Adox’s Color Mission Wants to Rescue Photo Film Production

It’s an interesting 'development'

Key Takeaways

  • Profits from Adox’s Color Mission film will fund research into the future of film.
  • Film photography is a healthy, growing market that can’t keep up with demand.
  • Color Mission looks like a pretty good film.
Adox selection of film rolls, including the CHS, HR, CMS, and Scala rolls

Adox

German photography company Adox is using the profits from its new Color Mission 35mm film to fund research into the future of film.

Film photography is only getting more popular. At the same time, film is getting more expensive, and the manufacturers are having trouble making it, partly thanks to supply issues. In an odd twist, Fujifilm is even selling rebranded rolls of Kodak Gold 200 as its own. Adox, as we shall see below, is a German company with a mission to keep making old film and photographic chemicals, and now, to create new ones.

"As much as I love the ease of digital photography, there is truly a joy to photography with film," photographer CJ Moll told Lifewire via email. "With digital photography, you can quickly produce, view, and edit images. Film slows a photographer down and makes us think about what we are taking a photo of, and it actually exists in the real world, giving each image way more value than something lost in the digital abyss."

Rescue Mission

Adox began in 1860, making photographic film, paper, and chemicals. Like most other analog photography companies, it almost died, but now it’s going strong, with a factory in Berlin, Germany, and another in Marly, Switzerland. It has even resurrected some ancient products from historically important, and now defunct, companies like Agfa. 

Adox's limited-run Color Mission film

Adox

Color Mission began as an ISO 200 color film, co-researched and designed by Adox and an unnamed other manufacturer. That manufacturer went bankrupt after the first production run. That film has sat in cold storage and is now for sale. The test is that the profits for this limited-edition film will wholly go into funding film research.

The goal is to produce a new, modern color film. Adox says this will probably take up to four years, but what are film photographers if not patient? The stock of Color Mission is enough to last until then. It’s available only from the Berlin-based Fotoimpex store, via the site, or mail-order. 

Why Film?

Why is film so popular? And we mean really popular. My local film-processing store, which also sells second-hand cameras and organizes community events, usually has such a high demand that films take up to a week to develop. Most stores can’t keep popular films like Kodak’s Tri-X in stock, and that’s at €11 ($12-13) a roll, just 36 photos. Developing that roll costs the same again, without any prints.

As much as I love the ease of digital photography, there is truly a joy to photography with film.

"There are many reasons for the increase in popularity in film once again," photographer Bre Elbourn told Lifewire via email. "I think this generation bringing film back is [revealing a] desire to slow down and stay in the present moment. Millennials and Gen-Z are used to the instant gratification of taking pictures on cell phones. Film fills you with a rewarding sense of anticipation as you wait for it to be developed—a feeling that, in today's instantaneous society, can be hard to come by."

We might not explain it that way ourselves, but Elbourn's explanation certainly fits with the powerful pull this older medium exerts on some of us. Those old cameras are a pleasure to use, too.

"I've personally had more digital cameras stop working in a shorter period of time than, say, my grandfather's 60-year-old camera that is still kicking," says Elbourn. 

Pop-up darkroom tent supplied by Ilford Photo

Ilford Photo

Film photography will never return to dominance, but for companies like Adox, that doesn’t matter. The demand for film products is healthy and growing and is enough to support independent companies like Adox, especially with the worldwide market of the internet. Over in the UK, Ilford continues to manufacture its iconic black and white films and recently even launched a pop-up darkroom tent so you can set up a lab in any spare space you have, like a garage or basement.

Whatever the reasons for film’s resurgence, it looks like it’s here to stay as an alternative to digital, which seems like a perfect balance.

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