PANIC! Kodak Film Price Increase!

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!  Kodak employees are actually attempting to earn a living and sustain their business!  Look out!

Yes, the news was all over the interwebs towards the end of 2019; Kodak Alaris formally announced that they are being forced by their supplier to raise the cost of film products in 2020.  The cited reason was because demand has increased and must be met with a ramp up in production.  This requires more of the green stuff from you and me.

In September, Kodak marketing representative Tim Ryugo told me “We have had a shortage of film lately. Worldwide backorders.”

That was in September.  So they trudged through a year at current pricing barely able to meet demand.  So I don’t get the impression that Kodak’s public statement was a lie as some conspiracy theorists have speculated, additionally claiming that Kodak has been selling us NOS film.

And across the film forums, frugal photographers declared betrayal and I think that I even heard a few thuds when they hit the pavement after jumping from nearby high rise windows.

Look, I don’t claim to know the first damn thing about Kodak’s finances.  And personally, I wouldn’t trust anyone who claims that they do if they don’t actually work for Kodak or have experience running a major international corporation that helped define the last century.  But what I can tell you is that the big scary price increase, so far is nothing to be afraid of.

Below is an invoice from B&H to me in March of 2019 for one of the several film orders I placed last year.  I think they may give me a bulk discount on TMAX 100 by like $0.10 a roll, so these numbers may differ slightly from a baseline but just to give you factual, non-conflated basis of comparison…

BHOrderJohnnyMartyr

Today, I look on B&H’s website and see the following:

TMAX P3200 35mm 36exp was $8.99 and is now $9.19

Tri-X 400 35mm 36 exp was $5.59 and is now $6.99

TMAX 100 35mm 36exp was $5.59 and is now $6.49

I also like to shop at Film Photography Project.  My September 2019 invoice from them was the following:

Screen shot 2020-01-07 at 8.09.48 AM

And today on FFP’s website I see the following:

TMAX P3200 35mm 36exp was $7.99 and is now $8.99

Tri-X 400 35mm 36 exp was $5.59 and is now sold out at $5.89

TMAX 100 35mm 36exp was $5.49 and is now $5.89

I don’t know what pricing is like in other parts of the world or at other shops.  I hope that things are at least as reasonable for people.  What I can report to you from my little spot of the world, however, is that everything is pretty much business as usual.  I have no plans of changing brands or buying less film.  In fact,  hopefully I’ll buy more this year because I already have some fantastic clients booking.

So look, please don’t let the vocal film fear-mongers scare you.  Just keep shooting.  Shoot your best work.  Share it.  Talk about it.  Enjoy it.  Shoot more.  If you do this, no business in their right mind will stop supplying you for as long as their resources continue to allow.  Kodak’s on our side, guys!

That conversation with Mr. Ryugo I referred to earlier, he went on to say:

“Kodak mfg. is working all it can to keep up with Worldwide demand. The analogue renaissance continues!”

Thanks for reading, happy shooting!

Follow, Favorite, Like, Add, Insult, Contact Johnny Martyr 

      

34 thoughts on “PANIC! Kodak Film Price Increase!

  1. Totally agree with you here! While no one likes parting ways with more hard earned cash, we are lucky that film is still being made at all these days, let alone new emulsions being introduced. I am happy to support the industry. In fact, I’ve just placed decent orders with B&H and the Shot On Film Store!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Increased pricing to keep their film business viable is far preferable to discontinuing film stocks or withdrawing from the market entirely. Alaris kept T-Max stocks at the same price for years. This modest increase is reasonable, and even with the increase, T-Max stocks are still some of the best value for money you can get in my view.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rightly said! Kodak’s prices have trailed Ilford’s for b&w for some years but are at least as high quality. Their colors are of course unbeatable with Fuji’s prices and availability somewhat unpredictable.

      Like

    2. That’s simply not true. The T-MAX stocks have not stayed the same price. There have been several, albeit relatively small, price increases in just the last couple of years alone, leading up to the recent large increase. Less than three years ago, in March of 2017, T-MAX 100 36-exposure rolls at B&H were $5.19. T-MAX 400 36-exposure rolls were $4.95.

      (6.49-5.19)/5.19 = 25% price increase for T-MAX 100.

      (6.99-4.95)/4.95 = 41% price increase for T-MAX 400!

      Likewise, 36-exposure rolls of TRI-X were also $4.95 at B&H in March of 2017, so just like T-MAX 400, that’s a whopping 41% increase in less than three years time.

      I think you and I have very different definitions of the word “modest.” I don’t think these increases in such a short period of time are at all modest, and I bet most other amateurs would agree with me.

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      1. The people at Alaris know their market, and that there are enough people for whom T-Max is valuable enough to support the price increase. In my experience, the most successful businesses compete on value, not price, and are willing to let go of their most price-driven customers. I have no criticism of Alaris’s business decision. If Kodak is no longer worth it to you, there is nothing wrong with that. You have plenty of other options. As for me, paying an additional couple of extra hundred dollars per year to continue a hobby I love in the way I like is fine. Kudos to Alaris and their people for making the film business work for them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. But that’s just it, the majority of the film community, at least the dedicated population, is made up of so-called “price-driven customers.” It always has been, because it’s mostly comprised of amateurs who have limited budgets and no recourse for offsetting large price increases like pros do. So if Kodak lets all of us go, reducing their customer base to a handful of pros and unreliable “youngsters” with nothing more than a fleeting interest in the current fad (i.e. film), they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Again, they may be able to temporarily ride the present wave, but it won’t last. And if they’re smart and actually care about long-term viability and survivability versus short-term profits, then they had better be doing everything they can to keep us dedicated amateurs as customers. But they’re not. Instead, outside of the exceptions for whom money isn’t an issue, they’re forcing us all out.

        Oh, and by the way, if we look beyond the scope of just the last couple of years and look back to the not-so-distant past that was 2010, less than a decade ago, 36-exposure rolls of TRI-X and T-MAX were readily available for ~$3-3.50. So in a mere decade, Kodak’s prices have easily doubled, if not substantially more for certain stocks. I don’t care where you’re coming from, that’s by no means “reasonable.” Also, ten years ago — actually even five years ago — there were a lot of other options available that were substantially cheaper than even what Kodak was offering. At the time, Kodak was actually relatively “expensive.” Bulk rolls were also substantially more affordable than they are today, as they should be. The cost of shooting film was actually manageable for your average serious non-pro amateur. It’s not today, at least not if a person desires to shoot film in any quantity. I’m not saying film prices should still be what they were in 2010, but they certainly should not be as expensive as they’ve become.

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      3. Not sure where the numbers are coming from but I was just perusing a 1999 and 2008 B&H catalog to get a wider scope on this topic. Most 36 exp 35mm b&w films were below $4 in 1999 but by 2008, post digital revolution, they began creeping up over $4 with P3200 at $7.50 where it was only $3.69 in 1999. P3200 was then off the market for year and returned at a few bucks more than it cost a decade ago. I’m happy to pay that to have it as a choice!

        Different films have different datapoints and from month to month, year to year things vary too, so where do we take the datapoint? Short of doing a month by month graph for the past 10 or 20 years of the list price of film and adding in inflation, these comparisons don’t mean a whole lot.

        What I can tell you, in very broad terms, is that when I was in college, a fast food meal seemed to cost around $5 and today is about $9. Likewise a roll of film was a little less than the cost of a cheap meal as it is today. To me, considering there are millions fewer people shooting film than in previous years, the fact that we can get a roll of film for the same price as a Big Mac is astonishing. 2 for $2 deals aside! 😉

        There are many factors affecting the costs of film and I’m not here to say that hikes don’t exist so much as, let’s keep shooting the best we can! The alternative is what? Don’t shoot?

        Here are links:

        https://books.google.com/books?id=bFhHz-3P8YEC&pg=PA23&dq=popular+photography+2009&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjHibvJuvLmAhXQqFkKHUvTAKUQuwUwAHoECAAQBQ#v=onepage&q=B%26H&f=false

        https://books.google.com/books?id=RQqN2DG8-vMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Popular+Photography&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjygfqo0szaAhXIw1QKHfW4CHIQ6AEIRTAH#v=onepage&q=B%26H%20photo&f=false

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I got my price data directly from archived product pages on B&H, from other archived film retailer websites, and from my own recollection (which agrees with the archived data). I won’t provide the links for everything I looked up, but for your reference, I’ve included links below to the archived B&H product pages for the March 2017 prices of TMY and 400TX, as well as the October 2009 (2010 wasn’t archived) and June 2010 prices of the same stocks, respectively, as those are the two Kodak stocks I care the most about. Other dates, products, and their respective prices can be similarly found in the archive so there’s no reason for me to continue to list more stuff here. Prices can definitely fluctuate, but on B&H those fluctuations tend to be no more than +/- 20 cents on film based on my observations, at most. They’re pretty consistent.

