The future of film

The future of film doesn’t look bright.

First, James Cater write Film is Alive!… But it May Have a Terminal Illness, where the author expands on how the tech satellite to film is backwards: minilab and cameras, neither of these are being developed or even manufactured.

Second, the industry is in turnmoil.

The spun-off company that still make Kodak film, Kodak Alaris, is looking to sell its film and paper unit, for a meager $34M, and this shortly after announcing that the just revived Ektachrome 100 slide film would be made available in sheet and 120 format in April, in addition to the currently available 35mm.

Meanwhile, Tetenal, the European film chemistry manufacturer face closure after 172 years of activity. And this is bad news, even after CineStill new chemistry announcement.

PetaPixel has a closer look at Tetenal:

Without Tetenal’s chemistry branch, a lot of photographers, photofinishers, labs, printing companies and even the once so mighty Kodak itself might be left out in the rain, as Tetenal reportedly produces not only chemistry for EU distribution under license from Kodak but directly produces source chemicals for Kodak’s U.S. manufacturing.

and

Another immediate effect of Tetenal’s demise might be a supply glitch for RA-4 paper chemistry that many labs, finishers, and printing companies rely on.

This does not look good at all.

Goodbye Kodak BW 400CN

Kodak Alaris is discontinuing the BW 400CN.

A very nice film meant to shoot Black & White and have it processed in a regular one hour minilab as it is a C-41 process film.

Now that one hour minilabs are an endangered specie and that it is much easier to find Black & White chemistry than C-41, it was bound to happen. Not sure exactly what to replace it with.

Here are some samples I shot a few years ago:

Beechcraft Expedition #2

Beechcraft Expedition #3

Untitled

Kodak to sell film and imaging division…

Kodak announced the plan to sell the film and imaging division to the UK Kodak Pension Plan in a move to settled debt and going toward exiting chapter 11

The question is whether the pension plan will deal with this asset as the film business or just as financial value? One would think the Kodak Pension Plan knows about Kodak business at its heart…

Time will tell, and I want to be hopeful.

Kodak DCS

The Kodak DCS is Kodak 1991 Digital SLR based on a Nikon F3. Kodak was pioneer in the area and Nikonweb interview James McGarvey who designed these.

Six models were priced from $20,000 to $25,000. A total of 987 units were sold from 1991 to 1994.

But:

Many people in Kodak were reluctant. Some of top management tried to stop our business, but some wisdom prevailed and they did not succeed.

That’s right, they were scared to disrupt their own business. But it got disrupted by the competition and now we see were Kodak is: between the rock and the hard place.

What Kodak could still learn from Polaroid

Christopher Bonanos write for the Washington Post: What Kodak could still learn from Polaroid. He goes on to explain the mistakes of Polaroid and what Kodak should learn from that to survive and keep film coming. The key argument is right here:

Yes, the remaining buyers of film are weighing this technology against digital methods of image-making. But they’re not choosing film for reasons of economy; it could never compete. They are choosing it for a particular look and feel, and because they want to differentiate themselves. Some are old-school professionals who prefer to work in familiar ways.

Bonanos is the author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid that I recommend.

Kodak to sell film division?

It has been rumored that Kodak is trying to sell its still profitable film division.

What worries is that beside Kodak and Fujifilm, who makes color film? I like film photography in color. I do love color. If I can’t buy anymore film, I’ll be very sad.

Time to stock up, and hope that whoever buys Kodak film business, does it to keep it alive, or license the technology left to one that want to do it.

Kodak camera

Bryan Jones comes back on what Kodak represented to the sad realisation of what it has become.

The sad part of this is that Kodak is another example of the a company that fell from dramatic heights and has gone from a name that everybody knew to one that does not have nearly the brand recognition it once had that was all things photography.

To me, Kodak rings now with good film (a very niche product today) and crappy digital camera. That last part is no longer since Kodak announced they abandon the camera business in light of their bankruptcy reorganisation. They contributed a lot to photography, with innovations like the roll film, Kodachrome that made color photography easier, the first digital camera in 1975, etc. The also contributed to make photography accessible to anybody, for the best or the worse. We, photographers, have a huge debt towards Kodak.

Incidentally I came back to photography a bit because I bought a Kodak digital camera in 1999 – which was at the time decent. Then I bought a Canon EOS film camera and ended up mostly shooting Fuji slide film… Today my TLR film camera sees a lot of Kodak film.