Kodak product line, Please keep the variety!

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by brian_quinn|2, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. My intention in not to bash Kodak. I love their products and I know they are being forced to make decisions that not everyone agrees with. Instead of a petition, that I feel would be useless, since in the business world we have to vote with our dollars not our signature I would like to try this.

    Here is a draft of a letter to Kodak. I would like suggestions before I send it to them. Please, just offer suggestions don’t call me crazy for trying. If nobody ever tried there would never be a success.

    Dear Kodak,

    I have been a heavy film user for decades. For most of those years I used Kodak film, paper, chemistry and developing services almost exclusively. When Kodak offered a large variety of items that was easy to do.

    Over the last few years Kodak has trimmed its product line considerably as demand for traditional film declined. The problem I see is there seems to be a thinking at Kodak that if you discontinue product A and suggest product B as a alternative most everyone will switch to product B. In truth most customers do not switch to product B. Most customers try out other products and switch to a non Kodak product or decide to go totally digital since they can’t get their favorite film product any more.

    Here is my story. When Kodak decide to discontinue all B&W paper they suggested a switch to making B&W prints on color paper. I had about $1,000 in Kodak B&W paper in my darkroom at that time. I did not switch to Kodak color paper I switched to other companies B&W paper.

    Since Kodak closed the Qualex perfect touch labs I have almost completely given up using color negative film. Now when I want prints I use my Digital SLR and get prints from a lab that uses Fuji paper. I would love to still use Kodak services but they are no longer offered.

    I still shot over 50 rolls of slide film a year. I shoot slides because I like slides. I have seen the suggestion by Kodak that the new Ektar could be an alternative. I will NEVER use a negative film as a alternative to a slide film. I used to use a lot of Kodachrome and when it was I was disappointed when it was announced it was going away. I decided to switch to E100GX. I placed an order for 20 rolls. My supplier got back with me and then said it too was discontinued. Reluctantly I ordered Fuji instead of Kodak. I still use Kodak E200 slide film but if Kodak were to discontinue it there would no longer be ANY color film for me to buy from Kodak.

    Film is no longer a mass market item that every household will use. It is now a speciality item used by enthusiasts. Enthusiasts love and exist on variety. For example B&W film long ago switched from the mainstream everyone uses it category to the enthusiast category. Last time I checked Freestyle photo offered over 40 types of 35 mm 36 exposure B&W films. The enthusiast market supports all those types of B&W film types.

    The more Kodak continues to consolidate film varieties the more the total film sales at Kodak will decline. If Ford were to make only one car model they could do it efficiently and make a high percentage profit on the cars they did sell. However the total income at Ford would fall enormously.

    While film is still a major part of Kodak please invest in the equipment and techniques necessary to offer smaller batches of film with more variety. This in my opinion is where the future of traditional film is.
     
  2. I think many people will agree with you. I do. Kodak should try to down scale their manufacturing line up and work with the people still shooting film. They have offered some killer films. Instead of making rolls that give tens of thousands of rolls of film off of them, why can't they shrink that to make a few thousand at a time?
     
  3. The problem I see is there seems to be a thinking at Kodak that if you discontinue product A and suggest product B as a alternative most everyone will switch to product B. In truth most customers do not switch to product B.​
    This question was always considered when I worked for Kodak. It kept some product lines around longer.
    Instead of making rolls that give tens of thousands of rolls of film off of them, why can't they shrink that to make a few thousand at a time?​
    Smaller scale manufacturing was considered. The problem is that it requires additional investment in equipment and additional R&D work to get the new formula right. While a narrower coating is scalable, a smaller scale emulsion precipitation vessel isn't.
    The engineers in film manufacturing have done an incredible job taking cost out of the system. I estimate film sales are about 1/8th what they were at the peak, yet film manufacturing is still profitable. Could they continue to make a profit if they had to invest heavily in hew equipment and new development? I can't say for sure, but I know these questions are being addressed.
     
  4. It is easier to run a microbrewery than a microfilm production line. The pickle is there is a huge cost to keep a line *up* even if there is a lower production rate. The same thing happened with process camera films about 12 to 18 years ago; demand dropped' prices rose. Once there were only about 6 makers of process film; when it went to only 2 prices rose radically. The whole still film decline thing is now happening; and echo of the process camera decline; due to digital. Most still film used is dumb c41 by Joe Six Pack; not specialty films. Long ago one could by 616 Verichrome in any drugstore; and Kodachrome was in sheet film sizes. Kodak has been scaling down for the last 2 decades.
     
  5. in the business world we have to vote with our dollars not our signature
    The first thing you did after making the statement above was to spend time (in the very same post) drafting a letter so you can vote with your signature instead of urging people to vote with dollars and buy Kodak films.
     
  6. why bother, by the time i learn how to use the film and all of its intricacies, it'll get yanked. been happy with provia100 before. Never used it for people, but if it works, that will probably be my new main film after kodacrhome. I left provia once i figured out how to get kodachrome to work for me, might as well go back... Havent been as happy with the couple rolls of ektachrome that i've shot.
     
  7. Good letter. One thing you should ask for is lots of notice to the public before discontinuing a film so we may stock up on it. Another thing is that the most basic films be continued in at least 35, 120, 4x5, 5x7, 8x10. By basic, I mean tri-x in b&w, which is what I shoot. And Ektachrome in color. I have wanted a second 5x7 camera for some time, but have not gotten it because I was afraid that the film will be discontinued. We need better communication with Kodak on these things.
     
  8. I have a good feeling that Tri-X isn't going very far...yet.
     
  9. I'm not so worried about the demise of film in general, but Kodak should be concerned. As it is, the manufacturers from the eastern Europe countries (as well as Ilford) have stepped up with some fine offerings. More than enough manufacturing capacity if Kodak could disappear.
    If there was an "easy dip-n-dunk process" for K-14, I suspect that Kodachrome would not have been discontinued. I think the truth was more of the developing houses not wishing to maintain their gear than a drop in demand (enough) to halt production and the drop in staffing at Kodak limited qualified people to service the machines. I can't see this happening to C-41 or E-6 because there is home alternatives. You may see some brands disappear, but not the product entirely.
    The reality for me is although I used to shoot PlusX/FP4, a 100' reel cost me 50+. I can get a 100' reel of Foma100 for 17. I actually like it better. I bought a 100' reel of Portra100NC last year (and love it) but cannot seem to find it anymore. I love TMY (120) but in that format I have many other choices because grain is of much less concern. I develop mostly with WD2D+ and Rodinal, with some HC110 use. I don't go through enough HC110 to keep anyone rich. I don't use Kodak C-41 because no one will ship them to me, as I live in a little town in Canada called Montreal. I use mostly liquids for FIX and STOP which leaves Ilford suppling most of my needs.
    The thing is, Kodak is mostly out of my life now, and I shoot mostly film. Their film is much too expensive or unobtainable and their competition are offering products that are getting better.
    A company that does not adjust to their market *will* die. And that is just reality. Kodak, what are you doing for me?
     
