Time moves on: Kodak to end slide film production

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21 Responses to “Time moves on: Kodak to end slide film production”

  1. awjt says:

    This whole long, slow (boring!) demise of Kodak is just begging for a maker to swoop in and teach us all how to make our own films, plates, etc. 

    I think it would be just peachy if we could combine the best of the old analog methods with digital.  Large reusable plates for taking the photo, a little developing, culminating in a high-resolution digital imprint.  So you get the grain and unpredictability of analog, with the precision and reproducibility of digital.

    Ahhhhh, a guy can dream.

    • Robert Cruickshank says:

       Nothing stopping you from doing exactly that.  Shoot wet plate, scan print.

    • Gabriel says:

      Check out apug.org.

      Kodak killing off their least competitive film line (killed by Fuji, which many prefer over Ektachrome, as much by digital) is not such a surprise. If they kill Portra or their B&W films & chemistry, that would be a terrible loss.

    • It’s possible! http://www.the-impossible-project.com/ made it with a -average quality- kind of Polaroid instant film.

  2. Adam Klafter says:

    What some companies need to learn to do is how to scale down rather than scale up. Film is not obsolete, it is simply more work in a digital world. I would argue that vinyl records are not obsolete in the same way that a cassette tape is. The same goes for film versus say a Polaroid. Cassettes and Polaroids are two “instant” products- intended to be portable and easy to use. They are obsolete. Records are still admired for their analog sound quality and it is still easy enough to find places to buy them and some albums are still being pressed to this day. If Kodak can take away that lesson (here’s hoping before they destroy the company and any remaining production capacity) then they have a chance to survive in some form.

    And on another note, I am waxing a little nostalgic already for the old “vacation slide show”. Getting out the screen, setting up the projector… who gets to hold the clicker to advance the pictures… good times.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I am waxing a little nostalgic already for the old “vacation slide show”.

      A friend of mine went to Havana and took 3-D slides for his rumpus room slideshow.  It was great.

  3. irksome says:

    They were dead to me after they killed Kodachrome 25.

  4. Douglas Rushkoff says:

    Yup. It’s the problem with a certain overly determined model of business. There are companies that learn how to resize and rescale – just like the frog in the desert who can sit for months under ground, waiting for the next rain. And then there are companies who equate growth with survival. 

    Some companies even learn to expand and contract with the undulations of the marketplace – like Duncan yo-yos and Birkenstock, whose products become fads every decade or so. 

    Kodak is the one company in my history that signed a contract for me to speak, then changed their minds after they realized I was going to tell them to learn how to – as Adam puts it – scale down. They never even paid the kill fee, and I admit I held a grudge against them for that. But Adam’s point is spot on. 

  5. Ennev says:

    Being an photography lover in all it’s form (film, digital, iphone, lomo etc). I find it sad, some will say it’s only natural. But a lot of people still prefer to read book in the paper form or use a oven instead of a microwave oven. There is still situations where digital doesn’t quite exactly replace analog. 

  6. mzed says:

    Having shot and processed a lot of E-6 film in my life, this is sad.  Growing up with a home darkroom was a pretty fun learning experience.  Kodachrome is great, but you can’t develop it in your basement.  I can’t believe there isn’t a small market for Ektachrome-like film. (Of course, I haven’t bought a roll in years.)

  7. trackofalljades says:

    Everyone who’s interested by this milestone might also be interested in a documentary project currently underway to tell the story of Kodachrome , framed within the larger narrative of the film-to-digital transition and the “digital dilemma” which faces archivists in the era of bits and bytes.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/590687601/how-it-looks-how-it-lasts-kodachrome-and-the-digit

    I’ve met the fellow directing this, and he has a very solid plan for his modest budget and an AMAZING collection of interviews from all sorts of folks (including the very last lab to ever process Kodachrome).  The funding round wraps up this week, please consider becoming a backer?  Even a small contribution is helpful, and rewards including your own copy of the completed film start as low as the price of a couple of movie tickets.

  8. Julian Bravo says:

    From what I can tell, they still haven’t discontinued off their color reversal movie stock. So if your a crazy person, and need to shoot slides in 35mm without giving money to the Japanese or what ever the hell Rollei film is (German, South Korean, possibly Dutch. I still haven’t quite figured that one out). You can still buy 400 feet of KODAK EKTACHROME 100D Color Reversal Film 5285 for 35mm or 7285 if you for some reason want to shoot slides with your sub min camera.

