Kodak ceases production of B&W paper

Discussion in 'Kodak' started by PGG, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. PGG

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Okay, so in this case Calumet is not Calumet. Maybe they are testing the
    waters, or they might go the Ritz direction in the future. Guess I will stick
    with Nelson's and Camera Exposure. I miss all the great camera gear at the old
    North County Camera.
    Gordon Moat, Jun 20, 2005
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  2. PGG

    Robert Chin Guest

    I had a darkroom when I was a teenager. That was some 30 years ago. I the
    last few years, I picked up photography again. The thought being that if I
    got "good enough", I might be able to transition into this part time at

    After practicing it more and more these last few years, the thought had
    crossed my mind to set up a nice darkroom again. The reason was to relearn
    what I knew before and have greater creative control.

    This thing about Kodak ceasing paper production has given me pause to
    reconsider. On the one hand, experience tells me that paper should be
    available from somewhere in some form for the rest of my life. On the
    other, I wonder if that is necessarily true.

    The pace of technology is such that I do not doubt that digital black and
    white printing will someday be at least the equal of what can be gotten from
    a decent darkroom set up. If one of the big companies is working on it, it
    will happen. And seeing how far digital cameras come with each successive
    generation, how far off can that day be?

    The availability of B&W paper depends on whether or not there will be enough
    people over the next 25 or 30 years that will continue practicing B&W
    printing to make it profitable for someone. Is that a safe assumption? I
    don't know. I figure a lot of people who do B&W printing now are going to
    bail out or die over the next 25 or 30 years. I also figure there will be
    fewer and fewer people taking this up as a profession or hobby the next 25
    or 30 years. The "convenience" of doing things via a computer is just too
    high. Sustaining profitability could be a problem in the near future for
    anyone in this business.

    The other problem with sustaining B&W paper into the future is the
    technology required to make it. Unlike materials needed for oil painting,
    which are pretty low tech and much of which can be done by the artist as
    part of the process, a photographer is not likely going to whip up his own
    batch of B&W paper. At least not economically.

    I am perfectly comfortable with manipulating images in on my PC with
    Photoshop. I'm not computer phobic at all. In fact, computers are my
    profession. However, while I enjoy the convenience and the power available
    doing things digitally, I also find some negatives with it. The first is
    that doing this on a PC is like doing anything else I do on a PC. It FEELS
    like work rather than a creative process. The second thing I dislike about
    digital image work is that there is a certain detached feeling about it.
    For me at least, there is a little too much of a physical and emotional
    disconnect when working images via Photoshop.

    Can someone convince me that going setting up a darkroom in the next couple
    of years will not be an exercise in futilty? Are we sure that paper and
    chemistry will be around for the next 25 or 30 years?
    Robert Chin, Jun 20, 2005
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  3. Oh good grief...

    Ken Nadvornick, Jun 20, 2005
  4. PGG

    Peter Guest

    It is a lot of fun.
    Kodak stopped being a major player in the B&W paper market years ago.
    I suspect that Panalure and Azo will be sorely missed, if they are
    also being discontined, but the rest of the line is no great loss.
    You can do ok with quadtone inkjet. It isn't the same, but it
    is definitely good. I doubt if anything can really replace the
    continual wonder of watching the print in the developing tray.
    I think it is. There is still a lot of interest from young people.
    The fact that there are new ways of getting pictures doesn't alter
    the recreational value in the old ways. Most people who enjoy
    working in the darkroom are pretty good at it, but very few of us
    are master printers. It will remain a really good hobby.
    Perhaps, but it is a different hobby, for many people part of the
    appeal of the darkroom is that it can be a refuge from computers.
    The main problem is that our economic system makes it very
    difficult for companies to shrink. I bet Kodak made more
    B&W enlarging paper in this year than Mawson & Swan did for
    the first two decades that they made bromide paper.
    Most photographers did sensitize their own paper before the early
    1890s. The big change happened in 1891 when Ilford POP was introduced.
    The paper itself was not especially novel, similar gelatino-chloride
    printing out papers had been on the market for half a dozen years,
    but it was the first to be slightly cheaper than homemade albumen
    papers. There are some good recipes for homemade englarging paper,
    and while they won't save you money, it isn't an impossible task
    for the hobbyist.
    If you start buying B&W photographic paper, you will help
    to make it possible for companies to continue to make it
    profitably. There doesn't seem to be much point in worrying.
    Paper lasts for two or three years at least, so when you hear
    that your favourite is going to be discontined, you can stock up
    and delay the pain by a few years.
    I'm absolutely sure about the chemicals. Most of the chemicals
    used in photography are used for something else as well.
    This is true for all of the ingredients in Dektol. It is also true
    for fixer. Don't worry about the chemicals: they aren't
    going to go away unless something pretty serious happens to
    modern civilization.

