think the mechanics of an arrangement like this would be too difficult.

The legal BS would be the hangup, as is clear from your post, and it's unfortunate when a company like Kodak or Ilford will permit themselves to be controlled by the legal department (or the bean counters, for that matter). What I mean is, the company should have a vision ("were going to make the best B&W film and sell it a a fair profit on the open market"), and the legal department should be working in every capacity to enable this. So rather than finding the obstacles, they should be finding the legal solutions to the things that reduce sales capacity.

Regardless, the cutting company could continue to disavow any connection to the source manufacturer, as has been done in the past, which seems to have worked out just fine for years.

While you say Ilford had excess capacity, you must realize that a good portion of the sales that PW was making was to people that could not get film from Ilford because they refused to sell it in the sizes that they needed. So the PW revenue stream to Ilford was substantially sales they would not have made through any other route than through PW. Ilford is attempting to recapture some of that with this purchasing arrangement, but I don't think they realize the amount of effort it takes for all of these film sizes.

I hope the first time doesn't scare them off doing it ever again.

I think a potentially bigger reason that Ilford won't go the PW route anymore is the revolt the dealers would start to protect their sales volume. I have heard that some dealers have told Ilford that they would not sell Ilford anymore if Ilford permitted master rolls to be sold to places like PW again.

Most of the ULF shooters don't have ideaological positions on who should profit or how much, or by what channels this works out; they simply want the film to be available in the sized they need at a fair price. We have said this time and time again to Ilford, if the pricing structure that was established for PW was unsustainable, then change it so it does work, but dont scrap the system, because it works very well for the myriad of legacy and current film formats out there.

I think that Ilford and Kodak are too large to care, but people who use these large cameras are possibly the most loyal film users around, and there may come a time when the diehards are about all that is left. It seems defeatist to make it nearly impossible for the hardcore film shooters to get the product they need to continue. But that's what has happened over the last few years.

Hopefully, these new purchasing agreements will make it possible to continue purchasing film from the manufacturers for a long while, but I don't have the confidance these arrangements will last too long, so stock up while you can!

18-Dec-2005, 10:11
Ilford is attempting to recapture some of that with this purchasing arrangement, but I don't think they realize the amount of effort it takes for all of these film sizes.

They are a film business. How can it be that they don't know how much trouble it is to cut various film sizes? Sudden amnesia?

Pardon me if I seem cynical, but neither Kodak nor Ilford have the kind of PR need or corporate structure that has anything to gain by serving the few ULF shooters out there. The public will just say ULF? WTF is that and why should we stockholders care, especially about a piddling sidemarket?

Michael Kadillak
18-Dec-2005, 11:04

When I started this journey with Kodak six months ago, I had one single goal - to find a way to get TMY in ULF sizes at the lowest possible cost. My objective was to keep things simple and just purchase the master roll and hire out the cutting. I was most pleased and highly encouraged when I got Kodak engineering and manufacturing to agree with the concept and run it up the flag pole. A simple "what if" from the legal department shut it down. I could have opted to throw in the towel at this juncture on simple principle (or lack thereof) but I developed a relationship with a few key internal people at Kodak so we all agreed to attempt to make lemonaid out of lemons. While I do not have the film in my hands yet, we have accomplished something that many said could not have been done. Our supporters at Kodak want to take this simple divergence of their standard policy as a way to shake things up a bit. Many expand the list of films we could gain access to, produce ready loads in a larger variety - who knows? So far we have done what many said could not be accomplished. The Ilford news is equally fabulous and for that they deserve our support as well.

I wish we lived in a world where common sense and reasonableness prevailed because it would make things so much easier. Lawyers would be told to sit down and shut up in board meetings and fears of being politically correct would take a back seat to taking a position and letting the chips fall where they may.

I will be the first one to say that I am still mad as hell at Kodak - not for the knee jerk reactions to cease silver paper production but for sticking their head in the sand for years prior to this decision point and ignoring the digital revolution when they could have been posturing themselves for the new competitive arena and not being forced to such drastic decisions in haste. There is no excuse for this miopic attitude but that was then and this is now.

As of today Kodak is still in business and I like many others love TMY. When you let go of the emotional aspects of the process and think simply as a consumer it is not that tough to put a smile back on your face. I will give a few people at Kodak credit for bucking the trend and wanting to make a change for the better. Every journey begins with a single step. I would say the same for Ilford. Not all of their corporate decisions have been textbook, but they are still around.

