Why does Fujifilm hate its customers?

Posted on by Bellamy


Fujifilm discontinues more films
Sometimes it feels like Fujifilm hates us, and this is one of those times. With the discontinuation of another range of films Fujifilm is showing that is doesn’t support film quite as much as it says it does.

So, Fujifilm have released an announcement to the effect that the will be discontinuing most of the iconic Velvia series of films by the end of this year. Velvia 50 (4×5 and 8×10) and Velvia 100F (both 35mm and 120) will cease shipping by December, so you can expect stocks to be pretty much done by March of next year. There is no official announcement on the Fujifilm Japan website, which could mean that it might be available in Japan for a little while longer. But it will stopped being shipped elsewhere and that is for certain. There are still some slide films available for now, but who knows for how long? This is not unique to Fujifilm, Kodak having discontinued a range of slide films earlier in the year.

For some of you who are expressing surprise, you shouldn’t. This is not out of the blue. Fujifilm have been quietly cutting their range of professional slide film for a while now and you can expect this to continue further. There have been rumours around Japan that Fujifilm has unofficially stated that it would like to be out of the reversal film business by 2013 if at all possible, as the market is too small and the chemicals are too expensive to produce. The main issue is the support. Producing the development materials and supporting the labs has made it non-cost effective to sell slide film for a declining market.
This would have happened sooner if it wasn’t for the fact that Fujifilm now has a successful cosmetics division, that is (reputedly) a byproduct of the film manufacturing. If it wasn’t for this I think we would have seen them axe a lot more films a while back. I still find it rather amusing that you can buy cosmetics in Japan (including health supplements) which have Fujifilm stamped across the top of the bottle.

This axing of film ranges has become quite the habit for Fujifilm of late, and they tend to do it on the quiet whenever possible. There has been a spate of cuts in the last couple of years, the most notable being the Astia and the Super presto lines. But Slide film is always on the list to get cut and this will certainly not be the last of the cuts.
There has also been a range of price increases, which is not unique to Fujifilm with Kodak raising prices significantly in the last six months. Film is getting more expensive and you shouldn’t expect that to change any time soon.
Velvia 50 is a fantastic film to shoot and if you have not tried it I urge you to do so now, if they are cutting it in large format (in which is it amazing) then you can bet it will not be all that long before it is cut in other formats.

I shall be honest with you, there is not a lot of love lost between myself and Fujifilm. I find them to be a troubling company. In the past they have made some outstanding products and even now they still continue to do so. But…It seems to me that Fujifilm doesn’t want to listen to its customers. This is not really unusual, they are a business after all, and it is about the bottom line, but listening to your customers should be something that is important to your business.
Overall the company confuses me. They still manufacture film cameras and only recently released the wonderful GF670, which is a dedicated medium format film camera. So if they are making film cameras, why are they cutting the film range down to its bare bones?

But my main feeling with Fujifilm is one of frustration. They seem to have no time for film users any longer, despite the manufacture of said cameras. I have taken film cameras that are still in production by Fujifilm in to be repaired only to be told that there are no parts and they will not fix the camera. Now I would expect this for a camera that is 15 years old, but one that is still in production? Are you serious? Ahhh, Fujifilm, the company that you hate to love.

In the end I think it is time that we realised that Fujifilm are not going to be making film forever, despite their ‘commitments’ to film. I think there will be a basic range from them for a while to come, but you can say goodbye to the exotics and the professional films, they are going on the chopping block.
Goodbye Velvia 50 and 100F, we had some good times.
Japancamerahunter

38 Responses to Why does Fujifilm hate its customers?

Colin Corneau July 20, 2012 at 8:06 am

On a somewhat related note – do they still make Neopan 1600 (Super Presto, I suppose) and is it worth it to buy and ship to North America?

I have a few remaining rolls of Neopan 1600 and it is a stellar film to shoot and print.

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    efix July 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    No. They don’t make it anymore. What is being sold are the remaining stocks.

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      Colin Corneau July 21, 2012 at 2:15 am

      Fair enough. If it is feasible (cost-wise and assuming it’s not damaged by long distance shipping) I’d be interested in a few details about getting it, if possible, from our pal Bellamy.

      I’ve only ordered a few little things, but I was really impressed by how quickly it shipped. I’ve also heard likewise from people who’ve ordered cameras through JCH, too

      Reply
John Berner July 20, 2012 at 8:09 am

I had hoped that with no competition in the color positive market, Fuji would continue to offer their fantastic color positive films for a good long while, but this has been incredibly disheartening. As someone who shoots mainly reversal film for color and who absolutely loves both of these films, its a huge blow. One of the biggest reasons I shoot film is the range of possibilities. When your choices are whittled down to just one or two, then the motivation to shoot it is whittled down as well. I wish these companies would realize that each film they cut only accelerates the speed at which people abandon film.

