Leica & Kodachrome

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by michael j hoffman, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. Totally random and wild thought here, but I thought I'd post it to get your opinions.
    What if Leica acquired the rights to manufacture, sell and process Kodachrome? They could really buy the whole line K25, K64 & K200, and reintroduce it as their own; if they wanted to get really daring, they could even buy and market the old Kodachrome II recipe. Given that Kodachrome processing is now done solely at one location, at least here in the USA, there would be no huge overhead in providing for the films' processing like there would be with a newly introduced film.
    Leica's strength is still, from what I can tell, their ability to produce the highest quality film cameras in the world. I don't think Leica holds the same niche in the digital photography arena that they have always enjoyed in the film world. I imagine that the acquisition could be a success for Leica and could also yield some much-need cash flow which would allow Leica to direct money into further R&D in both film and digital projects, because they could sell the new Kodachrome to anyone with an old 35mm camera. I imagine the demand would be economically sustainable and could bring about a mini-renaissance for film-based photography. Depending on its initial success, Leica might even offer film scanners dedicated to processing Leica's own film stock.
    What say you?
    Michael J Hoffman
  2. Why would the manufacture and distribution of Kodachrome be profitable for Leica (which doesn't have the equipment, personnel, experience, or distribution channels for the manufacture and sale of film) when it's not sufficiently profitable for Kodak?
  3. Great joint venture! The force of two dinosaurs in deadly spot-on alignment!
    I would be in if one roll would be about 10€+4€ development, push 2.00!
  4. Sufficiently profitable for Kodak may be a vastly different concept from sufficiently profitable for Leica. Also, there is the disparity between the public's perception of the two companies, with Kodak suffering by comparison. I have already plainly stated that its a wild and random idea. I'm interested in getting people's opinions on why it may or may not work, not so much in defending the premise.
    Michael J Hoffman
  5. Lack of processing locations kills almost any Kodachrome-revival plan. I'm no expert, but I bet environmental regulations probably kill the rest.
  6. I'm interested in getting people's opinions on why it may or may not work, not so much in defending the premise.
    The reason it may not work is that the premise is fundamentally flawed: it's quite likely that it would not be a highly-profitable venture for Leica. All of the factors that led to Kodachrome's demise at Kodak would still apply if it were manufactured by Leica. And it would cost Leica significantly more per roll to manufacture and distribute the film.
  7. But Leica doesn't have a film manufacturing facility, and from everything I've read Kodachrome was the most complicated film to make when it was last in production.
    It's dead, guys. Time to get a new film.
  8. SCL


