Kodak and the clips

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by David H. Bebbington, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I refrained from the recent round of Kodak-bashing, but I was bemused by my experience today:
    I decided today that I needed some stainless-steel hangers for 5x7" film to fit the cages I use on a 15-liter tank line. I tried numerous secondhand dealers, nothing to be had. After several web searches, I found that Kodak Scientific Imaging Systems offer part #1502723. I rang the HQ of Kodak UK, was bounced around the switchboard 5 or 6 times and was finally told that Kodak Scientific Imaging Systems products are marketed in the UK directly under the control of Eastman Kodak Rochester NY, not via Kodak Harrow, and that I would need to contact Rochester direct by phone (e-mail not possible) to find out if this product was available in the UK and how much it costs. I did a further web search and found that the same product is sold by the Kodak Dental Imaging division - this time there was a price, an eyewatering $77. I have therefore decided to go for British Hewes hangers which cost "only" $45. What kind of a company "markets" its products like this?
     
  2. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    David

    You ought to try searching on ebay, or post a want it add in the classifieds on this site.

    As we know 5x7 is not really a format that has a history of useage here in the UK until recently.

    But labs & professional photographers are throwing out deep tank lines all over the world and the film hangers get chucked out as well.

    So you might be lucky & find some second hand 5x7's in North America

    Ian
     
  4. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    It actually took me far less to find www.kodak.com, but there was no apparent link to the hangers. A Google search for "Kodak hanger" found the table you mentioned fairly quickly, however the point I was making was that no one at Kodak HQ in the UK knew about this product or could tell me where it was available. US APUGers may have difficulty understanding that while a full range of Kodak products is available in the US, the position is very different in the UK (which is why no one here is worrying about the cessation of production of b+w paper - we haven't been able to buy it for years). I simply feel it is insane to be asked to make a transatlantic phone call because Kodak UK is chaotically organized.

    Ian, I did look for s/hand hangers - plenty of 4x5, even 8x10", but no 5x7" except the nasty film/plate hangers that give uneven density at the film edges.
     
  5. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have a stack of 13x18 hangers - unfortunately the 5x7" films are just a little bit too small. No wonder I got them cheap :sad:
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Kodak always has been very regional. Their structure was always manufacturer - national organization - dealer. It is only very recently that they have had a web presence and a source of information that was international.

    In Canada, historically, Kodak provided a lot of support to dealers, and would refer customer enquiries to those dealers. Even their scientific and technical divisions, such as medical imaging (X-Ray), would tend to have geographically focused representatives, that would operate out of the national organization, rather than internationally.

    Kodak Canada used to be a great supporter of the small camera store - their pricing was such that if the store bought a reasonable quantity of materials, they would get the same pricing as the bigger dealers.

    Any photographic dealer (even the smallest ones) could access any photographic item. You would therefore sometimes find situations where the corner drugstore in a small town stocked items that would otherwise be considered hard to find specialty items - because they were Kodak dealers, and they had customers who asked for them.

    The extensive dealer network, and wide availability of a large number of products, and all of the dealer support depended of course on one factor - high margins. When the photographic business turned into a business where margins are slim and product decisions are made almost exclusively based on price, it was the death knell to this level of wide ranging support.

    Even after the amateur market started becoming so low margin, there was still some meaningful margin in some of the professional markets, but with the advent of professional digital, and the other cost focussed market forces that are now in place, there is little opportunity for anyone to maintain a service oriented business with the scope and coverage that Kodak used to supply.

    It used to be possible to earn a reasonable living and have a satisfying career in the retail photographic business. It is very difficult to do that now, because margins are thinner, support is more rare, and competition with web based retailers is far more intense than the competition with the mail order sellers of yesteryear.

    Smaller, more flexible businesses supporting a niche market are possible, but they will never have the resources available to them to perform the research or develop the new products that big companies like Kodak had in the past.

    It used to be that the economies of scale inherent in the large amateur photographic markets supported the smaller, more professional and technichal and artistic markets, and a synergy existed between the two, whereby technical improvements in one, tended to benefit the others. Work directed at improving professional products eventually bore fruit in the amateur markets as well, and the resulting cost savings in manufacture that flow from high volumes, benefitted all markets. The great tragedy of the rapid rise of the digital photographic medium is that the synergies are being lost, and the economies of scale are shrinking.

