Although there are numerous film brands available in shops and online, I'm interested in knowing who is manufacturing them, and where their factories are.

I've limited the question to 35mm film, because I'm most interested in general-purpose film rather than specialist film for niche markets.

  • While I'm still a film user and mildly interested myself, I'm wondering why you want to know. Why is this information useful to anyone, other than to satisfy curiosity?
    – osullic
    Aug 30 '18 at 18:08
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    Additionally, I'm not sure that 120 film is any more "niche" than 135 film.
    – osullic
    Aug 30 '18 at 18:09
  • I feel like this question would be more satisfying if you listed out the emulsions you are directly curious about. There's nothing really all that different about 35, 120, 4x5, etc. (other than size...dur) if they're using the same emulsion.
    – OnBreak.
    Aug 30 '18 at 18:21
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    @osullic Why should the information be useful to anyone? Aug 30 '18 at 18:34
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    @DanieleProcida Why should it be useful? See the site help, which notes: "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." So, it's not that non-useful questions aren't sometimes interesting. They're juts really not in scope.
    – mattdm
    Aug 30 '18 at 19:29

The biggest issue in film manufacture is the cost of keeping a coating line up and running. The capital expenditure requires high volume of coated film to be economical. Creating emulsion is comparatively easy (the big problems were sorted out long ago) and the rest is "just" marketing.

It is therefore common for film "manufacturers" to rent lines from other producers (which makes sense to them as well, as the lines date from earlier times and have capacity to spare, and the big enemy is digital).

As far as I know there are three major film coating lines still going in Europe:

  • Ilford in the UK
  • Inoviscoat in Germany (former AGFA line, does not have own brand)
  • Foma in the Czech Republic

I am unsure whether to consider Ferrania as a film manufacturer or a performer of concept art. But they seem to have a line too.

Overseas Kodak has a line and Fuji have a line.

In Russia there is Tasma and in Ukraine Astrum but it is hard to verify if they are still in business of making new film, or just selling existing stock.

There is rumored to be a line running in China. Hindustani films in India are likely defunct by now.

  • Can you clarify in that case: do the formulation owners in effect ship a truckload of chemicals to a plant and say: coat this onto some plastic for us? (In which case knowing which companies are shipping which emulsions to which plants would actually be more useful.) Aug 31 '18 at 8:20
  • It doesn't quite work like that. There is very little new development of emulsions - what there is is about replacing banned chemicals, not producing a different outcome. Owning a recipe does not give you much leverage. What matters is marketing and distribution + scale in production. Things like getting hold of silver and plastic backing in cost effective matter. By the way obtaining the "some plastic" you mention is getting more and more difficult, as plastic industry evolves, introducing new materials and abandoning old ones, while film manufacturing tries hard to remain in the nineties. Aug 31 '18 at 8:48

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