..hate to put a rotten spin on a good review, but analog currently is a mess as it sits today. I don't think I have seen it worse than this year. There are so many bad points to even mention - don't have enough fingers and toes to count them all.
So i'm glad this post brought some smiles to some, I see nothing but doom for our industry in the coming years. The sad thing about it is, most of us left choose to 'row the boat faster' away from the sinking ship. God-forbid they held a fellow analog company. ..i'm almost disgusted by the whole thing..
As for the state of things, well they are bad, and in reference to the past they are really bad. But the past has gone, and even the present that was only a few years ago is no more. This is a new world, with a new market, new users, new reasons for using film, none of which have anything to do with anything film related of 10 or more years ago, or even 5 years ago.
I see this as a new beginning, and as such, it has all kinds of kinks and quirks - but - if one can look at this form a business\commercial\start up point of view - it is pretty much all good. Forget about DDX and tech pan, that belongs to the "one apon a time" bed time stories realm. Look at what IS out there and try not to fall of your chair.
I had much the sam thought last night when I read it. Thinking on it the market has dramatically changed, like so many markets in the last 15 years. The losers are always the same in these shifts. The middle men and high street shops. Large retailers/distrubutors who can hold inventory are delivering direct to the consumer. Amazon killed Barnes & Nobel who had in turn killed the Mon & Pop bookstore. Netflix killed the high street video rental.
And now shifts in the market driven by digital are killing brick and motar retailers and commercial labs. The market is now a shrinking number of small scale consumers who will be serviced by large direct-to-customers retailers. B&H is the model here. They are almost like an Amazon for photography.
We have B&W materials that are thinning out, (Kodak drops T-MAX 3200) but demand seems to be rounding off and Ilford (Harman really) and Fotokema seem to have been sucesssful in scaling operations to suit the new market. Harman is diversified and is looking for new markets for its technology. Film is part of a diversified portfolio.
Color will eventually go the same way. Demand will stabilize and those companies that can deliver at the smaller scale will do so. Part of that ecosystem is the Jobo CPP-3 and Champion introducing small scale processing packs, direct to folks like you & me, or small community type labs.
So here's the real question. Is this direct to small scale user market large enough to sustain the products required to service it at a price that keeps enough folks engaged? The real answer is we don't know. It might be, it might not. Champion and Jobo are betting that it is.
My guess is that it might just be, but the shakeout will be a very close run thing and a couple of missteps will kill the market. We will lose some more C-41 emulsions and will maybe have 2 E-6 emulsions at the end. I know my E-6 use will go up (from zero currently) if I can get decent E-6 processing materials. My C-41 use is only sustained because I can get the Digibase repackaged Fuji-Hunt chemistry. My film use and chemistry availabilty are linked. Is this typical - nobody really knows.
Where dr5 is right is in seeing doom in his market. I don't see a rosy future there. The market, as it was, is dying. The new film ecosystem will be much smaller and very different if it survives.
..as things evolve, folks who understand what real photography is, in the-mind, will not want to give up that notion. To these peeps 'cell-phone-photography' is a joke. But, they only have so many $$ resources.
It's not that we don't have enough clients, we do. The problem is will we have enough clients that will be able or will want to pay the cost for the services. This is what caused EFKE to close. While they had enough business, the cost of doing business in the foreseeable future was too high. EFKE didn't feel that their client base would pay what was needed to keep it all going.
As a lab service its the same - the cost of chems & supplies, some of them up 250% this year alone, [not to mention ship costs & film costs]. These are business cost increases we cannot absorb. The result is to raise rates. As EFKE did, labs have to decide to raise rates and hope their clients will pay it, or close and do something else..
Real photography has all moved to the arts. There is no commercial or hardly any being done today. When the economy is bad, artists have no money, and arts related services suffer. This is now the state of our industry. By the time who-all is left in analog, decides to pool together, it will be too late for all of us.
This im afraid is the reality of it all..
to krifatida's post - We deal with what we are given - DDX is still very much alive btw.. As mentioned, and I might take it to extreme, specialty stores even as big as freestyle may be going bye-bye sooner than we all think. The Amazons of the world are going to take over this mail-market. As 'services' get more expensive, more artists will be doing the DIY thing to save money. As far as helping each other, it rarely exists, if at all.
Well after that ray of sunshine I think I'll just throw away my cameras now. ;)
I don't see it nearly that bad. Ilford seems to be doing fine in spite of some of the most costly materials on the market (because their stuff is good and worth what it costs.) I don't know about their financial health but Foma is around and makes a variety of materials, and Adox is now coating new films in Germany. I think most everyone knew that there were too many players for the size of the market and some shakeout was expected. It still hurts when it happens though, especially when a company made products unlike anything else on the market (like IR820 and Efke 25, Varycon and Emaks.)
Costs are up and I expect prices to go up, but photography has never been cheap and it still isn't all that expensive compared to many other hobbies and materials for other arts. The economy is starting to improve, at least here in the US, and we can hope that continues which should not only increase demand but hopefully reverse some of the insane run up in precious metal prices and bring down the cost of silver.
If expenses are high I would suspect that the idea would be to move to a cheaper labor market or closer to one's supply chain. It isn't that moving cost aren't high, it's that there are plenty of towns and states willing to work deals on taxes in order to provide job's. If ones company is paying State and Federal taxes, and depending on the State tax liability (including Federal social security and medicare payments on higher wages) maybe moving would be a business saving idea. Let's put it another way; My truck insurance costs in S. Florida alone would be cut by 40% if I moved to the middle of the State. I have talked to my State Farm insurance agent and if I were to move to Georgia or N. Carolina it would be cut by as much as 60%. Then add in lower overhead costs, lower food costs, cheaper warehouse/factory rents and the list goes on. That why the Japanese are over here building Toyota's and many companies moved from California to Nevada. Btw, there are 7 States without a State income tax. What would that save one alone? Cut the overhead, maintain a lower price level and everyone win's.
Artists never have any money regardless of the shape of the economy, which if i read the WSJ correctly has never been better. And i say this after spending close to 10 years in art school and a working artist. Rich people who happen to be artists, however, always seem to have money to make their art regardless of the cost or the shape of the economy. I remember my professors telling me 12 years ago about how there are so few materials left to choose from and even those are so expensive. I do not even have a point of reference to give to my state uni students when i try to explain the base cost coefficient of the materials they need for my macrame photo darkroom class.
As the twp posts above me noted: Prices will go up, markets will change, people will pay more - right now it looks like everyone is winning - Jobo is coming out with a new product to a marginal market - so is tetenal, lomo, impossible project and the list is LONG LONG LONG. Users have materials to use, manufacturers are selling - all is well, and stuff is getting better, stuff is getting better all the time ;).