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エッディ July 20, 2012 at 8:14 am

good bye Fujifilm’s films….. I still need to get more of their peel films.

So, GF670 & 670W are the same cam, right? just that one has a bellow and the other doesn’t?

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Jason Howe July 20, 2012 at 8:28 am

Very sad news, many of us love film, personally I see it as being in a state of revival but things like this make me question if that is actually the case……

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Neal Thorley July 20, 2012 at 9:09 am

Nice bitch slap from Fuji there.. A lot of professional landscape photographers are going to be pissed.

For me, it’s a film I’ve wanted to shoot more of but thought “I’ll get around to it” … well now I really have to get around to it.

Sigh!

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Jukka vatanen July 20, 2012 at 11:11 am

There was an interview of Fuji Boss in german newspaper where he said that Fuji continues in the film business, AS LONG IT IS A PROFITABLE BUSINESS !!! The slide films are NOT… The business in film is the Color negative. only about 10% of the total production is loaded in cassettes for “hobby use”. Fuji is happy it made the transition to cosmetics, as the machines are still there and (hopefully) can be converted back to produce film, if the customers want. the question is. DO THEY WANT ???

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Fazal Majid July 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm

From the reports I have read, Velvia 100F is discontinued across the board, and Velvia 50 is discontinued in 4×5 and 8×10 but kept for 135 and 120 formats. For how long, goodness knows.

Fuji doesn’t hate its customers. Its customers have moved on to digital and most film lines are no longer viable. I am as guilty as anyone, with my 200+ rolls of film sitting in my freezer that I haven’t shot with in over 2 years.

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Ian Johnson July 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm

I am a little confused by this announcement. It was revealed in the UK yesterday. A colleague of mine contacted fujifilm USA and they knew nothing of this. Is this a european thing or is it world wide. I’d love some clarification since I am a large format user using exclusively velvia.

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Dacnard July 20, 2012 at 11:31 pm

These are dreadful news. There are many people coming back to film and others that already have are trying to expand their horizons. I am very comfortable now with black and white and have been considering going to reversal film, however the high price of such films and the fact that both kodak and fuji are turning their backs to those products it is discouraging to consumers to give a it try. Who wants to get in love to something that it is going to disappear? Why bother trying if you will have to look for an alternative so soon? Personally, slide is more appealing than digital and even the best C41 films such as Ektar do not get close enough to it.
Another chapter in this race to the bottom.

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john July 21, 2012 at 12:15 am

What a kick in the teeth for film photographers, thanks very much Fuji!
It couldn’t have come at a worse time for many photographers like myself who have come back to film recently.
Everyone is saying that film was enjoying something of a renaissance but it would appear the film companies want to stop it before it gathers greater momentum, very strange !

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Jared Saxbury August 30, 2012 at 11:07 am

Fujifilm HS30EXR and HS33EXR have a FILM SIMULATION.

Default PROVIA
VELVIA/VIVID
ASTIA/SOFT
B&W
SEPIA TONE

Located in Shooting Menu 1/4

This would be Fujifilm opinion of an analog conversion to a digital format. ?

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ZDP-189 November 19, 2012 at 12:49 am

Heck, I’m really angry. I loved many of their film products but all of their best stuff is discontinued. Their best, most reliable customers will be gone. Let’s see how long the mass market continue to support their generic 100 and 400 ASA colour print films. They deserve to lose their business.

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Jeff Laitila December 11, 2012 at 11:31 am

They don’t hate their customers. They just don’t have enough customers buying film to make it profitable enough to continue to sustain the variety of emulsions they once offered.

I can’t think of a business out there that will continue to supply something that results in them loosing money, no matter how loyal their continually shrinking customer base is.

It is a sad thing, but films days are numbered. My guess is that within 10 years film will have gone the way of the 8-Track. And what will inherit the photographic Earth? Instagram, or its successor. May Velvia have mercy on our souls.

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Jukka Watanen December 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm

You have to realize Fujifilm is a very BIG company, they respond to market… In the quoted interview Fuji CEO said the film technology advantage they have is because of the “nanotechnology” of new emulsions, they are using the same machines, the same palette of special chemical inventions. If there is a clear turn around to Film again, they will produce film… So the future is in the hands of us, the photographers. More demand, more films. It is that simple. In the meantime we have great European brands for B&W, keep them going….

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Thomas J. Webb December 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Film is not “going the way of the 8-track” but it’s also not going to be profitable to make slide film for a large, publicly traded firm much longer. (Also note that 8-track is a dead format of a very alive technology – analog tape, which makes it analogous to 110 film, not film in general)

You shouldn’t think of it emotionally. Fujifilm isn’t a person. It can’t love or hate you. Every last person at Fujifilm could personally love shooting film but they will still cut a line if it’s not it financially viable. Slide film is complicated chemically and Kodak already made the decision to axe it.

