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Are Kodak guilty of suicide?
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Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:56AM
Kodak have filed for Chapter 11 protection in the US, which is pretty much their version of calling in the administrators.
It seems that the digital age has not been kind to Kodak, with their range of film and photo paper not selling well any more.
The thing is, Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975, so why on earth didn't they take advantage?
Kodak make some astonishingly high resolution CCDs which are used in large format cameras for landscape, fashion and advertising photography. They even make some of the image sensors used in satellites.
So why are they going bust?
Simple, they forgot the mass market. They forgot that it's fine and dandy making a couple of super high quality, high margin, devices, but in order to keep a large company going you also need to make lots of stuff for Joe Public. This is one of the reasons Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti etc are owned by larger companies, they just couldn't survive on their own because they'd have no money to invest in new products.
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Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:11AM
I don't agree, really. Kodak lost its core business - film manufacture and process, and struggled to find a replacement. They did make a success of their cameras, but circumstance lost them that again.
Their lower to mid-range digital cameras were always well-priced and of reasonable quality. However, this market has been overtaken by phones having cameras. They have never exploited the high-end camera market, and never been known for phones, so are losing their only real market.
Printers? I don't know why they made less of an impact than Nikon, but Canon and HP have always had more involvement in IT (HP rather obviously).
It's the likes of Canon & Nikon that have successfully exploited the high end market.
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Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:23AM
Perhaps Kodak thought that their name was all that they needed?.
I recall being involved with the Kodak Digital DX3700 camera saga, and how a shed-load of heavy gun legal experts, from over the pond and here in the UK, couldn't agree on our consumer laws.
In the end, either by choice or force. Kodak relented and provided the people who had purchased the DX3700 camera, with the item that they 'thought' they had bought.
A pity that a number of us, including myself, had to inform Kodak that we were prepared to take a small claims court action against them, and their agents!.
One of the most depressing events about that saga, was even the Trading Standards were providing in some cases, totally different views, advice and opinions regarding the law and consumers rights at the time. Perhaps they or some considered Kodak was a 'special case' on name reputation only?.
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Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:03PM
Kodak's cameras have never been up to the quality of Canon or Fuji's mid range.
I have a Kodak printer, I'm beginning to think it may have been a mistake to buy it instead of my usual HP, but I was swayed by the ink cost. the printer is OK, and the scanner is up to the standard expected at the price, but the software is a mess.
It's supposed to be wifi, so that's how I use it, but the driver can only find the printer about 75% of the time, and I've only been able to successfully install the printer on 3 of my 4 PCs, although they all run a flavour of Windows 7. I can only scan across the network on one of my 4 computers, ironically the computer that's closest to the printer. For the other PCs you have to scan to an SD card.
Every week the software launches a pop-up saying that the firmware needs an update, I've tried at least a dozen times using wi-fi and direct USB connection and still the printer refuses the update.
With products like this they're not going to get many repeat customers
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Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:08PM
Isn't it just bad management decisions along the way? Fuji and Konica were both major film makers as well.
Konica by becoming Konica Minolta found that they had left it too late to compete when they eventually produced an excellent camera that has now evolved into the Sony Alpha range.
Whilst Fuji made sensors and consumer compact and mid range camera models (Box Brownies for the 21st century), and are now in a position that they appear to be taking Leica on with a pro spec classic handling retro camera.
Find a market and milk it, that's where Kodak failed since the demise of film.
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Posted January 19, 2012 at 12:24PM
Personally I never fancied buying a Kodak camera. I perceived their kudos as being less than the likes of Panasonic / Nikon / Fuji to name just three.
I never really fancied their printers either, despite their promises of low cost ink.
Eastman Kodak have a number of irons in the fire and as with any large multinational, that catalogue of products will be constantly changing, so perhaps they'll just drop Kodak from the company name.
Having said that, I can find Kodak.com and Eastman.com but nothing for Eastman-Kodak.
Eastman Kodak used to have a facility down the road close to me where they manufactured cigarette filters and polyethelene for bottles. The polyethelene plant was acquired by Indorama - whether they still make cigarette filter tow I'm not sure, but it's just in the nature of the constantly evolving portfolio of these large multinationals that keeps them afloat year after year.
No doubt there will be a few interested parties hoping to bid for the Kodak name. It may one day become known as Nikon-Kodak . . . ?
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Posted January 19, 2012 at 2:38PM
The BBC has quite an interesting article about long lived companies.
One hotel company in Japan has been around since 705AD, and the oldest recorded shares were issued in 1288 for a company that is still around.
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Posted January 19, 2012 at 9:54PM
Kodak believed in & still developed! reversal film as they though film was the best medium & in real terms they were right. I have yet to use any digital camera including a Leica that has the latitude of say Kodachrome 25 or Ektachrome film.
