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Fuji Reala 35mm price hikes?

Geoff Miller , Sep 13, 2008; 10:20 a.m.

In getting to my last 10 rolls of Fuji Reala, I was almost ready to place another order, but I've noticed that prices of 35mm Reala have gone up substantially. Here are some price comparisons for Fuji reala 100-135-36:

Here are comparisons from the advertised price in Shutterbug's January 2008 issue vs. current website price (searched via Froogle). Note that only one -- B&H -- has not hiked their price:

Adorama: $2.69/roll Jan'08 // $4.79 as of September 13th on Adorama and OUT OF STOCK

B&H: $2.99/roll Jan'08 // $2.99 as of September 13th but OUT OF STOCK

Unique Photo: $2.65/roll Jan'08 // $4.25 as of September 13th and in stock

Freestyle Photo: no Jan info // $3.99 as of September 13th

Does anybody know: (1) Is there a temporary shortage or manufacturing issue causing a temporary price hike? (2) Has Fuji increased wholesale prices of the film, meaning this is a permanent trend? (3) Is Reala at risk of obsolescence?

Reala is one of my favorites, considering the cost effectiveness compared to the print quality. If anyone has insight into the price hikes in the 35mm version, or even better, where it can be found cheaply, I'd appreciate it.

--Geoff

Responses

Vincent Peri , Sep 13, 2008; 10:31 a.m.

I've noticed that Kodachrome 64 and Provia 100F have gone up significantly recently, at least $1 per roll at the stores I buy from.

Blame it on (pick one): global warming; oil price over $145 barrel (now below $100); greed; currency exchange rates; etc.

Jeff Adler , Sep 13, 2008; 04:09 p.m.

I shot 2 36 exp. rolls of Reala in August and a roll of 120 Reala this month. I like it but I might want to see how good Kodak's new Ektar 100 is before I buy too much more Reala in 35mm size. Right now I have enough slow and medium speed 35mm color print film to sink a ship so I might not buy any for a while. I have $2 of funny money from CVS. If the 4-pack of 200 speed film goes on sale for $4.99 in tima I'll use the coupon for that. ACROS b&w film in 120 size is still very inexpensive. I might stock up on that.

Kelly Flanigan , Sep 13, 2008; 05:05 p.m.

Film sales are less; the price *has* to increase to support the expensive process which has fixed costs per year to maintain. Its not like buying 1/4-20 nuts that last a century; more like buying fruits and nuts grown in a lab that requires many millions per month to grow with special chemicals. If one ignores reality like costs; film will drop in prices; just like wind insurance in hurricane areas is; or health care costs too; or unions will accept minimum wages again.:). In a make believe world films like Kodachrome will be made forever; the prices will drop; gold will fall from the sky; Kodak and Fuji will keep alive products at a loss; since the are loaded with cash. With process camera materials the film skyrocketed in costs 12 years ago as each player dropped off the grid and volumes contacted; with the last gasps of hording allowing some folks to keep the cameras going a few more years. This was with simple and dumb B&W films with an asa of 6 that had a long shelf life. The bulk of 35mm film shot with still cameras is disposables; Joe Six packs usage of these gems helps support the so called better color negative products that have a tiny volume. As Joe six pack uses disposables less the *subsidy* of supporting the better emulsions will drop and further price increase will have to be used to support the super expensive film lines.

Geoff Miller , Sep 14, 2008; 08:57 a.m.

It's obvious and expected that film volume has declined and will decline into the future, but a 43% price hike in 8 months is symptomatic of something beyond simple declines in supply and demand. I'm just wondering if the price hike is due to a shortage induced by manufacturing issues (chemical shortage or yield issue at Fujifilms) or due to a retail shortage, where the lowest price retailer has sold out. After all, it's unusual that Adorama and B&H are both out of stock, and Reala is one of Fuji's more popular emulsions.

As a businessman, I can reassure you that Fuji and Kodak are not taping dollar bills to every roll of film they ship; they aren't in the film business as a charity cause, nor would they be (re-)releasing new emulsions such as Velvia 50 and Ektar 100 if it were a money losing proposition. Kodak notes that 35mm film continues to run at about 500,000 rolls/day run rate in North America alone.

Undoubtedly, prices will have to increase as lower demand makes the economies of scale to achieve, but a sudden spike in Reala price is unusually significant, and I'm skeptical that the price increase is solely due to waning demand.

Randall Pukalo , Sep 14, 2008; 02:37 p.m.

ALL films, not just Reala have gone up. Gone are the not-so-far-off days of 1.99 Superia 800 or 5.99 Kodachrome. The going rate for fresh, new Pro films is about 5 bucks a roll for print film, 5-9 for slide. Its not going to go back down.

Kelly Flanigan , Sep 14, 2008; 03:57 p.m.

but a 43% price hike in 8 months is symptomatic of something beyond simple declines in supply and demand

Take another light sensitive product thats declining; contracting; being used less like old diazo blueline paper. It went up 10 percent two years ago; then 12 percent last year; then 33 percent this summer. Few folks use the stuff; a master roll is only made by a few players; it goes bad if not sold; it requires a coating line with chemcials.

In large format Vellum the usage is radically less and players like National Print Fast shut their doors a few months ago; the few players left in the game boosted prices another 22 percent. A 24x36" by 100 sheet pack of vellum was 45 bucks a year ago; now its 100.

Even dumb common 20 Lb paper in rolls and sheet has gone up alot; and its NOT even a light sensitive product with a short shelf life

. A 43 percent price hike in 8 months on a contacting sales item thats capital intensive to make and spoils is not out of the norm; with process camera materials we had some films double in one year.

The bulk of 35mm still film, sold is with throwaway units; ie disposables; NOT artsy farts stuff. Its a tiny fraction; *supported* by joe six packs purchase of one shot cameras.

Whats missing is the product *rots* with time and has to me made in a super expensive giant production line; in total darkness with a mile long roll. Horrible chemicals have to be used; stored; disposed ; this has a cost. The raw film base is plastic; it has to track oils price. The workers on the film line probably have health insurance ; this goes up 20 to 40 percent each year.

The retailers carry a low inventory since they dont want the items to *rot* on the shelves; thus its hard to keep a shelf of film stocked as the sales get more spastic with time. Even Walmart carries radically less of each film product; folks are using it less.

If one doesnt like the price of a dog house one can build one yourself. One cannot create a 3 layer color print film at home; or selling off all the houses in the neighborhood. With beer and wine one can have a micro brewery in the basement; a micro B&W line for glass plates is possible too.

What does a color film line cost that makes color 35mm film; 100 million; 1 billion; 2 billion? Whats the smallest run of Reala that can be made with no hitches; a few miles? Let the sales drop in half and the price will have to double; or triple.

Nolan Ross , Sep 14, 2008; 06:40 p.m.

Everything is going up. Film, food, gas and everything else that I can think of. Well except my income.

Bob Michaels , Sep 16, 2008; 10:23 p.m.

Actually not that unusual that both B&H and Adorama are out of stock. I called Fuji Pro Services in a panic several years ago when both had been out of Neopan 400 for quite a while. Fuji told me that everyone else but those two had stock. It seems that they both demand pricing concessions for their high volume. If there is any shortage, B&H and Adorama don't get film while everyone else does. It makes sense for Fuji to sell to those wholesalers who pay more.

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