But Film Now - Stock Up - Won't be around Long!

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I recently sat in a professional seminar recently with a representative from big Yellow. He told us that within 5 years Kodak will be selling large format printers, inks, papers, and everything else digital that is complementary to the "new" business plan.

He went on to say that film will remain available for another 5 years plus or minus and after that no guarantees.

Better stock up and buy a freezer, I fear film is destined to become as rare as glas plates and only be available in a very few emulsions. Isn't life grand.

Bill NYC

-- Bill Rosmaken (BillR395@aol.com), February 16, 2002



He forgot to tell you that his statement ("5 years plus or minus, and after that no guarantees.") was realy a reference to how long Kodak will be in business. That is if their marketing department doesn't kill them sooner.

Film will be around for quite a while, as the vast majority of the world is not digital ready.

-- Jonathan Bundick (jebdlb86@worldnet.att.net), February 16, 2002.

There will probably always be a couple of film manufacturers producing a couple varieties of color and B&W emulsions. 35mm mdium format and 4x5 and maybe 8x10. But exotic sizes may become a victim as cost cutting continues. The other factor will be as demand decreases, what will be the effect on the cost of film. Eventually the cost will force most hobbyists and amateurs over to digital.

Availability of chemistry will also slowly decline. Luckily for serious shooters we can mix almost everything we need. For others it will spell the end of the wet darkroom.

For me, as long as I can get a 100 and 400 asa color or B&W film and one or two varieties of paper for 4x5 and 8x10 I will continue with the traditional processes. Who knows, less time worring about what paper, film and chemistry to use may make me a much more productive and creative photographer.

-- James Chinn (JChinn2@dellepro.com), February 16, 2002.

Thanks Bill, until I saw your message I didn't know film was in any danger of going away but now that you've told me it will be gone in five years I'm stopping in at my bank on Monday, taking out a second mortgage on my house, buying the biggest freezer I can find, and loading it up with all the film I can lay my hands on. Thanks for letting me know that digital is going to replace film in the next five years, I had never heard that before.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), February 16, 2002.

Brian, Very Good. Pat

-- pat krentz (patwandakrentz@aol.com), February 16, 2002.

The only constancy about predictions of consequences of changing technology is that they are rarely anything but wrong. We film users should all be heartened by "big Yellow's" prediction, as they have, in recent decades, achieved a much higher than average record of wrongly anticipating changing business conditions. I would bet, better than even, that Kodak has a much greater chance of failing in the digital arena than it would if it stayed in film despite shrinking market share. The track record of large corporations' ability to shift from one technological base to another is famously poor. I don't think it is much of a stretch to say that film users will see some notable changes and shifts in the film and film-based photographic marketplace. However, it is unwise to assume that we will have to put up with inferior products or poor availabity. Given the historical pattern, flexible and fast moving small or medium sized firms will likely take on the production of traditional photographic goods and services.

-- Andrew Held (Heldarc@yahoo.com), February 16, 2002.

Let me make sure I've got this straight. I either eBay my instamatic cameras and flash cubes so I can make room for storing lots and lots of boxes of tri-x and ektapan, not to mention verichrome pan and what the heck, I might as well hoard some AZO just in case, along with a couple of 55 gallon drums of HC-110, OR I pop in an 8 track and start shooting Ilford, and Bergger! No need to find a new enlarging paper since Old Yeller quite making graded FB many moons ago(I would miss AZO, though) Really, sorry to hear that Kodak holds my patronage in such low regard(hey, I'm taking this personally!) But I really don't think the color of the box my film comes in is going to determin how creative my photographs turn out, and while I'll miss the yellow stuff, there are plenty of other suppliers whose products I've never gotten around to trying because I've always been satisfied with Kodak. Maybe this will get me experimenting more. Probably not a bad thing. Maybe a good thing!

-- John Kasaian (www.kasai9@aol.com), February 16, 2002.

Film may be gone, but Azo will be around. We are committed to buying enough each year to keep it in production. But if you want to stock up on it, do get it from us, John. Thanks.

-- Michael A. Smith (michaelandpaula@michaelandpaula.com), February 16, 2002.

Actually, Jonathan is correct in his assessment of Big Yellow. I have assisted Kodak manage a portion of their controllable costs in a consulting role for a number of years now and have had a peek at their internal workings and it is not a pretty picture. From a long period of inept decision making at the highest level, they are being forced to either sink of swim like many household names in corporate America. Just take a look at their stock price. The real funny thing is that what is going to allow Kodak to survive is drastically reducing their workforce and getting back to basics (sound familiar?). From a marketing perspective, both conventional and digital photography are somewhere between nominal and negative growth. It is a dog eat dog world out there and Fuji is their worst nightmare. For each to survive in this environment means finding the correct combination of products, services and costs that allow you to live for another day.