  10. Good letter.

    I'm not sure that a letter designed to encourage production of film products mentioning about nine times that the author and/or the public will not buy or will substantially limit the purchase of various film products should be described as "good".
    Please, just offer suggestions don’t call me crazy for trying

    I might suggest a more enthusiastic approach but, ultimately, the "voting with dollars" is what matters. That's where the effort should be made.
     
  11. companies in general are out of touch with reality.
    many useful products are no longer available because of political ( both company and government) decisions.
    If a small company in Englamd ( Ilford) can arise from the ashes, why can't Kodak spin off
    the B&W film paper and chemical; business and make a profit?
    One of the problems with Kodachrome was it's unavailability.
    You had to eithr go to a big city store or mail order.
    you could not buy it "off ther shelf"
    Some of my newer automaatic cameras cannot even use a 64 speed film 50 or 100 or faster. Kodak should have recognized this and made a change tro K100.
    and improved the distribution.
    If a small company on Croatia can sucessfully make film,. why not Kodak? it is because there is too much corporate inertia.
    When I worked for Singer in 1979 we could even get part numbers so my boss used his intitials JCS as a prefix, Did they want us NOT to produce a new producxt?
    when IBM came out with the original PC, it was deliberately separated from "corporate"
    so all the extra meetings and waiting for comittee decisions was eliminated.
    This is the " untold story" corporate inertia is the enemy of sucess.
    The forseeable result will be Kodak will bumble along and someone with a
    limited knowledeg of photography and little interest. will make a snap decision.
    OOPS no more tri-x . "it seemed like a GOOD idea at the time"
     
  12. Actual real life sales matter more than letters.

    One can pay ones employees; taxes; insurance; inventory etc with actual cash made from real sales.

    Most folks on Photo.net are not business oriented and thus pleas to vendors to keep products still made are done.

    One can besiege ACME with many thousands of letters to still make 6 volt cars; straight eight engines; Kodachrome; 486 computers; beta tapes.

    In like manner if Kodak sells say Kodachrome at a loss; it would have to raise prices on other products to pay for the welfare product.

    Kodak is in touch with reality; it has cut marginal products over many many decades. It has done the welfare gambit and it kept 616; 127; disc alive after it was not marginal; now they are gone.

    In like manner folks can write YOU as a photographer to do work below your costs; ie 100 buck weddings; you use you own car; after awhile you can max out the credit cards to keep your service going.
    You can pay the credit card company with those tear jerker letters!v :)

    PRACTICE what you preach; do work below what it costs!
     
  13. The first thing you did after making the statement above was to spend time (in the very same post) drafting a letter so you can vote with your signature instead of urging people to vote with dollars and buy Kodak films.

    The point of my letter is I can not vote with my dollars if they don't make the products I need and desire.
     
  14. I've met and spent time with the film division people at Kodak. From production engineers up to the VP of the film division, to a man (or woman) they all want to see film stick around. There is not a single person I have interacted with at Kodak who wants to stop making film. They are not the enemy.
    However, they also cannot lose money on film products these days. The only way that film is going to stay available is if people buy enough of it that a profit can be made. Passionate letters aren't going to do that. Believe me, the kodak people know that the film community is passionate about their films (and/or film in general). But passionate letters just can't make a difference in this day and age. Digital is here, the economy is down, times have changed. The only thing that will keep the films you love afloat is selling enough of them so that kodak/fuji/etc continue to make a profit on them.
    Is there a place for writing emotional letters? Yes, but you should be writing them TO other photographers asking them to consider the world of film photography. THAT is how a difference can be made. Kodak wants to sell you film, believe me.
     
  15. The demise of still photographic film has several different phases. These phases can run in parallel with two or three phases active at the same time. In the first phase of product consolidation, most of the cuts reduced the number of versions of particular products. Rather than selling the same film in 12 different packages, they cut down to one or two. We are now in phase 2 where film products that are no longer profitable are eliminated. At the end of 2010 when K-14 is no longer available, we will start phase 3 where product lines and their associated processes are eliminated. The next process on the bubble is E-6. I'd guess it has 10 or 20 years left to run. After that, C-41 will follow. Eventually we will be back in the same place where 35mm photography started. We will be buying the short ends of motion picture film from Hollywood and sending the film to the nearest ECN-2 process.
    The good news? Don't throw away your 35mm SLR's. 35mm still film photography started in the 1920's and became the predominant amateur format in the 1980's. It will continue well into this century.
     
  16. Thanks Josh, I think you have put me on the right track. My goal was not to change Kodak but I hoped that maybe this letter would make someone there pause for a minute and reconsider if the next film would go or stay a little longer. I know it all comes down to dollars. I also know in some companies a product will be killed even if it IS still making money. This is besause someone upstairs as declared anything earning less the 15% profit must go to make room for then next big thing. However sometimes the next big thing is a flop. I know that Kodak had lost Millions and Millions of dollars on items that never even really made it to market. I would like some of those millions to go into R&D and capital investment on small batch film production.
     
  17. That "Millions and Millions of dollars on items that never even really made it to market" was R&D. It included some money to develop small scale manufacturing. They know how to build a small scale plant. The just haven't figured out how to make money with the small scale plant.
     
  18. I agree with what Josh said.

    In the end, film makers will only continue to produce films that are profitable for them. Josh is spot on when he says that you need to convince other photographers to shoot film. The only way to do that is through education of the benefits of shooting film.

    Unfortunately, the way most people see it, the benefits of digital outweigh the benefits of film. So it really is an uphill battle. The fact simply is that film is in the "decline" part of the product cycle.
     
