New Films Unrolled at PMA
Speed Thrills in Latest Film
by Diane Berkenfeld
By far the biggest trend among film
manufacturers this year is "the need for speed." Kodak, Fuji, Agfa,
Ferrania, and Konica are all offering 800 ISO color negative films,
some offer 1600 and 3200 as well. Thanks to R&D breakthroughs,
these new 800 ISO and higher films offer finer grain and richer
colors. The 400/800 ISO films are also being marketed as an
"all-around" or "everyday" film choice for all of consumerdom -
35mm and APS. With this marketing strategy, manufacturers are
taking the decision making process out of the consumer's hands,
(which can often be confusing for the average snap-shooter).
Advances in camera design have also influenced the film manufacturer's turn towards higher speed films. With longer zooms that need more light for an adequate exposure, the higher the ISO, the better the photos.
According to the PMA 2000 Consumer Photographic Survey, the majority of films purchased in 1999 by consumers was ISO 200 (46.4%), with ISO 400 coming in a close second (38.6%). It should be interesting to see how the abundance of quality high speed films affects those numbers in 2000/2001.
Another trend is the abundance of black and white films. Kodak offers Advantix 400 for APS, as well as the Tmax line of black and white film in 35mm, 120 and sheet formats. At PMA, Kodak introduced their Portra 400BW film, for those professional photographers who shoot Portra Color Negative films and desire the consistency that the Portra films offer. New from Fuji is their Acros, a fine grain 100 ISO film with rich, deep tones. Ilford highlighted a new and improved Delta 400 black and white film at the show as well.
Film Manufacturers Band Together
Agfa, Ferrania, Fuji, Kodak, and Konica will be issuing a joint recommendation for the design and manufacture of 35mm amateur color negative film to a common color balance. Potential benefits include simpler set-up and balance of the finisher's photographic printer, reduced waste, and high quality pictures.
The joint development team explained that "the extraordinary quality of color negative film can be delivered with improved efficiency and accuracy to the final picture as a result of common color balance across films." The development team will share their recommendation through a 'System Enhancement Guideline' to be delivered on or before April 20, 2001. Each film manufacturer will offer the guideline to photofinishers, photofinishing equipment makers and others in the industry. The individuality of each brand of film will continue to grow to fit the customer's needs, while at the same time improving picture consistency and quality.
Agfa is replacing the current line of HDCplus consumer films with the new Vista family of film.
The Vista family features Agfacolor Vista 800, the first ISO 800 color negative film in the Agfa product line which already includes 100, 200 and 400 film speeds.
The common feature of all the new film materials is Agfa's Eye Vision technology. This innovation involves modified sensitization of the emulsions to more accurately reflect the perception of color by the human eye. As a result, photos taken using the new film in fluorescent light no longer display the typical green cast associated with shooting under fluorescent lighting.
Vista 800 is based on a new technological platform that has brought major progress in all fundamental fields (silver halide crystals, chemical building blocks, emulsion structure).
In its development of Vista 800, Agfa's R&D Department made substantial improvements in the use of coupler technology. The new film contains six Development Inhibitor Releasing (DIR) couplers with different performance characteristics. They are accurately positioned in the individual emulsion layers to improve the film's color, definition and grain. Another feature of Agfa's new 800 generation is the emulsion technology. It utilizes intermediate layers located between the individual color packages. Color couplers are used instead of white couplers. This advanced development improves the efficiency of the silver halide and results in a finer grain. Agfa's new emulsions for the Advanced Photo System will replace the existing Futura films. Agfa's APS film, Futura II, is the second-generation film and will come in 200 and 400 speed varieties.
"Agfacolor Vista films and the Agfa Futura II films will be available in new packaging featuring modern style, value and highly attractive colors," said Elaine Mosera, Agfa Senior Marketing Manager. "The clearly structured designs additionally lead to better identification of the film speeds and length."
Ferrania Imaging Technologies introduced 100 and 200 ISO 35mm color
print films and ISO 200 in the APS color negative format. These
additions complete the company's line of FG series film. Previously
introduced were ISO 800 and 400 in 35mm format, and ISO 400
"Consumers will appreciate the new FG800 in particular," said Don Cacciola, U.S. Marketing Manager, Ferrania Imaging Technologies. "This faster speed film gives them the flexibility they need to handle different settings and light situations as they move between indoor and outdoor functions. That's why it is being used exclusively in our ready-to-use cameras, since consumers tend to use these in a wide variety of challenging settings." The switch to 800 ISO films in single-use cameras is another growing trend among the film manufacturers.