Pretty awesome. Initially looking at the headlines, I wondered who made the film, what emulsion he was using, etc, if it was going to be a standard Lomography MO of repackaging expired film under their own brand (though they have started ordering special runs from film manufacturers in the last few years). Bellamy has an excellent reputation for quality and transparency, and I needn’t have worried. Even looking right at the film box, it reads quite clearly at the bottom, “Made in Belgium,” which of course means it was made by AGFA-Gevaert. In fact, he gives plenty of details about the film: evidently the emulsion is a discontinued AGFA traffic surveillance film. It’s an ASA400 black & white film with near-infrared sensitivity, costs about $8.75 per roll (sold in packs of 10). Look at the shots on the announcement above, buy some film here. Having just dropped money on the Cinestill campaign, I don’t have the money to support this at the moment, but I’d encourage everyone reading this to help out if you can.
In other news, I missed the announcement, but Bergger (better known as a paper manufacturer) has brought out a new ASA400 black & white film in large format 4×5, 5×7, and 8×10 quite recently.
All this new film coming out makes me a bit giddy, but I can see the upside and downside of this. The first thing I wonder about is why we need another 400-speed black & white film, with versions from Kodak, Ilford (and Kentmere), Rollei/AGFA, Foma, plus Bergger already (which I believe is ORWO motion picture film?) so does the JCH film really offer anything new? At least Bergger is making film in large format sheets, that’s a market that isn’t already saturated. It seems like we could really use more specialty films, for lack of a better word. Speed-wise at least, something around 1600, or 25-50. There aren’t many offerings on the really fast and slow sides of the spectrum.
Sadly, we’re not likely to see many films like that nowadays, because the demand isn’t high enough. I was getting into film just about the same time that T-Max 3200 and Neopan 1600 were going away, and even today the fastest color film is 800. I don’t think Kodak or anyone else is investing capital into film technology R&D, so all “new” film from 2010 forward is likely to be emulsions that were discontinued years ago. It would be awesome in the future to be able to shoot near-grainless native speed 3200-6400 film, what we’re more likely to see is companies digging into their back catalogs, making film photography more like traveling back to the past. This is what JCH is, and also Ferrania. I really hope we will see truly new film technology above and beyond Ektar 100 and Portra 400 someday, but for now, I’m happy that at least something new is coming out.