22 December 2009

Fuji Quickload and Large Format Film Availability

As posted previously, the discontinuation of quickload is a blow to large format photographers but is it “the beginning of the end”? Well I don’t think so and hopefully I can articulate a few reasons why.

Fuji as a company have made vast losses recently and this has been reflected in share prices. In order to respond to shareholder pressure, FujiFilm have declared that they ..

To this end, beginning with the current fiscal year, to build a robust corporate constitution, the Company is resolutely implementing concentrated structural reforms and thoroughly implementing measures to reduce costs and expenses throughout the entire Group and in all businesses without excluding any business fields from the scope of these measures

Fuji’s losses in the Color Film subdivision were nearly 40% and I have a feeling that ‘without excluding any business fields’ is probably to do with the ‘Film’ in fujifilm having ‘extraordinary protection’ within the business. However, film as a whole is a huge revenue earner for the business (£1 billion dollars! Excluding the colour paper part of the business) and so as a whole, film will most definitely remain alive.

However, each subdivision of the company will have been asked to make cuts somewhere that will reduce overheads and anything that doesn’t make a big part of that £1bn will need looking at. One of Fuji’s other stated aims is to move production over to China where possible. If this is the case for film production, consolidating suppliers, inventory equipment, storage space, employee salaries, etc. will be a strong contender for consolidation.

Compared with this, the production of sheet film is a minor job of slicing up some sheets and packaging. Even if Fuji were to decide that they couldn’t manage to cut film to size, an agent may be able to purchase raw sheet film and cut it themselves. Not a technically complex task and not something that requires a huge equipment investment. In contrast, the production of quickloads have a significant equipment overhead and custom manufacturing and materials input.

My guess this that we will see consolidation of film lines before we see consolidation of film sizes (maybe this was demonstrated when velvia 50 was discontinued even when quickload was still alive and kicking). So we may see Pro160S discontinued before we see 4×5 sheet film become unavailable.

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19 Responses to “Fuji Quickload and Large Format Film Availability”

  1. On October 12, 2010 at 11:42 pm