That's half the problem.
Originally Posted by keithwms
The other half is plunging demand and the decline of processing labs and no one making the devices to put your product into.
That is the problem. It's really the only problem regardless of Ch.11.
Does anyone honestly think the new Kodak with creditors turned into shareholders is going to back film given the drop in demand and no one making cameras?
1. Not if you are public. You have to maintain revenues for the share value to match the equity in the company. Look at RIM right now.
Originally Posted by ParkerSmithPhoto
2. You still have to solve the demand curve declining.
3. Someone has to make cameras in volume proportionate to the capacity to make film, less eBay salvage and legacy cameras, the later 2 subject to entropy.
4. Labs have to be around to process in volume.
The problem is not just with Kodak and its overhead. Or Fuji. It's with the whole market infrastructure.
I am not saying film will die, but that for film to survive it needs to get away from the toxic public corporate entity that is Kodak and into private hands. Fuji will have a comeuppance in the future as well, but their decisions will be internal as their imaging revenue stream apart from film is very, very strong.
I look forward to seeing you proven wrong, Aristophanes! Nobody is saying the "new" Kodak will look anything like the old, or even that these products will still be made by Kodak. Absent those two assumptions, which you continue to make over and and over ....ad nauseum as if nobody's heard them.... absent those two assumptions, what you are saying is meaningless.
Film demand has dropped precipitously. No one is disputing that. But the bigger question is whether it (discounting motion picture which we know will continue to fall off a cliff) has declined as far as it's going to. Is the current level sustainable or possibly due for growth?
I don't really know and I submit that no one else can be sure either!
The argument that no one is making new film cameras looks more reasonable than it is. With the way demand has dropped and the life span of older quality gear being dumped on the market, there isn't much demand for new cameras right now. As older cameras wear out, are broken and become unservicable, it remains to be seen if an interest in film photography will remain large enough to bring new cameras to market. Notice that new large format cameras ARE being made, but of course this has always been a small market and the ones being made are simple enough to be a bit of a cottage industry.
Mechanical cameras aren't that difficult to make. Heck, with the advances in 3D printing technology in ten years you may be able to use a $500 (currently the cheapest are about $2000) 3D printer to make all the parts you need, save for maybe a lens, for a serviceable plastic camera right at home from your computer. If you break a part just print another one.
I agree that film won't survive solely on Kodak's shoulders. The loss of commercial photo finishing is much lamented, but I have no problems sending my film out, even though there are labs in Atlanta. Heck, it's easier for me to mail it to Dwayne's than drive into Atlanta from the suburbs to drop it off then to pick it up. And black and white has been "dead" to commercial photofinishing for a couple of decades but still survives for hobbyists and artists who do their own developing and printing or send it to custom labs - very rarely to large volume non-custom ones.
No growth unless new cameras in volume are also manufactured. The key point is no one currently makes film cameras save the Lomo crowd, and they make far too few. All motion picture camera manufacturing has ended save for custom orders from diminishing machine stock.
Originally Posted by Roger Cole
Film and developing costs continue to rise because local supply drops with labs closing. The more they rise, the fewer people can afford to shoot. The paradox of thrift kicks in and demand drops even more. Ilford started their own lab processing for B&W likely because they foresaw this dynamic. The cannot sell enough produce to home developer/darkroom folks to keep the industrial capacity going on a perishable product. So they need a central processing system to increase the aggregate. The film supplier now has to take on the role of the labs because the industry is consolidating so much. This is good, but it is Kodak circa 3 years after EK first began.
Cottage industries cannot sustain Fuji/Kodak/Ilford mass industrial production facilities. Most emulsions can't be made in a barn unless stoopid rich millionaires buy a big chemistry set.
B&W (and E6) survive now because colour negative and especially motion picture film underwrites the rest through cost-shifting. Once those costs are no longer amortized over multiple products the core products will have to bear the brunt of the price increases. $25 for Tri-X 135/36? There won't be cheaper alternatives because the cheap guys will no longer be able to afford the raw materials. Bye-bye Foma, Efke, etc. No one will extend credit to pay the electric bill for a factory that has fewer and fewer customers every day (see paradox of thrift above; the first guy to be thrifty is the guy loaning you money).
The smaller companies will starve for credit and capital before demand from customers runs out. They will have to pay to distribute; that's when it usually ends.
How is this solved? Private capital rationalizes and vertically integrates key film industry components under one roof, from film production, to camera manufacture, to lab processing via affordable mail order. They also supply the home hobby market, but prices are substantially higher (no more cost-shifting).
Kodak is staying public because of its preferred shareholders recently creditors post Ch.11. These parties cannot buy a declining gross revenue stream and still add share value. That itself is contradictory in public companies. So Kodak is part of the problem, not the solution. And film is Kodak's problem now.
It may be that Kodak cannot sell the film division and they have to shutter it at preferred shareholder demand. 13 months from now it will get pretty test if we continue to see Kodak film sales plunge. And if they are plunging for Kodak, they are doing so for Fuji. At least Fuji still has small runs of film cameras (I think the Natura is still produced along with the MF 6x7). It would not surprise me to see Fuji dramatically ramp up their prices to high-end boutique values for all film. They've done this before and it is a common pricing strategy for Yen-dependent companies.