Yes, the marketing folks have heard the music but are dreaming to say that they are privy to any practical implementing timelines.

I know one thing for sure. Kodak has not been very successful in digital to the degree that they predicted a number of years ago. Could be that they are product typecast whereas Fuji has been able to shift gears and not be affected as seriously.

Despite its managerial shortcomings, Kodak still has a good asset base and has developed a much better product service department that will allow it to keep on plugging for many years. Talking to the Senior financial folks you get an appreciation for the internal tug of war between the old school (base in conventional photography and find a niche in digital) and the new school (digital is the future and conventional is dead and waiting for the funeral).

It is always a good idea to get a freezer and stockpile film, but don't get carried away. I will bet that we will see the same posts here five years from now.

I commend Kodak for expanding their offerings in the 5x7 film format when many here heard that 5x7 would soon be doing the dirt dance. The best thing we can do is do what we do best - consume film and film products. Purchase what you feel works best for you and we will all do just fine.

-- Michael Kadillak (m.kadillak@attbi.net), February 16, 2002.

There are more quality new parts available for Model A Fords now than there were in 1949. Bergger, Forte and Ilford are probably enjoying this discussion and wishing it was true.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), February 16, 2002.

If this statement truly reflects Kodak's position with traditional film, I suppose I will learn and/or continue to work with products from Ilford or other film makers that will stay committed to the 'other' form of photography....

Thanks for the warning.....

-- Peter Ubaldo (artista_photo@yahoo.com), February 16, 2002.

I knew there was another reason I loved Bergger 8x10 film so much beside the fact that the results kick ass.... Not really worried about pyro going away, and if by some brutal act of God Azo ever disappears, I'll print Pd.

-- David Munson (apollo@luxfragilis.com), February 17, 2002.

Look at the bright side> Fill your freezer with film and paper shoot, print and sell your work at prizes like you never have before. The silver print will acquire a total new value we will be the ones to transform such a negative thing to our advantage, Traditional photography will be a rare and sought after art.

-- Domenico Foschi (applethorpe@earthlink.net), February 17, 2002.

What the Kodak rep was saying was that in his "shortsighted opinion" Digital ia a mature technology, which the brighter minds even at Kodak are clearly aware, it is not. That rep will be gone and everything he is selling you today will obsolite well before there is really any threat of the FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) he is spreading becoming true. To stock up now would only dislocate the market. If you had been in the meetings I had in the early 90's I was in with Kodak, you would be rolling on the floor at the very suggestion that Kodak even knows what time it will be at noon tomorrow.

What they do know is that Digital in its current form will be obsolite and most of what they are now selling along with it. This includes even the file formats and storage systems. Those who commit now will line up behind those who invested heavily in the Disc Camera, APS and PhotoCD. They all got badly burned. Kodak has a long history of betting on the wrong horse, and taking those who listened with them.

The change began last Thursday when the FCC quietly approved something called UltraBroadBand. UBB will transform everything in Digital hardware and sets the market for digital services which is much bigger and infinately more lucritive than the market for digital hardware. Three weeks ago Kodak spun off their digital services unit into a seperate free standing company because they knew the change resulting from UBB will become a major one. The changeover will bolster film not weaken it, and the current digital workforce has to be concerned about their own long term veracity and ultimately, survivial. They are pushing a digital equal to APS, and some even know that. In 18-24 months it may be all over for todays digital systems. What will take their place is THAT impressive, but film will survive very well, thank you. (But with little thanks to Kodak)

-- Fred De Van (fdv1@ix.netcom.com), February 17, 2002.

Another brilliant "Kodak moment." First kill Kodachrome 25, next probably the rest of the Kodachromes and finally ... eliminate all film from the marketing plan. This company desparately needs new management - management with creativity and vision.

-- John Burnley (oreamnos1@fnol.net), February 17, 2002.

Typical sales tactic, the old fear and frenzy feed trick.

-- Rob Pietri (narrationsnlight@aol.com), February 17, 2002.

