A petition to stop the discontinuation of Fuji 3000b


#1

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(its a short post, this is what lives at the Permalink.)

Petapixel shares the story of photographers “fighting back” by begging FujiFilm to reconsider killing the last 3x4 instant black and white film available. Watching all my old friends disappear is kinda painful. Sign the petition here.

(Aw hell, links below.)

http://petapixel.com/2013/11/15/fujifilm-ditching-3x4-instant-bw-film-photogs-fight-back/


#2

These people should make their own film.


#3

But they already make it and it’s great. I love 3000B, instant film is still magical.


#4

But if it is no longer economic to make, it seems unfair to demand that Fuji continue with a loss making product.


#5

It’s no longer economic as a “global” manner, the same as Polaroid film. All that means is they’re not going to make as much on it as they have in the past.

And yet the Impossible Project seems to make money. Lomo makes money. And what do they do? Sell film and film cameras.

The tooling and production lines already exist, those R&D costs were covered years ago. The already make Instax film so the chemicals and techniques are sitll going to be use by Fuji for years. Lower the run times on 3000B to once a month. Or even once a year, it’s shelf stable for a few years. Distribute it directly as needed and the fifteen bucks a box goes straight to Fuji instead of five to Fuji and ten to distributors.

The paradigm has changed and they can change with it and still make enough to make a profit. But the profit isn’t going to be as big on any film products.


#6

Running a production line half as often doesn’t mean spending half as much money.

There are costs associated with start up and shut down. There are still PM costs. There are facility costs. There are disruption costs to other products (yanking people from other lines means those lines suffer extra costs). There are bureaucratic costs (just as much paperwork for regulatory, distribution, etc etc).

The bottom line is that Fuji might be just fine keeping the line around making half as much if people are willing to pay twice as much.

P.S. R&D costs at Fuji are about 10% of revenue. A minor part of calculations in this instance. Equipment gets depreciated in about 5 years, so it’s not a factor in calculations either. Yet the line is still apparently not worth keeping running.


#7

Won’t anybody think of the children hipsters?


#8

@jlw You’re a hero for doing more than putting a link as the first post!

Although a noble quest, surely the reason they want to stop making it is that it’s not making them any money any more (i.e. nobody really buys it anymore) - wouldn’t it make more sense for them to license it (ideally for free as they’re scrapping it anyway) to some kind of indy company that would be happy to produce it as a niche product for a higher cost? I’d suggest they do the same, but I imagine they’re not really set up for that kind of production.


#9

I love this idea, it’s really the only way to produce artisanal camera film. I wonder how many other sizes have been or are being discontinued?


#10

Where do you get your film developed?! The only place near that I found is a drugstore that doesn’t return the negatives, just pictures and a CD.

Can anyone recommend good places for mailing film? Many of the ones online seem scammy.


#11

There are mail-order film processors who market more to the pros than the snapshooters. It’s been a long time since I’ve used 'em, though, so I don’t know who’s still in operation and good.

Alternative: Shoot slides, process at home. All you need is a small tank, a glovebox to load and unload it, and chemicals. That was one of the selling points of the E6-process films. (Used to be I’d suggest also getting a bulk-loader and reloadable cartridges, to cut your film cost, but most of the places which advertised bulk film seem to have gone under.)

Actually, shooting slides should guarantee you get the film back by definition…

That’s gonna be the answer, folks. Demand is way down. Price is gonna have to go way up since you can’t amortize the fixed costs as widely. Moving to a smaller plant has startup costs but reduces the ongoigng costs and is probably the best bet. Assuming the traditional film companies are willing to licence the technology…


#12

Fair enough, but if there is a market for it, that sounds like an argument for continuing production at a higher price point. I obviously don’t have all the information, but it seems worth calculating whether there is a price at which they can turn a profit, selling to their super-fans. Or, as @NathanHornby mentions, they could license it to a company who can figure a way to sell it at a profit. If there is really a market, it doesn’t have to go down the memory hole.


#13

That may not be important given that the basic technology is well understood. Chemistry may be one other field where open source would work (after software).


#14

Architecture appears to be working just fine too.


#15

I tried explaining “chemical film” photos to my teenage son the other day, but he really does think I’m a personal friend of Fred Flintstone.

Do you know anybody who makes their own paper? Or their own candles? Chemical photography may end up like that - an artsy craft for people with time and money.


#16

While the basic technology may be well understood, I’m pretty sure the exact recipes for each film are trade secrets (just like the basic technology behind sodas and colas are well understood, but the recipes for Pepsi and Coke are still secret).


#17

Chemistry being well understood doesn’t mean there aren’t patents regarding details of the manufacturing process or of the specific chemistry of that particular film (exactly what its color balance was, grain size control techniques, and so on) or of how the instant film was packaged for self-developing. Licensing would avoid some reinvention and might be the cheaper approach.


#18

This has caused the Impossible Project a lot of trouble, hence “impossible.”


#19

That’s the way it began, so…


#20

I really doubt that Fuji shut it down without first doing the math. Frankly, the fact that they are shutting it down now when they probably have another few years of film in stock, is shocking. You would think that they would have done it far sooner. If they can’t sell enough to keep the factory open, it closes or gets repurposed. In the case of a place making film, I imagine that the regulatory headache and legal liability that comes with dealing with nasty chemical and the disposal of waste is reason enough, if all the other mundane costs of any facility wasn’t. Chemical photographs are a niche nostalgia market that dies a little more each year as equipment wears out and people who know what a negative is die.

Just ponder the costs for a few seconds. If they have a single engineer supporting the entire line, two technicians keeping all the equipment running, and a dozen operators operating the equipment and packaging it, you have already dumped a half a million in for personal, and this is all before raw chemicals, electricity, and the support staff to take care of those workers. Assuming these people could make film out of thin air by waving their hands, you would still need sell over 50,000 canisters at $9 a pop just to pay for the people to make the stuff.

Seriously, it is a minor miracle that Fuji made this stuff for as long as they did.