Kodak and the clips
I refrained from the recent round of Kodak-bashing, but I was bemused by my experience today:
I decided today that I needed some stainless-steel hangers for 5x7" film to fit the cages I use on a 15-liter tank line. I tried numerous secondhand dealers, nothing to be had. After several web searches, I found that Kodak Scientific Imaging Systems offer part #1502723. I rang the HQ of Kodak UK, was bounced around the switchboard 5 or 6 times and was finally told that Kodak Scientific Imaging Systems products are marketed in the UK directly under the control of Eastman Kodak Rochester NY, not via Kodak Harrow, and that I would need to contact Rochester direct by phone (e-mail not possible) to find out if this product was available in the UK and how much it costs. I did a further web search and found that the same product is sold by the Kodak Dental Imaging division - this time there was a price, an eyewatering $77. I have therefore decided to go for British Hewes hangers which cost "only" $45. What kind of a company "markets" its products like this?
Good morning, it took 14 sec. to find Kodak.com and search for:
$77.00 is the price here in the USA. I guess Kodak has gone web-based like most other companies. Have you tried tube developing like the B.T.Z.S. tubes? They are a lot cheaper to make.
Just a thought.
You ought to try searching on ebay, or post a want it add in the classifieds on this site.
As we know 5x7 is not really a format that has a history of useage here in the UK until recently.
But labs & professional photographers are throwing out deep tank lines all over the world and the film hangers get chucked out as well.
So you might be lucky & find some second hand 5x7's in North America
It actually took me far less to find www.kodak.com, but there was no apparent link to the hangers. A Google search for "Kodak hanger" found the table you mentioned fairly quickly, however the point I was making was that no one at Kodak HQ in the UK knew about this product or could tell me where it was available. US APUGers may have difficulty understanding that while a full range of Kodak products is available in the US, the position is very different in the UK (which is why no one here is worrying about the cessation of production of b+w paper - we haven't been able to buy it for years). I simply feel it is insane to be asked to make a transatlantic phone call because Kodak UK is chaotically organized.
Originally Posted by phfitz
Ian, I did look for s/hand hangers - plenty of 4x5, even 8x10", but no 5x7" except the nasty film/plate hangers that give uneven density at the film edges.
I have a stack of 13x18 hangers - unfortunately the 5x7" films are just a little bit too small. No wonder I got them cheap
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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Kodak always has been very regional. Their structure was always manufacturer - national organization - dealer. It is only very recently that they have had a web presence and a source of information that was international.
In Canada, historically, Kodak provided a lot of support to dealers, and would refer customer enquiries to those dealers. Even their scientific and technical divisions, such as medical imaging (X-Ray), would tend to have geographically focused representatives, that would operate out of the national organization, rather than internationally.
Kodak Canada used to be a great supporter of the small camera store - their pricing was such that if the store bought a reasonable quantity of materials, they would get the same pricing as the bigger dealers.
Any photographic dealer (even the smallest ones) could access any photographic item. You would therefore sometimes find situations where the corner drugstore in a small town stocked items that would otherwise be considered hard to find specialty items - because they were Kodak dealers, and they had customers who asked for them.
The extensive dealer network, and wide availability of a large number of products, and all of the dealer support depended of course on one factor - high margins. When the photographic business turned into a business where margins are slim and product decisions are made almost exclusively based on price, it was the death knell to this level of wide ranging support.
Even after the amateur market started becoming so low margin, there was still some meaningful margin in some of the professional markets, but with the advent of professional digital, and the other cost focussed market forces that are now in place, there is little opportunity for anyone to maintain a service oriented business with the scope and coverage that Kodak used to supply.
It used to be possible to earn a reasonable living and have a satisfying career in the retail photographic business. It is very difficult to do that now, because margins are thinner, support is more rare, and competition with web based retailers is far more intense than the competition with the mail order sellers of yesteryear.
Smaller, more flexible businesses supporting a niche market are possible, but they will never have the resources available to them to perform the research or develop the new products that big companies like Kodak had in the past.
It used to be that the economies of scale inherent in the large amateur photographic markets supported the smaller, more professional and technichal and artistic markets, and a synergy existed between the two, whereby technical improvements in one, tended to benefit the others. Work directed at improving professional products eventually bore fruit in the amateur markets as well, and the resulting cost savings in manufacture that flow from high volumes, benefitted all markets. The great tragedy of the rapid rise of the digital photographic medium is that the synergies are being lost, and the economies of scale are shrinking.
Kodak didn't decide to stop producing Black and White photographic paper simply because it became less profitable to produce that product - they decided to stop production because the whole system of production and marketing (including distribution) that had supported it in the past is disappearing. If few at the retail end are ordering the paper in quantity, and there are fewer and fewer commercial labs doing the work and using the product, then the costs of producing and marketing and improving and distributing the product become so great, relative to the sales, as to make it uneconomic. If there aren't other markets that benefit from existing synergies with the Black and White paper market, than it is difficult to continue in that market.
In years gone past, the hangers that David was looking for were more readily available, along with information about them, because the entire market for film and chemistry and paper and darkroom equipment supported that level of personal service, even from a company as big as Kodak (through their dealers).
It may be that in today's marketplace, only big box stores, web based retailers, and small niche market vendors will survive. That would be a tragedy.
Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
Agfa. Oh my head still hurts from that one
Check with Calumet in UK as they are carried here in USA by them.
Thanks for the interesting responses. What Matt says is undeniably true - what is strange is that Kodak has apparently decided to discontinue many products without considering the web sales option, which is surely a very effective answer in cases where traditional distribution has become non-viable. I run a one-man business, my time is valuable to me, and I just love web sales. I buy all my consumables, almost all my computer hardware, almost all my camera equipment (dealers and e-bay), all my books, CDs and DVDs and most of my clothes this way. It really does seem to be a question of will - Kodak makes it fantastically difficult to buy certain products, other (smaller, younger) companies, as APUGers will know, have got themselves together and sell photographic goods from India, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. with very acceptable shipping charges and quick delivery times. I am sure that APUGers would love to have the full range of Kodak products available via web sales from the US, and I am sure the figures would add up for Kodak if they were only willing to try. Matt notes that economies of scale no longer apply, which is true, but I think it is equally true that web sales can make it viable to handle small orders profitably.
As regards Calumet, same old story - available in US, not UK. With customs charges, shipping costs, etc. (even without VAT), these hangers would start to cost me $90 apiece from the US, I can't bring myself to pay this for an item which I am used to thinking of as lying around processing labs in the hundreds!
I won't enter into the debate over Kodak's customer service level to the average wet darkroom user. But I will comment on the clips. I saw some of these clips on Ebay, new. Around $10 each if I remember correctly. They were dental film clips. I Did not buy them ( I am not that nuts), but kept them in mind. Later that year, I found them, newe in the box, for $10 a box of 10. Keep your eyes peeled, they do become available at reasonable prices. BTW, they do work great..... The only negative it that the clip hanger ( the part that gets connected to the wire over your head, not the negative) is 90degrees rotated form that which I needed. The negative plane should be perpendicular to the wire over your head. This way, you can hang multiple negatives for drying parallel to each other.