View Full Version : film is gone

15-Jan-2006, 17:05
Film is gone (http://cestockblog.com/article/5568)

middle of answer 2. Its official!

Oren Grad
15-Jan-2006, 17:11
Can hardly wait to have that camera in my eyeglass frames...

15-Jan-2006, 17:25
or mounted in my horseless carriage.

John Kasaian
15-Jan-2006, 17:31
As CEO of Kodak, Mr. Perez' statements via the link have really encouraged me to look elsewhere for materials, choosing other manufacturers over Old Yellow.

I wonder if that was what Mr. Perez intended?

I mean, why mess with buying materials (rather costly materials at that) when the CEO of the factory has dismissed them as 'dead' implying that his company is taking a hike off the playing field?

Too bad!

Michael Kadillak
15-Jan-2006, 18:09
Rob: Please put these comments into a reasonable perspective.

An author is quoting the Kodak CEO on a blog within an electronic media journal. Come on! All it proves to me is that an executive in promoting his companies marketing plan will say anything to a journalist as long as it not illegal (immoral is another subject).

I have been told within the last week by key people within Kodak that their internal predictions for the annual drop in net B&W sheet film sales have proven to be false. In laymen terms - Kodak has sold more B&W sheet film in the last year than they anticipated - and that IS A VERY GOOD THING FOR LF SHOOTERS.

All we can do is continue to do what we do best - continue to consume your favorite sheet film and all will be very well!

Reality Check- We have more options for sheet film in every size imaginable as we speak than I can remember.

Everyone please reach for your checkbook and take the risk out of this equation. Sitting in front of a computer screen worrying will not solve anything.


steve simmons
15-Jan-2006, 18:26
To counteract such innaccurate pronouncements View Camera just did an article in our Jan /Feb 06 issue showing ALL the sheet films that are available. There is a greater variety of films avaiable than any of us will ever use.


steve simmons www.viewcamera.com

15-Jan-2006, 18:28
"Please put these comments into a reasonable perspective"

OK we'll do that. The extract in the blog was taken from an interview in The New York Times. I went to the New York Times web site and went through the free sign up procedure to check that what I was reading in the blog was correct. It was. I posted the link to the blog because it doesn't require registration and login to read the extract. For those that want the full interview then they can follow the link in the blog to the New York Times, register, which is free, and get the full interview.

If the CEO of Kodak tells the New York Times that "Film is gone" then who am I to argue.

Michael look at this way. If you are worried about the current offering of ULF film then personally I would be looking to make sure I get a supply of my favourite film before it disappears. It depends on your viewpoint but I am only the messenger here not the sender.

William Mortensen
15-Jan-2006, 18:30
"Reality Check- We have more options for sheet film in every size imaginable as we speak than I can remember. "

Great! So now I just have to decide between Super XX, Verichrome, Ektapan, Technical Pan, Panatomic X, Royal Pan, Royal Pan X, or High Speed Infrared. Hmmm, I wonder which would print better on Azo...

steve simmons
15-Jan-2006, 18:35
Yes, some films have disappeared. But there are new ones being introduced and/or brought into the US mareket and overseas as well.

Again, there are more films currently available than any of us will ever use.

steve simmons

Joe Smigiel
15-Jan-2006, 19:00
>>Yes, some films have disappeared. But there are new ones being introduced and/or brought into the US mareket and overseas as well.

Again, there are more films currently available than any of us will ever use.

steve simmons<<

Yes. But not by Kodak. And that's the whole point isn't it?

Unfortunate that the Kodak CEO makes such a statement just as some of us are pondering the purchase of ULF TMY. Looks like this will probably be the last chance to get that film in ULF and 5x7 sizes after all.

That's a shame.

Don Sparks
15-Jan-2006, 19:05
It seems that some people simply WISH that film would go away and grab every little tidbit they come across and post it on some forum to discourage everyone else. As already stated, there is plenty of large format film available. Most of the members on this forum (including myself) will be gone long before film.

William Mortensen
15-Jan-2006, 19:09
I agree, Steve. The hard part is in having one you're really used to disappear. I think I could be happy with almost any decent 200-400 speed film after I got used to it. I've been shooting on HP5+ for a while now, based largely on the hopes that it will be around. (I was spoiled by the Ultrafine 400, which was really HP5+ at about 40% off the price, but that's gone now. The last little bit left is literally about 2% off.)

