5 Frames with Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 II, Minolta CLE & Leica Summicron-C 40mm f/2 – Steven Bleistein

Neopan Acros 100 had always been one of my favourite film stocks, right up until it was discontinued about two years ago. Acros 100 was contrasty, rendering rich blacks and accentuating the dramatic and the moody in photographs. It is a tabular grain film like Kodak T-Max 100. Like Kodak’s T-Max films, Acros 100 was eminently pushable, and its grain is so fine as to make images almost indistinguishable from digital without looking close. When Fujifilm announced it was going to release Acros 100 II, my expectations were high.

Acros 100 II was launched in Japan on November 22, 2019. Having pre-ordered my first rolls on Yododbashi Camera’s online site, my first rolls were delivered in the morning of that day. Acros 100 II does not disappoint. It seems to have the same qualities as the original Acros 100–at least I don’t see much difference.

I used to shoot Acros 100 at ISO 640 and develop with Kodak T-Max developer at 24 degrees celsius for fourteen minutes, agitating every thirty seconds. Without any guidance, I decided to use the same recipe with Acros 100 II. I got similar results.

I shot the frames for this piece in Asakusa around Sensoji Temple and Kaminarimon on a gloomy drizzly day. I love the way Acros captures the tones from the overcast light.

While Acros 100 II is the same as the original in all aspects, there is one exception—price. In Japan, Acros 100 sold in a three-roll pack for ¥1760. That makes for about US$5.00 per roll, which had been one of the most economical monochrome films on the market on par with the quality of the best from Kodak and Ilford, both of which cost more–at least in Japan. Acros II sells in single rolls for ¥930, which is just under US$9.00, which is about the same as the cost of Ilford stocks, but more than Kodak T-Max 100, which sells for about ¥800 in Japan.

Despite the increased cost, I am not complaining. Fujifilm kept offering Acros 100 for years even though it was likely selling at a loss, and Acros 100 was still available in shops for more than a year after Fujifilm announced it was discontinued. I don’t blame Fujifilm for cutting Acros 100. The executives at the company have the right and a responsibility to run their business profitably, and as they see fit. Fujifilm certainly did not have to offer Acros 100 II in the market for the success of the business, and I am sure they had plenty of other options for investing their capital in the future of the business.

Still, I’m thrilled that Fujifilm did decide in favor of Acros 100 II. I suspect the decision was in part an emotional one, both for the people at Fujifilm and the company’s customers in Japan and around the world who love Acros film. At the same time, the decision is also likely about brand. Users of the Fujifilm digital cameras love the Acros film simulation mode that comes with the most recent models. It would be hypocritical to keep touting the Acros film simulation if the real thing were not worth continuing.

I hope that Acros 100 II is successful for Fujifilm, and encourages the company to continue making it, or perhaps even launch other projects to reintroduce some of Fujifilm’s most distinct and iconic films.

Which one am I pushing for? Velvia 50 would be nice. Which ones would you like to see?

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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30 thoughts on “5 Frames with Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 II, Minolta CLE & Leica Summicron-C 40mm f/2 – Steven Bleistein”

  1. Gorgeous photos. I guess I didn’t need to fill my freezer with Acros after all. Good news. The Fuji-X Acros film simulation is not as nice as the real thing.

    1. Thanks. I agree with you about the film simulation. It does not look like real Acros. The Velvia simulation does not look like real Velvia either. Still, I wonder if the simulations prompt people to try the real thing, assuming they don’t already shoot film.

      1. Really? I find the opposite, it *really* looks like Acros, it’s uncanny. The same contrast and tonality in the blacks. There’s even been people comparing the real thing to the simulation and it’s hard to tell which is which

        1. All of this is pretty subjective, and how Acros looks has a lot to do with how you shoot, develop, and print or how you treat your scans of the negatives. I am not criticizing Acros film simulation. It’s nice, and I use it. I just find it different from the results I get with film.

  2. George Appletree

    There’s a great thing in the variety of films they’re making in the post film era. Sensitivity, qualities, etc. But prices are too much. Ilford HP5 or FP4 (or reverse 4 and 5, I never know which is which) price for instance is about 6$ in Europe, though it can be more expensive. That’s reasonable. Rollei, Fomapan or Agfa APX can be about 5$.
    The “luxury” b&w lomorolls or other can go up to more than 15$. Disgusting. No way to get any of them for those guessed “effects”
    I really like digital, but keep on shooting b&w film

    1. There are a lot of options for films, and prices can depend on where you live. The Fuji films tend to be less expensive in Japan. I was shocked when I found out how much Acros cost in the US. Kodak films are less expensive in the US than elsewhere. When I travel to the US, I don’t bring film. I have B&H deliver a bunch of Kodak T-Max 100 to my hotel. Ilford is best bought in the UK. This I the world we live in now. Film is not dead, but film is a niche market. The economics are different from the days when Kodak and Fujifilm dominated.

