EMULSIVE x Kodak Alaris Community Interview: results time
Thank you’s and introductions
First of all, a massive thanks to everyone who got involved in the final Q&A presented below. We chopped, diced and spliced as many of your questions as we could for a totally packed submission to the team over at Kodak Alaris.
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to David Toman, Erik Gould and Ribnar Mazumdar for taking the helm on this community interview. Your insight, advice and feedback was invaluable in shaping the direction of the Q&A you see below.
The Kodak Alaris team
This interview was lucky enough to be placed into the capable and experienced hands of Kodak Alaris’ Dennis B. Olbrich, Therese Corrigan-Bastuk and Thomas J Mooney, all based over in Rochester, NY.
A little more on the Alaris team:
Dennis B. Olbrich
I am President & GM of Imaging, Paper, Photo Chemicals & Film (IPPF). Said another way, the traditional film and paper business. I am responsible for the overall strategy and execution of Kodak Alaris’ IPPF business, and am a member of the Board of Directors of several Kodak Alaris legal entities. I began my career with Eastman Kodak in Film and Paper Process Engineering back in the early ‘80’s.
Otherwise known as TCB, my days are devoted to the global marketing communications we have planned and when I have a free moment, I look after the brand. The product portfolio I work on spans quite a scale from professional film to chemistry to kiosks at retail. I have had many interesting assignments to my delight, but none were as much fun as writing content for the EMULSIVE website!
Thomas J. Mooney (T.J.)
I am the worldwide product and business manager for all of Kodak Alaris’ Film Capture products, which includes the Professional & Consumer films, One Time Use Cameras (OTUC), and some of the world’s most popular and iconic brands. Over the course of the last 36 years, first at Eastman Kodak, and now with Kodak Alaris, I’ve been involved in all aspects of the film business. It never gets old.
You’ll find each of the questions we submitted to the Alaris team for review below. We’ll be starting with the panel questions and then moving on to those submitted by the community. We’ve tried to provide credit for each question to the person/people who submitted them but if for some reason you’ve been missed out, please raise your hand so we can update accordingly.
In a change from the norm, we’ve decided to feature images from the film photography community with each image. Thanks to everyone who answered the call for submissions, your photographs are very much appreciated.
On to the interview:
The EMULSIVE x Alaris community interview: results time
Panel question 01: Ribnar Mazumdar
Can you share the current state of the art in terms of R&D work being done at Kodak in film/emulsion technology? Specifically, given the resurgence of interest in film, can we expect rebirths/reformulation of classic Kodak emulsions (TechPan, Kodachrome, Kodalith…) in limited special order runs if there is enough interest?
Additionally, is there a way for us to order specific formats of Kodak film directly from Kodak? e.g. I would love to get my hands on fresh stock of 5×7 T-Max 100 but I have no idea how to go about ordering something custom or if that is even possible.
Another aspect I’m interested in is my favorite format – the super 8 and the recent announcement of Kodak’s foray into the analog renaissance by launching its Kodak’s super 8 camera? Can you talk about the total cost of ownership? What is Kodak’s vision of pricing including film, dev and scan? Today competitors like Pro8mm are offering a package (film+dev+scan) for around $120 per cassette which is pretty steep for average enthusiasts wanting to get into super 8 movies. Is there a pricing “sweet spot” you guys have identified? Would love to hear your thoughts.
Kodak Alaris: First a clarification: The still film business is now owned and managed by Kodak Alaris, a spin off from Eastman Kodak and a separate legal entity, owned by the pension fund of Kodak’s former UK staff.
Eastman Kodak still owns and manages the Motion Picture business, including Super 8. Pricing questions on the Super 8 system would need to be posed to them.
The R&D work that is taking place at this point is focused in two primary areas. The first area of focus is on maintaining availability of material components (e.g. accrediting new suppliers as necessary and/or reformulation to maintain compliance with changing Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) regulations).
The second area of focus is looking for opportunities to expand our portfolio of products. Most likely that would mean bringing back an emulsion from bygone days. It’s not as simple as you may think, because many older products would have to be reformulated based on changes in the manufacturing process and/or EH&S regulations.
