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Friday, July 21, 2006

Fuji to Discontinue Bulk B&W 35mm

by Dirk Rösler
Remember the saying "film is cheap"? Those days are gone—or at least going. Fuji has announced the end of production for Neopan black and white films in 100-f00t (30.5 meter) bulk roll format, scheduled for March 2007. The films will continue to be available in pre-loaded cassettes, and of course other formats like 120 and sheet. Still, the symbolism of bulk rolls disappearing seems a big deal. As a seasoned photographer with relatively low consumption I may not care paying double the price for a roll. Bulk loading has always been the realm of artists and students looking to save money and maintain shooting extensively. This option, in Japan at least, will disappear. Will future photography students bother to explore film when the cost of a roll of 35mm black and white film may approach $10?

Contrary to the raging debates involving the phrase "film is dead" in the past years in various photography web forums, film will not disappear—not completely, anyway. Film will always be there, but at a sacrifice: higher cost, less variety and choice, probably lower quality, and less reliable ongoing supply of your favourite film/developer combination. In the most extreme case, think about film being put on permanent life support, kept alive only because a generation of photographers do not want to let it fade away. Time will pass and a new generation of image makers will come, wonder why, and perhaps finally pull the plug.

Posted by: DIRK RÖSLER

Featured Comment by Mark: "I didn't even know that B&W Fuji film was available in bulk rolls. I'm a bulk user of Ilford, anyway."


Blogger matt~ said...

I quit bulk loading film about the same time I started using a decent scanner; scratches that I never noticed on an enlarger seemed to be unavoidable with a bulk loader. I wonder how many other previous users of bulk loading had similiar experiences.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Bsivad said...

The "film is dead" argument is interesting in light of the item below this one, about a device to disable digital cameras. If nothing else, perhaps film will live on for espionage!

8:57 AM  
Blogger Roy said...

It's many years since I bulk-loaded film, but when I did I soon discovered that no bulk loader did the job well. Being blessed with an arm-span of almost exactly 36 exposures, I used to load everything manually.

It's a shame to see the bulk lengths disappearing. One would think that production of these must be a lot cheaper than cassettes and when only the diehard enthusiasts (of which I guess I'm one) will be using film anyway, they are more likely to sell.

9:19 AM  
Blogger stanco said...

Then again- it's a new generation that may just cause the resurgence of film...

10:25 AM  
Blogger William said...

I quit using bulk loading when i left school back in the 70's but I did capitulate and buy four rolls of Agfa 100 earlier this year.
"Only the paranoid survive" - Andy Grove. LOL

BTW, according to the American Institute of Economic Research calculator, an item that is priced at $10 in 2006 would have cost $1.93 in 1970, so it seems a $10 roll of film is not out of line nowdays. We always whine about prices going up but never a mention about ones income increasing at the same time.

10:51 AM  
Blogger David A. Goldfarb said...

I used to purchase Provia 35mm in bulk rolls until the price per roll for bulk rolling became comparable to the price for normal rolls from B&H if you bought 20 36 exp. rolls at a time. I'm not sure why this was the case when most other brands of film are about 50% cheaper in bulk, but for whatever reason, there was no economy in bulk rolling Provia, and I wonder if this may have been the case with other Fuji films.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

A condensor enlarger convinced me to quit bulk loading. Scratches would appear no matter how careful I was. I'm not sure the savings were all that great given the amount of work necessary to keept the scratches to a minimum.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I didn't even know that the b&w Fuji film was available in bulk rolls. I'm a bulk user of Ilford, anyway.

8:41 AM  

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