Things Are Looking Up
news from Ilford made this PMA a shot in the arm for zanyone who loves the craft
of photography and photographic printing. As most people know, in August 2004,
Ilford Imaging UK Ltd. had gone into receivership. For months, rumors had been
flying about a management buyout, and it finally succeeded just hours before
the PMA show opened. The new company will trade as Ilford Photo. The parent
company is Harman Technology Limited, named after Alfred Hugh Harman, the man
who in 1879 founded the Britannia Dry Plate Company which later became Ilford
At the time of this writing the management team was busy getting the word out, but that was made much easier by the fact that they could make announcements at both PMA and the major English show, Focus on Imaging, the following week.
After the shows they settled down to correct remaining supply problems that were caused partly by their loyal customers' panic buying, and partly by disputes with the receivers who wanted to sell only the most profitable lines. They also are reviewing all of their products and looking at the possibility of new ones.
Ilford Photo is committed to black and white photography, and they have long had the lion's share of that market: 60 pecent of the world market at the time they went into receivership. They will inevitably have lost some of this but they should be able to claw a good deal of it back.
Moving on to new introductions, there were several new films at this PMA. Fuji introduced Velvia 100--which, surprisingly, is not the same film as Fuji Velvia 100F. The new film will more closely match the palette of Velvia 50. It will be available in the early summer and will replace Velvia 50 on a rolling basis. Film sizes include 135 36 exposure, 135 long roll, 120 and 220 roll film as well as cut film and Quick Load.
Fuji True Definition, a new 35mm, ISO 400, consumer film was also announced. This is recommended as a "people" film. It has a lower contrast than many of the color print films on the market and the palette is designed to render skin tones accurately. The new films will be sold in a three-pack and in QuickSnap one-time use cameras.
Kodak announced some enhancements to existing films. Digital scanning continues
to drive research in film technology. Kodak has been working on their Professional
Portra films in 120/220 roll film and cut film to improve surface coating technology.
This means improved scanning with specular light, and improved performance with
Kodak Digital ICE.
Kodak MAX Versatility ISO 400 film has also been updated with emulsion improvements that give the film even more latitude, better sharpness, and more accurate skin-tone rendition. The film is being introduced on a stock replacement basis; this started in the late spring.
In the realms of one-time use cameras, Kodak introduced a Zoom-flash camera
loaded with MAX Versatility ISO 800.
Polaroid has been sold and merger negotiations are still continuing. Consequently there were no changes to the existing lines in either consumer or professional films.
Agfa introduced their Eye Vision Technology 3.0 at photokina, but PMA marked its US introduction. The new technology is incorporated in their Vista films and LeBox one-time use cameras.
There was even more good news for black and white printers. Freestyle will
be distributing Kentmere, Fotospeed, Maco, and Cachet. One of their great selling
points is that they guarantee not to run out of these products.
Kentmere is an English company that will be celebrating its 100th birthday next year. They have coated Luminos papers in the past, but now their papers will be marketed directly in the US.