5 Frames with Film Never Die IRO200, a Leica M3, Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 – By Steven Bleistein

On a recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, I decided to drop by several of the city’s fine analog photography shops, including Film Never Die store on Bourke Street, a stone’s throw from Southern Cross Station in the city’s center. 

Film Never Die, apart from a selection of analog cameras in excellent condition, its photo lab, and film stocks, contributes to the analog film community by offering its own intriguingly named IRO200 color negative 35mm film—intriguing as iro (色) is the word for color in Japanese. I decided to buy a few rolls and give it a try.

So what is IRO200? Peeling off the label from the film case reveals that it is in fact FujiFilm Fujicolor C200. Fujicolor C200 no longer appears to be widely available in Japan, and although I might be mistaken, I suspect that Fujicolor C200 has fallen victim to one of the series of FujiFilm’s culling of its 35mm film lineup. Perhaps someone could confirm this for me. Film Never Die’s rebranded version might be the last vestige of availability of the Fujicolor C200 stock.

Color negative film has never really been my thing. I find the colors too subdued of even excellent stocks like Kodak Portra and Ektar. I have also never particularly cared for the grain that is often inherent to these. When choosing to shoot a color film, I usually reach for the now discontinued Fuji Velvia 50 slide film for its vibrant colors and fine grain. But hey, it never hurts to try something new.

I did not shoot the rolls in Melbourne, but rather brought them back to Japan, which I call home. I waited for a sunny morning in Tokyo and shot a test roll before heading off to my first business meeting of the day. Below are five frames shot with my Leica M3 affixed with a fourth generation Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 lens. In my view, the IRO branding is apt for Film Never Die’s color negative stock, but judge for yourself. There are other examples of Fujicolor C200 on 35mmc here and here.

I am a street photographer who lives in Japan. If you would like to see more of my work, have a look at my website bleisteinphoto.com, or my Instagram @sbleistein

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21 thoughts on “5 Frames with Film Never Die IRO200, a Leica M3, Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 – By Steven Bleistein”

  1. Nice images. But I could go on ad finitum about why do people re-brand some one else’s film? In this case, Fujicolor C200. It brings nothing new, except an increase in price, possibly. If it is C200, why not sell it as such? Those who know what C200 is and use it will at least know what they are buying. So why would any one, except out of curiosity, buy an unknown film such as this IRO200? If they did, they’d be pleasantly surprised no doubt. But why the subterfuge? I don’t get it.

    1. Good point. I think Fuji has discontinued C200. If C200 is a film you like, and I know there are people who do, Film Never Die might be your only option. The people at FND are really great, and they’re not the only ones doing this. Jeremy Hunt’s JCH Streetpan is also a re-release of an unavailable stock. Together, they are adding something to the market, so give them a bit of credit! That’s very different from say Lomography. Earl Grey and Lady Grey are likely Fomapan in disguise, and I suspect Lomography’s E-6 film, which ostensibly is for cross-processing (why one would need to specifically designate an E-6 stock for cross-processing, I have no idea), is likely one of Rollei’s current stocks.

    2. I think twenty years ago everyone would agree with you that it’s subterfuge, now I think many accept it as a branding exercise. There’d be no reason to mention FND in posts like this without the film having been rebadged, so it does work to some degree. Given how much rent they’re paying they need every advantage they can get.

      I’m curious if FND paid Fujicolor to do that, or if it was done on the sly. Seeing as it’s prohibitively complex to make a boutique formula, every one of these in-house brands that I know of are rebadgings of existing or retired properties owned by one of few remaining manufacturers.

      1. Your guess is as good as mine. Seems to me that it would be foolish to rebrand the film on the sly. Why risk the legal exposure for what is not likely a big business? I suspect FND negotiated something with Fuji, and that Fuji doesn’t care enough about its remaining C200 stock to be too picky about terms.

