Understanding Fuji’not’Film

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Last year, Fujifilm announced the discontinuation of Acros 100 in 4×5 and other various emulsions. Japan Camera Hunter, Bellamy Hunt, predicted things are looking grim for the film many people love. It looks like he may have been right.

Today, rumors are flooding out of Japan that Fujifilm Acros 100 in 120 and 35mm are on the chopping block with a hard discontinuation in October, 2018. Sources from various Japanese photography/camera bloggers are reporting this news. Tokyo Camera Style relayed the news to it’s large follower base on Instagram. At the time of this post, an official announcement from Fujifilm will be made sometime in April, 2018.

Neopan Acros 100
South Carolina Plantation – Neopan Acros 100, 120, 6×7 – © Bill Manning

When we relayed the news on our Instagram story, we received some ‘chromatic’ language about  #Fuji’not’Film. While, we share a similar sentiment with the film community, we ask: “There has to be a reason to Fujifilm’s insanity, right?” Well, there is.

FineGrain, (translated from Spanish to English) blogged a response to the AGFA Vista 200 discontinuation in early March. It explains why Fujifilm is killing off these beloved emulsions. And the reason is quite simple. Fujifilm got out of the film game way  before the film resurgence.

In the previous decade, film sales took a severe nose dive with a seemingly inevitable crash and burn at the end. Any sensible business owner knows, you have to kill the products that are draining your profits. Fujifilm made the hard decision to make one last big batch of film emulsions, deep freeze it to last many years, and tear down the machinery. Theories believe this took place sometime in 2012. Fujifilm then focused their efforts on other camera products, such as their wildly successful ‘X Series’ cameras and the Instax line.

FujiFilm Velvia 50 - © Bill Manning
Daffodil – Velvia 50, 120 medium format, © Bill Manning

Revealed in the Kodakery Ektachrome episode, Kodak film machines, once producing millions of rolls of film, were torn apart because it was far too costly to make film in smaller batches. With the resurgence, Kodak and Kodak Alaris are kicking up production and bringing back emulsions, like Ektachrome and TMAX P3200,

We now know Fujifilm’s reason. However, something happened that Fujifilm did not expect: the film resurgence. In the past few years, a sharp inclined interest in ‘analog’ occurred. The consumption of film was back on the rise. Something that photography business owners did not expect. The demand for film increased and companies like Kodak were seeing increased revenue in the photo chemicals department again. Production started to ramp back up.

Velvia 100 - © Bill Manning
Grand Tetons – Velvia 100, 4×5 Large Format, © Bill Manning

Unfortunately, Fujifilm is unable to partake in resuming production. Why? Because they ripped out their machinery and began to dip into their long-term deep freeze inventory. However, the increased demand caused Fujifilm to deplete its inventory significantly faster than it has anticipated. This results in announcing discontinuations nearly at a scheduled rate.

It is incredibly frustrating to hear another great Fujifilm emulsion killed off. However, at the rate we are shooting film again, expect more disappointing announcements coming from Fujifilm.  However, understand that it is not because they “F$*^ing hate film shooters.” It was a legitimate business decision made years before the film renaissance occurred. There is only a finite inventory of Fujifilm emulsions. We don’t know how little is left. It’s only a matter of time until it’s all gone.

In a way, I feel bad for Fujifilm and all we can do is enjoy the emulsions they can provide us now.