It is the end of an era. The epic brand with yellow boxes, synonymous with photography, is very unwell if not dying.
For the 131-year-old company, we all knew it was coming. Being in the business of still photography, I remember it was around 2004-05 when we could feel the speed at which the world was changing from analog to digital. Megapixel was the new buzzword.
I don’t believe that all big corporations die. We have plenty of centennial organisations leading the pack of growth. Those that die, do so because they don’t adapt and stay relevant. This means to apply, imbibe and internalise the innovations into their long-term business plans. Kodak was the first to introduce digital cameras way back in 1975 but did not give it enough attention. Films were a roaring business and were ringing in the cash registers. Short-term vision overshadowed environmental changes that were inevitable. Easier said than done, specially for complex and large organisations. It is a business learning for all of us, to adapt and evolve, lest we be the dinosaurs of times to come.
Having said that, I spoke to a few photographer friends. Most felt that the medium of “film” will be missed. They still love to do their personal work as well as special requests in film and would continue to do so till the last roll. Film still is a pure form of capturing data visually. Films had options in terms of mediums i.e. 35mm, medium and large format. Switching from 35mm to a medium or large format was not as expensive as it is in digital medium. Storage and retrieval was easier and less expensive and had a far lesser likelihood of being destroyed. Films and prints, processed and stored in ideal conditions, may remain substantially unchanged for more than 100 years. In digital, the physical stability of the recording medium, future readability of the storage medium and future readability of the file formats used for storage are issues to be considered.
Digital technology has its own pluses. The age of film technology is about 150 years. So if we compare the two, digital is still at a very nascent stage and is evolving and evolving very fast. Digital adapts much better to mixed light conditions than film. It has made life easier for people and photographers. In an era wherein convenience and speed is foremost we shall miss the vintage and grand feel of film-based medium.
Well Kodak, you may be down but hope that you are not out. Look forward to seeing you around in new and evolved avatar!