  3. That was quick! Lovely 5 frames and that Acros looks like just as good as the original. I’d love Velvia 50 (original back) but as we still have a Velvia 50 would really love the return of Neopan 400 or Provia 400X

  4. Nice photos, Steven. I’m happy to hear the new stuff seems to behave like the old stuff. I’ve been waiting for some information to surface in English.

    But the price tag is, well, simply unaffordable. I hope Fujifilm doesn’t actually attempt to sell it in the United States for anywhere close to $9 per roll. That would be absurd, especially since T-MAX 100 sells for $5.59/36-exposures all day, every day. If they do, I don’t know how they can expect the product to be successful. Almost nobody outside of professional photographers can even begin to think about paying that much for a single roll of film and shooting it in any quantity whatsoever. And for it to be successful, just like with any other product, Fujifilm needs to be able to consistently sell a lot of it and to a lot of film shooters, not just the exceedingly small group of pros still shooting film in any quantity. Sure, hobbyists may infrequently pick up and shoot an occasional roll, but there’s very, very few who will ever do more than that because at this price point it’s quite frankly entirely unaffordable. That’s not going to sustain it. And there’s not enough pros left out there shooting film to keep any film stock afloat, at least not long-term, regardless of how much a company hikes up the price. And eventually rising costs will even deter and alienate the wealthiest of the pros. I’m sure for many it already has and forced them to go all digital, even if they didn’t want to. As film emulation software improves as well as digital sensor design, this is only going to become more true. But there are a ton of amateur film enthusiasts out there, although most are no longer able to shoot even a fraction of the amount of film as they’d like to because everything has become so outrageously expensive across the board. Even the non-pro/consumer stocks have gotten ridiculous. Plus, even if you’re a pro, why in the world would you pay that much when TMX is available for much less (albeit still by no means cheap)? With some developing tests, the results that can be achieved by the two stocks are similar enough that I see no point.

    These companies really need to be catering to the serious film amateurs, not the pros, as there are quite literally thousands of times more of us than there are pros. But if a film stock is way too expensive, they are going to almost entirely miss out on the amateur market, the very market that could ensure their product is viable, profitable, and survives for the long haul. At $9 per roll, or anything even remotely that expensive, not only can I not afford to buy ACROS II, but even if I could, I wouldn’t. It’s asking for way too much, and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking so. Now, if its price is equivalent to TMX, yeah, I’ll pick up a few rolls on occasion, but I still wouldn’t be able to afford to shoot it very often, just like I can’t TMX. If it was sold at the roughly $5, or lower, price point that it was sold for not all that long ago (actually, very recently), I’d buy substantially more. And if it was sold for roughly $3 per roll as it was just a little farther back but still not all that long ago at all, I’d buy a lot of it — I’d shoot it all the time. Pretty simple, right? And I’m sure this holds true for the vast majority of other serious amateurs as well. If Fujifilm and other film manufacturers keep going down the path of catering basically exclusively to a small group of pros and expecting them to pay astronomical prices for film to keep things afloat, and then effectively entirely disregard the amateur community altogether (which is huge in comparison), I hate to say it but I think they’re doomed to fail.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience with the new ACROS II emulsion. Hopefully other users’ thoughts will start being published soon also.

    Take care!

    1. Whatever pricing Fuji has settled on, is likely affordable for enough people to make the business worthwhile to them, even if it is not worth it to you. When it comes to business strategy, the people at Fujifilm are pretty smart. Have a read of Innovating out of Crisis by Fujifilm CEO Shigetaka Komori if you don’t believe me. It’s a fascinating book on many levels. If you think your business idea on film is good, and you have something to offer or a perspective that no one else in the market gets, go do something about it! Go start a business! Most of us reading this blog live in capitalist countries where we are free to start and run businesses, contribute to the well-being of our customers, and make our own living in life. I have. So has Hamish. So has Bellamy Hunt. So have countless others. Perhaps you too run your own business, or maybe you still work for wages. Either way, it is easy to be an armchair critic of the business strategy of others. Doing is an entirely different matter.