    E-6 processing at home isn’t impossible, it’s just not practical. A pro developer shop can process large batches of e6 in fresh chemicals to reduce color shifts, at a lower cost than doing it at home. It’s easy to get quart sized kits for about 35 dollars. The only pain is trying to keep the temp at 100F. It’s also not hard to build your own rotary processing kit at home.

  9. E6 Processing at home is indeed practical, I’ve put rolls and rolls of Velvia (and the odd bit of ektachrome) through my Jobo. Commercial E6 processing is too damned expensive!

  10. Martyn Drake says:

    Apparently Kodak are in the process of selling their VFX and post-production facility Cinesite which is a great shame.  Kodak really must be in serious bat droppings to do that..

  11. princeminski says:

    As one of the few people who still uses slides to teach art history, this is another poke in the eye. (To go with the poke in the eye that teaching art history tends to be in the first place.)

  12. frozenintime says:

    I still have film rolls that need to be developed from the 80s, oh my.  

  13. Preston Sturges says:

    Undeveloped film was also a low bandwidth way to sell porn, which you could then develop in your home darkroom. 

    Slides were great for college student organizations because there were always projectors available.  Shoot some slides on your trip, then bring them to the meeting to share and narrate. Facebook isn’t quite the same. Sllides were an event. 

    We have slides that are decades old and which we’ll have a hundred years from now, long after all our PCs are gone.  We had an Argus projector which put the slides in aluminum frames in a stack, not a carousel.

    Slides. also created a form of entertainment – the “travelogue” where some adventurer would have a slide show at a local auditorium and charge some small admission.  It’s the sort of entertainment you get these days when a popular author is the  keynote speaker at an event.

  14. Frederik says:

    Absolutly nothing is stopping you from throwing photos on an sd card or USB stick and hooking it up to any of a million photo display devices that you already have atached to your TV and sharing them with friends and talking about them.

    Infact I did exactly that a few weeks ago.
    There’s no need for this technology anymore so Kodak is ending it.

    • That’s very cool you have USB sticks or sd cards that you can somehow connect to your TV.  Do you think you’ll still be able to connect those sticks or cards to whatever TV or “digital lifestyle display device” that exists 50 years from now?

      The short answer is “no, you won’t”.  And then we’ll have thousands or potentially millions of personal “Apollo 11 missing tapes” stories, where people want to get at ancient photos and either their devices aren’t compatible with whatever the modern technology is or the data on these memory sticks have become corrupted over time, etc.

      Yes, the technology is obsolete, but those prints (and theoretically, the developed negatives) deliver a persistent product that provide instant gratification, decades or even 100 years past when it was created.

      • Cynical says:

        …unless they got too cold, in which case they were destroyed. Or too hot. Or bent. Or exposed to magnets. Etc etc ad nauseum.

        “somehow connect” = use the jack provided on your tv to hook up your laptop, using a single cable? Plug a USB stick directly into an Xbox or a PS3 and then select “browse photos”? In many cases, plug a memory card directly into a TV itself and then let its onboard software sort everything out for you? This isn’t the arcane stylings of the technomagi here, it’s fairly simple stuff. Complaining that you don’t have the technology to do so is a bit like complaining that you can’t browse the internet on your fax machine.

        Storing your pictures and valuable files in digital formats, in the cloud and in multiple locations is, ironically, exactly what would have saved the Apollo 11 tapes. Lost the originals? Download them again from whatever ftp/filesharing site you put them up on.

        You’re right, you probably won’t be able to use today’s memory cards on the “digital lifestyle display device” that will exist 50 years from now, but you’ll have a hell of a lot less difficulty making the conversion from digital to whatever than from fragile-physical-media-that-will-eventually-turn-to-dust to digital.

  15. lumpygravy2 says:

    Kodak is a perfect example of how middle management seeks to protect min-empires regardless of the cost to the larger organization.    Risk-Averse top management in this cases prefers to be firmly in command of a sinking ship, than take a risk on new products, services, or ways of adapting.

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