  19. jtk

    jtk

    We still have Chryslers, 4/3 sensors, and Brylcreme. Film will outlast all but the latter (because television preachers require it).
     
  20. Certainly Kodak and other major players in imaging technologies could be approaching these felt needs of pro and serious amateur customers from the digital side. I know from reading many "film vs. digital" posts that there is a "tooth" and "grain" in film scans that so far has not been equaled from digital cameras. But how about asking the people in R&D on the digital side to come up with products that emulate the best qualities of film?
     
  21. We still have Chryslers, 4/3 sensors, and Brylcreme. Film will outlast all but the latter (because television preachers require it).​
    And people still listen to Vinyl. Just because a product is in decline doesn't mean it is gone. But you may have noticed, you can't get Vinyl records at any music store nowdays either; where you tend to find them are at specialty stores...which may well be the case for film in the next decade (including even C-41).

    I'm just glad that my Velvia mailers are still good.
     
  22. Howard,
    My knowledge of Kodak R&D is almost 4 years old so I don't know anything about what they are doing now. I know that from about 10 years ago up to 4 years ago, there was plenty of work aimed at flashy new digital products. The company had an obsession with appearing new and high tech in the digital world. What I hear about in mall intercept surveys and on-line surveys suggests that this mentality still persists in the marketing arena. My guess is that there isn't much going in in Kodak R&D to incorporate the best film features into digital. Regardless of what is or isn't going on at Kodak, what film features would you like to see incorporated into digital?
    Here are a few items on my list:
    1. lack of bayer aliasing
    2. easy to produce large image sensors (anybody seen a 20x24 inch digital sensor?)
    3. images preserved in human readable form
    What features would others add?
     
  23. What features would others add?​
    4. Preselectable film styles (i.e., the ability to push a button in the field and get a file indistinguishable from a Velvia, Kodachrome, Astia, etc drum scan, with no post-processing whatsoever).
    5. Lightweight (<16 oz) full-frame bodies, or prime wide-angle APS lenses for the lighter APS bodies. I want a kit equivalent to my FM10, 20mm f2.8, and 100mm f2.8 Series E for trail running, not some heavy 12-24 and 55-200 zooms w/ no hyperfocal scales.
     
  24. What we need to do is discontinue Kodak all together. Ask the Kodak people to hand over their recipes for making film to a reputable dealer and be done with this story.
     
  25. What we need to do is discontinue Kodak all together. Ask the Kodak people to hand over their recipes for making film to a reputable dealer and be done with this story.​
    Oh yeah, that will really help things. After all, those Polapremium guys are cranking out the polaroid aren't they. Oh wait, no they aren't.
    Do you really think that any small scale producer would keep all the films that Kodak currently has now? There is no way that would happen. The fastest way to fewer emulsions available is to get what you are asking for. You want to loose 50-75% of the available kodak emulsions in a single swoop, have kodak get rid of their film division and hand the emulsions to a smaller company.
     
  26. To follow up on Ron's question, I'd like to see the "tooth", "grain" (rather than ugly chrominance noise) and outstanding acutance I remember in the best films, along with a palette of film brands and types to emulate through post processing software.
     
  27. The point of my letter is I can not vote with my dollars if they don't make the products I need and desire.

    You already voted.
    They obviously know that some people buy those films and not other products. The letter gives them a signature (which you portray as worthless) and no dollars they don't already have. Suggesting that people won't buy products they don't sell is beyond obvious. Your good efforts could be spent on convincing others to buy the products when they ordinarily would not. Those are the votes that actually matter.
     
