Foma- why so expensive?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by sarahfoto, May 9, 2009.

  1. sarahfoto

    sarahfoto Member

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    I bought a packet of Foma 532 a while back and payed ca 18euros and next time it had gone up to double the prize! Was I lucky the first time, maybe they marked it wrong, or is Foma all of a sudden superpopular and expensive?
    Or has it always been?
     
  2. Solarize

    Solarize Member

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    The price seems to have gone up for most things, but I'd say it's probably worth shopping around. At my regular supplier, they are charging £51.21 for a box of 9.5x12 Fomatone, but I can get it elsewhere (in London still) for £37.68. It is crazy.
     
  3. RobertV

    RobertV Member

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    Fomatone MG 532 II (and MG 542 II) are two very special papers and produced in a very limited quantity.

    Best regards,

    Robert


    [​IMG]
     
  4. Aurum

    Aurum Member

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    Low volume and specialist, made on old kit. Not a recipe for much cheapness
     
  5. Stan160

    Stan160 Member

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    When trying to decide which glossy warmtone FB paper to try a couple of years ago, I chose Fomatone over Ilford because it was cheaper. That situation is reversed now, which is annoying as I'm just starting to get the measure of Fomatone and don't want to switch purely based on price.

    Ian
     
  6. argentic

    argentic Member

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    Charging more than Ilford Warmtone FB (which isn't cheap at all) is just plain stupid. Kodak killed it's own Elite papers that way. Fomatone paper is good, but not THAT good. Personally, anything more expensive than Ilford WT FB just isn't interesting.

    Sure, changing to another quality paper takes a few days of testing. But that doesn't prevent me of switching brands. It shouldn't prevent you either.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2009
  7. sarahfoto

    sarahfoto Member

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    But I just fell in love with Fomatone! I have tried quite a few different brands, but the Fomatone is fantastic.
    I guess maybe I'll just have to surrender and pay the price, or move to Checkoslovakia.

    Thank you for your feedback!

    -Sarah
     
  8. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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  9. RobertV

    RobertV Member

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    May I remind you that the Fomapan films and Foma papers within the Czech Republic is often on a higher price level then e.g. in Germany or the Netherlands :smile:


    Fomatone MG 532 II and MG 542 II are very unique warmtone paper. The Fomatone MG 131 or 132 should be approx. on the level of Ilford warmtone papers.


    Best regards,

    Robert
     
  10. msage

    msage Member

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    Sarah
    Go with the paper that compliments you vision. Price should be the last factor (within reason of course!). If you love the paper, use it. Tighten up your technique so your efficiency goes up and your cost per print goes down.
    Michael
     
  11. VincentM

    VincentM Member

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    Robert,

    Do you actually have/sell the MG532 II and MG542 II ?? Also do you know if those papers come in packages of more than 10 sheets per format from 30x40 and above?

    Thanks
     
  12. RobertV

    RobertV Member

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    I have it on stock in 30x40cm/10sheet.

    These special papers are only available in a few different formats. Always in 10 sheet packing.
    The regular Fomatone MG 131/132 are available in packings of 10 and 50 sheets.

    Best regards,

    Robert
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    It might be special paper but no-one has given an explanation to the OP's original statement " I bought a packet of Foma 532 a while back and it was 18 euros and now its double"

    Is there a cost explanation or has Foma seen what is happening in the paper market with Ilford and we are seeing a form of follow the leader pricing where each manufacturer follows the other. testing the market until it believes it is charging what the market will bear?

    I have said this before and will do so again, B&W paper prices have gone crazy in the last few months in the U.K. and now it seems that other markets are affected. Strangely this large increase hasn't affected RA4 paper and it's now cheaper to use RA4 than B&W. Why this change? Is there something in B&W paper that has risen in cost very substantially that doesn't affect RA4?

    pentaxuser
     
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  15. RobertV

    RobertV Member

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    There is a huge price difference between Fomatone MG 542 - 532 and Fomatone MG 542 II - 532 II. So maybe that's the reason of the price gap which was over 30% (but not 100% :smile: )
     
  16. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

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    When comparing classic BW to RA4 paper, manufacturing scale should be considered as well. RA4 sales have only been affected by limited printing in the digital era. It's still the best method and factories still produce huge ammounts of paper. On the other hand, real BW paper is increasingly becoming a "special" product, hence the "special" prices... :sad:
     
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  17. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Pentaxuser,

    I suspect a fibre base double weight RA-4 paper wouldn't be so inexpensive if it were available.