I really do miss Super XX and Royal Pan. And I don't think there's anything out there remotely close to Royal Pan X, ASA 1250; shot at 800 it gave a negative sort of like Tri-X 320 shot at 200. Kodak said it could be pushed to 4000 ASA, though I never tried it. Can anyone recommend a replacement for that one?

15-Jan-2006, 19:19
Steve, of course we have more films available today vs. before, as new films are introduce the older lines are not always discarded immediately.

I think articles like this do tell a story. The story is, these big companies are focussing on the future, and film is not the future. It does not mean they drop film today, but it also does not mean they won't drop it next quarter, or next year.

I wrote in a previous post a month ago..... this came from a very credible inside source. One of the largest film companies in the world made a corp. decision a year ago to discontinue all film products. The information was presented to major dealers....and the response was so strong, the dealers (who sold all their products, not just film) threatened, the company backed down and said they will continue to provide film for another year. That year is almost up. To me, this is a strong indication that film sales are not profitable, not a good sign. I would rather see them raise prices and be profitable then drop the line due to unprofitablity. Of course, I don't know how high they would have to be raised for them to be profitable....

I think it's these types of decisions made in corp. board rooms, that leave us film users vulnerable. It's the corporate environment, if the product line is loosing money and its in a downward market, just cut the hemoraging and move on. The best we can hope for, is when the big companies dump film, a few small companies continue the lines under a new name. Of course, this does not always occur as the stock holders could care less about these issues, unless of course the division could be sold for big bucks. But that is rare when a product line is loosing money to begin with. Sometimes smaller concerns can make profits whereas the bigger companies can not.

My fear is, either the new makers of the film, or the existing makers simply drop sheet film line, and continue with MF roll film. Since they are two different processes, it makes sense to cut the line which is not profitable. I think most sheet film users will soon be serious amateurs and some fine art type photographers, which use hardly any film compared to commercial users who have switched to digital.

Although there is nothing we can do about this except sit back and wait, it doesn't hurt to have sensible information.

I would like to propose a poll ...... we poll this forum to see how much dollars we spend a year in sheet film, roll film, etc, from the two big makers. This will help us get a feel for just how much film is being purchased by one group of LF shooters who do use film. If the amount is in the multi millions, I would be impressed, but if its small potatoes, well, that would be depressing. In such case, I may stock up like QT did!

Michael Kadillak
15-Jan-2006, 19:21
Mr. Sawyer:

Change is inevitable. Accept where we are currently with marvelous modern film offerings and try to not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Be very thankful that you have passionate people that are working hard to overcome the challenges of an evolving industry so that you (and other) ULF and LF shooters are not ignored in the transition.

It is far easier to be cynical than it is to attempt to assist in the favorable resolution either in an entrepreneurial role or as a legitimate consumer of T Max 400, Ilford ULF films or the Azo substitute.


15-Jan-2006, 19:47
so which film manufacturers make colour films in large format sizes and which of those manufacturers are making a profit from large format colour film?

Oren Grad
15-Jan-2006, 19:55
I have to put in a word in support of Michael here. Of course, we have no idea how long Kodak will keep the B&W film lines running. But what Perez was quoted as saying in the interview didn't provide any new information one way or another. The fact that he has concluded that film is dead as a strategic direction for his business is old news, and doesn't say anything about how long they will run a profitable film production line that is spinning off cash that they can invest in developing the digital business.

For all we know, Kodak will pull the plug tomorrow. I don't think they will, but in any case nothing Perez said in that interview changed the fundamental picture.

William Mortensen
15-Jan-2006, 20:03
Cheers, Michael! Yes, we do still have some lovely films. I'm just so sure my prints would be so much better than Weston's if I could just get some Royal Pan... ; )

I, too, am considering laying in a stock of 8x10 film, but I think HP5+ is pretty safe, at least for a few more years. I wonder if we'll become like wine connoisseurs, with a cellar of vintage emulsions, "ah, 2006 was a fine year for Efke 100..."

I'll be taking Michael and Paula's workshop in Sedona in a couple of weeks, (actually, it's the first "formal" education in large format I'll ever have had), and I'm happy to think I'll be supporting their work in some small way.

