Opinion? Agfa, Ferrania, Fuji, Kodak, Konica

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by TonyD58, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. TonyD58

    TonyD58 Member

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    I don't like to cross-post, but I asked the following question on another website and, as APUG is strictly analog, was told that I may get more input here:

    The color negative/slide film manufacturing world is in a much different place than it was just a few years ago. Agfa still makes a few color emulsions for Rollei, but it's out of the consumer film business, at least under it's own name. Ferrania (if it still exists) no longer makes film. Konica-Minolta abandoned all photography-related business. That leaves us with an extremely ill Kodak and a fairly healthy Fuji still in the game.
    I remember reading a comment some years ago that Agfa, Ferrania and Konica were considered second-tier manufacturers. In other words, their film technology was always a few years or more behind Fuji and Kodak. In retrospect, I am wondering if that actually was the case, or just public perception because they didn't have the global market share of Fuji and Kodak? I know some members on this site have worked for these companies, and I assume they occasionally had to take a closer look at competing products as part of their jobs. I'm asking for opinions or thoughts, whether you were on the consumer or manufacturing end of the chain.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    I got my hands on a bunch of Konica Centuria Super 100 in 120 expired in 2008.. damn it is really nice film. Beautiful for nature shots, sharp as well. Wouldn't use it for Portraits though.. also got some Centuria Super 3200 colour neg in 120... but obviously wont be like it was new unforunately.
     
  3. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Agfa do not make colour emulsions for Rollei. Rollei (Maco) buys out of the Agfa range, and converts itself.

    After the merger in 1964 Agfa became No 2 in worldproduction. (This is western world, the only available figures.)

    The advantage Kodak had was that it always had the largest R&D team, due to its sheer size.
    Due to both Kodak in general was the one to make the pace from the 60's onwards. The competitors then had to react on.


    Public perception is very much dependent on the market the public is in. This even comes true for professional users.





    By the way: Welcome to Apug! I hope you'll find here help and information beyond this topic.
     
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  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    One reason Agfa oand Ferrania weren't considered on a par with Kodak and Fuji was because before C41 and E6 became the standards they used their own proprietary processing formulae which were less common.

    Personally I preferrred Aga's colour materials to Kodak's E3/4 and C22 films but there weren't many professional processing labs compared to Kodak/Fuji.

    The Konica/Sakura E6 slide films were just not in the same league as Agfa, Fuji and Kodak in terms of colour, contrast, grain etc, Ferrania/3M were about the ssame but some of the C41 films were very good.

    I remember 3M - Ferrania trying to break into the professional market in the early 1980's and they had made significant improvements in their films and RA4 paper, I had a sample pack with various films and some paper to try and was reasonably impressed but the labs we used preferred Kodak or Fuji materials.

    In the UK the Fuji E4 films were slightly better than the Kodak films in terms of contrast and colour fidelity and when the switch to E6 came they began to increase their market share very rapidly. Their film batches (E6) were more consistent than Kodak professional films which still needed slight filtration if you needed good colour matching, each box came with a recommended filtration and varitaion in EI. This was importnat were part of a job might be shot on different formats or even different batches of film.

    Agfa in the UK had lost potential market share because Kodak's processes C22 and E3/4 had vbecome the de facto standards and when they did switch to E6 and C41 it was to late to catch up.

    I'm sure AgX could tell us how thinhs were quite different in (West) Germany. The Soviet block (inc East Germany)were different still with a total reliance on older Agfa based colour systems, many of us remember using ORWO CT18 which was much cheaper than anything else :smile:

    Ian
     
  5. pentaxpete

    pentaxpete Subscriber

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    Yes, bring back ORWO CT18 -- all is forgiven !!
     
  6. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Ferrania is now mainly a manufacturer of solar panels.
    They probably were a bit behind Kodak and Fuji but having a palette of their own some people preferred them on taste ground.
    I think they have always suffered from bad distribution, even in Italy.
    In the eighties they produced some record setting films for sensitivity, e.g. a slide film for tungsten light at ASA 640 and IIRC later another one for daylight at ASA 1000.