  28. Mr. Quinn...
    You’ve written a good and thoughtful letter. Unlike some of the other posters, I see your letter as telling them that you really do want to do business with them, if only they would continue to make the products you would like to buy from them. It seems simple enough, but of course doesn’t address corporate arrogance, stupidity, infighting and the not-made-here syndrome. Being an old man, I remember when companies took letters like yours seriously and actually considered acting upon them to increase or keep sales. Unfortunately that’s not the corporate culture today. There is an old Irish saying, “You cannot teach a pig to sing; it’s a waste of time and just annoys the pig.” In today’s corporate culture and, especially, I would suspect at the top of Kodak, letters from people like you are an annoyance they have to put up with. Furthermore, when they say you should use another one of their products as a substitute, they think you’ll see it as receiving the word from God.
    As a fellow film enthusiast, I appreciate you making the effort, and it was a good one to boot.
    Mr. Degroot...
    You certainly make some good points. Although many of the lower and middle level employees and managers are aware of customer wants and needs, and the likelihood of their purchase, the people at the top are truly out of touch with reality. I watched the three heads of the big three auto companies on C-SPAN begging for money from us, without the slightest idea what it would be used for, how much would be needed, or what possible results the infusion of money would create.
    Your second point about corporate decisions being made because of politics, both company and government, is 99 44/100% true.
    The answer to the question raised in your third point, concerning Ilford, is simply because they won’t.
    Kodachrome unavailable? A recent article cited Kodak as having total film sales of $500,000,000 for a three-month period and that Kodachrome was less than one percent. Kodachrome is certainly going to be less than one percent when the major retailers have it in stock for two days that quarter and out of stock for the other 88+ days. Don’t they get it? If you don’t make it, you can’t sell it. If low sales of Kodachrome were due to lack of customer demand, and not corporate foolishness, then why is it scalped every day on eBay?
    Ahhhhh...Kodachrome ISO 100. Kodak came out with a line of smaller Kodachrome processors which would be more suitable to serving a city, rather than three or four states, as was previously done. In order to sell those to naïve suckers, the suckers were told that Kodachrome was coming out in a 100 speed that would be both sharper and finer-grained than the 25 speed. Previous posts from knowledgeable Kodak semi-insiders have indicated that Kodak never really got too far with the Kodachrome 100 project. A few suckers got stuck with the processing machines. Do you think they’ll ever deal with Kodak again? Other suckers became non-suckers after watching the debacle and didn’t buy many machines, which proved to upper management that the whole idea of Kodachrome was no good anyway.
    Mr. Flanigan…..
    I would agree with you per se that I don’t expect Kodak to extend charity. I will say they can make a self-fulfilling low sales prophecy by cutting production and distribution channels. There is also the thought that some grocery chains continue to carry products that might not warrant the shelf space by themselves, but attract customers into their store to buy all the products that do keep them in business.
    I have to wonder what would have happened, with all the negative publicity that Kodak has gotten about dropping Kodachrome, despite the best spin their corporate PR guys could put on it, if only after about 30 days, they would have done a 180 degree turn and said they’re going to keep it running to make the 75th anniversary before dropping it. Kodak certainly got a lot of name recognition from the furor, but it was mostly negative. It also reminded investors that things were going downhill for the company, not a good thing for stock prices. If after 30 days, having gotten their name in the paper and on the TV, they made a corporate concession in the name of customer service, would the increased sales of their other products have justified the cost of keeping Kodachrome? Conversely, will the negative publicity not only cost them sales, but reputation, thereby hurting their stock price?
    Mr. Root….
    I too have been in touch with the film division people at Kodak. Their enthusiasm for film is both genuine and could well help their continued employment. Unfortunately, they’re not on the board, nor are they the top officers. That’s too bad. If some of the division level people had more influence at the top, I suspect Kodak would be doing better in all of their efforts.
    I think there is a place, perhaps not for emotional letters, but where customers by lobbying executives can still make a change, even in this day and age. Take Ektar 100 for instance. I was one of the early letter writers and e-mailers, trying to persuade them to roll it in 120 size. For months, I got a “no way, Jose” response, although most polite. Several of us kept at it. One of the tactics I used was to cut and paste threads from Photo.net and several other photo enthusiast sites where the posters were wanting 120. The tone of Kodak’s answer began to change and of course now we have 120. Perhaps our efforts were just a coincidence, but I do think we made a difference. I’m not quite out of Ektar 120 yet, but I’m going to start looking for it now, because the last several times I tried to buy it, it has been on back-order at the big New York mail order retailers. Back-order status certainly doesn’t indicate lack of demand, nor that its inclusion in the product line was a bad decision.
    Yes, I’d like to see Kodak keep going and not discontinue altogether. However, we as customers can only do so much to help them. They have to start making better decisions and help themselves. It’s also a lot harder to turn around a company that has started to decline because of poor policies and decisions, than to have kept it going well in the first place. It can be done. I made most of my retirement by taking over failing companies during hard economic times, and actually increased sales and profits, while the general market and/or economy continued to head downward. It didn’t happen because I continued to use the failed policies of those who preceded me.
    I’ve also never really understood why each time I had a success with a product, division or company, the more-senior officers or board of directors immediately wanted to return to the failed policies. Perhaps it is just a reflection of what I call the cry-out of the lowlife: “You’re no better than I am,” done in a grade school-sounding sing-song voice. If someone or some management group does come into Kodak and turns it around and keeps it going, returinig it once again to a proud and prosperous American company, I wonder how badly they’ll be punished by stockholders and board alike.
    P.S. Thank you again for the deletion. Sorry your child was sick that night. Even though it’s just part of life, it’s always distressing to a parent to see their child suffer.
    Mr. Andrews…..
    Thank you for the information in your answer to Mr. Vrankin. Big company obsession most often leads to big company failure. Perhaps they are right and that persisting mentality of theirs will eventually pay off. However, I don’t think so. I suspect the results are going to be closer to their obsession with APS. We shall see.
    I agree with the three items on your list of digital improvements.
    Again to Mr. Quinn…..
    Yes, you’re right. Kodak…please keep the variety…for your own sake too.
    Tom Burke
     
  29. Eventually we will be back in the same place where 35mm photography started. We will be buying the short ends of motion picture film from Hollywood and sending the film to the nearest ECN-2 process.
    How long do you honestly think ECN-2 will stick around? Once Moore's Law over takes the steep data requirements of a feature length film I expect Hollywood's transition to digital capture to unfold as quickly as the transition for still work did. We're just about there now. I don't think it's a stretch to predict that in 10 years the majority of movies will be captured digitally. I have to honestly wonder what sales of still or motion film will be like in just another 10 years.
     
  30. since in the business world we have to vote with our dollars not our signature​
    I guess the question is: how much would you pay for that film? I don't know the numbers so this gets sort of handwaving but let's say for the sake of the argument that to keep the production lines going Kodak needs at least half the income that it had 10 years ago. And maybe the volume on those specialty films has gone down tenfold, or twentyfold. That would mean you would have to pay 5 or 10 times as much for your roll of film. Would you? Not everyone will, so the number of customers will go down even further. Would you pay twenty times as much as you used to?
    If anyone has an idea of more accurate numbers please correct.
     
  31. i no longer support Kodak. no other company has done more to kill film than Kodak. nikon and canon are giving it a good shove though.
     
  32. i no longer support Kodak. no other company has done more to kill film than Kodak. nikon and canon are giving it a good shove though.​
    Please do explain.
     
  33. Digital has killed film; NOT Kodak. DEMAND has dropped for film; thus it is much harder to make a profit with low production speciality films that have a HUGE capital production line to maintain.

    Look how long digital has been out; we got your first 35mm slide scanner 20 years ago; ie in 1989. In the early 1990's I used VGA digitals to shoot assembly images in the disk drive industry; and CCMAILED them or used a BBS modem to send them from Calif to Singapore and Bangkok. In Calif Realtors used digital cameras 15 years ago and placed the images on their BBS's. Somewhere in the mid 1990's one could buy a VGA digital for only 500 bucks and even amateurs go on the digital wagon.
    The growth of websites fueled growth. many of us used digital to shoot our digital images 12 year ago for Ebay photos. Look how dumb dialup grew. Back in the late 1970'ss our leased 300bps modem was 600 per month ; one had toll charges to connect across country . In the 1980's folks with PC's got 1200 modems; then 2400; One had the 9600 and 14.4s to be common in the early 1990's. Our first 28.8 modem cost us 350 bucks four our BBS service. Our ISDN 128k service was 550 per month to Ma Bell in the mid 1990's. Now one can get wimped down dsl that is the same speed for 30 per mont; some folk get cable for this cost too.
    Users of film have dropped; I know hard core film users that today NEVER shoot any film anymore; that have shot film for many many decades.
    Look how local E6 has died off; by my one business; it died off over 10 years ago; thats why we got a digital scan back in 1997; a 35 megapixel. The lab died because they did not have enough business; we grew tired of flakey film developing. We buy radically less film becauses we use digital. We got digital because lack of local 120/220 film processing.
    Look at other industries that have seen declines and products slashed due to digital. The old process camera industry started to decline rapidly 15 years ago when printers got digital scanners and digital printers. We got ours in 1992. Customers got use to the quicker turnaround of enlargements and copies. Cranky old customers got real bitchy when the cost of materials skyrocketed; and we had tp raise prices. ALOT of old farts really want folks to keep an old process going; that only sees a few jobs per month; that once had many per day.
    Look at dumb erasers used in old electric erasering machines; once there was about 12 varients of erasers; now there are only about 3. Look at dumb Vellum used in manual drafting; its cost has doubled; there are only 2 players making it today. Look at any industry that makes a product that is rapidly declining; many players exit; some die; prices rise; one has a *SMALLER* subset of products
     
