R.I.P.: 4×5″ Black and White Quickloads and Readyloads

R.I.P.: Fuji Acros 4x5" Quickloads

R.I.P.: Fuji Acros 4x5

Yep, you’ve read that correctly: there are no longer ANY black and white films available in Quickload (Fuji) or Readyload (Kodak) format, as Fuji has recently announced its discontinuation of Fuji Acros 4×5″ Quickloads (although you won’t find this information on the Fuji website). Kodak killed their Readyloads in 2008. This means that the hiking/backpacking large format black and white photographer is now faced with having to carry multiple film holders, extra sheet film, a changing tent, and an empty box to change out film during hikes and backpacks. What were they thinking?

I’m disappointed, but it’s not the end of the world. Unfortunately for Fuji, this now means that Ilford gets ALL of my black and white business. And before the hell-bent digital camera crusaders blurt out “FILM IS DEAD!”, let me assure you that many emulsions are still available in all formats (with new emulsions still being released). The loss here is specific to those who prefer the convenience and weight-savings of carrying black and white packet film over multiple film holders on long hikes and backcountry saunters.

It would appear that nothing can really be done about this, as many a letter and email (mine included) regarding previous business decisions have fallen on deaf ears over at Fuji. Your choices are to complain (likely without results) or start shopping for a new emulsion. Best of luck either way.

You can read more about this topic over at the Large Format Photography Forum (an excellent resource for large format photographers).

UPDATE, Nov. 16, 2009: reader Doug asks if I have found any alternative to using multiple 4X5 film holders. There used to be more than one alternative, but from an availability perspective, only ONE choice now exists: the Grafmatic sheet film holder. Although they are long out of production, these are readily available on eBay for $50-70 or so. I own one, but have only ever used it for demonstration purposes during my Introduction to Large Format Photography workshops. The operation is just slightly clunky, and I’m not fond of the fine metal shavings that are produced by friction/moving parts within the holder. Fuji made the short-lived Quick Change Holder (which had plastic instead of metal septums), but it is no longer available and I have never seen one on eBay. For me, there are currently no decent alternatives, so I’ll be sticking with multiple film holders for now.

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14 thoughts on “R.I.P.: 4×5″ Black and White Quickloads and Readyloads

  1. I am sure Fuji ran the numbers, but I know Fuji was picking a lot of the Kodak business when Kodak discontinued T-100 Readyloads. It is hard to believe that bump was not enough to keep Acros QL’s alive. I will definitely miss them!

  2. I tried using the Fuji “form” but it didn’t work- kept saying I had to fill in “required fields”, which I had. I guess they aren’t too concerned about complaints. I’m with you on the “anti-Fuji” movement.

  3. It it sad indeed. Still, I’m sure there’s nothing sinister here. As Harley said – they most likely ran the numbers and decided their resources are better invested elsewhere. I doubt film will disappear completely for many decades, but I can see it becoming a boutique product made by small niche manufacturers and priced at a premium. For larger corporations the economics of large scale manufacturing when demand is dwindling may not add up, unfortunately.

    Guy

  4. What particularly ticks me off about this (and some other Fuji recent discontinuances) is that there was no announcement to allow those who wish to stock up for a while (if you haven’t used QuickLoads/ReadyLoads, you can’t appreciate the convenience, cleanliness, weight and size advantages for 4×5 shooters) to do so. Even now, though all seller websites say “out-of-stock” or “Discontinued”, Fuji still has not released any kind of formal statement. Customers be damned.
    Since they only have one 4×5 film (maybe- rumors say they will soon import Acros 4×5 in 10-sheet boxes- again a huge mistake: 10-sheet boxes are always very expensive, and bulky to store/take with you), who would invest the time in setting up standards for exposure an development? It is clear they abruptly discontinue things without any notice. Ilford and Kodak, here we come!

  5. Timing is everything. As I started my search for best pricing on Fuji line up of films for my fall cache, I could not locate any Acros 4×5 QL’s.
    Sadly, this information here seems to be the final word on the subject.
    I was in hopes that I was just not searching right, but after a trip to B&H, Samy’s, and then on to the Fuji site it is apparent, it’s a done deal

    Thank you Michael for posting this update here.

  6. What’s interesting for me is that I was so close to selling off my old Pentax 67 as I have totally switched over the 4×5 over the last few years. With B&W Quickload/Readyload gone, I’m really thinking of dusting her off and using it again for B&W. I’m not sure I can go back to film holders in the field again. :)

    I’m just thinking about a trip I took a few years ago to the Subway in Zion – only this time with limited space in my bag for holders, and no where to set my gear down easily. Ugh.

  7. Considering the demise of the Acros QL – which is a serious bummer – I’m curious about the qualities of Delta 100 with regards to reciprocity. I do use Delta 100 a lot in 35mm and 120 but never really tried any timed exposures with it. Does it perform as well as the Acros does in this regard?

  8. Hi Larry: Fuji Acros 100 was regarded for its reciprocity characteristics (no compensation needed for exposures under two minutes). Ilford Delta 100 doesn’t spec out as well (compensation needed for exposures longer than 1/2 second). Because I do not use standard developers (I develop with Pyro), I typically ignore the recommended compensation for Delta unless I’m up to more than a couple of seconds of exposure. In other words, I treat Acros and Delta the same. You would obviously need to test this for yourself with your method of development to see what you come up with. Regardless, I find both films very similar in all other regards.

    Here are links to the spec sheets for Ilford Delta 100 and Fuji Acros:

    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/20061301938422338.pdf

    http://www.fujifilmusa.com/shared/bin/NeopanAcros100.pdf

    Best of luck in your testing!

  9. Pingback: Fuji Film Discontinues 50-sheet Boxes of 4×5″ Pro160S « Michael E. Gordon Photography

  10. There has been several threads discussing this topic in the UK Large Format Photographers Group. Joanna Carter has designed an envelope that can be preloaded with any 5×4 sheet film and used with the QL/Readyload/polaroid holders, but there needs to be more interest and financial backing to lead to manufacture. The advantage this would offer over dark slides is that although one would need to preload the film, any 5×4 film could be used, and the bulk problem encountered with dark slides, especially when ascending mountains and taking one’s LF equipment abroad, would be eliminated. Is there any interest here?

    See link below, for example:

    http://www.lf-photo.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1158&start=15

  11. Hi Steve: I think it goes without saying that most U.S. photographers (especially of the hiking/backpacking/weight-savings sort) would take ANY replacement for Quickloads/ReadyLoads.

    Thanks for posting this information here, Steve. However, your link is non-functional.

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