        By the way, I would never spend $9 on a fast food meal. That’s insane. I wouldn’t even spend $6. And in fact, I very rarely eat out at all because it is such a total ripoff. When I do, I certainly don’t spend much. Surely I’m not the only person you know who won’t abide being ripped off for entirely unhealthy and unsatisfying fast food?

        https://web.archive.org/web/20170316052436/https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/29139-USA/Kodak_8947947_TMY_135_36_Roll_T_Max.html

        https://web.archive.org/web/20170316035757/https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/29170-USA/Kodak_8667073_TX_135_36_Tri_X_Pan.html

        https://web.archive.org/web/20091003040617/http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/29139-USA/Kodak_8947947_TMY_135_36_Roll_T_Max.html

        https://web.archive.org/web/20100619134006/http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/29170-USA/Kodak_8667073_TX_135_36_Tri_X_Pan.html

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      5. “By the way, I would never spend $9 on a fast food meal. That’s insane.”

        I am seeing a pattern in your approach to things. What products/services do you not find to be a ripoff?

        And btw, if I weren’t on the road as often as I am for work, I certainly wouldn’t eat fast food either. I was just trying to find a common denominator that most people could relate to. The judgement isn’t what I was looking for. 😉

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      6. Haha, sorry. I honestly wasn’t trying to be judgemental about whether or not people eat fast food. When you’re traveling, I entirely understand, you do what you have to do. I was just saying that I’m not willing to pay the types of prices you referenced for fast food because they really are ridiculous and I can’t waste my money like that, especially on something that’s not healthy for me anyways.

        There are still a great many products and services out there that are fairly and reasonably priced. Generally speaking though, they’re provided by small, family-owned business and not large corporations. Whether we’re talking about restaurants or small art suppliers, things that are not total ripoffs are still out there. But they are undeniably becoming more and more rare, especially as corporations continue to take over everything.

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      7. “paying an additional couple of extra hundred dollars per year to continue a hobby I love in the way I like is fine” exactly. To you it’s no issue. But that’s not the case for many, many film shooters.

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      8. Look, I’m not saying that I live in an ivory tower where the price of goods has zero effect on me. And nowhere in my blog did I state that it’s not a concern. The thrust of my thoughts are as stated: “So look, please don’t let the vocal film fear-mongers scare you. Just keep shooting. Shoot your best work. Share it. Talk about it. Enjoy it. Shoot more. If you do this, no business in their right mind will stop supplying you for as long as their resources continue to allow. Kodak’s on our side, guys!”

        If you fail to find some positive motivation in this sentiment, I cannot help you. And that is all I am trying to do. Dispel some of the more ridiculous rumors and calm the wailing masses with some facts and positive thinking. What is wrong with that?

        What is the use in complaining?

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      9. I am not telling you or anyone else how you should feel or think. I am telling you how I feel and think, and if that changes your perspective, great. If it does not, it makes no difference to me. A person can sit there and grumble about the unfairness of one business’s price hike if he or she must–a business by that way that has no monopoly nor that sells any essential product–or a person can do something to make his or her life more enjoyable. I choose the latter. What others choose is up to them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, bulk rolls of Tri-X cost $15 more now, but that’s like one meal at Smash Burger that I don’t need anyway. What am I going to do, shoot digital? Hardly. Besides the reasons Kodak Alaris is giving for the price increases, obviously raising the price will help balance supply & demand too. And as the price of film will kind of have to be tied to the price of silver, it’s not like it’s going to go down the more the dollar is inflated. As someone who keeps up to date on motion picture film as much as possible I’m used to price increases, it’s just the nature of the beast. If this means that the film photography community has come through the worst of it and we’re on more stable ground, then good! Are the prices competitive? Time will tell there, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “And as the price of film will kind of have to be tied to the price of silver, it’s not like it’s going to go down the more the dollar is inflated.”

      This is exactly the kind of perspective that many of the folks who complain don’t seem to take into consideration. Prices naturally go up on products and services within a healthy economy.

      “What am I going to do, shoot digital? Hardly.”

      EXACTLY.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Johnny.

    As a professional photographer with the ability to offset the cost by simply slightly adjusting your own rates that you charge your customers for a shoot, you may not understand this, or perhaps you just simply haven’t thought about it. But for amateurs like myself, with limited budgets, who are serious about film as a hobby, and thus desire to shoot a good quantity of it on a regular basis, yes, price increases like this are indeed a very big deal. For us, film is becoming (or has already become) prohibitively expensive. And there are a lot more of us out there than there are pros like yourself. Most of us just aren’t very vocal, we don’t run film websites or blogs, and honestly most of us don’t have the time or energy to post our thoughts all over the internet. We’d rather spend what little free time we have with a camera in-hand, out taking photos. The only reason I’m going out of my way to comment is because I’m concerned that’s not going to be possible much longer if things keep going the way they are.

    From what I’ve seen, pretty much across the board the people defending these large price hikes fall into one of three categories: They’re professional photographers, like you, who frankly this doesn’t effect much (at least not immediately, but it might eventually) for the aforementioned obvious reason. They’re retired individuals or people near the end of their careers who are clearly very well off financially. Or, they’re people directly tied to the industry in one way or another that as such already receive all sorts of perks and incentives that go along with that. Outside of those three groups of people, sure, there are the very few independently wealthy amateurs who don’t care at all because money is a total non-issue, and then there are those who only shoot one or two rolls of film a month, at most, so the impact a price hike has on them is minimal. But none of these people are the norm, nor are they the ones that can actually sustain the industry long-term. It’s the unspoken, devoted amateurs who can do that. And for us, yeah, price hikes like this effect us in a very consequential way. And they’ll have long-term negative effects on the industry as well because it’s inevitably going to diminish the number of us within the community as we can no longer afford the hobby. That means less devoted customers buying film in decent quantities on a regular and consistent basis from manufacturers charging such high prices. Now, Kodak and other manufacturers may be able to temporarily ride the wave of increased sales the current resurgent interest in film, especially among young people, has provided. There is quite obviously an overwhelming number of people right now with a passing interest who are buying small quantities of film (i.e. a lot of people buying a little), but these people are not reliable customers and when their interest dwindles in the present fad that is film — and for most it will — the manufacturers are still going to need us devoted amateurs around to keep things afloat. If prices are too high for the average serious amateur, that’s not going to happen. And I’d say the prices are indeed too high. Much, much too high. If a person goes back and looks at the ability for people to shoot film on a budget, it was much more feasible even just two years ago, although it was already becoming difficult. Go back five years ago and the situation was much better. Go back ten years ago and it was extremely easy to shoot a lot of film on a limited budget. The situation today is dire, and only getting worse. If we want to see film survive long-term, something has to change. Truly affordable film options have to make their way back to the market.

    Out of necessity, I will no longer be a Kodak customer. I simply can’t afford them anymore, and I seriously doubt I’m alone. Frankly, they were already too expensive before this price increase. Now it’s just ridiculous. I’m sorry, but there is no way TRI-X or T-MAX 400 should cost $6.99 per 36-exposure roll, nor should T-MAX 100 cost $6.49, or the consumer-grade UltraMax 400 cost $5.49 on the color side, etcetera. And let’s not even get into how expensive the Portra stocks have become, or how much Ektachrome is. It is outrageous, regardless of what people allow themselves to be convinced of otherwise. And prices like this are all but guaranteed to damage the industry and community long-term by driving people like myself out. Unlike you, us amateurs have no recourse for offsetting the cost. When we can no longer afford it, that’s that. We’re done. What Kodak is going to end up doing is gutting the community of their most loyal and reliable customers: serious amateurs. I have no doubt that you too are one of their reliable customers. I’m not questioning that. But most pros who are dabbling in film again, or for the first time, are not. After a while most of them will return to being all-digital. Surely you, and everyone else defending these large price increases, are able to recognize these things?

    By the way, the FPP has made it very clear that they have not yet increased their prices. They sent out an e-mail. As all respectable retailers should (but most don’t), they will continue to sell all their Kodak stock at the old rates until their current supply is exhausted. So using their pricing data as evidence that the price hike isn’t that consequential is fundamentally flawed as their current prices don’t reflect any changes as of yet. And as for B&H, well, they’re pretty much the cheapest option there is in the U.S. Thankfully, they seem to do their best to keep their film prices down as much as possible. That said, the situation at other retailers around the country is likely to be much, much worse following Kodak’s price increase.

    Take care of yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey P, I greatly appreciate your comments. I apologize if my blog might feel like personal mockery or judgement to someone like yourself. My intent was simply some light humor to counteract some of the very negative remarks I see on threads. I fully respect your position in our community and would like to take the time to respond with as much consideration as you have.

      I have been interrupted from writing this twice now by more of your very long comments. Which is fine but I just want to point out that you seem to be more vocal than you claimed to be!

      “As a professional photographer with the ability to offset the cost by simply slightly adjusting your own rates that you charge your customers for a shoot, you may not understand this, or perhaps you just simply haven’t thought about it. But for amateurs like myself, with limited budgets, who are serious about film as a hobby, and thus desire to shoot a good quantity of it on a regular basis, yes, price increases like this are indeed a very big deal.”