The problem is digital is better in every respect except quality which is perhaps the main point if you are a true boffin. The masses go for convenience that's why we have zoom lenses that are now being questioned as the biggest foul up of quality there has ever been.
The Canon 350D onward with the Taiwanese lenses have so much play there are no graduations for distance. Yet no one questioned this until recently. The ever increasing megapixel race with low light grasp lenses that give grainy images in anything but good light, megapixels mean nothing, the lens & sensor quality mean everything.
The recent Samsung £300 compact has gone back to basics with a high light grasp lens & very limited zoom & as things go a very lowly megapixel sensor.
There is an analogue revival esp. in pros, my bro-in-law is a pro now uses film again for weddings with a Leica digital as a backup.
I use digital but I do miss film for absolute quality but Kodak were late in moving to digital then produced a set of nasty digital cameras that the likes of Lumix left in the weeds.
Sadly the likes of Lumix are beautiful devices but they look far better than the photographs that they take.
As for the printers: The Hero range are perhaps the best thought out home printer I have used, I had no issues with the software auto updating the driver & firmware in minutes. (take note, Canon, Epson & Xerox) The software is the best thought out for a lowly printer I have yet seen.
Kodak now have to try & consolidate, though the problem is who is going to buy Kodak printers now they have gone into bankruptcy protection? Another year & they could I think have got by, but the latest printer range was just too late.
£14.49 for a genuine colour & black twin pack (30 range) from play.com with waterproof inks has to be a good idea after being blatantly ripped off for years with stupidly priced genuine inks from other well-known printer companies. I would think they are somewhat pleased at today’s news?
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Posted January 19, 2012 at 10:44PM
"Isn't it just bad management decisions along the way?"
Got it in one.
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Posted January 19, 2012 at 11:00PM
"Sadly the likes of Lumix are beautiful devices but they look far better than the photographs that they take."
Are you serious?
I'm a long time fan of Canon DSLRs, and my trusty 40D has never let me down, but my wife used a Lumix DMC-G3 on a recent Masai Mara safari, and it surprised me - image quality was excellent.
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Posted January 20, 2012 at 1:22AM
I think that makes my point: I used a Lumix FZ-28 in Florida which was maybe the first super-zoom (still not far behind similar models today or though there are more advanced versions of the design now) I had excellent results both in the everglades & the anti-shake system worked well out boating daily the on the GOM but the light was excellent & intense as I assume it was in Africa.
A few weeks later on the North Sea & in & around Whitby the results I had were much less pleasing however, as in lower light the cracks began to show with regardless of using manual or auto setting.
The best shots I have ever taken were with a Pentax ME Super with a manual focus fixed 50mm lens & before that a Russian ZORKI 4K rangefinder with a huge Jupiter lens. I used the Pentax for 14 years & took thousands of shots with it.
I had a Pentax dedicated flash that could be twisted to use as a primitive bounce. I very rarely used it, I never carried it with me. I used most of the time ASA 100 film & in low light I still got excellent shots.
People buy high magnification refractor telescopes thinking magnification will enable them to see more though in reality a large reflector with huge light grasp with little magnification gives far better results, this applies to small compacts, with silly 18 megapixel sensors the lenses Panasonic Leica based included still cannot let sufficient light in for the less sensitive/latitude sensors compared to film which has had decades of research.
I think in time this will change & this will be admitted just as early CD players & the ADC’s used to compile early CD’s are now considered greatly lacking & many are re-mastered though in actuality the difference is that digital conversion chips are far better than earlier designs. I still think some recordings made in the 1950s are still better quality than recordings done today.
I often wondered why recent my photographs just lacked the sparkle until I realised in time digital just wasn’t & I believe still is not as good – This is now being addressed with larger lenses & limited zoom on some newer compacts.
An analogy can be used with CD & vinyl, a £140 record deck such as the Project range in pure enjoyment will still trounce my Cyrus £900+ CD player. In every measurable respect CD or even SACD is superior until you actually close your eyes & just listen. But the sound is perhaps the only important this you can disregard SNR etc.
I find it unhelpful to listen to recent 180 gram record pressings as I like the simplicity & ease of use of digital music but the bottom line is analogue still gives an emotional response lacking in all but the most expensive digital gear. If you match price for price analogue still maintains its distance. And absolute photographic quality is in some respects the most important part of photography, not convenience. Maybe film enhanced reality somewhat I don’t know.
I have a new Lumix compact that stays in the car or when I’m out working & traveling around, this gives me the change to take photographs & HD video I could never have done years ago & that’s great. I can afford to lose the thing & not lose sleep over it. But I still think we have some way to go esp. if you used some of the various Ilford B&W films that I think will take some years yet to surpass, if ever.
All this is of course subjective & unprovable & just my opinion, but I think there is some truth in it.
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