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Friday, March 16, 2007

Hello, Kodak?

by Ken Wronkiewicz, Wirehead Arts

I noticed lately that a few films I was playing with were hard to find—most specifically EPT (Ektachrome 160T) and EPJ (Ektachrome 320T)—and dealers were mentioning that they thought it was discontinued. However, there wasn't an announcement on Kodak's site. Finally, I called Kodak and asked them.

Apparently EPJ has been out of production for over a year. And EPT has been out of production for some months now. I asked the guy on the phone why there wasn't an announcement about the film being discontinued. He told me to go to a URL on the Kodak website and that there should be a notice there...and then confirmed that the website didn't contain a discontinuation notice, even though the film was out of production.

Then, I found out something I didn't even realize I needed to ask about...



Featured Comment by David A. Goldfarb: Kodak introduced four new Portra color neg films this year, and Scott DiSabato, representing Kodak at the film desk at PMA last week, said that B&W is strong right now at Kodak, expressing enthusiasm for regular special orders of Kodak B&W sheet film in ultra-large format sizes.

Fuji has two new films, mentioned by one of the commenters to this post.

Ilford has also been running special orders for ULF and odd-sized sheet film shooters, and has been doing R&D on a Delta 25 film.

If anyone is interested, here's my film-user's review of PMA.


Blogger John Roberts said...

I feel for those who still love film.
A couple of years ago it looked like digital and film would continue to exist side by side for many years to come. Now, with both camera and film manufacturers bailing out of the film market at an alarming pace, who knows what choices, if any, film shooters will have left by 2010.

8:07 AM  
Blogger D. Kreithen said...

No surprises here. Kodak has been mis-managed for years now (at least 30 years, by my count). Imagine: one of their signature products (Kodachrome) was the best out there - in terms of color fidelity, longevity and everything that matters, and instead of encouraging use of it by making processing easy and keeping up with taste and trends, they simply ceded that market to their competitor - Fuji - by selling the unit that does development - thereby taking the process and quality control out of their hands and making it subject to the whim of a third party. They let this happen for about a decade, then decide - after the horse is out of the barn and Fuji makes large inroads - to buy the development unit back. After a few years, they decide to shut it down, outsourcing the development again. Now I'd be surprised if they don't discontinue Kodachrome for good. It's the bean counters at work. No vision, no direction, no insight into what the market wants, needs, or doesn't know that they need yet. In short, a typical American company.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Peter Hovmand said...

Well, when I first realized that Kodak would stop supporting Kodachrome film in Europe last year I lost everything for them! I then shifted 100% to Fujichrome Velvia while I was also going medium format anyway. Fujifilm is still making brand NEW and ever more SUPERIOR film as Velvia 100 and Provia 400X. I guess those Japanese just know what they are doing :) I believe standard format (135) and medium format (120) film will live much longer than 2010. But we are talking Fujifilm.

10:04 AM  
Blogger willfurniss said...

I vote for Polaroid type 55 to be the first reincarnation.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Peter Smith said...

Why is this news? Film will very soon be (like vinyl) a niche market.

11:05 AM  
Blogger chrispycrunch said...

Film still has a place for the time being at least for 35mm shooting. Since printing is ruled by economics, one would be inclined to shoot in film for say wedding photography because it is much cheaper to print them. Until digital printing is cheaper than film print, we might still clutch on to our rolls of undeveloped film!

Hope you don't mind a youtube link but clearly you have not seen this Kodak speech:

11:15 AM  
Blogger DonovanCO said...

Don't forget about Ilford. When Kodak is gone (soon?), there will be Ilford for black and white and Fuji for color.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Richard Sintchak said...

"...who knows what choices, if any, film shooters will have left by 2010."

Another DSLR shooter for some reason feeling they simply MUST spend the time to post and predict the imminent demise of film.

From John's profile:

"...I now work exclusively with digital cameras and equipment."

99% of the time someone posts these predictions of film being absolutely gone it's someone with thousands invested in a DLSR kit. It almost seems some kind of insecurity? Something they wish would happen to more validate their choice to invest in digital? What's up? I really want to know.