    Kodak didn't decide to stop producing Black and White photographic paper simply because it became less profitable to produce that product - they decided to stop production because the whole system of production and marketing (including distribution) that had supported it in the past is disappearing. If few at the retail end are ordering the paper in quantity, and there are fewer and fewer commercial labs doing the work and using the product, then the costs of producing and marketing and improving and distributing the product become so great, relative to the sales, as to make it uneconomic. If there aren't other markets that benefit from existing synergies with the Black and White paper market, than it is difficult to continue in that market.

    In years gone past, the hangers that David was looking for were more readily available, along with information about them, because the entire market for film and chemistry and paper and darkroom equipment supported that level of personal service, even from a company as big as Kodak (through their dealers).

    It may be that in today's marketplace, only big box stores, web based retailers, and small niche market vendors will survive. That would be a tragedy.
     
  7. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Agfa. Oh my head still hurts from that one
     
  8. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Check with Calumet in UK as they are carried here in USA by them.
     
  9. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Thanks for the interesting responses. What Matt says is undeniably true - what is strange is that Kodak has apparently decided to discontinue many products without considering the web sales option, which is surely a very effective answer in cases where traditional distribution has become non-viable. I run a one-man business, my time is valuable to me, and I just love web sales. I buy all my consumables, almost all my computer hardware, almost all my camera equipment (dealers and e-bay), all my books, CDs and DVDs and most of my clothes this way. It really does seem to be a question of will - Kodak makes it fantastically difficult to buy certain products, other (smaller, younger) companies, as APUGers will know, have got themselves together and sell photographic goods from India, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. with very acceptable shipping charges and quick delivery times. I am sure that APUGers would love to have the full range of Kodak products available via web sales from the US, and I am sure the figures would add up for Kodak if they were only willing to try. Matt notes that economies of scale no longer apply, which is true, but I think it is equally true that web sales can make it viable to handle small orders profitably.

    As regards Calumet, same old story - available in US, not UK. With customs charges, shipping costs, etc. (even without VAT), these hangers would start to cost me $90 apiece from the US, I can't bring myself to pay this for an item which I am used to thinking of as lying around processing labs in the hundreds!
     
  10. Frank F

    Frank F Member

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    I won't enter into the debate over Kodak's customer service level to the average wet darkroom user. But I will comment on the clips. I saw some of these clips on Ebay, new. Around $10 each if I remember correctly. They were dental film clips. I Did not buy them ( I am not that nuts), but kept them in mind. Later that year, I found them, newe in the box, for $10 a box of 10. Keep your eyes peeled, they do become available at reasonable prices. BTW, they do work great..... The only negative it that the clip hanger ( the part that gets connected to the wire over your head, not the negative) is 90degrees rotated form that which I needed. The negative plane should be perpendicular to the wire over your head. This way, you can hang multiple negatives for drying parallel to each other.
     
  11. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Just as a postscript, I bought 11 Hewes 5x7" hangers today. Unlike Kodak, with Hewes you get straight through on the phone to the managing director! With discount, the hangers cost £21.80 + VAT each, avaialble from stock for immediate delivery. Hewes believes in a lean operation and in the interests of exploiting synergy effects also runs a pub next door to their workshop!

    NOTE TO ULF USERS: Hewes will custom-build any size hanger you like!
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Good to know. Are these 2-sheet hangers? I've found tons of 1-sheet 5x7" hangers for almost nothing on eBay, including 18 new old stock in their original boxes.
     
  13. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    The Hewes hangers are for one sheet per hanger. I have also searched e-bay, have found only film/plate hangers which give unevenly developed edges.
     
  14. DKT

    DKT Member

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    Try California Stainless or Leedal. CS made the deeptank I use at work--they have great customer service, and although they're not online, they have a good catalog. They offer a range of standard tanks, sinks and fittings--but they'll custom make stuff as well. They make trays in large sizes for one thing, and make a number of nice deeptanks....

    fwiw, my catalog is a couple of years old, but the 2-up 5x7s are about $77, with the singles at $28.

    I've been buying used stainless hangers for years though, and lately, the prices have just bottomed out. There was a place down in NM that we bought some used Kodak hangers from about ten years ago. They were selling them at 12 bucks each. At that time, our Kodak price was $45. I remember having to write a justification for the order.....now though? Last year I bought a whole box of hangers and racks for about 50 bucks. I got over 25 hangers and 2 racks, in addition to a bunch of control strip clips and misc doo-dads....One of those racks--we needed at work and were actually in the process of ordering. It would have cost almost 200 hundred bucks...I couldn't believe it when I saw this box....