    Why it may not work? IMHO because Leica lacks expertise in the field of film production as well as the financial resources to get into a line of business which has been a money loser for years. You're right...it is a wild and random idea, best quickly dismissed. A better idea is for you, as the idea man, and a group of deep pocketed investors to pick it up and attept to run it as a successful venture for all the film lovers out there (of which I am one....I grew up on Kodachrome, home slide shows, etc.).
  9. Ya you all are so serene...
  10. Continuing on Stephen's thoughts ... IF (big IF) Kodachrome gets a last-minute reprieve, I would bet it will be by some investors who can set up a production facility in some less developed country hungry for ANY form of manufacturing and commerce, where the environmental impacts can be quickly swept under the rug, compliance-wise (or dumped into the river, more literally).
    Additionally, if they do this AND offer it in all it's formulations (e.g. K25, K64, K200, 35mm, 120, 4x5, ...) to create broader appeal in an already niche market, they might be able to pull it off. Few environmental concerns and low labor costs could create favorable costs to the consumers.
    Not that I think this is right -- nor would I support it if it were to be manufactured in such a setting -- but this is the only way I see it being a profitable reality.
  11. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    Silly silly silly discussion If it was possible/profitable to just not have turned the machine off Don't you think the company that needed NO investment what so ever would have been the one to do it?
  12. Yes, it is a silly, silly, discussion but if you can't have silly discussions here amongst our PN friends, where can you? Particularly about obsolete film emulsions. I just can't get this sort of humor at work.
    I just love the fact that Kodachrome just won't die ... the threads are always an interesting read and the postings are universally passionate. Almost as bad as "is film really better than digital?" postings ...
    And with that I bid you all a good night ...
  13. Leicachrome?
  14. Perfect. Then they could charge $65 per roll.
  15. I imagine the demand would be economically sustainable and could bring about a mini-renaissance for film-based photography. Depending on its initial success, Leica might even offer film scanners dedicated to processing Leica's own film stock.​
    I'd expect the demand to be as close to zero as makes no odds. Kodachrome isn't dying because too many people want it, but because nobody wants it. A Leica logo won't change that.
  16. Sadly, Fuji Velvia 50 and the environmentalist movement killed Kodachrome.
    If you love the song, turn your speakers on, click & enjoy >>> Paul Simon's "Kodachrome"
  17. Good one, Michael! If anyone produces Kodachrome again it will probably be some company in Croatia or something.
  18. And think of all the discusions we could have as to whether Croation/Tasmanian/Madagascan Kodachrome was better/ worse than Monroe County Kodachrome.
  19. No, I think Leica needs to stick to their knitting. The next priority needs to be an affordable digital body for R lenses. Let's not distract them.
  20. "I can read the writing on the wall". Thanx for the link Gus.
    I use Portra.
  21. It's not in Leica's company interest to support film use, much less use of a niche film par excellence. Y'all should have bought and used it when it was available.
  22. If we had some ham, we could make ham and eggs, if we could find some eggs.
  23. Maybe you need to be reminded that Leica's "new" M cameras are digital? If cars suddenly ran on solar power, would Ford go into the gasoline business to keep their old line running?
    Right now there are still a large number of various emulsions available for the dedicated film shooters. And unfortunately Kodachrome isn't one of them.
  24. "
    They could offer also offer it a black film canister, and call it "Leicablack"
    Taking it one step further, why not bespoke, "a la carte Leica film", film canisters in a variety of colors and finishes..
    Then you can periodically offer canisters in "Limited Edition", "Special Editiion", "Anniversary Edition:, "Safari Edition"...finishes.
    Prices? If you have to ask.....
  25. I agree Gus on the Fuji Velvia and the environmentalists.....I agree more with the Velvia though.
  26. No matter how much you want it to happen, it's not going to happen. Sorry. Get some Portra, or better yet some HP5+
  27. It would take the Japanese (Fuji) to do something like any Kodachrome reintroduction.
  28. Michael,
    Great idea that fits with the Leica "attitude." Who cares how much the film costs to make, distribute, purchase or process? It would be just another bright line delineating Leica users from the rest of us, which would appear to be just fine with that demographic. Let's face it, once you've purchased a Leica why should you be forced to put proletariat film into it? You deserve a film that only Leica owners can afford......
    BTW, I heard Kodak has quite a stockpile of processing chemicals ready for Dwaynes in anticipation of all those frozen rolls coming out at the last minute so the Dec 2010 deadline might be extended. Anyone else heard this?
  29. In anticipation of Dec 2010 deadline, I spent the last 6 months to shoot all my over 100 rolls of K64 stockpile on MP and M7. Perhaps these films are expired to begin with, but personally I like Fujichrome and EV100S better.
  30. Dead and buried. Get over it. I've used Kodachrome since the 1960s, but the curtain comes down forever on 12/31/10. Shoot it all and get it into Dwayne's by the deadline, then move on.
  31. I hope Kodak have got some chemicals stashed away. I have 20 to 30 rolls from the 90's that I am working my way though. It's a crime to leave any of this film unshot. European film comes with process paid envelopes, which are still honoured up to end 2010 I understand. I send mine off to Switzerland.
    I've already sent my kids to kindergarten and on school trips with Mju II's loaded with some KR200, basically teaching them not to drop cameras in preparation for this summer. I have a couple of R4 bodies, and the plan is to send the kids out this summer with 25 and 35mm R lenses (with protective filters) on R4 bodies, and teach them zone focussing with the remaining 200 speed. I think Kodachrome has a chance of resurfacing in 20 to 30 years. There was a Kodachrome minilab operating in Japan until the special chemicals they needed dried up. In 30 years time, it will be easier, cheaper, and more automated to make and recycle the chemicals needed. The important thing is that the chemical formulas and processing procedures don't get lost, and that a few surviving photographers remember how much fun it is to use Kodachrome!
  32. how much fun it is to use Kodachrome!
    The best part for me was opening the box of newly processed slides and enjoying that aroma!
    All films give off a scent, but Kodachrome's is unique. If I was blindfolded and somone had me sniff 25 various films, I couldn't name 24 of them but I would always be able to pick out the Kodachrome . Try it when you next get back that processed roll.
    Jay Maisel "sufferred" this strange ability too, I understand.
  33. John;

    Your Kodachrome sent to Switzerland; is then developed by Dwaynes in Kansas; then it goes back to you in Europe.

    It all funnels to Dwaynes; where the plug is to be pulled.

    The chance of Kodachrome restarting later are slim at best since the process is so capital intensive.

    No matter where folks sends their Kodachrome; it all gets sent to Kansas at Dwaynes; right in the heart of Tornado county USA. If an F5 twister hits in a week there will be no more Kodachrome color processing.
    It is like if one pulled up all the train tracks in Europe; then one wants trains to re appear; there is a huge cost involved.
  34. No, I think Leica needs to stick to their knitting. The next priority needs to be an affordable digital body for R lenses. Let's not distract them.​
    How 'bout an affordable digital body for M lenses? LOL
  35. Like Kodak (who has repeated the mantra over and over, even though they still sell some film), Leica is no longer a film camera company, it's a digital camera company. The last film M was the M7, the first digital the M8. That's about as clear a line in the sand as you can draw. So why would a digital camera company have the least interest in spending money to manufacture film? There many be a lot of us dinosaurs out here who still worship film cameras (I love 'em to). But Leica clearly isn't among us anymore.
  36. Leica MP is also currently available. I think it takes film.
  37. M7 and MP both are still in production [well, still on Leica's website]
  38. You think Leica will ever add a new film camera to the stable?
  39. As far as I am concerned, Kodachrome entered a downward spiral in the UK when processing within the country was discontinued and films had to be sent to Switzerland. This meant that the extra time required for Kodachrome processing versus E6 was no longer merely a nuisance but became completely unacceptable for professionals. Unless someone acquiring rights to Kodachrome set up at least 6 or 8 labs around the globe (which would virtually guarantee the whole idea would never make money), the film would not sell in any appreciable quantities.
  40. David;

    Kodak could give away the rights to Kodachrome for free and a lab would still loose money.

    The last remaining lab ie Dwaynes has to pull the K14 plug at the end of the year for a reason; ie not enough sales.

    K14 is a very involved very capital expensive process.

    As Photographers reduced shooting Kodachrome ; K14 labs *had* to close; they had to contract into less numbers of K14 labs to stay afloat.

    Now that there is only one K14 lab left in the world; the year has come to close it too; there is not enough sales volume to pay of the expense of the K14 line.

    Selling the *rights* to K14 would be like selling the rights to build a steam engine train locomotive.

    Railroads abandoned steam engines; photographers abandoned Kodachrome.
    Lack of sales due to photographers not using enough killed Kodachrome.

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