It's been reported that the high-end, full-line Japanese view camera maker Ebony, founded in 1981 by Hiromi Sakanashi, will be going out of business at the end of June. Our friend Oren Grad sent an inquiry in Japanese to Sakanashi-san and, sadly, received confirmation that this is true. Jeff Taugner at Badger Graphic Sales is still taking orders, but recommends that you order very soon if you wish to buy an Ebony camera new.
No word yet on the reasons for the closing.
Meanwhile, photographer John Sexton's latest newsletter has information about some bad Kodak film stock. Apparently photographers have been seeing pictures with uniform areas of tone disfigured by faint letters and numbers. John shows an example and reports his investigations into the matter. Here are the possibly affected emulsion numbers according to Kodak:
Emulsion numbers that may exhibit the above problem only in Kodak 120 format roll film:
(Emulsion numbers can be found on the film box, the foil wrapper, and printed on the clear edge of processed film near frame number 11.)
Kodak T-Max 400
Emulsion 0148 004 through 0152
Kodak T-Max 100
Emulsion 0961 through 0981
Emulsion 0871 though 0931
Check your stock if you're shooting rollfilm. Here's a link to John's newsletter archive if you'd like to read more (he has a nice special-edition print for sale in this newsletter, too).
(Thanks to Oren Grad and John Sexton)
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Sal Santamaura: "Re 'No word yet on the reasons for the closing.' There may be no word yet, but I'm willing to speculate.
- Digital has almost completely replaced film as a capture medium. In 'the old days,' professional photographers used expensive view cameras from Linhof, Sinar, etc. to do their work. In Japan, Ebony cameras were among those choices.
- Compounding declining sales volume is competition from China. The 'Wal-martification' of buying attitudes means that, even among those amateurs still using large format film, there's very little willingness to pay for the highest quality cameras when less expensive knockoffs are available.
"Personally, I'm thrilled to have purchased and still regularly use my Ebony SV Wholeplate. The image of that specific sample (first one produced) from Ebony's website is what you've illustrated this post with. It will soon join my Phillips cameras' status, namely, great products no longer available new."
Mike replies: I was about to rise to the defense of Chinese cameras such as my beautiful former Chamonix, but then I remembered, oh yeah, they really are knock-offs. They used Dick Phillips's design without permission and didn't compensate him. Q.E.D. your point.
I did recall that it's your camera in that illustration. :-) Oren has its twin, I believe.
David L.: "Wow, I had two recent rolls of 120 T-Max 400 film ruined with the faint letters and numbers. They are obvious on first inspection. I tried and tried to find out how that happened; a broken camera, bad processing or handling, etc. So where is the notification from Kodak? What are they going to do about it? Why did it take an individual to spill the news?"
tex andrews: "This is sad news, I think. Irrespective of what the Chinese are doing/have done/will do. The loss of a venerable hand crafted camera manufacturer is a 'bell tolls for thee' moment."