Fujifilm Film Prices Are a Big Mess. Here’s Why


You might’ve seen the news that Fujifilm raised its prices by up to 60%. But that will only affect you if you’re in Japan. So those of us in Europe, Africa, the Americas, and other parts of the world aren’t affected. Still, though, we’re not completely safe. In fact, Fujifilm film prices are receiving a very odd update of some sort here in America. The company is citing the cost of materials, but something seems dubious about all this.

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In 2022, there are bound to be readers who think this wouldn’t even be worth discussing. But the price of film has been going up while emulsions have had the plug pulled. Only after Kodak decided to bring back Ektachrome in 2017 did the film market begin to change. In conjunction with new companies popping up, Fujifilm and the rest slowly began supporting film again. With that said, prices started to rise, as did profits in the film photography world. The pandemic put all that into hyperdrive. People suddenly had more time than ever. Film became a solidified thing again. Gen X, who always told me that film was a fad, suddenly began picking it back up in small bits. The Millenials around me celebrated even harder.

Yet, with rising prices, things have become more headache inducing. One can argue that it isn’t necessarily the fault of film manufacturers. But from a different viewpoint, we can pin a ton of blame on them.

Fujifilm North America’s Statement on Film Prices

In a message to the press, Fujifilm North America offered this statement:

“The significant rise in the costs of raw materials and cost to manufacture has increased, as such FUJIFILM North America Corporation has made the business decision to update pricing on certain photo-related products. We recently instituted a FUJIFILM Professional Film price update for our retailers of approximately 25% on April 1, 2022 and will be instituting an update in retailer cost of 10% for our QuickSnap One-Time Use Camera line on July 1, 2022. It’s important to note that this is dealer/retailer pricing and may not be fully reflected in pricing the consumer sees at retail.”

“We are also evaluating, on a case-by-case basis, potential price updates for our color photographic paper, processing chemicals, and pro lab products and services.”

The statement is a bit unclear; it doesn’t explicitly state that Fujifilm film prices have increased, but it’s implied. Considering the way the market has shifted, we’d assume that costs would go up by 25%. As film regained popularity market and skyrocketed during the pandemic, things have shifted. Fujifilm seems to be the center of memes about how they’re killing their film division.

Fujifilm, last year, stated that the materials for PRO400H could no longer be acquired, so they discontinued the incredibly popular film. Velvia 100 was discontinued only because the United States said it contained a carcinogen. But in 2019, Fujifilm announced the return of Acros and explained why it was coming back in 2020. We rated it very highly in our review.

Fujifilm Film Prices Are Still Very Suspect

Back in 2021, when Fujifilm increased the prices of film, they told us what their prices were on some of their Superia products. Our Fujifilm reps stated that those prices are still accurate. Additionally, they provided the following:

Material Description

MSRP

135 PROVIA 100F EC NP 36EX 1

24.99

120 PROVIA 100F EP EC NP 5

71.99

PROVIA 100F NP 4X5 (20 SHEETS)

112.99

PROVIA 100F NP 8X10 (20 SHEETS)

412.99

135 VELVIA 50 EC NP 36EX 1

33.99

120 VELVIA 50 EP ECNP 5

74.99

A source told us that the price the retailer sets is totally up to them regardless of whether or not there’s a MAP policy. With that said, the retailers can set their own price increases. This gets confusing. Let’s take for example Fujifilm 200 film. Fujifilm North America’s website states no prices but instead tells you where to buy it and the outlets’ prices.

But Fujifilm’s pricing structure is complicated. With pricing, there’s MAP and MSRP. MAP stands for Manufacturers Advertised Price; so brands have to abide by this. MSRP, on the other hand, stands for Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price. If something is suggested, it isn’t enforced. When I go into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is a suggested donation, but the museum is free.

If the screenshot above is to be believed, it all seems a bit weird. Kenmore camera probably hasn’t updated their prices in a while. However, the other brands are more or less just competing with one another. So I checked a few other retailers:

  • Freestyle Photographic sells one roll of Fujifilm 200 film for $7.49
  • Blue Moon Camera sells one for $9.50
  • Adorama sells one for $9.99

We know a bunch of folks shop at B&H, but we’re them out of this considering the various discrimination lawsuits lasting over a decade (amongst other ethical issues).

Trouble Amongst Film Photographers

Regardless, the lack of clarity on pricing has turned consumers against Fujifilm and, in some cases, even against Kodak and retailers. Bill Manning of the Studio C-41 podcast previously called out retailers on pricing issues when Kodak stated that Kodak Gold 200 was going to be priced lower. I can imagine that the same thing might soon happen with Fujifilm film prices.

The complaints aren’t only coming from passionate photographers who shoot film: it’s also from professionals being paid to shoot with it! “It’s surprising that we’re going through these problems,” said Brenton Giesey, a film photographer based in Los Angeles. “A lot of folks are innovating like Lomography, film light meters, etc. How come Fujifilm and Kodak can’t keep up?” He continued to express frustration that there isn’t innovation.

