As I sit munching the last of the mince pies and watching Bond on the telly (Spectre – not bad if a tad formulistic), it is the traditional time to start to reflect on 2017. A year that has seen both and highs and lows for film shooters.
So where to begin ?
Sad farewell of 2017 – Poundland film
For us in the UK film for a quid on the high streets has been a feature of life for well over a decade thanks to Poundland. How they’ve managed has been a miracle despite rising costs. However the game ran out this summer. Whether inflation or the fall in the pound was the culprit, we’ll never know for sure but sadly. The staple of the last few years has been AVP200 (or briefly in AV200 guise as pictured) film based on fujifilm C200. Both C200 and AVP live on by other sellers but no more film for a quid for us plucky Brits.
That said the 24 exp £1 rolls could actually work out more expensive once you added in processing cost. Still it’s a shame to see Poundland leave the market but Kudos for trying to keep us in cheap film
Hero of the UK High Street – Boots
With the demise of Poundland selling film there really is only one mainstream retailer that can be found in almost every small or bigger town that stocks film at the bulk of its branches (and if they don’t you can order to store). That retailer is Boots and they have committed to keep film alive. Not the cheapest except when they have offers like the current buy one get one half price. However if you wanna keep film on the high street pop in now and again to buy a roll.
Everyone’s been talking about – Film Ferrania (again)
2017 has been another weird year where one company comes up time and again but this time for both good and bad reasons. On the downside the it looks increasing like the intended production of Scotch Chrome like slide film is becoming Film’s equivalent of vapourware. Ferrania’s last update to Kickstarter backer almost 4 months ago suggests folk might be waiting for a very long time on that front. That said the company managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat this year….
P30 alpha arrived out of the blue. In part of their efforts to get things up and running they created a B&W emulsion for testing based on the old P30 B&W film. Given funding was limited they decided to switch into production of small batches of essentially a film in development (no pun intended). Demand was pretty good and it is rumoured to be back on sale. Nice film IMHO.
Meanwhile those clever marketing bunnies and Lomography launched another Ferrania film with F2/400. Essential some of the last production run of Ferrania Solaris FG+ 400, this made some buzz and commanded a premium prices for essential a slightly expired budget film. That said not bad film choice (shoot at 200 ISO IMHO), although I still prefer FG+ 200.
Surprise Of the Year (1) – New SLRs !
We’ve been used to the likes of Lomography producing new cameras and the odd Instax based output from other makes like Fujifilm. Serious Higher end cameras in development have been in short supply. The only folk selling new high spec film SLR are Nikon
This year brought 2 new potential new SLR a step closer to market. Plucky upstarts Reflex succeeded in getting enough funding to be greenlighted by Kickstarter. This offered new modular concept SLR body with both interchangeable film backs and more importantly a changeable lens mount plate.
Sadly the second offering failed in it’s efforts to get crowd funded. However the Ihagee Elbaflex may still arrive. A thing of beauty designed and built by a partnership between the German team from the old Ihagee factory (aka home of the legendary Exakta) and the folks at the Arsenal Factory in Kiev. The camera was based on the Kiev 19M but updated and featured a Nikon F mount. The group have had some success in launching high end lenses so hopefully not the last we’ll see of this
2017 another Year of the unstoppable march on instant camera
Instant cameras show no sign of losing their popularity with everyone from Leica to Lomography getting in on the act. There have been a slew of new Fujifilm instax film cameras and formats launched this year. Perhaps quirkiest is this kickstarter Newcomer Jollylook promising retro cardboard fun when it ships early next year.
But it wasn’t all about Instax…..
Surprise of the Year (2) – Polaroid is back !
This is more than just rebranding. Impossible Project were very much the saviour of Polaroid enthusiasts. They bought out the film production gear when Polaroid stopped production in 2008. As well as film, they’ve CLA’d classic polaroids. And last year gave us the first new Polaroid format camera, the Impossible I-1.
This year they’ve not only acquired the brand and intelluctal property rights to Polaroid (trading as Polaroid Originals). They’ve also given us a fantastically new camera that shows polaroid history with the Polaroid OneStep 2. This is essentially a reworked OneStep geared for the 21st Century. This has been keenly marked pricewise against the instax crowd.
WTF ? moment of 2017 – Yashica DigiFilm
Many of us got a bit excited when teaser trailers for a new Yashica product arrive. Cue neatly lit shady scenes and a young lady wandering around with what looks like a smaller Yashica Electro 35. In case you didn’t know, Yashica was one of those Japanese camera makers with Mythic status. It made Iconic cameras like the the Electro and a host of still sought after TLRs. Although taken over by Kyocera in 1983, the name lived on until 2005 when Kyocera pulled out of camera production.
So what’s this then. Well in 2008 Kyocera sold the Yashica name to HK based MF Jebsen group. A series of digicams and camcorders were produced (some appear low end Haking rebrands). This company is now trying to launch this new camera with retrostyling. It is digital camera with a USP – DigiFilm. These are little packs shaped a bit like a APX cartridge that you insert and they somehow apply a film filter effect.
So what’s certain is there is no film or old skool Yashica know how involved here. Cyrus Arthur wasn’t too impressed on his vlog and feels this is likely duff but I suspect a wee bit has been lost in communication. What do you think ? Certainly one of the more off the wall concepts of 2017
Personal Film Hero of 2017 – Roger Lean (again !)
Another year another dropped LC-A ! As ever the fantastic Mr Lean of Russian Camera repairs stepped into the breach. For those in the UK and in the know Roger is not just a fantastic repairer of Lomo LC-A. He also does some Zenits and Russian rangefinders & charges really good prices. He also probably the nicest person you’ll ever speak to down the phone. And you’ll need to phone him as Roger doesn’t (at least publically) do online. I’m not one for putting individuals details on line but follow the links on this lomography magazine articles to find out more.
Best Test On Camera 2017
I’ve not been as active on test this year but there’s a couple of cameras worthy of a mention.
The obvious one is the Olympus XA rangefinder I snagged for a few quid at a car boot. A mighty mouse of ultracompact and one that really didn’t disappoint. It is of course one of the all time classic compacts although you’d usually be looking at £50+ for one.
However an odd surprise came in a much simpler form. Fixed focus and mainly plastic the Hanimex 35SE was probably made by Haking and is a dead ringer for the Halina Flash 350
All that said it took pretty good shots and had a screw in filter option. A pleasant basic find.
Happy New year to you all