The Yellow Peril is short sighted and mismanaged. Xtol packaging & screwups have all but killed a product that "should" have been a great advance in film developing chemistry. Gold CD's were to have been markets at $10 each but ended up at $0.94 each and that was not a high enough profit margin so The Yellow Godfather took them off the market & now make a product that is markedly inferior. Laying off & dumping over 10,000 scientists in the B&W division over the past few decades shows how these jokers work. Many of Kodak's employees are excellent workers. Talented & dedicated people who fit well in the mold of a giant in the industry. The leadership does not want products that lead the market while being only steady profit centers while not spectacular financial performers. They want high return items only even though this type of product will have a short lifespan which forces development costs ever higher as they continually have to re-tool to introduce ever changing products. D-76 still sells. Azo still sells even in the face of all the Kodak attempts to kill it. TriX still sells. A lot of EK products still sell and still make money for the company. The return may not be high enough to fit the new model they would like to have but it does make a profit, year in and year out. Kodak is now known as a company that does not care about service or its customers, only the bottom line. So many of us have been burned by these jokers that we go elsewhere if some other company is even remotely close to the quality we were used to with The Yellow Godfather. In the past many stayed with Kodak partly because of the excellent people they had. Customer service was just that... service. Now it is "buy all you can & don't bother us". The loss of many EK products will be lamented. The answer is as it has been for a long time. Ilford makes nice products. Bergger makes nice products. Forte makes nice products. Agfa makes nice products. So do a number of other, smaller companies out there. Kodak has overpaid underqualified 'leaders' for years. Pissing & moaning about competition. Funny that so many who purchase the products see competition as only beneficial in getting ever better film, paper & supplies. I can easily manage my darkroom work using only one EK product... Azo. And at that I do continually bitch at Kodak about only having grade 2 & 3, no choices in surfaces & sizes any more and their lack of support for a paper in which they have a corner on the market. Make it & market it & go back & read what George Eastman did in building the company and maybe they could make a solid profit on products again. Maybe The Yellow Godfather will quit the film business. When they do many will miss them for various reasons. I sure won't miss them for their attitude towards us, the customer.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), February 17, 2002.

If Kodak drops out of the film market, there will still be Fuji, Ilford, Agfa etc. Kodak has a habit of dropping films we like, so I'm mad at them anyway. Likewise for paper. Maybe I just have a problem with a company thinking they can dictate what I will use/buy based on their overblown image of themselves (ala Microsoft). No matter how big they think they are, there is always someone else willing to sell what I want, so I don't really need Kodak after all. The people working for Kodak may be OK, but their top brass should be fired or demoted for short sightedness and stupidity.

-- Steve Gangi (sgangi@hotmail.com), February 17, 2002.

Is anyone working in the "paperless office" that we were told about 15 years ago that we would be in today, . How about the ice age that was predicted for now about 20 years ago.

I work with an engineer that used to load film in spy planes. He said that they used so much film that the had to have a counter balance leader that fed from left to right while the film fed from right to left. Otherwise it threw the plane off balance.

Pixels are little photo cells, they can make them smaller but as they get smaller, the electrical output drops. Background noise is already a serious problem,which is why some of the cutting edge backs have internal cooling.

I don't see anytime in the near future that our mutual unkle can fly at several thousand feet, at several hundred miles an hour and photograph everything that passes under the plane with digital resolutation capiable of reading a licence plate.

As long as Unkle Sam wants it, someone will make it.


-- Neal Shields (shields@ftw.com), February 17, 2002.

Kodak not making film in 5 years, so what.

As long as Fuji's outlook is good and they're filling the market that Kodak relinquishes, no problem.

I haven't used Kodak film or paper in more than 10 years.

-- S Ratzlaff (ratzlaff@ticnet.com), February 17, 2002.

Kodak has been run by the accountants and their bottom line for many years, and the firm goes wherever the profit is.

I for one would not miss them or their products one bit, in fact were the yellow devil to quit the film business it would be good for the remaining film companies, perhaps permitting them to expand their product lines.

While they discontinued wonderful emulsions such as Ektar they put R&D and massive marketing expenditures into their consumer 'Max' films, along with digital consumer products. We should all be lucky enough to dance on Kodaks' grave.

-- Michael Mahoney (mike.mahoney@nf.sympatico.ca), February 17, 2002.

Good riddance, I say. The Yellow Peril could go belly-up tomorrow and I wouldn't care less. OK, I would feel bad for the many people that lost their jobs, but the company would get what they deserve. IMO, the introduction of Acros 100 by Fuji was the last piece of the puzzle in allowing me to shed Kodak from this point forward. And there's always Ilford too if you want an alternative for B&W.