The stupid part, as PE describes, is Kodak has the best emulsion system in the world. This is precisely the system that should be saved for niche product efficiency, but sadly, it is most at risk.
No, I do not have a crystal ball. But I was just part of a review on a Ch.11 component worth $100's of millions (pulp and paper). I do these analyses for a living. This is not the only industry undergoing painful, deeply unsettling changes.
You can engage in the silly "film is dead" — "no it's not, I saw a guy..." hyperbole. All I do is follow the money and speak as I see it. What I do see is Kodakspeak buttering up film. This tells me they are trying to sell the unit because that's what the balance sheet says should happen. They won't cry about lost customers or reveal steep revenue declines. No one advertises damaged goods.
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Received an email from Freestyle Photo today claiming film division sales at Kodak were up 20% last year. Here is the email:
Senior Vice President Merchandising and Product Development
Dear Valued Freestyle Customer,
The recent announcement by Eastman Kodak Company that they have voluntarily applied for Chapter 11 restructuring comes at no surprise. This is a situation that has been brewing for quite some time and we have received many calls and emails from customers voicing their concern over the future of silver-halide, traditional photographic materials. We have never relied too heavily on any single supplier for our future. As opposed to what you are reading in the media, interest in Film, Wet Darkroom and Historical Photographic Processes is not declining. If it were, Freestyle would very quickly be forced to change course, focusing its efforts on other products. The media tends to dwell on the negative, ignoring the details of a situation to deliver quick sound bites that will capture your attention.
Here are some facts to consider:
Kodak's sales in their film division increased 20% last year, and this division continues to be a profitable segment. They have billions of dollars in assets. Citicorp Group just gave them $950 million to help fund their restructuring efforts which will continue for 18 months.
Sounds like Kodak will be around for a while longer and that Citicorp is pretty sure they are going to get their money back with interest. The film division seems to be doing quite well and may even prosper under new management as a separate entity. Regardless of what happens, Freestyle is prepared to make a sizable investment in product to keep important products available for years to come.
Kodak film is not the only brand of product Freestyle sells. While Kodak is an important and high volume supplier of ours, in actuality, we do more business individually with Harman Technologies in Ilford Brand B&W Film and Paper, Foma, Fotokemika and Adox brands. These brands are totally committed to continuing manufacturing for the foreseeable future and have absolutely no plans to stop production as sales continue to be quite robust. They have already taken necessary steps to restructure their facilities for long term survival.
As individual items have been discontinued over the years, folks have adapted to the ever changing product selection and have continued creating their art and means of photographic self expression. While we are to some extent limited by the availability of products it by no means hinders creativity.
Hopefully some of these thoughts will reassure those who are nervous. Know that Freestyle continues to be THE driving force in traditional photographic products and that our commitment is stronger than it has ever been.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
Another off the topic; there was a show on tv about the top 100 all time inventions. The panel of scientists and others in various fields named the number one all time invention the smart phone. It has radically changed our existence on the planet in so many ways.
Originally Posted by Aristophanes
Studios dumping their Panaflexes in the back lot dumpsters this weekend!!
Mass recycling of all existing film into ingots at the end of the month!!!
Give it a flipping rest.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
It is unusual for me to be optimistic, but I'm not sure I see the current lack of film camera production as much of an obstacle. If a few years hence a market is identified for new cameras, and given there is a century of existing film camera history/experience/designs, it would seem a junior engineer project for Olympicanikon to modify a d!git@l SLR body to take film instead of a sensor. Surely it would be a hell of a lot less effort than going in the other direction.
Geeze -- resurrect the Argus C3, in polycarbonate with an electronic shutter -- take THAT Holga!
He' right on the first score (in bold), but he drank some Kodak sales pitch Kool-Aid on the second.
Originally Posted by Loren Sattler
From Kodak's SEC filed AR:
"Due to changes in technology and customer preferences, the market for traditional film and paper products and services is in decline. Our success depends in part on our ability to manage the decline of the market for these traditional products by continuing to reduce our cost structure to maintain profitability."
Total net sales of Kodak FPEG:
2008 = $ 2,987
2009 = $ 2,257
2010 = $ 1,767
2011 = $ 1,131 (to Q3 only)
Kodak FPEG revenues were dramatically down last year. They did not grow. They are not projected to grow. They are projected to steadily decline.
Has Kodak reduced the cost structure? Probably. But they are going to hit a point where demand reduces and supply costs can no longer shrink, and it will happen on the creditors forecast, not Kodak's, which means 13 months from now.
Citicorp will get their money back because they have a lien on Kodak's hard assets, like land. That's how creditors in possession secure collateral ahead of bondholders.
Freestyle is mail order and big. They are picking up the volume from the Mom & Pop stores that used to be all over. That does not mean that overall consumption of film products is not declining. My local Craigslist says it is. So does my national one.