Some thoughts on product availability

Discussion in 'Product Availability' started by Photo Engineer, Apr 7, 2007.

  1. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Here are some thoughts that might interest you about analog photo products.

    The only films that are currently being mass produced at high volumes are motion picture color negative films and the associated print films. All other films are such low volume runners, the actual quantities would surprise you.

    Kodak is the largest manufacturer of motion picture films, and Fuji is a distant second.

    Kodak and Fuji can continue piggybacking all other films onto the motion picture production schedule just to keep things going and can take up the slack when the analog still market fluctuates.

    Companies that do not produce color or motion picture films rely solely on production of their B&W film and paper. Market fluctuations or declines must be directly reflected in production schedules and prices.

    Environmentalists are after all chemical industries, no matter the nature, to clean them up or shut them down. (preferrably the latter) They do this by making it so hard or expensive to operate a chemical industry that we are all paying a price in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. The electronics industry has not been fully recognized as a 'chemical' industry and therefore has a rather free hand in their operations. Even though the environmentalists are wrong in this latter 'assumption', it is a fact until now but is gradually changing starting with the disposal of used electronics.

    Fewer and fewer young people are going into chemistry and chemical engineering career paths due to this trend in 'distrust' of the chemical industry.

    So, I believe that it is a race between how long film will be used in the motion picture industry and the environmental movement that will determine the commitment of both Kodak and Fuji to stay in the analog photography business. At the present time, their production, although miniscule compared to previous levels, dwarfs the production of all other companies put together.

    All current sales models fail to predict analog B&W film and paper sales due to the huge and violent swings in the market due to changes in digital. At the present time, declines are still exceeding all predictions and profits are falling drastically. All analog film and paper companies are hurting. Kodak and Fuji are hurting the least due solely to color and motion picture products.

    This is from a number of sources and includes information from some of my previous posts. It is meant to be an informative collection of information in one post, but not conclusive in the sense that it predicts anything except the probable result which would take place if the motion picture industry goes digital or environmentalists take a larger part in the control of chemical usage.

    I should add that I am not against environmental control of pollution, but merely express the concern that there is a difference between placing a moving car into 'park' or gradually applying the brakes. It can be done in a rational or irrational manner. Some are reacting irrationally from a sense of fear of chemistry. If you don't believe that, try going into a UPS store to ship a bottle of chemicals. Even if it is just Sodium Chloride (table salt), there can be a major conference or even alarm. Now, the local UPS people are used to sending my packages. I cannot ship organic solvents, oxidants, reductants, acids or bases without a special permit and a visit to the main office.

    These restrictions are what limit the ability of various photo shops to get us processing chemistry at all, or what drives the price up so high for shipping and what is helping drive us out of analog photography. Some people will feel 'safer' somehow when chemistry is no longer in the hands of the likes of us. Developers are classed as alkalis, and blix and bleach are classed as oxidants. I cannot ship them and to buy them I have to pay a huge surcharge if I can get them at all.

    This pretty much summarizes all information that I've been able to gather about the current situation regarding analog photography. I wish to thank everyone for their input in getting this together.

    PE
     
  2. Brian Miller

    Brian Miller Member

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    I was just talking to a fellow about the chemicals situation at one of the few remaining film dealers in Seattle. He told me about what had to be done to ship stop bath, including a dirt catch basin in the crate. I suggested that it be labeled "non-potable concentrated vinegar" instead.

    Kodak's press release for a new disposable film camera claims "consumers in the US purchasing nearly a half million rolls of KODAK film and single use cameras each day". That would be over 165 million rolls worth of consumer film per year, and to think that pales in comparison to movie studio use is mind-boggling.
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Brian, remember that some motion picture camera and print films are 70mm. This is as opposed to disposable cameras using 35mm exclusively.

    Also, the motion picture film is routinely used in 1000 ft rolls or longer. And, they shoot lots more film than they use in the final film.

    In addition, many many prints are made for distribution and this also consumes a lot of film.

    Add on the fact that this supply is for world wide motion picture and TV production.

    But you are right, that level of production is mind boggling, isn't it? You have to consider that all 14 or so layers in Vision-2 film are coated in one pass at very high speed too.

    PE
     
  4. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    It seems like some of the production, roll sizes, and volume issues might be responsible for prices and available sizes in aerographic films. I think a potentially tough situation for 35mm still film users might be availability only in long rolls. So pricing on aerographic films is somewhat high, but do you think that might happen with some 35mm films?

    On the subject of motion picture films, I have read in a few areas that India was one of the largest users of these films. I am not sure if they surpass Hollywood in this, but I found the statements about India somewhat surprising. Perhaps China are headed in that direction of heavy usage, since I have seen mention of their movie industry picking up volume recently.

