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PhotoJim
03-26-2013, 10:13 AM
Runaway inflation? Maybe I'm sheltered here in Canada (although I suspect our numbers are very similar to those in the US). While fossil fuel prices remain volatile, overall, inflation in my country has averaged between 1 and 2% the last several years. Back in the early 1980s, inflation was in the mid-teens as a percentage.

Film prices are going up fast, but they are a small part of the economy, and consumer electronics generally go down in price as time moves on.

Film prices will stabilize at some point, assuming silver prices and oil prices stabilize too (film base is a fossil fuel product, and films obviously have to be shipped from their point of manufacture to the consumer), but film photography is always going to be a little expensive compared to digital, the same that fountain pen ink is expensive compared to cheap, disposable ballpoint pens. The market has changed, but the prior option will remain for those who want to pay for it (like us).

Sal Santamaura
03-26-2013, 10:19 AM
...In MY 56 years of living, this has been the most inflationary period ever...I think you're forgetting, oh, let's say 1974 through 1982:


http://inflationdata.com/inflation/Inflation_Rate/HistoricalInflation.aspx

DREW WILEY
03-26-2013, 10:58 AM
A a professional buyer for a wide range of manufactured goods, I say that overall, the last decade has
seen less inflation and more price stability than any time I can remember. Certain deliberately gamed
commodities like steel or copper could wildly fluctuate at times. Certain products like paint which are
held hostage to limited sources of titanium oxide etc have gone up. Food is inevitably going to go up
due to more severe droughts and increased competition for water from sprawl and energy extraction etc.
But film just seems to be doing the inevitable once price wars have stopped, with Kodak and Fuji no
longer competing head to head in identical categoris, and the product is no longer essentially subsidized. Those kinds of wars are now going on in amateur digital cameras betwen various companies, some of whom are risking their neck. Otherwise, things dependent on petrochemicals like
film base have also inevitably gone up. I shoot 8x10, so I'm painfully aware of cost increases, but as
long as I can remember, film this size wasn't exactly cheap and required a commitment. But at least
color paper is quite affordable now.

DREW WILEY
03-26-2013, 11:06 AM
Jim - digital photog might be affordable if one's goal is just viewing things on the web. But there's nothing particularly cheap about inkjet expendables. That's an arena that is obscenely profitable to
the ink manufacturers, just as in office printers. And they gouge for plain paper with just some appropriate sizing - no silver, dyes, or gelatin, which traditionally determined the cost of paper. You
often pay more for a blank sheet! So yeah, folks might save some money on film, but they pay thru
the nose to print it. And at a high quality level, they really pay. Or, for someone like me, who often
works in 8x10, the wannabee quality equivalent would either be a very harsh equipment investment,
or be a pipedream. Film photography still has a lot going for it, in any format.

RattyMouse
03-26-2013, 04:54 PM
A a professional buyer for a wide range of manufactured goods, I say that overall, the last decade has
seen less inflation and more price stability than any time I can remember. Certain deliberately gamed
commodities like steel or copper could wildly fluctuate at times. Certain products like paint which are
held hostage to limited sources of titanium oxide etc have gone up. Food is inevitably going to go up
due to more severe droughts and increased competition for water from sprawl and energy extraction etc.
But film just seems to be doing the inevitable once price wars have stopped, with Kodak and Fuji no
longer competing head to head in identical categoris, and the product is no longer essentially subsidized. Those kinds of wars are now going on in amateur digital cameras betwen various companies, some of whom are risking their neck. Otherwise, things dependent on petrochemicals like
film base have also inevitably gone up. I shoot 8x10, so I'm painfully aware of cost increases, but as
long as I can remember, film this size wasn't exactly cheap and required a commitment. But at least
color paper is quite affordable now.

I'm in the chemical industry and I have seen enormous inflation the past 3-4 years. Price increases are just never ending. As a result we are sourcing chemicals from 3rd world developing countries rather than pay the enormous costs that "mainstream" suppliers are demanding.

wblynch
03-26-2013, 05:22 PM
Funny how costs and prices continue to skyrocket yet wages are still tanking. It is even more confusing considering the improved worker productivity.

