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Fujifilm hell-bent on discontinuing films - why?

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With the huge resurgence of film, the immense success of Ektachrome, Fujifilm seems to be truly hell-bent on discontinuing their film stock. What's really concerning to me is the announcement of the 5-packs of Velvia 50 & Velvia 100 soon, the singles can't be too far behind given their history. On the other hand, the Hipster Instax film can be found EVERYWHERE! My wife walked into a Joann's the other day and found it at the register. Unbelievable.

It feels that we got into film a couple years too late. We've really missed out on amazing films .. FP100c, Natura 1600, Superia, Acros (we did find some stock at Blue Moon Camera).

Seems like a better business strategy would be to spin-off the film division of Fujifilm into a more nimble operation, rather than totally killing it off.

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 immense success of Ektachrome???? film is dead. and i have exposed about 30.000 rolls of it in my life

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42 minutes ago, harryzet said:

 immense success of Ektachrome???? film is dead. and i have exposed about 30.000 rolls of it in my life

Immense is of course relative, but Ektachrome has seen success enough to warrant more investment to deliver 120 format. I don't think Film is 'dead', but it's certainly having a resurgence. It does remain to be seen if it sticks though. :) 

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1 hour ago, lcd32bit said:

Seems like a better business strategy would be to spin-off the film division of Fujifilm into a more nimble operation, rather than totally killing it off. 

Fuji has an enormous breadth of enterprises, so if their camera film division is compared to the breadth of their overall interests it would be almost insignificant.

 

Edited by pico

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13 minutes ago, pico said:

Fuji has an enormous breadth of enterprises, so if their camera film division is compared to the breadth of their overall interests it would be almost insignificant.

So surely their other profitable activities could easily absorb any losses incurred by keeping film in production, keeping the brand name visible on the shelves and film users happy.

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1 hour ago, harryzet said:

 immense success of Ektachrome???? film is dead. and i have exposed about 30.000 rolls of it in my life

Film has been dead for the last 15 years at least.

Long live film!

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4 minutes ago, ianman said:

So surely their other profitable activities could easily absorb any losses incurred by keeping film in production, keeping the brand name visible on the shelves and film users happy.

But Fuji has a whole view of their profit centers. They do not give a whit from where incomes becomes. When it drops to a certain constraint, they kill it.

 

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12 hours ago, lcd32bit said:

With the huge resurgence of film

Yeah, well. Film is like a stock that peaked at $1000.00, and dropped to $0.02 a share, and has now "resurged" to $0.03 a share. I like to use it - I'm glad it's not in my retirement fund!

Companies are not charities - they make stuff that makes a profit for them.

As it happens, Kodak never got its other products to be as profitable as film, so it kept making film (going through bankruptcy in the process), As did Ilford (which mostly had no other products - Ilford inkjet papers were a separate Swiss company left over from the Ciba-Geigy/Ilford merger decades ago). As did Agfa - which did spin off its "photo materials" division, which shrivelled and died within 3-4 years.

The deal is this: Fujifilm and Kodak informally divided up the color film market after the 2008 crash. Kodak dropped slide films (Kodachrome, then Ektachrome) in favor of negs (since they had a big share of the motion-picture market, which uses color neg film for shooting (when not using digital)). Kodak cut a deal with Hollywood that guaranteed the studios would buy X-million feet of color-neg movie film per year so long as Kodak guaranteed to make X-million feet of movie film per year.

Fuji got the color slide/positive market, and reduced their participation in the color neg market (including abandoning their motion-picture products). And, of course, revived "Instant Polaroid" under the Instax brand (although there's also another revived Polaroid - formerly The Impossible Project, a group of ex-Polaroid chemists who restarted the Enschede, Netherlands factory - now using the original name).

(Still with me? ;) )

But now Kodak is reviving Ektachrome as part of their motion-picture deal - Hollywood needs new blood, and student cinematographers need a "simple" way to make and process and edit student color movies, thus Kodak is producing a  Super-8mm "student" movie camera and the Super-8mm Ektachrome to feed it.

https://www.kodak.com/consumer/products/super8/default.htm

With the side benefit that they will coat 35mm and 120 for us still photographers.