  34. What we need to do is discontinue Kodak all together. Ask the Kodak people to hand over their recipes for making film to a reputable dealer and be done with this story.​
    I don't think that Kodak should quit producing. However if there is enough demand for Kodachrome, I don't see why they wouldn't be interested in selling the rights to produce it and take payment via turn-key or royalties.
     
  35. i no longer support Kodak. no other company has done more to kill film than Kodak.​
    I'm sorry, but this is a statement born of emotion and not fact. It simply isn't true.
    The only way you could even come close to having some semblance of accuracy in that statement would be to base it around the idea that Kodak engineers were, at one point, the ones on the forefront of digital sensor evolution and thus ushering in the digital age that has caused film sales to decline. But even then, there is more than enough blame to go around on that issue. You couldn't just lay it at Kodak's feet.
    Everyone wants to blame someone else for the decline in film sales. But Kelly has it right above. Digital photography (and the web) has caused the decline of film. There is no more to it than that. Film will stick around for a long time. But we will all have to watch as fewer and fewer emulsions (and perhaps processes) are available until the market reaches some sort of stasis between consumer demand and production costs. That is just the way things are.
     
  36. However if there is enough demand for Kodachrome, I don't see why they wouldn't be interested in selling the rights to produce it and take payment via turn-key or royalties.​
    I would have been surprised if anyone had any serious interest in this. The environmental issues with creating the film, the complexity of processing, the fact that only one processor in the world still existed, the general decline of film sales (and Kodachrome sales specifically), and so on make this sort of thing a fairly risky investment for the kind of person who would have the money to make it happen. And the people who have that money don't typically make risky investments without the chance for a huge upside, which an orphan film process in the year 2009 does not have. I think the moment anyone who was interested enough to open talks with Kodak saw the sales figures and production costs, they would walk away from the table quickly.
    Now, the above is just my opinion and I have no concrete facts to back it up. But if Kodak thought they could make a few bucks on licensing by outsourcing kodachrome production, they probably would have done it. But I really can't imagine anyone looking at the reality of the situation and saying "yeah, I'll sink a pile of cash into this project!".
     
  37. What I would like Kodak to do is simply MARKET FILM! They market their inkjet printers, Fuji Markets and advertises their film line to wedding pros...I mean, come on Kodak! It really seems to me that what the film people at EKC say on one hand is totally contradicted by someone in Marketing. I had one joker come up to me at a Photo Fair this Fall and say "I heard Kodak stopped making film". I explained to him they stopped making just KODACHROME. This "Joe Public" would not listen. He INSISTED that he heard on the news "Nope Kodak stopped making film".
    It seems Kodak has left the advertising and marketing of film up to us analog photographers! What if they actually came to the college where I teach and handed out a few rolls of film to my Photo students or Video students? Remember the old days when the Kodak Rep came to schools and camera stores with lots of free goodies??? Now you're lucky to get a free PDF explaining what they killed off.
    I love Rochester and the workers at EKC. I used to live there. But when I go to make a film purchase with my hard earned cash, I wonder if I should support the company with a dubious track record of supporting my needs as an analog photographer, or should I go with another company which at least has a public commitment to continuing film manufacture?
    There is a resurgence in analog photography right now among people aged 16-24. All Kodak has to do is launch a cheap, grungy "FILM IS NOT DEAD" campaign. If the Execs at EKC aren't smart enough and quick enough to pick up on this, then Economic Darwinism will take its natural course.....
     
  38. ted_marcus|1

    ted_marcus|1 Ted R. Marcus

    I converted to digital not quite five years ago. But I still occasionally shoot film, whenever a compact point-and-shoot makes more sense than a DSLR (which isn't often enough to invest in a digicam). My preferred film was 400UC, which was close to perfect for what I needed. Kodak discontinued that, presumably on the orders of bean counters whose spreadsheets told them it wasn't pulling its weight for the shareholders. I could choose to support Kodak by paying a hefty price for one of the Portra 400 films that doesn't quite replace 400UC and isn't quite what I want. Or I could pay much less for Fuji's Superia 400, which is closer to what I want. The choice is obvious.
    Yes, Kodak can tell users of discontinued Product A to switch to Product B, which has some of the characteristics of Product A but is a "fit" only in the minds of optimistic marketeers. But those users are more likely to choose a Fuji product, since Fuji apparently has the resources (and/or management mentality) to keep a wider variety of products in stock. If a Kodak user has to start over with a new film, why shouldn't he consider Fuji? Each discontinuation will only accelerate the inevitable death spiral-- of Kodak as well as film.
     
  39. Trivia question : Why are Fuji and Ilford not feeling the effects of lower film sales ? and if they are how do they manage to stay afloat ?
     
  40. Josh, I agree; there probably isn't enough demand for anyone to make the investment to produce it and make a profit. I seriously doubt the guys who are tying to produce polaroid film are going to make any money from that endevour.

    My only point was that if there was enough demand that Kodak would be silly to not at least consider selling the rights or outsourcing the production of Kodachrome. With all of the free publicity that Kodachrome has received lately, you never know.
     
