Has film decline steadied out?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Ektagraphic, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    Do you think that the decline in film photography has begun to level off and companies will not continue to see great decline?
     
  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I hope so.

    But the real problem for somebody like Kodak is the movie industry going digital, both in shooting, post processing, distribution, and projection. That will kill a very large portion of their revenue.
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Other companies have seen an upturn and so have Kodak apart from the movie industry, last year saw a high number of 3D films which made a big difference to Kodak as they are wholey digital. MAny Directors prefer film.

    Ian
     
  4. faustotesta

    faustotesta Member

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    I have very little knowledge about movie/film industry. Do you think the movie industry is so closely tied to film production ? If so what about BW and 120 films ? I guess this kind of rolls' factories are very different from 35mm. My understanding is that chemical photography has a decent market worldwide (even if declining). Any advice from you guys (expert in poduction processes) would be more than welcome
     
  5. Grainy

    Grainy Member

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    I don't think it has started to level off. The reason? There is more old people stopping shooting film than young people starting. I will say that in maximum 5 years the majority of the generation of old people photographing with film camereas has stopped doing so. The next generation of old people started to use digital when they were younger, so they will not have any problem with using a basic p&s camera. When that transition is over the things will level out, maybe even increase a little again.

    But there is hope. I do see young people starting to shoot film with Holga, Diana and so on. The chance for them getting more interested in film is huge. Another thing, when everybody has a dSLR there is a certain amount of people/photographers/artists that don't want to be mainstream, film is therefore an obvious choice. And yeah, spending time doing craftmanship in the darkroom is so much more fun than spending hours editing photos in PS.
     
  6. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Old people? The huge decline in film use resulted largely from the switch to digital by professionals at least 7-8 years ago. They kept the labs open for the rest of us by shooting miles of film every month. Not sure about your market but this is how things worked in N. America.

    Toy camera use won't goose up the trend line in film consumption to any meaningful extent. And no, reverse snobbery isn't going to help much either.
     
  7. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I think price levels of used equipment has stopped dropping and is increasing. Thus demand is building. If these camera owners actually use film, it should increase film demand similarly.
     
  8. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    This is crystal ball stuff. Film will be around for a very long time yet given that digital constantly burns itself out with "the next best thing".
    There will be ebbs and flows, not strictly marked rises and falls according to market demand, even if it is a niche market. I am not concerned about film where I am, though I and many others are concerned by the extraordinary disparity in prices that so far has not been adequately explained. Nothing to do with "supplying a shrinking market" or the like.
     
  9. Grainy

    Grainy Member

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    I know, but I speak about todays market. The majority of film usage left in the consumer market here is by old people, so I don't think the decline will steady out before they have stopped photographing because of aging, broken cameras or passing away. And I don't know how long there will be supply of the discontinued APS film, still selling it every day.

    When this transition in the photographic market is over the decline wills steady out. But I don't know anything about the movie/film industry, so that can others comment on.
     
  10. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Funny but here in Canada, seniors embraced digital enthusiastically. I'm far from old but when I'm hauling my medium format stuff around, it's seniors I see with newish DSLRs and various digital p&s. Most in the 18-24 demographic settle for phone cams. Seniors jumped at digital here for the apparent economy and freedom from the expense and trouble of development and printing.
     
  11. Wayne

    Wayne Member

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    Yes. The vast majority who want to go D****** already have. The few coming back will roughly balance out the late departures.



    They will continue to streamline. The Great Decline already happened. Although we could still see the Great Yellow Death of 2013 it will not change the overall picture.
     
  12. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    No, it will continue to decline at a fairly steady rate but, the nose dive due to digital may be over. Toy camera market is not large enough to support probably even 1 maker if it were the lone remaining company. There may be an uptick as film makers close their doors and its customers move to the remaining makers but we'll probably get to a point that almost no dealers whether bricks and motar or mail order or internet will support any inventory so it may come down to a few makers doing direct to customer sales.
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Unless someone here has access to the sales figures of at least the big three makers then anything else is anecdotal evidence based on press reports or their own experience. The latter may be interesting to read but isn't enlightening on deciding the answer to the question.

    I get around a number of places that attract photographers such as tourist areas in Cornwall and what in the U.K. is called National Trust properties. I am still waiting to see another film user anywhere although I make it my business to check out what kind of cameras users have.

    Clearly my experience can't be representative but until I see sales figures I don't know how I or anyone here can reach any meaningful conclusions.

    pentaxuser
     
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  15. mikebarger

    mikebarger Member

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    Wishful thinking comes to mind.
     