As per the PW situation, the facts are Michael is that this well dried up and I only have a few packages of the stuff left in the freezer. I need a new source for my future shooting needs as we all do.


Christopher Nisperos
18-Dec-2005, 11:18
Jim Rhoades (2005-12-17) said:

"I'll keep what I think of Kodak to myself... No I won't. Ya don't leave the girl that ya brung to the dance. Kodak will be sorry."
Michael Kadillak (2005-12-17) said:

"I would only add that we as sheet film consumers should not take the willingness of Kodak or Ilford to listen to pleas of several promoters like myself to serve this market with a cavalier attitude and assume that this is a continuous trend into the future. We need to send a serious financial message of our willingness to step up to the plate and take action. The old addage that talk is cheap holds true here as we hold the keys to the future of both standard sheet film and ULF sheet film in your favorite emulsion. "

I applaud the efforts of Michael Kadillak and John at J&C to broaden the selection of ULF films in these lean times. This is very good news.

At the same time, I can't help to agree with Jim Rhoades. Afterall, Ilford —unlike Kodak— didn't just "listen to our pleas"; they came -—in the person of Simon Galley, in the APUG forum—- to actually solicit our needs. With regard to the LF/ULF community as it now exists, Kodak has yet to do this (if ever they have).

Therefore, while I sincerely wish all the best of luck with the effort to obtain Kodak films in ULF sizes, I hope the effort will not dilute the order base for those who were about to order Ilford films (the timing or the Kodak announcement, just after Ilford's, is indeed a strange coincidence). This market is currently a tiny hair to be slit. I hope we remember to support those who support us.

(Memo, 1973 photo trade news headline: EK to replace all FB paper with RC - Ilford announces Galerie)

Michael Mutmansky
18-Dec-2005, 11:42

Boy, if you are still a Kodak stockholder, you have much worse problems than whether they will be providing ULF film in the future.

That fact as I understand it, as it was described by a Kodak national sales representative, is that Kodak is using their film and chemical sales to pay for their losing ventures into digital. Kodak is raising prices (and profits) on their bread and butter consumers, the loyal film people, to subsidize the masssive losses in the digital realm, so Kodak can turn around a discontinue the traditional products. Now what exactly about this sits right with traditional shooters?

It's not hard to understand why many people have bailed out of the Kodak boat over the last few years. I did it when I was unable to get 12x20 ULF film from them for well over a year. Until that point, I was a loyal Kodak film user. Remember, most of us don't just shoot ULF, and along with the ULF, I took all the rest of my B&W over to Ilford to maintain familiarity with fewer products.

While ULF film is a small portion of the film sales any company may produce, it is a part of the spectrum of film that users want to have available, most especially among the hardcore film users, which more and more are probably being comprised of amatures and artists who do not use commercial volumes, but will remain loyal to film as long as they can get their hands on it.

Sudden amnesia is a good way to describe it. They have made it difficult to get special sizes (and impossible, for some sizes) for a long time now. Ever try to get FP4+ in 7x17? Suddenly they are willing to provide all these sizes they haven't offered in many years, possibly decades for some of them. I think you are terribly naive if you think that Ilford will look at the extra effort associated with all these film sizes and be happy about it. There is a reason they weren't available as stock sizes in the first place, and now they are going to attempt to take up the charge? Like I said, it would be much easier for them to find a small company to do that kind of small volume cutting and stick to the large volume sizes in-house.

I do applaud both Kodak and Ilford for the attempts to provide ULF films for the market, and hopefully these programs will have longevity. I'm pleased that I will be able to get ULF films directly from Ilford, I just think that a more sustainable method would be a model based on an external operation doing the cutting.

Regardless of the source, I will be backing up my committment to ULF with my wallet, and I hope everyone else will do the same.


Michael Mutmansky
18-Dec-2005, 11:49

That's a good point, and I strongly agree with it. I think it is unfortunate that both of these developments have happend in a very short period of time. It would be easier to make better sales for both of them if they were set to happen 6 months apart.

As it stands, the timing could effectively cause the sales to be divided to a point where both decide to abandon the idea in the future. I hope that does not happen.


Oren Grad
18-Dec-2005, 12:17
It may be fun to chew over the soap-operatic elements of this situation, to speculate about what could have been or should have been.

But here we are. I'm seeing a glass half full, not half empty - these new offerings are already more than I would have thought possible only a few months ago. But regardless of how we feel about how we got to this point or about what may happen in the future, one thing is clear: these initiatives will die if we do not ante up, now.

