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View Full Version : It's official, Kodak is selling its film business.



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RattyMouse
09-01-2012, 06:59 PM
US$20 is approximately RMB•120 which is easily a day's wage in China. That is where I am talking about.

This is why I'm thinking a Chinese buyer for Kodak might be a good idea. The market in China is potentially huge, but gaining access to it is tough and requires lower price points, because people here simply don't have the money like in western countries. Kodak is already a household name in China though, and there are Kodak branded shops all across the country. So it might be a good match.

That's the old China you are talking about. Today China is far richer than $15 a day in income. The average price of a home in Shanghai is over $200,000 and there are hundreds of thousands of homes that cost over one million dollars. I'm renting a home (well my company is) that cost over $800,000. There is enormous wealth in Chinese cities now. Shanghai has over 24 million people and many many are extremely wealthy. You would have to go way out into the countryside to find someone living on $15/day.

RattyMouse
09-01-2012, 07:02 PM
I'm pretty sure no one in China is going to end up using film, regardless of the cost. One of my friends is a film photographer that lives in Chengdu, Sichuan. He constantly tells me about how as soon as people make enough money to buy a decent camera, they run to a DSLR, usually the most expensive one they can afford. He is constantly annoyed at the fact that there are thousands of D3s in China stuck in P because they think that the more money you spend on the camera, the better the picture. It's going to be all but impossible to tell them that technology that is, at its core, over 100 years old is better than the latest and greatest.

Besides, Even if they would try this, there's no reason to try it with slide film. Most people want either a print or a digital file as the final product. Slides are not the best product to use in either situation (and this is coming from someone whose workflow is 75% E-6). If you want a print, you have to find someone that can scan an individual slide and then print it. Since it's not the lab's standard workflow, the cost will be higher than scanning and printing a negative. If you want a digital file, you have to scan it, which adds a major step compared to digital.

I love film as much as the next guy, but China will not be the solution to Kodak's problems.

Pictures from a part of Shanghai's largest photography mall.....There are also thousands and thousands of used film cameras available on TWO floors of this mall. Someone is buying.

http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6090/6064087124_51711e7a75_b.jpg


http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6083/6063546429_49f665a687_b.jpg

Kevin Kehler
09-01-2012, 07:04 PM
I need to go on vacation to Shanghai - how are the prices compared to North American for both film and cameras?

RattyMouse
09-01-2012, 07:07 PM
I'm pretty sure no one in China is going to end up using film, regardless of the cost. One of my friends is a film photographer that lives in Chengdu, Sichuan. He constantly tells me about how as soon as people make enough money to buy a decent camera, they run to a DSLR, usually the most expensive one they can afford. He is constantly annoyed at the fact that there are thousands of D3s in China stuck in P because they think that the more money you spend on the camera, the better the picture. It's going to be all but impossible to tell them that technology that is, at its core, over 100 years old is better than the latest and greatest.

Besides, Even if they would try this, there's no reason to try it with slide film. Most people want either a print or a digital file as the final product. Slides are not the best product to use in either situation (and this is coming from someone whose workflow is 75% E-6). If you want a print, you have to find someone that can scan an individual slide and then print it. Since it's not the lab's standard workflow, the cost will be higher than scanning and printing a negative. If you want a digital file, you have to scan it, which adds a major step compared to digital.

I love film as much as the next guy, but China will not be the solution to Kodak's problems.

One other thing.....0.30 Yuan for a nice quality scan in Shanghai. I use this lab and I get a lot of praise specifically for the scanning. You can spend 23 Yuan if you want even higher.

http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a1z10.3.17.10&id=7342584184&

kb3lms
09-01-2012, 07:31 PM
... but rather running the machines for a few weeks, or a few months at most, and make enough film to last forever?

