Azo and Kodachrome, it does not make sense to me.
Here are some things bothering me about Azo and Kodachrome production and comments here about these products.
Up until the 80s, Kodak, Fuji and Konica all made Kodachrome type films, but when E6 came out, Fuji and Konica jumped over to E6 products exclusively. The press and customers call it "forward thinking". Kodak continued R&D on Kodachrome and tried to introduce a new product line including the T-grain 400 speed Kodachrome and the press and customers called it "retro thinking". The products were never introduced. So, now after sticking to it for 20+ years, the market has shrunk to almost zero, but Kodak is hanging in there for all of you Kodachrome lovers and as the market shrinks all you can do is blame Kodak and complain. They stuck with you while everyone else bailed out!
Right now, Fuji makes an Azo type paper but does not sell it in the US AFAIK. Ilford, Agfa and Kentmere have Azo type formulas in-hand but do not make a product like it. Agfa discontinued their Lupex (Azo type) paper years ago. So when Kodak discontinues the paper everyone jumps on Kodak again.
Why not get Ilford to make their Azo type paper? Why not get Fuji to sell their Azo type paper here? Why not get Fuji to make their Kodachrome analog again? Why don't they do it on their own?
The answer is in front of us.
Either there is no market, or they don't care. Oh dear, did I say that about some of your favorite companies or did I put the truth of the market situation in front of you? It is one or the other you know.
From what I know of both companies, I believe they do care.
Think about this though... Castigating Kodak and saying you won't buy any more of their products --- bla, bla, bla will never help. It is injuring Kodak when they have stuck in there longer than most other companies and sold nitch products for you all until it became virtually impossible to sell to such a tiny market. World wide production of Kodachrome is down to about 1 roll / year to supply the entire world. Something like that. Azo was about the same.
Anyhow, that is what I've seen after looking through years of photo mags and thinking about posts here and the current market situation.
Kodak has stuck with you when other companies bailed out or ignored your needs, and you seem to have been too blind to see it. Or, it seems as if you would rather ignore what they have done and just complain.
These products that you love so much can be produced rather easily by other companies but they are not. The reasons are unclear, but I've given two possible interpretations of the reasons.
Now, what do you think of this analysis? Do you think your comments about Kodak re. Kodachrome's decline and Azo are warranted? Do you think that ignoring the market on the part of other companies capable of filling these needs is warranted? Either they care, or they don't care, or either the market is big enough or too small. I'm waiting......
This is going to be interesting.
I'm a fan of Kodak, I use tons (figuratively) of Kodak film products in my work. Here is what I think...It is BECAUSE Kodak has tried to hang on so long to certain products that has created the ill feelings. The growing interest in photography as "art" has renewed interest in certain older products that at the last only Kodak made. Therefore we have all these budding fine art photographers who discovered some of these wonderful old products just as Kodak was winding down production. It is the mis-convergence of the interest upswing, and the economic downswing of manufacturing that is the real problem. Unfortunately the upswing was not big enough to warrant making the papers with the high-volume coating equipment they were optimized for, and I guess re-engineering them for smaller production was not considered economically viable. But there are smaller photo paper manufacturers who have demonstrated they can be profitable in this much smaller market. Kodak has been hurt by its mere size.
As to a specific product like Azo..it took a small group of art photographers to become captivated with its qualities for the current interest to take off. I used to always print my 8x10 contact prints on good enlarging paper, not contact paper. I never tried Azo....but I do believe there is enough market for an Azo clone paper for some vendor who already has the formula worked out for their coating equipment, to make it. It is a niche that is waiting to be filled. After all, almost all silver-based photography is "niche" now, so these niches should be filled by those that can still make fibre-based photo paper.
I think it's the lack of straightforward communication.
I have tried not to be anti-Kodak, but their handling of HIE's demise was pretty annoying. A rumor surfaces that EIR and HIE are being discontinued. They say that only EIR is cancelled and imply that HIE will continue to be produced. A couple months later they say that HIE is discontinued. I strongly doubt that HIE's fate was unknown when they first denied its demise.
I'm not saying the other companies are any better. I AM saying that their use of "weasel words" back in the spring-time made me distrust any possible future pronouncements by them.
