Friday, 24 August 2012

Is Kodak mad?

News has come to me via the British Journal of Photography that Kodak intends to flog off all it's film divisions. Read what I read here. What mushrooms are the people running Kodak on? We all know that the bottom has fallen out of the silver capture market, but even digital enthusiasts like me can see that film is never going to go away, in fact many photographers are seeing a future where silver capture would mean a certain élan and/or art would be implied. Is there no way that Kodak could have employed economies of scale in the manufacture of these materials? It really is incomprehensible.

In my callow youth, I worked for a few years for Agfa-Gevaert serving the professional market. Kodak was the Big Yellow Box Company and when we used that expression there was both a sneer and awed admiration built in. We simply could not compete with Kodak's products. We had the better ( much better ) range of b & w papers, but we couldn't get them used. And then Kodak just got better and better at the technology, especially as the change to colour came about. As I understand it, Kodak's film products are still top-notch, so I suppose the money men think that now is the time to sell off those divisions in order "to maximise returns".
Yeah, sure, someone will buy those divisions, but so much is likely to be lost in the transactions. It just seems like a bloody great shame.


  1. Though I am disappointed, I'm not surprised. I still on rare occasion shoot sheet film, but like almost everybody, have switched to digital for work. My experience with Kodak isn't quite the same as yours. In my photographic lifetime, I saw Kodak with a confusing large stable of films and papers that did not compete well with Ilford, Agfa, and Fuji in the 1980's and 1990's.

    Ancient emulsions were still sold decades after obsolescence (like Panatomic X, Verichrome Pan,Ektachrome 64 etc.)Kodak made major techincal advances with some films like T-max, but I found with their modern BW emulsions they paid only attention to technical issues like grain and sharpness without a pleasing tonality: then Fuji blew them out of the water with Acros.

    There will undoubtedly be a few good film manufacturers out there for a while, last I looked EFKE, Foma, and Ilford still produce film.

  2. You know Michael, I cannot really comment knowledgeably about that. Throughout the '90s I photographed almost exclusively on colour neg film, because of my clients' needs and wants. I used a bit of TMax and it was gorgeous, as far as I was concerned, but I didn't even process it myself - it went to commercial labs. For one exhibition project I used 4x5 Plus-X and it behaved beautifully under my own processing and printing. Funnily, I didn't really like the Ilford FP4 and HP5.
    I suppose that that was an era when everyone had their own darkroom techniques to achieve the very best one could with their own chemical mixes and techniques. (I remember my father over-exposing HP4 and underdeveloping, for studio work!)