View Full Version : Kodak to stop manufacturing film cameras

14-Jan-2004, 09:33
Kodak announced today that it will discontinue the manufacture of film-based cameras. The company cited sales of digital cameras vs. film-based cameras and said the trend toward digital is expected to accelerate.

I think everyone will agree that consumer photography will be virtually completely digital within a few years; perhaps as soon as 2009.

My question is this: Should LF photographers start stocking up their freezers with film and paper or might LF materals remain available for many years through niche companies?

I can see [and hope for] the possibility of spin-offs from Kodak and others.


Larry Gebhardt
14-Jan-2004, 09:48
No sense stocking up until the product has been announced as discontinued. It will be a while before Fuji, Ilford and the others can't make a buck on paper and film. But Kodak tends to shoot itself in the foot to please the share holders, so who knows when they will kill your favorite product. If you like Kodak products let them know by buying them, and maybe they will keep making them - my plan for Polymax Fine Art paper, which is the only Kodak product I currently use.

Michael E. Gordon
14-Jan-2004, 09:57
<< Kodak announced today that it will discontinue the manufacture of film-based cameras >>

No loss there. Does anyone own a current Kodak film camera? Off the top of my head, I can't even name a model.

Neal Shields
14-Jan-2004, 10:00
The latest and greatest mini labs (Fuji Frontier) use lasers to write to triditional photo paper. I suspect that this is cost driven, so even if 99.9744% of the world is digital, I expect film,paper and chemicals will be around for a long time. If you are already manufacturing photo paper, I suspect that it will be easy to make film also, if there is any market at all.

John Kasaian
14-Jan-2004, 10:23

This has been discussed many times, but every time one of the leaders in the field drives another nail into the coffin of consumer film it gives rise to fears, and justly so.

We've already seen european, especially eastern european manufacturers taking up the slack. They manufacture very good stuff and its affordable, what more is there to ask for?

As for Kodak, what troubles me most is the future of it's employees. Working for a huge corporation that going through financial difficulties is one of the most stressful situations imaginable (my Bride worked for Montgomery Wards and "went down with the ship.")

Here is the prognosis as I see it: B+W sheet film film---healthy & thriving! Color sheet film---on Fuji "Life Support" if and when Kodak gives up hope.

Should I stock up on film? If you use a Kodak product that you know you can freeze without much deterioration(and you're either wealthy or you luck out and come across a close-out sale) it might not be a bad idea. After all, if Kodak dosen't discontinue the product, IMHO its a safe bet they'll be changing it's emulsion before too long!


Michael Kadillak
14-Jan-2004, 11:07
Kodak dropped many millions on a new film coating machine a short time ago and if in their infinite wisdom decided they wanted to scrap it and take the hit, no big deal. As John said, there will be a host of other companies that would be drooling at the possibilities. As an example of the diversification and the market changes that are taking aplce, Jensen Imaging (formerly World Imaging) in Portland is going to be another distributor of the Efke film line in less than a month and you will see more and more of this innovative activity to give the customers what they want. If you have the resources and the freezer space, go for it. Personally, I do not think that it is necessary. Cheers!

Ted Harris
14-Jan-2004, 11:12
While I agree that we have discussed this many times I ahve always felt that we were doing so in something of a vacuum. Please note the graph below from Monday's "Financial Times


This seems to indicate that we may be crying "wolf" way too soon. Sure there is a dropoff in the consumer film market but it is by no means disappearing anytime in the near future. Those who say it will be almost ogne or wholly gone in 20 years may be right but the chart would not indicate it will go away in the next ten years.

I hope this provides some more food for thought.

Ling Z
14-Jan-2004, 11:31
I just read the Reuters coverage, it looks like Kodak will continue to make film, and will even introduce more high-performance films ...

Kodak will still make film for existing Advantix and other cameras, and intends to introduce new high-performance 35 millimeter and Advanced Photo System films next month.

Camera makers typically make little profit -- or lose money -- on hardware, but enjoy strong margins from sales of supplies such as film and paper which much be replaced frequently.

14-Jan-2004, 11:46
When was the last time Kodak produced a LF camera? Seems to be many many years since kodak put their name on a LF camera, but we still have kodak paper and film.

Philippe Gauthier
14-Jan-2004, 11:48
I think that the prevoius poster is right. The annoucement concerns only the US (Kodak might transfer film cameras manufacturing in other markets) and the release actually says they'll release new, improved emulsions for both APS and 35 mm film cameras.

Even though film is doomed to become a marginal, niche product on the long run, I think that the rumors of its imminent death have been greatly exagerated. In the UK market, for instance, bad consumer film like Konica saw its sales increasing by more than 12% in 2003.

Market news are heavily focused on digital camera sales for obvious marketing reasons, but national markets can behave differently and the film cameras that are already on the market aren't all collecting dust in closets. There are several trends and they don't all favor a quick transition to digital.

Kodak is in bad shape, but film is still alive.

David Richhart
14-Jan-2004, 17:44
I think that John Kasian gave the best report to this post. I think film will survive, though you will have to check other scources. The sad part is the loss of jobs for the employees...

Can a film factory be a sweatshop too???

14-Jan-2004, 23:58
When you say film-based cameras do you mean those disposable cardboard things with plastic lenses that people buy when they forget their camera on vacation?? If so, then good for them! There are far superior digital alternatives to this. I don't see how this is relevant to the continued manufacturing of professional films such as sheet film......seems like a different market to me.

Ted Harris
15-Jan-2004, 10:52
Yesterday's article in the Financial Times said that they were discontinuing the manufacture of all disposable cameras and msot APS cameras. Of course, I believe that is all the film cameras they make these days. In fact, since they discontinued production of the Retina Reflex sometime in the early 1970's have they made ANY film cameras except these low end offerings? The FT article went on to point out that the margins on cameras are very small while those on film are substantial.

Christopher Condit
16-Jan-2004, 00:28
I just thank my lucky stars that I live in this in-between era, where I can still buy Tri-X sheet film, and also can buy wonderful hi-tech LF cameras, made of space-age materials.

A few months back I bought some 25-year-old 8x10 Kodak Ektachrome for a song, and dang if the stuff isn't still perfectly good.

When my favorites are discontinued, if I am not convinced there are adequate alternatives, then I will buy a little freezer and fill it up. I wonder what my favorites will be, ten years from now? Maybe TechPan. If I win the lotto...