As an amateur, their seeming lack of marketing/public relations towards amateurs does not help.
If Kodak began making AZO and/or Kodachrome again, I would purchase it in a heartbeat. I continue to purchase B&W 4x5 and 8x10 sheet film and B&W chemistry. Although I also purchase a fair sum of Ilford B&W products and Funjichrome etc.
I enjoy photography and hope to get the darkroom setup in the next year. I currently develop my B&W w/ a JOBO and do on occasion print AZO from my small horde of paper. I have a 35mm and a 4x5 Saunder LPL and a just recently tracked down a 5x7 Beseler enlarger which should arrive about the first of December.
Kodak, if you are listening, I would spend a few thousand a year on your film/paper, but is not presently available.
Everyone has a constitutional right to be an idiot; that does not mean you should exercise your right!
If Kentmere can make a profit off of a niche product like POP, then PE is right that we should consider pushing for gaslight type papers from other companies.
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I think part of the problem is that Kodachrome and Azo were niche products, with a following who loved them. Not many used them, at least not enough to continue production, but those that did use them REALLY loved them; as a result I think they tend to be more vocal about the demise (or minimal availability) of these products. Those like myself who are happy with Kodak's current offerings just go along buying what they make, although we might wish to try the others.
In another way, I think Kodak takes the lion's share of the abuse because they are the lion. When most people, enthusiast/profession or not, hear "film" they don't think "Konica," "Fuji," "Efke," or even "Ilford." Most people think "Kodak." There's no song called "Ilfochrome," we don't have "Agfa moments." Because Kodak has the longest history and largest following of any film manufacturer (AFAIK) there are more people to complain. It's the same as the Prime Minister taking more abuse than a small-town mayor, simply because there are more people affected. That's my theory, anyways. I'm glad we still have what we have from them.
This is not intended to be a 'why are we bashing Kodak' thread or anything like that. It is intended to be a serious look at why others that can, don't, and if there is a good reason, then the complainers have nothing to complain about.
In fact, we then have reason to ask other companies who can, why don't you? That is, if we truly believe that the market is there.
I hope you see my point in this.
Hi PE, I think you are pretty on the money with your observations. One thing to bear in mind is that it only seems to be a minority who are dumping on Kodak. They just happen to be quite vocal. I am disappointed to see traditional materials discontinued but I can understand the rationale. If I owned the manufacturing company & the products were losing money with no sign of recovery then I think I would be forced to the same decision. There would be no choice if it was a publicly listed company being closely studied by stock analysts. Unless you want to see your share price plummet.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
I can still source most of the interesting products that I could get 10 years ago, just have to go online for them now. I've been shooting a fair bit of Kodachrome & that is not a trivial matter when you live in Australia. >>Buy the film from the USA, shoot, post to Dwayne's, pay for return postage.<<However I like the look & also I don't want to be kicking myself in 10 years when it can no longer be done. Even if it does get discontinued I want to know that I made good use of it while it was around.
If Kodak had a Simon Galley to make its case here, I can't imagine there would have been the kind of bitter carping that, you're right, has been rampant on this site. Quite the opposite has occurred, however, with Kodak's CEO making declarations about the company's transition to all-digital, all the time with nary a supportive comment to make about the firm's continued commitment to some of its traditional products. Regarding what you've said about Fuji, and Ilford, in fact, it's a startling testament to the power of good PR to keep us feeling kindly toward them. I think there's a Kodak Vice President of something or other who should be kissing babies and showing up for on-line meet and greet opportunities instead of having lunch by him/herself in the office. We're suckers for an encouraging word and dash of up-beat spin. I will continue to buy the Kodak film and chemicals that I have been happy to use for many years. It'd be nice to hear someone from that company show up here, make nice, and make me feel comfortable that I'll be able to continue to purchase the stuff I love in the future, or hear an honest explanation of why I won't be able to.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
John, you have a good point. One that I have been vocal about. I know that Kodak people lurk here!
But that is part of the problem. They have apparently stuck by us but have been bashed. And, other companies that could help us out with nitch products don't but get praise.
BTW, where is the Fuji rep here?