Film News: Harman Phoenix Rises

I am sure you have seen the hype in the film community after Harman made a cryptic announcement a couple of months back. Something new was coming. And well, now it is here, and I am sure plenty of you are kicking yourselves for saying it would be a branded bluetooth speaker. Yes, Harman Phoenix is here and it is a pretty exciting moment for the film community. A new bloody colour film! I am all of a quiver.

Introducing Harman Phoenix

In the words of the lovely people at Harman…

Like the mythical Phoenix, this new film represents hope, rebirth, and transformation. It signals the start of a new legacy and the beginning of an exciting new chapter for one of the world’s largest manufacturers of photographic film.

This is the first ever colour film made entirely from emulsion to cassette at the Harman factory, a significant yet incredibly exciting milestone.

We are very proud of what we have achieved with this film, but it is also our first step into the world of colour. Sales from this film will allow us to further invest, refine and improve our formulations, coating capabilities, and colour technology. Our aim is that each new colour film we produce will be an improvement on the previous.

All new

So this is it. A completely new emulsion. Not an old one, not a revamped one or a re-spooled one. A completely new emulsion. Trust me on this, I know exactly how hard that is to do, just stabilizing it is a nightmare, getting it up to the correct iso and then making sure it doesn’t degrade. There are so many challenges when making film, especially when it is from scratch. Harman has done something special here.

I had a chat with the lovely people at Harman about how this came to be. Back in late 2022 they setup a ‘skunkworks’ to see if they could make a colour film, from scratch, in the U.K. There were a lot of challenges and apparently some great minds were asked to come out of retirement to lend their expertise to this project. And in a very short amount of time they had a new colour film. That is an amazing feat considering they have never actually made one before.

 

As it is new, it isn’t perfect and it is a bit challenging to use. But as was explained to me, this is effectively a test batch and they will continue to make improvements over time. Making a new film isn’t a case of pulling an old recipe out of a book, you have to start with entirely new ingredients and levels of expertise. So whilst this film isn’t perfect, it will be if we really give it a chance and show our support.

Contrasty

The film has a strong, visible grain and quite a high contrast. As you can see from the film it has a very unusual yellow tint. Which leads of course to some very interesting results. I took the film out on a few sunny days, as it prefers the sun it would seem. Halation is clear in backlight and there are artifacts on the film, but don’t let it put you off. This film could lead to some very interesting experiments. It is still hard to get it right and you do need to nail the exposure, but I am excited to see how this film changes over time.

Development

As this was a super secret mission, I wasn’t able to get the film developed at a lab, so I did it myself in my office with a CineStill Kit and a Lab Box. And it was interesting. The pre-soak came out, well, looking like pee. But I have been reliably informed this is normal and there is nothing to worry about (my doctor told me to drink more water). You will also be able to get it developed at any lab as it is C41.

The negatives came out well though and dried easily without curling or any issues. The colours look kind of wild. But that is part of the charm.

The images are straight out of the camera, no editing at all. The scans are not very good, because I don’t have a decent scanner, but I think with the right tools there are going to be some great results coming from people. I didn’t have much time to get this all shot and developed before the release, so I apologise for the rubbish images.

Where do I get some?

Harman have told me that it will be available from all the usual outlets and will be in the $14 (15 Euro) range. They are hoping that if this film is a success then there will be the opportunity to bring it in other formats as well.

Harman will also be doing some photowalks in the US and Europe to promote the film, so that will be a fun chance to play with it and see how it suits your style. Check the socials for the photowalks with Beers and Cameras, Brooklyn Film Camera, The Darkroom Lab and more.

You can find more about the film on Harman’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

I am beyond stoked that Harman have done this, and I have a lot of confidence that they will make this into something special. They have shown true commitment to the film community by doing this. This opens up avenues for so much more for film photographers as this will spur innovation by others. So get behind this and help make film great again.

JCH