Photography / Buying Guide

This Year in Film

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As film continues its resurgence, 2017 saw several introductions to the photography world that continue to inspire film enthusiasts everywhere. Ranging from new films, the rebirth of an old film, new cameras, and even digital innovations for film shooters, 2017 marks another year for film’s regrowth in popularity.

Polaroid Originals

One of the most exciting new, or sort of new, prospects in the film game is Polaroid Originals. Picking up where Impossible left off, Polaroid Originals is the rebranded continuation of the company that kept instant film alive and available after Polaroid’s demise. In addition to the rebranding, Polaroid Originals announced its new look in conjunction with the release of a brand new instant film camera, along with reformulated films.

The OneStep2 is the newest instant film camera on the block, and features a very familiar design for those accustomed to Polaroid’s OneStep SX-70 camera, from 1977. This new model, however, uses Polaroid Originals’ proprietary i-Type film, which is essentially the same as 600 film without the battery built into the film pack. Along with its retro looks, the camera retains the same true “point-and-shoot” operation to produce instant 3.1 x 3.1" images on the classic 3.5 x 4.2" sheet of film. Whereas original 600 and SX-70 cameras used a battery in the film pack for operation, the OneStep2 has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion of its own, which is rated for up to 60 days of use. The camera also has a simple fixed-focus lens, plain optical viewfinder, built-in flash, and a self-timer function.

Polaroid Originals OneStep2 Instant Film Camera

In addition to the new camera, Polaroid Originals also reformulated the lineup of films for classic Polaroid cameras, too. Available for 600, SX-70, and Image/Spectra cameras, the updated stocks have faster development times than the Impossible predecessors. Along with the expected color and black-and-white variants of the aforementioned films, 600-type shooters get a few additional fun film types, including the Color Frames Editions, along with two new flavors of the popular Duochrome series: Pink and Blue. And for those less enamored with a brand new film camera, Polaroid Originals is still refurbishing classic Polaroid cameras, including the brilliant, iconic SX-70.

Polaroid Originals SX-70 Instant Film Camera

Fujifilm instax

Moving to the instax side of the instant film world, Fujifilm also had another innovative year with the release of a new instant film format: instax SQUARE. This square-format film gives you 2.4 x 2.4" images on a 3.4 x 2.8" sheet, and, besides the new format, is effectively the same as the beloved instax mini film.

Fujifilm instax mini Instant Film

Along with the new film format, Fujifilm released the first camera to take this film type, the instax SQUARE SQ10 hybrid instant camera. Now, besides the new film format, this is also an innovative release from Fujifilm since it is a hybrid camera, or it is truly a digital camera at heart with the ability to produce real chemically developed film prints from your images. Rather than being limited to the 10-shot packs of instax film, the SQ10 lets you shoot freely as a digital camera would, capturing 1920 x 1920px images using the CMOS sensor, and then gives you the option to print each image automatically, à la a traditional instant film camera. Or, you can decide when and which images to print on film. Besides helping to conserve film, if the image you took doesn’t turn out so great, this also gives you the chance to print duplicates of a photo for sharing.

Fujifilm instax SQUARE SQ10 Hybrid Instant Camera

And lastly, for the instax classicists out there, Fujifilm also released the instax mini 9, which succeeds the popular mini 8 with a fresh, colorful exterior and the inclusion of a selfie mirror next to the lens for composing your self-portraits.

Fujifilm instax mini 9 Instant Film Camera

Kodak Ektachrome

Returning soon, early in 2017 Kodak made the bold and extremely exciting announcement that it will re-enter the color-reversal film market with the re-introduction of Ektachrome E100 film. When Kodak left the color slide side of things in 2012, fans of one of the few natural-tone, moderate-contrast, and realistic-saturation slide films remaining were forced to either switch teams or move to shooting color negative film, both of which were less than ideal for them. But, coming in 2018, Kodak is bringing back 35mm, 36-exposure rolls of E100 for still photographers, along with Super 8 format for filmmakers.

Kodak Ektachrome E100G Film

Bergger Pancro 400

While this film has been around in sheet sizes for a year or two, B&H finally got its hands on the more popular roll-film formats of Bergger Pancro 400. It’s a rare event nowadays to see a new film stock come to market, especially one that is positioned as a film to be taken seriously, rather than films that cater to the more fun and spontaneous side of the film world. This black-and-white negative film uses a unique dual-emulsion design that helps to give the crisp, dense look of a classic silver-rich film along with the high ASA 400 speed and relatively fine grain pattern of a more modern emulsion. It’s a film I was anxious to get my hands on, and a fine complement to the tried-and-true films that have been around for decades.

Bergger Pancro 400 Black and White Negative Film

Nikon D850

It does feel a bit silly to end an article about how film is booming with a look at one of the hottest digital cameras around right now but, interestingly, Nikon snuck a small feature into the D850 DSLR that makes it a very appealing machine for photographers still working with film. Making use of the camera’s impressive FX-format 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor, a dedicated Negative Digitizer Mode is specifically designed for making high-resolution digital copies of your 35mm negatives and slides. Intended to be used in conjunction with the new ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter Set and the AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED lens, this film-copying mode could make for an enticing alternative to traditional film scanners for converting your old and new 35mm shots to digital files.

Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter Set

Which direction of the new film market has you most excited? Are you more of an instant film fan or do you still like to take your 35mm camera out for a spin? And where are you hoping the film market continues to go in the coming year? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section.

4 Comments

An Olympus RC25 is an excellent very small compact camera. I love that, sometimes more than my Film SLRs.

Would like to see more people interested in film.

I need a simple film camera to shoot b&w, like a Rollei 35 or even a Minox.

A Minox (such as the C) is automatic and goes anywhere. But it has manual focus, and film/prints are expensive. The Rollei 35 started the modern trend in truly miniature cameras, but focus is also manual, exposure is match-needle. The camera's ergonomics are designed around cramming everything into a little box, without regard for ease of use. (William slides his arm around Dale's shoulders in a hustler's cheap, smarmy manner.) "What you want, boy, is an Olympus XA. Look here -- it's got a coupled rangefinder, aperture-priority auto exposure (with plenty of override) and an (optional) auto-exposure flash. Trust me. It beats the OM for sheer cleverness -- it's Maitani's Masterpiece."

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