As we are sure that you know by this time, Kodak Alaris recently announced that we are bringing back the iconic KODAK PROFESSIONAL EKTACHROME Film. This film, beloved for its extremely fine grain, clean bright colors, and great tone scale, taps into the resurgence of analog photography. Kodak Alaris plans to initially offer the new EKTACHROME film in 135-36x format, with availability sometime in the fourth quarter of 2017.
K. B. Canham Cameras, Inc. has an agreement with Kodak Alaris to sell special order sheet film around the world. It is possible to request just about any sheet film size you desire. Orders can be completed either by a single purchase of an entire run, or via a co-op. See further details at their website: http://www.canhamcameras.com/kodakfilm.html.
Panel question 02: David Toman
Everywhere I go, when people see me shooting film they invariably respond with incredulity, asking “You can still buy film?” If they see me with Kodak film, the response is doubly disbelieving, like “Didn’t Kodak go under a few years ago?”
The widespread perception is that Kodak was dissolved due to bankruptcy and that film is no longer available – to the average person, film is dead.
How are you working to get out that awareness deficit and get people to buy and use fresh film; and what strategies do you have in mind to postpone film’s funeral for a while longer?
Kodak Alaris: Changing the perception on film is definitely a challenge!
We are active in social media, with 30,000 followers on our KODAK PROFESSIONAL Facebook page, where content is updated daily. We are also active on Twitter and Instagram. (@kodakprofilmbiz), and we routinely contribute to film photography blogs.
We have a very handy KODAK PROFESSIONAL Film App to help locate film sellers as well as processing labs. It’s available for Android (download from Google Play) as well as iOS (download from the App Store).
In the US, we participate in three photography shows: Professional Photographers of America (IUSA), Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) and PhotoPlus. These venues provide us with a fantastic opportunity to interact with film photographers.
That said, it is still an uphill battle to get the word out to the masses. Everyone in the industry that loves film can help by being evangelists for the benefits of film!
Panel question 03: Erik Gould
I would love to see Alaris play “small ball” with the great range of films you now offer. Things like offering some motion film stocks such as Double-X in cassettes, or specially priced sample packs marketed to appeal to people who are curious about the buzz surrounding film. Do you have any plans along those lines?
On the support side of the business, Eastman Kodak recently announced it will reestablish film labs in India, and Kodak Motion have recently acquired iDalies. Does Alaris have plans to rebuild the lab network that seems so essential to getting folks to try film or to come back to film? As an aside, please never stop making TMax 400, it’s awesome!
Kodak Alaris: Thanks for the kind words. T-MAX 400 is indeed an awesome film, and is unmatched for grain and sharpness by any other high-speed B&W film. Next to TRI-X, it is one of our top sellers.
The challenge for niche products – like a Double X – is generally the limited market demand. Manufacturing has minimum order quantity (MOQ) requirements for components like 135 cassettes and cartons that need to be met in order to keep the costs reasonable. However, we are continuing to look at options where this may make sense.
By “lab network” we assume that you are thinking along the lines of the old Qualex Photofinishing labs. Kodak Alaris has no plans to rebuild this network, as we work very hard to avoid conflicts with our lab customers. We continue to work instead to connect film users with the labs that are out there and doing a great job. Our recent refresh of the KODAK PROFESSIONAL Film App is just one example of this.
Panel question 04: EMULSIVE:
It’s no secret that Eastman Kodak has had more than its fair share of hard times since the turn of the century but during the last three years or so, things seem to be very much on the up-and-up. It strikes me that the “Big Six Deal” was pivotal in securing breathing space for not only Eastman Kodak but also Kodak Motion, Kodak Alaris and subsidiary companies.
With Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke having been quoted as saying, “we are no longer reliant on those agreements [with Hollywood] to make film” earlier this year, how do you see the future of Kodak Alaris as it relates to the supply of consumer film products over the next 5-10 years?
Kodak Alaris: As mentioned earlier, Kodak Alaris is a spin off from Eastman Kodak and is a separate legal entity (Jeff Clarke is CEO at Eastman Kodak). We’ve seen modest sales growth in Pro Films within the US and Western Europe since we split from Eastman Kodak in 2013 and this makes us very optimistic about the future. Film is our heritage, and we remain committed to meeting the evolving needs of today’s film shooters
Panel question 05: EMULSIVE
Kodachrome…ouch. Bad memories for some. I never shot the film myself and not as attached as some. What were the commercial realities behind the decision to retire this stock, as well as the rest of your slide film line? Do you see a future where your slide films could be reintroduced, or the technology sold/licensed to others?