-- Peter Popp (ppopp@al.noaa.gov), February 17, 2002.

I work for a division of Kodak that leases and services 1 hour equipment. The word we always hear is that silver based photography will still be around for a long time.That digital will just be part of the mix. To be honest I have my doubts. When the technology gets cheap enough, the quality gets good enough and when everyone owns a PC, I wonder if there will be a market for snap shot silver based photography. Without the snap shot market I wonder if Kodak or other large companys will hold on to the pro formats that count for a small percentage of their market. Kodak has been pretty good in the past about keeping products that only fill a small nitch market. But if the driving forse goes digital, I wonder. I always thought maybe 5-10 years till silver based is in trorble but it's just a guess no one really knows. Look how fast CDs wiped out records. There's still audiofiles the perfer records and you can still get records but it's a hell of a lot harder.

-- Ed Candland (ecandland@earthlink.net), February 17, 2002.

I wonder if the rep meant LF film in particular or all film in general? Just looking at local suppliers here in Vancouver Canada, I already see much less LF film available from anyone. Has anyone noticed this in their locale?


-- Duane k (dkucheran@creo.com), February 17, 2002.

I just came back from CompUSA-wanted to see the new iMac with LCD screen but it wasn't in yet. Lots of teenagers were asking their moms (didn't see dads in the mix today) to buy them CD-R burners for their music CDs. Lots. These are the same kids who can play all the video games that don't interest me. Their photography will be camcorders and iMovies and digital, not a roll of Tri-X film. On the other side of the spectrum, still art and hobbyist photography has always been the beneficiary of advances and forces in much greater commercial arenas-the motion picture industry and the advertising industry. Tri-X was developed to come up with a better B&W cinema film, not so HCB could take his Leica peek-a-boo snaps. And as far as I can tell from posts, it's the commercial photographers and their clients who have embraced digital-for it's many cost, time and decision-making advantages, even before one could honestly say that digital imaging is superior to silver halide-but we have already been through this with cinematography versus video. So those who cherish both old and new worlds are caught between major industries and young consumers. What is surprising is how fast this is all happening and is likely to. I can only add that the last several motion pictures I've seen-presumably shot on 35mm FILM-demonstrate the extraordinary quality of silver halide imaging. Thanks for the va

-- David Stein (DFStein@mac.com), February 17, 2002.

I know one thing I can count on and that is my use and preference of using traditional imaging products and processes. I agree with what Micheal said to just keep using and supporting the use of films, papers and chemicals as has been done for decades. Manufacturers will recognize the market and continue to support it if we create it. I'm not against digital imaging but I'm not nearly as dedicated to it as I am to traditional imaging. I believe most people find traditional imaging more satisfying to work with. The digital investment is ridiculous for the quality acheived. Unless you are a major shooter with big clients or a catalog production house I just don't see the ROFI in digital. There is going to need to be a balance stricken between the two methods of imaging and the manufacturers, retailers, suppliers will need to accomodate the demands in both those areas.

After the expense and time I've put into digital my vote goes to traditional processes and materials! Although digital shines when it comes to retouching or corrections. You can keep the rest of it.

-- John R. (nospam combox@juno.com), February 17, 2002.

If there is any question as to Kodak's intent with Pro film in the future, I suggest contacting their Pro film manager Jeffrey. jeff.gunderman@kodak.com

-- Steve Rasmussen (srasmuss@flash.net), February 17, 2002.

The problem is the vast majority of the market isn't pros or even hobbists. It's Joe Blow with the new kid or the vacation pics of Europe. It's people who wouldn't know quality if it knocked them across the face. Digital quality is improving and prices are droping. Remember when CDs first came out, when VHS first came out? It was a $1000 for those products. Now it's $30. The same will happen to digital photography. In fact it already is. and when price and quality get close to silver, Joe blows not gonna wanna drive down to walmart for his pictures. When that happens we all might be in trouble. I hope I'm wrong...

-- Ed Candland (ecandland@earthlink.net), February 17, 2002.

Here is my 2 cents worth for free.

I think the next Star Wars episode will be a watershed, as Lucas is (I hear) shooting it on video with computer disc memory. He will then use UBB (Ultra Broad Band) technology to send it via satellite to theatres on a per-showing basis, thus eliminating bad prints and more effectively controlling piracy.

This will also allow easier editing, addition of CGGs and sound /Foley/syncing as well.

