RIP Neopan 1600


















The realities of shooting film in a digital age smacked me in the face yesterday when I tried to buy some more Neopan 1600 for a shoot I was doing in the afternoon. Vanbars told me they had none left and it had been wiped off the system. Now I had heard this all before, a few months back I was told there would be none only to have a carton turn up a week later. I came home and jumped on B+H to buy as much as I could only to see the above screen. Yep, seems I had been too nonchalant- neopan 1600's last batch has sold out. 
I have shot almost exclusively with the Fuji film for about 7 years. It was the only film that could give the speed I needed without looking like a high iso film.  I worked out the best development soup for me and knew how the film would react under any circumstances. 
So now I need to find a new film. I'm inclined to just push the Neopan 400 as it's only 1 stop under the 1600's true speed anyway but wonder how long that film will be available anyway? It's finally dawning on me that I may not be able to shoot film way into the future like I had always thought I would. The odd thing is when I was at the workshop the majority of American photographers shot film and the professionals were completely taken aback when I told them the price of films and processing in Australia. I think I let those conversations lull me into a false sense of security about the availability of film for my lifetime.

Anyho, I'm trolling ebay now but thought I would share some of my favorite photos taken with Neopan over the years. And of course he's not singing about neopan but any excuse for some Paul Simon...

4 comments:

  1. What a shame. The Neopans were fantastic films.

    There was an interesting series of posts and discussion on the Online Phoographer website about a week ago about the future of film, e.g. this one: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/06/discontinuous-demand.html

    The salient point is that there will probably always be a small market for film, at least for your lifetime, although there is no guarantee that it will be the film that you particularly like or would prefer to use.

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  2. Oh Mr Tim what a depressing read on this grey melbourne day!! the one commenter who was so gleeful about film dying out? And the other who said he can't see a difference between a silver gelatin and digital print- like a dagger through my heart!!

    I think film will live on but it will be for " artistic" purposes only so sadly can't see the more practical higher speed b+ w 35mm films living on for too long. I agree that when Kodak eventually closes it's doors someone will buy the rights to Tri X and it may become the only black and white 35mm film available. I wouldn't be suprised if someone doesn't eventually do that for kodachrome as well seeing they are the two most iconic films. Unfortunately analogue 35mm photography will never have the cool cred Polaroid does so I can't see another impossible project working out for it. I think film will have a resurgence professionally though, as digital photography has allowed amatuers to inundate the pro market and feel you need more than just great retouching skills to set you apart from them. Shooting film personally makes me a better photographer, when I shoot digitally ( which I do every day for work) I tend to check I have " the shot" and stop there. But with film you never really know if you have it, so you shoot and shoot untill your film is all spent and often that's why you find those gems on ol frame 37. i'm going to do some tests with pushing both neopan and Tri X- after all most of the greats shoot exclusively with tri x for there careers so am sure it's a more capable film than I give it credit for. Andt hey, being a photographer means being adaptable so as long as I have some sort of film in my F90x I'll be happy.

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  3. Sorry to depress you like that. On the flip side, if master darkroom printers are now saying that they are just as happy with digital prints as they were with their best silver gelatin prints, then that implies that with a bit of adjustment you might be just as happy with digital if film does die out.

    It wouldn't surprise me at all if Tri-X gets manufactured again if Kodak ever stops, but I think Kodachrome is a different kettle of fish. B&w (and even C41 and E6) film is easy enough for anyone to develop in small batches. Kodachrome was not. While there might have been a small market that would warrant the production of Kodachrome film, that market would likely not support the ongoing processing of Kodachrome, which (I understand) involves a significant amount of equipment that would need to be maintained and is nigh on impossible to do by hand.

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  4. Oh, and the other advantage of Tri-x: the last time I bought some, it was the cheapest mid-speed b&w film available in 30m bulk rolls. I think I last paid somewhere around $40 for a bulk roll, which made up about 20 36+ exposure individual rolls.

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