What drives these costs up if not labor? Incessant thirst for profits?

jernejk
03-26-2013, 05:46 PM
I dont think it is that simple. If you read Fujifilm's quarterly results, they do not make much money at all from digital cameras. Hard to believe but it is true. In fact, their entire imaging division LOOSES money. I looked back from today's year all the way back to 2005. Not one year reported a profit in their imaging division. Not one. It seems that their film chemicals keep the looses from being too high.


Well, Fuji's annual report is certainly an interesting read http://www.fujifilmholdings.com/en/pdf/investors/annual_report/ff_ar_2012_all.pdf

63% of imaging revenue is from photo imaging and the rest from digital imaging. And yes, combined they are making $40 million loss.
The breakdown does not go more into detail, so it's hard to say what percentage of photo imaging comes from film. Fuji seems to bet on color photo paper and printing services. To an average APUG member, those would probably qualify as "electronic" anyway.

It's impossible to say really what's the current demand for film from the report. Some people in the industry know. Kodak, Fuji, Adox and their distributors do. We could guess some of the numbers or at least trends by studying Adox and fotoimpex revenue, for example - but I'm not sure the data is publicly available, at least not for free?

What is sure though is that price elasticity of demand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_elasticity_of_demand) for film is getting lower. What this means is that you are going to buy Velvia or Acros no matter the price - because you really need them to achieve what you want or because you are loyal to the brand. So the whole economics of film is changing upside down, from high volume commodity to low volume niche. It also means we can expect further price increase also by other manufacturers (if they are smart, they should follow Fuji's lead).

nickrapak
03-27-2013, 09:45 AM
Funny how costs and prices continue to skyrocket yet wages are still tanking. It is even more confusing considering the improved worker productivity.

What drives these costs up if not labor? Incessant thirst for profits?

My guess is supply and demand. More and more people are moving higher in socioeconomic status, especially those in the two most populous nations. As their SES improves, they demand the same luxuries that Americans and Western Europeans have. As the demand increases, the price will increase to equilibrium.

Vaughn
03-27-2013, 10:25 AM
One of the constant sources of income for some film manufacturers has been film for the movie industry. With the demand for that decreasing, some of that income might need to be recovered in the still camera film market.

DREW WILEY
03-27-2013, 10:28 AM
Certain raw materials are hostage to poliltical complications between various countries, some are essentially commodities which are being unfairly gamed to make middlemen obscenely rich at the expense of the both the public and economic common sense. Petrochemicals fall into both categories.
But at least here in the US, overall inflation of mfg goods was exceptionally stable for about a decade.
China is a very different scenario because of a very different internal economic model, as well as its
mushrooming growth. Film is a pretty small player in all of this and is probably just now reaching an
inevitable economic equilbrium in the face of reduced demand. It you can't afford that fact, just don't
waste as many shots. I'd prefer we all waste a lot of shots, so the demand for film would stay healthy.
But I shoot 8x10 and am not exactly rich, so if it's not worth actually printing, I won't trip the shutter.

wblynch
03-27-2013, 10:55 AM
So if the demand is high the price goes up

But if the demand is low the price goes up

markrewald
03-27-2013, 11:07 AM
So if the demand is high the price goes up

But if the demand is low the price goes up

APUG needs to have a like post option Bill. This has been my feeling related to analog film prices of late. They are not following the law of economics at all. Or at least what my freshman hung over 30 year over recollection remembers of it. :)

DREW WILEY
03-27-2013, 12:11 PM
Nonsense. They are simply doing what they have to do it they intend to keep making film and still stay
in business. These aren't charities. In the past film wars combined with high volume factored into the
equation, but now its a more limited selection and less redundancy or direct competition between the
manufacturers. The price wars are going on elsewhere (like consumer electronics), so something has to turn a profit. And if you do factor for typical inflation over several decades, relative to the cost of other
things, film really hasn't gone up that much. It just seems like it because of its sudden spike in the last
couple of years. But I suspect that kind of adjustment was long overdue.

