View Full Version : Inside Analog Photo Radio - Ron Mowrey - Photo Engineer - Where Kodak Went Wrong

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03-13-2012, 08:56 AM
Thanks Sean !!

Wait till you here the next one with Ron Mowery & Robert Shanebrook... It will blow your mind !!

And THANKS everybody !!

Photo Engineer
03-13-2012, 10:50 AM

You're also definitely right about nobody printing photos at home. Why, when you can upload and print on someone else's printer/lightjet so inexpensively (and conveniently, I might add), would you want to print on your own printer with less than stable inks? If Kodak was going to go into the printer business, they should've beat Fuji to the punch with their Frontier digital minilabs and dry minilabs (shh, don't tell the guys I work with that I prefer prints on real photo paper, not inkjet!), not by tring to get into the home printing market.

ME Super

FWIW, one of the last pieces of work I did in the Exploratory Color Photography Lab was to design a pollution free high speed processing and printing unit. It ran at 120 deg F and produced a print in a few seconds using Ektacolor 30 paper. (this was 1978)

The unit used mixed bed resins to clean the water and it produced no pollution. Wash water was totally recycled. The project was cancelled in favor of several other routes including Instant.

Re-Ektaflop, we were going to call our instant product Kodaroid in honor of Polaroid, but since we were only half way there and were straining hard, we called it Hemiroid (misspelling deliberate to convey meaning) :D


03-13-2012, 12:23 PM
I have a question that I hope will not stir up a storm. I am not trolling.

Ron, you said that Kodak makes all it's own film base and if they stop making film, the other base suppliers will benefit from the increased demand from other film manufacturers. But in the recent controversies, one of Aristophanes's main points was that Kodak buys base from other manufacturers, and if Kodak goes under then the base suppliers may also go under and this will threaten the supply for Ilford, Efke, Foma, etc.

I don't remember you pointing this out at the time (I bailed out of those threads). Would you elaborate on this?

03-13-2012, 12:40 PM
I'll just insert my thoughts. If the largest consumer of base goes under, then sure, the base price will go up, but not catastrophically. It's not like Kodak stops making base and *poof* no more base available in the world. On the contrary, the demand is still basically there- remember that Kodak has become less and less relevant in terms of market share and it hasn't adversely affected others in the market. We know that because the prices for Ilford's and Fuji's products have not shot up astronomically (knock on wood).

Also, Ron pointed out that base can probably be stored indefinitely. That is a very important point which also mitigates a big spike in base cost.

Ron knows a lot more of course, I am just throwing in my half penny ;)

Photo Engineer
03-13-2012, 01:15 PM
Bob Shanebrook points out in his book that all or virtually all of Kodak's film base support is made in-house. Film supports are made for other applications than photography though so the production of support such as Estar or Acetate is not dependent on Kodak's consumption of the material. They are a minor player due to their own capacity.

The major differences in films industry wide is the subbing or lack thereof for each application. Kodak makes unsubbed and subbed film supports. You can buy subbed or unsubbed supports from ICI in England for a variety of applications and IIRC, Ilford buys from ICI. Jim Browning used ICI produced Melenex support for his dye transfer Matrix Film. It was pre-subbed to a given standard for the dye transfer process.

There will be no major problem if Kodak stops making (or buying) support. In fact, they may stop making entirely and start buying which will probably be good in a sense. Prices will go up though due to increasing labor and materials costs, but not because Kodak changes anything.


03-13-2012, 03:18 PM
The major differences in films industry wide is the subbing or lack thereof for each application. Kodak makes unsubbed and subbed film supports. You can buy subbed or unsubbed supports from ICI in England for a variety of applications and IIRC, Ilford buys from ICI.

Ron, what exactly is "Subbing"? This is the first time I have heard the term used in regards to film...

Photo Engineer
03-13-2012, 06:30 PM
Well, gelatin and water will not stick to Acetate or to Estar. So, you must make the surface of the transparent support, which is water repellant, non-repellant. To do this, you first apply a mixed water/organic mix to the support, or you bombard it with an electrostatic discharge to give it a "tooth" that is able to allow adhesion between the emulsion layer and the film. The organic/water mix is sometimes acetic acid, methanol and gelatin. This type of subbing will not work well on Estar.

If you apply a mixed water/organic mix, you are putting on a subbing layer. Then you coat your product on top. Some films are bombarded and subbed both and some films are just bombarded and coated with emulsion, so there are 3 possible coatings that can result. They are Subbed, Bombarded and Subbed, and Bombarded only. Any of these 3 can be coated on, but if the latter means is used, the Bombardment only method fades over about 24 hours.

More than you ever wanted to know I'll bet! :D


Michael W
03-13-2012, 06:41 PM
Is "subbing" an industry slang for "substrate"

Photo Engineer
03-13-2012, 07:39 PM
IDK. Never ever heard of anyone using the word substrate in this context.


Mr Student
03-13-2012, 08:30 PM
Ron, thanks for giving such an interesting interview, amazing stories.

You mention your emulsion making book, where/when can this be purchased? Sorry if this has been answered before, I did search, but came up with nothing.

Photo Engineer
03-13-2012, 10:18 PM
Try Fotoimpex in Germany, the Photographers Formulary in the US, or me. I send out limited autographed editions of the DVD, Book or DVD and book.

So, at present there are 3 sources. GEH also sells them in their store.