A Hard Economic Lesson

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Gerald C Koch, Sep 15, 2013.

  1. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,239
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Everyone who bemoans the loss of a favorite product should read John Galsworthy's short story Quality. I read it in high school and it made a lasting impression on me. Whenever you use a cheap substitute you are helping to kill off the quality product. There are many examples; x-ray film instead of LF film, cheap surveillance film instead of regular film, etc. In today's market you may not only be killing off the quality product but all products of that particular type.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2013
  2. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

    Messages:
    301
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    Location:
    Olías del Re
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As someone said, praises don't do much if you don't speak with your wallet.
     
  3. MDR

    MDR Member

    Messages:
    1,411
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Location:
    Austria
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So we should basically all shoot with Leica Cameras and Lenses because they are better than anyone else, same thing with film we should only use Kodak Film because they are the best and if we don't use them they might get killed off. Those cheap traffic surveillance films are high quality products so are X-Ray films and many people are unable to afford real pictorial 8x10in film but they still want to shoot film and X-ray film is film as well. Those cheap traffic and X-ray films actually helpt to keep film alive and not the other way. In order to keep prices low you have to buy in masses X-ray uses 90% of the same ingredients as normal film, surveillance film is 100% like normal film so those buying the cheaper product actually help to keep the prices tolerable. Film is not cheap but if it gets even more expensive many people will switch to digital or stop making pictures alltogether but don't worry you can still say it's the cheapies that killed the quality product, while in reality it's the cheapies and the MP industry that keep your quality product alive.

    P.S. I am an avid Kodak and Ilford user
     
  4. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,971
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Location:
    Netherlands, EU
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Hi Gerald,
    In a sense you're absolutely right. But sometimes it isn't a bat thing that some products are discontinued (in general). There will have been excellent stagecoach makers all around the world, but we don't need them all anymore. That's the other side to the story.
    But - when film is concerned - we as a "group" can keep it alive or "kill" it altogether.

    For example: the Ilford ULF film run 2013. A lot of people were excited about this announcement. But when they saw the prices a lot of them were scared of - including me. I was willing to buy 18x24 cm film, but just couldn't afford these prices. Apparently there were enough people who could buy film to keep Ilford up and running (thank you all).

    Will this be the same next year? I don't know. But I do know that I look for alternatives to still be able to make large negatives. This steared me into paper negatives and alt-photo processes like salt printing, bromoil printing, gum printing, etc.

    So, yes you're right but no, you're not. I think that always somethings will survive or new products will arrive (like Adox sheet film). Or new products will be invented. The world isn't this black & white, altough my photos often suggest otherwise).

    That having said: yes - a lot of great products are lost in the last few years. Like Agfa Scala film....
     
  5. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,239
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I didn't set up the dynamics of the market place. It is what it is. When production of a certain product ceases the usual cause is lack of demand. Anything that reduces demand hastens a products demise. Yet people seem to be mystified as to the real reason and their role in the demise. Use it or lose it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2013
  6. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,971
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Location:
    Netherlands, EU
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Agreed!
     
  7. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,204
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with this part.

    But, how do you feel that products like Arista Premium (re-branded Tri-X that Freestyle carries) affect the market? Obviously, in this case Kodak decided to put their own premium product out there for about half of the price of the yellow box variety. That seems like one can purchase the premium product at a significantly discounted price.

    I'm one of those folks who has a bit of a hard time making purchasing decisions purely based on product quality and product demand. Sometimes I can't afford to purchase the Ilford paper I want, and other times I can't afford to purchase the Kodak film I love so much. I think that it's not as simple as you stated; the dilemma is two fold:
    1. If we don't continue to buy it, demand will drop to a level where production is no longer sustainable.
    2. If the manufacturers continue to raise prices, even if it's beyond their control, then people cannot afford to continue supporting the product, which leads to point 1.
     