Maybe not run it to produce skids of film forever, but maybe go full speed to make film for a year. Keep critical employees with the knowledge and skills on staff and contract general workers for the month or so that they're needed. While that inventory is being sold off, prepare for next years run doing all the steps that PE mentions in other posts. In the meantime, the coating facility has been cleaned, maintenance is carried out with a smaller staff and is otherwise shut down and consuming minimal resources. Would a model like that be realistic?

kb3lms
09-01-2012, 07:35 PM
...film producers to capture using film technology...

Capture doesn't seem to be so much the issue or argument with the filmmakers. It's distribution. They want to get the physical film out of the distribution chain and have automated theaters they can run from some central location. So they employ less people and collect more money.

Brian C. Miller
09-01-2012, 07:39 PM
Brian;

Kodak can coat master rolls faster than one per day. They can make enough for the whole world in one day!!
PE

As you've posted earlier, Kodak has a problem with overcapacity. A purchaser of the Rochester facility will also have the same problem. The coating machines are fabulous beyond belief, but at some point the demand will drop below what is sustainable for those machines. As you've posted, Kodakchrome was being coated once every two years. E-6 was more popular than Kodachrome, but it also could not be economically produced at the end.

That's why I used the example of one master roll per day, 85,000 rolls of film per day, to give people on the forum a sense of what is produced. I don't know if National Geographic used 85,000 rolls in a year, but 15 minutes of coating time was enough for them, and very likely a healthy surplus. As you've stated, today's world-wide demand can be met in one day by Kodak.

Unfortunately, market demand is everything. Efke is going away because even if the repair to their machinery was paid for by someone else, they still don't have enough market demand to sustain the factory. I've read that one of the pressures on Kodak is their coal-fired electric plant. Here in Washington state our only coal-fired plant was shut down due to emissions, even though we have a live volcano here. If Kodak's plant is shut down, then they'll have to pay for the plant's decomissioning, along with buying all of their electricity from the local grid, and they already owe the local electric utility quite a bundle. And once the movie industry winds down on film, then what? That's the thing that really bothers me. If Kodak loses that revenue, then what will become of the still film production?

So far, there's been no "magic bullet" still film application. The only thing that I really can guess at is that after a total Kodak collapse, somebody decides to make film in Rochester using a plant with a far lower overhead, employing the former Kodak employees. The current Kodak plant has X overhead, and I'm guessing that overhead is too high for just still-film production. So the only way that Kodak film will be made is with some kind of "mini" machine, with a smaller overhead.

RattyMouse
09-01-2012, 07:47 PM
I need to go on vacation to Shanghai - how are the prices compared to North American for both film and cameras?

Film processing is reasonably cheap, but cameras and film are the same or more expensive. If you are good at bargaining, then you can get better deals.

RattyMouse
09-01-2012, 07:50 PM
So if Kodak can produce the world's film needs in a single day, then already the plant must be sitting idle the vast majority of the year. Kodak isnt building up massive stock piles of film, are they? What do the employees do for the rest of the year?

I wonder to what degree Fujifilm has over capacity.

Brian C. Miller
09-01-2012, 07:54 PM
Ratty, I think that "world's supply in one day" refers to still film production. The other films are things like movie film, film for non-photographic industrial applications like circuit board production, and things like that.

Photo Engineer
09-01-2012, 08:26 PM
I did not say world's needs in one day. I said, if you read the entire post, the world's needs of one product! And, it depends on the demand for that product as I pointed out in either that post or a later one using illustrations. E6 and Kodachrome may only need one run / year, but others are made 2 or 3 times weekly and I would cite ECN, ECP, Portra and Ektar.

PE

kb3lms
09-01-2012, 08:29 PM
That's why I used the example of one master roll per day, 85,000 rolls of film per day, to give people on the forum a sense of what is produced. I don't know if National Geographic used 85,000 rolls in a year, but 15 minutes of coating time was enough for them, and very likely a healthy surplus. As you've stated, today's world-wide demand can be met in one day by Kodak.