  16. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Well, "press" reports usually aren't referencing fiction. Have a look here:

    http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2011/05/film-falls-off-a-cliff.html

    BTW, sales figures aren't as revealing as volume data. Kodak's sales might look better if only because of price hikes but don't say much about the amount of film sold, which could be down.
     
  17. WriterOfLight

    WriterOfLight Member

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    I work in a drugstore lab and the majority of 35mm film we get (I'm estimating about 65%) is from disposable cameras. A fairly high proportion of that consists of expired film from Konica cameras that people have had sitting around, and the horrifically crappy film from off-brand dollar store disposables. I worry that if/when the market for those goes digital then C-41 manufacture will decline significantly further. We already process the film for 3 stores in our area and even with that workload we still don't often turn on the film processor 'til later in the day.
     
  18. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    I kinda wonder if the drop of C41 and slide is also because the people who stuck with or came back to film tend to be the type that does home development anyways.

    I'm with CGW on the toy camera users and snobbery; neither will save film. Fads fade and the mightier-than-thou in comparing resolution charts and stuff will one day be squandered by technology advancements. I prefer holding my shots and the act of using film cameras and the darkroom, and I think that group will probably never fade. Probably getting near the lower end of the decline curve I would guess.
     
  19. Aristophanes

    Aristophanes Member

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    The bottom for film demand is nowhere near close.

    The continued affordable production of film (135, 120) will depend on 2 related outcomes:

    1) Continuation of film in motion pictures as an alternative to digital, backed by some industry re-investment (money). There's more hand-wringing about film in the motion picture industry then there is here, mostly because of the high-profile artistic investments and the capacity of film to get shots that digital cannot handle. This is the bulwark to the whole industry. Its buying power is the generator of raw material demand and reasonable pricing. Motion pictures generate the only known and measurable ROI for film use currently (with some medical/dental stuff still around).

    2) A corporate entity with vision and capital to re-brand and market film as an alternative with interesting heritage and unique properties. A digital file is a digital file, and almost all digital photos are quite sterile in medium, and ritually identically similar in binary, if technically near-perfect in desired focus and exposure. Film can be marketed as a unique footprint (like Polaroid did vis-a-vis the rest of the market). Film has authenticity, history, and alchemy as marketable traits. Someone may step up to the plate to do this, but they inherit a camera market now mostly based on salvage equipment, a tiny home developing market, and over-productive capacity. The latter can be rationalized if film use continues in motion pictures. Any corporate entity to step will likely be one that inherits Kodak's current film assets in an entity separate from the digital operations.

    Some observations:

    - The toy and home development market cannot sustain a single supplier; not one, and not even if it were black and white only. Ten years before the ultimate end. Raw materials and supplies unique to emulsions and coating equipment will be too expensive to source for such a small sector, and the technical expertise to formulate the compounds, run the systems, and re-tool the machines will become too costly. The whole industry supply chain requires more volume than this and that means Kodak and/or Fuji being salvaged to some extent (probably not both). Iflord, Efke, Lucky....cannot survive on those volumes.

    - Fuji will be an issue within the next 24 months. Film culture is very strong in Japan, more than perhaps anywhere else on the planet. It's hard to say if Fuji can cost-shift film production costs from other areas out of a sense of loyalty and probably near-monopoly. Very tough to see because there is obviously a very deep commitment to film as it made Fuji as much as it made Kodak. Fuji is just better managed.

    - There may be some pip up for someone like Ilford if Kodak ceases all production, but it will be a dead cat bounce lasting less than 2 years because it will do zero to alter the trajectory of declining aggregate demand. Most people just want photos; they don't want a hobby and those who do want a hobby are not around in numbers enough to make a difference.

    - A lot of any residual consumer appeal for film will depend on the colour film market and C-41. As such, the still photo market will require a lab system to survive (like what Ilford is doing with B&W, which I heartily applaud). Scanning will be critical, as will cost (if the US P.O. goes into crisis, look out).

    - All manufacturers of motion picture cameras have ceased their analog operations for the manufacture of new cameras. They still source parts and service older equipment and are involved in the leasing market, but there is a limit to their capacities here. Whoever picks up Kodak may also have their eye on parts of this market (fingers crossed).

    - The Kodak bankruptcy will demonstrate clear figures about film consumption and projections, and, as the bankruptcy unfolds, those will be moving numbers, so a trendline will be possible to see.

    - In the irony of ironies, instant film may actually survive where roll and cartridge film do not. Bold prediction.

