Friday, September 23, 2016

Orianna Reardon - Fence

Photographer Orianna Reardon's work using New55 PN has always been interesting and very well done, which is not surprising as her other work is much admired too.  Here is an older unpublished photograph she did using a Speed Graphic and New55 PN film.

Monday, September 19, 2016

New Instax Square is 2.5 X 2.5 (inches)

Here's a cut down Instax Wide made in the size of the newly announced Instax Square. The announcement and its timing show that Fujifilm intends to capture remaining market share from its competitors and fulfill its stated goal to stand alone in photographic instant films.  The picture area is 2.5 X 2.5 inches, or a little bigger than a square 120 size film negative frame. The side by side comparison is done by cutting down an Instax Wide shot and simply overlapping it. On the left is a recent Impossible instant photo. Both were shot by me.
Impossible Project's film (left) and a mockup of Fujifilm's new
Instax Square.

Monday, September 5, 2016

New55 4X5 COLOR Kickstarter Can Include Work Toward Packfilms

Robert J. Crowley "Bob", medical
device inventor, industrialist, and
originator of New55 FILM
New!  We are on Kickstarter NOW to advance this last chance to save packfilms. Please support this effort. Your support is more than a purchase - it is truly a vote for the future of photography. Here is the link.  LINK

Today, New55 hand assembles everything. Pre-made sleeves are designed for hand assembly, not machine assembly. Our assemblers do a wonderful job but the work is slow, expensive and imprecise.

We started with no machinery at all. The addition of "The Thing" a coating rig made of plywood and hair dryers, and medical pumps and controls, was a huge step forward, but it is not enough.

Larger scale means better consistency and manufacturing economics. The cost of tooling, machinery, automation and improved coatings are rolled into the potential for a sustainable and growable small industry with ever improving quality and product offerings.

Black and white is good but many people only shoot color film. Our early hand made color film examples were a test of demand, and were built using old materials that were provided by our friends at 20x24.

Meanwhile, Fuji left the scene, at least as far as peelapart films. Their system represented a high point in industrial development but they decided to close it down when demand for passport pictures declined. The loss of packfilm represents another empty space for innovation, if we are bold enough.

Crowd funding has evolved into a merchandizing tool, mainly, but also a place to share risk among those who believe in coming together to make something happen. We have done the latter and today have proof-of-principle that complex technical and industrial projects can be crowd-funded, if there is the will.

Photography itself is redefining itself. To many, the so-called "alternative photography" term is synonymous with "real photography" meaning projecting light onto a chemical surface that you can see with your own eyes, and producing a photographic "thing". Our digis and phone devices are fantastic, and they have shown us that video (still, moving) is a better way to communicate. We use these tools as communications devices first, and sometimes as fine art. The interest in large format cameras is increasing at an impressive rate. The view of the ground glass and what it does to our perceptions is important and satisfying.

New55 exists because we believe all this and you did too. Though the expense has been very high it seems that many people do understand that technical and industrial progress occurs in stages in part funded by early sales, with the implication that continuous improvement will occur. We hope we have shown some signs of that philosophy in action with the introduction of new coatings, but there is much more to do.

I've gone on record that about $15M are needed to build the factory for peelapart films, including packfilm. Nobody is suggesting we attempt a $15M Kickstarter even though I am sure there will be even bigger crowd funding in the future in other fields, such as movie production. But the fact is we all crowd fund when we pay our monthly Verizon fees, or go to the food store. The difference is that deep pockets have placed products for us to consume. New55 is completely different in that regard, as instead we made products to demand.

The Color film exercise we just did was important and seems to point to how we can introduce peelapart color first in 4x5 and then in other formats large and small. A successful Kickstarter will establish the "sheet goods" requirement and sophisticated coating chemistry that has not been made before with earth-friendly materials. Many of the old chemicals cannot be used, and like The Impossible Project we will depend on new and less hazardous ones, if we can make the new system work well. This crucial step must occur if we are to progress. The effort will benefit black and white, too, with increased economies-of-scale in the factory, and broader, more effective quality improvements. New55's first Kickstarter was easy to understand, as it could be reduced (inaccurately) to bringing back, or resurrecting something that had gone. This is different: We need to find a way to pay for the factory. Pre-orders alone won't do that.

So we are at the moment of truth: Shall New55 continue and grow and if so, how? Together we have proven there is interest. Film use is up over previous years. New film cameras are still being made, and photography itself is bifurcating with one arm in analog. We know what is needed and can design and build the tools and factory to do it and have done so in a small way. From a purely business perspective we could make the case that it is a good investment, but we can't do that ourselves.

How do we communicate and get support for what is almost purely an industrial effort? Over the next week we will decide if we should announce a new Kickstarter effort to raise $500,000, or 20% more than the last time, to introduce color 4X5 and pave the way for other formats, such as packfilms. 

Bob Crowley