On Fuji Pro 400H and Any Discontinued Stock

You’ve probably heard by now that Fuji have discontinued what was for many shooters, their go-to, general purpose color film, Pro 400H.

For anyone who’s been shooting film for more than a few years, we know this rodeo all to well.

Fuji or Kodak announce a discontinuation (notice that Ilford never does). The bloggers pick it up and spread the word. A near audible, sometimes literally audible gasp sounds across social media. Film adherents begin posting about their sudden and massive hauls from B&H, Adorama, Freestyle, Film Photography Project and then eBay and Amazon and wherever they can lay hands on the newly discontinued stock, before… the inevitable price spike.

Fuji Pro 400H was announced discontinued yesterday morning and within only a few hours eBay auctions for the film at astronomical prices appeared. I was disappointed to see a critical member of the film community posting about buying a stash simply to scalp it out at inflated prices later.

Fuji 400 Pro H – Nikon FM + Nikkor 50mm 1.8 AIS

Maybe I can stand back with a neutral eye on this news because after probably a decade of using Fuji Pro 400H religiously, it’s been about another decade since I bought a roll. The loss doesn’t bear a single direct effect on my workflow or creative chi. But when Kodak discontinued TMAX P3200 in 2012, and Fuji discontinued FP-3000b in 2013, my heart pumped out of my chest and my head burst like the top of a cartoon thermometer. I immediately got on the phone with retailers in each case (skipped the internet to ensure my order went through) and spent $400 or $500 on small stockpiles of each.

So I understand the emotional reaction.

I really do.

Fuji 400 Pro H – Nikon FE + Nikkor 85mm 1.8 AI’d

As film shooters, the worst threat to our hobby and profession is when our preferred film stock is abruptly marked for extinction. Whole workflows and methods and habits need to be recalibrated from preparing for shoots to editing, scanning and printing. The effect of a stock discontinuation to each of us can be personally devastating. Not to mention earthshattering to our emotional fortitude and spirit to keep film alive.

But I would strongly encourage that we try to look at the bigger picture here and avoid binge buying and panic purchasing Fuji Pro 400H, or any discontinued stock for that matter.

Fuji 400 Pro H – Nikon FM + Nikkor 85mm 1.8 AI’d

There are a few exceptions. If I hadn’t binge bought Fuji FP-3000b, I would have never had one of the greatest experiences of my life as a photographer, photographing Veruca Salt with my Polaroid Land Camera and consequently talking to their guitarist Louise Post. And binge buying TMAX P3200 allowed me some time to transition to Delta 3200 for my wedding and documentary portrait work. If you also make a living off a recently discontinued stock or are just very passionate about it, sure, go ahead and binge buy.

But if you’re attracted to a film simply because it’s now on the exotic film list and you are considering dropping a big chunk of change on it out of curiosity etc, I urge you to think again.

Fuji 400 Pro H – Pentax ME Super + SMC 50mm 1.2

If you are a film fridge hoarder, I’m sure that there’s nothing I can say to make you change your mind. And maybe that’s just as well. Your hoard, er, collection, will grow increasingly unique and compelling as time goes by. Like reviving wooly mammoths!

If you are down on your finances thanks to COVID or are just an opportunistic sonovabitch, I also probably can’t sway you.

But I really think it would be useful if we all took a step back, took a breath and considered spending whatever amount we would blow on a binge buy of discontinued stock on a film stock that is commonly available fresh, instead.

Why? Why is Johnny Martyr always telling me to buy new and expensive cameras and accessories and now he’s telling me to jump ship on a rare film stock in favor of something that I can buy any time. What is this guy’s problem?!

Fuji 400 Pro H – Olympus OM-1 + Zuiko 50mm 1.8

Look, let’s say you blow $500 on Fuji Pro 400H today. Where does that money go? Maybe you’ll turn it into $1000 next year by reselling the film when it’s no longer available from retailers. Maybe you’ll just shoot it and enjoy it. And while those are perfectly valid and logical courses of action, I submit that we stop spending crazy prices on film once a year or three when a film is discontinued, and start spending that money regularly throughout the year on stocks that are still readily available. Do you normally spend $500 a year on fresh film?

If we do that, maybe we can reduce discontinuations to begin with. Right? Today it’s Fuji 400H, tomorrow, maybe it will be something else we’d never expect like Superia 400. Or Tri-X.