If it works, then Kodak, Fuji et al will lose a really big slice of their film business. If it is not popular, then they will be able to keep making thusands of miles a year and we will still have the crumbs. I have said before: Kodak has giant investments in China for film and paper and Fuji does in Europe. Soon we may be buying Kodak film from China, just as most everything else we buy that is manufactured.

The main reason CDs & digital sound took over as fast as they did was because of the inherent weak points in vinyl: Tape hiss, limited dynamic range, a fixed lifespan for a plastic groove subjected to incredible forces by a diamond stylus, click & pops etc. Digital is MUCH better than analog sound, despite what the purists and their Sondek TTables say. Digital photography will take over when it is not only as good, but better and esier to use. Investing a thousand bucks in a computer is the main obstacle. The future may well lie in the do-it-yourself machines in stores and malls. In Shanghai last year I could take a Compact Flash card into a shop, load it into either Photoshop or some other software, then make 1 or 100 prints of any size up to 11 x 14 on a Kodak machine on RA4 silver based paper. I am sure Fuji and Konica are not far behind, if at all.

Galen Rowell has all his exhibition prints done on Fuji Frontier or Pictrography machines on Fuji Crystal Archive Silver based paper:

see www.mountainlight.com.

I predict both will be running side by side for a long time.



I await the results of Star Wars V with great anticipation, but will keep my LF cameras, Metol, HQ and Pyro, as well as Bregger's E Mail address.

-- RICHRRD ILOMAKI (richard.ilomaki@hotmail.com), February 18, 2002.

Good-bye and good riddance..

-- Graeme Hird (goldeneyephoto@hotmail.com), February 18, 2002.

Ok, the market for large format film goes South; Companies like Kodak stop making it; Material costs go up and LF B&W becomes an Alt. Process practiced by a niche group of Die-Hards........With the dilettantes weeded out, the quality level of the output goes up and people start thinking: "Gee, this film stuff really isn't such a bad thing after all."

Wassswrong with this?

-- Bruce Wehman (bruce.wehman@hs.utc.com), February 18, 2002.

I suggest we all bone up on alternative process photography. Do-it- yourself is the future for traditional photography. There's even a newsleter on this theme, "The World Journal of Post-Factory Photography." Info can be found on the net.

-- Arthur Gottschalk (Arthurwg@aol.com), February 18, 2002.

"Digital is MUCH better than analog sound, despite what the purists and their Sondek TTables say". This is not an audiophile forum so I won't turn this into an audiophile debate but let me disagree with you vehemently on this statement, Richard, and I am no purist. I will just say that you have not heard a good analogue set up, Linn Sondek or not. Let me just say that you have to qualify your adjectives. Anytime you use adjectives like 'MUCH better' (emphasis yours) you open a huge can of worms. And it is the same in digital versus analogue photography. So let's not make blanket statements like that. We, vinyl buffs, are not delusional and the superiority of analogue versus its digital equivalent in quality are real, and often in areas which you least expect.

I am writing this to register my protest at a blanket statement, not to start an argument.

-- Erik X (xx@xx.com), February 18, 2002.

Hi all Yes ,right and the wheel will be replaced by a digital version too. Manfred

-- Manfred Feuser (Canfred1@bigpond.com), February 19, 2002.

You silly people, film will always endure. How many beta cassettes do you see anymore? There might be a few, stuck underneath the Super8 reels of the world. And who wants their wedding pictures on Photo CD? B&W in particular will never go away, and is even today blossoming from all the new emulsions out. Let's face it, if Kodak's only concern was popular demand, B&W would have gone away in the 80's. For every one professional photographer out there who develops his Tri-x in a Jobo, there are probably 500 civilians who develop their Max 100 at Wal-Mart. And don't gripe about some chem or another going away, off the top of my head I can name 9 or 10 different Kodak developers that have been around since the Ice Age. Besides, if you really need to get that perfect push-processed, solarized B&W reversal, you could actually mix it yourself as we all had to do in the ELDER DAYS. Remember the ELDER DAYS anybody? Or you could stop being eliteist and reach for that bottle of Ilford or Agfa or BloggsCo or whatever... Anyways I am through ranting now. 35mm forever!

-- Matt Saunier (hellfire@starband.net), February 27, 2002.

I wish the folks at Kodak would read this and get in touch with the real customers.

I can only compare them to GM when it comes to being out of touch.

Another alternative is for the people who really love photography buy up the stock, boot the board of directors and the yo-yo's who are mis-running the joint. Put people who really care about photography in control. Let the bean-counters go count somebody else's beans.

-- Camera Girl (1fatcat@usa.com), April 21, 2002.

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