Additionally, what if any product innovation is happening at Kodak with regards to new and existing film stocks? It’s widely understood that New Kodak Portra enjoys technology brought over from Kodak Motion’s VISION line but what else have you got up your sleeves?
Kodak Alaris: We’ve seen a number of photographers come back to shooting film due to aesthetics, workflow or simply to differentiate their business and/or look. More importantly, we are also seeing a younger, creative crowd that grew up with digital now experiencing film for the first time.
Given this positive momentum for film, we have been looking for opportunities to expand our portfolio of products. We conducted an extensive review of the color reversal film market, and chose to bring back the EKTACHROME film line. Despite all of its terrific features, KODACHROME requires a highly complex film development process (K-14) that no longer exists in the market. While we remain big fans of the unique characteristics of KODACHROME, we felt that EKTACHROME film better meets the needs of most analog photographers today, and avoids the complications associated with attempting to resurrect the K-14 process.
Community question 01: Toni Skokovic
Hello, I have discovered film photography for the first time over the last 18 months. Kodak Ektar is my go to colour film and its colour rendering produces some magical tones in both overcast and golden hour light.
Kodak Alaris seems to be directing a lot of its film information and documents toward professional photographers and labs – any plans to provide a more enthusiast friendly face, especially when it comes to colour film and C-41 process support (chemicals, film and developer spec sheets, etc.).
At this stage, sourcing the full processing kit for home (C-41) is fairly tricky and this may be an opening where Kodak Alaris could fill the gap, end to end.
Any plans to extend the offering to include C-41 chemicals as well?
Kodak Alaris: We are delighted to hear that EKTAR 100 is your “go to” film, Toni! In addition to high saturation and ultra-vivid color, this film offers the finest, smoothest grain of any color negative film available today.
We are currently in the process of revamping the Kodak Alaris website and we are slowly re-introducing some of the wealth of information that we previously provided for enthusiasts.
Unfortunately, there are currently no plans to bring back a C-41 processing kit for home use. We offered one in the past, but there was just not enough demand to keep it viable.
Community question 02: Neil Thain-Gray
I would like to thank Kodak for engaging in this community interview as it is a real sign of willingness to engage with customers and listen to our needs.
We’ve heard there’s been real growth in Kodak film sales in the last year, which is great news for everyone involved in film photography. However in the UK over the last 9 months we have faced Kodak stock shortages: in Spring many of the big UK online retailers were out of Portra 160, 400 and Ektar 100 in 35mm; now at the end of this summer Boots, the largest UK pharmacy chain who have made a commitment to high street film sales, are out of UltraMax 400 and Gold 200 in 35mm.
On both occasions these retailers have cited via social media that supply issues are the reason for Kodak products being out of stock.
For many film photographers like myself, consistency in choice of film stock is important in maintaining the look of their work, so it is frustrating when supplies dry up. The film photography resurgence is still fragile and film photographers remain nervous as other big brand companies continue to cull film stocks.
I have three questions that I would like to propose for the interview as follows:
- I would like to ask whether these supply issues have been directly related to increased demand, or has this been down to something more mundane like trade deals or other logistical challenges?
- If the challenge has been to meet increased demand from consumers, how are Kodak resourcing production to respond to this?
- What other steps might Kodak be considering to build and inspire confidence in their commitment to film production and development?
Thanks for all the work behind the scenes at Emulsive for pulling this interview together and good luck!
Kodak Alaris: Thanks for the questions Neil. Stock shortages result from a variety of factors, such as:
- Demand higher than forecast
- Logistics changes
- Component material shortages
We experienced all of the above at various points in 2016. As you’ve surmised, the demand for film has been strong.
In addition, completing the final stages of our separation from Eastman Kodak necessitated changes in our warehouse locations and information systems. This created some delays in making film available, particularly in light of the stronger than-expected sales.
In order to recover, we are now shipping film into Europe by air instead of by ocean, while we bolster inventory levels to meet the higher demand. Our goal is to ensure a consistent supply of film going forward.
