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Are Kodak’s Price Hikes Going to Ruin Film Photography?

Kodak caused a bit of a stir last month when it announced that there would be some dramatic increases in the price of its film stocks in the near future. What impact will these changes have on the photographic film industry more broadly?

Fstoppers James Madison has been discussing this issue recently and photographer Chris Chu has put together a short video explaining his thoughts. Film photography has long been a niche endeavor with the low cost of camera bodies offset by the costs of buying, developing, and scanning film. Kodak’s price hikes potentially open the door to other manufacturers to establish a greater presence in the market, undercutting the golden giant and bringing out new products.

Perhaps Kodak’s move could be regarded as a readjustment, bringing what will soon be perceived as normality to an industry that certainly retains its magic but also has a notable environmental impact. Given the volumes of plastic and noxious chemicals used in the process, some will argue that such an adjustment is actually welcome, denting its popularity.

Of course, film isn’t the only product that’s increasing in price so you could equally argue that these price rises are far from unexpected.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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16 Comments

William Murray's picture

Ruin, as in lead to its extinction of film as a medium?

Assuming the status quo at macro level, it is foreseeable that there would be a small group of people who would choose film over nutritious food, and a group of wealthy film shooters using film as a status symbol. A low variety ecosystem, of low volume production/high cost is reasonable to assume.

Existential risks with higher probability of occurrance are:

- clamping down on environmental controls, as our species realises it might have a small problem.

- supply chain and broader economic fragiliy.

- war with China.

- the machinery used to produce film wearing out with age, and it not being economic to build new machines - 3D printing will likely reduce that risk.

Alex Zenzaburro's picture

Those assumptions are a bit over the top.

There is more to film than wealthy people that use it as status symbol and people that would buy film instead of food hehe

There are also people that grew up with film and just like the medium.

A polariod is 2 €/$ per frame at the moment, and people still buy polaroids.

I buy 120 black/white film for 6€ a roll, thats 40 cents per frame thats 1/5th of the price of a polaroid.

William Murray's picture

Are they?

The last time fuel was $2 per litre in Australia, people were going without food to buy fuel.

In America, it's cheaper to buy junk food than nutritious food, which is a driver of the fact that people eat garbage.

I don't view my assumptions as at all unreasonable.

Edit: That said, I don't think you understood what I actually said, as you seem to be arguing against the thesis of the OP in response to my comment.

Note, I specifically said "nutritious food" not *all* food.

This is a pretty good example of why I don't like social media, people see what they want to see.

Joephy Bloephe's picture

Oh good grief, this again. As I just heard discussed the other day, the increase in price is only a problem specifically in rich “western” countries. Photographers from Africa (South Africa and Egypt were specifically discussed), India, and other such places have (reportedly) been dealing with scarcity and blisteringly high prices forever.

But gawd forbid one film company (among many) raises their prices and some middle-class moustache-man can’t buy as much of his favourite film for as cheap as he used to.

Now the sky is falling, apparently.

dale clark's picture

Let's see..........manufacturing/distribution costs are rising for every industry/products......why wouldn't film be effected?

Lee Keene's picture

I buy other brands, from NY and CA and Japan and Canada.

Alex Zenzaburro's picture

I don't think too many people are buying Kodak, there is just too much competition.

It also makes more sense to invest in companies like Ilford or the small european companies as they seem to be more dedicated to the heritage of film instead of buying Kodak.

I personally don't care about color-film either so : no i don't think Kodak has the power to kill anything.

William Murray's picture

Too much competition for colour? I don't think so.

You're generalising based on your personal preference.

But I'll play. I'm no longer willing to pay the cost of film, and I'm selling my three 35mm cameras and two Rolleiflexes.

Steve Sondheim's picture

Precisely which parts of what Andy wrote do you feel lacked cohesion?

Michelle Maani's picture

Nah, it is a niche market anyhow for people with money. Now they'll feel even more special.

gaius guido-guidi's picture

...

William Murray's picture

It's funny, people repeatedly reference inflation, and what's reasonable from the manufacturer's point of view; however, "too expensive" is subjectively defined by the consumer.

I've not seen anyone mention the fact wages have been fairly stagnant, whilst the cost of living keeps increasing.

Anything is only worth what someone will pay for it.