    Konica-Minolta sold their photography business to Sony, which rebranded it "Sony", and their light-meter business to Kenko, which rebranded it "Kenko". There is no solution of continuity between Minolta and Sony. Minolta photographic business is alive and well, under another name.

    The perception might have been due to the fact that most printers used Kodak paper and I suppose that the best results from one negative are obtained when using paper and film of the same manufacturer (which presumably "matches" paper to film). Besides, Kodak made a huge amount of advertisements in the eighties even on TV while Agfa or 3M - Ferrania barely bought a page on some photographic magazines.
     
  7. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I recall that in the mid 70's when ORWO (which was I believe an anagram for 'ORiginal WOlfen')** was still in production I was serving in Germany with the Army. We got a security warning about this film and asked not to use it. The reason being that it was sent off for processing and eventually finished up in the old East Germany where it could have been looked at by the Eastern Bloc Security Services. How true this was I never put it to the test.

    As it happens, after leaving the forces I went back to Germany on holiday and did use a cassette or two and still have most of the slides. The colours, although warm the are still perfectly preserved with very rich saturated colours. There is no fading visible

    **Wolfen is a town in what was Eastern Germany
     
  8. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Interesting aspect. However, the marketshare of Orwo films was small. More important, Orwo films were sold in West-Germany rebranded. The warning you got would not cover those films. I don't know of Orwo films sold by West-German retailers being processed in East-Germany.
    It would have taken some effort by an intelligence service to spy fruitfully by this means. And there were better alternatives.

    As we are speaking about intelligence: in the 50's a US photographic company spied, aided by US authorities, on a West-German competitor.
     
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  9. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    US authorities, and naturally not only them, have always being suspected of practicing industrial spying against their "allies", exploiting the copious amount of information they can gather from their formerly extensive presence in Europe and Japan.

    The "ECHELON" interception system is another notorious suspect of industrial spying. This is a system put in place by the US and several English-speaking allies throughout the planet (in particular UK and Australia). It officially only exists with the purpose of counter-terrorism or whatever, it goes without saying, and suspecting some different purpose can be reduced to a "conspiracy theory", it goes without saying.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON
     
  10. wogster

    wogster Member

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    Any newer Agfa film that says Agfa is going to be relabelled Fuji, Ferrania IIRC went broke a few years ago, Konica merged with Minolta, then sold their photography business to Sony, some of the high end innovation in a Sony's digital cameras are actually Konica innovations, I called the Alpha 1 a Konioltony when it first came out.... Like Ferrania any Konica film out there is expired by now. Agfa's industrial branch may coat some film, probably as a contract coater now though, because the photography division is long gone.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Until 1965, when the new Ektaprint 3 process and papers and the new C41 process, all other companies had their own proprietary processes for color products with the exception of Fuji and Konica which had Kodachrome compatible films.

    At the time the new C41 and EP3 were introduced, the films used entirely new chemistry to improve sharpness and grain along with speed. These improvements were patented and any other company that wanted to equal Kodak materials had to get a license.

    The Japanese (Sakura and Fuji) were coating with high speed coaters which laid down several layers at one time. This again was a Kodak patent that was just expiring at that time. So, the Japanese could equal the Kodak output and product but only by license of patents, and since the new materials broke new grounds chemically, the Japanese had some catch up to do. Their products did not equal those of Kodak until about 1990. Fuji finally exceeded Kodak quality with reversal films, but Kodak kept the lead in neg-pos products.

    Agfa, until about 1965 was using a different color chemistry which caused problems with high speed mulit layer coatings and so they had to re-design all of their color products and coating machines. This caused a considerable lag that lasted until the early '80s IIRC. I do know that Agfa engineers were trying to get information on Kodak coating speeds and the number of layers we were coating. Well, in 1965 we were doing more than 6 layers at one time and nearly 1000 ft/min and no one was able to match that productivity at that time.

