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Tech Pan to be discontinued


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Kodak should lay off the blubbler management; and radically reduce its overhead. They should keep films that sell; and make a commitment to still sell films that folks want and use. The spineless management is drunk with short term goals; and blind to their customer needs.<BR><BR> They need a Patton type person; with both film and digital vision; with the guts to downsize; cut blubber; and still make core film products.<BR><BR> Tech Pan is a slow film; with a longer shelf life than faster films. Kodak is cutting their own lifeblood; well proven useable products. They should further clean house; and cut the fat; blubber; BS management; that is wimpy; with no balls; "the wrong stuff". Kodak lacks vision; it has no chaps that have the guts to downsize; cut out the blubber; and still keep proven saleable films.<BR><BR>The Patton type chap should fire the entire marketing dept; every single person.<BR><BR>The Patton type chap should find out the minimum crews to keep the film lines still making films. <BR><BR>The Patton type person should develop a long range set of goals; for film and digital; and cut every wastefull BS thing at Kodak.<BR><BR>
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About blubber management.

 

EK has reduced WW workforce from about 120,000 to about 60,000 or so, almost 50%. Most of it was in 'nonessential' areas. For example, few reductions took place in R&D. There were some, but far fewer than in other areas that were then more highly automated, or that could be outsourced.

 

About digital:

 

Headlines in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle for 8/7/04. Kodak sales surged ahead of all expectations in the quarter just ended, but among those figures was the fact that EK digital sales surged ahead more than any other placing EK second to only Sony in the sales of digital still cameras.

 

Ron Mowrey

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Ron, maybe you can confirm or deny this: my guess is that Kodachrome and TechPan were cut not just because of poor sales but also because they were difficult and/or expensive to produce. You had mentioned this as being a factor in EK's cutting (I think) RG25. Any validity to this?
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Nobody here has any idea what it costs Kodak to run the Tech Pan line relative to its sales. So while Kodak has certainly had a lot of financial problems in the last ten years, nobody here can really do more than froth at the mouth when they talk about whether or not this was a good decision for Kodak. While a decision may not be good for photographers, that doesn't mean Kodak should potentially drive themselves into the ground for that reason.

 

Until someone has some hard data, frothing (e.g., "Kodak is cutting their own lifeblood; well proven useable products") is pointless.

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What kills me about Kodak is the shortsightedness. Ask anyone is business school and they'll tell you that the best way to suceed is to change the perception not the product. I agree sales of Kodachrome are way down, that is fact, it has been that way for a long timt hat is fact, and I believe that they experimented with better Kodachrome that went unreleased because no one wanted them, that seems to be fact.

 

What they don't know how to do is convince people of anything. Rather than try to sell their emulsions they constatntly change and discontinue them. Anyone can tell you that's not a way to build market.

 

I fully believe Kodak looses money on Kodachrome and Tech Pan. I also know many people have no ideas of the properties of these films. Kodak made the idiotic mistake of assuming that because marketing/advertising isn't working, cut the marketing, and gradually kill the product. Most people would try changing the marketing, or increasing the marketing first, I also know a lot of people who don't use much Kodachrome or much Tech Pan, but when they do use them nothing else will sufice. Many of these people will run from all Kodac products if Kodachrome or Tech Pan is discontinued. Look at teh number of comments we see about people who won't use any Agfa product because sheet films have been discontinued, or because APX25 was discontinued.

 

I'd bet a good market surveyw ould show these products function as loss leaders, People who buy Kodachrome probably also by Ektachrome, rather than FujiChromes out of simple brand loyalty. That will VANISH, and quyickly.

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Jason;

 

EK kept the Kodachrome emulsions and didn't change them and some people are complaining that the product line isn't modern enough. As a matter of fact, both Fuji and EK change their product line at about the same pace, but people complain more about Kodak. So, which do you want. An old product with old emulsions from the 80s or up to date technology. Why do you criticize EK for doing what Fuji does. Why not complain about both companies? And don't give me the old song and dance about how EK ruined a good old film by introducing a new film. I have seen Fuji do the same. In fact, in the 90s, the new Velvia almost failed due to flaws.