Also, give Fuji some credit – they’re keeping instant film alive and even, like you mentioned, market new film cameras. They don’t do that because they love film anymore than they cancel Velvia 50 in sheet sizes because they hate it. They make instant film and cameras because it’s a good revenue source for them.

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cgw July 24, 2013 at 5:29 am

Somewhat baffling article in the face of tanked demand for film materials–film “revival” chatter notwithstanding. Fuji can’t/won’t make stuff that doesn’t sell–suspect stockholders are pretty certain they’re not running a charity.

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RC July 24, 2013 at 7:34 am

My predictions are:
#1 Consolidate Velvia to 1x. Kodak might eliminate Portra 800. Each may consolidate consmer print down to 1x inlign with their disposables.

#2 Slide costs just increae indefinitely and can be hard to obtain and develop. So, eliminate rest of the single Velvia and Provia 100. Introduce a disposable digicam.

#3 Eliminate all C41 film. What is left now is b/w.

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Morgan August 8, 2013 at 2:53 am

As long as TRI-X 400 stays around, I’m a happy camper. It’s very sad that all companies are cutting their productlines, but out of all the films, my all time favorite is Tri-X 400.

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Dorothy December 6, 2013 at 7:24 am

It seems that Fujifilm is at it again. This time they are discontinuing FP-3000B. Would anyone happen to have any contacts at Fujifilm? My friend has been aggressively reaching out to Fuji reps, with not a single response. Thanks!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-FP-3000B/183506898506676

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    Joe December 10, 2013 at 1:02 am

    No more FP3000B will truly be a bummer. Hopefully the folks @ impossible project can do something to remedy this situation. FP3000 is an awesome film. I (for one) will truly miss it.

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Istvan December 15, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I like Fujifilms (the products) because their quality is superior. The FP-100C and FP-3000B is(was) much better than any original Polaroid films.
But: despite the fact that we’re living in a profit oriented world I’m disappointed very much with Fujifilm (the company). They’re cutting their film production in an accelerated rate, films disappear one after the other and they’re arrogant enough for taking their customers just air and don’t even reply to any questions/complaints. I know that a multi-national company doesn’t have a memory but they shouldn’t forget the profit they made on their film customers for decades and the hard core of people who still insist on Fujifilm’s products. Best regards, Istvan.

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Jim March 4, 2014 at 11:20 am

Fuji has to make a profit just like JCH, No Profit, No rice in the bowl.

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    Bellamy March 4, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    I get that. What I don’t get is how they have engineered the fate of the film department, yet they still blame it on poor sales. And then still make statements declaring their commitment to film, which is obviously untrue. They should just say they want out and be honest about it, instead of stringing people along.

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franki March 8, 2014 at 1:32 am

While I understand the importance of profitability, not listening to customers is never a good practice. It seems that (as someone else noted) Fuji only seems dedicated to manufacturing Instax film.
Certainly there is still the market for film (Ilford, Foma, Arista, etc) as manufactured by smaller-scale producers (whose black & white films are relatively cheap), but Fuji seems to be thinking only in terms of mass/large-scale production. Rather than eliminating film lines, perhaps it should look at changing how they manufacture & market their film.

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John P April 10, 2014 at 6:48 am

As of April 2014 are Fuji actually manufacturing fresh colour reversal film, or just running down stocks and announcing discontinuance when nearly all gone?
In Gt Britain Fuji are winding up their processing joint venture in November 2014, although the plant will continue without the Fujilab branding.

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Tim W July 17, 2014 at 7:11 am

Profitability of any one film emulsion is only one side of the equation. What is happening with Kodak and Fuji is that they made a LOT of money off of film in the past, without having to do anything except exist, and the burden of their past glory is like a massive dark cloud in their corporate culture. It’s an attitude problem…like spoiled rich kids who’ve lost their trust fund, these two companies are going to dig their heels in and refuse to accept that they must work for what they get. It’s very odd that no one in their management has yet made moves to take a step back from all this and do what 99% of all other companies have to do constantly–market their products and recruit new customers. It really isn’t any more complicated than that. They already start out with the advantage of a top-notch infrastructure in place and film is not exactly a hard sell, provided you don’t continually “anti” market–ie, pull products and raise prices.

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Peter MacCabe December 5, 2014 at 5:50 pm

The biggest problem is that ACCOUNTANTS hold sway here as in many other organisations. When that happens they concentrate on two things ie the bottom line and the extreme short term. Film is making a comeback but it is being stifled by the shortage of film stock and a processors who can handle and print it properly. 20 odd years ago I could use Fuji Real a and get it processed and printed at Jessops The results were superb. Sadly all of that’s gone and I am finding it impossible to get decent results even via a Pro lab with a Pro service. ..

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