      1. I’m a critic of companies that sell products at ridiculous prices, regardless of the industry. Period. And if people want a thing that they care about to remain affordable for them and ultimately available on the market at all, they should be critical of it also, and call out the companies that are trying to bleed them dry. I don’t doubt that Fujifilm made smart business decisions in the past, but today, as far as I can tell their film division is price-gouging the film community to death. $12 for a single roll of 400H? $15 for a single roll of Provia? $18 for a single roll of Velvia 50/100? Do these prices sound reasonable to you? These are the current and absolute cheapest prices for these film stocks in 35mm in the United States, at least that I’m aware of and I’ve looked extensively. And now, if ACROS II actually ends up costing $9-10 per roll we’ll have that to add to the list of insane prices. I’m sorry, but these price tags aren’t even remotely competitive with Kodak, much less reasonable, on any level. They’re not in the slightest bit affordable for the vast majority of the film community, which again is overwhelmingly made up of amateurs like myself. Simply put, these prices are absurd and as such Fujifilm has lost all of my business. If that’s the case for me, I’m sure it is for countless others as well. Can you really argue that’s a good thing for the profitability of Fujifilm’s film division or the long-term survival of their film products? Regardless of whatever product you’re trying to sell as a company, it is never wise to alienate and exclude the largest population of your would-be customers. That’s a fact, and should be blatantly obvious. As for starting a film company myself, sure, I’d love to. But unless you already have the physical infrastructure in place to manufacture film and the science for your products down on paper and the people already working for you that know how to do it, then that’s a ridiculous notion. I’m still wishing Ferrania the best of luck, but look at the nightmare they’ve been through, despite having so many brilliant people involved. That’s why if Kodak, Fujifilm, Ilford, and the few other big guys out there ultimately run the industry into the ground due to greed, then that’s that. It’s over. People can say goodbye to film. Without the big players, nothing can survive. The niche, small companies producing film will also go by the wayside. I for one don’t want to see that happen. Nor do I want to see the cost of film and associated services become so expensive that only a select few people are even able to enjoy it, but sadly I think we’re already nearly at that point. I would say quite clearly that Hamish, Bellamy, and yourself are very far from the norm and are not a good representation of the film community as a whole. It would seem you don’t recognize that, however. The vast majority of people, even in “capitalist countries,” are not fortunate enough to successfully start their own businesses, and for many it’s not at all for a lack of effort on their part. If you have been so fortunate, you should be very thankful and count your blessings. But you know what? At the end of the day, it’s still all those people who “still work for wages” that comprise the vast majority of the population, and in turn the vast majority of the film community. Again, if Fujifilm or any of the others alienate or drive out this group of serious hobbyist film photographers, many of which would buy more product by far than pros do if it was actually affordable, then they’re making a huge mistake. And I think it’s quite obvious they are presently doing exactly that.

          1. I’m just trying to share some thoughts and bring some things to people’s attention that have obviously escaped them. Because for whatever reason, it seems that a small number of extremely vocal film photographers, ones that by no means represent the average person within the community, seem to be bent on providing justification for the greed and price-gouging going on by the film manufacturers. And it baffles me because it makes absolutely no sense. And yes, I do take this topic fairly seriously because I don’t want to see the economy of the film industry fail, leading to the untimely end of film altogether. This is only because I deeply care about film as an artistic medium, its long-term availability and viability, and the ability for anyone with an interest in it to have a legitimate chance to give it a go, now or in the future. Take care.

          2. Maybe. I have a better idea though. You should write a review shooting Acros II at box speed. It’s not too hard to write these five-frame pieces. Just take some shots, and tell people what you think. You know the format. It will be good. Hamish can set you up with an account.

          3. It sounds like you have something interesting to say. However, the way to do this is to write an article, not to write an exposé in the comments of someone else’s piece. Take the comments you wrote, and use them as notes. Organize your thoughts. Be concise. Be pithy. Don’t worry about trying to write something others will like. Say what you have to say. Send it to Hamish. Ask if he would like to publish it. If he does, he’ll set you up as an author. Then you can moderate the comments on your piece.

          4. In response to your article, I commented on your photos (which I liked), the fact I was pleased to hear ACROS II seemed to match the original emulsion based on your results, the price point of ACROS II as compared to the original ACROS and other similar film stocks on the market, Fujifilm’s decision to reintroduce it, and the potential success of ACROS II as a product based on all these things. Your article directly touched on every single one of these subjects. So, I’m not sure why anyone would take issue with my original comment or any of the subsequent follow-ups. They were in direct response to the content of your article, start to finish. I’m not a believer in writing two to five sentence responses that honestly have no value. If the point of a comments section is not to have real discussion about the topic at hand (in this case ACROS II, its cost relative to its direct competition, and its potential success/failure as a product), then quite frankly there is no point to even allowing comments. Regarding writing a review myself and contacting Hamish to have it published here on 35mmc, maybe I will when ACROS II becomes available in my part of the world and if it’s actually sold at a fair and reasonable price. That last part is key. Take care.