 

In addition, I see a lot of EK ads in national magazines and on TV during prime time. And not just here in Rochester. I travel. Those ads appear across the country.

 

There was a lot of advertisement and hype about the new Kodachromes at the time of introduction of the new products in the 80s and the reaction was 'ho hum'. So EK decided why waste money on a product with little excitement on the part of the public.

 

The public went out and bought Ektachrome during an ad blitz for the new Kodachromes in the 80s. So, here you are, about 20 people who love Kodachrome. Gee, think EK could make a profit selling to all of you? Lets see, one roll sold to each of you once a month, wow, maybe we could coat it once a year then and maybe sell 10% of that production and scrap the rest. I can see them thinking at Kodak Office now.

 

To make a profit, the coating line has to run almost 24/7 and the processing line just about has to run 24/7. The Kodachrome process is very sensitive to sitting idle for anything more than a few hours. There it is in a nutshell. The spiral started with the customer, and not with EK. There were some exciting products already scheduled, but that were cancelled due to severely declining sales in the 80s, total disinterest in spite of ad campaigns, and rising interest in color negative and Ektachrome. At that time there was virtually no Fuji competition.

 

Suddenly, in the 80s, the public wanted color prints rather than slides. The big push became color negative actually in the 70s when EK saw this coming in spite of everything. The public consumer was tired of lugging out the slide projector. They wanted prints, and didn't like prints from slides, even Cibachromes. They did like internegative prints, but it was more expensive. I know, I saw some of the trends in person. Most people did not like Kodachrome. The only way some professionals could use it, such as at National Geographic, was due to the massive intervention of masking for color correction and contrast, which then made prints from Kodacrhome look really good. Scott Eaton has pointed out here that Kodachromes are often hard to scan. I agree with him and I know the technical reasons why. They are the same reasons that Kodachrome is hard to print and why massive intervention is needed to make good reproductions of the slides.

 

Enjoy Kodachrome and Technical Pan while you have them.

 

Sorry, but you are in a minority though. And, it appears that no one here knows the inside stories correctly. It also seems that no one cares. It is easier to ignore the true stories and I guess you like to bash Kodak.

 

BTW, most managers at EK have gotten advanced degrees from Harvard Business school. That is one of the requirements for promotion to top levels at EK. Getting degrees in Business Admin and / or Marketing are a must. Oh, and while you are so busy attacking EK management, did anyone sympathize with EK when about 6 of its top managers were killed in a crash of one of the company planes about 10 years ago? That didn't help things at a very critical time. I think they managed quite well in spite of many handicaps including a series of dubious law suits that went against them. I say dubious simply because I have seen expert leagal opinion go both ways, but most favored EK in spite of the fact that EK lost. You would be surprised at the fallout that had at EK beyond the monetary considerations. And, I would bet that most of you don't remember all of the law suits that EK had to contend with back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, right? Just get the big guy because he is big. He is a bully right?

 

I know I'm inviting flames, but that is not my intention. It is to alert you to the fact that you don't know very much about what is really going on behind the scenes, or what really happened in the past. If you don't know about all of those law suits, you cannot fully appreciate some factors in EK thinking. All of you that know about the Pavelle, Ansco, and Polaroid suits raise your hands! Do you know what they were about or what the result was?

 

There is so much you don't know, but you are very quick to criticize. Well, I will try to answer your questions even if they are flames, but as I say, what I want to do is raise your awareness to the fact that there is a lot you don't know.

 

PS. Fuji quit making their very excellent version of Kodachrome when it became unprofitable for them. The other companies that made Kodachrome type films went out of business. Did anyone fail to note that?