But that's going to eat into Fuji's slide-film share, that they've had all to themselves for whatever it's been - 6-7 years. So Fuji sees the writing on the wall, and will scale back E6 films, and count on Instax and their office copier and digicam businesses.

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In other news, the Kodak UK pension fund (KPP2) is apparently in the latter stages of negotiating the sale of its paper, photochemical and film division (as part of divesting itself entirely of Kodak Alaris if it can). As is well known, Kodak Alaris is a marketing and distribution entity and not the manufacturer of Kodak film so the demise of Alaris (if that is what ultimately happens) isn't the end of the story for Kodak film. The PPF division is described as "cash generative" (though clearly not cash generative enough to dissuade the pension fund against flogging an asset it values at only $34m) and it sounds as if a sale is imminent. It will be interesting to see who might be buying. My guess is that it isn't Ilford, Fujifilm or another surviving film manufacturer, even if that would seem logical.

Whilst I don't fear for the immediate future of Kodak (either Eastman or Alaris) I thought it was a good excuse to buy some more Portra.😀

Edited by wattsy

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On 2/3/2019 at 9:00 PM, harryzet said:

 immense success of Ektachrome???? film is dead. and i have exposed about 30.000 rolls of it in my life

Uh ok. 

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I think we have an analogy to the record business. It used to be a market dominated by giants, Phoogram, RCA and the likes. As digital arrived the big boys died off and the vinyl market was taken over by niche companies.  Nothing wrong with that. Our own favourite camera brand is a niche company and doing nicely, thank you. But we will never see millions of rolls of Kodak Gold being produced again. (Not that I miss Kodak Gold - horrible stuff... :lol: )

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It's a good comparison Jaap, and one that probably can be applied to other areas too where technology has moved on. Speaking of niches, the fact that the market for strange Lomo, Rollei and other films seemingly flourishes is an interesting sign, possibly linked to the online narrative that film photography requires embracing 'happy mistakes', excessive grain and poor colours. I agree also that, while Gold 200 isn't a premium stock with all that that implies, it isn't all rubbish, plus it can still be bought fresh.

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Flickr

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6 hours ago, jaapv said:

I think we have an analogy to the record business. It used to be a market dominated by giants, Phoogram, RCA and the likes. As digital arrived the big boys died off and the vinyl market was taken over by niche companies.  Nothing wrong with that. Our own favourite camera brand is a niche company and doing nicely, thank you. But we will never see millions of rolls of Kodak Gold being produced again. (Not that I miss Kodak Gold - horrible stuff... :lol: )

Hello Jaap,

Actually, some people actually liked Kodak Gold.

Especially Gold 100 exposed at ISO 50/18 and then developed as per instructions for development for Gold 100 metered at ISO 100/21.

Best Regards,

Michael

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It has been a bleak couple of weeks for film, what with the Fuji indications of cut backs, Tetenal probably closing unless a buyer can be found in the very near future and Kodak looking to sell Alaris. Just when we thought it was safe to go back in the water and film was looking at a modest revival. The main champion of film at Fuji, Mr. Shigetaka Komori, is 79 years old and one wonders how much longer he will want to remain as chairman and CEO. 

Who would buy Alaris? Sadly, I doubt that buyers will be queuing up round the block. Alaris have been trying hard with the re-introduction of Ektachrome, TX3200 and wider distribution of Profoto 100 "tropical" colour negative film. I have bought 10 rolls of this latter film for my India trip. What happens if no buyer/rescuer for Alaris appears? The main shareholder of Alaris is not Kodak per se but the Kodak pension fund. The fund trustees are obliged under law to take dispassionate decisions and emotionally much as they would like film production to continue, Alaris would have to demonstrate that they can operate profitably - not easy. 

Wilson

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Wouldn't surprise me if Kodak simply buys back their former property (basically, the rights to be the distributor on Kodak photo products, and take the "middle-man" profits).

Kodak (as opposed to the Alaris spinoff) never gave up the film production business - they just provided the products for Alaris to sell. (At cost? for free?) The machines and labs in Rochester still belong to Kodak (and also produce motion picture film by the millions of feet per year - not a part of the KPP/Alaris portfolio).