  41. We often see these threads resort to emotion about the best media, the greed of the corporations and I guess the perception that people are only buying what's in front of them - as if something different was offered (ie cheap film) they would buy that instead. Quite frankly this is a situation where photography has been completely re-invented for the AVERAGE person in the past decade, and it will never be the same. I've been looking for some statistics that talk about the impact on film - and found this NY Times link:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/business/09film.html?ref=business
    The short story is that digital technology offered to the vast majority of the buying public something they had lost - a simple way to create good pictures (by their own standards) quickly, and a wonderful way to share them. Film never had that appeal - and as soon as a better mousetrap came along the average consumer went with it. I share that perspective - digital has recreated an interest in photography - I believe I am taking better pictures than ever, and I don't have to worry about the cost of a mistake. I know that's not how everyone feels, but I think it is how a majority opinion.
    I hope film survives - I really appreciate the craftsmanship required to use that medium. I sometimes wonder if the internet had been around a hundred years or so ago if there would have been a "horses.net" blog full of reasons why horses were better than cars and it was only a matter of time until people came back to them. Well, one interesting fact is that there are more horses in most states now than at any time in history - but of course not for day-to-day use on the highway, and not at all used by most people. Maybe a bit of a parallel - the challenge will be whether the statistics quoted in the above link point to a tipping point where it is just not economical for anyone to create the film, chemicals and processes to keep an important media alive.
     
  42. Harry,
    Fuji and Ilford are feeling the effects of lower film sales; If you don't remember, a few months ago, Fuji was considering killing off Pro 800Z, and has killed off T64 and CDU-II duplicating film. Ilford is more stable because black-and-white has stabilized; most people realize that the disadvantages of B&W digital are greater than the advantages, and B&W has been a niche market for 30+ years.
    The major difference between Kodak and Fuji is their focus. Fujifilm was founded as a photographic film company, the cameras were made to sell more film. Kodak was founded as a camera company; their first "Kodak" product was a simple box camera for the masses. The reason that Kodak is moving to digital is because it is where the masses are.
     
  43. Well I imagine if the trend continues in 10 years Ilford will be making film, and so will Fuji and likely FOMA. But Kodak will just be a memory....
    People still paint and stretch canvas. Someone will be around to make film. or else those of us who prefer analog will be coating our own glass plates. This is not as far fetched at it sounds and plenty of workshops are springing up to teach exactly this. So whatever happens to Kodak is irrelevant to photography....
     
  44. Yes, Kodak could be doing better in terms of marketing film. Yes, Josh is right about the people at Kodak who care about making great quality film. No, the Eastern Block companies are not outdoing Kodak in terms of products because the quality control pales in comparison, at least what I have experienced first hand.
    The bottom line is this: If you want to keep a specific film around, you have to do more than use it, you have to make sure at least one of your neighbors use it as well.
    And I would rather Kodak streamline the product line, keep the quality up and stay profitable, otherwise, what is the point?
     
  45. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Doing a better job of marketing film is difficult when you also want to market digital cameras. "When the photo really matters (showing a cute baby) Kodak film is the right choice." The people over at the Kodak digital camera division would complain that people are being told that their digital camera line is no good for important shots.
     
  46. The basic problem that Kodak has been wrestling with is how to manage through a technology substitution. The switch from film to digital seemed to many of us to occur very fast, but the transition was in the middle of the pack compared to others. One accepted metric is to record the length of time between a 10% penetration of the new technology and a 90% penetration. I forget the exact numbers, but the switch to digital photography was much faster than the switch to CD audio, but much slower than the switch from analog to digital cell phones.
    I've lived through several substitutions in my career. When I started at Kodak, the biggest money maker was 16mm Ektachrome motion picture film used by television stations to cover news events. Electronic news gathering (ENG) was on the horizon with shoulder mounted "minicams". Pundits were loudly proclaiming the death of film. It 5 was years before the market stopped growing and 30 years before the product line bit the dust.
    I used to work on super 8 movie systems. In 1979, there were home video cameras with "portable" (briefcase sized) recorders. Promotion with withdrawn for super 8 amateur products and sales dropped like a rock. There was a long tail on these products. E-160 movie film was available until the early 90's and K-40 was available until a few years ago.
    I worked for a short time on instant film. The product line was introduced in 1976 and forecasters were predicting that by 1980, 1/3 of all amateur pictures would be on instant film. This was killed off by minilabs providing 1 hour service for color neg and the low quality of instant images. Kodak instant film production ceased in 1986 when they lost the patent fight with Polaroid. The market isn't completely dead. I think Fuji still sells a peal-apart product.
    I worked on more than one generation of 800 speed negative film. In 1980 when we finally came up with a product that beat Fuji (at lest when it was fresh), photojournalists looked at it and told us, "Nice product. We would use it it we were going to stay with film."
    This brings us up to the current transition from color neg and reversal still film to digital. The bulk of this conversion is over. Nearly all casual amateurs and most pros have switched to digital for most shots. The question we are wrestling with is how long the tail will be for the still films we like. Obviously some products have already gone, but history suggests that still film will be around in some form for decades
    So how should a company manage a technology substitution? The accepted strategy is to embrace the new technology even if you are wedded to the old technology. Otherwise you end up making buggy whips when there are no buggies left. George Fisher decided that the future of Kodak was in imaging. He sold off all of the non-imaging assets and started milking the film business to pay for digital R&D. I'm very biased, but I'm convinced Fisher was wrong. When the old technology has plenty of profit potential and the new technology doesn't, it doesn't make sense to plow film profits into digital. It does make sense to use film profits for businesses with future profit potential (organic chemicals, medical lab equipment, pharmaceuticals, etc.) If they had done this, Kodak would be stronger, but the film business would not necessarily be any better off. It still doesn't make sense to invest heavily in a declining market. Many film people at Kodak would have liked to see more promotion of film in recent years. This could have prolonged the conversion, but we would still be sitting here in 2009 bemoaning the loss of some favorite film products.
    My bottom line: Kodak could have done a much better job managing the transition from film to digital, but nothing could have stopped the transition.
    Now I need to go make a phone call on my 1880 Western Electric phone to inquire about a new cartridge for my turntable. I need to copy some vinyl albums onto 8-track.
     
  47. Nice story Roy, but Kodak really did a lousy job during this transition compared to companies like Fuji and Ilford.
     
  48. Is there a place for writing emotional letters? Yes, but you should be writing them TO other photographers asking them to consider the world of film photography. THAT is how a difference can be made. Kodak wants to sell you film, believe me.​
    OMG!!!!! That's why film is what it is today, everyone buying only digital!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Eureka!!!!!!!!!
     