    Motion picture films also get used for many television productions. One reason given by many producers is to future proof content for syndication to later evolving HDTV standards. Of course, it is tough to predict the trends in the future.

    I think you have a nice concise overview in your posting above. Quite likely environmental issues vould be a greater factor affecting future film production. I'm all for having a clean environment, but I agree that these things need to be phased into existing facilities in a way that does not force them offshore.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  5. Edimilson

    Edimilson Member

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    I don't have even a fraction of the expertise displayed by you guys in this topic, but the remarks made by Photo Engineer reminded me of something I read about the subject "digital versus film" in the film industry. It has to do with the recent production of Miami Vice, with Colin Farrel. If I remember well, this film was shot digitally and some people argued that its image quality was sometimes lousy. I noticed that some ugly noise was clearly visible in some night scenes.
    I brought this up to raise the following idea: perhaps people in the film industry will also object to giving in to digital and will remain loyal to film. That might, perhaps, ensure the survival of film for longer than the pessimists believe feasible.
    Well, that's just a thought.
     
  6. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    There was a clip on one of the news shows about one guy in Bollywood. He has done 14 feature films in 2006. Those weren't bit parts either. He starred in that many. Imagine if Hollywood pumped out films at that rate.
     
  7. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    I find this fascinating, while everyone is going nuts on film chemcials, the circuit boards of all those obsolete DSLRs and point and shoots contain heavy metals that are murder on the water table. It also reminds me of another local argument over the switch to compact florescents in homes from tungstan light bulbs. One little detail overlooked is the "new and improved" lightbulbs contain mercury. Sometimes the replacement technology is more toxic than the original.

    Bill
     
  8. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Interesting information. Sometimes enviromental concerns can run amok. For instance the huge push to use flourescent longer lasting light bulbs in place of incandescents. While the use of the flourescents may indeed have some impact on the amount of coal burned to produce electricity, every one of those bulbs contains a minimum of 2 miligrams of mercury that once the bulbs are tossed (only a fraction will be properly disposed of) into landfills, the mercury will eventually find its way into the groundwater. If one really wants to make an impact on power plant emissions without unintended enviromental consequences, one should ban airconditioners and computers, the two biggest gobblers of electricity in the home or office.

    There is little doubt to me that if mass produced traditional photographic materials dissapear it will be because enviromental regulations will make the cost of the materials so high that most of us will not be able to afford them, thus killing the remaining market and companies.
     
  9. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    I think most people who buy fluorescent bulbs know that they need to be disposed of properly. People arent buying them to be cool, they are buying them because they are more aware. Few ignorant people are buying them in the first place.

    I agree the regs on shipping chemicals are ridiculous.

    Wayne
     
  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    A few points I would like to make here:

    I'm a chemist and I had thought that mercury had been replaced in these new fluorescent bulbs. So, I tossed the two that went bad in the regular glass bin. We have no bin for toxic waste and must search for a disposal plant on our own.

    The major impediment to wholesale use of digital in motion picture is not quality but rather cost. The cost of a new digital projector is over $100,000 US. Profit margins at movie theaters is very low. Digital does not increase profit margin much except that the number of projector operaters can theoretically be reduced. The unions here object to that of course.

    A big concern is over digital distribution. Format and anti piracy methods are still shifting and need to be resolved.

    If everything comes together and prices drop, there may be a rapid shift towards the use of digital.

    One final note... Using digital, it is possible to create an all digital actor for a film, and so with modern digital animation, a live action motion picture with Clark Gable or John Wayne could be made. Legal issues aside, this is an interesting side force driving digital.

    Thanks all for your comments.

    PE
     
  11. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Generally speaking, the environmentalists are going after all kinds of things (nuclear-power/energy, whaling, weapon-manufacturing, etc) for a good cause, and that's okay. I'm more worried that some environmentalists groups have been called and black-listed as "terroists" by some authorities for complete false accusations, and that's pretty serious because it's happening world-wide.

    Anyway, I do agree with the increasing difficulty of shipping photo chemicals, which I only know from a consumer's point of view. Here in Japan, it seems just as bad. So, I keep stocking Selenium toner because it will probably be the first thing we will lose in this market because it's so toxic. Kodak is the only company supplying it, and if it's gone, I don't know if I can get it shipped from another country...

    Now I think, just like the issues on bio-fuel, hybrid cars, etc, the world needs better information to understand. Good education probably will give some impact on how we think of the use of these things that we are constantly been told as good or bad, etc, but being told by who? You know that's where we have to start questioning.
     
  12. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Interesting thread and I wonder just what courses we have to follow to ensure the continuance of analog photography regardless of what ensues.