    - I make no observations regarding LF film because it may be possible (just) to micro-produce those films, or at least working product. Quality will be the critical issue although other, technical ones may appear (it may all need to be drum scanned, for example). Hard to say.
     
  20. John Austin

    John Austin Member

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    Silver Jelly and previous printmaking processes

    Etching and lithography (using stone) almost died with the introduction of offset lithography (not using stone)

    However, a few workers continued to use etching in copper and zink and drawing with greasy crayon on stone, the current world wide fellowship of printmakers - Manufacturers are still making paper, ink and grounds for these processes and even new etching presses are available - Later on silkscreen printing moved into the art practice arena

    My hope is that silver jelly photography will have a similar safety net of workers who will keep a few small manufacturers in business as the printmaking media mentioned have - Should film fail I doubt if I will get another etching press, but revert to charcoal drawing - Think of all that 10x8" gear I won't have to carry around any more
     
  21. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    I think B&W is definitely either at the bottom or increasing. A company like Ilford is NOT supplying the ordinary consumer. This is already a virtually 100% specialist hobbyist market. If Ilford can make it work for B&W then possibly another small company can do the same for colour. Or perhaps if Kodak do disappear Ilford might run a couple of colour products. They already have a chromogenic B&W so I am sure they could run colour if they wanted to.
     
  22. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    Kodak's 2010 Annual report shows 1.7B in sales for their Film, Photofinishing, and Entertainment Group (movie film etc) out of around 7 billion total for the corporation. They had earnings of 64 million dollars in the film group. These numbers have been declining. However, the main problem is that the corporation is operating at a substantial loss. If they could go through bankruptcies and throw off their losing crap and legacy costs, they could have a small but profitable film industry, probably growing smaller though as time goes on. Or, some one like a Ilford or Fuji could buy out that portion in bankruptcy. Maybe we should take up a collection and go into the film business ourselves. Anyway here's the link. Check pg 95 after you open the PDF document.
    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.File?item=UGFyZW50SUQ9ODc4NDl8Q2hpbGRJRD0tMXxUeXBlPTM=&t=1
     
  23. hidesert

    hidesert Member

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    I'll tell you what concerns me:

    I've been using film for more than fifty years. In all that time I've never had a quality control issue with any film. Last weekend was beautiful here in Olympia and I took the family to the park with my Rolleiflex loaded with Kodak Ektar. I shot the last shot on the roll and wound the film to the end and opened the camera. I was totally taken aback when there was no adhesive tab on the end of the roll! I wanted to shoot another roll so I had to find a way of securing it. Finally my wife found she had an elastic band in her jacket pocket and we used that.

    On a small specialized photography list I belong to we found three members who had recently experienced the same thing! Incredible! Have things gone so bad that Kodak no longer cares?
     
  24. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Perhaps. Just some other USA 'nostalgia' trends I have noticed:

    USA muscle cars, produced 1965-1975 with a boom in interest around 1995 to 2000, still continuing today. Gap = 30 years
    USA guitars, produced 1955-1965 with a boom in (player, not collector) interest starting around 1975. Gap = 10 years (disregarding the boom in COLLECTOR interest peaking around 2000-2005)

    So based on the above, given a golden age of 35mm SLR in 1970-1980 I'd predict a resurgence boom in 2000-2010. So did we already have the retro-boom? Will there be another wave?
     
  25. Aristophanes

    Aristophanes Member

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    Net sales declining by $1.2 billion over those years. But look at the decline in total assets. The digital segments decline by less than half as much as the film and entertainment group, and there is a still a net loss.

    Losses from film and entertainment are contributing far more to the losses than the digital and graphics groups.

    Then pop up and look earnings and compare to the restructuring and rationalization costs. You think that maybe those restructuring costs are mostly related to film distribution and the decommissioned factories?

    What the earnings show is that the graphics side is small and volatile, digital is doing better (with 2008 being everyone's annus horribilus), and film is trending downward strongly.

    I'm not sure one can salvage a produce the is losing customers so fast with no end in sight. The Ch. 11 will be throwing the film side to the wolves. It's a huge cost centre with sales in decline holding back the possibility tat the company can grow again regardless.

    But in relation to the thread topic, the Kodak numbers demonstrate an accelerating loss of customers. The split between still and motion picture photograph is unknown, but I have 2 neighbours who cannot give their darkroom equipment away. From consumers to pros to do-it-yourself hobbyists the film market is shedding demand. It's on Craigslist and eBay and in this forum.
     
  26. Wayne

    Wayne Member

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    Please, we already have enough Kodak threads to play in, lets not make this another.