Azo and Kodachrome, it does not make sense to me.

Discussion in 'Product Availability' started by Photo Engineer, Nov 18, 2007.

  1. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Here are some things bothering me about Azo and Kodachrome production and comments here about these products.

    Up until the 80s, Kodak, Fuji and Konica all made Kodachrome type films, but when E6 came out, Fuji and Konica jumped over to E6 products exclusively. The press and customers call it "forward thinking". Kodak continued R&D on Kodachrome and tried to introduce a new product line including the T-grain 400 speed Kodachrome and the press and customers called it "retro thinking". The products were never introduced. So, now after sticking to it for 20+ years, the market has shrunk to almost zero, but Kodak is hanging in there for all of you Kodachrome lovers and as the market shrinks all you can do is blame Kodak and complain. They stuck with you while everyone else bailed out!

    Right now, Fuji makes an Azo type paper but does not sell it in the US AFAIK. Ilford, Agfa and Kentmere have Azo type formulas in-hand but do not make a product like it. Agfa discontinued their Lupex (Azo type) paper years ago. So when Kodak discontinues the paper everyone jumps on Kodak again.

    Why not get Ilford to make their Azo type paper? Why not get Fuji to sell their Azo type paper here? Why not get Fuji to make their Kodachrome analog again? Why don't they do it on their own?

    The answer is in front of us.

    Either there is no market, or they don't care. Oh dear, did I say that about some of your favorite companies or did I put the truth of the market situation in front of you? It is one or the other you know.

    From what I know of both companies, I believe they do care.

    Think about this though... Castigating Kodak and saying you won't buy any more of their products --- bla, bla, bla will never help. It is injuring Kodak when they have stuck in there longer than most other companies and sold nitch products for you all until it became virtually impossible to sell to such a tiny market. World wide production of Kodachrome is down to about 1 roll / year to supply the entire world. Something like that. Azo was about the same.

    Anyhow, that is what I've seen after looking through years of photo mags and thinking about posts here and the current market situation.

    Kodak has stuck with you when other companies bailed out or ignored your needs, and you seem to have been too blind to see it. Or, it seems as if you would rather ignore what they have done and just complain.

    These products that you love so much can be produced rather easily by other companies but they are not. The reasons are unclear, but I've given two possible interpretations of the reasons.

    Now, what do you think of this analysis? Do you think your comments about Kodak re. Kodachrome's decline and Azo are warranted? Do you think that ignoring the market on the part of other companies capable of filling these needs is warranted? Either they care, or they don't care, or either the market is big enough or too small. I'm waiting......

    This is going to be interesting.

    PE
     
  2. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    I'm a fan of Kodak, I use tons (figuratively) of Kodak film products in my work. Here is what I think...It is BECAUSE Kodak has tried to hang on so long to certain products that has created the ill feelings. The growing interest in photography as "art" has renewed interest in certain older products that at the last only Kodak made. Therefore we have all these budding fine art photographers who discovered some of these wonderful old products just as Kodak was winding down production. It is the mis-convergence of the interest upswing, and the economic downswing of manufacturing that is the real problem. Unfortunately the upswing was not big enough to warrant making the papers with the high-volume coating equipment they were optimized for, and I guess re-engineering them for smaller production was not considered economically viable. But there are smaller photo paper manufacturers who have demonstrated they can be profitable in this much smaller market. Kodak has been hurt by its mere size.

    As to a specific product like Azo..it took a small group of art photographers to become captivated with its qualities for the current interest to take off. I used to always print my 8x10 contact prints on good enlarging paper, not contact paper. I never tried Azo....but I do believe there is enough market for an Azo clone paper for some vendor who already has the formula worked out for their coating equipment, to make it. It is a niche that is waiting to be filled. After all, almost all silver-based photography is "niche" now, so these niches should be filled by those that can still make fibre-based photo paper.
     
  3. Terence

    Terence Member

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    I think it's the lack of straightforward communication.

    I have tried not to be anti-Kodak, but their handling of HIE's demise was pretty annoying. A rumor surfaces that EIR and HIE are being discontinued. They say that only EIR is cancelled and imply that HIE will continue to be produced. A couple months later they say that HIE is discontinued. I strongly doubt that HIE's fate was unknown when they first denied its demise.