 

Ron Mowrey

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Ron wrote:

 

"In addition, I see a lot of EK ads in national magazines and on TV during prime time. And not just here in Rochester. I travel. Those ads appear across the country."

 

The only Kodak ads I ever see on TV are for disposable cameras, amateur-level digital cameras, and rarely, for MAX 800 film. I don't think I've ever seen a TV ad for Kodak slide film or Kodak B&W film.

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Kodak is a huge company. It is easy for an outsider; such as me; to use the "blubber" comment than an insider. ALL companies have some sort of "blubber". <BR><BR>Kodak and digital are nothing new. The WSJ and others seem to think Kodak is just awaking to digital.<BR><BR>I interviewed with a Kodak project in the late 1970's; for digital storage; in the San Diego area. Kodak at that time was looking into mass storage; in the optical film; and magnetic recording areas.<BR><BR>My personal biased take is that Kodak took a wrong bet with the APS concept. It was a last weird format; that was not really loved by the masses. Some photolabs never changed to APS; but farmed it out. APS in some places is 50 percent more in processing costs than plane jane 35mm P&S film. The masses dont want to pay for prints that cost 50 percent more. The only folks who liked APS I know are realtors. Many went to Sony digitals here; for home appraisals.<BR><BR>Dropping a film type always causes a ruckus.<BR><BR>One wonders what the next film to be dropped will be. <BR><BR>The dropping of the Kodak professional copy film caused our business to go into digital scanning; to redo old B&W images. This radically reduced our buying of Kodak photo papers; and chemicals. One item dropped rippled thru and caused other Kodak items to not be bought. Once we bought 250 sheet packs of 8X10 Kodak darkroom print papers; now it is all non-Kodak inkjet.
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<i>BTW, most managers at EK have gotten advanced degrees from Harvard Business school. That is one of the requirements for promotion to top levels at EK. Getting degrees in Business Admin and / or Marketing are a must.</I>

<p>

There is a school of thought that believes that top management should also know something about the <i>business</I>, i.e., the <i>products</I> and industries that use them.

<p>

I'm sorry, but the more I see of Kodak's PR material, the more I see a tribe comprised of all chiefs and no braves.

<p>

Or if you prefer, "all beancounters and no photographers."

<p>

And then overriding it all, is the insane focus on stuff that's "neither of the above" -- PC dogma to the nth degree, as epitiomized in <a href="http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=29394">this guy's</a> situation.

<p>

What's the emoticon for "shaking my head in utter disbelief?"

<p>

What I see (granted, from my "middle of nowhere" perspective, relying solely on the news media) is a company that's lost its focus. No pun intended. Really.

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<i>Fuji quit making their very excellent version of Kodachrome when it became unprofitable for them.</i>

<p>

This is news to me. I knew that someone, I think Sakura, made a Kodachrome-like film in the early '50s, but I never heard if described in particularly glowing terms. I've never heard anything about Fuji making a Kodachrome clone, excellent or not.

<p>

<i>The other companies that made Kodachrome type films went out of business. Did anyone fail to note that? </I>

<p>

The only other Kodachrome clone I'm aware of was Dynachrome, which I believe was made by a 3M subsidiary. 3M is still in business, and in any case, I recall Dynachrome not receiving very good reviews in the press, and selling mainly on the basis of cost (it was cheaper than Kodachrome).

<P>

I don't see any lessons there at all, pertaining to the marketability of Kodachrome. Any type of film is inherently a limited market, and when one company has the bulk of the sales volume and the only really good product of its type, there is a self-perpetuating cycle that creates a high cost of entry for anyone trying to break into the market. It seems to me that the obstacles to entry were too great for anyone to obtain a foothold. One Japanese company, in the immediate postwar era, had a regional product for a short period of time, which lost its market when Kodak began bringing in top qualty competition. Another company, a decade later, made a halfhearted effort to compete domestically, with a low-end product that failed to compete in terms of quality.

