If you ever turn to eBay to purchase film, you should purchase from sellers that have both a high feedback rating and a country of origin that you trust. Reader Dallas Houghton recently purchased what he thought was 10 rolls of Fujicolor Superia 200 for $28 from a seller based in ShenZhen, China. After the film arrived, he noticed a tiny bit of yellow on the roll. When he gave it a closer look, he discovered that the “Superia” branding on the outside was actually a sticker. Once the sticker was removed the film turned out to be a roll of Kodak 400. He peeled the sticker off another roll and that one turned out to be an older Kodak Kodacolor 100 roll. Caveat emptor.
Kodak’s film business just can’t seem to catch a break. One week the company announced the death of its entire slide film lineup, Kodak announced today that it is increasing the price of all the surviving films by 15%, stating,
We have to contend with further increases in energy and raw material costs, and higher costs associated with lower volumes.
Therefore, to remain a sustainable, viable business, the company is implementing a price increase for consumer and professional films.
Back in November of last year, we reported that Kodak had put its Kodak Gallery service up for sale and was hoping to offload it for “hundreds of millions of dollars”. A couple months later Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and now the company has finally found a buyer for the photo sharing and printing service: Shutterfly. The sale price? Only $23.8 million. If the sale gets approved by the US Bankruptcy Court in March, Kodak Gallery’s 75 million users will be transferred over to Shutterfly unless they opt out.
Kodak announced today that it has decided to discontinue its color reversal (AKA slide) films due to a steady decrease in sales and usage. The films discontinued are Ektachrome E100G/E100VS and Elite Chrome Extra Color 100. The company estimates that based on current sales pace, you’ll still be able to purchase the discontinued films for about six to nine months. If you were a loyal Kodak slide film shooter, it’ll soon be time to switch over to negative film or to Fujifilm color reversal films.
It wasn’t too long ago that Kodak filed multiple patent infringement lawsuits against Apple in a scramble for life-giving cash, but now the tables have turned. Less than a month after Kodak filed for bankruptcy and announced the end of its camera business, Apple is reportedly in the process of asking the court for permission to sue bankrupt Kodak for infringing on Apple’s patents in its printers, digital cameras, and digital picture frames. This back and forth IP fight is one that Kodak might not be in for long: the company is still trying to sell off its portfolio of roughly 1,100 imaging patents.
Shocking news: Kodak, the company that invented the first digital camera back in 1975, announced today that it is pulling out of the camera market entirely. The phasing out of digital cameras, pocket video cameras, and digital picture frames will likely happen by the end of June. Instead, the company will be focusing on licensing out its patents and brand name (much like Polaroid does), and on inkjet photo printing. Although Kodak wasn’t a big player in the digital camera space, it was once a dominant camera maker in the days of film. The original Kodak Brownie helped popularize consumer photography and introduced the concept of the snapshot.
Kodak Theatre, the famous theater on Hollywood Boulevard that hosts the Academy Awards, may soon have a different name. As part of its recent bankruptcy filing, Kodak is now trying to get out of the 20-year, $75-million-dollar naming rights contract it signed back in 2000. The theatre’s about page states,
The naming of Kodak Theatre, in a 20-year marketing partnership with Eastman Kodak Co., was one of the most significant non-sports corporate sponsorships in history. Kodak’s prominence and long-standing connection to the film industry in Hollywood made the relationship a natural. In fact, for the 78th consecutive year, ever since the inception of the Academy Awards, Best Picture was produced on Kodak film.
The next annual payment owed by Kodak is reportedly $4 million.
Perhaps inspired by the vintage camera nightlights we shared last year, photographer Laura Merz decided to upcycle her old Kodak digital camera by turning it into a nightlight for her house. She writes,
I took out all the tiny screws and gutted the camera very carefully as to not crack the exterior case. Be careful — some of the parts are pretty sharp. Removing the lens is the last step, and allows you to insert a small round night light through the opening. I had to crack off the exterior casing on the night light, but with a little force, it snapped right off.
It’s a creative way to breathe new life into an outdated or broken digital camera.
Bloomberg writes that Kodak’s bankruptcy announcement yesterday was simply another step in CEO Antonio Perez’s grand plan to sell off the company’s photography divisions and patents in order to focus on selling digital printers and ink. At the same time, the company has been quick to reaffirm its dedication to producing film. Kodak marketing director Audrey Jonckheer was quoted by BJP today as saying,
Film (still and cinema) remains a profitable business for Kodak, and we have the broadest and most respected portfolio of films in both segments. We have taken steps to sustain the business as it has declined, and we know that there are hundreds of passionate fans of film for the artistic and quality reasons they cite. We remain committed to make film as long as there is profitable demand for it. And as I noted, it is still profitable.
That’s definitely good news for film photography lovers. Want film to survive? Just keep buying it, and hope other shooters do the same!
Here’s a video that’s fascinating in light of Kodak’s bankruptcy announcement today. It was created back in 2006 for the company by partners+napier, and was shown at the All Things Digital Conference in California before Kodak CEO Antonio Perez took the stage to talk about the company’s digital transformation. The predictions made in the video are seemingly prophetic, accurately describing the current landscape of digital and mobile photography. It’s too bad that Kodak couldn’t right its ship, even though it had a good idea of where things were headed.