If, like me, you shoot film, then you’ll no doubt have encountered the old “I thought film was dead” mantra. Well, whilst there’s no doubt that film took a nose dive with the uptake of digital cameras, it never died as many have believed. Dedicated film shooters like myself have kept film alive (35 years in my case) and now we’re seeing manufacturers tell us that there is “unprecedented new demand” for film. I can certainly vouch for this, as in my own experience I am seeing more enquiries for film courses than ever before. In addition, the distributors I buy film from are telling me sales are on the up, and that new film stocks are coming back on line, and this is all good news.
Which brings me to the news announced last year that Kodak Alaris were re-introducing their Ektachrome 100 film stock. Great news I thought and after a period of waiting, the new film has now hit the shelves this January. But….my jaw hit the floor when I saw the pricing for 120 roll film – £64 for a box of 5 rolls to be precise, which in my case works out at roughly at £1 a click (excluding developing).
Kodak did, in fairness, issue a press release stating that there would be significant price rises in their film stocks from the start of 2020, and boy did they come good on that promise! But they said that the prices were high in order to fund investment in their furture manufacturing.
I am highly skeptical about these reasons though (and actually think they’re bullshit) – especially if we take what we already know about how Kodak Alaris came to be. Specifially, Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy when demand for film was at its lowest. Kodak owed a pension plan a huge sum of money (£28 billon) and the business was acquired by the UK Kodak Pension plan and subsequently, Kodak Aklarius was formed. Now, I’m no financial expert by any stretch, but what I am informed by those in the know, is that they are a pensions company with investors to satisfy. It was also pointed out to me that Kodak Alaris have been trying to sell the company because there has been significant percentage growths in film sales, and now that things are profitibale again, they want to sell the rights to distribute their film products to pay off the debt to the pensions company.
Koak Alaris stated in their last press release that prices were to increase significantly (40% in some cases) but also stated that “demand for film has exceeded all expectations” – say what?? Then there’s the fact that despite considerably lower production of film across the globe, prices remained cheap and stable for a very long period of time, and this had the knock on effect of damaging their main rival Fujifilm. Kodak Alaris gained a sizeable chunk of Fujifilm’s market share as a result, so I doubt very much that the ridiculously high prices are to fund investment in production – more likely that its to line the pockets of their shareholders.
I genuinely belive that Kodak have made a huge mistake in thinking that those loyal to film like me will belive their and keep buying their products to support the noble cause, but I’m not so easily fooled. I shoot a LOT of film and I don’t mean a few rolls every month. I buy my film by the carton and that’s unlikely to change. But as much as I’d like to buy the new Ektachrome, it’s just far too expensive compared to say Fuji’s Provia and I just don’t believe Kodak Alkaris’s reasons for their massive price rises. So, I won’t be buying their film products any more. For colour slide and neg, I will only buy Fujifilm from now on, and I have a considerable supply of Kodak Tri X stocked in my freezer so when that runs out, I’ll only buy my B&W from Fuji, Ilford, Foma etc.
Sorry Kodak, but you just lost a customer.