Kodak Portra

Kodak Files for Bankruptcy

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Last updated on July 25, 2019 Comments: 6

There were rumors and predictions for a while, but today it’s official. Kodak, the company that revolutionized film photography and adopted digital photography early, has declared bankruptcy. The company has been struggling since the 1980s; I’m surprised it survived this long without filing Chapter 11.

Kodak PortraThat’s what the company chose to do today, with debt adding up to $6.75 billion.

I’ve been a fan of photography for many years, and I’ve begun taking this interest more seriously in the past few. I’ve taken a number of eight-week photography classes offered by a local arts organization, and the classes have been helping me improve my art. They have also inspired an interest in old-fashioned film photography. While I still use digital cameras (mostly a Canon 1D3, purchased used), I also use a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II medium format film camera, also purchased used. Just in the last month, I decided it would be more frugal and more fun to develop black-and-white film myself instead of spending the money to a professional lab nearby.

Despite owning all the equipment I have — in addition to various cameras I have studio equipment like lights and backdrops — my struggle is to find the time to focus on photography.

While Kodak will continue to operate during the company’s Chapter 11 reorganization, the future of some of the best Kodak products is uncertain. There is no great alternative for photographers who like using Ektar and Portra color film and Tri-X black-and-white film; competitors’ products, like those produced by Fuji or Ilford are different. Now could be a great time to stock up on Kodak film; if it becomes difficult to purchase, the value could increase. Film has a short shelf-life, but many photographers are fine with purchasing expired film.


Article comments

Anonymous says:

I heard a story on this on NPR a couple of weeks ago and was bummed to hear they’re filing bankruptcy. My first camera was one of those skinny Kodak Instamatic models. It’s crazy to think that by not taking their own creation, digital photography, and expanding it, has caused them to shut their doors. I believe the NPR story said some department head, or even the CEO, made the decision to “let the Chinese mess around with the digital stuff” because he didn’t think it would go anywhere. (the comment was something to that effect).

Anonymous says:

So crazy to see such an iconic company hitting rock bottom! They tried to ride our their strength, rather than remaining ahead of the curve, and lost out because they gave up that head start. Let that be a warning to any company thinking they’re good enough to stay afloat without continually innovating!

Anonymous says:

it’s unfortunate that kodak is going under & I feel especially bad for the people of rochester, new york because kodak is a part of that city’s fabric just like the auto industry is the same way for the people of metro detroit.

Anonymous says:

Kodak WAS the fabric of Rochester. It provided a good living along with Xerox. About 30 years ago it decided to move west. (most operations) leaving a huge hole in the economy. Big mistake for them. It’s been sliding downhill ever since. Kind of ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ should have been the mentality. Everyone benefited – the company and the residents when it was in Rochester. (I grew up there)

X Ray film is no longer needed as PACS systems now ‘read’ an image and correct it, then send it to the radiologist to be interpreted.

Pencils all come out of China now, so they lost that market.

Management should have had an eye to the future and created new and innovative products, such as the PACS systems that read the images. They got into the market after leaders in the business did. Poor management and no sight for the future.

Greed and self interest took the lead in this downfall. They were the leaders in the self interest cycle that is so recognizable today.

Anonymous says:

Oh man! Looks like people are going to have to stock up. So sad to see such a good company go under.

Anonymous says:

What a shame. I found other brands (Fuji etc) did not have the color vividness (tended towards the blues and greens) that the trusty Kodak films did, at least back in the day when I was busy taking classes and photographing as well. Ah, Kodachrome – ‘nice bright colors’ – alas!