Community question 03: Lance Sherwood / Australian Photographer
– Lance Sherwood
The Pakon 135 scanner has soared in popularity the past few years. Prices went from $250 to now upwards of $650. There is definitely a cult following, but for good reason. The speed, ease, and resolution are really unbeatable. But the interface and software requirements are atrocious!
Is there any possibility/ interest in offering a software upgrade for the scanner? The film community would LOVE Kodak for a move like that.
– Australian photographer
I agree, my Kodak Pakon 135+ scanner makes a huge difference to my film photography workflow. It is fast, reliable and producers superior colour images (B&W as well). I would think that a modern replacement for the Pakon would be a smart business move as it would enable people to rapidly share in a cost-effective way the wonderful images that Kodak film produces (I use Ektar, Portra, Tri-X and T-Max). My question: will Kodak Alaris please look at producing a modern Pakon replacement?
Kodak Alaris: The KODAK PAKON F-135 Plus film scanner was a staple in 1-hour photo shops for many years and is relatively widely available on the used market today. They are circa 2004-time frame, so it is necessary to run them with Windows XP or earlier software. This unit has a very good version of DIGITAL ICE and the software that is used produces a scan that requires a very minimal amount of post-processing.
Due to the age of this film scanner technology, it would be very difficult to introduce an updated version of the scanner or the firmware that drives it. We never want to say “never”, but Kodak Alaris has no work ongoing at this point to bring this product back.
Community question 04: Diz
I regret not getting into film photography in my early years, so have missed the many great slide films Kodak had produced in the past. If given the opportunity, which slide film would you resurrect (or modify) and why?
Kodak Alaris: Diz, to celebrate your discovery of film photography, we decided to bring back the iconic KODAK PROFESSIONAL EKTACHROME film! Your timing is perfect! This film, known for its extremely fine grain, clean bright colors, and great tone scale, taps into the resurgence of analog photography.
Kodak Alaris plans to offer the new PROFESSIONAL EKTACHROME Film in 135-36x format, with availability sometime in fourth quarter of 2017.
Community question 05: filmphotographylondon
For me I see Kodak as my go to film for Colour (BW and slide elsewhere). I love the saturated colours of Ektar and am a big fan of using Vision film also. I like Portra a lot but not for nature, landscapes etc.
Vision is a struggle to get developed by any lab thus would Kodak consider a line of slightly faster pro colour films (200 & 400 ISO) for the Ektar range, as I believe this would prove popular?
Kodak Alaris: Glad to hear you love our Color Negative films…we are very proud of them and believe them to be the best in the world!
The same basic technology that is employed in KODAK VISION Films is also incorporated in PORTRA and EKTAR. The difference is that PORTRA and EKTAR are optimized for still picture use and C-41 processing. Shooting VISION film in a still camera is very trendy, but as you’ve noted it is not without some headaches.
A high-speed EKTAR film is not likely. Film programs are very expensive, and the high speed/color segment is very much a niche market.
We suggest you try shooting a couple rolls of PORTRA 800. I believe you will be very pleasantly surprised with how it stacks up against 500T.
Now we just need to get you to shoot some of our B&W films!
Community question 06: Debashish Samaddar
Kodak motion picture film is very popular among photographers, to the extent that we have bought short ends and re-cans, loaded them in cassettes and processed them in C-41 chemistry going through the very messy remjet removal ourselves.
Now, we all know CineStill has been trying to bring this film with remjet removed, or “premoved” as they call it. While that is excellent, their product lines are limited (and expensive).
Can Kodak bring motion picture film to the still picture market?
I see this happening in one of two ways:
- Selling the film as-is but helping with the processing (somewhat like Kodachrome) where we send the film back to Kodak or Kodak certified labs who can process it either in ECN-2 chemistry or C-41 chemistry
- Selling the film with the anti-halation layer removed (like CineStill is doing) and then we can process it like regular C-41 (and with some luck ECN-2)
Kodak Alaris: The same basic technology that is employed in Kodak Vision films is also incorporated in PORTRA and EKTAR. The difference is that PORTRA and EKTAR are optimized for still picture use and C-41 processing. Shooting VISION film in a still camera is very trendy, but as you’ve pointed out, dealing with rem-jet removal is messy.
We suggest you try shooting a couple rolls of PORTRA 800. We believe you will be very pleasantly surprised with how it stacks up against 500T.