“We’re going to keep buying from where it’s cheapest. I worry if smaller retailers like Film Photography Project can survive if manufacturers keep messing with pricing.”

Brenton Giesey

Brenton’s sentiments are echoed by others. “My question for Fujifilm is whether or not they think they’re doing film photographers a favor with not setting retail pricing like other corporations do?” said Luca Mercedes, a film photographer, and producer based in Brooklyn. “What’s the reasoning behind it in the midst of inflation issues”. Is the cost really going up by that much?” She continued to wonder whether or not we’re in a loop of self-fulfilling prophecies where companies are screaming about inflation amidst record profits.

Stories from the Retailers

To clarify how film sales work to retailers, we’ll share what’s been told to us previously. Over a decade ago, I was a former Social Media Content Developer for B&H Photo. Because of my versatility, I was often asked to work in various departments. The way film sales was explained to me is that when retailers buy in bulk, they get discounts. So, the brands that sell the most can command a lower price per product from Fujifilm. In that way, no two retailers will pay the same thing. And the retailers then set their own prices to recoup costs. What we found from the retailers recently more or less lines up.

For the record, we’ve never pressed Fujifilm on why they don’t enforce pricing standards. After working with them for so long from this side of the Editorial desk, I wouldn’t expect an answer.

“This has been a really tricky thing to navigate…” explains Zeb Andrews, General Manager of Blue Moon Camera. “First off, yes, Fuji announced price increases on their professional slide films that went into effect April 1st. These affected Velvia and Provia specifically.” Zeb shares that ACROS 100 II was exempt from the consumer price increase, and so too were Fujifilm’s films.

“At this time, we have received no official word from Fuji regarding price increases on their consumer films.”

Zeb Andrews

Mr. Andrews admits that Blue Moon sets their prices based on market comparison. “We keep an eye on what the average retail price for a film is online and weigh that heavily into how we price film here,” Zeb discloses. “We like to be as competitive as we can, though that is sometimes difficult as a smaller business. But lately, the online market has become a bit of a Wild West with pricing all over the place.” He claims it’s been driven by supplies drying up. For example, lots of popular films have backorders of several weeks if not a month or two with demand remaining strong.

“Folks are as hungry for film as ever but there is often less of it to buy.”

Zeb Andrews

But there’s a bigger problem than all this: resellers. Retailers on Amazon, Etsy, and eBay buy all the film and then sell them at higher prices. The Phobographer’s Lead Reviewer, Brittany Smith, experienced just this trying to snag the new Kodak Gold 200. And this isn’t the only film that price gouging happens with. Blue Moon Camera will get a few hundred rolls of Portra 400 assigned for them that they’ll sell overnight. Those buyers end up flipping it for higher prices. They’ve been working on curbing this, and one way is to save stock for in-store customers. However, Mr. Andrews says secondary markets sure have an impact on pricing.

Reps from both Adorama and Freestyle Photographic didn’t reply to our request for commentary. Adorama, at this time, is closed for Jewish Holidays, but sometimes they answer emails.

Fujifilm North America Claims They Still Care About the Future of Film Photography

Despite all of the grief, Fujifilm still states they’re very committed to the future of analog. Fujifilm North America’s former President, Manny Almeda, has spoken with us on this before. Bing Liem, the current President, echos the statement.

“Film and photographic products remain a critical part of our company’s history and heritage…In fact, Photographic Imaging is one of Fujifilm’s core pillars of focus as we continue to drive our business forward, along with Healthcare, Advanced Materials, and Business Innovation. From our Professional Film offerings to our robust Instax collection of film products, FUJIFILM North America Corporation sees a strong future for film and photographic products, and appreciates the creators who continue to support this important medium.”

Bing Liem, President, Imaging Division, FUJIFILM North America Corporation

What We Think About Fujifilm Film Prices and Increases

I’ve worked in the photo industry for almost 15 years now. I completely understand what film photographers are very concerned about. At the same time, I think Fujifilm’s approach to handle rising costs are flawed. Fujifilm should indeed raise the costs as everything has increased, but they should offer more complete packages to show how much they care about analog photography. Here are some ideas:

  • Bundle the Fujifilm development mailers with boxes of film and raise the price accordingly in a special package. Fujifilm mailers, as they’re called, let you mail a roll of film to Fujifilm for development. Fujifilm could bundle the cost of the film roll, the development, scans, and prints, into a single cost. It would mean that they would have to create more SKUs, but the majority of film photographers don’t develop their own rolls.
  • Fujifilm could release a roadmap of what film developments might be coming in the future. The digital division does this with GF and X series lenses often. So why can’t Fujifilm be more open about it?
  • Fujifilm could dictate what the prices should be across the board with retailers. Years ago, Fujifilm’s Instax division went after resellers of their film who were driving prices up. It was a long, lengthy, legal process, but it got fixed. I see how it would be worth it for the film division to do the same thing now.

As time goes on, we’re curious to see how the film world will evolve amidst inflation and growing demand.







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