15-Jan-2006, 20:09
> so which film manufacturers make colour films in large format sizes

Well, only two I know of .....

> and which of those manufacturers are making a profit from large format colour film?

I am only guessing, but I assume NONE! At least by their standards.

The problem these companies have....they get so big, once revenue drops off, they loose money fast as the overhead stays, it takes them years to catch up with the loss revenues, by the time they scale back, its too late, as revenues continue to fall. This is sometimes why a small company needs to take this over and magnage the business from a different perspective. The good news is, color film seems to last a long time in the freeezer....

steve simmons
15-Jan-2006, 20:56
I have been told by the product mamangers of sheet film/professional film products at both Fujui and Kodak that there was an intitial drop in sheet film sales but this did not last and the sales have leveled off. Both told me sheet film sales are still profitable and they expect this to continue for the forseeable future.

Even if Kodak dropped film production - I have no inside info that this will happen - soemone else would pick up these divisions and continue the products.

Sorry, doomsayers. There are still and will continue to be more sheet films available than any of us will ever use.


steve simmons

15-Jan-2006, 21:33
The problem with Kodak (aside from their dolt of a CEO) is their shareholders. Kodak will no more make it in the digital world than they are currently making out in their film business. They sold out their film heritage and bet it all on digital, problem is Kodak was once a big name and a leader in their field; now they're just another fish in the pond. Digital camera companies like, Canon, Sony, Fuji, Nikon etc. will no doubt outsell Kodak many times over. Do Kodak digicams even sell outside the USA? I think it's just too competitive a market for Kodak to compete long term, especially taking into account their past management track record. The Japanese will have no problem taking on Kodak as a competitor.

Kodak is primarily a film company and they should have used that clout to fight hard to discredit digital at every turn. Instead, they saw the immediate cash infusion of digital and like a greedy child, just had to have a piece of the action. Fuji will most likely fare much better if they're like other Japanese companies; much better managed and much more efficient. Fuji can probably continue to produce film in smaller quantities and still turn a small profit enough to be sustainable. Besides, from what I understand, film is still a respectable medium in Japan and large format has quite a healthy following there.

As for film manufacturing being taken up by a smaller company, it's entirely possible. A smaller company can turn a profit from film, even a as niche product as long as they don't have shareholders.

Andre Noble
15-Jan-2006, 21:33
Just on what Kodak's CEO says, you can tell he does not understand people and how they relate to photography. He seems like an imbecile. Kodak needs to definitely dump him. I doubt he knows the order to develope film if you stuck the developer, stop, and fix in front of him.

Mark Woods
15-Jan-2006, 21:34
Having been to building 19 at Kodak. And knowing the size of the film rolls that they coat. And knowing that the sliting, cut machines are all automated. It's an easy thing to make film in that building! If the CEO is talking about film being dead, look at his back ground. It's all a matter of how much profit, not that there is a profit. I know for a fact that the Motion Picture Imaging division of Kodak is the highest profit division of them all. There is a profit, but it is enough? I don't know. This is where smaller companies buy the facilities and make the product. If all the workers are brought into the profit/loss equation, and participate, I'm sure there's money to spare -- especially since the CEO makes about 425 times the salary of the floor worker. (That's where the pension funds have gone and medical too. Someone pays for the CEO, and other top execs salaries -- usually the workers.)


15-Jan-2006, 22:11
> Sorry, doomsayers. There are still and will continue to be more sheet films available than any of us will ever use.

Well Steve I sure hope your right.... I too think film will be around in one fashion or another for quite some time, but that would only raise the next logical questions..... at what price, what lead times, process chemicals, process costs, etc. etc. When a market crashes, it crashes fast.

As an example, film recorders were big business till about 1998, then digital projection came into play....... I remember reading, there was about 13 makers of film recorders that year, now down to 2, other then a few stragglers holding on to a few extra parts till they are exhausted. The entire industry collapsed in less then 5 years.

A Screen Rep told me Screen USA sold about 400 drum and flatbed scanners per year in USA..... in the last 2 years, they have avg. less then 3 per year. Heidleberg I beleive stopped making scanners around 2001.