    I'm not saying the other companies are any better. I AM saying that their use of "weasel words" back in the spring-time made me distrust any possible future pronouncements by them.

    As an amateur, their seeming lack of marketing/public relations towards amateurs does not help.
     
  4. jonw

    jonw Member

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    If Kodak began making AZO and/or Kodachrome again, I would purchase it in a heartbeat. I continue to purchase B&W 4x5 and 8x10 sheet film and B&W chemistry. Although I also purchase a fair sum of Ilford B&W products and Funjichrome etc.
    I enjoy photography and hope to get the darkroom setup in the next year. I currently develop my B&W w/ a JOBO and do on occasion print AZO from my small horde of paper. I have a 35mm and a 4x5 Saunder LPL and a just recently tracked down a 5x7 Beseler enlarger which should arrive about the first of December.

    Kodak, if you are listening, I would spend a few thousand a year on your film/paper, but is not presently available.

    Jon
     
  5. 3Dfan

    3Dfan Member

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    If Kentmere can make a profit off of a niche product like POP, then PE is right that we should consider pushing for gaslight type papers from other companies.
     
  6. Removed Account

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    I think part of the problem is that Kodachrome and Azo were niche products, with a following who loved them. Not many used them, at least not enough to continue production, but those that did use them REALLY loved them; as a result I think they tend to be more vocal about the demise (or minimal availability) of these products. Those like myself who are happy with Kodak's current offerings just go along buying what they make, although we might wish to try the others.

    In another way, I think Kodak takes the lion's share of the abuse because they are the lion. When most people, enthusiast/profession or not, hear "film" they don't think "Konica," "Fuji," "Efke," or even "Ilford." Most people think "Kodak." There's no song called "Ilfochrome," we don't have "Agfa moments." Because Kodak has the longest history and largest following of any film manufacturer (AFAIK) there are more people to complain. It's the same as the Prime Minister taking more abuse than a small-town mayor, simply because there are more people affected. That's my theory, anyways. I'm glad we still have what we have from them.

    - Justin
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    This is not intended to be a 'why are we bashing Kodak' thread or anything like that. It is intended to be a serious look at why others that can, don't, and if there is a good reason, then the complainers have nothing to complain about.

    In fact, we then have reason to ask other companies who can, why don't you? That is, if we truly believe that the market is there.

    I hope you see my point in this.

    PE
     
  8. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    Hi PE, I think you are pretty on the money with your observations. One thing to bear in mind is that it only seems to be a minority who are dumping on Kodak. They just happen to be quite vocal. I am disappointed to see traditional materials discontinued but I can understand the rationale. If I owned the manufacturing company & the products were losing money with no sign of recovery then I think I would be forced to the same decision. There would be no choice if it was a publicly listed company being closely studied by stock analysts. Unless you want to see your share price plummet.

    I can still source most of the interesting products that I could get 10 years ago, just have to go online for them now. I've been shooting a fair bit of Kodachrome & that is not a trivial matter when you live in Australia. >>Buy the film from the USA, shoot, post to Dwayne's, pay for return postage.<<However I like the look & also I don't want to be kicking myself in 10 years when it can no longer be done. Even if it does get discontinued I want to know that I made good use of it while it was around.
     
  9. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    If Kodak had a Simon Galley to make its case here, I can't imagine there would have been the kind of bitter carping that, you're right, has been rampant on this site. Quite the opposite has occurred, however, with Kodak's CEO making declarations about the company's transition to all-digital, all the time with nary a supportive comment to make about the firm's continued commitment to some of its traditional products. Regarding what you've said about Fuji, and Ilford, in fact, it's a startling testament to the power of good PR to keep us feeling kindly toward them. I think there's a Kodak Vice President of something or other who should be kissing babies and showing up for on-line meet and greet opportunities instead of having lunch by him/herself in the office. We're suckers for an encouraging word and dash of up-beat spin. I will continue to buy the Kodak film and chemicals that I have been happy to use for many years. It'd be nice to hear someone from that company show up here, make nice, and make me feel comfortable that I'll be able to continue to purchase the stuff I love in the future, or hear an honest explanation of why I won't be able to.
     
  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    John, you have a good point. One that I have been vocal about. I know that Kodak people lurk here!

    But that is part of the problem. They have apparently stuck by us but have been bashed. And, other companies that could help us out with nitch products don't but get praise.