        1. P, you are going off the deep end with this insane price stuff. And who are these select few? I buy Acros and am not a Pro by any means. Use the film you prefer and be thankful that the manufacturers are thriving (for now).

          1. Kodachromeguy: No, I certainly don’t think I’m the one that’s gone off the deep end. The individuals that do seem to have have gone off the deep end are those that keep providing unfounded justification for the film manufacturers, and all businesses in “support” of the film community (labs, distributors, etc.), to massively exploit their customers for what I can only assume are unfathomably ridiculous profits, and the people who actually swallow that this is okay or even sensible. I seriously have to wonder if the individuals that are constantly beating this drum are being compensated for promoting such propaganda, or if they actually believe this nonsense themselves. Are you really going to tell me that $12 for a single roll of color negative (even if it is pro-grade), $18 for a single roll of slide film, or $9-10 for a single roll of 100 ASA B&W is acceptable, or in any way affordable for most people interested in shooting film in any appreciable quantity? You’ve got to be kidding me. At these prices most people might be able to shoot the very seldom and occasional roll as a special treat, but I’d say most of us can’t shoot even remotely enough to actually satisfy our hobby in a meaningful way that actually makes it worthwhile for us. For that we need affordable film and affordable lab services, neither of which really exist anymore. And as such not nearly as much film is being sold today as could be, which is obviously bad for the manufacturers and the industry as a whole, and ultimately the community itself. It’s bad for everyone. I know of many, many people who absolutely love film but no longer shoot it at all because they simply can’t afford it with how expensive every aspect of shooting film today has become. It’s not for a lack of a desire to pick up their film cameras and put a few rolls through it on a regular basis — a lot of people simply can’t afford it anymore. And it doesn’t require much effort to take a look around at online forums frequented by amateur film photographers for the proof that this is indeed the case. The evidence is everywhere if you actually talk and listen to your “everyday Joe,” the people who are actually honest representations of the community as a whole. There are countless people who have been forced to stop due to the horrific cost of shooting film today. I’m sure if you were to be honest with yourself, you too know many people that fit into this category. Unfortunately, these people’s stories are rarely, if ever, heard on websites like this one, which I’m not saying is the fault of Hamish or the owners of similar websites because it’s really not. It’s simply because these people are just no longer active in the community for the aforementioned reasons. But the manufacturers are far from the only ones to blame for this. Film labs are also gouging their customers to no end. Today, most non-pro labs cost as much, or more, than pro labs cost just a few years ago, which is beyond ridiculous. And due to these lab costs alone, even shooting “cheap” consumer-grade film, which itself has gone way up in price, is now an impossibly expensive prospect, thus further alienating would-be film shooters, even casual ones. There are thankfully still a very small number of consumer labs who continue charging relatively fair and reasonable prices for film processing (they’re still by no means affordable if a person is shooting even a marginal quantity of film), but the average cost of getting a single roll of C-41 film processed and scanned today in the United States is probably around $18 per roll. B&W is even worse, and E-6 even worse still. Add in the cost of the film itself and things quickly become insane. And I think “insane” really is the best word to describe it. Let’s say the roll of film was a $4 roll of low-end consumer-grade C-41 stock, which is just about as cheap as it gets to pick up a single roll anywhere, and you’re looking at about $22 to shoot a single roll of film and have scans to look at. If shipping is necessary, it’s even more. And if standard 4×6 proof prints are desired, well, now your one outing with your film camera to shoot just one roll of film has likely become a $30 endeavor, if not more. And again, this is just for one roll. Do you think that’s even remotely affordable for a person with a passing interest in film who would not even be shooting very much? No. The reality is due to the cost they’ll more than likely never even give it a go. That’s lost sales for the manufacturers and the labs, and potentially the permanent loss of customer that may have become a die-hard film shooter if only the cost of entry hadn’t been so outrageous. What about for an amateur film hobbyist who wants to shoot even a marginal five to ten rolls per month? Even without ordering any prints, they’d be looking at $110 to $220 per month shooting nothing but “cheap” consumer-grade color negative film. And five to ten rolls of film in a month is not much at all, but it’s already way more than many (I would argue most based on my interactions) film photographers can afford, whereas just a few years ago one could pick up the higher-end consumer stocks for $3 a roll all day long and processing was readily available for $7 or $8 per roll, including proof prints in addition to the scans on CD. So we’re talking one-third the cost, or less. And many labs were even cheaper than that. In reply to this, you may tell me to develop my own film. That’s great, and I do develop my own B&W (color negative film has gotten so expensive I basically never shoot it anymore, and slides are now entirely beyond my reach). But that still leaves the issue of getting scans and/or prints made, which for myself and the majority of others means still having to pay the outrageously inflated prices labs now charge for these services. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a high-end consumer roll film scanner that actually makes the effort of shooting and developing film worth the effort and eliminates your need to pay for scanning services. I’m not, and neither are the majority of other people. And flatbed scanners are a complete waste of time if a person is shooting 35mm, so that’s not a viable option or something worth any discussion. There are only a finite number of actually capable consumer scanners left out there, and most of them date to the late 90’s or early 2000’s. Even if you can track one down on an auction site or a thrift store, which is becoming increasingly difficult, they cost a small fortune, oftentimes even more than what they sold for brand new twenty years ago when they had a warranty attached and real customer service available from the manufacturer. Today, they’re usually missing parts, and there’s no guarantee they even function or will continue to for any period of time. I’m happy for people like Hamish who have a grand or two to invest in an old minilab scanner like a Noritsu or Frontier, but again, that doesn’t represent the reality for your average film shooter. And even if it did, there are only a finite number of these machines floating around too, and every year they seem to double or more in price. Take the Pakons, for example. DSLR or mirrorless camera/macro lens copy-stand style scanning is also not a solution for many people because a lot of amateur film photographers (probably most) don’t already have this equipment since they historically only shot film (since that’s their hobby, after all), and the financial investment required to put together such a scanning set-up is not inconsequential by any means and thus not feasible for a lot of people. You add all this up and it leads to one guaranteed outcome: fewer film devotees will be able to continue the hobby they love, and the ones who do continue very likely won’t be buying nearly as much film or associated products/services. That is very obviously not a good thing for the industry or the community in the long haul. Maybe in the short-term it will make the film manufacturers a lot of money as they charge outrageously inflated prices for their products to the few people willing and actually able to pay it, and give the outward appearance they’re “thriving.” But long-term, it’s just going to be bad for everyone all around. You are free to believe whatever you want, but logically there’s no getting around that. To be clear, I want to add that I don’t believe all film manufacturers are currently operating in a greedy manner. It’s pretty obvious, however, which ones are and which ones are not. Take care.