      I have been shooting for about 20 years and spent just over the last 10 ramping myself up to where I’m at now in terms of treating photography like a business. I still have much to learn but the genesis for my efforts was because I was in your shoes very early into my photography career. Unlike more seasoned, older shooters, I got into photography in the early 2000’s just as digital was taking over. Shortly after I really began to dig my teeth into photography, my resources and opportunities to learn and work as a film photographer began to dry up and become increasingly niche. And as I started to go into business, one by one, all my local labs shut down and I had to completely reinvent my workflow while clients waited. So yes, my perspective and role in our community may differ from yours but I am aware of yours because being a film photographer has pretty much always been a struggle for me. I associate being a photographer with struggle in fact. Even as a digital photographer today, making a living in this field is stressful and challenging.

      If you think that being a film photographer is going to get easier as digital photograph evolves and resources for film production diminish, then perhaps accepting that we are in very much the opposite situation will be the water that helps you swallow the pills of increasing prices.

      But my point is simply that I hope you can see, and I should also see, that we’re in this together and biting the hands that feed won’t make anything any better.

      “For us, film is becoming (or has already become) prohibitively expensive. And there are a lot more of us out there than there are pros like yourself.”

      And that is precisely why your are important. If folks like yourself don’t read/comment on blogs written by folks like myself, there is no conversation and no exchange of knowledge/motivation. Additionally, it takes both of us to keep film manufacturers able to make product.

      “From what I’ve seen, pretty much across the board the people defending these large price hikes fall into one of three categories: They’re professional photographers, like you, who frankly this doesn’t effect much (at least not immediately, but it might eventually) for the aforementioned obvious reason. They’re retired individuals or people near the end of their careers who are clearly very well off financially. Or, they’re people directly tied to the industry in one way or another that as such already receive all sorts of perks and incentives that go along with that. Outside of those three groups of people, sure, there are the very few independently wealthy amateurs who don’t care at all because money is a total non-issue, and then there are those who only shoot one or two rolls of film a month, at most, so the impact a price hike has on them is minimal. But none of these people are the norm, nor are they the ones that can actually sustain the industry long-term. It’s the unspoken, devoted amateurs who can do that. And for us, yeah, price hikes like this effect us in a very consequential way. And they’ll have long-term negative effects on the industry as well because it’s inevitably going to diminish the number of us within the community as we can no longer afford the hobby. That means less devoted customers buying film in decent quantities on a regular and consistent basis from manufacturers charging such high prices.”

      I think your categorizations are insightful but also wonder how important or useful it is to divide us all up into them if your goal isn’t to illustrate how we lean on one another. At the end of the day, my money is just as good as your money and regardless of how much we shoot, we are all devoted I think. The one or two roll a month shooters can’t sustain Kodak by themselves. A small group of professionals burning 500 rolls a year can’t sustain Kodak by ourselves. And a very large group of devoted amateurs cannot sustain Kodak by yourselves. Even the one or two roll a month folks play a part. Even the guys who own more cameras than framed photos play a part. Just by commenting on a blog, sharing a photo on IG or giving someone a like, we are all contributing to the momentum of the film community. Pull one of these groups out of the equation, however, and there’s going to be trouble. And that seems to be what you are gunning for.

      That being said, I apologize for coming off as distant and disinterested in your concerns. But I do feel that it comes down to that keyword you’re using, “devoted.”

      “The situation today is dire, and only getting worse. If we want to see film survive long-term, something has to change. Truly affordable film options have to make their way back to the market.”

      Oh good, you DO want to keep film alive. 🙂 But taking a current business and trying to force them to make their film cheaper by not buying it probably isn’t going to end well, right?

      “Out of necessity, I will no longer be a Kodak customer. I simply can’t afford them anymore,”

      I mean, let’s be honest. In all the logic and reason in your comments, this statement makes no sense. When there’s a spike in your water bill you probably don’t stop drinking water. When people pledge these dramatic departures, it rings more to me like personal frustration is being voiced by, what ultimately, is a counterproductive boycott.

      You’ll compromise the look of your work and reliability of your methods. And you’ll send an increasing price burden to another devoted shooter.

      “By the way, the FPP has made it very clear that they have not yet increased their prices. They sent out an e-mail.”

      I’m aware of this. But today, these are my prices, and I am a film photographer and I will continue to shoot. What about you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, Johnny.

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply. It means a lot you took the time to consider what I had to say and respond. I do want to reply to a few of your statements. Bear with me if you would, and again, thank you.

        [ I have been interrupted from writing this twice now by more of your very long comments. Which is fine but I just want to point out that you seem to be more vocal than you claimed to be!]

        Haha, sorry for the interruptions. However, I never claimed I wasn’t being vocal. Rather, just that most people within the community like me are not, because they don’t have the time and/or energy to be. Frankly, neither do I, and I really don’t want to be vocal either. But I’ve taken it upon myself to try to discuss some of these points because I feel that someone needs to. Otherwise, due to what is being constantly regurgitated and spread across several of the most popular film-related websites/blogs (I won’t name them, but I’m sure you can figure it out), Kodak and the rest of the manufacturers are going to get a message that goes something like this:

        “Dear (insert film manufacturer name here): Please, go ahead and charge us an arm and a leg for film. We’re cool with it. Exploit us as much as you want. In fact, we applaud and praise you for it. Thank you so much for the drastic price hikes. Feel free to keep them coming.”

        If that seems nonsensical, and I hope it does, it’s because it is. And yet, that’s basically what people keep saying, even if I did exaggerate the verbiage for comedic effect (although I don’t actually find it funny). So somebody within the community needs to stand up and speak for other amateurs with limited budgets that this has a very real and drastic effect on. Kodak and the other manufacturers need to know that not all of us are okay with these high prices. In fact, I’d argue most of the community isn’t.

        [ I associate being a photographer with struggle in fact. Even as a digital photographer today, making a living in this field is stressful and challenging.]

        You won’t hear any argument from me that photography as a career, whether film or digital, isn’t the easiest thing to make a living at. I’m just a hobbyist film photographer, but I’ve seen enough to know that just like most other art careers, photography has some major challenges.

        [ But my point is simply that I hope you can see, and I should also see, that we’re in this together and biting the hands that feed won’t make anything any better.]

        I’m not trying to bite the hand that feeds (i.e. Kodak). I’m trying to make a point for them that they’re inevitably going to lose customers like myself because the cost of their products has exceeded what we can reasonably afford. And that’s not going to be good for them, or us, long-term. If I didn’t care about Kodak, their survival and profitability, and the long-term survival of film as a medium, I wouldn’t be wasting my breath even having this conversation or posting my concerns online. But I do care, deeply.

        [ I think your categorizations are insightful but also wonder how important or useful it is to divide us all up into them…]

        Categorizing the film community in the context that I did was and is absolutely relevant because the people in the three primary categories I outlined who are seemingly going out of their way to defend the extremely high film prices are in actuality a very small minority of the community as a whole and do not in any way represent the majority. But they come off as if they do, even though they don’t. The majority of us are not pros. Nor are we retired or close to retirement and very well off financially. Nor do we run film-related websites/blogs/etcetera as a living and thus have the ties to the industry that go along with that. With regards to your money being as good as mine, sure, I never said otherwise. And I meant no disrespect to people who only shoot one to two rolls of film per month (or less), that’s fine, but the fact of the matter is they’re not doing much in the way of keeping the manufacturers profitable. But serious amateurs who want to consistently shoot ten, twenty, or even more rolls of film per month, yeah, they can keep the manufacturers profitable. But only — and this is the critical point — if they can actually afford the product to begin with. Otherwise, they can’t, and Kodak (or whoever) inevitably loses their best and most loyal would-be customers. If their intent is to exist long-term as a film manufacturer, it’s foolish for Kodak (or again, whoever) to alienate us.

        [ That being said, I apologize for coming off as distant and disinterested in your concerns. But I do feel that it comes down to that keyword you’re using, “devoted.”]

        Regarding my use of the word “devoted,” I used it exactly as the word is meant to be used. As an analogy, surely you wouldn’t argue that someone who goes to the gym to work out once every two weeks is as devoted to it as the person that goes every day? Or, how about a painter that regularly and consistently purchases large quantities of oils and canvases from their local art supplier, month after month? Are they more or less devoted than a person who very infrequently buys such things and in much smaller quantities, perhaps only a couple of times per year? I hope the answer is obvious. The more time and energy a person puts into film (or anything else) as a hobby and thus the more film (or whatever) they purchase, the more devoted they are. That’s not a criticism of the “less devoted,” if you will, but they clearly don’t have the same impact as customers, do they?

        [ Oh good, you DO want to keep film alive.  But taking a current business and trying to force them to make their film cheaper by not buying it probably isn’t going to end well, right?]

        Of course I want to keep film alive. If I didn’t, then again, I wouldn’t be wasting my time here. Actually, historically, when businesses start charging too much for a product, people “voting with their dollars” has always been highly effective at bringing the prices of overpriced products back down to fair and reasonable levels. If people did this more often today, instead of just blindly thinking the cost of everything they buy is justified, the economy would be in a much better state. I hate to say it, but the reality is the vast majority of what people spend their money on is a monumental ripoff. Profiteering and greed is at an all-time high.

