It is elementary economics that , with any consumer products, not just photographic, ongoing price increases will, eventually, be counterproductive and affect the volume of sales, especially at a time of recession and economies and in a decliming market, as customers move to cheaper options, use less, or even postpone purchases altogether.
Harman hasn't cornered the world's silver market. Are they supposed to eat the increase in silver prices to hold film prices down? Doubtful.
I am certain that the management at Harman are well aware of the risks associated with the continuing need to adjust their prices in today's marketplace. And I am also fairly certain that they have examined all of the alternatives forwards and backwards, and do not take these decisions lightly. The smaller a market niche, the more symbiotic the relationship becomes.
From a March 12, 2010 Ilford press release:
"Steven Brierley, Marketing Director for ILFORD PHOTO commented: “Over the course of our 130 year heritage, ILFORD PHOTO has become more than just another photographic company – many of our customers see us as the custodians of the future of black and white photography."
Speaking only for myself, that is exactly how I see them. Unlike some others, they have publicly committed to this medium for the long run. And backed up that assertion with actions in the form of new and/or reintroduced black and white products, as well as the continuation of a full and complete product line of insanely high quality offerings.
So I will adjust where necessary and continue to purchase as much as I can from them. And trust that if and when economic conditions improve, they will reward that trust and readjust their prices accordingly.
Last edited by Ken Nadvornick; 05-27-2011 at 05:21 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Incorrect verb tense...
"The richness of the experience that occurs when one is exposed tangibly to a subject, material, or process is unmatchable in the abstract... Thus, when 'touch it,' 'taste it,' smell it' become the watchwords, the results are most often extraordinary. Equally extraordinary are the lengths to which people will go to avoid [that] experience."
— Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr., In Search of Excellence, 1982
Hasn't silver gone down in price recently? Yes I realise that Ilford will be using the expensive silver it has recently had to buy but if its future materials use the cheaper silver then it might be good marketing to hold current prices then make up the profit difference with the cheaper silver.
Originally Posted by CGW
Of course it may have chosen to increase prices to reflect higher silver prices and then choose to announce a price decrease later this year based on lower silver prices so the good news comes later.
It may see that as a better approach. All speculation of course as we know no more than what was in the Harman News announcement.
Things other than the increased silver price were cited but not specified. All I can say with some confidence is that labour costs increases are unlikely to be part of the factors. What we are seeing in the U.K since the start of the recession, following the banking crisis of 2008 is a kind of " economic perfect storm" where wages and salaries are being successfully held but inflation is rising with almost zero rates for savings.
The consequence of this is a lowering of living standards for most people that hasn't been experienced since the 1930s. Not my conclusion but that of the Governor of the Bank of England. It is against this backdrop of a lowering of disposable incomes that I think Thomas Bertillson refers to, that Ilford has to weigh up the consequences of increasing its prices.
Photography is a hobby and when times are tough and we have responsibilities towards our families, hobbies demand economies.
I agree with all that's been said. It's easy to get upset when things you enjoy using increase in price. I understand the price increase, and why it needs to happen. But everyone here knows that photography is not a cheap hobby. What I will do is continue to shoot film as I always have, and if the film prices go up significantly I will simply be more picky of what I shoot, and shoot less film. It can only make my photography better and force me to be more critical. If paper goes up in price I will maybe print a little less, or be a little more picky about what I print. I still want to use Ilford's papers and films, I still want to use the best. I look at it like this: I pay $2 now for a sheet of 11x14 MGWT paper. Say it takes 4 sheets to get one great final print. That's only $8 for a FB final print!! Plus your time and chems obviously. That's cheap!! So if the price per sheet suddenly increased to a whopping $3 a sheet, that's still only $12 for a final print. Try getting a good light-jet, inkjet or lambda print for that cost, not including the drum scan!!
The world is what it is and that's the way it is.
Where it hurts the most is for those on fixed incomes and artists who make a living from photography, the poor and students. Fortunately two things have happened to me that have changed how I feel about the availability of products. One is Carbon Transfer Photography and the other is X Ray film. Both are extremely economical. 100 sheets of 11x14 X Ray film is right around $50.00. that's 50 cents a sheet. Carbon Transfer materials are inexpensive too.
While I scale back on 'traditional' photography I'm increasing my work with Carbon. I've found it totally useless to try to analyze photo companies, no one knows what's behind decisions and no one but a few actually knows what economics are of Harmon or Kodak or Fuji or any other.
The old saying comes to mind: "Keep 'em guessing".
Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand
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Ha, and I just opened the box of fiber paper that I bought from just before the last price increase.
I love Ilford's products - I'll skimp in other areas and support them as long as I possibly can.
I heard from Freestyle when I was in there last week or so about another Ilford price hike coming up. Therefore I don't think the US is exempt from this. For the first time since I've gotten seriously into b&w photography five years ago, I'm starting to think I may have to "go digi" as my digital friends call it. Sure there are other brands but when it comes to film Ilford has cornered the market on some items such as Delta 3200, the fastest film available in 120, a film I shoot a fair amount of, and at the other end Pan F+, the slowest film I can count on for QC. I really like the Adox/Efke films, but they now cost more then Ilford and I've had too many rolls where the first (or is it the last?) frame is exposed so close to the end of the roll, that the shot is wasted. This is simply too much money for this kind of QC inconsistency which is why I went back to Pan F+. Ilford papers have always been too expensive for me, but this won't matter if film becomes too expensive for me to keep purchasing. In the last two months I've purchased enough Ilford film that for about the same price I could have gotten a fairly decent DSLR.
PS - Right now the best buy in film I think is Fuji Acros 100 (120 size). It's $2.99 a roll at Freestyle or $14.49 for a five pack. If nothing else, I'll just shoot this film until prices for Pan F+ and Delta 3200 drop. I've already bought up a bunch of Acros to replace Adox CHS Art 100 as my favorite medium speed film. Thank you Fuji!
I hate to see price increases, but it is better for Ilford stay in business.