<p>

How this reflects on Kodachrome itself is beyond me, but then again, I'm not a Harvard MBA. I'm just a lowly putz behind the lens.

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<i>One wonders what the next film to be dropped will be. </i>

<p>

Looking at the current batch of PR material on their website, I get the image of a guy who's dumped his ex wife, married his new flame, and can't hardly wait for the last kid to turn 18 so that he can finally be rid of his support burden.

<p>

I don't know that that answers your question, but your question evoked that imagery.

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R. T.;

 

In the latest professional magazines, Rangefinder is the example I'll use, EK has 17 pages of ads while Fuji has 11 pages of ads for professonal grade products and digital products.

 

The EK ads include Plus-X film, HC 110 develper, and T-max 100 & 400. So what do you read?

 

I see similar ads in Popular Photography and Photographic Techniques. Of course TV ads are going to be more biased in the direction of consumer products. What do you expect?

 

Kelly;

 

Again I am forced to repeat this. APS was not an EK format. Fuji, Nikon, Canon, Agfa, in fact all major camera and film makers joined in a combined effort to develop a melded digital / conventional product. The scope included a lot of things never realized which were to come from the striping along the sides of the film with digital information imprinted on the film.

 

All of these companies agreed on this try. They all believed that APS would be a success. Don't criticize Kodak alone as being at fault. If you wish to cast a stone, cast it at the management of all of those companies. I own a Nikon Pronea VIs. It is a beautiful camera and uses APS film. Its just sad that it never went as far as planned. Nikon had faith in it as well as Fuji, and in fact Fuji is still putting effort into APS. Kodak is admitting to the probable failure of this product line. Please get the facts straight and lay the blame properly and equally. (FYI, I bought the Pronea at a great price and I knew what was planned for APS and had a degree of faith in it myself, knowing what the potential was. Besides, all of my equipment is Nikon, so my lenses fit etc..)

 

So, where is anyones comment on the stupidity of Fuji for supporting APS? Where are your comments about EK starting to withdraw from APS but Fuji continuing?

 

What about Fuji jumping into production of Polaroid type instant films? Is that smart, especially as they charge a premium price for their product? And, the only way they can get to produce Polaroid type products is due to the legal structure of the Japanese patent laws. They can essentially get away with what Kodak was sued for.

 

What about Dyancolor? They went bankrupt trying to keep on selling and processing Kodachrome films that they made. Where were their customers? The product was very good. It was equal to the EK product. What about the comparable Fuji product. Where are the mourners for its demise?

 

You guys all are so biased. You have your minds made up with no concrete evidence in hand. I participated in 3 litigations at EK as part of the pre-trial discovery process. I watched the development and attempted sales of improved Kodachrome films. I have read photo magazines since about 1950, and keep current with consumer and professional products and ads.

 

After reading some of these posts, I really wonder if you care about the product or just enjoy bashing EK. And what is worse, I doubt if most of you really read what I've written sometimes, or having read it I doubt if you care or understand what I have tried to explain.

 

I have read reports here from several people who have gotten bad products from manufacturers other than EK. Where are the blistering tirades against those manufacturers?

 

Fair is fair guys. Lets try to be that way. No company is free of blame, poor marketing, poor judgment or poor products. Don't heap all of your anger on EK.

 

I don't get anything from EK, nor am I happy with some things that they have done. I'm just aware of and see the faults in other companies and look at them with an open mind and wonder what is going on here when you only see faults with EK.

 

Ron Mowrey

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Regarding Dynacolor(chrome?), I don't recall it that way. I remember it getting slammed in the press for being too contrasty and not having as good a color rendition as Kodachrome. But, it's been many years, and maybe my memory isn't perfect.

 

As to Fuji's Polaroid films and patent laws, the way I understand it, Fuji manufactures Polaroid film under contract/license from Polaroid, and some of it is branded "Polaroid", and sold in the USA. You may be thinking of Fuji having manufactured a version of Kodak's instant print film (I don't know if it was the original, or the "trimprint" style), which they were able to sell in Japan, but were prohibited from importing into the USA. As I understand it, Fuji's endeavors in that format were done without the blessing of EKC.

