According to an article in the British Journal of Photography, Kodak is going to stop production of three professional transparency (slide) films, Ektachrome E100G, Ektachrome E100VS and Elite Chrome Extra Color 1. Kodak also recently announced that, as part of their reorganization strategy (Kodak bankruptcy article), they will no longer be making digital cameras. I guess removing unprofitable film from their business makes sense, too. The article quotes a Kodak spokesperson saying, “we will continue to make film as long as there’s profitable demand. But, in the case of slide films, the decline has been pretty acute, and in addition to that, the complexity of the formulation and manufacturing of these films made it that we could no longer sustain them.”
Kodak reassures film photographers that Portra and Ektar color print film, and black-and-white film are unaffected by the decision to discontinue the three slide films. You can’t help but wonder if print film will be next on the chopping block, though. As film sales decline, costs go up because production volume is smaller. There’s a point of diminishing returns where prices have to go up or the manufacturer has to pull the plug. You have to wonder about transparency film processing, too. With fewer and fewer slide films available, how long will it be before commercial labs decide it’s no longer profitable for them to run a slide film processor?
Print film does seem to be gaining in popularity with some hobbyists, portrait, wedding and commercial photographers, though. So it’s possible that it will remain a healthy business for Kodak. Let’s hope so. I’m not sure I want to live in a world where the smell of fresh film emulsion and film chemistry has become a thing of the past.
If you’re a fan of Kodak Ektachrome E100G, Ektachrome E100VS or Elite Chrome Extra Color 1slide films, you’d best stock up now. Kodak says they expect their current supply to last six to nine months. After that, you’ll have to find another slide film.