It didn’t seem like there was much to cheer for film photographers in 2021. Supply chain issues, global film shortages, and price rises led to a wave of discontent among film photographers, leading many to cry into their soy lattes and burn their berets.
But over the last few months, the sun has started to shine through the clouds with announcement after announcement gladdening the hearts of film photographers and emptying out our wallets. In this article, I’m ranking eight of the recent new film announcements.
8. Kosmo Foto Agent Shadow
Collecting the wooden spoon in 8th place is Kosmo Foto’s Agent Shadow. Things looked so bright for our secret agent friend following a successful Kickstarter campaign in August 2021. The film community was excited to get their hands on the beautifully designed film box, and rewards, which included a graphic novel, a briefcase, and even working Soviet film cameras.
Like Kosmo Foto’s first film Mono, this is not a new film, but an existing film rebranded with new packaging. Unfortunately, the production of the film was delayed several times. Perhaps Agent Shadow was caught behind enemy lines while on a secret mission?
In Kickstarter updates, Kosmo Foto’s founder Stephen Dowling clearly identified the delays were from the manufacturer. Industry rumours suggest this film could be Harman Technology’s Kentmere 400, but the identity of the film is officially unknown. Harman is also the manufacturer of Ilford film lines.
Although I’ve put Agent Shadow in last place, there are some positives. Agent Shadow is now beginning to make its way out into the world, with film being dispatched over the last couple of weeks. And it must be said, Kosmo Foto has the coolest branding and packaging in the film community. Who wouldn’t want a box of this on their shelf?
7. Kodak Gold 200 in 120 format
In what could be a controversial move, I’ve put Kodak Gold in 120 format in 7th place. Kodak Gold 200 is not a new film stock, and it’s not even new to the 120 format, but we welcome it back with open arms after a 25-year hiatus.
A lot of people have been asking for Gold 200 in 120 format, so this is a positive sign that Kodak is listening to consumers. I’ve enjoyed seeing how happy photographers are to finally buy and shoot this, and the images posted to social media look fantastic.
I’m happy that Gold has been made available in 120 format. However, the downside is the lack of supply of Kodak’s consumer line: Gold 200 and Ultramax 400 in 35mm. Many stores have had a limited supply for well over a year.
It’s been said that due to pandemic supply chain shortages, Kodak prioritized the production of the professional Portra film over those lines. If you look carefully at the Gold 120 pro pack, what do you see? The word "professional" right there on the box. So, it’s great they’ve brought Gold 200 to 120, but it’s seem to come at a cost of other consumer films not being available.
Added to this mix is the crazy situation where Fujifilm is selling 200 speed film in North America, which, by all reports, has an identical data sheet to Kodak Gold 200.
6. Orwo Wolfen NP100
The last decade has not been great for the European film industry, but with some key developments in Germany recently, hopefully things are on the up.
In late April 2022, Orwo announced a new black and white film, WOLFEN NP100. The company describes the film as “an exceptionally fine grain 100 ASA, 36 exposure, black and white photographic film.” It’s being made in a strictly limited run of 36,000 DX-coded canisters.
It’s the first brand new and professionally finished photo film launched by Orwo in decades. The film is still produced on the original site in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, north of Leipzig, where film manufacturing started in 1910.
Orwo say that Wolfen NP100 differs from its stablemate Wolfen UN54 because it has an additional dyed anti-halation layer which improves sharpness. This layer is positioned between the base material and the emulsion layer and has the task of preventing the formation of a reflection halo. Wolfen UN54 has been sold by Lomography under the Potsdam name.
Along with this announcement, Orwo has launched a new online shop selling their films directly to the public. Some of these films have previously only been available to consumers in bulk rolls, while others have been available in single rolls for under other names such as Lomography.
5. Orwo Color NC 500
In fifth place, I’ve put a very exciting announcement from Orwo, a new color cinema film. This returns the German manufacturer to color film production for the first time in around 50 years.
Orwo teased a new colour film in late 2021, but many assumed it would be a motion picture stock with remjet that would need to be processed in the ECN-2 process. This is not as accessible a product for many film photographers, as most labs do not process film with remjet.
Orwo went and surprised us, though: the newly announced NC500 is a color cinema film for C41 processing. They say that at the core of our new color film lies a unique chemical formula based on the wonderful and legendary Agfa stock last used in the Oscar-winning film "Out of Africa." They go on to say: “Famous for their greens, desaturated shadows and enhanced grains, these are all aspects that we are embracing for our new addition.”
As with Wolfen NP100, this is a limited edition run, which is kind of puzzling. One theory is that during their research and development, they made a viable product that they are now releasing, and future films will be improved and refined.
Preorders launched on June 1, 2022 with NC500 going on sale at 14.90 Euros a roll. Shipping is expected to begin in July 2022.