    Peter, Jun 21, 2005
  5. PGG

    Robert Chin Guest

    Amen...I used to spend whole nights in hte darkroom as a teen and come out
    of the session feeling exhilerated.
    Amen to that too. That was part of the motivation to set up a darkroom
    I vaguely remember that photographers a hundred years ago had to cook up
    their own materials. However, doing something like that, while it might be
    fun to do once or twice, and definitely educational to do it a few more
    times than that, it's just not something I want to get into.
    I had considered that if I did press forward with the idea of putting
    together a darkroom again, I would definitely stock up and try to buy paper
    in bulk. Something possibly on the order of 6 months to a years worth.
    It's a tough call. Intuitively, I think you are right. Thanks for your
    Robert Chin, Jun 21, 2005
  6. PGG

    Chris Brown Guest

    If Kodak think they can compete in the future by targeting the mass market,
    I suspect they are in for a nasty shock. The consumer electronics and
    cellphone people will crush them. If making money is their concern, then it
    would be prudent to restructure their operation to do well in the sort of
    low-volume, high margin markets that the consumer electronics guys are
    mostly not interested in. Kodak seem to be doing the precise opposite, which
    makes me glad I'm not one of their shareholders.
    Chris Brown, Jun 21, 2005
  7. PGG

    Chris Brown Guest

    I agree. If "ttraditional" photography businesses want to thrive in the
    market of the future (and increasingly the present), then their niche
    products, ones that appeal to people who are interested in *photography*
    rather than snaps for their family albums, are the ones that they must take
    refuge in, because the microelectronics and comms guys will crush them in
    consumer imaging.

    Kodak seems to be very bad at this - they all but lost the slide-film market
    to Fuji, tried their hand in the high-quality digital market, and got thei
    butts kicked by Canon and Nikon, and now appear to be losing yet anonter

    Perhaps they think they can survive cranking out nasty 800 ISO C41 film for
    disposables, and that shrinking (even in the 3rd world) part of the
    snapshooter market that simply refuses to go digital (for whatever reason),
    but I wouldn't bet on it personally.
    Chris Brown, Jun 21, 2005
  8. PGG

    Chris Brown Guest

    Kodak have also just discontinued their digital SLR line as well. Perhaps
    one or both of these incidents say more about Kodak than they do about the
    future viability of either format?
    Chris Brown, Jun 21, 2005
  9. PGG

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Commercial printing methods using duotone or tritones can get extremely close
    to B/W silver print quality. Just look at a well printed book of B/W
    photography to see what I mean. There are machines now that are about
    refrigerator size that can do this, but they cost in the hundreds of thousands
    of dollars. It would surprise me if these companies ever made something
    smaller, since the commercial market gives far greater revenues than the
    consumer market.
    Sure, people still make platinum and palladium prints, and there are no papers
    for that. Basically, one needs to make their own papers by mixing their own
    chemicals. This is an extreme, but it could be a worst case reality. I would
    think some company in the world will make ready to use paper, and that with
    easy shipping you will be able to get it.
    People still make oil paintings. Some of them are very young, just in college,
    or middle aged, but they still have an interest. Photography in 30 years could
    become more of an artistic endeavour, much like painting is today. There is no
    reason for the materials to disappear, though they might change, or require
    more preparation.
    Companies still do business with art products, including papers for drawing and
    sketching. Pastels and oil paints are still made. Art stores still turn a
    profit. Things could get much smaller, and only be made by smaller companies,
    but as long as someone somewhere turns a profit, these things will be made.
    You should try to get hold of a video from Windsor & Newton about the making of
    oil paints. It is much more complicated than you might think. There are many
    chemicals involved, and a certain level of precision.
    I have made my own oil paints, and they were not nearly as good, nor as
    convenient as buying the tubes. I also have a choice of at least five companies
    for oil paints, all available at my local art store. It might take a while for
    photography to get to that level, but it could happen, and it would not bother
    Not if you will enjoy using it. The only issue might be the parts for the
    enlarger, in case you needed to repair or replace anything.
    Worst case, these guys, or someone like them, will have all you need:


    They are not the only ones in the business either. I know this is the extreme
    example, but these guys would not have this business without making a profit,
    even if it is a small profit.
    Gordon Moat, Jun 21, 2005
  10. This is an extreme, but it could be a worst case reality.

    Intrepid pioneers were doing it at the end of the nineteenth century.
    How can it really be more difficult today?
    James Of Tucson, Jun 21, 2005
  11. PGG

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Only that it is easier to just buy a packet of paper than to mix
    chemicals to make your own. Again that term "convenience" applies.
    However, I agree with you that it really is not overly difficult.
    Gordon Moat, Jun 21, 2005
  12. PGG

    Robert Chin Guest

    That "worst case reality" is exactly where I do not want to be! I tend to
    agree that SOME ONE, SOME WHERE will make this stuff.
    Well...relatively speaking. If we are talking about manufacturing, then
    yes, it is requires a bit of effort to make, say, Burnt Umber, exactly the
    way they want to make it. Creating paints for the sake of painting, some
    oils could be whipped up a little more easily than a batch of paper could be
    for printing.

    Gordon, thank you for your help.
    Robert Chin, Jun 21, 2005
  13. PGG

    Doug Robbins Guest

    of the session feeling exhilerated.<<

    Are you sure it wasn't just breathing too many fumes from the fixer?

    Doug Robbins, Jun 22, 2005
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