I came of photographic age at the very end of the analogue era. Sadly, this was during the Great Emulsional Purge that began in the mid-2000s.
When I started shooting film, you could easily pick up a MJU-II for less than a pineapple (that’s $50) or—in the era before the Hemsworths were given passports—grab a Contax T2 for a couple of Nellie Melbas (don’t act like you don’t talk about our Dollarydoos like this). Even back in those days, buying one was considered Russian roulette: one day it’d be working, the next, the electronics would completely die and the camera would be a very lovely paperweight. But hey, “influencers”.
My first real job was at Ted’s Cameras and we stocked FOUR different consumer slide films (Sensia 100, 200 and 400; Kodak Elite Chrome) and Kodak Portra came not only in different speeds, but in different saturations (my kingdom for 160NC and 400VC).
I shot quite a bit of slide film in those early days, taking it as a challenge to get the exposure just so. I shot pretty much all of them, though ended up gravitating towards Fujifilm Provia 100F and Ektachrome E100G as my go-to slide films.
So when Kodak began discontinuing their reversal films in 2009, I assumed that would be the end not only for Kodak’s slide films but for Kodak itself. Young, foolish, naive Richard wasn’t worried too much, though, because he’d always have Fujichrome Sensia (RIP December 2010).
So, in 2017, it was with some bemusement I noted Kodak Alaris’s announcement that they would reboot Ektachrome 100 for a new era. While I welcomed the news, I didn’t think it was the best use of their resources. Reversal film was and is a finicky, niche medium that was becoming more difficult and expensive to process.
I was even somewhat doubtful that the new Ektachrome would make it into production given the v a p o r w a r e nature of new film products (Ferrania Chrome anyone?).
But the re-launch of Ektachrome has been, by all accounts, a roaring success. So much so, that Kodak Alaris announced 120 and sheet film formats of Ektachrome would soon follow.
Soon is now and today I received my first pro pack of Ektachrome 100 in 120 and I’ve gotta say, I’m very excited. Fujifilm’s relentless discontinuation of film stocks had made me worry for the future of reversal film, resulting in a panic-buy of Velvia and Provia to see me through the next few years. Thankfully Ektachrome’s success has allayed those fears somewhat.
But as I noted when the new Ektachrome was announced, support for processing E6 film is just as important as new film itself. Without a reliable supply of E6 chemicals, there’s zero point in buying and shooting new film — it’d be like buying a car when there’s no fuel. Fortunately, Kodak Alaris seem to be on the case and are looking to bring new chemistry to market “soon”.
Anyway, the sun’s out. It’s the perfect time to load up the ‘Blad with some E100 120 and get shooting.