Of course, you're supporting film anytime you use Film Objektiv. But thankfully, we live at a time of an analog renaissance. Film directors, art directors, cinematographers, and photographers are choosing film more and more on one hand to ensure its survival, but also because they -- like you -- see something different in film. This page pays homage to some projects, ways to get involved, and companies that are doing great things with and for the analog image.
Film Manufacturers Part I: The Veterans
Manufacturing film is where it all starts. Then we need a camera to put it in. But without the photographic emulsion to record light, there is no such thing as "photography."
Kodak is where it all started. As the metal plates that the French and English spread around the world began to die out, it was Kodak that grew to become the name behind America's filmic pride. They revolutionized photography. They made it cheaper and easier to access with the introduction of the Brownie along with the phrase, "You push the button, we do the rest." Photography -- once a serious matter fit only for serious stares into the camera -- would never be the same again. With each no longer costing many times the average worker's salary, photographs were now "allowed" to be more candid. Smiles appeared more and more. It was the first time all of society could become visual documentarians of its time. For this Kodak will always be remembered.
There's no doubt Kodak left brighter days behind it. But that's not to say there aren't brighter ones ahead. The long-established film icon has been working with directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan, and Steve McQueen not just to keep film alive, but to also help it thrive. Today, motion picture (and with it, photographic) film sales are staying relatively steady, if not growing in certain instances. Kodak's T-Max, Tri-X, Ektar, and Portra lines are considered some of the best films in the world and are all still available in a variety of popular formats large and small.
Kodak's competition from the East has always been Fujifilm. Just as famous films such as Kodachrome had given Kodak it's die-hard fans, Velvia did the same for Fujifilm in the 1990s. Contemporarily speaking, the two were the biggest names in photographic film.
Despite cutting production of a number of film stocks and increasing prices heavily on others in the last several years, Fujifilm continues to produce a variety of professional photographic color films available in 35mm, medium, and large formats. Among these, the Velvia, Provia, Pro 160NS, and Pro 400H films are the brand's most popular films for professionals.
Ilford is a name with great heritage, but one that we're also not reminded of as much today, perhaps because of the company's aversion to color photographic products. If you shoot black and white, though, there is quite a variety of film stocks to consider. They even recently came out with a disposable camera that would have fit well in the era of the Kodak Brownie, whereby a purchase of the camera entitles you to development and prints back once you send it in.
Film Manufacturers, Part II: Hip, Young, and In the Middle of a Growth Spurt
Between Kodak, Fujifilm, and Ilford, one might think there isn't much room for other film companies, let alone brand new ones. But this resurgence of analog mediums is alive and well. These companies prove it.
Technically, CineStill isn't manufacturing photographic film. But what they are doing is making something accessible to the still photographer that would otherwise simply never exist: Kodak motion picture film that you can shoot in your still camera. By processing the film to make it developable in classic C-41 and E-6 processes and by then repackaging it to making it shootable in 35mm cameras (and now in 120 and 4x5 as well!), CineStill is doing us a huge favor in making that classic Kodak motion picture look available to us "mere photographers."
Some might consider Lomography a brand for hipsters. And with many polarized on their feelings toward "hipster" as a term that connotes something fresh and unique or something terribly kitsch and possibly outright lame, whether that is then a good thing or a bad thing is up for debate. But I'd rather think of the brand as a key figure in carrying the torch of photographic film into the future.
This is a brand that has been able to mobilize youth around film photography to an impressive extent. As far as I'm concerned, the more people that shoot film, the better. Either way, you don't have to look hard to see that Lomography is having an immensely fantastic impact on the future prospects of the medium of film. They're also making it incredibly fun, which is just one reason why this site is offering the Lomography Belair 6x12 camera at launch.
This Italian reboot is bringing back a famous name with the help of its country -- literally, the government of Italy is working with them to help make this happen -- which is helping fund the rebuilding of a factory to once again produce made-in-Italy films. It's hard to say much about Film Ferrania (they're still so young, sort of) apart from the fact that they're simply awesome and recently announced the production of P30 Alpha black-and-white film.
For fans of Polaroid instant film, you can thank The Impossible Project for being the only ones to bring it back. Sure, Fujifilm has their competing line of similarly featured Instax products (looks like those are being discontinued, though). But for those that are into it, there just isn't quite anything like that good 'ol Polaroid.
Keeping Film Alive
These guys are widely supported and have a great goal: to get UNESCO to recognize, protect, and safeguard the medium of film under their 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. You should sign the petition as well. Simple as that.
Rightly so, SaveFilm.org rejects the deterministic view often applied to the film vs. digital debate. The organization instead argues:
"Film and digital are different mediums in that they differ materially and methodologically in their artistic rather than technological use, and so make different cinema and different art. They have their own unique disciplines, image structures, and visual qualities. Their co-existence is essential to keep diversity and richness in our moving-image vocabulary. The ascendance of one does not have to mean the capitulation of the other, unless we allow this to happen."
As ironic as it is, the digital world within the Internet can be a great asset and tool for the spread of the love of film (this site being one such example).
Share your photographs wherever you can and continue to be proud of shooting them with film. Common hashtags for film shooters include the following:
#filmisnotdead #filmisalive #ishootfilm#film #filmphotography #[camera-name] #[format]