As noted previously, the challenge for niche products is the limited market demand. Manufacturing has minimum order quantity (MOQ) requirements for components like 135 cassettes and cartons that need to be met in order to keep the costs reasonable.
While we have no specific plans at the moment, we will continue to look at options as the market evolves.
Community question 07: RDM_photo
Hi, I think it’s great and a very positive sign that Alaris are engaging with the film using community. My question is: Tri-X is regarded as one of the ‘gold standards’ of B&W emulsions. After the re-engineering in of the emulsion in 2007 no changes have been apparent. Is Kodak Alaris going to keep Tri-X in this format (due to its immense historical and cultural importance) if further emulsion developments are planned?
A second point as a follow on from Toni (community question 01):
Kodak’s (when I used them professionally) documentation and research papers on its chemistry and emulsions were second to none. Is there a commitment to continue and develop this role, including documentation, “how to’s” targeted at newcomers, students etc., as well as the technical papers that you were renowned for?
A thank you to EMULSIVE and the panel for this interesting development; may it be the beginning of an ongoing programme.
Kodak Alaris: There is a lot of folklore associated with the “re-engineering” of TRI-X. The reality is that some relatively minor changes were made in order to move TRI-X into Eastman Kodak’s advanced film-coating facility (B-38) in 2007. Prior to that, TRI-X had been coated in a much older facility.
TRI-X is a product that has withstood the tests of time! We consider it to be the best product of its type, and we currently have no plans to make changes to TRI-X, beyond maintaining compliance with EH&S regulations.
The Technical Pubs and “how to” info on the Pro Film pages on our website have all been recently updated. Check out the link below:
Community question 08: Pierluigi Tolu
For me Kodak has been synonymous of film for a very long time, when I started using my first camera several years ago. And has been a regret when I’ve heard about some film stock retirement, or economic difficulties that seemed to end in bankrupt, or simply disappearing from the market. But fortunately this is not the case and you’re still there to feed our passion with your products!
As you can see, film community is very active and growing every day. Do you have any particular marketing strategy to meet this demand and needs? I think this interview can be considered a “first” step, but what about the future?
We often hear, in this community, talking about old film formats (yes, me too :D), or special formats that are not so easy to find in the market from any company. Do you have any plans to produce your current emulsions in such formats? Do you see feasible a special order form related to these (e.g. yearly) that will allow us to continue to contribute to the film hardiness?
Finally, do you have any R&D plan to have again a slide color film like Ektachrome, that was my absolute favorite film in my early film age?
Kodak Alaris: Thanks for your kind words, Pierluigi!
Kodak Alaris has been active in the use of Social Media to promote the virtues of film, but we admittedly could be doing more to support this community! On a positive note, there are many active and enthusiastic forums for film users already. We have discussed internally the option of engaging more directly in some of the industry blogs that are extremely active already. We have been reluctant to aggressively do this in the past because we haven’t wanted to overly influence the free exchange of ideas, but we will reconsider our approach. Certainly, we are always open and available to engage with any industry forums such as this!
We are currently able to produce film in 135 format, 120 format, and in a variety of sheet film sizes. Older roll film formats (e.g. 620, 110, 126, etc.) require unique spooling equipment, and special components which are no longer available. Special order Sheet film sizes are available through K. B. Canham Cameras, Inc. See more details at: http://www.canhamcameras.com/kodakfilm.html
As noted earlier, Kodak Alaris recently announced that we are bringing back the iconic KODAK PROFESSIONAL EKTACHROME, with availability sometime in fourth quarter of 2017. All of the other KODAK PROFESSIONAL Films available today are negative films. Compared to a print, EKTACHROME slides have an almost 3D quality, with more intense colors, and more snap in the highlights. Part of what makes EKTACHROME unique.
Community question 09: Lachlan Young
Does Kodak Alaris have any plans to package its Endura Premier/ Metallic papers in sheet form?
As their production will be moving to a plant that does have the capability to finish products into sheets, this would be a great boon – not least as Endura is pretty much the nicest looking RA4 paper around & nothing looks like a print exposed directly from the negative. It was a big pity when Kodak stopped offering colour neg papers in sheet form – would taking the pre-order approach that is used for the odd-sized / ULF films be feasible? Or perhaps a once yearly order window?