The point being, these markets crash so hard, sometimes its hard to pick up the pieces and continue. In our case, I beleive the advancement of quality and price of the 40 MP+ digital backs is what will dictate how well the pieces can be picked up from the film market. Since the first 40 MP backs are just hitting the market, the LF community is equal to where the 35mm film market was in about 1999 when the CAnon D30 hit the market. If the high end progresses at the same rate the low end did (I doubt it) then doomsday will come faster then any of us imagined. On the other hand, if the volume of these high MP backs remains low and no breakthroughs in technology is had, I feel we are safe for at least 5 more years.

Personaly, if I was just entering photography in a big way, I would NOT enter the film market with the current climate. However, those of us with a ton of film cameras / lenses, we have a big incentive to ride the wave.....mainly the exhorbitant cost of digital gear and accessories. The switch to digital isn't so easy for view camera users, as most of us would need sharper lenses and different camera systems, other then the small well suited 4x5 cameras.

Bobby Sandstrom
15-Jan-2006, 23:12
After contemplating and experiencing the whole gamut of emotions I'm sure we've all been experiencing this past year...here's the way I see it:

1. Not long ago every camera on the planet shot film
2. Huge companies postured themselves to supply that film
3. Digital came along and rapidly swept nearly all film camera users away leaving these companies high and dry
4. Vulnerable for the obvious reasons, these companies are crumbling like a sand castle hit by a wave
5. Nitch group of film users remain (even though they're a little scared :-)
6. Film/silver printing is now truly becoming an alternative process (who'd of thought it'd happen so quick?)
7. Small nitch companies are born to supply their demand (who knows, maybe kodak could spin itself off into a compact powerful nitch company built from the ground up with a strategy for satisfying a demand the size of ours.)
8. Hand made photos appreciate in value and become even more desirable.
9. All is beautiful (cue birds chirping)

Is it scary? Yes. After-all, kodak is synonymous with photography. It's no wonder there's a panic as we watch it fall apart at the seams. Is it bumpy? Yes. We are in the midst of a transition period. But, as long as the demand is there, the supply will be too. We will be able to make our treasured hand made silver prints from negative for as long as we demand!

Keep the faith baby!

15-Jan-2006, 23:16
""...And they will be able to correct problems like red eye when they snap the picture, not after the fact.""

- so all this technology just for that? red eye? the guy needs his head read...

15-Jan-2006, 23:31
Hi Bobby. My sentiments exactly. Keeping the faith...

ronald moravec
16-Jan-2006, 05:35
Time for another survey to see how many people actually use the the forum. Or they could just count the answers.

Hope Steve Simons is right.

I see the problem as pros using 90% of film and they are going digital. That doesn`t leave much left.

I keep saying to stop buying stuff in yellow boxes NOW. Others make good products and they better get support or they are gone too. Every dollar you give to yellow is a dollar they use to finance digital.

Jeff Morfit
16-Jan-2006, 06:37
Yeah, yeah, and the sky is falling according to someone named Chicken Little. I guess the Yankee Army will be marching into Richmond again this morning, so just go ahead and panic everyone. If you want film, paper, and developers try Anthony Guidice's Defender Photographic at www.defenderphoto.com.

Ron Marshall
16-Jan-2006, 07:12
Please correct me if I am wrong, most pros have switched to digital backs, since the price is not prohibitive for them. Most amateurs have not, since backs competitive with LF, such as the 40MP, are $30,000.

It's anyones guess what a 40MP back will sell for in ten years: $10,000; $3000; who knows. But I imagine most amateurs will not be buying one for at least five years.

So I imagine the demand for sheet film will remain fairly stable for at least the next five years.

Jim Rhoades
16-Jan-2006, 08:16
Now I know it's not the same thing. What Steve says about someone else coming in and picking up the divisions...But...Twenty five years ago AMF owned Harley-Davidson and they ran it into the ground. The brass were bean counters that knew less than nothing about motorcycles. The Harley people pooled their money, bought the company, the rest is history.

Far feched? Maybe, but I can dream can't I? Someplace in that company or just retired, are a bunch of oldtime film lovers who know more about film than the rest of the film world combined.