    Everyone finally caught up to those figures, but Kodak is doing better than that now! If need be, Kodak could supply the entire color and B&W marked, but obviously there are other players and the market share has been destroyed by both digital and the actions of Kodak's top management.

    PE
     
  12. AgX

    AgX Member

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    That is FALSE

    an Agfa cartridge contains Agfa film!

    You mix up Agfa and AgfaPhoto.



    Agfa coats a huge amount of film.
    Only a part of that is contract coating of their very own films.
    They still have a photography department.
    What they sold, and what in success went under, was their consumer department (amateurs, prof. photographers, labs)



    Ferrania had a troublesome past including changes of ownership which did not affect film production and is still alive. They coated photographic materials until recently, so their films, under whatever label won't be expired yet.
     
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  13. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Process Ektaprint-3 was introduced 1971.
    Process C-41 was introduced 1975.


    Agfa was the last western company to change over to oil-embedded couplers (Ektachrome principle).
    They started that change in 1978.
     
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  15. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    My favorite films were always Agfa. They might not have been as good as far as grain size but I preferred the colors. I still have a ton of 35mm Optima 100 that I bought back in '07. That is my all time favorite color film. Of course these days it is a little "off" but I still like it. I do color through the computer anyway so it isn't that big of a deal to fix.

    Most of the film from these old manufacturers that you buy these days will be toast if you expect the best quality and they can't compare to the latest films like Ektar. Still some may have unique or quirky characteristics that you may find endearing. Back before the digital world, I always liked 3M films (Ferrania?) even though they weren't that "great". What I liked about them was the saturation was low. Back when the only option was to have it optically printed the characteristics of the film were very important. If you still print in the darkroom that is still true, but once an image hits a computer the differences even among modern films is diluted.

    If you are looking for old color films a good place is http://www.ultrafineonline.com That is where I bought the old Agfa stuff back in '07 and I was just looking today at their website. They have lots of old films and they are cheap too.
     
  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    AgX; Ektaprint 3 was actually introduced in 1969 at School Finishres of Webster! C41 was 1 year later.

    Agfa introduced the new coulers in 1978, but stared R&D much earlier.

    PE
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Yes, I mixed up dates. C-41 was introduced '71 or '72.

    I rather think the latter, as combined with the new Pocket-system.
     
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  18. wogster

    wogster Member

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    Agfa's old industrial division may coat film, they may coat it by the ship load, but they don't make film for consumer use, anything that says Agfa on it, is either expired or it's not true Agfa film. Yes AgfaPhoto could have had Agfa's Industrial division coat some Agfa emulsions, but they didn't they rebadged Fuji something or other, and there is no guarantee that they will be spooling the same film next week.

    Ferrania is no longer making film, they quit production in December 2008, so that film is at least 4 years old, since most film is dated to expire 3 years after production, that means the last of their production should be expired by now.
     
  19. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Agfa offers type 135 film colour film. So that may come into consumers hand.
    Maco offers a lot of film bearing the Agfa logo on the box.


    Ferrania: December 2008? Where do you got that information?

    Furthermore film is frozen in certain cases even by the industry. Even Agfa did so to gap production of colour materials when German plant went under.
     
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  20. Henning Serger

    Henning Serger Member

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    Sorry, Paul, that is not correct. Agfa-Gevaert in Antwerp, Belgium, is the third biggest film manufacturer worldwide, only Kodak and Fujifilm are bigger.
    And as a normal consumer / photographer you can buy fresh film manufactured by them without problems. Several different BW and color film types are offered by Maco/Rollei-Film, and one film is also offered by Adox (CMS 20 II = Agfa HDP microfilm).

    Their last production runs were at the end of 2009 (at least one of their biggest long term customers told me that).