Further to this, would Alaris be able to look into the possibility of bringing a room-temperature compatible set of RA4 chemicals to the market? I think this would get more people into the art of wet printing from colour negatives & really demonstrate what the films are capable of.
Finally, given the popularity of cross-processing tungsten balanced cinema film in C-41, does Alaris have any thoughts about possibly offering a tungsten balanced, low reciprocity error film – something like what Portra 100T & its predecessors were? Ideally I’d like to see this in sheet format, but I’m all too aware of the realities of the market for such products…
Kodak Alaris: Interesting question, Lachlan.
Technically speaking, all of the above is certainly possible. It’s simply a matter of demand. As you noted, we used to offer Portra 100T, but there was very little demand for it in the market.
Similarly, the reason we no longer offer cut sheets of CNP is because there was not enough demand to keep cut sheets viable. If there were sufficient demand, we would certainly consider it.
Community question 10: funlw65
Regarding SLR manual cameras, lenses have survived the bodies, most popular mounts for them being K-mount, Nikon F-mount, and M42 screw mount (M bayonet and M39 screw mount for rangefinders). Would you consider _securing_ your film production by designing an open-source mechanical and durable camera (for a mount or another – at your choice, or with interchangeable mounts)?
A reflex camera with Leica II shutter would be easy to make, or a camera with a metallic shutter activated by electromagnets but provided by you or other third parties. Why open source? To ensure a high survival time, and avoiding monopoly and high prices. This is what we need, along with a small and very cheap C-41 developing automaton for home. Well, we won’t get upset if you produce a cheap cooke triplet lens.
Kodak Alaris: Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that Kodak Alaris would enter the SLR manual camera market anytime soon. This is not a core area of expertise for our team.
Community question 11: Horace
Can we get some cool Kodak apparel? Like sweatshirts, I need a new sweatshirt.
Kodak Alaris: Well, this is certainly a much different line of questioning! We miss all of the old film “swag” as well.
Eastman Kodak partnered with Opening Ceremony in 2016 for a limited edition range of apparel and it has sold out. Eastman Kodak does offer branded merchandise directly via their website, at the KODAK Collection: http://www.kodak.com/US/en/Consumer/Products/Collection/default.htm.
Community question 12: Pythagoras14
Any chance they could start selling bulk rolls of the colour negative film? whether it was the basic Colorplus or Portra/Ektar, it would be useful for people who like loading their own cassettes.
Also have you considered releasing an ISO 1600 film like Fuji’s Natura 1600?
Kodak Alaris: To be quite honest, in our experience bulk rolls end up being small volume and high cost.
The demand today for ultra-high speed color negative film tends to be limited. As a result, we decided to limit our offering to our PORTRA 800 film, which delivers best-in-class underexposure latitude, with the ability to push to EI 1600.
Community question 13: Dan K
Kodak Alaris and I chat often on social media. I’m aware that they don’t manufacture film, but sell what they can get to the retail market through distributors.
All around me I see evidence of a shrinking general retail market, but a booming enthusiast market. New films are being launched all the time and my friends who supply film and darkroom supplies to enthusiasts are expanding their businesses, while mass market manufacturers like Kodak and FujiFilm cut their product lines in a slow death spiral because production MOQs are high and the logistics network is not set-up to innovate or exploit niches.
- Does Alaris’ business projection anticipate that it can meet all pension obligations under the current business model? I suspect further haircuts may be required, or the model may not be sustainable for the duration of the obligations.
- Does Alaris have the mandate to pivot its strategy? For example, to order smaller quantities of a limited run of P3200?
- Can Alaris lead a negotiation with a smaller manufacturer to license Kodak formulas and brands?
- Has Alaris any expectation of being able to make new films or relaunch old films previously cut?
- What beloved films are headed for the chopping block and how soon can we be expected to mourn their loss?
- If any of the answers to my above questions are “We are powerless”, isn’t it time to consider renegotiating with the rest of the group to ensure Alaris has the mandate to pivot into new opportunities to ensure the needs of all internal and external stakeholders are met?
If you can’t answer all, please try once again to raise the matter internally.
Kodak Alaris: To answer your questions:
- Kodak Alaris is one of many financial assets owned by a UK pension fund for Eastman Kodak employees. Any questions around the pension fund strategies should be directed to the pension fund.
