Perhaps not unlike many of you reading this I have been keeping half an eye on the Film Ferrania site for the past couple of years now. Tonight I checked in for the first time in a while expecting the usual reports of slow steady progress but happily I found more than I expected. Much more. Admittedly some of you may be way ahead of me here so apologies in advance if this is old news to you. Any new film is welcome news, especially when it is introduced by a new (or at in this case resurrected) manufacturer. Given that Ferrania set their sites on the E-6 market and I'm primarily a black and white guy however my interest has been more along the lines of wanting the best for the overall health of the analog photography industry. Sure I plan to get myself a few rolls once they hit the market and still kick myself for waffling over whether to contribute to the kickstarter until it was over, but if my overall pursuit of photography could be described as a journey, I can't see it being much more than a quick side trip.
Not that long ago Ferrania noted another mile stone on their site, having produced their first test film. Naturally enough it was a black and white emulsion. They even shot the film and posted results. Looking at them it's easy to see why this is an important step. For a first ever go it looks like they made a pretty decent film, but the results revealed production problems that need to be solved, streaks in the emulsion and blotches caused by bubbles in the emulsion. You can't solve a problem if you don't know about it. Baby steps right?
Well, that was a couple months ago and as news often trickles out of Ferrania rather slowly I didn't think to check the site again until tonight. Featured heavily are images of a box of Ferrania P30 Panchro film. This in itself seems no big deal. Prior to the demise from which they are currently being resurrected Ferrania was a company with a long and storied history and P30 is the most classic of their black and white emulsions. This doesn't look like any of the classic packaging I've ever seen though and as I read on I quickly learn that it's not. It seems that first go at producing a black and white film for testing was more than just a stepping stone on the way to producing a much more complicated E-6 emulsion, it's also become the basis for a new version of P30 that Ferrania is getting ready to introduce to market. I don't know about you but this is something I'll be keeping my eyes actively peeled for.
It's hard to know how long this is something Ferrania has had a notion to do. When the kickstarter was launched it was clear they had determined E-6 was the way to go. It only made sense. E-6 was, after all, something that the old Ferrania had experience with. More importantly, at the time Fuji was the one and only company making colour transparency film, and their history of dispassionately discontinuing any emulsion the moment it appeared demand no longer warranted its production meant there was no guarantee even they would remain. But while Fuji remains the only manufacturer currently producing E-6 films, as noted last time Ferrania is no longer the only company gearing up to join them. With Kodak expecting their new Ektachrome E100 to hit the market some time next fall it seems the colour transparency market is no longer relying on Ferrania alone to shore it up against the possibility that Fuji's offerings will eventually dwindle down to nothing. I can't help but think that this had something to do with Ferrania's decision to turn what might have been just a stepping stone into a landing of its own.
Hoping to get your hands on some? As of this writing Ferrania's Shop page makes it clear an announcement is imminent. There's a line of large text reading "This text will become a countdown clock in just a few days! Watch this page!!". Presumably the coutndown will start soon. We're just counting down to that.