CatLABS has released a new black and white film featuring a unique emulsion which they say is not currently available in the market. The Boston based analogue-only camera store that specializes in large format and Jobo equipment has again dived into the deep end of film by making a new one of their own.
CatLABS X 320 Pro black and white film is available in both 35mm and 120 format. Versatility is the main feature of this medium speed 320 ISO film which is characterized by deep grey tones that produce a silver metallic look. The team recommends shooting it at 200 ISO in strong sunlight and pushing it up to 1600 at night or under artificial light for best results. For home developers, CatLABS has details on their product page for development recommendations, which have already been added to the Massive Dev Chart site and app which you can access here.
The film is priced at $6.99 for a single roll of either 35mm or 120. Ten packs are available as well and priced at $65. Head over to their store here to check it out! CatLABS mentions that much of their business is actually outside of the US and they have the ability to ship most places around the world.
Omer Hecht on the CatLABS team answered a few additional questions of mine about the new film as well as his/CatLABS own journey into the film photography retail and service space. I asked him first about the route to making a new film:
Making a new film is indeed a complex proposition, with countless moving parts, partners and companies. Naturally all that can be said on this topic has already been said. It does not take an expert to figure out who is making the packaging of our film, but what’s more important is what’s inside. Throughout these past few years we have remained concentrated on the goal, which was to offer a truly unique and awesome film. The response from people who have used it so far gives us a reason to be cautiously optimistic about the success of that mission :). We are happy that we have found what we hope is a sustainable way to offer this film for the foreseeable future.
I then asked Omer if they would consider making the film in other formats, given their team’s experience with larger formats:
Early on in the conversation we had to confront this question as making film for sheets requires an entirely different base to coat on. Since we already have a dedicated sheet film in production which is now in its second production version, we felt that the investment needed to do this will ultimately make it impossible to also have this film in any type of roll film format.
So, the decision was made to concentrate on the goals – bring a great roll film product out. Unfortunately, it would take more resources than we currently have access to in order to run a dedicated sheet film coating of our X FILM 320 RPO, but, hey, not in our wildest dreams did we ever consider 4 years ago that we would be able to offer a top notch quality film with the best possible QC so who knows what the future hold in this regard.
Ok folks, watch this space!
Omer described his journey from photo student to present day CatLABS and Jobo expert.
I was a photo student when the digital revolution hit and as a result I ended up with an insufficient “digital” education but as it would later turn out, just enough in depth “analog” education. When I graduated from my Masters I discovered that just at that point in time, there was a huge demand for Jobo parts and service, mostly the expertise that was lost when Jobo, a German maker of film processors and darkroom machines abruptly left the US market and was re-organizing through receivership.
Luckily, I had the knowledge base to offer having worked on these machines for years as a student and later a lab tech. This led to a close relationship with the newly reorganized Jobo that grew into a long lasting business partnership culminating in Jobo releasing a brand new film processor, something that had not happened in more than 2 decades. From there CatLABS grew to offer a comprehensive service for photographers who want to shoot film mostly concentrating on large format camera equipment but ultimately offering service, support and sales for all types of film cameras.
Look for more sample images coming soon from the CatLABS team as their beta testers send them in. Sample photos in this article and on the CatLABS website were provided by Rodolfo Rivera (@drtunaking) and Scott Marlin (@dscottmartin). Follow the CatLABS journey further on Instagram here or browse/shop their website here.
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