  49. But really, film has turned out to be a hobby, digital is mainstream and they can't turn back even if they wanted to (or fail doing so). I have several rolls of film to develop but can't bring myself to doing it because I can't spend the extra money right now at $8.00 CD only/cost of film in the hole per roll. I have hundreds of digital pictures that I enjoy and only at the cost of the price in electricity for charging up the batteries. It's a no brainer for me. Am I helping to contribute to the death of film? Perhaps so, but I, as a consumer am pleased and have what I want as with millions of other consumers in this market. I actually play with my film cameras so that I'm not rusty at using them, but I never push the button to take a picture.
     
  50. Sonja, the point you make is nothing new, but I am going to disagree with one thing you said. Film is not a hobby, it is a niche. Some of us who actually still make a living at shooting what we want have gone back to film because we simply get more out of the process and in turn, make better images that way. And film is not going to die either, so don't worry about your hand in it. It has become and will remain niche. Niche is good, like my income stream, not weddings, not events, but niche. So digital is not new either, I have been using it for 16 years, if anything, it is the same OLD thing.
     
  51. I stand corrected. Hope nobody's hair set on fire because of that statement LOL!
     
  52. For film sales the NON NICHE market of the soccer mom; Joe Six Pack; teenager; holiday/birthday picture shooter needs to be considered; since it is the LARGEST piece of the film sales pie:
    If one looks at the USA's largest retailer Walmart;many carry few if any 35mm cameras anymore; ie ones that are non-deposables; ie reloadable. Some have a one or two token ones on display; others one or none; some have new old stock kids bubble pack 35mm reloadables with themes; ie Hannah Montana; Spiderman.
    In many places in the USA there is really no "local camera store" anymore; it is now Walmart; Office Depot; Frys; Walgreens; Best Buy; Office Max; Dunder Mifflin.:).
    A Joe Six pack shooter who drops his trusty P&S 35mm Olympus Stylus today is hard pressed to find a local replacement. Thus it is mailorder; ebay to buy another 35mm P&S that works. Even if somebody likes film and prints; local replacements for a simple P&S are often harder and harder to find. Many folks do not use mailorder or Ebay; thus a *replacement* of a broken 35mm P&S is a digital; because that is what is only available; accept for 1 shot film cameras.
     
  53. In consumer film (the non-niche market), I understand one-time-use cameras now outsell individual rolls. This will keep 800 speed film around for awhile.
     
  54. "I actually play with my film cameras so that I'm not rusty at using them, but I never push the button to take a picture."

    Then why hang out in the Film Forum? Morbid Curiosity? ;) Honestly, this is akin to sitting a Jaguar E type and just turning the steering wheel in the drive way. Surely you can find a cheap place online to process film and then scan it.
     
  55. Hahaha, morbid maybe, but I still like my film cameras no matter what. If I could snap my fingers and make film be popular again, I'd do it in a heartbeat. As I am typing this message, I've just put down 4 rolls of film that I shot at the family turkey dinner today. I guess I MUST get these developed. Feels good to feel the motor advance when I push the button. I'm just saying I see the writing in the wall even if others don't. I can't blame them, I'll miss it too but each year that passes, there's less and less. I'm still shooting if that make anyone happy. LOL.
     
  56. Hi Sonja, Definitely nothing personal, and I know that your view is likely the clear majority, but I feel that people such as I must speak up, lest this becomes even more of a self-fulfilling prophecy encouraging even more people to give up on film. This, "because everyone's doing it" reasoning that so many seem to follow reminds me a lot of the seeming inherent "herd mentality" that so many humans seem to be governed by. The same thing that begets phenomenon like real estate and stock bubbles. Not quite the same, but there are some striking thinking process similarities to me, at least. I actually had a middle aged man tell me recently that he wanted badly to have taken pictures at a recent event with his older, but in fine shape, film camera, but was afraid that people would laugh at him. He seemed very encouraged to talk with someone like me, but I thought it was so sad and a sign of these strange times, and perhaps of human nature. Encouragingly, though, I've talked with more young people in their early twenties and late teens that want to use film after growing up with digital. And my early-teens nephew told me he much prefers a print in his hand to one on any sort of screen. I'm not anti-technology; for me the technology of photography lies in having just enough so that it enables me to most easily, simply, and economically pursue the craft or art. For me, that means modern films and a scanner.
    Here's my situation: I've been in love with photography for at least a dozen years. Bought a dedicated scanner at least 7 years ago, a Nikon Coolscan IV, that still works perfectly today. Between that and a good image editor (Photoshop) and a good printer also purchased at least 6 years ago, an Epson 2200 and still in fine working order, I'm good to go. Kodak films have clearly never been better, imho, and although they've become moderately more expensive, I don't shoot so much that it is too much of a factor. Development, ditto, and I can still get very decent 35mm negative processing 7-days per, develop only w/ an index print for less than $4 w/tax. My bodies and lenses seem to be timeless relative to digital bodies, and they are well built, simple to operate, not terribly sensitive to dust, and a real pleasure to use. For flash and exposure technology, my early '90's era body has all that I need and more.
    Someone lent me a Nikon D80 recently, I used it a bit, but it had nowhere near the appeal for me that my film bodies do, and I was turned off by the many cords, CD's to read, etc. I'm not putting it down though, as I'm sure if that's what one started out with, maybe it's great! I guess what I'm trying to say is that film is still quite viable, even preferable, for many of us. I want simplicity, not complexity and don't want to be obsessed with the technological features of my camera. As far as your shooting four rolls today, perhaps that is justified, maybe not, I can't say. What I will say, is that as I've become further experienced in photography, for any given purpose, I shoot less, not more, than I did starting out, and the percentage of "keepers" actually has gone up. If you wait for the moment, so to speak, it's a lot more economical- not everything is worth an exposure. For me at least, all factors including economics are clearly in favor of staying with film and I think my reasoning is rational, and I really hope it will be there and be affordable for us.
     
  57. I'm not a pro photographer. And my knowledge of photography, technically and in the marketplace is incidental.
    I believe what would help most is more people having prints made in their neighborhood.
    Because for me, film is the simplest and oftentimes least expensive, workflow on my way to a print. My Nikon FE cameras and AIS optics are paid for. Long ago. Maintenance is minimal. Performance is reliable.
    I need to save my money for computer and software upgrades.
     
