There's a multitude of emulsions available, even after a lot of them have been discontinued. Each one reacts a little differently to light, both in terms of requiring more or less light, but also in terms of reacting in various unique ways to light.
A Kodak letter got scanned and passed around the Internet and it looks like another emulsion is gone -- Ektachrome 400X this time. They make some pains to explain that families of film other than 400X are not actually dead in the letter.
One thing I've noticed that happens when you approach photography from an engineering background is that you tend to loathe black and white photography. I know that, starting out, I did. I was talking to another photographer and she said that one of her friends was an engineer like me and he also had a similar problem with black and white photography, always preferring color. It's throwing information out and we just don't like that.
I've been spending a lot of time in the past year or so on finding ways to continue to shoot film, but doing it more economically. The first step was getting my own scanner so I didn't need to pay somebody to print or scan my photos. Lately, I decided that my cost of B&W developing was too high, so I set up my own darkroom
I'm not incredibly worried about the "death of film". I'm not tied to the use of film to the point where I'll have lost my creative outlet if it disappears, it just happens to be the right tool for the job. I'll buy a fancy expensive high-resolution digital SLR and move on with life. But there are supply problems with film.
People in the 35mm and digital shooting worlds tend to place a lot of importance on having the sharpest lens and the finest grained film/highest resolution sensor. People shooting 6x7 or large format have far less to worry about. I wanted to try out Kodak E200 to see what it looked like for my next film comparison, since it was freshly-expired in 120 format at the local camera store, but I realized that I couldn't make any realistic assessment of how grainy it was in the 6x7 format. So, after playing with UC 400 in the 35mm format, I decided I wanted to know what it looks like on my 6x7.
We have reached a new stage with Kodak, and I'm not pleased about it. With prior film discontinuations, Kodak gave advanced warning that a film was going to be discontinued, perhaps with a suggested replacement film. Now, we're faced with films being discontinued without the courtesy of advance warning so we can calibrate our process for a new film or alternatively stock up to complete a project while there's still film to be purchased.
While there's still ample availability of cameras, film, and people to develop it, everybody should give crossprocessing a shot at least once! I've written about it before; it's a great way to force yourself to not shoot completely realistic pictures.
I'm going to write out a proper entry about my exploration of IR film as part of my series black and white and how I explore it. But I'm in the midst of information to share, so I'm going to share my thoughts and news now and worry about writing out a proper chronology of exploration later.