Thoughts On The Future Of Kodak Film

Kodak Logos Over The Years
Kodak Logos Over The Years

Kodak announced their latest financials this week, and the results are dismal. Amidst talks of selling off valuable digital imaging patents, came reports that their film, while remaining somewhat profitable, is less so now, and the revenue is just a very small portion of their overall business. So, what is going to happen with it? Some likely scenarios:

 
  • Kodak sells their Professional Division to a company such as Fuji, or Ilford. I believe Fuji, with somewhat deep pockets, would be the most likely scenario. They have somewhat limited black and white options, and products such as Tri-X, Plus-X, and T-Max would be great additions to their lineup, as would all the associated chemistry.  Ilford would have a lot of parallel emulsions and chemistry, and would most likely phase out some products in both lines.
  • Private investors purchase the Professional Division- not very likely, as they would do so knowing there is nowhere to go but up, and making a profit on the stuff would be a very uphill battle.
  • Kodak ceases production of all film products, and closes the Professional Division. Let’s hope and pray this does not happen.

The recent advancements and amazing latitudes of films such as the new Portra 400 are particularly worrisome. What would happen to this crown jewel of the Kodak lineup? The same with Ektar 100. The fact is, we can kid ourselves all we want about the viability, and the future of film. The fact is, these guys aren’t in it for the benefit of humanity. They are in it to make money, and turn a profit. When that doesn’t happen, things change. What that change will be, we cannot venture a guess.

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10 thoughts on “Thoughts On The Future Of Kodak Film

    • Urban- agreed. As I have recently embraced home developing of B&W photography, loss of that line would be a huge blow to me. But yes, I also love Portra and Ektar. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope that other FPP’ers will do so as well. The message I tried to convey here is that yes, it is a love and a passion, but reality is, it’s a business. Businesses that don’t make enough money, well, they go under. I am afraid that is looking more and more likely. It is truly a shame.

      -Arthur

      • Personally I’m more worried about the color film. Black and white seems to be easier to manufacture (there’s Ilford, Foma, Ekfe) than color. And if Kodak goes under there’s only Fuji left (well, there’s Agfaphoto but they only do 35mm) and it’s never a good thing when there’s no competition. Also Fuji doesn’t seem to do much development on their films these days.

        But I guess we should just enjoy what we have now as there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.

  1. Kodak recently closed one of their last two remaining coating buildings to try and reduce overcapacity. They can’t really reduce it any more without shutting right down. Kodak went big time in machinery long ago and can not manufacture for a hobby sized market. Motion picture film is the real killer; digitial and 3D have harmed it badly.

    The sad thing is that the new Portra films are probably the most advanced films ever made and yet they may be the ones that will be the least used of all. I will likely be able to find rolls of Kodacolor I and II, Kodachrome I and II that you can’t even develop in color anymore, old E-2 and E-4 Ektachrome that you can’t develop in color if at all, Verichrome Pan, Super XX, Panatomic X and Plus X, TriX and T-Max even in old film formats in people’s basements for decades of garage sales but new Porta could disappear very quickly.

    Fuji hardly makes any color film either. They’re reducing product lines and some they still carry are only made once a year and when it runs out it is out of stock for months at a time.

    It is nearing the point where I may need to think about long term stocking up or else it may all be gone. Or I just use it until its gone, B&W when color is gone which will be sad but now seems inevitable.

  2. I’m not sure that option 2, private buyer, sounds all that unlikely. There’s clearly a niche in the market for ’boutique’ type production as the lomography folks and the Impossible Project have demonstrated. It’s not a business on the scale that Kodak may have been used to in the past, but there’s money to be made for someone interested in running a smaller operation.

    • I have very strong opinions on Impossible films, and they have not won me any friends on their end. I think their films are just terrible. Kodak, on the other hand, well, I am late to the party in developing my own films in the darkroom. Their products are gorgeous- they just work. it would be such a shame if we were to lose them entirely. I am guessing that is going ot be the case. A company such as Impossible, or another third party, if they were to take over Kodak film operations, simply could not manufacture film to the high level of quality that Kodak does now. I think FujiFilm could.

      A

  3. I’m buying and shooing at least 2 rolls a week. Along with buying bulk and freezing.

    I support it on the web. Even promote if I can.

    It’s been discussed and generally acknowledged that there has been an increase in people buying film and film cameras. Hopefully this continues.

    So I shoot and enjoy. I love Kodak. All I can do is hope they don’t wrap it up.

    • Thanks for visiting the blog, and for commenting.

      I am completely with you, my friend, and shooting 2-4 rolls a week, and processing my B&W myself, with my C-41 developed locally. The sad reality is, that even if tens of thousands of more people embraced film the way we have, it simply would not be enough. The escalating cost of silver is not helping the cause, either.

      A

  4. Local labs here used to process over 500 rolls/day, each! Now they process a few rolls per week. Sadly, us shooting 2-4 rolls/week just isn’t enough as there just aren’t that many of us doing it now. Most shoot digital and many aren’t even using dedicated cameras anymore, just mobile devices.

    Real B&W film had been dead already for the most part which is why Kodak stopped making B&W paper years ago. Photography 101 only buys so much…

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