A very welcome tabloid-sized newsletter popped through my letter box today from the UK photography supplier, Firstcall Photographic. At first, I was disappointed because the first ten of the 28 pages were devoted to digital and video. But then, darkroom and film goodies started to appear and it seems Firstcall and doing a great job on that front.
For a start, they're selling four new enlargers, a 12x16 inch easel, an enlarger timer and a Jobo print and film washer. Now, none of this stuff is particularly cheap but that's just the nature of darkroom stuff these days.
|LPL 3301 enlarger|
The enlargers are a £268 Japanese-made LPL 3301 condenser model which comes with a 50mm lens and is for 35mm only, a Chinese-made Paterson Universal which handles 35mm and 6x6 and which retails at £200 without lens and a £2500 LPL 7452 which accepts 35mm to 5x4 negs and is also from Japan.
It's interesting to see Firstcall also selling the Enfojer (below), a £130 enlarger which uses your smart phone as a light source and projects phone pics onto normal darkroom paper for development in the time-honoured fashion. It's a great idea and Firstcall says the results are "really impressive" although I haven't seen any yet. It also comes with a 35mm carrier if you want to use film.
Italian company Condor make the two-blade enlarging easel which sells for £97 and also the £65 enlarger timer. Jobo are the sole remaining manufacturer of semi-automatic print and film processors and have sold more than 120 units of their CPP3 model in the last year alone. It can handle sheet film up to 10x8 inches and prints up to 20x24 inches and comes in at a cool £1990.
That's all good stuff but then we get to film in the newsletter and find that Firstcall have been active on that front as well. They're now marketing a new 200 ISO C41 process colour print film called X400 PE1. It can be pushed to 640 ISO if needed. Its key selling points are that it is a maskless colour film which makes it easy to scan and costs a very reasonable £3 a roll.
Then there's the new Chrome 200 PE1 E6 slide film which has the same film speed and retails at the same price. Last month, Firstcall launched CineStill Xpro C-41 process tungsten film and say that they have hardly been able to keep up with demand. It's dearer at £7.50 a 36-exposure roll. All the films are 35mm. The Firstcall films come from Agfa's Belgian plant and CineStill is made in the US by The Brothers Wright.
If anyone is planning on trying the new films, please get in touch with me and let me know what they're like. I never shoot colour but I'm happy to promote it on this website. UPDATE: reader, Nasir Hamid, has been posting some results from CineStill on his excellent blog. Check them out here.
Firstcall are continuing with their own black and white film, 400S, which is Rollei Retro S under another name. At £2.49, it's the cheapest film on the UK market and is good stuff regardless of the price although I'd rate it at 200 ISO and not the claimed 400 ISO. Along with their own full range of great value photo chemicals, it makes film and darkroom work really affordable.
I think there's a tendency for UK-based film photographers to think of AG Photographic and Silverprint - both excellent companies - when it comes to buying their supplies but Firstcall clearly deserve our support as well for making such a great effort to promote darkroom work and keeping the operating costs down to a reasonable price.
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