  8. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

    Messages:
    2,297
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    Location:
    Floriduh
    Shooter:
    35mm
    In my own job I stress the the difference between this product being American made and costing a little more and that same specification product being Chinese produced and costing less. I am happy to remark that many will buy the American made product when it is promoted to support American jobs, and many of those buying it are people who have fought in our war's from Vietnam to present day. Those who buy the Chinese made product are generally those not born in the U.S. or where there is no onshore American made product.
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,204
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    And now the Chinese own 12 trillion dollars worth of assets in the United States. Even though we manufacture more than most other countries out there, the trouble isn't where the stuff is made, but who owns the companies that make the product, and our buying habits and demand for lower prices (as consumers) has driven this development.
    Corporations don't care, because they are global. Again, the consumers that were raised to support this massive joke are the ones that will bear the burden when the $hit hits the fan.
    They have such a stronghold on the American economy (by threatening to dump their holdings in US securities) that the government almost have to bend to their will. That is the real trouble.
     
  10. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

    Messages:
    2,057
    Joined:
    May 6, 2013
    Location:
    US
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I have to do things like X-ray film. I never recovered from the 2008 crash. Still struggle desperately to keep my head above water. I agree totally, but gotta do something.
     
  11. lightwisps

    lightwisps Subscriber

    Messages:
    384
    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Location:
    Almonte, Ont
    Shooter:
    35mm
    We always buy Canadian or American if we can find it. Will not even go into Wal-Mart cuz we know it is all junk. Photo chemicals and paper are expensive. No argument from me. But they always were. It is not a cheap hobby and if you are not aware of the costs, do some research before getting into it. And cheap film and paper seem to be the perfect example of getting what you pay for. Don
     
  12. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,417
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm less sure that the 21st Century market economics are as simple as they are sometimes described, although I tend to broadly agree that product will cease to be made if too few people buy it.

    Only slightly tangentially, where is all the TSF and Xray film being coated? If in the same plants as the mainstream photographic films, then to some minor extent that may also support photo film (in the sense that it will contribute to volume production that makes the plants viable; the flaw in this argument is rather obvious, of course, but there might be a grain of truth)
     
  13. rorye

    rorye Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,166
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2004
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I wasn't born in the US but I live here therefor adamantly try to buy made in America. Except Ilford of course :smile:
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. KenS

    KenS Member

    Messages:
    378
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Can't afford go into Wal-mart, 'cos I'd have to spend too much to be able to "blend in" and not seem too "out of place" (from what I've seen of some of their clientel 'on-line'...).

    :cool:

    Ken
     
  16. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,206
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Richmond/Geelong, AUS
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is nothing at all threatening (to regular, routine films) about using and experimenting with different media, whether it be X-ray, IR, false-colour or anything else one comes across. That is backward thinking. You'd be surprised how many APUG members have produced startling, evocative and technical work using X-Ray and alternate media types, quite apart from their usual work in traditional film media.
     
  17. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,172
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Poisson, you're missing the point: if I buy and shoot only x-ray film, the quality of the art I create is irrelevant. The fact is, I'd be using (and therefore buying) the x-ray film as a direct stand-in for Tri-X or whatever other photographic film. Rare is it that one would buy significant quantities of both the cheaper substitute and the expensive name brand option.

    You buy a pair of nice running shoes and pair of cheap knock-off running shoes, you're always going to run in the better pair. Some might say they would use the cheap pair for muddy running or what-have-you, but if you prefer the better/spendier shoes, you'll use those as much as you can convince yourself to.
     
  18. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

    Messages:
    2,057
    Joined:
    May 6, 2013
    Location:
    US
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    At a hundred bucks for 10 sheets of 8x10, the good stuff for me is totally out.
     