Don Wallace
16-Jan-2006, 10:14
I think it is just terrible that there will be no more film. Exactly the same thing happened with all of those old processes, like pt/pd, cyanotype, collodion, etc. You can't find out ANYTHING about these things - no books, articles, etc. - no one uses these processes anymore, and no materials are available. They just disappeared into history.

Get the point? Even if the giants leave the market, there will be a cottage industry. The parameters may change dramatically (including price), but if there are enough people shooting, there will be sheet film.

Ralph Barker
16-Jan-2006, 10:55
In my opinion, we should be neither surprised nor disheartened by "pro-digital press" coming out of Kodak execs. Most of those pronouncements are aimed at the folks on Wall Street, the same folks who brought us the dot-com bust as a result of unrealistic profit and stock-growth expectations.

While our emulsion choices may shrink due to the obvious economics, I have no worries about the availability of film in the future - particularly in "standard" sizes. Considering the efforts that are being made to support the ULF market, I'm even more bullish about the future of companies like Ilford/Harman that have adjusted themselves to current market realities.

As to the adoption of high-end digital backs, and the corresponding effect on film sales within the pro market, I have mixed feelings. A $30,000 expenditure is still a $30,000 expenditure, notwithstanding the fact that it can be depreciated. The pro shop still has to maintain profitability and cash flow. And, I'd guess that the percentage of commercial work that actually requires a 40mp original capture is fairly small - meaning that cost-justifying the $30K expenditure is even more difficult for all but the high-volume shops.

Bottom line, we shouldn't over-react to comments aimed at the Wall Street crowd.

David Luttmann
16-Jan-2006, 11:09
Ralph, I agree $30,000 is steep, when these pro shops need to spend $10,000 for an Imacon scanner, and still need to purchase sheets of film and have them processed, the $30,000 is no longer that far out of the ballpark. However, as you said, most studios do no require a 40MP back. The standard 22MP multi scan backs available today have 88MP output that is more than enough for large poster advertising needs.....and are in the neighbourhood of $20,000 & less.

16-Jan-2006, 11:56
Ralph, I agree with your comments.... the worst part of the film to digital transition is the fact the users that use the most film, are the ones that can justify the most expenditure for digital. It's those users that keep eroding film sales at a super fast rates, not the hobiest that spend $400 a year on film. This scenario works against film, and plays right into the hands of digital back makers. With high volume users, the investment in a digital back represents a "return on investment" issue, and what's worse, its NOT just film cost, its processsing, scanning, scanning supplies, scanner repairs, etc... it all adds up, and for anyone making a living at this, the return on investment is pretty fast for even a $30k digital back. At $15k, its a no brainer for most pros. Of course, i am referring to the high end digital backs....

Dave, your points are very valid.... the alternatives, assuming one needs a scanner, etc., it simply makes the digital back purchase more feasible / sensible. Also, for static subjects, scanning backs will surely beat out film, fortunatly, this represents a small segment of the market.

The one thing which gets mentioned often is the fact the B&W market has stronger legs then the color film market. B&W LF film can record a better image then a digital back, assuming the output is high quality B&W. B&W film is much higher resolving then color film which broadens the gap between it and digital. In addition, it seems B&W is more of a cult like following, more purist, i.e. concerned as much with the process as the final output. On the contrrary, many color shooters objective is the final output, and most will take the path of least resistance to get there. Also, the cost of B&W as mentioned in a previous post is more economical, further solidifying it's staying power for the serious hobbiest. But color has every strike against it..... so digital vs. dilm discussions should isolate, B&W vs. color, as i think their longevity is totally dependent on different variables...

16-Jan-2006, 16:56
I think Fuji and Kodak may slow down their film manufacturing due to them
having their fingers in too many pies, but that will leave a gap in the
market for smaller companies who only make film and nothing else. Film
can't disappear altogether as it's need in hospitals, movies, and other
specialist fields. It's ironic that large film manufactures like Fuji and
Kodak has destroyed their own film based industry with them pushing
digital. Joe public don't need to buy a new film every time they want to
take some snaps, now they can re-use their memory cards over and over
again saving them money and killing Fuji and Kodak's film sales. If you want to try something different, check out www.retrophotographic.com they're got some great films, papers and accessories available.

