Will Film Follow Kodak To The Grave?

Is filmed doomed to the same fate as Kodak?

It’s been a rough month for film. Kodak had to shush rumors about a possible bankruptcy and offer a red-faced explanation about why they’re hiring a law firm specializing in helping big corporations going out of business.

Added to that was CreativeCow pointing out that ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have all ceased production of film movie cameras, shifting their design and production focus to digital. Those companies will still produce special orders for film cameras, but will no longer manufacture production film cameras.

Following the trend away from film in Hollywood, FilmCraft, a commercial film photo lab in Detroit, closed their doors, leaving Astro in Chicago as the sole film lab in the entire midwest. With theaters switching over to digital projection as fast as the screens can be converted, even the market for distributing film prints to theaters is on death watch.

The moves in the film world could have a roll up effect on photography, as movie production and distribution are the last big corporate markets for film. What’s left in the photography film market? Disposable plastic film cameras at the drug store, an ever decreasing handful of hobbyists still shooting film, and certain specialty markets like x-ray film. You even have to hunt at big box retail stores like Walmart to find a display of roll film.

We’re now in the long trailing tail of film. How long Fuji and AgfaPhoto will continue to make photographic film is anyone’s guess. Every year that ticks by sees their market diminish.  Economics will win out in the end.

It may still be a hobby for a handful of photographers, but it may not be a hobby you’ll be able to indulge in much longer.

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