  5. Lovely shots man. Im going to have to pick this film up. Typically my faves are tmax and trix but this has some nice contrast variance that would work well at times.

  6. Hi Steve,
    A nice, balanced report. What really caught my eye was your comment that you shoot @EI 650.
    I shot a roll of the original stock a few years ago on the street in NYC. I was blown away by the results. I’ll give the new film another try. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks. A lot people long for Acros 400 and I think there was also an Acros 800, but I’m not sure. You can push Acros 100 up to 800 in my experience and still get good results. If it is speed you are after, Acros 100 is fine. However, if you liked the grain of the faster films then you are out of luck.

  7. That was a good read. Thank you. Regarding your comment about price –

    “Despite the increased cost, I am not complaining. Fujifilm kept offering Acros 100 for years even though it was likely selling at a loss,…”

    I suspect it was too. When I check what I was paying in the late ’70s/early ’80s for film and apply inflation to bring it up to today, I find I’m paying about the same amount in real terms. Surprising I think, when you consider the change in demand for film.

    1. Fujifilm often gets a bad rap from some film enthusiasts, unfairly in my view. Despite the decline of film, they continue to offer stocks at reasonable prices even though they have had to cut a few stocks and raise prices on others. Now with Acros II they have introduced a new stock for the first time in over a decade. At the same time, Fujifilm has the largest, most successful, and probably the most profitable analog film business in world with its Instax line, appealing to a young demographic. That same demographic is showing signs of interest in 35mm and 120 film stemming I suspect from their interest in instant photography. The film simulations in the digital camera line are also in part a branding and marketing exercise for analog film in my opinion. Fujifilm executives and managers get things wrong, make mistakes, and suffer failures just like in any business. However, for the most part recently, they seem to be getting things right. I respect Fujifilm for what its people have achieved for the business, and what they have contributed to film enthusiasts worldwide. Kudos to them.

  8. Pingback: Some Thoughts and Expereinces in Favor of the Price Hikes on Film - Steven Bleistein - 35mmc

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