    On another note, I thought that I had read remarks at the time of the newly emerging digital past concerning how the manufacturing process for digital were much more endangering to the environment then the processes for film production. I use to work for electronics firms and some of the chemicals used for production were highly toxic and environmentally dangerous. If your at least 45 and above you may remember at one time or another where companies were caught quite often dumping behind their buildings. Of course what could be worse to the human environment then nerve gas and other agents being stored in caverns in leaking drums or massive amounts of carbon dioxide in the air because of corporate greed.
     
  13. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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  15. Photo Engineer

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    Jack;

    There seems to be something to add to your reference that was left out for good or bad.

    The mercury emission from a coal fired electrical plant is distributed over the earth in the atmosphere and the mercury emission from the bulb is concentrated at the place where it is disposed of and then this concentrate gets into the soil as a direct contaminant. Assuming recycling, even that is lossy and some mercury would probably get into the environment.

    What is worse, 2 mg of mercury in a small stream running out of a waste site or 4 mg of mercury being emitted from the stack of a power plant and dispersed over a whole city? The amount per unit area is actually lower in the scond case, I suspect.

    IDK which is worse, but I assume that they are both equally bad in spite of one being neary 2x greater than the other. The problem is, no one really knows for sure and that is part of the whole problem. Some say NO mercury should be placed into the environment; that it should be a closed loop with no loss at all or should not be used.

    This is the problem. And, considering the amount of coal used for lighting vs coal used for running other equipment, lighting is only a part of the problem, not all of it. If everyone converted to fluorsecent lights and then lighting use was included in overall power consumption, we might not even be able to detect the difference.

    People just jump quickly to a conclusion. 'This is better than that', with a 'statistic' to show, but it has been said that anything can be proven with statistics.

    Mercury is bad. We should eliminate its use or escape into the environment. The fluorescent bulb is not all of the answer and may not even be the best one.

    PE
     
  16. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I can make choices about what happens to the mercury in a CF lamp. I can dispose of it by taking it to hazardous waste. That 4mg can be in a closed loop or at least kept out of the groundwater. And in so doing, I can reduce coal-burned emmissions by 7.6mg. This is in addition to the other considerable benefits associated with using CF's. The key is to get people to adopt their use *and* dispose of them intelligently...until a better solution is available.
     
  17. Photo Engineer

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    Jack;

    Are you using a flat screen monitor or a tube monitor? If so, one contains selenium and arsenic and the other contains lead and mercury. The computer contains both selenium and arsenic. If it shorts out, and you smell a garlic like odor, then that is the arsenic. It happened to me once.

    What is the power consumption of the monitor vs a reading lamp?

    Do you use a gas stove or electric stove?

    Do you use a gas furnace or an oil furnace, or maybe even coal?

    Do you wash your fixed prints in running water or still water? Either way, the wash water contains hypo and silver.

    Do you use selenium toner and then wash your toned prints in running water? That puts selenium into the environment.

    I could go on and list all of the questionable things we all do. I agree with you and was not criticizing. I'm saying that we seem to just concentrate on one thing when a 'fad' strikes the media, but what we should be doing is working on ALL waste products and open loops. Some of us are and some are not, so my notes above are just to show how many many there are.

    PE
     
  18. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I agree with you completely.

    In my household we're pretty maniacal about recycling absoluetly every item and material that we can. I do not live in the land of curbside recycling. We have a wall of bins in our garage and we have to shchlep everything to appropriate drop off points. Some items must be horded till we have enough to justify a trip.

    Computers and electronics go to a recycling center. My spent pyro goes to hazardous waste. My fix goes to the recovery tanks at a university photo dept. I try to minimize water consumption and release to the environment (I'm on septic).

    I spend a lot of thought and energy on this stuff. I try to make the best decisions. I spent a fortune putting high efficiency HVAC in...I'll spend another one on tighter doors and windows. We're gradually transitioning to CF's because I think that on balance, with the present choices, they make the most sense, imperfect as they are.

    Part of my motivation for all of this is to be the best environmental-citizen/photographer I can be. Handling chemistry responsibly makes much more sense to me than the more 'libertarian' approach.
     
  19. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    Agree 100%! BTW, Ilford now make selenium toner (also Maco).So there are alternatives if KRST ends up RIP.
     
  20. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    ...at the risk of asthma and a weakened immune system.

    My door and windows fit REALLY BADLY -- so I wear more clothes in winter...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  21. Terence

    Terence Member

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    In civil engineering school we were taught, "The solution to pollution is dilution." And that was in the 1990's . . .
     
  22. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I thought that was one of the advantages of living in rural France. :tongue:
     
  23. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I want to be able to control air exchange, not be at the mercy of crappy windows. :wink:
     
  24. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Oh no you don't. That way asthma lies...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  25. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    It is!

    Actually the windows are surprisingly clever. It's the doors that are slapdash. The exterior doors (=newer) are pretty good. The interior doors (between heated and unheated rooms) are another matter -- but as I recall, US interior doors are crap too.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  26. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Thanks for your concern.