4. Japan Camera Hunter FuguFilm
Hot on the heels of the Gold 120 and Cinestill announcements, Japan Camera Hunter got in on the act to announce their new ISO 400 color slide film called FuguFilm.
Fugu is, of course, Japanese for pufferfish, the consumption of which can be lethal to humans if not prepared correctly. In an article on their website, JCH explained the name started as a joke during a conversation about a Simpsons episode where Homer eats a fugu in Japan. The film branding looks bright, fun, and dare I say, a little garish.
When this product was teased online, there wasn’t much detail, which led many people to assume this was some long-forgotten freezer stock that would be rebadged under the JCH brand.
A few days later, they came out and said that Fugu was an entirely new emulsion that had been in the works for three years. Not only that, it would be the first new color slide film in around a quarter of a century, since Fujifilm launched Fortia.
To bring a new color slide film to market without any crowdfunding is quite a feat. We all know that there were big delays between Kodak announcing the return of Ektachrome and when it actually hit the shelves. Added in the mix is the banning of certain chemicals used in the production and processing of slide films. Bringing a new 400 speed color slide film to market is truly impressive.
3. Lomography LomoChrome Turquoise
If you’d asked me at the start of this year which film announcement I was looking forward to most, it would’ve been this one.
Lomography Turquoise was a popular color shift film that was first released in 2015. The film transforms everyday colors into shades of deep emerald, cobalt, and cyan, while tints of blue fade into gorgeous golden gradients.
Since it was discontinued in 2017, rolls have changed hands on eBay for ridiculous sums of money. If you were sitting on a few rolls waiting to make a killing, you might have missed your chance.
Lomography announced the return of Turquoise in November 2021 and wasted no time opening up preorders in three formats: 35mm, 120, and 110. This time around, it’s a brand new formula for turquoise, so it will be interesting to see if there're any differences to the old version. Customers who got in last November should have their film shipped in June 2022.
The full name of the film is LomoChrome Turquoise XR 100-400. Like Lomography’s Purple film, Turquoise is a variable ISO film; you can rate it anywhere from ISO 100 to ISO 400 for different results. In the second half of 2022, I’m running a Turquoise film competition and community zine via my podcast Matt Loves Cameras.
2. CineStill 400D
It was tough deciding who to put in second and first place, but after much deliberation, I’ve put CineStill 400D in second place. Through their successful preorder campaign, CineStill has confirmed they are making 400D in 35mm, 120, large format, and hopefully also 220.
Cinestill says that 400D is a new film they have been developing for years with their manufacturing partners around the world. In the FAQ on their website, CineStill says that it is not a repackaged motion picture stock without remjet, but it was specifically designed for still photography. “This new film is based on advanced technology found in motion picture emulsions, and at the same time delivers features exclusive to still photography materials in both unexposed and processed states.”
As for the term "dynamic" in the title, CineStill claims that 400D has “pretty amazing exposure latitude.” It can be exposed at EI 200 to EI 800 with normal processing and push-processed up to EI 3200. On the canister, there are little checkboxes for you to label how many stops you’ve pushed the film: 1 stop, 2 stops, or 3 stops. That’s right, this film is practically begging for you to push it.
When this film was announced, I ordered 20 rolls straight away. Much to my delight, my order arrived from California in late May, and I’ve shot two rolls already.
I shot my first roll in my Fujfilm Klasse S at box speed. I loved the images from this roll; the film seems to have a soft palette of colours compared to other color negative films on the market. Many images on the roll featured subtle and not-so subtle halation.
Some photographers have commented on my images to say that 400D has a similar to Kodak Vision3 250D.
The second roll I’ve shot was my favorite. I put an ISO 1600 sticker on it and shot it through my Fujifilm Natura Black f/1.9. I asked my lab to push it two stops, and the results look fantastic. I’m looking forward to shooting more. Perhaps this will become my favorite film by the end of 2022.
1) Adox Color Mission 200
In first place is the impressive Adox Color Mission 200. This was yet another surprise announcement: a new color film coated by one of Adox’s partners before they went bankrupt. The film has been kept in cold storage until its release in March 2022.
Adox are selling this film to fund research and development of a brand new color film in a few years' time. They claimed to have enough Color Mission until that new film was produced, but that was before everyone went completely bonkers and bought up the first batch, so who knows how long it will last.
What made me give this the number one spot was the rich vibrant colours you can capture: minty greens, orangey reds, shades of blue and deep rich oranges. The film doesn’t have huge dynamic range, so it is interesting to compare with Cinestill 400D.
I love the four rolls of Color Mission I've shot so far, and I'm looking forward to shooting more. My first two rolls were shot on Contax G1 cameras and my second two rolls were shot on premium point and shoot cameras. Often, the highlights are a little bright, with some images looking like cross-processed slide film.
So what did you think of how I rated the new film announcements? Have you shot any of these films yet? I’d love to know your thoughts below.