  19. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,206
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Richmond/Geelong, AUS
    Shooter:
    Multi Format


    No, not that rare at all. :smile:
     
  20. blockend

    blockend Member

    Messages:
    1,637
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Location:
    northern eng
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Film aimed for a kind of mass produced perfection that was stolen from under its nose by digital photography. This forced film enthusiasts to re-think film's unique character, and it didn't always come out looking like Kodachrome, at least not enough like it to keep a few thousand citizens employed making it. While I mourn the passing of some great films as much as the next man, film may well pass into a creative niche like etching and lithography, and other former mass mediums that still live on through people who care enough to use them. There are a sufficient numbers of film users to consolidate the surviving manufacturers into very healthy companies, and if they push prices to boutique levels, we can return to the processes of our Victorian forebears and get our hands dirty again.
     
  21. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

    Messages:
    2,025
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    So far as I'm concerned film has become a creative niche, as blockend suggests. I certainly use much less than I did even 10 years ago, but I get much more pleasure and satisfaction in being selective in shooting and in trying to produce the best results I can.

    The "family" and "record" snapshotting, which I once did on film is now done on digital, with a pocket point-and-shoot which can be in my pocket or car all the time to catch the unexpected random shots.

    I use "quality" film and supplies (that's not confined to Kodak/Ilford) for both techniques, but price has certainly affected my style and volume of shooting.

    It's never been a cheap hobby, but I have great negatives and prints made by my grandfather in the late 1940's and early 50's using war surplus film and paper (some prints have "RAF" back-printing!) and a home-built enlarger, when there was nothing else available in the shops....
     
  22. eclarke

    eclarke Member

    Messages:
    1,972
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Location:
    New Berlin,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    "But - when film is concerned - we as a "group" can keep it alive or "kill" it altogether. "

    The sad thing is that, we as a group, wouldn't make a fly speck of purchases at 1990 film production capacity, even if we increased our buying 1000%..
     
  23. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,971
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Location:
    Netherlands, EU
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Hence: don't count on Kodak or Fuji, but put your faith in companies like Adox, Foma, Ilford and maybe even Ferrania for future film supplies (niche or otherwise).
     
  24. tron_

    tron_ Member

    Messages:
    375
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Location:
    Michigan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think much of this has to do with the "Walmartization" of society these days. Instead of buying something of quality that is more expensive initially, most people would rather buy several cheap quality knockoffs because it makes them feel like they are saving money. It's difficult to place blame but I believe part of it has to do with the influx of products in our market. Many manufacturers have moved overseas and quality has suffered in some cases. Now do not get me wrong, I believe there are some VERY high quality products that come from places like China.

    Another example I can throw into the mix is with aftermarket car products. In the Japanese car scene, many people go with "knockoff" products such as wheels instead of supporting the big names like Work, RAYS Engineering, Weddsport, Enkei, etc. Many claim they are doing it because they are on a budget, but imo they are ruining the scene because the big name companies actually carry out R&D on their products and are ISO9000/9001 certified. In many cases people have had knockoff wheels crack and come apart but continue buying new sets because they are "cheap."
     
  25. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,239
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A brief survey of the net indicates that Kodak and Fuji are the only companies that still manufacture both photographic AND x-ray film. However x-ray film is manufactured by separate divisions or companies under the main company logo. As such they are not manufactured on the same coating machines as the photographic film. There are a large number of companies based in China, Pakistan and India that make x-ray film.

    When a company is faced with a contracting market for a product and hence lower profit margins they can

    1. raise the price,
    2. relax quality control,
    3. redesign the product, or
    4. cease production.

    This is simple economics.

    The fact remains that when people stop buying conventional photographic film and use substitutes they are doing everyone including themselves a dis-service.
     
  26. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,045
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2005
    Location:
    Monroe, WA, USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Color or black-and-white?

    Just last evening I placed an order for 50 sheets of 8x10 black-and-white. Two different emulsions, 25 sheets each, the high-end good stuff. The total cost, including shipping, worked out to $5.20 per sheet. Higher than last time I ordered, probably due to currency exchange rates, but nowhere near $10.00 per sheet.

    Five plus dollars per sheet is an exquisitely useful feedback loop. It makes me think really, really hard—and double-check everything—before finally pushing the button...

    :smile:

    Ken