Somewhere, Someone Is Using 828 Film…

kodI know this. I can feel it. There is a strange quivering vibration in the photoverse that tells me it is true. I am going to hold hands with myself in a dark room and contact George Eastman…

Okay, I’m back, George is fine. He still has majority control at Kodak even now, which explains a great deal of what has happened in the last 40 years. None of the exorcisms worked, apparently. He is waiting for the rest of the executives to join him. Most of us are surprised they aren’t on the journey yet.

I must confess to not knowing what to confess to – whether I should admit that I loved Kodak film products and their corporate style or pretend to admire the insane world of the ever-changing digit. I would not have this internal conflict if the Eastman Kodak management had been wiser or bolder or younger in outlook – and I can’t be sure I haven’t been as remiss as they.

The first encounters I had with EKC were in the 1950’s as a subject for 8mm home movies. I had no way of knowing that the Kodachrome films were to prove the longest-lasting medium of any of the time, and that I would be able to see into the past through them. Even as they were being taken, new products were being developed to replace them. unfortunately the new products were always one step forward but one step sideways as well – there was always a loss of something with every gain…and in most cases the company opted to gain simplicity but lost quality.

We saw the 35mm films get better and better, and then dive off into chemistry and spectral performance that looked poorer and poorer – the Ektachromes vs Kodachrome were classic examples. And the chemistry was equally ill-timed – it was only in the last era of C-41 and RA-4 processing that the chemistry and film equation became workable for professional and amateur alike…and then the digital revolution removed it almost entirely.

The other film formats all were aimed at increasingly simplistic operation by what Kodak must have assumed were going to be increasingly stupid people. We got to experience 828>127>620>126>110>disc>>>and the results looked worse and worse. It was almost as if EKC was setting out to put itself out of business.

Perhaps they had an eye to the digital future and thought that they were going to be the big dog in the pack. Perhaps they were setting us all up to go digital long before we went…and then were horrified when the Japanese, Germans, and Chinese were all better at it than Rochester. Not a real surprise, as it turns out, as Rochester could see how good the foreign companies were getting all the way from the 1930’s and made no effort to stay ahead of them.

Apparently they are set to put their brand name on something else new and call it a ” classic”. Speculation is it will be some sort of camera phone out of China with the logo stamped on it. If they run true to form, they will replace it in a year with a simpler phone that produces poorer pictures…

Sorry to be gloomy, George. You did your best.

 

 

 

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