 

By the way, I always found Kodak's instant print film to be superior to Polaroid's SX-70. The Kodak cameras were not as elegant as the SX-70 but the film was far superior, in both image quality, and convenience. The "Trimprint" concept was brilliant. Kodak's image-through-back technology allowed for a much better integral pack print, with a textured surface (and ultimately peelable image layer). Polaroid could not do that, because they needed a perfectly smooth glossy surface because it was also the image forming side was also the focal plane.

 

I think Kodak could have won that suit, because I think Polaroid's arguments were bogus. But, I think Kodak did the beancounter thing, and cut and run after "running the numbers", just as they did with so many other promising technologies.

 

I can't really speak for others, but I don't think I'm alone in saying that we LOVE Kodak's PRODUCTS, but we hate the way they treat them.

 

If we did not love the stuff Kodak made, do you think we'd be pulling our hair out, wailing, and gnashing our teeth over LOSING the stuff Kodak makes?

 

Or to put it another way, do you see any people here complaining about no longer being able to buy Anscochrome or Triple Print Film?

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Reuben;

 

As James Blamphin said in the article you quote, "there is more to this than has been reported". Yes there is, and Kodak will not comment on personal matters. They are very close about matters related to dismisssal for legal reasons. I know that you have to do something pretty bad at EK to be dismissed. Any follow up in our local papers have not supported either side, and Bob Londsberry has been quiet about that subject AFAIK. So, I doubt if anyone knows the 'real truth'.

 

As far as managers knowing the products they work with and sell, quite a few top EK managers are very good photographers. Many of the lower level managers are as well. I myself, while not in top management, had been in the field outside EK for years before I joined the company. Some very great photographers have been EK employees. Grant Haist and Pete Chiesa come to mind right away. Along with them please note that several of the top managers have written definitive textbooks on photography.

 

Yes, Dynachrome was bought by 3M as their business was faltering several years ago. Nevertheless, the Dynachrome business vanished when they went bankrupt. And, even though you see 3M, where is the 3M film business nowdays or their Italian subsidiary Ferrania? Are they prospering?

 

Sorry, you are right, it was Sakura and it was an excellent film. I have quite a few slides taken on it in the 50s and 60s. When I was in SEA, a roll of Kodachrome was over $10 with processing included, but I could afford the Sakura color. Fujichrome may have been a Kodachrome type then as well, but I know Sakura was, as I visited their factory in Hachioji. I should have gotten that right. Thanks for the correction.

 

Ron Mowrey

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<blockquote><i>As far as managers knowing the products they work with and sell, quite a few top EK managers are very good photographers. Many of the lower level managers are as well. I myself, while not in top management, had been in the field outside EK for years before I joined the company. Some very great photographers have been EK employees. Grant Haist and Pete Chiesa come to mind right away. Along with them please note that several of the top managers have written definitive textbooks on photography.</i> </blockquote>

Just to clarify, I was talking about the current generation, the "new breed" at the top, NOT the guys who made the company great.

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Reuben;

 

Dynachrome film was manufactured by a group of engineers who left EK and founded their own company! It was an exact duplicate of Kodachrome in every way, but since the patents had expired, they were free to go ahead and produce the film.

 

Yes, the information you have on Fuji is correct, but so is mine. They are both part of an untold story that is much broader than anyone knows. And no, EK did not cut and run. In fact let me tell you something of a secret... Here it is for the first time in public...

 

I was working on the next generation of instant film at the time we lost the case. The next generation instant film had a speed of GET THIS GUYS >>> 3000 <<<< yes. that was the EI of the next generation, and you say EK cut and run. Let me tell you something else. The dye stability was better than any product on the market then or NOW. The dyes were so stable they were almost permanent. This product would have blown Polaroid out of the water.