Just to add to your point, I once read that 10% of all the still color negative film manufactured by Kodak worldwide consumed by visitors to Disney World in Florida. IIRC this was printed in the Kodakery, EK's internal newsletter for employees. It was shortly before I left EK so that would be about 1994. In 2004 this number was essentially zero. My family visited Disney that year and you could just about not find Kodak film anywhere in the park. And at the one or two places you could find it, the price was hideously expensive. (However, it was at Disney World so not a real surprise.)

So, think about this: In the mid 1990's Kodak was coating film for about an hour per day just to cover use in Disney World. IDK if it really worked that way, though.

kb3lms
09-01-2012, 08:33 PM
but others are made 2 or 3 times weekly and I would cite ECN, ECP, Portra and Ektar.

PE, WOW! If Portra and Ektar are coated at least weekly that is the BEST NEWS I've heard in some time!

Photo Engineer
09-01-2012, 08:35 PM
Look guys, that was an example of a high runner vs low runner, not fact.

Give it UP!

PE

kb3lms
09-01-2012, 08:47 PM
Sorry, PE, I see what you are saying. I wonder how often those films are coated, though? Then again, maybe I don't really want to know.

Curiosity question, from what I understand with the underlying technology of films like Portra and Ektar being closely related, is it possible for them to be coated on the same run? I had heard this was done with the Portra NC and VC.

Arctic amateur
09-01-2012, 08:48 PM
Most of you seem to be unaware of the new Kodak product introduced recently. They now make an archival color print film for storage of master copies of digital motion pictures. This is their effort to give the digital world a method of backing up images.
PE

Is this film intended for printing analog images, or a digital data pattern (like a QR code)?

Photo Engineer
09-01-2012, 10:03 PM
Is this film intended for printing analog images, or a digital data pattern (like a QR code)?

My understanding is that it can print virtually anything.

PE

Photo Engineer
09-01-2012, 10:05 PM
Sorry, PE, I see what you are saying. I wonder how often those films are coated, though? Then again, maybe I don't really want to know.

Curiosity question, from what I understand with the underlying technology of films like Portra and Ektar being closely related, is it possible for them to be coated on the same run? I had heard this was done with the Portra NC and VC.

Well, lets say that Portra requires 10% less thickness overal vs Ektar. That being so, the drying is reduced by 10% less. This change in temperature and humidity may take 1 - 2 hours as a theoretical example. So, close but no cigar.

PE

Ektagraphic
09-01-2012, 11:40 PM
I believe I had read here somewhere that Kodak plans for coating about one year ahead of time...I wonder what they have planned for a year from now. Will they still plan as if the sale doesn't go through?....I also saw something somewhere with a quote from Perez that there should be no interruption in product supply- That should be interesting.

Grain Farmer
09-02-2012, 01:16 AM
That's the old China you are talking about. Today China is far richer than $15 a day in income. The average price of a home in Shanghai is over $200,000 and there are hundreds of thousands of homes that cost over one million dollars. I'm renting a home (well my company is) that cost over $800,000. There is enormous wealth in Chinese cities now. Shanghai has over 24 million people and many many are extremely wealthy. You would have to go way out into the countryside to find someone living on $15/day.


Don't know what kind of expat bubble you're living in but if you want to meet someone who makes $15 a day walk into any store or any restaurant or pretty much any place in Shanghai you can find people making that much. Just looking at the 招聘 signs on any establishment anywhere that lists the salary right there on the wall and you'll be hard pressed to find a monthly salary higher than •3000, which isn't even $15 a day. Yes there are alot of rich people here too, but you have to remember that even when they have money, Chinese people are still cheap, and prefer to save.

And yes, I do think more and more people are getting into film over here, or want to get into film. The lomo store is one of the biggest. A few of my friends have picked up some old used Nikons off of Taobao and want to shoot film because they know the feel of film is completely different from that of digital. But the biggest problem I hear from these people is the price. Atleast I know Leka/Lucky won't be going out of business any time soon.

I'm an E6 shooter, so I would love for there to be more E6 shooters, and I believe having a cheap E6 option would make that possible.