First it was vinyl LPs. Then more recently, it was the turn of audio cassettes. Now old-style film photography has risen from the almost-dead. Large numbers of still photographers, professional and amateur alike, are turning their backs on digital technology in favour of images with “soul”, conjured by exposing gelatin-coated strips of thin plastic to light – a process that can now seem as remote and exotic as the methods of medieval alchemy.

The first new single lens reflex film camera to be designed since the early 1990s is about to enter production, having been planned and prototyped in a small workshop in Stoke Newington, London.

The Reflex is the brainchild of a small band of young photography enthusiasts and designers from across Europe who, for the past year, have been closeted away in a corner of a Victorian industrial building, creating a brand new camera system using 35mm film.

The global market for film peaked in 2003, when nearly a billion rolls of film were sold. But by 2012, Kodak, the vast American corporation that had dominated photography throughout the 20th century, had filed for bankruptcy protection, felled by digital cameras and mobile phones.

But film was not doomed. Sales remain a fraction of the high point, with sales of about 20 million annually. But, as with vinyl, the market sank, stabilised, then began to rise. Ilford, the venerable British firm that specialises in black and white film, paper and chemicals, has reported a 5% growth in sales, while Kodak Alaris – the UK-based firm that rose from US Kodak’s ashes to continue producing film and paper – also reports rising sales.