- Kodak Alaris sets its own strategy based upon industry trends and needs.
- Our product formulations are quite complex and have been optimized over the years for the equipment used to manufacture these products. We fully intend to stick with our current business model for the foreseeable future.
- Based upon the recent positive momentum on film, we are re-evaluating the reintroduction of some of our most-popular films from the past. The recent EKTACHROME announcement is an example of this process. The reintroduction of an emulsion is a time-consuming process which requires significant R&D to reformulate the product based upon component availability, equipment changes that may have been made over the years and any changes to EH&S regulations.
- We have no intentions of removing any films from our current portfolio. Let us be very clear here: Film is our heritage and our team loves this industry. We will do everything in our power to keep our current portfolio sustainable for the future!
Community question 14: Claudio Gomboli
I really enjoy using Kodak’s products, and ‘Kodak’ is still synonym for ‘film’.
My question is… I know Kodak had a troubled experience with instant film, but clearly the instant market is still one of the healthiest one in the film industry. The Impossible Project, Fujifilm Instax, New55, are all selling and being profitable. Is there any possibility to see Kodak collaborating (e.g. like Leica with Instax) or creating something around Instant film again?
Kodak Alaris: Good question, Claudio. Unfortunately, we don’t have anything to announce about instant photography at this time.
Community question 15: Dan K
My previous comments (panel question 13) were on behalf of the enthusiast community. I have some comments on behalf of the high street labs:
- Film is moving off the shelves slower than ever and we are cautious of buying film that will expire unsold. Is there any hope of making C-41 process films that have a longer shelf life? Can expiry dates on existing films be replaced with a manufacturing date and a degradation guideline that results in an extended shelf life?
- We cannot source parts for many of our process machines, particularly C-41 optical printing process, which is in demand among our enthusiast clients. When a part fails, service personnel cannot even scavenge cannibalised parts from old machines and the precious equipment is dumped because storage is costly. What are your plans to continue offering new machines with in-store parts?
- We thank you for Kodak Kiosk. This is a great solution for camera phone photographers in markets with a high cost of labour. In our market, there has been zero penetration in malls and convenience stores because of the cost of training staff to service the machines. Therefore almost all Kiosk operators are print labs. However, there are major drawbacks for lab use. The printers are incapable of making anything larger than 8×10 and are more costly and slower to print than wet process. Few Kiosk customers post process on calibrated monitors, but use phones, tablets and camera displays that are desaturated and complain that Kiosk prints come out dull and lifeless. In the wet process, we punch up the image with saturation and contrast just like we would with colour print film, but this isn’t available when using Kiosk. There simply isn’t the facility to add value with our skills. Do you have any plans to offer Kiosk printers that can compete with wet process machines?
- The smaller national distributors are disappearing. This means some retailers in some countries must deal with regional distributors who may not share the same language or dialect and deliveries take longer to arrange. Will you reestablish local distributors or force regional distributors to have local logistic facilities and points of contact?
- In summary, high street labs want to know if they should continue to support film, or chuck in the towel. How are you managing to adjust to smaller economies of scale up and down your value chain, is it sustainable in the long run and how can you make sure we can continue to operate and profitably?
Kodak Alaris: Thanks for your questions, Dan.
- The minimum expiration date on any film arriving in any region around the world is 20 months. In most cases, that’s proven to be sufficient.
- For anyone facing the need to replace a traditional photo printer today, there are a number of viable choices that are well suited for specialized Pro Labs and General Purpose Photo Labs. These include offerings from Noritsu, ZBE Chromira, Imaging Solutions, and Polielettronica to name a few. There are multiple units available from each of these manufacturers with a range of paper paths/widths, duty cycles/productivity, finishing and price to fit a wide range of customers. Just as they have in the past, manufacturers have shared plans related to ongoing service and parts supply for these platforms.
- From a technical perspective, it is feasible to close the gaps in the areas identified. It’s simply a matter of demand and the market’s willingness to reward the investment.
- We have main distributors for film in most countries in Europe who primarily supply smaller retail outlets and sub distributors. If anyone has some specific concerns, we would ask them to contact us for help and advice.