16-Jan-2006, 17:16
C. Alex.... its nice to see these small companies like Maco make color film, even though its negative film.... who knows, someday they may be the Kodak and Fuji of today!

17-Jan-2006, 11:35
I think the film manufacturers may have shot themselves in the foot as they may have overestimated the long term revenue from digital camera sales. Case in point: My sister bought a Fuji digital camera and she loves it, but, she has no interest in megapixels or any other whiz-bang feature, thus she has no plans of upgrading said camera. So Fuji made a one time sale from her and unless the camera breaks down, they won't see another dime from her. Previously, she bought Fuji neg film to shoot in her point & shoot camera and had prints made. Last year, she had only a handful of prints made, the rest being stored on a CD or her hard drive; more money of hers Fuji (or Kodak) will never see. I imagine the majority of digicam shooters out there are in the same boat.

Kodak and Fuji had a good thing going, it's always better to sell consumables if at all possible. Look at the printer manufacturers, they practically give their inkjet printers away, but make a killing on ink and paper. You think they'd be interested in developing a "digital" printer that did not use any ink, or had ink cartridges that were re-usable indefinitely? Kodak and the other film m'fers should have fought hard against the digital onslaught because now they're direct competitors with the other major camera manufacturers which have been at that game for much longer.

Either way, the whole digital industry is going to experience a shakedown in the next few years as sales begin to flatten out. Unfortunately for camera companies, investors don't like sales that are flat and I suspect before long, their sales will be just like they were in the 80s and 90s.

17-Jan-2006, 12:25
Rob, if Fuji and Kodak were the only two making digital cameras, your point would be accurate. But that is not the case, so therefore, Fuji and Kodak were forced into digital before loosing even more sales volume in the "new" camera market, to competitors that were not even considered competitors just a few years ago. In the past, Canon / Nikon had a cozy relationship with Fuji/Kodak, they needed each other, one helped the other with innovative products. Now, they are bitter rivals. Again, this entire market one day will be studied in Business Schools, just like the success of Polaroid was the subject matter of many higher education business school books. It is capitalism at its best. It also demonstrates how small companies can catch the sleepin Giants off guard....although Canon was no small cocnern, but many of the other companies were small players in the photo market prior to digital.

As for the digital market flattening out, well, this IMO, is a function of just how many breakthroughs occur in the field in the next few years. If we next see 18 MP camera bodies that have 11 stops exposure lattitude, full RGB sensors, lenses to make super wide angles very sensor friendly, at a price point of say $3 - 4k, well, I think the industry will have an entirely new surge in sales again. Lets face it, photographers are worse then car buyers, they always want the latest and greatest.... assuming its much better then what they have....

17-Jan-2006, 13:07

I agree that the film manufacturers were forced into this market, but I think they could have done a better job stemming the tide. As for continued growth in the digital market (of which DSLR sales are a small fraction of overall sales), I'm skeptical. Read Thom Hogan's 2006 predictions where he also speaks of short-term growth into 2007-8; he's usually pretty accurate.


As for new sensor designs and breakthroughs, there really hasn't been any whisper of new technologies, just more re-hashing of the same Bayer designs. Foveon may have had a good idea, but it's just a memory now. I don't see any reason why digital will be any different than the cellphone market, the Palm Pilot/PDA market, the DVD player market, the MP3 player market, the PC market, the dot-com industry etc etc etc. All started off with a big bang, enjoyed huge sales figures for the first few years and then the bottom fell out leaving a few manufacturers clamoring for scraps. Once consumers the world over have their digicam, they'll be content and looking for the next gadget to fall in their lap; their cameras will once again be sitting in some junk drawer collecting dust. Meanwhile, we LF shooters will still have our film and will still be schlepping our "antique" cameras around the countryside at the amusement of many a bystander.

Anyway, enough of this digital talk....

Ron Marshall
17-Jan-2006, 16:03
I think the digital market will flatten out when a full frame DSLR around 12MP is available below $2000.

I doubt many amateurs will be willing to shell out that kind of cash every few years if they already have a camera that does what they want.

Oren Grad
17-Jan-2006, 19:32
Zeiss is placing its bet, at least for the foreseeable future:

www.zeiss.de/C12567A8003B58B9?Open (http://www.zeiss.de/C12567A8003B58B9?Open)