Pondering the Future of Film

The big news earlier this summer was Fuji’s decision to stop producing Velvia 50 in 4×5 and 8×10. This was a major blow to most large format color landscape photographers.

I use far more color negative film than I do slide film these days — so the announcement didn’t strike close to home.

With Kodak’s plan to sell their film division — I’m now wondering about the future of my beloved color negative film.

I’ve recently taken a liking to Kodak Portra 160 for landscape on large format. It’s a very forgiving film (unlike Velvia), and the broad exposure latitude allows generous artistic interpretation of the negative.

What if Kodak color negative film goes the way of Fuji Velvia?

Well, there’s always black and white.

15 Responses to “Pondering the Future of Film”

  1. dougdolde Says:

    Yea b&w and don’t forget the Sigma DP2 Merrill !

    • Ben Horne Says:

      I know I’ll buy another digital at some point — and I’m pretty sure it’ll be a Canon (they have a couple lenses I really enjoy), but the thought of 3k for a camera, and 2k per lens is a big investment to someone who isn’t already sitting on a pile of glass.

      I enjoy the flexibility with digital, but I fear I’ll be lazy with it, and fall back onto bad habits of the past. Shooting 8×10 forces me to go that extra mile, and do what I have to for a shot.

  2. giorgio Says:

    Are bad days Ben
    Congratulations for your wonderful work.

    • Ben Horne Says:

      It’s a shame I can’t find any Fuji Velvia 50 8×10 in stock anywhere, but it does give me an incentive to give B&W a shot alongside color neg film. I’ve always wanted an excuse to do that, so this is my opportunity.

  3. Gilles Grethen Says:

    Let’s hope that the the Kodak film division is falling into enthusiastic hands.

    Greetings, Gilles

  4. Leo Says:

    I came to the same conclusion. And IF B+W went away, then, there is always digital. The point of doing all this isn’t to “use film”, it is to produce images I want to make, and once I am able to do that, then I’ll be happy. Film is just my preferred workflow.

    • Ben Horne Says:

      I know I will be forced back into digital at some point, and I’m sure I will learn a lot from my experience working with film — but I hope that day is very far away.

      I fear I will become a bit lazy with digital, and fall back on bad habits of the past. I love that film forces me to think a certain way, and work extra hard to get the shot I’m truly after.

  5. Michael Says:

    A freezer and some cash and one could be al lset for life!

    • Ben Horne Says:

      I’m about to do another big order of Kodak film, and throw it in the freezer. Perhaps I should invest in a bomb shelter. 🙂

  6. T. Brendan Mathers Says:

    Hey Ben. Came across your YouTube channel by chance and have really enjoyed all the videos. Would love to get to those locations one day. Congrats on your wedding. I’m guessing the Angels Landing Lady is your Bride and not some random girl you’re stalking. 😉

    Questions: (sorry if they are answered anywhere in your blog)

    Why did you choose the Ebony view camera versus any other?

    Which 617 do you use? I understand that the Fuji has models with and without interchangeable lenses?

    What are you using for sound recording in your video? What mic’s are you using in the field? And in your home recording set-up?

    And to LEO; Just a personal preference but don’t you think that there is something special about film? I get that the end product is important but isn’t that missing the travel just to get to the destination? Truth is my 11yo daughter knows much more about Photoshop than I do but do you find the digital manipulation as satisfying as working is a traditional darkroom?

    Thanks again Ben and please keep the videos coming.

    Montréal, Canada

    • Ben Horne Says:

      Thanks for the kind words Brendan. That is indeed Lyuba in the Angels Landing video. She’s quite the trooper, and hikes faster than I do!

      I ended up with the Ebony camera because that is what I could find used at the time. I narrowed it down to either an Ebony or a KB Canham camera, and I happened to find an ad for a used Ebony RW810 camera on Large Format Forum. It’s a fantastic camera — light, sturdy, and well made. I have no complaints really.

      My 6×17 is the Fuji GX617. It’s the one with interchangeable lenses, and the ability to use a ground-glass back. I love shooting with that camera.

      In the field I use a Sennheiser MKE-400 with a rycote deadcat. Lately, I’ve been trying to improve the wind performance, so I’ve experimented with wrapping the rear of the mic in foam. It improved things on my latest trip, but there is still room for improvement. I’m now thinking I should encase the entire mic (front and back) in a deadcat. We’ll see — it’s an ongoing learning experience.

      For the Gear Guide videos, and voice over work, I use a Zoom H2N recorder. It works very well, and has good sound!

  7. A. Mills Says:

    I just discovered your video journals and I have to say this — while your photography is clearly outstanding, your process of getting there and expert improvised videography makes it ten times more impressive. I stumbled upon your journal when we were researching a trip to Zion and it’s all I can do to tear myself away from your youtube channel. I appreciate the combination of beautiful video, photographic insights (everything I know about large format, I learned from you) and adventurism. I hope you keep it up, whatever kind of film you end up having to use!

  8. Georg Says:

    have you tried this?

    god luck

  9. Gary Thursby Says:

    You know Ben, from what I hear slide film is much more expensive to produce than color negative. So color neg may just hang in there and not go out of production. Curiously, black and white film sales are still pretty good! Funny how the oldest technology of film has been the hardest area for digital to replace.

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