Gerald C Koch
03-27-2013, 12:33 PM
...that film demand is still decreasing.

While this may be true in countries like Japan and the US where the love of gadgetry is overwhelming. This does not seems to be true in other regions of the world where film is still popular.

brianmquinn
03-27-2013, 01:40 PM
The thing to realize is all sellers always charge the most they can for an item. If you need batteries for your flashlight you can get them at the corner store for $2 or drive across town to the Big Box Store and get them for $1.50. The Big Store charges less because they have to. Nobody would drive across town to pay the same money as price as they can get at the corner store.

Film sellers TOTAL profit is the profit per unit sold times the numbers of units sold. If the price per unit gets too high than sales will drop too much and TOTAL profit declines.

One way to get around this problem for sellers is to up the price but also run sales. If you can afford to buy for a high price you will and they will earn a high unit profit. During the sales they will pick up buyers who will not pay the high price (more sales at a lower price).

Rather than complain about the high price perhaps you should lobby for film promotions and sales. This may also get more people shooting.

pdeeh
03-27-2013, 01:48 PM
Surely the "big box store" charges lower prices is because they can (due to economy of scale & volume purchase), not because they somehow have to.
It's hard to see the analogy with the current film market

DREW WILEY
03-27-2013, 02:51 PM
The big box store might or might not be cheaper. Depends what you are actually getting for your money. Chances are, things are cheaper because the quality sucks. And the odds are pretty high that
their cumulative business model is geared to stock market pranks rather than sustainable profit, that
they are twisting just about every labor law imaginable into contortions that would put any small businessman in court, that they are getting huge land or local tax exemptions because they have the money to corrupt local oversight ... and they MANDATE the mfg of trashy outsourced bait-and-switch merchandise to create distribution monopolies, etc etc etc. No, it's not a level playing field by any means. And people like me are going downright nuts because I've got more business than I can handle, and have trouble even getting goods shipped fast enough, specifically because I sell high-end product, and pros have trouble finding that kind of thing elsewhere ... hence, to keep marginally sane, I need these periodic posting breaks...

Brian C. Miller
03-27-2013, 06:23 PM
I still think if there was some advertising, film would sell. Think about it--people can be advertised into buying ANYTHING. Look at some of the pure-T crap that is sold in the TV commercials. "Just pay separate processing"--how many times have you heard that? And they eat it up like candy. Look at Washington DC. If THAT doesn't prove people can be suckered into buying a load of goods, I don't know what does.

The base problem with using film these days is that people have to be creative to use it. The average person is not creative or even inquisitive. Thus, it's a bit of an uphill battle just to get them off the couch. There is no Twitter or whatever for film cameras. The only time I've seen an advertisement was for some old stock of point & shoots with prepaid mailers, and the advertisement was aimed at retirees, not cool hipsters.

The best advertising for film is what I did yesterday when I showed a 4x5 slide to some coworkers. Bug eyes and dropped jaws all around.

brianmquinn
03-27-2013, 07:45 PM
Surely the "big box store" charges lower prices is because they can (due to economy of scale & volume purchase), not because they somehow have to.
It's hard to see the analogy with the current film market

Yes they can charge lower prices (due to economy of scale & volume purchase). But they do not charge lower prices to be nice to us. They charge lower prices because if they did not charge lower prices we would never suffer a trip to their crappy stores that are staffed by underpaid know-nothing people. I do not want to say anything bad about the staff that works at the store but they are hired because they will work for low wages. Not because they are skilled. I worked retail for years when I was young and stupid. I worked hard but I was not able to be useful often as I did not know much at the time.

EASmithV
03-30-2013, 03:44 PM
People have a really hard time believing that all you need to process E6 is a dishtub with holes in the sides, running sink water, a good thermometer, and E6 chems.

Try it. It's not hard, and you will have better-than-lab results.