Bottom line, the UK Kodak Pension Plan (KPP) is finding out the same thing Kodak did before declaring bankruptcy. Selling film can be profitable - it can't be profitable enough to support the burden of decades of corporate pension obligations. Especially for a pension fund, which is at core an investment business, not a "running a company" business.

KPP is reportedly shopping around the photography part of the business (film, color paper, chemicals) for $34 million. Less than the price of one Gulfstream IV business jet (!).

Someone who is an investment maven can probably figure out what level of EBITDA justifies an investment of that amount.

I'd guess Kodak can do better than a de novo investor. Absorb it back in, keep their machines running efficiently, handle the distribution to stores (on-line and brick-and-mortar) and take all the profits for themselves.

 

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3 hours ago, adan said:

Wouldn't surprise me if Kodak simply buys back their former property (basically, the rights to be the distributor on Kodak photo products, and take the "middle-man" profits).

Kodak (as opposed to the Alaris spinoff) never gave up the film production business - they just provided the products for Alaris to sell. (At cost? for free?) The machines and labs in Rochester still belong to Kodak (and also produce motion picture film by the millions of feet per year - not a part of the KPP/Alaris portfolio).

Bottom line, the UK Kodak Pension Plan (KPP) is finding out the same thing Kodak did before declaring bankruptcy. Selling film can be profitable - it can't be profitable enough to support the burden of decades of corporate pension obligations. Especially for a pension fund, which is at core an investment business, not a "running a company" business.

KPP is reportedly shopping around the photography part of the business (film, color paper, chemicals) for $34 million. Less than the price of one Gulfstream IV business jet (!).

Someone who is an investment maven can probably figure out what level of EBITDA justifies an investment of that amount.

I'd guess Kodak can do better than a de novo investor. Absorb it back in, keep their machines running efficiently, handle the distribution to stores (on-line and brick-and-mortar) and take all the profits for themselves.

 

Hello Andy,

That's easy.

It's justified by the same EBITDA that justifies a Defense Department.

Best Regards,

Michael

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Regarding Fuji it might be helpful to know how much an influence upon the niche they have. Fuji is a giant enterprise and can play the market, and if it really does diminish film production, they are fully aware of what means in terms of their Bottom Line and they can afford to lose market and then observe how the global market responds, such as Ilford moving forwards as something as a canary in a cage.

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Worth considering that whilst the market for film and traditional related products is a fraction of what it used to be, it's still a big enough market to sustain a number of companies.

For us film users we are no doubt facing ever increasing prices however, but photography has never been a cheap hobby! If you make money from photography and use film, you just build the costs into your pricing.

I'm not using enough of the stuff lately, not even using pixels.

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"富士フイルム株式会社は5月9日、国内における写真フィルム製品の価格を6月1日より改定すると発表した。具体的な価格は明示されていないものの、改定後の価格は30%以上の値上げを予定しているという。

今回の価格改定の理由として、同社は「物流コストの高騰や一部原材料価格の上昇など」により、品質および安定的な供給が難しくなったためとしている。

対象製品には、風景写真などで定番となっているリバーサルフィルム「ベルビア50」や、カラーネガフィルム「フジカラー SUPERIA PREMIUM 400」のほか、レンズ付フィルムの「写ルンです シンプルエース」などが含まれている。"

 

FUJIFILM Corporation announced on May 9 that the price of photographic film products in Japan will be revised from June 1. Although no specific price is specified, the revised price is expected to be raised by more than 30%.

As the reason for the price revision, the company says that "high logistics costs and rising prices of some raw materials etc." made it difficult for quality and stable supply.

Target products include reversal film "VELVIA 50" which has become a staple in landscape photography etc., color negative film "Fuji color SUPERIA PREMIUM 400", and "filming simple lens with film with lens" etc. "

 

Color negative film (135)

Fuji Color 100
Fuji Color SUPERIA PREMIUM 400
Professional negative film (135/120)

Fuji Color PRO 400 H
Professional negative film (120)

Fuji Color PRO 160 NS
Reversal film (135/120 / CUT)

Fujichrome Velvia 50
Fujichrome Velvia 100
Fujichrome PROVIA 100F
Film with lens (135)

 

https://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/1183508.html

 

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