But with the film market shrinking by more than 20 percent annually, most other signs point downhill. Analysts foresee Kodak offloading its still-profitable film division sometime in the next half-dozen years as it battles to complete a long and painful digital transformation.
Kodak will churn out a variety of films as long as there's sufficient demand for each of them, says Scott DiSabato, its marketing manager for professional film. It has even launched four new types since 2007.
While digital has largely closed the image-quality gap, DiSabato says a top-line film camera using large-format film "is still unsurpassed" in recording high-resolution images.
"The beauty with film is a lot of wonderful properties are inherent and don't require work afterward" whereas digital can involve heavy computer manipulation to get the same effect, DiSabato says.
"In the extreme, they call it `stomped on,'" he said. "But a lot of photographers want to be photographers, not computer technicians. And some prized film capabilities — grain, color hues, skin-tone reproduction — can't quite be duplicated no matter how much stomping goes on."