I will place a substantial order with Ilford, both because HP5 Plus is the best match to my needs among the three films on offer here, and because I want to do my part to reward the efforts of the new Harman management team and to demonstrate that reengineering the company to meet a range of specialist needs is not a fool's errand.

I hope that those who find TMY to be the best match to their own needs and preferences will support Michael Kadillak's effort in the same way.

Jorge Gasteazoro
18-Dec-2005, 12:39
As far as I am concerned I will divide the spoils. I could max out my CC and buy 10 boxes of TMY 12x20, but I am not going to do that for a few reasons. I want Ilford to get some supports too, I am also not going to fool myself and think Kodak will be there for me in the future. They will stop making film as soon as the digital area becomes profitable or they go bankrupt, whichever comes first and there wont be any advance notice.

So my plan is to get 4 boxes TMY, 2 boxes of FP4 and one box of the JandC 400, I figure this will last me about 2 years and I will have a good cross section of films to use, one of them is bound to be around in a few years.

Christopher Nisperos
18-Dec-2005, 13:00
Thanks, Michael, Oren and Jorge. You've caught the main idea of what I was trying to get across.
With two birds in the bush and none in the hand . . . It'd be a pity to loose both!

Michael Kadillak
18-Dec-2005, 13:54
I also hear what you are conveying Christopher.

As far as the timing of these activities go, I wish they were not concurrent, but you can take this fact to the bank. If John and I were not calling them constantly over many months, Kodak would never have considered this on their own as they are singularly focused on fighting for their financial life. I wish there was a Kodak rep that was aggressively looking to promote this business as it appears was the case with Ilford, but IMHO good intentions and perceived commitment to a cause does not necessarity translate to product viability for years to come. We need to take advantage of what we have in front of us and thank our lucky stars.

I do not see this proceedings as competitive or adverse to the general objectives of the LF community because TMY, FP4 and HP5 are very different products that appeal to a wide and diverse range of film sheet consumers. I for one will be stocking up big time on FP4 and am absolutely elated at the opportunity to do so.

The question of whether Kodak will be around for many years is one that is both legitimate and one that should be asked. As it relates to a risk that marvelous emulsions like TMY will not be around as a result of Kodak falling their sword is mitigated by the following. Kodak shareholders have a considerable amount of investment in coating machines. A bankrupcy trustee will be a reasonable person to structure a sheet film deal with because they absolutely love cash flow until a viable suitor can be found. As a result, I an not concerned that the remaining film products will mysteriously evaporate as long as there is a demand for these products. Again I emphasize the critical word here is DEMAND for sheet film. That is a variable that we have control of.


Craig Wactor
18-Dec-2005, 19:15
I'm not as worried about film disappearing as I am about the price skyrocketing. In 15 years it is going to be a pretty specialized market.

23-Dec-2005, 00:25
Steve, I may be sticking my neck out here a bit.... but I will try... and I will not reveal my sources, but....

About 2 years ago, one of the biggest color sheet film companies in the world, made a corporate decision to stop production of all sheet film. It was no longer profitable. This decision stood for 30 days, the announcement rocked some major dealers, they put up a huge battle, this big company yielded to the dealers to keep relations good, and decided to let it continue another couple years then re visit the situation. That couple of years is almost up now.... color sheet film sales are way down, some emulsions are being dropped soon. Supposedly ad agencies were using all the 4x5 and the bottom fell out of this with digital and scanning backs... So, sheet film may have a very shaky future from what I hear. The best thing that can happen is, these big companies sell the divisions off to smaller companies, who would appreciate the remaining sales volume.

Another big indicator of sheet film usage is drum scanning supplies. A drum scanning service, which repaired drums, end caps, polished drums, sold drum mounting / cleaning supplies, etc. In 1999 they employed 18 full time people.... today, the owner spends a few days a week part time to handle the little work drizzling in.... no one is scanning sheet film anymore, otherwise his business would reflect such. The bottom fell out of the film market faster then anyone thought. This is mainly in the USA, other parts of the world are moving slower. Regardless, this is an issue, that will remain on the table forever.... I can't imagine ever gaining certainity. The biggest downside is, the color film producers are so big, that one day, film will be nothing more then a nuissance to them, a money loser....and quite often, they don't sell off divisions, they simply close them......

Next, one has to worry about labs that continue to process films....if some of the big film makers drop film, more photogs see the writing on the wall, go digital and now even less volume for film processors. Then, the makers of the chemicals will find that division not profitable and possibly drop that product line as well. It's a vicious cycle that feeds on its own demise. I love film, but I am also a realist.