See the latest updates (2019-06-25) at the foot of this page.
Retailing at just $3.50 per 36 exposure roll, anothe new film stock for 2019 has been announced in the form of 35mm Shanghai GP3 100, which was made available exclusively on Taobao on June 16th by Shanghai’s 15 year-old film and photographic supplies business 剑诚摄影 (Jiànchéng Shèyǐng / Jiancheng Photography).
Shanghai’s consumer film business has had a relatively interesting recent history. After disappearing almost completely in late 2016, the company apparently underwent numerous structural changes, and invested heavily in film manufacturing infrastructure to (primarily) support their large medical and government film products.
Medium format Shanghai GP3 100 120 roll film, and sheet film ranging from 3.25″x4.25″ to 20″x24″ with all standard sizes in between appeared without fanfare on Shanghai’s usual eBay (Hong Kong) and Taobao outlets in late 2017 and rumours have been bubbling ever since about the company’s eventual production of both 35mm black and white film and new colour stocks.
With the recent press release on China’s WeChat by channel “Jiancheng Film Fan Club” , some of those questions have been answered. Here’s a translation of the salient parts:
“We hope to complete the ressurection of Shanghai through the return to development and production of black and white and color film; going back to that glorious era and competing directly with both Kodak and Fuji.”
“There are perhaps some people who will sneer, thinking that “the hero is late” Although silver halide technology and photographic film seem to have become part of our distant past, I feel that foreign technology can’t match ours, but who knows? Dreams always have to be there.”
“As Ai Lie said: ‘Digital is instant, predictable, electronic, cold and lacking in expectation; film is waiting, experiencing, warm, full of variables and full of expectation.'”
“Nowadays: Film photography starts from photographic intellectuals and spreads to the general public, and then from the general public back to some photographers’ small circles. These photographers advocate “film is not dead!” …and truly there’s lots of amazing works done by using film. Zhang Jianyi (张剑彪) founder of Jiancheng is one of them, an ‘old master’ who silently dedicated his life to the film industry.”
The film apparently uses the same formula as existing GP3 100 with a number of optimisations and quality adjustments for the smaller format and new (patented) film base, and in order to ensure that production “meets the safety standards of today’s reagent formulations“.
Sample pictures follow (image credit Jiancheng Film Fan Club).
As Mr Zhang Jianyi goes on to state:
“Our only small regret is that our domestic coating process still can not meet the expected standards, so the coating has been produced in cooperation with Germany’s OWRO. Therefore, in the absense of full mass production, a ‘UN54’ mark is left on the adhesive paper. I hope everyone will forgive me.”
In a video of Mr Zhang released as part of this statement (see press release link above), he goes on to state that the cassette for the new film stock is plastic – of their own design – and will not cause light leaks.
The reason for using a plastic cassette design? Zhang states, “Outside of Luckyfilm, there is no capability in China to make metal 35mm format cassettes.” The video goes on to discuss 120 format GP3 and the difficulties in production, as well as the quality of materials and processes used in the past.
In the video, Mr Zhang, shows Shanghai’s new improved backing paper and updated closing seal. In addition, we are assured that once mass production volumes are achieved, the standard rebate markings on the current batch will be replaced by “Shanghai GP3 100”.
It’s safe to say that many film photographers in the West have had less than consistent experiences with Shanghai film in the past, although in my experience, this is mostly due to shooting expired stock with uncertain histories, rather than fundamental issue with the film itself – in over half a decade of shooting the fim in 120 and 4×5 formats, to date, I have had only one issue of note which – as you may already have guessed – boiled down to purchasing poorly stored film from an untrustworthy seller.
It would be my advice to anyone considering purchasing this film to do so from official outlets, as, in the event of issue, refunds/replacements will be easier to obtain. So what’s next? Can we expect faster film from Shanghai after 35mm GP3 100 has his mass production? To me, the most interesting statement to come out of this release is the note of a return to colour film production.
I’m very much looking forward to that and wish Shanghai all the best. Now, time to place my order.
Since publication, I have been in contact with Jian Cheng and can confirm that the business has taken over the brand and IP from the former State-run operation. The second batch should be available towards the middle of Q3 2019 and at that time, additional online outlets should be available. As is, customers outside of the Far East are able to purchase film from the Taobao link given above.
My brick of 10 rolls (ordered on the date this article was published) have arrived!
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