Don’t keep investing in dead product lines. Invest in the survivors. Invest in living film stocks and the future of film. Let’s put our money on the film that we can buy fresh today and give our money to Kodak, Fuji and Ilford instead of a film hoarding opportunist on eBay. Sudden spikes in sales to Fuji and Kodak probably only encourage discontinuations at times when the companies need a quick cash injection. Let’s not encourage discontinuations. Let’s encourage longevity.

After I’m long dead, I love to imagine a world where my daughter walks into a physical camera store buys a fresh roll of Tri-X and the clerk shows her how to put it in my 1930 Leica. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Kodak Tri-X 400 – 1930 Leica I/III + Leitz 5cm f2 Summar

While I binge bought TMAX P3200 and FP-3000b when their discontinuations were announced, I vowed to myself not to buy anymore of those films once I ate through my stockpile. For the reasons above. If Kodak wasn’t going to make P3200, I’d shift fully to support Ilford 3200 ASAP. And that is what I did. And look how that turned out. Kodak revived P3200 almost 6 years later.

And two years after Fuji discontinued Acros 100, they released Acros 100 II.

I’m not suggesting that a boycott on discontinued film binge buys and panic purchases will always revive those stocks, but I am willing to bet my disposable income that our money is better used to support films that are not marked for discontinuation. These are the films that are going to keep film photography alive and well. Investing in them is investing in our future.

Kodak Portra 400 – Leica M6 TTL .85 + Voigtlander 50mm 1.5 Nokton

In their press release, Fuji state that 400H was discontinued due to difficulty acquiring the unique materials required to manufacture this film. They didn’t drop the film because it wasn’t selling. This is why Kodak originally dropped P3200. No amount of supporting these products could change the availability and cost of those materials at those times. So don’t. Shift and pivot.

It’s not easy for any of us when a film is discontinued, but we’re not going to make it any easier for ourselves by scalping one another and investing in consumable goods that are no longer made.

Good luck determining a new path after the current supply of Fuji 400H dries up.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting!

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14 thoughts on “On Fuji Pro 400H and Any Discontinued Stock

  1. I say “binge buy” all you can. I’ve shot Fuji Pro 400H only once. I’d like to shoot it more several more times. Why should I hold back while others don’t and leave me with zilch? Even you, Johnny, have admitted to doing so. Isn’t that hypocritical?

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      1. Johnny, I read the whole article. I may be wrong, but I read it as an “entitled” professional photographer struggling to adapt and adjust his film workflows to the digital age. I read it as a call for stagnation. Again, I may be wrong.

        Film production uses chemicals and processes that are not eco-sustainable. Perhaps we could do more to focus our efforts on cleaning up the film industry while developing digital workflows to re-create whatever it is about the film that we enjoy.

        I bought five rolls (135) of Pro 400H for personal use, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

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      2. On my Autopsy of the F6 article you accused me of being ““snobby” and condescending.” Above you accused me of being “hypocritical,” and now are calling me “entitled.”

        It occurs to me in these instances, you seem to think that my opinion is not worth considering because I charge for services that you apparently do as a hobby. I don’t understand the logic in this and don’t feel that personally mocking me is a valid way to criticize my perspective. Nor do I see myself as significantly different from a hobbyist. I found a way to support my hobby. To me, this seems like a normal progression of any hobby.

        For having supposedly read these entire articles, you really seem fixated on negating my conclusions despite my attempts to point out value on opposing perspectives and understanding.

        If you have something productive, sans simple character assassination to contribute, such as you seem capable, I’m all ears. But if you insist on continuing a personal attack, I’m afraid you’ll have no audience here.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Johnny, I’ve been too embarrassed to respond. What I wrote was disrespectful and inconsiderate. I’m sorry for what
        I’ve written and for mocking you. I’m sorry that had to deal with my insensitivity.

        I don’t want to excuse my behavior. I’ve been on high dose steroids for a week to deal with a health challenge and it’s had some side effects.

        After reading what I’ve written I have to say I’m ashamed of myself. Please accept my sincere apologies.

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      4. Khürt, I appreciate the candor of your response. It takes some fortitude to admit ones mistake and I certainly respect that. I certainly accept your apologies regarding the personal comments. But because they were personal and very pointed, you had me wondering if you and I had some previous negative interaction that I may have forgotten, to cause your feelings.

