Actually the master rolls are 40" by 4000 feet, but economics is correct. It's easier to unload smaller film and the amount of investment sitting in boxes is not quite so great with smaller film.
I'm sure the moment Les sees this thread, he will be on the horn to see what the story is.
But I will only shoot one emulsion. I dont have the energy to remember which material this plate or that is made of what. I shot plus x pan for a hundred years then kodak cut it from the line up. I've been happy with FP-4 for some time now and have quite a stock. So when that runs out, I will look for the highest quality single emulsion at the lowest price that fits my needs (assuming it's available.)
The rolls are actually 60" wide, not 40" wide. Regardless, they are large, and will easily accommodate any size film that people want to cut.
The issue that I see is that Ilford appears to be doing exactly the opposite of their press release from several months ago. Anyone else recall the press release where they mentioned coating glass plates? While I don't believe that the ULF market is terribly large, it is certainly larger then the glass plate market. Apparently, they have a very short memory.
Worse, if Ilford decides to stop selling master rolls, and also stops cutting ULF sizes, then they have completely turned their backs on the people that will be continuing to purchase film into the future. There's no doubt that the 35mm and MF sales of B&W film have been dropping over the last few years, but the market for LF and ULF films is actually growing. If Ilford doesn't see that this will be about all they will have left in another decade, then they are bigger fools than I thought.
I understand the possibility that they were selling the master rolls at a loss, and that needs to be corrected, but I don't see the logic in discontinuing the sale of master rolls a long as they are priced at a sustainable level.
For example, if they sold a master roll that has enough film to produce 20,000 sheets of 8x10 or so, and if they determined a fair profit margin on the roll, why not sell it? It won't cut into their profits, as long as it is priced appropriately. They could sell 20,000 sheets of film without all the packaging and hassle associated with 25 sheet boxes, and end up with a good profit that complements their packaged film sales.
They could feasibly sell the film at a higher profit per square foot than the 35mm sales and end up with a substantially better bottom line due to the lack of complex packaging and shipping requirements necessary for film by the roll.
If they sold master rolls and disconntinued the ULF sizes, it would make perfect sense. They would never have to do a special order, and the loyal Ilford film shooters out there would still be able to get the film that they want in the size they want.
When I heard the news, I began stocking up on FP4 from PhotoWarehouse, as I use cameras that may be difficult to get film to fit in the future. I figure I need to place one more order from them to last me for a good long time. Once I run through that film, I'll have to search out a place to cut film down for me, as the format I use (10x12) is not common enough to ever have sheet sizes available from the regular channels.
Anybody ask Ilford yet? Right now we have one report. It could be a communication screw up. It could be they meant "We'd love to cut your order but not that small an order"
Well, I trust Fred Newman when he says Ilford refused to fill his order and told him the items were deleted. I know of one other person who recently placed an order through a different dealer for 12x20 HP5 Plus; the order is now well past the estimated delivery date and has still not been received.
The unresolved question is whether Ilford will still be willing to cut custom orders, or whether they have washed their hands of this business entirely. If they are, then the answer may be to form some sort of purchasing cooperative to place a custom order periodically. Yes, that's a nuisance, so whether it will fly will depend on how badly people really want the product.
Perhaps View Camera Store or JandC could serve as an aggregator to assemble a custom order, in return for a markup to cover their costs and some profit.
The LF conference next month would be a good occasion to corner an Ilford rep and find out once and for all whether it will be possible to get ULF Ilford film again, and if so, what it will take.
The discussion here seems to be running counter to what I have read in View Camera Mag. An article written by Mr Wisner stated that the Ilford folks were committed to the B&W arena including ULF and maybe even providing dry glass plates for the alt process folk. Could it be that this is a temporary bump until they get their USA operations going?
No escaping it!
I must step on fallen leaves
to take this path
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I have asked Les McLean to check into this and he has said he will. Maybe in the not to distant future we will find out the real answer.
Ilford has posted a pdf with a list of what they're making.
7x17 while supply lasts
12x20 is enquire
11x14 stock item.