- There was a time when almost every grocery store, department store, and drug chain had in-house labs to develop and print that film. Today that is not the case, and the smaller volumes have certainly created some challenges. We’re doing our part by reining in costs to keep prices as low as possible, while continuing to provide film, paper and chemistry that are widely considered to be the very best in the world. There has been some positive momentum for film recently, and that makes us very optimistic about the future, both for us and for our retail partners.
Community question 16: Craig Pindell
I have been a fan of Kodak Film for many many years, but lately it has become difficult and expensive to continue to use Kodak for my 8×10 work. I am wondering if it is possible to get 8×10 T-MAX 100 at all? Is T-MAX 100 even available in 8×10? perhaps by special order?
Ilford has an annual special order window, would Kodak Alaris consider a similar special order window? Not only for 8×10 but for 5×7 as well?
Thank you to Alaris for keeping Kodak alive. As many have said, Kodak is Film and is Photography. I am glad it is still a player in the industry and is still supporting the #BelieveInFilm community.
Kodak Alaris: Craig, thanks for being a devoted KODAK Film shooter. Yes, T-MAX 100 in 8×10 size is available by special order
K. B. Canham Cameras, Inc. has an agreement with Kodak Alaris to sell special order sheet film around the world. It is possible to request just about any sheet film size you desire – including 5×7.
Orders can be completed either by a single purchase of an entire run, or via a Co-Op. See more details at: http://www.canhamcameras.com/kodakfilm.html.
Community question 17: Benjamin Dietze
Oh boy, oh boy! I just read your update that the interview is delayed until 2017, so I hope I’m still in time for my two questions!
What is Kodak Color Plus 200? The box reads http://www.kodakalaris.com , but there’s no information about the stock, or anywhere else on the web, for that matter. All the Kodak sites on Facebook (they all seem to be related to Kodak USA or Kodak Professional, but not to Alaris) tell me they have nothing to do with it or have even heard of it.
While far from being sharp or fine-grained in any way, I really like its color palette for sunny days, where it reminds me a lot of legendary Kodachrome, plus it’s one of the rare stocks that even looks good on overcast days. You guys should really do more to market the film as what it is: A negative stock reminiscent of the Kodachrome color palette. For starters, you could acknowledge its sole existence on your website.
Saturation without artefacts is one of the definite advantages film still has over digital. Slide films used to be the ones with the highest saturation, but so far, I consider it unlikely you’ll soon give us a new color slide film.
So I’d like to know, could you give us a negative film that would resemble the look of either of my two favorite bygone hi-saturation stocks, E100VS aka Elitechrome ExtaColor or Agfa Ultra50? With a negative version of either of the two above-mentioned hi-saturation looks, I’d even be willing to sacrifice sharpness or fine-grainedness, if it was within the limits of your mysterious Kodak Color Plus 200.
Kodak Alaris: Thanks for asking, Benjamin.
#1 COLORPLUS is a lower-priced color negative film offering, similar in nature to the old VR films. This product is sold only in specific regions around the world, and unfortunately there is no technical pub for it. Glad to hear you like it.
#2 The good news is that by late 2017 we should have a new EKTACHROME Film product available in the market. Until then, the film you are looking for is EKTAR 100, the world’s finest grain color negative film. With ISO 100 speed, high saturation and ultra-vivid color, this film offers the finest, smoothest grain of any color negative film available today.
This film is recommended for applications such as nature, travel and outdoor photography, as well as for fashion and product photography.
It’s a wrap
That’s it for the third Community Interview, thank you all for reading and please leave any additional questions, or comments below. As with our previous Community Interviews with Lomography and ILFORD, this is a living, breathing process and we don’t expect things to end just because these initial questions have been answered. If you leave a comment or question below, We’ll do our best to make sure it gets to the Alaris team gets answered.
The concept behind these Community Interviews is to encourage and inform debate between consumers of film (professional or otherwise), and the industry that they support. We genuinely feel that these interviews can help to give the industry side of the film photography community a voice and open the way for clearer dialogue.
Only time will tell but with your support, we can make this happen together.
The Billingham Community Interview is still in-progress, so please keep an eye out for that one. You can also jump over to the call for submissions on the FILM Ferrania Community Interview. We’re taking your questions until March 26th 2017.
Thanks again for reading and please make sure to leave your comments below!
As ever, keep shooting, folks!
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