        [“Out of necessity, I will no longer be a Kodak customer. I simply can’t afford them anymore,”

        I mean, let’s be honest. In all the logic and reason in your comments, this statement makes no sense. When there’s a spike in your water bill you probably don’t stop drinking water. When people pledge these dramatic departures, it rings more to me like personal frustration is being voiced by, what ultimately, is a counterproductive boycott.]

        That statement makes perfect sense. I can’t buy what I can’t afford. And I can’t afford to shoot Kodak film in even remotely the quantity I’d like to at the presently ridiculous prices, so yes, out of necessity, I will no longer be giving my business to Kodak. Honestly, I couldn’t even really afford them before the price hike, but I still at least picked up a few rolls here and there just to try to lend my support. But now it’s just out of the question. What more is there to say? People keep acting like it’s just a matter of whether or not a person is WILLING to bear the financial burden, when in fact it’s a matter of IF WE CAN bear the burden AT ALL. And a lot of us can’t. I don’t know why this is so difficult for people, especially pros (and the other two categories previously described), to grasp, but it is for some reason. Again, it’s not a matter of being willing; it’s a matter of whether it’s possible at all. And regarding your water bill analogy, you better believe I would try very hard to cut back on water usage if my bill were to go through the roof. But even such, comparing utilities which are essential to a person’s survival, especially water, to a consumer commodity, like film, is more than a bit ridiculous, wouldn’t you say? I’m not boycotting Kodak, but personally I do think there is more greed driving their current prices than anything else. You’re free to agree or disagree with me on that, but it is my opinion, and it’s not unfounded. Among other things that lend credence, it wasn’t that long ago Kodak was complaining that their equipment and manufacturing plant wasn’t equipped to deal with the smaller runs necessary for today’s smaller market, and therefore they had to increase prices (which actually made sense, by the way). Now, just a few years later, they’re complaining that they’re ill-equipped to deal with larger runs needed to meet today’s increased demand, even though the demand is still substantially less than what it was when their plant/equipment in Rochester was designed. We’re talking about the very same plant that was in discussion a few years prior. And because of this supposed problem, they have to do what? Yep, increase prices, again, for exactly the opposite reason they had to raise them for just not that long ago. I hope that the logical fallacy here is apparent. If not, I really don’t know what to say. Kodak’s alleged reasons and justification for this recent price hike come across to me as being much more in the realm of pure marketing propaganda than the actual reality of things. Too much about the whole thing just doesn’t add up, or even make logical sense. Take it as you will.

        [ You’ll compromise the look of your work and reliability of your methods. And you’ll send an increasing price burden to another devoted shooter.]

        No, I won’t. It’s not difficult to work out the EI for a film/developer combination, and developing times/methods for a new film to achieve a desired aesthetic. And if we’re being totally honest, there’s really nothing all that special about Kodak’s current B&W offerings. They’re good emulsions, yes, but they’re not worth a premium. Regarding sending “an increasing price burden to another devoted shooter,” that’s honestly Kodak’s doing, not mine. If it’s too expensive for them also, then perhaps that other shooter also needs to change the company they’re buying film from. And maybe if they start losing customers left and right, Kodak will begin to recognize their mistakes and offer film at fair and reasonable prices again. Competition is good, and if Kodak loses enough business to their competitors they’ll have to do something about it (i.e. actually become competitive again) or they’ll cease to exist. That’s up to them, not me.

        [ I’m aware of this. But today, these are my prices, and I am a film photographer and I will continue to shoot. What about you?]

        Okay, it’s just that you seemed in your post to be referencing the FPP’s current prices as evidence that the Kodak price increase wasn’t actually all that bad, when in fact their prices don’t yet reflect the changes and won’t until they exhaust their current stock of Kodak film. Yes, I love film and I’ll definitely continue to shoot it as long as I can afford to in a way that makes it worthwhile for me to do so. Unfortunately, that means Kodak is now off the menu. I’ll instead be shooting mostly Fomapan and Ultrafine, with a little bit of Ilford here and there. If you and others are still both able and willing to pay Kodak’s prices, go for it. But I’m not able, and even if I was I’m not sure that I’d be willing to when I have more fairly priced options available. Although nothing is truly budget-friendly anymore, even the “cheapest” of the options, and that is indeed a very real problem.

        Thanks again!

        Like

  5. “Frankly, neither do I, and I really don’t want to be vocal either. But I’ve taken it upon myself to try to discuss some of these points because I feel that someone needs to. Otherwise, due to what is being constantly regurgitated and spread across several of the most popular film-related websites/blogs (I won’t name them, but I’m sure you can figure it out),”

    “…So somebody within the community needs to stand up and speak for other amateurs with limited budgets that this has a very real and drastic effect on. Kodak and the other manufacturers need to know that not all of us are okay with these high prices. In fact, I’d argue most of the community isn’t.”

    Would you be interested in writing a formal response to my blog rather than having all this back and forth? If you’d like to type something up and email it to me at JohnnyMartyr@Hotmail.com, along with any contact info,credentials and links to your work that you’d like to share, I’d be happy to post it on my blog.

    “And regarding your water bill analogy, you better believe I would try very hard to cut back on water usage if my bill were to go through the roof. But even such, comparing utilities which are essential to a person’s survival, especially water, to a consumer commodity, like film, is more than a bit ridiculous, wouldn’t you say?”

    Not at all. When times have been tight, I have certainly purchased less and less costly food and drink in order to buy film. This is the kind of struggle I was speaking of. You wrote yourself out of the struggle narrative by differentiating yourself from my group (again) because you aren’t a professional. But that’s the whole thing, to anyone who takes photography remotely seriously, it’s a struggle. And if treated as a commodity, sure, it is cut out. But I believe that devoted shooters feel such a need to take photos constantly that it ranks up there with water. Not water for my kids. But water for me. Sure. I feel a bit aimless if I’m doing pretty much anything without a loaded camera nearby. You don’t have to share this feeling, but I got the impression that you did.

    I also got sort of sidetracked but part of my point of bringing up my transition to paid work was out of necessity to solve the issue of not being able to afford photography as a hobby. I imagine that you could also find a similar solution by selling rights to your work or prints etc. An activity that costs a lot of money but doesn’t generate any is, of course, not sustainable without wealth.

    “I’m not boycotting Kodak,”

    I’m not sure what the difference is between boycotting Kodak and stating hat you are no longer a customer of theirs.

    “but personally I do think there is more greed driving their current prices than anything else. You’re free to agree or disagree with me on that, but it is my opinion, and it’s not unfounded.”

    I wouldn’t say it’s unfounded but I would say that such an opinion could be drawn about any complicated topic and cynical outlook. Any complicated topic contains enough datapoints to support an argument in any direction. That doesn’t in any way mean that there is a simple truth that can be distilled. Are some employees and trustees of Kodak greedy and perhaps even don’t care or actually WANT film to die? It’s a big enough and old enough company, and people are complicated things, so I I am quite sure there are. I am not really out to distill a particular characterization of the company. My goal is to be a successful film photographer. And in order to do so, I need Kodak products in my current workflow. Until I or you can buy Kodak and make every business decision based purely on good intentions, I’ll do what I can to line whoever’s greedy or not greedy pockets so long as I can keep doing what I want to do.

    “Regarding sending “an increasing price burden to another devoted shooter,” that’s honestly Kodak’s doing, not mine.”

    Well, again, I have go to back to each of our roles in the film community. I think you personally have a larger impact than maybe you appreciate. Particularly when you make public statements that may influence others. So yes, I think it’s OUR doing.

    But you’re right, competition is a good thing. Resistance could also lead to positive results at some point. The numbers will have go much higher for me to pull out though, and maybe that’s the thing, it’s just a matter of thresholds. I think the reason that I, and others who are financially dependent on the availability of film are making these pro-consumer statements is out of fear that the bottom falls out of things entirely despite each of our personal investments. Which is not to say that this should be your burden. But can you imagine if we all encouraged everyone to boycott Kodak?

    I hope you take me up on the offer to write an article. No pressure though, and no timeline. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Johnny,

      Sorry for the slow reply. The past few days were busy.

      [ Would you be interested in writing a formal response to my blog rather than having all this back and forth? If you’d like to type something up and email it to me at JohnnyMartyr@Hotmail.com, along with any contact info,credentials and links to your work that you’d like to share, I’d be happy to post it on my blog.]

      I truly do appreciate your offer to have me write an article for your blog regarding the topics at hand. It shows you genuinely do care about the positions of all people within the community and not just those whose situations reflect your own, which seems to be very rare amongst most film-related blogs and websites today, especially those operated by pros. As you clearly do, I also believe it’s vitally important that all people within the film community, and not just specific subsets, are able to communicate their thoughts, opinions, and where they’re coming from. So seriously, thank you for that. I’ll definitely consider your offer, although I think I’ve basically already said everything I have to say on this particular matter in the comments section here. However, there’s no denying that a formal blog post would certainly have a wider audience than a comments section does, especially with your subscriber base, so that would be a big plus. That said, I’m also a pretty private person so I don’t usually do much online in the way of authoring articles or putting my own work on display. In fact, I don’t even have Instagram or Flickr (or whatever else people use) pages where I publicly show my work as photography for me is a very personal endeavor. Nonetheless, I do still appreciate you offering me a platform not only to state my position on the topic of the cost of film today, but also to guide others to my work. If I shared my work online like a lot of people do, the benefit of having your readership being exposed to it would be huge.

