Link: Kodak Discontinuing B&W Paper?

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A thread on the large format photography list is titled, Kodak Discontinuing B&W Paper?:

"Well, I can't quite believe this one, but it's from the venerable and usually well informed Richard Knoppow on the F32 list:

'My contact at Kodak has informed me that Kodak has discontinued all B&W paper. The official announcement will be made later today. Kodak will continue to manufacture B&W film and chemicals.' I'd like to hope it's yet another misunderstandign of one of Kodak's announcements about some kind of downsizing"

Here's more information off the newswire:

Kodak to Discontinue Black-And-White Paper
AP Business Writer

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Ending a century-old tradition, Eastman Kodak Co. will soon stop making black-and-white photographic paper, a niche product for fine-art photographers and hobbyists that is rapidly being supplanted by digital-imaging systems.

Kodak said Wednesday it will discontinue production of the paper, specially designed for black-and-white film, at the end of this year. But the world's biggest film manufacturer will continue to make black-and-white film and chemicals for processing.

"It's a shame to see it go," said Bill Schiffner, editor of Imaging Business magazine in Melville, N.Y. "Digital has done a lot of good things for the industry but it's done some bad things too. It's making a lot of these processes obsolete."

The paper is manufactured at a plant in Brazil. Kodak declined to specify how many employees would be affected by the production shutdown, which is part of a three-year overhaul to eliminate 12,000 to 15,000 jobs by 2007 and shrink the company's work force to around 50,000.

As the industry shifts rapidly from chemical-based to digital imaging, demand for black-and-white paper is declining about 25 percent annually, Kodak spokesman David Lanzillo said.

John Eoff, owner of Photo-Lab Inc., said his 91-year-old shop in Schenectady, N.Y., still sells "a fair amount" of black-and-white paper to photography students and enthusiasts, while professional photographers have mostly gone to digital printing systems already.

"What we assumed was going to happen is the traditional black-and-white paper processing was going to remain more an art form than a commodity," Eoff said. Other companies, led by Ilford Imaging of Britain, still make paper and there will be demand for it, he predicted.

In April, Kodak posted a first-quarter loss of $142 million, citing a steady slide in revenues from film and other chemical-based businesses and higher-than-expected costs to cover job cuts. This month, it replaced its chief executive, Dan Carp, with Antonio Perez, who a few years ago oversaw the rapid growth of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s digital imaging business. Kodak grew into an icon on the strength of its traditional film, paper and photofinishing businesses. It is now betting its future in digital terrain - from cameras, inkjet paper and online photofinishing to photo kiosks and minilabs, X-ray systems and commercial printers.

Ilford, the largest maker of black-and-white photo paper, went into bankruptcy last year, emerging this year after a management-led buyout. Germany's AgfaPhoto GmbH filed for bankruptcy last month.

Kodak's exit from the business "doesn't surprise me" because many portrait and wedding photographers "are switching over to digital," said Christopher Chute, an analyst with market research firm IDC in Framingham, Mass.

"If I'm printing digital photos on any kind of printer, whether it's inkjet or thermal transfer or dye sublimation, the kind of paper I use is color agnostic," he said. "I can print black and white with great gray gradients and use the same system to print regular color. There's much more versatility with today's print solutions."

"More photographers and consumers that shoot black-and-white are shooting digital, they're processing it on regular inkjet paper, and ... the quality is pretty good," Schiffner said.

and the official word from Kodak themselves:

Kodak to discontinue its line of professional black-and-white paper by year's end

Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y., USA, said it will discontinue its professional line of black-and-white photo paper by the end of the year, Tim Ciranni, worldwide product manager for Kodak Pro Lab Media, told Newsline International. Black-and-white film and chemistry will still be available, Ciranni said.

Kodak is not issuing any formal press release, he explained, but is communicating directly with its customers regarding the discontinuation of the professional black-and-white paper. Kodak wanted to give customers six months notice so they could prepare. Ciranni said there will be further informative postings on the Kodak Professional website in late June/early July.

"Black-and-white paper as an industry has been declining," he explained. "Consequently our volume of paper has gotten very small."

Ciranni added over the past four years, black-and-white paper has declined on average of 25 percent a year over the entire industry. Kodak's black-and-white paper volumes are currently small and the product line isn't as viable for the company to offer.

Many photographers now scan their black-and-white negatives and print black-and-white images on color paper or using an inkjet printer, said Ciranni. He added this decision is consistent with Kodak's digital strategy.

"We're still very active in the digital market," he explained. "But as the market converts to digital output the older product lines begin to erode."

Kodak will continue to offer all its other Pro Lab Media, including its professional color papers as well as its thermal and inkjet media, said Ciranni.


oh, wow!

so, now, the question is, without Kodak and Ilford, where AM I going to buy my paper? it's a good thing i'm good with digital. the photography teacher who hated me for that is just going to suffer more and more herself.

Ilford is back in business, and has a reasonably complete line of papers. Agfa would be the third major paper supplier, but I don't know how much longer they're going to be around, since they're in serious financial trouble now. There are a few other suppliers who are very good, though not such big names: Forte, Oriental, etc. Fuji has a quite large range of papers that I'm fairly fond of, but they don't seem to be available outside of Japan. Mitsubishi is available outside of Japan, though the paper hasn't worked all that well for me.

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on June 16, 2005 8:47 AM.

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