        So, I did a little searching around the interwebs and did not find any rifts between us.

        However, I did find that every single one of your comments on my blog has been negative.

        On my Leica strap blog, you wrote “If only it didn’t have a Leica logo, it would be the perfect strap.” and followed up with “I have no Leicas and I just won’t out a Leica strap on my Fuji when there alternatives that work better in my opinion.”

        On my fireworks blog, you wrote “Johnny, I shoot fireworks with a simple kit as well. One lens, One body. Manual focus. Except my kit is completely digitalL I don’t have to disable any features. I don’t think this hasn’t anything to do with equipment. It’s the operator.”

        From what I see, it’s not me that you have personal problems with, but the entirety of the film community.

        On a buddy of mine’s blog, CasualPhotophile, you wrote “I shot film and digital but the “buy film not megapixels” mantra is a sham, plain and simple.”

        And then of course, you didn’t just make personal attacks on my blog. Unbelievably you even blogged your personal opinions about me, stating “some other photographers are dealing with feelings of denial and entitlement over how they make a living1, and some are accepting of the reality of what professional photography is” Yeah, sorry, I marked that backlink as spam.

        You used me as an example in your blog to supposedly prove the pointlessness of shooting film.

        But it wasn’t just me your were insulting. You typed up an entire blog mocking the film community, yet simultaneously encouraging copying the look of what we do?

        That logic is astounding.

        Perhaps equally ironic, is that you’ve come into the film community to insult and negate our work but in your blog lament; “ingenuity and a willingness to experiment and build community, a tendency I don’t see as much with film photographers.”

        Forgive me, but you sir, do not come off to me as a beacon of community union yourself!

        Could you really be anymore demonstrably aggressive and disrespectful toward what I am doing with my life and my career? Or anymore superficially dismissive?

        So, given all this, it’s very difficult for me to believe that you mean no harm here. Which is a shame, because that is what I’d prefer to believe and, if left only to your above comments, would appear believable.

        So yes, I’ll accept this one specific apology but in no way yet have you proven friendly or constructive intentions. And in no way have you proven to anyone reading this of the value of your point of view.

        But look, I need to add that if this is all part of health issue, I do sincerely hope that you are able to work through it and I’ll even say that I look forward to what work you might put out with a clearer mind. Thank you for the apology and explanation.

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      5. Hey, I am all about challenging statements and provocative debate. When it’s productive. Please take care and us film advocates will wish you the best. No hard feelings. Happy shooting!

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  2. Ironically, I just sent in my last roll of exposed 400H for processing a couple of weeks before this announcement. I remember wondering if I’d get more or not. As it turns out, now I probably won’t. I don’t know who is left in the color 120 print film market after Kodak (Cinestill? Lomo?), but I say let’s just shoot what’s around and be happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This hurts because I’ve always loved Fuji’s color film more than Kodak’s, but I have to say that I’m surprised it’s 400H and not Velvia 50, considering the cost. That said I have shot 400H a couple times and it just didn’t work for me, so I won’t miss it. The Superia line worked much better for what I do; considering that I read it was something with the 4th layer I wonder if Superia 400 might be axed too, at some point. I’m with you on the buying film stocks that they’re actually making but also know that a lot of people have been relying on this film for a long time and can imagine how they feel. If Tri-X was ever actually discontinued I would probably panic-buy as much as I could: remember that article “The Tri-X Factor?” I would eventually start shooting HP5 but man I’d still miss Tri-X. Considering we all read recently that Kodak is releasing one new film this year and bring a previously discontinued one back from the dead, I’m a lot more hopeful about the future of film than I was about a decade ago. And also I’m much more likely to support the company that is actually supporting its customers; Fujifilm seems to be drawing out its film demise and trying to wring us of as much money as it can before the end. I hope I’m wrong, maybe they’re trying to rework the emulsion to use more easily-sourced ingredients like they did with Acros, but it’ll take a few years before we know that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah… that 4th color layer citation is a bit scary for the rest of Fuji’s negative color lines, isn’t it?

      Kodak discontinuations of TMAX 100 and Tri-X 400 would send me into a panic also. Though I typically only use Delta 3200 from them, Ilford through all this has proven to be pretty rock solid despite having traded hands more than Kodak or Fuji. All we can do is shoot and see what happens I suppose.

      Glad you’re generally optimistic though!

      Liked by 1 person

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