Things Are Looking Up Page 2

Fotospeed is another English company; they specialize in photographic chemistry. They also sell alternative process kits, Lith paper, their own fiber-based variable contrast papers, as well as dyes, masking fluid, and cleaners.

Maco is a German company producing black and white films and papers, as well as chemicals, liquid emulsion, and toners.

Cachet sells archival storage boxes, archival print washers, and scanner trays.

Forte is still producing paper and film, but it is no longer being sold in the US. It is likely that they will become the coating plant for another brand of paper, but I had no official word of this and cannot make any definite statements.

Agfa Vista films with their new Eye Vision Technology 3.0

Omega/Satter used to sell Forte films and papers, but has replaced them with Foma. The Foma films are ISO 100, 200, and 400 in 135 and 120 roll film, plus sheet film in ISO 100 and 200. The 200 is particularly good but from Foma's own spec sheets you can see that it is only ISO 200 in speed-increasing developer. With most developers (except fine-grained) rate it at 125 or 160 for superb tonality. Foma papers are all variable contrast in both resin coated and fiber based, and there are even warmtone versions of both.

So there is still plenty of choice for monochrome users. And to top it off, Paterson Photographic was talking about the possibility of some new films and paper, too...

Although one-time use cameras are far from hot news they remain very good selling items. Ferrania hasn't made any film changes, but they have been concentrating on one-time use cameras. They have a chromogenic black and white camera in their new line-up, but the one which intrigued me most was their "GO-DIGITAL" camera. This is a 35mm film camera, but you get a CD as well as prints. It comes with a prepaid mailer for processing. When the lab receives the camera, they send you an e-mail with a password which allows you to view your pictures online for 30 days. Then your prints are sent to you with a CD. And you get all this for less than $10.

Any Darkroom Out There?
There was not much on the darkroom equipment side. In fact, the only enlargers in the hall were big Digital/Analog hybrids from De Vere and Durst. But I had a very interesting conversation with a representative of Mullersohn, a company that makes and sells lab equipment. He said that he is selling processors to dedicated black and white labs. This is not chromogenic (C-41 compatible) dye-based black and white, but traditional silver-halide black and white. So if you need the services of a black and white lab check your yellow pages, because there are apparently quite a few out there that have state of the art equipment.

But to help you in the darkroom, Kinetronics is always bringing out new cleaning kits. A couple of years back they came up with the SpeckGRABBER, which picks up tiny particles without marking the surface you are cleaning. When I tried using the SpeckGRABBER to clean negatives I found it very hard to see because my hand would obscure what I was doing. Now, the clever people at Kinetronics have added a flashlight to the SpeckGRABBER: a brilliant addition to a brilliant product.

The SpeckGRABBER from Kinetronics now includes a flashlight in the handle

Archival storage has always been an issue and many people are even more aware of its importance because digital photography raises some doubts about archiving. Certainly, responsible photographic companies like Kodak worry about whether all the pictures being committed to digital capture and output will be accessible in 50 or 100 years. But some electronics companies have a reputation for not supporting supplanted media storage. Can you read your 51/4" discs or your Betamax videos today?

Possibly in reaction to these doubts, archival storage is a growth area. Print File had new archival boxes for photos and CDs; Argraph showed new Pana-Vue archival pages and archival storage boxes to hold them; Clear Bag has always sold in bulk but are moving into the camera store market with small packs of bags and boxes; and Cachet has a full range of archival storage boxes, as well as Salon Cases.

One of the oldest and most respected names in archival storage is Light Impressions. I had not seen them at a photographic show in a few years, but they were at PMA with an expanded product range. I was interested in knowing about archival storage for glass plates, and I was pleased to see that they make double-scored folders of acid- and lignum-free paper. For example, we discussed storage for 6x4.5cm glass plates. They also have new products for the digital age.

So despite all the rather bleak news last September, we now have at least as much choice in film, paper, and chemistry as we did before. All we need to do is to buy the products to keep the companies in business!

Manufacturers/Distributors' addresses can be found on page 176.