Go shoot your digi-cams. Leave us film shooters alone! Your predictions for years now have fallen flat. Yes, film seems to be shriking> Gone? No choices left? Gimme a break. Kodak can roll over and die tomorrow and yes, I'd miss Plus-X and Tri-X but I'd get by. I reckon there's enough demand in Japan alone, for B&W film at least, to last our lifetimes so even if Fuji is the only one left I'll be fine with either 100SS, Acros, Neopan 400 or Neopan 1600 as my choices. I think they'll be even more though...

12:39 PM  
Blogger Rob Griffin said...

"Kodak has been mis-managed for years now"

I think Kodak had a number of employees with vision and talent but none of them seem to have worked in marketing or executive management. I've heard that Edwin Land took his new invention, (Polaroid film)to Kodak to see if they would be interested in it. I heard that Kodak said no thanks and then they were trying to play "catch-up" from the time he walked out of their door. Even if it's not true, that story is probably a good picture of how Kodak went about their business.

Actually, when I think about what it must be like to work for Kodak, I think of Dilbert. I'll bet there are a lot of pointy haired bosses there. I'll bet George Eastman didn't have pointy hair though.

6:32 PM  
Blogger D. Kreithen said...

Damn right Eastman didn't have pointy hair. He basically invented everyman's photography. File that under the customer "didn't even know they needed it". There were others at Kodak with vision. Godowsky and Mannes were hired (they invented Kodachrome while Kodak employees, and they were both world-class concert pianists as well - Godowsky was more famous). I think Dilbert really does work for Kodak, though.

7:51 PM  
Blogger John Roberts said...

Wow! That was some pretty imaginative eisegesis of my comments, Mr. Sintchak!

But the truth is, I feel absolutely no need to validate my choice of equipment to anyone. I don't care what other people use (film or digital, this brand or that brand), and I care even less what they think about what I shoot with. I'm certainly not out to win converts to digital. Like Andy Warhol often said, "I just don't care".

Also, I was neither predicting the quick demise of film, nor rooting for it to happen. Personally, I don't use film anymore, but I take no joy from seeing film shooters left with less choices each year. Sorry if I touched a nerve, but you read way too much into what was merely an observation.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Dave M said...

I'm sorry to see that Kodak has chosen to abandon their users without so much as a brief notice, but those who chose Fuji actually have more, and better, choices today in and color films compared to a few years ago. Fuji added Velvi 100F and Velvia 100 to their lineup, and they've brought back Velvia 50. In black and white, there are a lot more choices than there have ever been, given the rise of small (mostly easter-European) plants that now manufacture B&W film.

The issue isn't the death of film. So far there are more than enough people to keep the film business alive. The issue is Kodak. Kodak's made it clear that film is a "cash cow" business for them, in which they'll invest as little as possible and take whatever profits they can to fund their digital business. Kodak's profitability, or lack thereof, will be the ultimate indicator of whether or not they're successful in meeting their goals.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Peter Hovmand said...

Come to think of it:

Standard film (135) will live longer in the third world, simply because so many of the people there don't have a computer anyway.

And medium format (120) will live for a long, long time in our world, simply because of the resolution: A 6x6 image will give about 40 megapixels, while a 6x9 will give you 60!

I don't think Nikon or Canon will ever come to that! And a digital Hasselblad or Mamiya in that range will never be cheap :)

Oh, yes, I love my Mamiyas.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Joe Reifer said...

The two discontinued films mentioned in this post are tungsten balanced. Perhaps they weren't selling very well? Are you all shooting a lot of tungsten film?

Unless the slower speed is an issue, Fuji 64T is a better performer and still available.



6:06 PM  
Blogger klavaza said...

There is absolutely nothing surprising here: Kodak is pushing, by any means possible, its digital technology. Of course in that field, is aiming to no target. For example, recently the company resigned from the Better Bussiness Bureau, in order to flee from the many complaints custumers are filling for bad service. In film, one of its top execs said tha she cannot undestand why filmmakers ares still using Super 8, if the same results can be achieved using a digital camera... I really doubt that she knows anything, other than follow exacting maketing directions.

10:59 AM  

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