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Thursday, 09 December 2010

Comments

Mike,

this type of event brings up the question as to whether one should now switch brands to Ilford (if not already a user), or continue on with Kodak. The worst scenario would be for Ilford to have to close up shop and leave Kodak, which doesn't seem to care whether it produces film (that's not a value judgement, business-is-business) the last big man standing. I doubt that even if Kodak were to have a 100% monopoly of current film demand, that would be profitable enough for them. If only Adox/Efke/etc can clean up their quality assurance/production act in the interim, that's not a happy solution.

YMMV

Actually, Kodak DOES accept odd-size film orders, similar to Harman. These are available through the view camera manufacturer K.B. Canham, among others, see http://www.canhamcameras.com/kodakfilm.html.

With respect to the continued sizes, they are discontinued as "stock items", but they will still be available as special order items. I would expect that the Canham list will soon have 8x10" on it.

Rick,
There exists peril, yes.

Mike

Fine with Ilford sheet films, never a big fan of the T-Max stuff anyway, never liked it's "look" compared to just regular old film, could care less about the "T-Max" being "less grainy", or whatever, too much grain? Shoot a bigger format...

I remember the derision that the Kodak announcement of cancellation of their black & white printing paper brought from the "wags". They spent so many years letting the RIT business grads tell them what to do to make paper cheaper and more profitable, they basically ended up making paper no one wanted to use except for production houses; i.e.the first market that would be most likely to go digital (or even direct to press), so...not anything the careful worker wanted to use...
sad for those of us old enough to remember some really fine Kodak papers back in the day...

Plus one for Rick, I keep testing the "euro-films" hoping they can get rid of the pin-holing and poor coating procedures, I believe some relief will eventually be granted there...

One reason to keep buying from Freestyle, I'm broke, but pay a little more to buy from them because they want to be in the analog market 'til the end...me too boys, keep it up!

Crabby,
That's not quite true--Kodak made a real effort in the '90s to make a premium paper for craft workers, called Elite. Its success (and reception) was mixed, but it was a sincere attempt to satisfy that market.

Mike

"...If only Adox/Efke/etc can clean up their quality assurance/production act in the interim..."

It's important to distinguish between the ADOX products manufactured under its control by InovisCoat

http://www.inoviscoat.de/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72&Itemid=143

(such as MCC 110 paper as well as the upcoming ADOX PAN 400) using relocated Agfa equipment and those made by other manufacturers in very old plants. The latter may suffer from defects, but the former have exhibited quality right up with first-tier suppliers such as Fuji, Ilford and Kodak.

Mike!

I remember Elite well, but I remember it moreso in the mid-to-late 80's than the 90's. Before internet ordering, and the ease of getting supplies out of different suppliers hundreds of miles away, it's just not anything my local suppliers would keep in stock for me, but I did use it and liked it; it also seems like a half-hearted attempt by Kodak to recapture a market they already lost: while it was certainly not "too little", it was too late...

Mike, I believe your conclusive statements are dead on. Even at an extremely low percentage, there's going to be a way for someone out there to make money off film.

I've always wondered if Kodak will ever sell the formulas to some of its discontinued products. There has to be someone out there in the world who doesn't have Kodak's overhead (and thus requirement for large minimum sales) and could turn a profit on small quantities of product. And it's not like Kodak is making money off of the information or the patents in some other way.

I have an odd question for LF film folks--does anyone make BW ISO 1600 sheet film? Poking around the web suggests not...

Mike...

Interesting viewpoint on market realignment, etc. regarding film and conventional printing materials. It's hard not to look at the actual marketing aspect of film in the 70's, 80's and 90's, and from hindsight, see the impending doom!

People like Kodak, and to a lesser extent Ilford and Fuji, certainly tried to steal market share from each other by continuously creating more and more emulsions. Kodak alone, was packaging Panatomic X, Plus-X, T-Max 100, Verichrome Pan, Ektapan, Super XX, Tri-X, Tri-X Professional, T-Max 400, and a variety of specialty monochromatic films in multiple formats; if you measure the overlaps, all of these might have been available at the same time!

I'm sure at any given moment, the grand plan was that as Kodak developed and marketed newer films, they could cancel older emulsions when they fell out of favor. Problem was, the older films really never fell out of favor! They basically, as we are wont to say in the Midwest, started eating their own seed corn. Instead of gaining more customers away from Ilford and Agfa, they were just as likely to be dividing their own film users among multiple emulsions. Not so good if a game-changer like digital comes along. Might have been easier to have one ASA 100, 200, 400 premium film in multiple sizes than the amount of "near" ASA films they have.

As someone stated on here earlier, I never took to "T" films either, pretty lousy skin tone reproduction, and I never changed over to them after initial tests; but if Kodak had decided to kill everything but the "T" films, I might have moved on to HP-5, but it might have made them more profitable in what they WERE doing.