      All that said, as I consider writing a formal write-up, I’ll go ahead and respond to just a few of your latest comments in an attempt to wrap up a few ideas.

      […You wrote yourself out of the struggle narrative by differentiating yourself from my group (again) because you aren’t a professional. But that’s the whole thing, to anyone who takes photography remotely seriously, it’s a struggle. And if treated as a commodity, sure, it is cut out. But I believe that devoted shooters feel such a need to take photos constantly that it ranks up there with water. ]

      I’m being quite literal in my usage of the word “commodity” and the phrase “essential to a person’s survival.” And the undeniable fact is, without water, a person will not survive. But without film, they will certainly survive, even if they’re extremely displeased that they are no longer able to engage in film photography. Like any person with a finite amount of money to spend on both “needs” and “wants,” my priorities have to be firstly on what keeps me alive (“needs”), even if that means sacrificing the things in life that I enjoy the most (“wants”). I love film photography with a passion, but it’s clearly not essential to one’s survival. Regarding writing myself out of the struggle narrative, no, I really didn’t. In fact, I could argue exactly the opposite is true, that in actuality, you wrote yourself out of the struggle narrative because as a pro you have a means to offset the high cost of film by increasing the cost of your services, whereas hobbyists do not. Frankly, the argument goes both ways. At the end of the day, all this really shows is that shooting film today is a struggle for all of us, amateur and pro alike, and that high film costs are only serving to make the situation worse across the board.

      [ I feel a bit aimless if I’m doing pretty much anything without a loaded camera nearby. You don’t have to share this feeling, but I got the impression that you did.]

      No, I’m right there with you. I feel exactly the same way. Film isn’t just one of my hobbies — it IS my hobby. I exclusively shoot film. I don’t touch digital because artistically it does nothing for me. This is why I have such strong feelings on the cost of film photography today, which in my opinion is entirely unjustified, and why I take issue with other film photographers promoting such high costs as something positive, when it’s not, regardless of whether some people can afford it.

      [ I also got sort of sidetracked but part of my point of bringing up my transition to paid work was out of necessity to solve the issue of not being able to afford photography as a hobby. I imagine that you could also find a similar solution by selling rights to your work or prints etc. An activity that costs a lot of money but doesn’t generate any is, of course, not sustainable without wealth.]

      For most hobbyists, and thus most film photographers since that’s what the vast majority of us are, their careers are already set, their obligations are already in place, and they are not able to just switch over to film photography as a career in order to fund their hobby. Even trying our hand at selling prints of our work, etcetera, is not going to prove worth the time involved, if we even have the time to begin with. For those that were able to turn film photography into a career at the right time in their lives, I’m happy for them. But for most of us, film always has been and will always remain a hobby. The only thing that has changed is that the cost of shooting film — accounting both for the cost of the film itself and associated services — has become absolutely, ridiculously expensive. As I said before, up until recently it was actually very easy to shoot film on a limited budget. It no longer is. And I’d argue this is the first time this has been the case in many, many decades. And that is the problem. It’s an immediate problem for most of us amateurs who desire to shoot any quantity of film (the category an overwhelming majority percentage of the community presently belongs to), and long-term it will also be a problem for pros like yourself because the alienation of amateurs (i.e. making it unaffordable for them) will ultimately lead to even higher and higher film prices to offset the continued loss of a very large chunk of the market (again, those of us amateurs who will be forced out due to no longer being able to afford it), as well as a problem for the film manufacturers themselves because they’re going to inevitably lose a huge number of their best and most loyal customers. Short-term it’s worse for some of us than others (serious amateurs), but long-term it’s bad for everyone, all around. If present trends continue, it will ultimately negatively effect all people and businesses within the community and the industry: pros, amateurs, those who buy and shoot a little, those who buy and shoot a lot, those who only buy disposable cameras once every blue moon on vacation, those who are tied to the industry, those who run film-related websites, those who run film labs, and even the film manufacturers themselves. If things don’t change, there is only one way all this turns out in the end for both the community and the industry — badly. This is why I have to genuinely question if the film manufacturers, or at least the parent corporations that own them, don’t care about the long-term viability/profitability and survival of film as a medium, but rather are just trying to exploit today’s market for large short-term profits before they pull out of film manufacturing altogether. I sincerely hope that’s not the case, but based on what I’ve seen it seems disturbingly likely that it is. If so, and five to ten years down the line film no longer exists as a product at all, it’ll be devastating for people like me — and you — who thrive on shooting film. This is my primary concern based on the recent behaviors of the film divisions of many companies, chiefly Kodak and Fujifilm, but even the other smaller ones to varying degrees.

      [ I’m not sure what the difference is between boycotting Kodak and stating hat you are no longer a customer of theirs.]

      Call it whatever you will, but my reason for no longer being a Kodak customer is because their products have now massively exceeded my budget. Generally, when one boycotts a company, it’s not because of financial reasons, but rather a difference of principles. While I admittedly don’t agree with how Kodak is doing things, the reason they’ve lost me as a customer is purely monetary. Again, Kodak hasn’t really given me a choice. If I want to continue to shoot film in the quantity I desire, buying Kodak film is no longer feasible. It really is that simple, and I know I’m not alone.

      [ Until I or you can buy Kodak and make every business decision based purely on good intentions, I’ll do what I can to line whoever’s greedy or not greedy pockets so long as I can keep doing what I want to do.]

      But there is always a major price to pay for supporting, and thus condoning and giving permission for, greedy behavior and/or exorbitant prices. And that cost is that ultimately greedy businesses always destroy the economy of the industry in which they exist if they’re not put into check. This is because greed needlessly and pointlessly inflates the entire chain of production costs (raw materials, the manufacturing process, etc.) needed to make a product, which falsely drives prices up for all manufacturers within the same industry, even those that are trying to be fair and reasonable. Simply put, it screws everything up and makes everything more expensive for absolutely no reason whatsoever. And in the end it serves nobody if their intentions are to have a sustainable and profitable business long-term. And like it or not, the way companies are put into check is by people demonstrating that they’re not willing to put up with it, namely by not buying what they’re selling until they start selling at reasonable prices once again. This has been the case since the beginning of time. It’s why competition is good and why monopolies are unacceptable. But if nobody ever takes a stand, things will only get worse until eventually the entirety of the industry and the market/community that once supported it has been decimated. It doesn’t always happen overnight, but it does happen eventually. Anyone who has been around for any period of time and has paid attention to industry knows this. So while you, other pros, and a relatively small percentage of amateurs may be able to pay the prices Kodak (and others) are now charging, perhaps you should ask yourselves whether or not you should, because ultimately paying such prices will very likely do substantially more damage than good. Ilford is still overpriced in my opinion, but HP5 PLUS at $5.69 per roll versus TRI-X at $6.99 per roll is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned, especially since the two stocks behave so closely to each other they’re nearly, if not entirely, indistinguishable. And let’s be honest, when discussing B&W films, TRI-X is the Kodak stock most people, pros and amateurs alike, care about. I know some do, but based on my personal observations far fewer people shoot the T-MAX emulsions on a regular basis, and even if they do they tend to do so in far lower quantities compared to the amount of TRI-X they go through. There are exceptions, sure, but I think it’s pretty safe to say this is typically the case.

      [ “Regarding sending “an increasing price burden to another devoted shooter,” that’s honestly Kodak’s doing, not mine.”

      Well, again, I have go to back to each of our roles in the film community. I think you personally have a larger impact than maybe you appreciate. Particularly when you make public statements that may influence others. So yes, I think it’s OUR doing.]

      I hope my statements do influence others, or at the very least cause them to ask questions about the current state of things and look at all of it from a perspective that is woefully lacking online on film-related websites and blogs, despite it likely being the perspective that best represents the vast majority of the film community at large, even if they don’t consciously recognize it. For others like me with limited budgets, we will simply buy what we can afford within our budgets for as long as we can to support the hobby we love. For many of us, that means Kodak is no longer an option. But I didn’t just write all this to represent those in the community in same position I’m in. Everything I’ve written was equally for those that can afford the high prices, in an attempt to have them think about the potentially very negative long-term repercussions paying such prices will have on all of us, including them. I’d argue these negative repercussions are all but guaranteed and an eventuality if present trends continue, but people can and should research things on their own and make their own decisions based on logical reasoning and the evidence at hand. Sadly, I think all too many film photographers today, especially those who are much younger and thus far more impressionable because they haven’t been around very long (among other reasons), read all the articles written in defense of high prices and they just swallow it — hook, line, and sinker — without ever truly thinking about whether there is any logical sense or rationale to it or not. In turn, they start vocally regurgitating the same stuff, and it’s an endless cycle that serves nobody and accomplishes nothing, other than giving the film manufacturers reason to further rip us off, which is the last thing any of us need. People promoting high prices are shooting themselves and the rest of us in the foot.

