View Full Version : Future of BW chemicals and paper

Bob Phipps
18-Jan-2006, 08:07
I'm exploring getting back into printing my own BW negs. {20 yrs no space available} I wonder with the threads I have seen, what the future of paper and chemicals is going to be over the next 5 years? Serious replies here please.

Any specific ideas as to who is producing BW paper and chemicals since Kodak has turned its back on film photographers?

With Nikon out the door as well next month, what value will my F3, F100, F5 be? Is medium format and my Bronica ETRSi far behind. I know the limits now on film for my Toyo 45CF.

American fought a war over taxation without representation, so when are we going to fight for film?


Steve H
18-Jan-2006, 08:41
Hrmm. 8 Topics started all for the same subject in the last 72 hours. I think that instead of worrying about it, we shoud enjoy it (gasp) while we can. You figure for 8 new topics, with replies, consumed at least 10 man/hours. That's a whole day of shooting for me =). Besides, IF the day ever does come where there's nothing left, what are you going to do...Give up the art ? Perhaps this is why the Alt. Processes are gaining in popularity, because individuals are prepping themselfs if the day does come when one has to coat their own films/papers, etc
Im not looking to be a flamer/smartass/etc., just trying to tell people not to worry about things so much, and just go out and do what you love.


John Kasaian
18-Jan-2006, 08:56

There are several manufacturers of great paper and chemicals for you to explore, so don't worry.

What you will find is that unless you're in a large city(sometimes a very large city) you'll be ordering your supplies through the mail or internet rather than a local merchant. Once again, don't worry since ther are quite a few very reputable outfits supplying merchandise (as you well know since you are shooting 4x5)

You can also coat your own paper and mix your own chemicals if you want, so once again, don't worry!

The statement by Kodak's CEO raises my hackles, but "Old Yeller" isn't the only game in B&W town and hasn't been for quite awhile.

As for your Nikon cameras, everybody knows Nikons take the best photos with Kodachrome---Paul Simon told us so---and when Kodak took our Kodachrome away that parallel universe fell into chaos ;-)

Donald Brewster
18-Jan-2006, 09:17
It will outlive us all -- granted there might not be as many choices in the future. You can still buy carbon paper, for goodness sake. Get out and shoot.

clay harmon
18-Jan-2006, 09:22
I have been thinking about this issue some. At first I thought it was nonsense. 'Film is dead!' Hah!

But then it occurred to me that I keep all my film in the refrigerator or freezer - just like all the other dead stuff in my house. Maybe these posters are onto something!

Ralph Barker
18-Jan-2006, 09:48
Buy more (Ilford, etc.) and worry less. ;-)

ronald moravec
18-Jan-2006, 09:54
Don`t fight for film. Buy it from some who wants the business. If they make a profit, they will keep making it.

Now it is Kodaks business plan to exit analog photography so that is NOT the place to spend your money. They are getting out reguardless and will go broke trying to keep up with all the digital foreign competition.

Don Wallace
18-Jan-2006, 10:12
A cottage industry of materials is already growing as the larger firms either disappear or become less interested. Relax.

I would worry if I were a professional who wanted to remain with traditional materials but was being pressed by the modern work flow and increasing demands for faster turnaround. I would simply get a digital camera. But most people in large format have a different motivation and thus I think there will always be a demand for materials. This is not wishful thinking, but basic market economics.

In addition, older processes are becoming more and more popular for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is their intrinsic beauty. There was a WORLD of photography BEFORE the modern major firms, before modern silver gelatin paper, etc. Many of these processes completely disappeared before their relatively recent revival. It is not as if the large firms dropped them because of digital. They were, quite literally, ancient photographic history. Twenty years ago, you would have been regarded as quite odd if you were looking for POP paper, materials for platinum printing, and so on. Not any more.

If you are concerned about the availibility of chemistry, buy the famous Darkroom Cookbook and brew your own. There is an interesting parallel here with the actual brewing industry. By the 1960s, virtually all of the small breweries had disappeared and most people drank beer from the majors. This was true in the US, Canada, and Britain. It was in the 1970s, I think, that the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) began in Britian. It was a driving force in awakening people to the taste of non-factory made beer. There were similar demands in both Canada and the US. Most people STILL drink mediocre beer from the "majors," but now, there are micro breweries everywhere, many of which make outstanding beer for discriminating tastes. The same is happening in the photographic industry - lots of small firms answering the needs of small markets. A word of caution: don't mix the two. Don't develop paper with beer and don't drink a glass of fixer with dinner.

18-Jan-2006, 10:48
You have plenty of options for the next 5 years, so get that darkroom up and running. I wouldnt rely on Kodak too much though, it just seems like an ever worsening risk. I am still using HC-110 and will continue to do so but I'm ready to drop it in a second if they do. I wont risk getting attached to their films though.

Ron Marshall
18-Jan-2006, 10:58
As long as there is a consumer demand film will be manufactured. Smaller production runs will increase costs somewhat so prices will be higher, but not substantially.

Pete Watkins
18-Jan-2006, 11:03
I'm in the U.K. where we get far less choice of film than you get in The States. I cope. Mixing your own chemicals is not hard and many of the chemicals have other uses outside photography so I doubt if there's going to be a shortage in the forseable future. I have 5 x 4 glass plate holders ready to load with plates that I have coated myself if I ever need to. I don't believe that I will ever need to but the things were dirt cheap anyway. Stop worrying.

Chris Pandino
18-Jan-2006, 11:03
"Don`t fight for film. Buy it from some who wants the business. If they make a profit, they will keep making it. "

I agree with Ron. We collectively decide the future availability of film by choosing to buy or not buy. We put an end to Nikon's LF and EL lens businesses by buying used lenses instead of new. We will also decide the future of film.

Film production is a profitable, but low margin business. The margin is a function, in part, of volume. Film will be around as long as we keep buying it. The question is how many will be buying it and how much will it cost?

I'll be buying it until I croak...

Pat Kearns
18-Jan-2006, 12:00
Bob, Kodak has turned it's back on you, Bronica is out of business, and Nikon will soon leave the building. If you are worried about the value of your cameras then I will save you the headache. Your cameras have no value so box them up nicely and mail them to me. I will give them a nice home where they will get out and see America with me. So until then jump onto the "Film is Dead Ship" with the rest of us and get out there and use them. Happy shooting.

Mike Allison
19-Jan-2006, 00:01
I think it was prohibition that killed the expertise of the ale masters in America. It all went down to pilsners and laagers...

I agree that there may be that huge niche market that is viable to the cottage industries and to developing (no pun) nations. Just as the big manufacturers might get out for the money, the little guys will get in it for the money.

I wouldnt mind someone making my supplies for the love of making a good product.

If it all goes away, we'll make our own and enough to share... just like we do with our home made beer.