  58. I recently made a attempt at my first autumn shoot with a loaner Canon 30D ( I know,I know, this is ancient 2006 technology)and was so ticked off with all the washed out higlights,erratic focus issues,weak and unnatural colors (required lots of time in Photoshop to correct) that I dusted off a ancient 1995 technology Canon ElanIIe (I usually shoot Canon FD,630's or a 3),loaded it with my favorite slide film (Kodak Elitechrome 100) for just a good laugh.Fantastic accurate color,focus,and acceptable highlights every time using the exact same Canon EOS prime lenses.Plus as a bonus a no brainer readable hardcopy good for 80 plus years.Please Kodak don't throw in the towel just yet.There is still hope for film and people who appreciate how good it still holds up in a digital world.I'm sure many will say learn how to use the 30D you idiot (I've been shooting digital at work for 10 years)or try a more current body ($1200 - $2800?)but the facts are as a moderate shooter I can't buy anything digital for $50 US (current value of a ElanIIe),a roll of Elitechrome ($3.75 - 36),processing ($8.00)and match this kind of quality for the money during hard times.
     
  59. Hey Douglas V, I used to have the Elan IIe back when it came out, I loved this camera!!!!
     
  60. Watching Kodak spin round and round is almost like playing Monopoly.
     
  61. A cousin of mine works for Fuji and had worked previously for Kodak. He tells me that Fuji is much more aggressive in their R&D as to film than what he saw at Kodak. I've been shooting film for 45+ years but as a UPI photog in Vietnam, I would have died to have digital capture. For making deadlines in the news biz, digital cannot be beat. We shot Tri-X in the field, had to get it choppered back to the lab for processing and contact sheet printing, then wire transmission if something was really essential, otherwise the end product had to be physically couriered here and there. There was no FedEx back in 1968 after the Tet Offensive!
    That being said, I don't think film will ever totally disappear. It will remain as a niche and may even be "rediscovered" by a generation of photographers who cut their teeth solely on digital. I chat with he minilab operator at the local Target store and he tells me he has seen no drop off in rolls of film left for processing. The big difference is that most film shooters order a CD of their film rolls.
    I am semi-retired and still shoot film for family events and for my own personal landscape and street photography, but my wife has gone totally digital. You can't stop progress but the death of film has been greaty exaggerated.
     
  62. A cousin of mine works for Fuji and had worked previously for Kodak.​
    Was this person by any chance Ken R.? If so, there is a good explanation for his observations.
     
  63. No, not a Ken R., a Bob F., ready to retire in a year's time.
     
  64. Doing a better job of marketing film is difficult when you also want to market digital cameras. "When the photo really matters (showing a cute baby) Kodak film is the right choice." The people over at the Kodak digital camera division would complain that people are being told that their digital camera line is no good for important shots.​
    The problem for Kodak is that their digital cameras are not good for important shots - or any other shots for that matter. A couple of years ago, I bought a Kodak digital P&S as a carry-around camera, and the camera is absolute junk. It will not focus on anything, and the 'shake' warning would come on while it was on a tripod in bright light. Maybe 1 out of 10 photos were of reasonable sharpness, the rest were unusable.
    For decades, Kodak had a reputation for making reasonably priced cameras which took photos of reasonable quality. Unfortunately, these days have passed as well.
    I place much of the blame for this lack of quality (and the demise of film) squarely on Antonio Perez, Kodak's Chairman, whose official biography at Kodak proudly boasts that he, "has led the worldwide transformation of Kodak from a business based on film to one based primarily on digital technologies."
    It is interesting to me that Mr. Perez has spent most of his career as an executive with HP in charge of digital imaging and inkjets - a company that is not known for producing quality products. He is someone who not only does not understand the photography business, he is likely someone who does not understand the importance of keeping a company's reputation for quality products.
    As for me, I will continue to use Kodak films, and Kodak-branded chemicals - but as for their digital products, I will never buy a Kodak digital camera again.
     
  65. HP has a long history of producing quality products. I'm still using the HP-11c calculator I got in 1984. Their ink jet printers may not have lived up to the standards of the rest of their products.
    Before I left Kodak it appeared to me that Perez was betting the rent money on the ink-jet printer strategy. We all have a stake in the success of these printers. If they fail in the marketplace, Kodak will go the route of Polaroid and we wont have any more film from them.
     
  66. Ron, I agree on the previous quality of HP's products. I still have a 1991 HP LaserJet III in perfect working condition. The problem is that, especially over the last 10 years, HP has becme intent on selling cheap, crappy printers with expensive, small ink cartridges. In the early to mid 1990s, I spent about 200 dollars on a mid-range HP inkjet that I used before I became interested in photography. The cartridges held (IIRC) 30ml of ink for the black, and 15ml for each color, and cost about $30 for both. The newest mid-range HP inkjet costs less than half of the original printer's cost, but the ink cartridges cost the same and are only 10ml black and 5ml each color.
     
  67. With the recent announcement about Kodak discontinuing certain b&w chemicals I decided to start stocking up. I bought 10 1-gallon packets of D-76 Replenisher for $1.20 ea. With shipping the whole lot was under $23. One packet is obviously bad because it's hard as a rock. I threw that one out. I mixed up one packet and replenished the quart of D-76 I mixed up a while ago. I developed about 15 exposures of FP-4+ 35mm, one 36 exp. roll of Tri-X, a roll of 120 Tri-X and two 220 rolls of PXP. Every roll was fine. Now if I can get a dozen 1-gallon packets of Microdol-X and a few gallons of Selectol I should be set for some time. I think the guess that E-6 film and processing will be around for the next 10-20 years is a bit optimistic. I want them to last even longer, I just don't think they will.
     
  68. Wow, this has turned out to be quite a topic :=)
     
  69. Nicholas,
    The most profitable operation I can think of is at the bureau of printing and engraving where they turn high quality paper into $100 bills. The second most profitable manufacturing used to be Ektachrome sheet film that cost about $0.25 to make an 8x10 sheet that sold for $2 or $3. Clearly ink jet cartridges have surpassed this markup. They take $0.15 worth of ink and sell it for $30. The business model of the Kodak ink jet printers is to take $0.15 worth of ink and sell it for $15.
     

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