I remember having a pretty intense conversation with a Fuji rep in California when all of a sudden we couldn't get the Fuji sheet film we had been used to (might have been RDP, my enfeebled mind no longer remembers these codes), and it was replaced by Provia, which was as terrible and "blue" as the Ektachrome we were getting. They openly admitted they they designed the film to be "Fuji-Ektachrome" to try and take more market share, and seemed flummoxed when we said: "Yeah, but we were using Fuji because it WASN'T Ektachrome". And, I was told, they introduced Astia to be an upgraded version of their original film because so many people were calling in and complaining!

Anyway, one wonders if Kodak just went back and made Super XX in everything from 120 to 14X17, and advertised the hell out of it, what might happen. Hard to believe there wouldn't be a market for it.

James,
I am not a LF person, but I understand that tmy-2 which is TMAX-400 needs no extra development time to develop as 800 speed, with minimal additional grain appearing. [Source: technical data sheet from Kodak] Since that's only one stop short of 1600 speed, I suspect people wanting fast sheet film are probably using it as such.

If you are scanning instead of optically printing, maybe a full stop underexposure doesn't make a difference? Something Ctein wrote a while back suggests that the answer is "no", for certain values of "no". I habitually use tmy-2/TMAX 400 at ISO 800 in medium format and am a little careless about underexposure, and I'm pretty happy with the results.

I have to second Sal's point about ADOX. I know nothing about their production methods, but I have worked through several different batches of MCC 110 and it's been entirely consistent. I'll look forward to their 400 film, although I'm quite happy with Ilford film.

>> I have an odd question for LF film folks--does anyone make BW ISO 1600 sheet film? Poking around the web suggests not... <<

No.

I've heard someone from Ilford mention that losing Kodak would not be in film's best interest, because Ilford, Kodak and Fuji use many of the same suppliers, and the loss of Kodak would mean that those common supplies would increase in price or possibly become unavailable.

Recently I believe Foma 200, a somewhat popular film, went out of production because they could no longer source some essential material.

All this info is recollections done on little sleep...

A potential news article sometime in 2053...

Canon has just announced that the new 1Ds Mark XXVIII will be their last 35mm DSLR. Their head of marketing recently stated that ocular implants had made their cameras obsolete. Indeed, almost all other manufacturers were in the ocular implant market and had already left the business of making digital cameras to Canon.

In other new camera news: the Leica MP2 has just been released and Ilford has announced a new price list for B&W sheet film...

Pak

Tom
If I ever get my time machine working I'll bring back a case of Super XX for you. Personally I'm looking for a couple of boxes of Velour Black and some Varigam.

I think one of reasons that TXP is popular in LF is that it is able to finely separate mid-high tones, which is part of what makes great b&w really work. It also requires exacting exposure & is thus recommended for controlled lighting (e.g. studio portraits), but people who use the zone system well are also able to make great use of it for landscapes and other available light scenarios.

On T-Max 400: Dick Arentz explains in his Platinum printing book that this film developed in D76 1:1 may be the best option for creating negatives for Pt/Pd, so it is very much a loss in this area.

(Kodak also added a UV-blocking component to T-Max 100, which had been an excellent choice for Pt/Pd until then).

I guess it's good that the option is still there to place special orders. Anyone really serious about needing to use a particular film or paper should probably be thinking about investing in a strategic reserve of materials, or be ready to adapt to lesser or at least different products.

I don't think the lack of any specific product will hinder the creation of great photography -- I think the idea is to get out and shoot and make the best of available materials.

Well, I think that maybe you are being unreasonably rosy about the situation, just from the point of view of market. Apparently. from what you say, only Harman is competing for market while Kodak is satisfied with a shrinking market, kind of like GM before the bail out. If one healthy company is left standing there goes reasonable price and innovation.

One interesting aspect of realignment like this is that the small players are more likely to be left standing than the giants are.

It's _hard_ to cut down heavily on your production if you're Kodak or Fuji. Machinery, floor space, employee numbers, offices, distribution systems, supplier contracts - everything is scaled for large-volume production, and most of it has to be more or less scrapped and replaced if you want to adjust to, say, 10% of your former volume. It is simpler and cheaper for the big actors to quit altogether than to continue small-volume production.

Small producers don't have the same problem of course. If the large producers disappear, they're perfectly scaled already to handle the new level and become big dogs in the much smaller pound.

So what the large producers can do is both - quit the business _and_ scale down for the new reality. I would not be surprised to see Kodak announce the formation of a spin-off company ("Kodak Films" perhaps?) that takes over the film rights, and isn't bound by old contracts, leases and and so on.

I guess Fuji might do something similar, but the corporate culture is different and I wouldn't be surprised if they decide film is important enough as a corporate legacy to absorb the cost of realignment within the company.

Since the T-grain films were developed (sorry)
for a grain structure that benefits miniature photography (i.e. 35mm) is their absence any great loss to the almost Ultra Large 8x10 format?