      [ I think the reason that I, and others who are financially dependent on the availability of film are making these pro-consumer statements is out of fear that the bottom falls out of things entirely despite each of our personal investments. Which is not to say that this should be your burden. But can you imagine if we all encouraged everyone to boycott Kodak?]

      I get that, but as I’ve already stated, the practice of supporting extremely high prices for film may very well be the ultimate cause of “the bottom [falling] out of things entirely.” Because, whether you like it or not, paying exorbitant prices for a product — any product — only acts as permission for the makers of said product to charge such prices while simultaneously forcing (not by choice) many people out altogether due to the unaffordality of it. Combined with the permission they’ve already been granted by those willing and continuing to pay the prices they’re asking and to compensate for the losses of large numbers of previous customers no longer able to afford their products, in order to keep profit margins at the same place, the manufacturers will continue to drive the cost of film up, and up, and up, further and further, to compensate for the ever shrinking customer base. If people vote with their dollars, even if they can afford the high costs, they will put an end to the unnecessarily high prices and help stabilize them at a healthy price point for all of us. Ultimately, that will serve the entire community and industry positively. The opposite is a never-ending vicious cycle, that will spiral out of control (as it already is), and ultimately will gut everything. Regarding people boycotting Kodak, actually, if a large enough group of people actually did boycott them, forcing them to lower their prices to where they’re fair and reasonable, it would actually help them long-term, not hurt them. Yes, it’ll hurt their short-term profits, but long-term it’ll help them stay afloat and profitable by providing much needed stability to the market. Again, this is historically how fair business and healthy competition worked. Unfortunately, younger generations seem to be lacking the discipline to put the practice of voting with their dollars into effect, and because of it greed is now rampant in virtually every industry and market there is, and it’s negatively impacting the overall economy in a very significant way. Unfortunately, this largely goes on because of the total nonsense colleges and universities now teach in business/economics courses. But that’s an entirely different conversation for another time.

      [ I hope you take me up on the offer to write an article. No pressure though, and no timeline. Thanks!]

      Again, we’ll see. But regardless of whether I do or don’t, thank you for the opportunity. It really does mean a lot.

      Take care!

      Like

      1. “P” –
        I feel what you’re trying to say but I believe you’re oversimplifying a few things. I’m coming at this from the perspective of a person who did the books for his ex-wife’s photography business (while holding down my day job in IT), so let’s just say that while I wasn’t managing a multi-national enterprise, I have some idea about running a business at a profit (and sometimes a loss!)

        ***One***
        Let’s set aside for a moment that attempting to categorize the diverse analog photo community is a difficult and probably pointless exercise, three categories are not sufficient to cover the spectrum of folks that may or may not support these price increases. I for one support the price increase for reasons I’ll get to shortly. Everyone’s finances differ for different reasons and so do their priorities. I for one, can afford the price increase, but as I started to shoot more film I did a few things to offset the costs of film and processing.

        Now, I’m gonna defend Johnny here – being a pro photographer is a hard line of business – the investment is huge (and ongoing) and the competition is fierce. Case in point, I’m not a professional photographer but some friends asked me to shoot their daughter’s 1 Year baby portraits, which of course I did for free. This sort of thing takes work away from Pros. The literal truth is that there are a lot of pros out there who can’t afford to invest heavily in analog – they just don’t have enough business. Some Pros read the tea leaves and invested early when the gear was still cheap, or they may have had the gear mothballed – these pros are differentiating themselves by offering film work for their clients and of course, these are the Pros that will be able to pass the costs along to their clients. But clients sometimes don’t pay or pay in a timely manner – I think you get the idea. And please, don’t even get me started on the Self-Employment tax rate here in the US, which is straight up robbery. This is something that any self-employed individual can relate to.

        ***Two***
        It doesn’t always boil down to greed – businesses need to turn a profit to survive, but need a good profit to grow. Were you aware that Kodak Alaris is NOT a publicly traded company? Kodak Alaris is owned largely by the Kodak UK Employee Pension Plan. This was one of the outcomes of Kodak’s 2012 Bankruptcy. First off, the exponentially unsustainable economic model that is a pension system requires that they make a MINIMUM profit level in order to make their mandated payments to retirees. They also need to make sure that the Plan is solvent for any future retirees still covered under the Pension agreement. This is a sunk cost and gets passed on to the consumer in the price of the film. Add in current labor, material and regulatory costs and you can see where this goes. I point this put only to inform that the usual hedge fund and stockholder bull**** is not at play here so I believe greed really is less of a factor here.

        Now, Kodak’s film business was shrinking for over a decade. Motion picture film was keeping them on life support until the “Resurgence” (as I’ll refer to the current rise in demand). This means that film stocks were retired, production lines were idled and this cascaded down to their suppliers. The few remaining makers of film base have to supply Kodak, Ilford, Fuji, et. al with diminished capacity. The Resurgence wasn’t something anyone could have predicted and reasonably, film makers waited cautiously to make sure the trend was not only holding, but growing before making the commitment to producing more film. Reanimating a production line after a decade or two of sitting idle means that things might break and need to be repaired or replaced.

        In the last four years, Ilford has introduced one new film line (Ortho), and Kodak has resurrected no fewer that THREE:

        Ektachrome 100 in both 35mm and 120 formats
        ColorPlus 200 35mm (reformulated VR200?)
        Pro Image 100 35mm (reformulated ?)

        Mind you, they did all of this without increasing prices on their other stocks meaning they put their own money into increasing the supply and variety available to us. They’ve now hit a tipping point where they need to increase capacity (as do their suppliers!) to meet the growing demand. Prices need to go up, else the investment can’t be made – there’s no way around this.

        In conclusion, let me loop back to money and priorities. I’m going to tell a little of my story to make it easier to relate to.

        While I make a comfortable living, I’m not swimming in dough. I’ve been a single father for seven years. My youngest son is in college and I’m still paying his mother alimony for another couple of years. See what I mean about categories being difficult? Not complaining – on the contrary, I’m grateful that I’m in a position to do all this. So many other struggle just to make ends meet. I know because I’ve been there. I had to work hard to get where I am now. My Ex only got into Professional Photography when our three kids were older, and the reality is that what she was clearing after expenses was really pocket money for herself, so I supported the family solely on my income for 20 years – this to say that I learned to put the DIY skills I learned as a teenager to use and learned to be smart with my money.

        I grew to love film photography after getting into vintage glass that I adapted to my Olympus OM-D. I quickly realized that this hobby was going to require some investment.

        As photography got more expensive, I scoured thrift stores and found developing equipment and a second hand Canon film scanner so I can cut my processing costs. I invested in chemistry and learned how to process my own black and white film to save money. I shoot more Black and White film now so I can pay less for processing. I’ve learned to love budget films like Kentmere Pan, ColorPlus 200, Ultramax 400 and Fuji C200. I recently put my G.A.S. on hold and sold off quite a few of my film cameras to help fund my hobby – and yes, I’ve started to shoot more digital.

        Now, I understand that some of what I have done or can do may not be feasible for everyone, but I just wanted to point out that there are ways to offset the price increases. The reality is that “affordability” often comes down to a shift in priorities and an investment in time to save money.

        “P”, I respect your desire to stop buying Kodak because I don’t see it as a zero sum game. Supporting film producers in general helps preserve the format, but please try to look at the issue through a wider lens, so to speak and consider supporting Kodak through this.

        Consider also that Fuji has gone “all in” on Instant at the cost of some of their film stocks, so Kodak’s commitment to double-down on traditional film speaks volumes.

        Ultimately, what are we in the analog community willing to do to preserve film? I, for one will continue to purchase Kodak products because I see that they’re willing to make the investment. Because I love shooting film. I love opening the tank, seeing my negatives and knowing that I produced something enduring. I gave my youngest son his first film camera last year when he turned 20. He’s loving analog and it fills my heart with love and joy that he is making beautiful images and cherishes the pieces of brass and glass because his father gave them to him. I have a grandson who just turned three and I’m searching for his first cameras. I have another grandson on the way soon.

        I want film to be around for them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi, Rob B.:

        Yes, out of necessity I knowingly simplified the issue here. If I didn’t I would have ended up writing a novel (some may argue I did anyways). So, yeah, I pretty much had to distill things down. I’m fully aware of that fact. But trust me, everything you brought up I have considered in my reasoning, and a lot more. Maybe I really do need to write a full-fledged article as Johnny recommend. However, for now, I’m going to respond to a few things you brought up, but I’m also going to try to keep the length of this comment down as much as possible, so again, oversimplification is, as it nearly always is regardless of the topic, inevitable.