    Tom.
     
  18. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Tom. OK I'll give this whole thing up after this final reply as my questions seem to be getting me nowhere fast but I just haven't seen anything that convinces me that the increase in B&W paper prices has a cause other than the belief that the market which I suspect is full of "distress purchasers"(defined as people who feel they have no choice but to pay what's demanded) can bear a higher price. Our Swedish OP mentions a massive increase. Others in the U.K. who belong to forums outside APUG have expressed similar concerns so I am not the only one with concerns about whether the price increases are fully justified.

    Yes RA4 in fibre double base may well be more expensive but it still doesn't explain the kinds of increases we've seen in B&W paper resulting in the gap between RA4 and B&W fibre doublebase is growing bigger. It can't all be explained by the greater volume of RA4 paper. Ilford collapsed and for a while total sales of B&W paper must have fallen then Ilfordphoto (Harman Technology) rose from the ashes of the old Ilford company. It has since bought Kentmere and has grown in strength by making a profit but it's only in recent months that prices have risen disproportionately o Presumably the old company couldn't make a profit and couldn''t or wouldn't make the changes to survive. The new company made those painful changes but this didn't involve increasing prices immediately after the management buy-out so was the new company operating at a loss initially at its prices of say 2005 to very recently and now needs these increases for continued survival? Maybe but if this is the case it would have been more honest to say so.

    Like me, you must have seen the massive increase in FB especially WT in the U.K. The question in my opinion still remains - why?.

    We all have theories, many of which do the manufacturers job for them in terms of making us shrug our shoulders and saying "it's just the way things are" but if we believe that we aren't entirely being dealt with fairly by our major utilities companies such as the gas and electricity suppliers and this view is supported by the Govt Regulators who launch inquiries, why should those dealing in B&W paper be exempt from such suspicions.

    I remain unconvinced that the increases in B&W paper prices are fully justified.

    pentaxuser
     
  19. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Purely speculation on my part but I suspect many of these issues are related to time lag between an event and a production cycle (e.g. a manufacture of a particular paper). Harman has stated in the past either their intention or the actuality of producing significant stocks of the Kentmere products at the Kendal facility, a statement which would seem to indicate a good supply of Kentmere products since the move, up to the point of a decision on discontinuation.

    Paper has gone up in price in general, however I remember paying about £30 a box for ILFORD 8x10 RC 100 sheets about 5 years ago, whereas the price now seems to be about £25.

    I'm not sure Harman Technology can be compared to the BBC or a major electricity supply company. Harman / ILFORD make good products and I have to assume the price they set is one they feel makes sense; competitors are available...

    Tom.
     
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  20. wogster

    wogster Member

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    I think a lot of the pricing on paper like anything else has to do with supply and demand. For a long time, demand for B&W materials has been shrinking, so as machines used to make materials has gotten to the end of it's life, it has not been replaced, so the supply was also shrinking. This was fine until a couple of years ago, when photographers started realizing that digital was more hype then hope, and photographers in larger numbers started looking back at film, many of them started their time in photography with B&W, and they returned to it, demand for B&W materials increased. Really increased for the first time since the 1950's. So materials manufacturers got caught with an increase in demand and a shrinking supply, so prices go up.

    Some of the older machinery may be able to return to service, or new machines may be made, to increase supply, and then prices will go down as supply and demand balance out.

    Now what may also happen is that specialist papers with tiny markets may cease manufacture or be drastically reduced so that machines can be dedicated to more standard products. I expect that FB papers with special grades, tones and finishes will be the first to go. While Multi-grade RC papers in glossy and pearl type finishes will be more common and therefore will not see the drastic price increases.