        1. FND are probably the 4th horse in a five or six horse race when it comes to dediated camera stores in Melbourne for buying film, and there’s a major drop in volume between horse two and three – I honestly don’t know how much Fuji would care, if they even knew. I know through first hand experience most Melbourne labs rebadge their outsourced development and printing services and keep that a secret. But hey.
          You’re probably right, though. It’s probably legit – another of the “Melbourne horses” sold an in-house rebadging of a Fuji property to great success for years, so it can’t be too hard to negotiate.

  2. C200 is still available, just try peeling away that label and you will see the original underneath. If it’s a licencing agreement then that’s shockingly low effort, I suspect someone is sat in the back office stickering and boxing shop bought rolls…

  3. Thank you Steven. I am curious more of the chrome 50mm V4. I am trying to find more information to understand the production history behind this lens (# 11825). I have read the production was limited. Have you any more stories about the lens? I have one, due preferences of the tab and hood. The interwebs is scant with more details other than the usual forum banter.

    1. Gosh! You know more than me!

      I found the lens used at the Leica Store in Soho, NYC. I probably use this lens more than any of the others I own. I prefer it over the current Summicron-M. the tab is really great for rapid focus, and it is a lot lighter than the current version.

      1. I had no idea about it before too. Only after I picked one up. I just like it for the ergo aspects. And in chrome, it’s just so svelte. Thanks.

  4. I think IRO200 and FujiC 200 are not the same film stock
    Fuji C200 is still available in Thailand as well you can buy it new pretty cheap (4-5 us dollar),slightly more expensive than Kodak color plus.

    i never shoot IRO200 and C200 side by side but i think i gave slightly different color
    … But people are always confused when they peel off the outer lay on IRO and see C200 catridge.
    I think Film never die they reuse the catridge of C200.

    1. The question would then be – what film stock are they putting inside the C200 cartridge?
      There is no chance FND have manufactured their own film, so the effort to have Film X made and shipped to them uncut, then put in C200 cartridges, then relabelled with FND branding seems like a lot of work. I guess it is possible.

    2. MEK, have you ever tried getting a film back into a cassette? I’ve no idea of the type of cassette Fuji use, but it is very difficult prising the top off of some types without causing physical damage to the cap. Decades ago Ilford, for example, used a cassette where the cap was easy to get off without tools and without causing damage. One simply compressed the canister by the light trap and the cap could be prised off using a thumb nail. Other cassettes could only be opened using a beer bottle opener, and this deformed the cap, making it useless for re-use.
      I suppose if Fuji use the right type of cassette it would be possible for FND to reload from bulk lengths of film, but it seems a lot of trouble to my mind.

      1. If FND is using C200 cassettes, it is probably from stock of parts that Fuji had already painted, but had not yet loaded film. If Fuji has discontinued C200, which I think they have even though there is still stock in retail in markets outside of Japan, the remaining cassettes would have simply become industrial waste without FND.

    3. Post the negative markings and then we’ll know for sure. My money is on C200, which is still available in most of the world by the way. It’s probably the second cheapest color negative film you can buy today after Kodak Colorplus.

      This type of thing always smacks of cynicism and taking film aficionados for a ride to make a quick buck. They key difference between this type of thing and JCH Streetpan is that Streetpan was a dead Agfa stock that got resurrected. New film is now being made because of it. This is taking film that may or may not be discontinued, putting a sticker on the canister, and selling at a higher price to turn a profit. It doesn’t help the film community at all.

      But if you like it go ahead and shoot it! It’s art after all and if you enjoy the results go for it.

      1. I no longer have the negatives, but I will check when I shoot the next roll. The price if I recall was AUD10.00 per roll, which is about USD7.00. The price is relatively low for a film in Australia, where all films sell for much more than in the US or Japan. I believe C200 has been discontinued, as it is no longer available in Japan. Australia might be the same. The availability of C200 in other markets might simply be leftover inventory. For example, Fuji Velvia 50 was discontinued two years ago, but there is still availability in retail in the US. Film Never Die as a business does not appear to me as one seeking to make a quick buck off of film enthusiasts, and their FND200 film business is tiny compere to other services they offer. I would not jump to conclusions about any sinister motives.

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