Unfortunately the last boxes of Ilford HP5 I bought were mis-cut and undersize. A couple boxes before that were sealed so the second and third boxes nested into each other rather than closed over each other to prevent light leaks. Their quality control is reflected in their price -- I'll stick to Kodak until the bitter end.

"Anyway, one wonders if Kodak just went back and made Super XX in everything from 120 to 14X17, and advertised the hell out of it, what might happen. Hard to believe there wouldn't be a market for it."

Don't know about Super XX, but I'd start shooting film again if I could shoot Panatomic X or Verichrome Pan in 120 or better yet 70mm type 2 perforated. Overexposed Verichrome Pan , yumm...

BTW, anybody reading this know of ANY B&W 70mm type 2 perforated film still in production?

I'd just flat DONATE money to get Verichrome Pan back in larger sizes. Best-looking B&W film ever, according to my tastes.

Mike

The manufacturing of film or paper takes many different processes to end up with the final product. Coating machines will not last for ever. Cows may stop giving willingly of their gelatin. It may be one of the little things that ends the film era for ever. I'm sure there will always be some that will harken back to the good old days of damp dingy darkrooms.
I believe the good days of photography are in front of us. Digital is in its infancy give it another 50 years or so.

Hugh Crawford and Mike Johnson!

I love you guys! I shot Verichrome Pan 'til the bitter end, professionally no less, right through the first "scare" (where I stocked up and froze everything I could find), until the second "actuality", (where I just gave up, and after testing a bunch of stuff, ended up with APX100)...I believe it was the film of choice for many famous shooters, including Skrebneski in Chicago...believe it or not, most times now, I just shoot Tri-X 400 120 with a two-stop neutral density filter on it or a two-stop green one.

Mike Plews, I love you too, and I'll take 8X10 and 4X5 Super XX, and some Velour Black as well, and looks like me, Mike and Hugh will be ordering Verichrome Pan too...

...better crank up the "Way-Back" machine!

"Since the T-grain films were developed (sorry)
for a grain structure that benefits miniature photography (i.e. 35mm) is their absence any great loss to the almost Ultra Large 8x10 format?"

Yes! TMX and TMY-2 have much improved reciprocity characteristics compared to regular films. With LF and ULF you are much more often in the territory beyond 1s exposure time.
Some people (including me) actually do like the straight curves they deliver (e.g. with TMAX RS developer).
Btw, Foma 200 will be back soon according to an announcement on ADOX' German web site/forum.

At the beginning of last October I had a marvelous chance to have a very quick chat with Cristina Garcia Rodero (one of the latest Magnum photographers and first Spanish photographer to join Magnum). Naturally I asked her about digital and she told me she only used digital for colour and commercial assignments. Everything else especially her personal work is all shot with Tri-x 400. Film was a pain and of course a lot more expensive, but in the long run archive wise safer. She mentioned she had been a couple of months earlier working in Nicaragua working on her latest project shooting film. When she arrived back in Spain she found 75 rolls of Tri-x had been fogged at the local South American airport!! She said it was extremely irritating and heartbreaking but STILL she wouldn´t think twice about shooting film. The physical copy is all that matters to her…negatives and master prints or, at least good work prints and for her digital was ethereal. We were talking about her personal projects, what she wanted to be remembered for, the truly important work no problem with digital for commercial work. She mentioned she wasn't the only one in Magnum who felt that way either.
So I think you are quite right Mike, film won't disappear, just like vinyls haven´t disappeared either. Of course the majority will probably shoot digital, it's fun, new and it's all bright and shiny. But there is probably enough of us still interested in film, I think those who use digital perhaps just make a little more noise than all the film guys out there. Let's just hope we can always buy Tri-X 400!
I'm heading out tomorrow morning with seventeen kids I teach at a local photography school, they are all heading out with there digital cameras but they have all asked for a roll of B/W film to shoot with and the average age is 21 so all isn't doomed. If it was't because I'm still on crutches I'd go out with my 8x10...I'll have to make do with my Fuji 6x7III.
Paul

Although I prefer the look of traditional films like FP4 and HP5 processed in a standard D-76/ID-11 type of developer, I do feel very sorry for photographers who have settled on T-Max films in the 5x7 and 8x10 inch formats.
Thankfully, they will still be able to buy them as special order films.

Apropos vynil and discs, I saw some of both in a shop yesterday. One CD album - about $10. One LP album - about $40.

Nichefying (no, that's not a real word) will raise the prices, certainly.

Like that notion "film is not dying but re-aligning." Very reassuring.

Kodachrome was dyeing but now is dying.
(as opposed to E6 which has been bleaching all along)

Its interesting to see Kodak dropping 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 T-Max film from their current on hand stock and make it only a special order item, in many ways I'm not surprised, although I thought it would be Tri-x that they would chose, but I'm sure that will be next. I guess in the over all picture with digital getting better and cheaper in cost and film going up in price, it will make it more expensive for new people who want to learn to shoot with a large format camera, I can see a day when black and white film will become very expensive, or hardly worth manufacturing all because of the high cost.

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