    I could be totally out-to-lunch here, but it makes sense.
     
  21. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    There could be lots of reasons for a price increase. Margin is one example. It's my belief that in a world recession there are still going to be people that can afford to purchase what they like. If you sell less, you should make more money on each package.
    Then of course when the economy turns around, they don't lower the prices back down again.

    Competing with price and lowering profit margins eventually erodes the market and nobody makes money. I believe that's why companies like Ilford withdrew from doing re-branding of their products to others, and instead make custom coatings for others such as Adox and Kentmere.

    - Thomas
     
  22. cmacd123

    cmacd123 Subscriber

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    recall also that several major suppliers have left the scene.. AGFA, Forte, Kodak all no longer produce B&W paper so the demand is taken up by fewer suppliers. Kentmere is now just another line sold by Ilford, so that is also effectively the departure of another supplier. Photoimplex SAY they are going to make new paper but they are quite possibly only able to do so at higher prices than have recently existed.

    We have also probably all gotten a bit spoiled as the supply chain has been clearing out various papers after they reached the point where they had broken lines in their warehouse. (Freestyle recently had a great price on one no-longer-made paper only in a few sizes and only in grades 3 and 4) that sort of price is not a fair comparison as it is by definition not sustainable.
     
  23. sarahfoto

    sarahfoto Member

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    Qoute from RobertV: "The Fomatone MG 532 II and MG 542 II has been renewed and due to the complicated fiber base these prices has been gone up pretty much.
    The regular warmtone papers: Fomatone MG 131 and 132 are based on the Ilford warmtone price level."

    This is all I needed to know. Like Pentaxuser pointed at all I wanted to know was why this big increase? If I am paying for quality that's fine, but if it's just a hype... I would think twice.
     
  24. vitus

    vitus Member

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    I agree with Robert there is a price (and also finish) difference between old and new version of Fomatone 532 and 542 papers. The new one has no beautiful watercolor-type surface.

    But the textured paper base discontinuation is not only the reason of price increase.

    On Jan 15-th I did the nice order for new version Fomatone 542 II Chamois 20x24 at Silverprint. Net value was GBP 37.44 / 10 sheets. I was lucky because few weeks later the prices for exactly the same 20x24 Fomatone 542 II changed . Net value at Silverprint is GBP 43.60 / 10 sheets now. It is little over 16% up since January, but the paper is not double priced.

    The Chamois gives me a great d-max and the base is so beautiful - definitely my favorite finish worth the extra money.
     
  25. kompressor

    kompressor Member

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    The Foma factory raised their prices in january 2009, regarding to the owner of fomafoto.no
     
  26. Martin Reed

    Martin Reed Advertiser Advertiser

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    Increases in energy and material costs are the main reason for these increases - Foma are just following the almost 20% rise that Harman has had to impose over the last year.

    One factor that I don't think has ever been pointed out here is the nature of the distribution chain for photo papers. Harman hold very large stock of material in finished rolls, and can convert this very quickly so generally are able to supply most of their catalogue from stock.

    All the other paper manufacturers, operate with an order/manufacture cycle, in the case of Foma it's monthly. Orders from the distributors have to be in by a certain cutoff date - paper is made to order and shipped about a month later. If a large order from a customer comes out of the blue after the monthly order is in production, just tough, there will be a month's wait before it can be supplied. It's unlikely to be on the shelf to airlift over. To make the process even more fraught, the distributor will usually have to pay upfront for some or all of the order.

    So Harman have the whip hand in being generally always able to supply from stock (although of course they have to finance this). The other paper manufacturers in the frame can run a tight operation as they are insulated from stock holding, but in effect always have a 'brake' restraining their potential sales, as the stockholding is by distributors who operate 'just in time' which sometimes ends up as 'just too late'.

    It's probably in recognition of this that companies like Foma and Adox are gaining an innovative edge by researching new products (532 ll & the drive to remake Polywarmtone being examples). As several people have pointed out, you're paying for quality and elitism, so bear in mind a difficult procurement process, and order well in advance!