        [ ***One***
        Let’s set aside for a moment that attempting to categorize the diverse analog photo community is a difficult and probably pointless exercise, three categories are not sufficient to cover the spectrum of folks that may or may not support these price increases…]

        The three group categorization of film photographers I made in regards to those who are very vocally supporting substantial price increases holds. Was it a generalization? Yes. Was it wrong? No. I’m not going to name names or point fingers, but if you follow the most popular film-related websites you’ll see that. And I don’t care where you’re coming from, these sorts of articles that have been run on these sites only accomplishes one thing: it gives film manufacturers reason (permission) to further exploit their customers, and that is not a good thing for any of us. So it’s less than pointless, and is entirely damaging. But of course there are a near infinite number of types of people, from all different backgrounds, within the film community, just as there is in anything else. I never said otherwise. That doesn’t mean a person can’t break things down into general categories based on years of observation.

        [ Now, I’m gonna defend Johnny here…]

        Who are you defending Johnny against? Me? I think I’ve made it quite clear that I’m not against Johnny in any way. I’ve agreed with him every step of the way with regards to the fact that being a professional photographer today is typically not the easiest career, and that photography in general is a struggle, especially for us film shooters. Maybe you need to go back and read everything I’ve written. I’m also fully aware of the monumental challenges being self-employed presents, as I imagine most people interested in taking the time to read my comments are, either first-hand or through the struggles of someone they’re close to. I kind of assumed that was a given in this conversation.

        [ ***Two***
        It doesn’t always boil down to greed – businesses need to turn a profit to survive, but need a good profit to grow. Were you aware that Kodak Alaris is NOT a publicly traded company? …]

        Yes, I’m well aware of what Kodak Alaris is, the fact they exist under the KPP, that they’re private, and their origins being a byproduct of Eastman Kodak’s bankruptcy. I assumed everyone who would be reading my comments was aware of this and that it was therefore another given. Regarding your mention of “current labor, material and regulatory costs,” again, these are also givens. They’re part of any and every industry there is on Earth. I tended not to state the obvious in my prior discussion because, well, it’s obvious. But I think anyone who has been involved in the film community for any length of time is fully aware of Kodak Alaris’s existence, who and what they are, how they’re separate from Eastman Kodak, and, to be frank, the serious problem that the whole situation is since it really boils down to Eastman Kodak no longer having control over their own products, at least on the still film side (they still do on the motion picture side). This is no doubt a contributing factor to why current still film prices from Kodak are what they are — overpriced. All that said, any time money is being made, greed is always at play. I don’t mean any offense, but to think otherwise is extremely naive. Now, whether the origins of that greed are on Kodak Alaris’s side or Eastman Kodak’s side, or both (likely), is a bit difficult to say. It’s entirely possible Eastman Kodak has unrealistically inflated the prices they’re charging Kodak Alaris for still film coming out of their plant in Rochester, which is forcing Kodak Alaris to charge us more. This is certainly a possibility. Likewise, it’s also possible Eastman Kodak hasn’t unrealistically increased what they’re charging Kodak Alaris, but instead only marginally increased prices, and Kodak Alaris took the opportunity to use these marginally increased prices as an excuse to drastically increase what they’re charging us, the public, in order to exploit us for huge profits. Or maybe it’s a little bit of both. Either way, I think greed is definitely at play here. I’m not going to rehash what I’ve already written in previous comments (please read them), but the substantial price increase really does not make any logical sense, unless someone, somewhere has become extremely greedy. In fact, I’d argue based on Kodak’s own numbers that their still film products should actually be getting cheaper right now, not more expensive. Eastman Kodak has admitted outright that they sold twice as much film in 2019 as they did in 2015. And every year for many years now they’ve seen rather substantial growth. I don’t know what sort of nonsensical business philosophies people today believe in, but that is in no way justification for higher prices, even if increased production means as a company you have to invest in ramping things up; quite the opposite is true, actually.

        [ … The few remaining makers of film base have to supply Kodak, Ilford, Fuji, et. al with diminished capacity…]

        Regarding Kodak, Ilford, and nearly everyone else being reliant upon (i.e. at the mercy of) just a “few remaining makers of film base,” yes, this is a major problem and I hope Kodak and Ilford both eventually start manufacturing their own base materials again. If my memory serves me correctly, I think the situation may be even worse than there being a “few remaining makers of film base.” I think it may actually be down to just one or two, but I could be mistaken. I’ll need to do some research. Regardless, this is definitely an issue. A big one.

        [ … Reanimating a production line after a decade or two of sitting idle means that things might break and need to be repaired or replaced.]

        Regarding Kodak having to “reanimat[e] their production line” because things have been “sitting idle,” I’m sorry, but this is part of the story that is entirely nonsensical. Eastman Kodak’s production line in Rochester has never, ever been sitting idle. Never. Certainly, they were manufacturing far less during the decade or so downturn following the “digital disaster” leading up to the film “resurgence,” but they never shut down, not even remotely. This is part of the “official” narrative that is just straight-up laughable. As I said in a previous comment, several years back Kodak was complaining about the fact that their facility and equipment in Rochester (the same one in use today) was designed for much larger production runs, and due to issues scaling back their manufacturing process, they had to increase prices. This actually makes sense, as I stated it did previously. Fast forward just a few years and Kodak is now claiming to have issues scaling up their manufacturing to meet increased demand (e.g. in 2019, double what it was in 2015). And this is actually the basis for their reasoning for the recent substantial price increases. This is nonsense. First off, what do people think Kodak did several years back, throw all their manufacturing equipment in the garbage that was designed for higher volume output? Of course not. That would be idiotic. If anything, they may have somewhat adapted that equipment to make it more efficient for smaller runs, but if I had to guess they probably didn’t even do that. They in all likelihood just offset the cost of reduced efficiency in their manufacturing process by charging us more. And at the time, that was fine, and perfectly logical. But today, efficiency is guaranteed to be way up as they’re actually utilizing their equipment in a capacity closer to what it was originally designed for. So, prices all around, including for us, should actually be going down. Even if Eastman Kodak had to reverse some of the “scaling back” that they may or may not have implemented previously, there is zero excuse for them charging us substantially more when they’re selling double what they were a few years ago and have seen steady growth for many years now. It’s nonsense, and violates virtually every legitimate economic principle there is. Kodak is seemingly attempting to redefine the idea of “supply and demand” to mean that regardless of supply, and regardless of demand, they’re ALWAYS justified in charging us more. That’s ridiculous on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin, and if other people can’t recognize that I don’t know what to say. And repairing and replacing equipment is just another given, as it is the case in every industry on Earth.

        [ In the last four years, Ilford has introduced one new film line (Ortho), and Kodak has resurrected no fewer that THREE: …]

        There are multiple fallacies here. First, regarding Ilford’s recent “introduction” of Ortho Plus 80, it’s not a new emulsion at all. It’s only new in 35mm and 120. It’s been around in sheet sizes for a long time. So really, Ilford hasn’t introduced anything new in many, many years (at least film stocks — they have paper). And that’s fine. I’d rather them focus on the quality products they already sell, and keeping the prices of those products down, than investing in reintroducing or creating new, niche products that are not going to do much, if anything, to increase their profitability anyways. In this regard I actually think Ilford is being much smarter than Kodak is.

        Now, let’s talk about the “new” or “resurrected” Kodak emulsions you brought up. ColorPlus 200 and ProImage 100 are not new film stocks in any way whatsoever, they have not been reformulated (at least there’s no evidence of such), and both have been in constant production for a very, very long time. Kodak didn’t just bring them back or recently introduce them as you tend to imply. They’ve been around and being steadily and constantly manufactured for years in Rochester. They just simply weren’t distributed in the Western market until recently, although they’ve always been available, even in the States and the U.K., if one knew to look for them. In fact, in the U.S., even Amazon used to sell 5-packs of ProImage 100 for a mere $10 (yep, $2 per roll). And that wasn’t all that long ago, maybe as recent as five or six years ago. I’d have to double check to be sure. It’s effectively a cheap, consumer-grade film, it always has been, and its price should reflect that. But since it’s recent “introduction” in the U.K. and the U.S., prices have unsurprisingly been unrealistically inflated for no reason. Likewise, ColorPlus 200, which is likely just a later revision of the VR 200 series from the 80’s, has been in constant production (probably quite literally since the 80’s) and sold as a cheap alternative to Gold in other regions of the world for a long, long time. It might be “new” to the U.S., but just like ProImage 100, there’s nothing new about it. No R&D or other such investment had to be made to bring it to the Western market. All Kodak had to do was make more and start distributing it in more regions than they were previously. So your arguments regarding those two emulsions are fundamentally flawed. In fact, and again I mean no offense, they’re just plain wrong.

