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.