Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Future of Kodak

Kodak. A word, a brand; something that's been synonymous with photography for over a century.  The Eastman Kodak Company was founded by George Eastman in 1892 and with it's establishment, essentially started an amateur photographer revolution and brought photography to a mass market. 

Kodak has produced and continues to produce amazing photographic emulsions.  The end of 2010 marked the end of an era, when Kodachrome ceased to be processed.  Kodachrome was produced from 1935 to 2009 and was a color film much different from anything that proceeded it.  Kodachrome had dye couplers added during processing, unlike other transparency and color negative films where they were actually incorporated in the emulsion layers.  This was one of the first successfully marketed color films and became so wildly popular that Paul Simon even wrote and recorded a song that peaked at number two in the United States.  It truly was something special and I'm sorry that I never got to shoot with the emulsion. 

Like Kodachrome, Kodak is finding it hard to navigate in the increasingly competitive world of digital photography.  A swift movement arrived and Kodak was caught with their pants down, so to speak.  Their digital cameras have been left behind by the titans of Canon, Nikon and Pentax.  They're also trying their hand at digital printing, but again, they are far from the market leader.  They are now simply keeping the corporation a float and are in serious financial trouble.  The Wall Street Journal  featured an article yesterday about the steep decline of Kodak's bonds.  Here's a link to the article.

It's a sad state of affairs and I hope they can refocus their energies and money on what they do best - film.  The film photography world; correction, the photography world wouldn't be the same without Kodak.  The same could be said about the loss of Polaroid.  While Polaroid is still around, they no longer produce instant film and it's left a gaping hole in hearts and cameras.  Thankfully, Fuji and Impossible Project are trying to fill that void.  Who will fill the void if Kodak leaves?  Let's hope it doesn't come to that and Kodak can some how continue developing great emulsions.  I can't imagine shooting with out Tri-X.  I urge every enthusiast and individual that still shoots film to continue buying Kodak film.  I'm not sure how much it will help, but it surely can't hurt.  I can't imagine photography without Kodak and I hope I don't have to.

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