        Now, with regards to Ektachrome, sure, they had to reformulate it, do a little bit of work due to environmental regulation changes, and invest a little bit to bring it back. That said, I’m sure 99% of the science was left unchanged and pulled straight from older Ektachrome formulas. But I’d argue bringing it back was a very poor businesses decision on their part, as slide film has become the most niche of all film stocks there are. So, why invest in it when you don’t even have, or at least claim not to have based on what you tell the public, the rest of your ducks in a row? It seems rather dumb to me, and I highly doubt it has proved very successful as a product for them from a profitability standpoint. Bringing back a much-loved B&W stock, such as Panatomic-X, would likely have been much cheaper for them and is pretty much guaranteed to have made them more money as a product. Even bringing back P3200 a couple of years ago, which you didn’t mention, was a pretty poor business decision as it’s about the most niche of all B&W products. I’m glad P3200 is available again, but just like Ektachrome, I seriously doubt it’s making Kodak much money. That’s especially true when Delta 3200 never left the market and has the added major benefit of existing in 120. I bet most photographers who once upon a time shot a lot of P3200 in their workflow and have had a continued need for a very high speed B&W emulsion (debatable there are many with the advancements in low noise digital sensor design in the past few years) have since long switched over to Delta 3200 with no desire to switch back, especially if they shoot medium format. But what do I know?

        [ Mind you, they did all of this without increasing prices on their other stocks meaning they put their own money into increasing the supply and variety available to us. They’ve now hit a tipping point where they need to increase capacity (as do their suppliers!) to meet the growing demand. Prices need to go up, else the investment can’t be made – there’s no way around this.]

        Simply put, this is false economic thinking. I’ve already covered why in the preceding paragraphs above, in an albeit truncated manner. The discussion could, and does, go way deeper.

        People act like Kodak is investing in all these new film stocks, but if they take a step back and actually look at things realistically it’s quite obvious that is simply bogus. They re-introduced P3200, sure, but it was an existing formulation that the R&D costs have long since been covered (as in decades ago). All they did was start making it again, and B&W film is relatively simple, I might add. I seriously doubt it was reformulated as there likely wouldn’t be a point. The only other “new” film they’ve introduced is Ektachrome, and yes, admittedly, due to environmental regulations, they did have to reformulate it, which obviously required a bit of an investment on their part. But I highly doubt the changes to the formula were that drastic. It’s probably 99% the same as prior, more neutral Ektachrome iterations. After all, the science of all this stuff has long been sorted out (for decades). It’s not as though Kodak, or anyone else, is engineering new film emulsions from scratch, and developing the science from the ground up. This stuff has long been established, but for some reason people act as if it hasn’t been and frequently use terms like “R&D” and “new” to justify price increases when there is very little in the way of “R&D” taking place, at least that has actually manifested itself in the way of a “new” product line. And if Kodak is working on literal, brand new still film emulsions behind closed doors, why? What’s the point? Like Ilford, I’d rather them focus on what they have and keeping prices down. If they do want to introduce something “new,” I’d much prefer they just brought back something old (e.g. Panatomic-X) that requires much less, if any, “investment” to do so and already has a very large percentage of the film shooting population ready to buy such a product (that is, it’s far less niche than, say, P3200 is). And I know countless others agree with me on this. I’m not the only one that thinks P3200 and (especially) Ektachrome were poor, illogical business decisions that haven’t served the community at large in any way whatsoever. Just look around.

        [ “P”, I respect your desire to stop buying Kodak because I don’t see it as a zero sum game. Supporting film producers in general helps preserve the format, but please try to look at the issue through a wider lens, so to speak and consider supporting Kodak through this.]

        For about the millionth time now, my “decision” to no longer buy Kodak’s products is not really a “decision” or a “choice” at all. If I want to continue to shoot film in even remotely the quantity I desire to (and I can’t actually even do that anymore, even if I’m buying the cheapest options available), Kodak is simply put no longer affordable for me. I’m not “boycotting” them based on principles, even though I admittedly don’t agree with how they’re doing things. Quite simply, Kodak film is no longer even remotely within my budget. I CAN’T keep buying it and continue my hobby as I desire to. I don’t mean to be rude, but why is it so difficult for people to understand this? Everyone acts as though if a person really wants to, they just magically have the ability to conjure up the money to be able to afford whatever they want. That’s ridiculous. If a person can’t afford something, they can’t afford it. This is the same reason I don’t buy expensive fast food meals and why I don’t buy $4 or $5 cups of coffee, or more, as is pretty typical (and totally ridiculous) at coffee bars these days, among a great many other things. I already develop my own B&W film to save money. I also shoot very little color film today because I don’t process it myself and lab services have become total ripoffs too. I really can’t afford it, so I just don’t do it, at least not regularly. I might shoot a couple of rolls of color negative a year. My stock is sadly just sitting in cold storage. Slide film is way beyond what I’m able to afford so it doesn’t happen ever. Like you, I also picked up a used scanner to save on costs. It’s honestly a bit of a piece of junk, it takes about four hours to scan a single roll of film, and I’m not at all that happy with the quality it produces, but it’s what I could afford. People need to actually read what I’ve written, and quit acting like I’ve made a choice to “stop supporting” Kodak. If I’m going to keep shooting film in any quantity, it’s not a choice. Buying more affordable products is a necessity. If Kodak wants to decrease their stocks so they’re within my budget again, I’ll start buying them again. Until then, they’ve lost me as a customer. And again, I know I’m not alone in this.

        [ I want film to be around for them.]

        Again, if you actually read what I’ve written in all of my prior comments, you’ll realize that the basis for everything I’ve brought up circles back to my desire for film as a medium to continue to exist and be viable, profitable, and sustainable long-term.

        Rob, I appreciate your response to my comment and I sincerely hope you don’t take the abrupt, direct, and fairly blunt nature of my responses above the wrong way. I’m in no way trying to be rude, but tone and context can and does often get lost in written text. Plus, I made an attempt here to be more concise regarding several things I’ve already talked about previously, because it seems as though people continue to outright fail to grasp what I’ve been saying on multiple fronts. If, because of this, I came across as rude or irritated, I apologize. Again, that absolutely was not my intent.

        Take care of yourself, and best of luck with all your future film endeavors!

        So much for keeping it “shorter” (Sorry, Johnny!). 🙂

        Like

      3. Thank you, Johnny! I really appreciate that you not only put up with my long-winded comments, but also that you thoroughly responded to them and engaged in actual conversation about the issues at hand. It means a lot. Most other places I’ve tried to discuss these issues people have been “less than appreciative” and entirely unwilling to have a real discussion, even if what I had to say was in direct response to the topics they themselves initially brought up. If legitimate discussion about issues can’t be had on people’s blogs/websites/etcetera, then what’s the point? Anyways, thanks again.

        P.S. It’s unfortunate, but Kodak’s prices on B&H for many stocks (TMAX 100 and 400, Portra 800, etc.) have continued to climb and get even more outrageously expensive than they were when you first wrote this post. It’s truly a shame, and I really do think it’s motivated by greed. I imagine George Eastman would be very disappointed in the present situation. I remain highly concerned about what ramifications it’s going to have on the future of film photography, for the community and industry as a whole long-term, but in the short-term I’m especially concerned for the huge numbers of amateurs like myself who simply don’t have money to burn.

        Like

      4. P, I’m going to have to ask you to please refrain from continuing to flood my comments section with your long repetitive responses.

        I have given you the opportunity to write a formal response which still stands. Enough is enough though. I cannot keep replying to all this and other followers will keep getting your responses in their inboxes too. Your responses are so long that WordPress cannot format replies to them correctly. It’s really just out of hand. I certainly encourage you to put all your thoughts in a published article.

        And because you brought it up, B&H’s prices on P3200 and Tri-X 35mm 36 exp rolls are EXACTLY the same as they were when I wrote this. TMAX 100 has “climbed” by $0.50.

        If you would like to reply to this, please, email me a full article at JohnnyMartyr@Hotmail.com

        Thank you for understanding.

        Like

      5. All I was doing was responding to the “thank you” comment you posted a while back that I never got around to replying to. I just wanted to return the favor and tell you thanks as well. I didn’t want you to think I was unappreciative for the discussion. I was actually done leaving comments a long time ago.

        By the way, WordPress’s formatting is perfectly fine on my browsers, both mobile and desktop, so I’m not sure why you’re having problems.

        Take care, Johnny.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m afraid this is why I’m going over to Ilford film. I love Tri-X but it’s just so expensive now and I can get the same results from HP5 but at £5.18 it’s cheaper than Kodak Tri-X at £7.82 for a roll from my online dealer. Bulk film and the savings are even greater.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Just looking at colorplus, I could buy a 10 pack from evilbay for 29.99 last August, same 10 pack now is 74.99….guess some sellers are taking advantage somewhat. Found Gold 200 at 25.99 for 5 which is not too bad. So long as it ends up being used for more film not a bad thing.

    Like

    1. I feel like folks are going to post price updates in the comments section here into perpetuity. And that may be relevant for some. But the point I was trying to make was that a-there’s a bit of sensationalism to this whole price hike thing and b-film is a niche product and we have to do what we can to support it’s production. Prices may rise, they may rise like crazy on some products, but as long as they are still available, we can keep shooting. And yeah, I’d never buy film from eBay.

      Like

    1. No, it’s called business. I think this situation should serve as a wake up call about the state of film photography but instead, some people are taking it personally. For all previous years did you write to Kodak and tell them how thankful you were that they kept their prices so low?

      Like

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