    BTW, where is the Fuji rep here?

    PE
     
  11. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Apparently there isn't one. Fuji, however, has gotten a 'by' with it's pronouncements about continued commitment to film.
     
  12. Michael Kadillak

    Michael Kadillak Member

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    I could not agree with you more. Surely if must be possible to get a sample of the Fuji paper and figure out if it does exist. If you could provide me with a name of the product and any other information that you have on it I will make the calls and shake the tree a bit to see what we can get to fall out of it. However I see no reason to chase products that are not worth the effort. The only way to assess quality is to test it. Fuji is in business to seel their products in a global marketplace. The fact that this paper is not in the US tells me that something is probably awry that should be corrected.

    PM me when you get a chance.

    Best,
     
  13. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    PE,

    No, I'm not mad at Kodak. I'm a CPA and independent businessman. I understand fully the need for a business to make a buck. The last time I checked Kodak was a taxpaying corporation, not a charity. I also understand that they have to do what is best for their shareholders.

    I'm just disappointed that a few of my favorite products, including Azo, have been discontinued. I'm a big supporter of Kodak products. I use Tri-x for 35mm film and 4x5. I use TMY exclusively in 5x7, 8x10 and 7x17. I'm an enthusiast, not a producing professional, but I stocked a 21' freezer with Kodak film over the past 2 years.....

    I am also grateful to Kodak for giving us 6 months notice regarding the discontinuance of the B&W papers. I guess timing is everyting in life. After about 12 years away from photography, I purchased an 8x10 camera in early 2005. I called Michael Smith to place my first order of Azo exactly 24 hours before Kodak announced its discontinuance. I feel extremely fortunate to have acquired a rather large stash of 8x10 grade 2 Canadian Azo. Thanks to the Azo Forum, TMY and Pyrocat HD I've been able to produce negatives that take advantage of the longer scale of the Canadian Azo.

    Since the announcement of the discontinuance, I have included ULf in my photography. It sure would be nice to be able to get my hands on some 16x20 or 20x24 Azo to use with 7x17 TMY negatives...

    As I've already stated, I'm not mad at Kodak, life goes on and we will all learn to adapt....... Hell, Fred Picker was bemoaning the loss of Ilfobrom, Ilfomar, Varigam and some other Dupont and Ilford papers that I never experienced, in his newsletters from the mid 70's.

    As for me, I plan on taking a platinum workshop.....

    Perhaps Simon can shed some light on why Ilford doesn't see the economics of filling the void left by Azo.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2007
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    ron

    i think it is kind of sad
    kodak is damn'd if they do
    and damn'd if they don't ...

    it's too bad that they don't have the forward thinking
    to spin off a separate company just to do analog endevours ..
    promote it as hip and trendy, and sell it, and make and sell good cameras like they used to ...

    as it is now, the analog market is like that poor old guy in the monty python skit who isn't dead yet ...
     
  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Michael;

    It has been mentioned here elsewhere by an APUG member from Japan IIRC. I have been unable to find a reference and my last look at the Fuji US site failed to reveal a name.

    I'll keep trying.

    PE
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I guess the fact that Kodak has introduced a whole new line of Portra films and their new motion picture film gives them no credit then?

    PE
     
  18. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    I think there are a lot on this site who do like Kodak.

    Business is a tough world and things get cut sometimes. Most of us understand that. Look at Ilford with the Cooltone developer. How long was that on the market before it got yanked? 1 year? 2?

    However, the perception of how Kodak relates to its audience, specifically us enthusiasts, is a little lacking. Would it hurt to have someone here that we could talk to and have a dialogue with?

    I personally just spent about $500 in the last week on Kodak film. Most was for Tri-X (running out) and HIE (before it runs out), though I did find a stash of Kodachrome 25 for a couple bucks a roll and figured I'd pick it up and try it out while I still have the chance. $500 is a lot of money for an amateur who lives below the poverty line. I'm committed to Kodak film, and probably would buy their paper as well if it wasn't discontinued before I started wet printing. Not blaming them for not making it though if they were losing money on it.

