There will likely not be widespread distribution at first, but small batches made as people, tooling and market converge, we hope. There are no "beta testers" nor is there a test supply - all New55 FILM is purchased or otherwise paid-for by the user. Doing so covers some of the cost and also reaffirms the value proposition of the estimated $6+ per-sheet selling price. This isn't a bad price considering the yield of both a positive and a negative.
New55 FILM can be exposed for whatever artistic purpose the user desires and make a positive and a negative that are balanced more closely than its discontinued predecessor. There are many other differences such as the trash reduced design, the use of a more advanced reagent, and the clearing step with ordinary photo fixer.
A number of people have recommended this be crowd funded by Kickstarter which we looked into. Kickstarter is fine for pre-selling things that you have or will have, but not for tooling, engineering or infrastructure costs that are needed to achieve the industrial mass required to produce a complex product. An alternative to this will be sales of batches online, perhaps on auction sites, as that will tell us, and investors and supporters, about the demand, or not, for this new medium.
New55 FILM is a new medium or sub-type: A less industry-intensive approach to making artistic materials for large format photography aimed at the growing number of artists who are just discovering photography with any of the millions of 4x5 cameras that are still operating perfectly. New55 FILM is likely to be produced in very small quantities at first and larger numbers if the sales are good. Fuji discontinued their 4x5 instant film due to poor sales. We may be in a better spot as there are perhaps over 100,000 545 holders that are still in working shape, and they are likely to remain that way for a long time, vs the very limited number of 4x5 pack film backs that were sold.
20x24 Studio is an essential partner in New55 FILM commercialization. As a supporter and instant film center of excellence, and with their long expertise in sourcing and building photosensitive materials for sale, 20x24 will bring together access to materials, venues, major artists, and sales channels, in addition to its own artistic and technical expertise which is unparalleled. There are still plenty of risks and many assumptions being made about the viability of the marketplace for large format instant 4x5 photography.
|New55 FILM scan of negative.|
Photo by Orianna Reardon
So far on the New55 Project blog and elsewhere you have seen the circuitous and incremental steps that led to our present state of fairly consistent and high quality "hand made" results. These still need refinement, the type that comes from engineering, tooling and investment. If you have not seen the results to date, look at the New55 slide show on flickr, and soon at Orianna Reardon's work with this evolving material.