    Best regards,
    Henning
     
  21. wogster

    wogster Member

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    Okay in the case of Agfa-Gevaert there is a possibility they are making consumer film under contract to Maco, Rollie and Adox, that's NOT Agfa labelled film, whether it's an old Agfa-Gevaert emulsion or not, you would need to confirm with Maco, Rollie or Adox. From what I understand they do manufacture xray and other diagnostic and scientific materials, but that's not the same. Any consumer film labelled Agfa that was manufactured by Agfa-Gevaert is now expired. There is AgfaPhoto film that is not Agfa film, it's a re-badged Fuji something. As for Ferriana(sp?) if they made the last roll at the end of 2009, it would now be very stale dated if not expired.
     
  22. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    AgfaPhoto film material is, nowadays, Fujifilm material rebranded. AgfaPhoto also "brands" other kind of products.
    They use the "red dot" but the writing is always AgfaPhoto never Agfa.

    http://www.agfaphoto.com/appc/index.php

    Agfa-Gevaert is not a mere "brand" is the real firm behind it. They produce a lot of stuff not just aerial film and not just graphic material:

    http://www.agfa.com/global/en/main/index.jsp

    They still can use the AGFA "red rhombus" brand.

    Rollei film manufactured by Agfa-Gevaert is clearly marked as such.
     
  23. wogster

    wogster Member

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    But that does not mean that it bears any resemblance to the old Agfa film products we grew up with in the orange boxes, just that it's being coated by the same company, it would be no more or less an Agfa film product if it was coated in Rochester, Tokyo or Mobberly.
     
  24. TonyD58

    TonyD58 Member

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    True, but that can be said of any manufacturer. The Kodak film of today may or may not bear a resemblance to the film the company made in the 1960s, but that does not mean it's not Kodak film. I believe what the poster was trying to say is that AgfaPhoto is simply a licensed name, with really no ties or connection to the original company. However, Agfa-Gevaert is the original company and they still make film, even if it is sold under other brand names.
     
  25. AgX

    AgX Member

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    As said before: Agfa does not make consumer film. Nor do they make such on contract at the moment. (They were involved in a joint venture on paper, and are involved in another venture). However films out of their range are bought by Maco and Fotoimpex. With two films added by a proprietary (non-Agfa) developer.
    In nearly all cases Maco labels those films originating from Agfa with the Agfa label.



    For those new on that Agfa issue:

    AgfaPhoto is a designation used sparcely by Agfa since the late 90's or so to indicate their Consumer Branch.
    However it was not used as brand.

    When Agfa sold off that department in 2004 the new entity and its holding company got the name AgfaPhoto.

    The life of that production company was only for some months, then it went mysteriously bancrupt. The holding company still exists.
    It sold off remnants out of the film stock (either manufactured by Agfa or Agfaphoto). The AgfaPhoto APX is out of that stock. When their colour film stock ended they rebranded films from other manufacturers.

    AgfaPhoto of today is not a manufacturer. Furthermore they license the name AgfaPhoto for different kind of photo-related products.

    Agfa which is still alive and huge and still owner of the brandname Agfaphoto started a legal case against that rebranding with their name but lost the case.




    That "old division" is the place were Agfa thrived on, not Leverkusen.


    The link between consumer and industrial product was of extreme importance. And still is. Photo Engineer has repeatedly hinted at that. Looking at the past you will hardly find any company related to film only based on consumer products (Polaroid having been the major excemption, and even they had Kodak manufacturing for them).

    Even Simon Galley of IlfordPhoto will admit that this company is part of a larger entity that is trying to regain the industrial market.
    Mirko Böddekker of Fotoimpex/Adox has repeatedly hinted at the difficulties and limitations an endeaveour solely related to consumer products (as Adox) has to bear.
    Mirco could not yet have made his new materials without the assistance of partners involved in making industrial materials.
     
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  26. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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