 

So, see how wrong you can be?

 

No, EK was very upset at the loss and tried everything to win and then when they didn't, they spent more $$ to forge ahead with an appeal so that they could recoup the investment and release our new 3000 speed instant color film.

 

I still have pictures here in my album shot with it. I was testing pre-production runs as the lawsuit was going ahead.

 

That is when I transferred out of product building into the emulsion end of the work. A lot of our instant people were given 90 days to find jobs elsewhere in EK or face layoffs. That was a very tough time for all of us.

 

So, Reuben, you have your story and thoughts wrong on that one by a long margin.

 

Ron Mowrey

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The current Kodak 800 Max color print film needs some field sampling testing; pulling actual 35mm film from dealers shelves; on a random basis; measuring performance verus age and vendor; emulsion number; etc.. It seems to get a bad PR; here on Photo.net; and other places. Some folks call it total crap; when many times it is ok. I have found it to be equal; better; or sometimes worse than the Fuji 800 color print films. This must be either a "film baked in the delivery truck" problem; shelf life problem; or manufacturing problem. I use the Fuji 800 product more because it is more consistant; not because it is always better. Faster films age quicker.<BR><br>The Kodak reps I remember seemed to be pushing APS once very strong; like it was going to replace 35mm; just like the Kodak disc system was going to do; and 110 film too...<BR><BR>It is abit unsettling to see the local Walmart drop all but one reloadable film camera in June; when the month before they carried about a 15 film cameras; 3 which were slrs; most 35mm P&S's.
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Rowland,

 

I would absolutelyu not disagree with yo on any of your facts; however, whether a company is run well, or whether a product could have been better promoted, and so done better financially, is a matter of opinion.

 

A lot of people do like to bash Kodak. I'm generally not one of them. For my needs Kodak makes better products than Fuji. Despite my problems with a lot of their managemtn decisions, I still buy Kodak products (although not exclusively).

 

As for information on sales of Kodachrome there is no argument, sales are low, and sales have been low for a long time. I'm not the lat unlamented Hans and I wouldn't try and argue Kodachrome was popular. I do not believe Kodak should be required to produce a money loosig product for my convienance. The marketplace's decisions are final and there is no appeal. I DO question whether Kodak could have turned Kodachrome into a moneymaker, and I do think they are making a mistake as I know several people who WILL be so angry they stop buying Kodak products. I think Kodachrome was a loss leader, and I think Kodak will find that out if they are discontinuing it. I suspect Tech Pan was alos a loss leader for the Black and White Market.

 

I absolutely bow to you on knowing facts about EK. Numbers are facts, how the numbers might have been changed are opinion.

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Rowland,

Regarding "Buy a video camera". I am artistic director of a film/theatre company. We own several video cameras from 1 and 3 ccd models, to huge industrial cameras which can be docked to any format.

 

We also own several super 8 cameras. In the film I am editing (in fact waiting for a render right now), of Macbeth we used Black and White super 8 in several scenes for the look. It is still a useful tool. I will mourn when it passes away (but understand why). Major filmmakers often do this as well. Oliver Stone often uses super 8, and Neil Young's recent feature was shot entirely on it.

 

It's another tool in the toolbox.

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Buy a video camera? That'll leave my Maier Hancock 16mm hot splicer "lonely!"

 

FYI, EK still sells film cement in the GALLON size. Someone in Hollywood must use the stuff. I buy mine by the QUART from B&H, an item which they stock everyday! Movie film must still be popular in some circles!

 

Robert Johnson

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"BTW, most managers at EK have gotten advanced degrees from Harvard Business School."

 

And I've never met a Harvard grad that didn't feel compelled to let me know where he received his degree within the first half an hour of meeting him. Kodak has been stumbling along for quite a long time. Let's find something more substantive then where their management got their degree to support the validity of their business decisions.

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