    The Portra films rock and I'm really happy that TMY was upgraded (though 400TX gets my money). At the same time, it would have been great if there was some final run of HIE that we could buy in 100' cans. While I might be arm-chairing it here, the fact of the matter is that without someone official here at the site, there is no way any of us know if 100' cans of HIE would be ridiculously expensive or not for Kodak to make. I'm guessing there might be enough people who would buy a couple cans worth each - I don't know how much is in a full run and I don't know if we could buy it out. Then again, there might not be enough people. The fact of the matter is, we don't know, because contact hasn't been made from either side...

    This is where I feel Kodak is put in a bad light. I'm not an old timer though. To be honest, I'm shocked that HIE was in production up until this year - surely the gov't must have been the biggest buyer and they must have moved to some kind of digital system by now...
     
  19. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    PE,

    Surely you must have realized long ago that the only acceptable reason for the discontinuation of any analog photographic product in the eyes of many here is the cessation of operations of the company due to bankruptcy..:wink:
     
  20. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    Is it forward thinking they lack, or simply a buyer? Or somebody to finance the spin-off?

    I'm sorry but this is easier said than done.

    It is my belief that EK, itself, has been implicitly up for sale "lock, stock, and barrel" for several years (isn't everything else?). But it remains a company with operations in flat or declining markets (analog) and operations in markets with too many players (everything else). And it still produces loads of useful patents and other assets but lacks the finances or manufacturing expertise to convert these into profits.

    Given all the above, who is going to buy them or finance them? I think we know the answer.

    You can't simply be making money; you must offer expectations of profit growth. And that's barely possible in any of the markets that Kodak plays in right now.

    I write the above as a Kodak customer who buys about a hundred rolls of Tri-X a year and intends to continue doing so as long as it's made.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2007
  21. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Ha!....I still even have the tube that I got last year at PhotoExpo with the free...count'em...free....rolls of Kodak color film. But, why no credit? Because their promotion was limited and was still in conflict with Mr. Perez's pronouncements. I was thrilled to see the line waiting for free packs of film, and yet perplexed at the disjunct between Kodak's at-large ads, vs their local, in-the-moment promotion. I'm a complete civilian in these matters, but I'm not entirely stupid, nor naive. Kodak needs to hire a PR virtuoso and charge that person to formulate a campaign that integrates tradition with innovation. They're out there!
     
  22. Harrigan

    Harrigan Member

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    This is a website funded and paid for by Ilford and for that reason alone I would quite surpirsed to EVER see Kodak of Fuji commenting publicly on apug.

    People like to bash Kodak because its so easy. I think people take the loss these esoteric materials as a personal attack on them or something.
     
  23. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Fuji UK has (or, being in the UK, they would say "have") their own website with discussion forums, so they respond there.

    There was a lot less of an atmosphere of "Kodak bashing" on the cine forums when the late John Pytlak was there to field questions. Kodak does get some abuse in the small gauge cine world about the demise of K40 and replacement with E64T in Super-8 rather than E100D, which is a much better film, but they did have good reasons for that (closer to ISO 40 for cameras without adjustable ISO, and it makes more sense to filter a tungsten film in daylight than to filter a daylight film in artificial lighting, if there is only going to be one color reversal film), and he was always there to explain things. I haven't been following those forums lately, so I don't know if someone else has taken up that role.
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I am quite confident that:

    1) Sean would be happy to have Kodak as an advertiser and financial supporter; and
    2) Ilford would have no problem remaining as a supporter, if Kodak joined in as well; and
    3) Kodak would have no problem with Ilford's support.

    Matt
     
  25. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Fuji has backed up their announcement with actions - websites, contests, etc. It looks like Kodak is starting to do the same, which is good news. Personally, I have no hard feelings towards Kodak, I just don't use very many of their products.
     
  26. Terence

    Terence Member

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    My take on some of your previous posts is that the research was already done, and that leaving machines idle means no profit, so they will continue to run thm until a major repair is required and the machines go silent. The investment costs were already sunk. If there is a serious innovation 3-5 years from now, maybe I'll change my mind.

    A quick look at the Science & Technology page of their website makes not one mention of film.

    The Consumer Products page devotes space to a photo of a bags for digital cameras, but film only gets a small text-only link to the side of the page.

    And even the Consumer Film & Processing page barely mentions film, but does mention getting more from your film by haaving a Kodak Picture CD made.

    Trying to sell film? You wouldn't know it from their website. In fact, I can't even find a link to "professional" films, or medium or large format film wihout using the search feature.