Digital cameras are phasing out analog

Digital cameras are slowly phasing out analog. In still cameras the situation seems to be so that the manufacturers of the films  are stopping to manufacture well known film types. For example Polaroid has phased out Polaroid film years ago and Kodak is retiring iconic Kodachrome film. Digital photography winds the once-iconic color films into obscurity. To celebrate the Kodachrome film’s retirement, Kodak has created an online gallery of some of Kodachrome’s best shots. Before the film has fully retired it might be also a good idea to take a look at the Chemistry of Photography.

kodachrome slide mount 1990s


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  13. tomi says:

    Kodak Teeters on the Brink

    Eastman Kodak Co. is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks, people familiar with the matter said, a move that would cap a stunning comedown for a company that once ranked among America’s corporate titans.

    That Kodak is even contemplating a bankruptcy filing represents a final reversal of fortune for a company that once dominated its industry

    Kodak, whose near-monopoly on film produced high margins that the company shared with its workers.

    Former employees say the company was the Apple Inc. or Google Inc. of its time.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kodak Failing, But Camera Phones Not To Blame

    According to the Wall Street Journal, camera manufacturer Kodak is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, following a long struggle to maintain any sort of viable business.

    Looking at camera data from Flickr, of images uploaded in 2011, camera phones only make up 3% of the total. Dedicated cameras from Canon, Nikon and yes, Kodak were used to take 97% of the images.

    What Kodak failed to understand is that people have switched from taking photos for remembering and commemorative reasons to using photos for identity and communication. The shift changes the emphasis away from print to social media platforms and dedicated apps.

    Kodak makes its money (or used to) from film, not the camera hardware itself. All those ‘dedicated cameras’ are busy taking shots without a single bit of negative being exposed.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Not a Kodak Moment: Legendary Camera Maker Files for Bankruptcy Protection

    Struggling camera maker Kodak said on Wednesday night that it has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization.

    The move, which had been expected, follows years of struggle by the film giant to transition to a digital imaging company. In recent months the company has sought to capitalize on its patents and, in recent days, has sued Apple, HTC and Samsung.

    Kodak Considers Restructuring Chief, Sues Samsung

    Eastman Kodak Co. is preparing to appoint a chief restructuring officer, a move that could help the company secure financing needed to stay afloat during bankruptcy proceedings, people familiar with the matter said.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why Kodak’s bankruptcy should scare Nokia

    Kodak’s bankruptcy. Shocking (and sad) as it might be, it is not all that surprising. People have been watching the company’s slow free fall for years. The Economist has a great rundown of what went wrongat the company

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kodak’s travails provide multiple lessons
    Markets and technologies that once looked as though they would last forever sometimes do not.

    The lesson is that disruptive technologies truly are so, and most companies can’t—or shouldn’t—make that transition. In the electronics world, for example, only a few vendors of vacuum tubes made it into the transistor world, and only a few of the transistor companies made it into ICs. Such is change.

    Not that long ago, the commentary-and-pundit class was worried—and fearful—that, as we entered the 21st century, IBM and its PCs running on Intel CPUs with Microsoft Windows operating systems would dominate. So where are we now, smart folks? IBM is out of the PC business, and both Intel and Microsoft, though still major players, face tough competition in both CPUs and operating systems for new smartphones, tablets, and embedded products

  18. Jay Bulger says:

    this article was great.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why Polaroid Was the Apple of Its Time

    It’s easy to forget now, but instant camera maker Polaroid once matched the mythos — and ubiquity — of Apple. Much like Steve Jobs, founder Edwin Land was single-minded in his determination to create unique products with a strong affinity for design. For Jobs, Land was an all-time hero.

    In the new book Instant: The Story of Polaroid, New York senior editor Christopher Bonanos traces the dramatic rise and near-collapse of one of America’s most iconic companies.

    Wired Design caught up with Bonanos to discuss Lands’ lasting influence, Polaroid’s legal battles and business woes, and a comparison with the favorite photo sharing service of today, Instagram.

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  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kodak’s Problem Child
    How the blue-chip company was bankrupted by one of its own innovations

    George Eastman invented casual photography here in the 1880s, made a fortune, and built a small town into a city. Millions of people around the world “pressed the button” and for more than a hundred years, Kodak “took care of the rest.”

    At its peak, in 1996, Kodak was rated the fourth-most-valuable global brand. That year, the company had about two-thirds of the global photo market, annual revenues of $16 billion, and a market capitalization of $31 billion.

    With a bitter blizzard hammering down in upstate New York, a bankruptcy judge had just approved a proposal to resolve a big chunk of Kodak’s $6.8 billion in debt and pave the way for it to emerge from Chapter 11 after more than a year of insolvency. The company expects to finalize the process and exit bankruptcy protection in the third quarter of this year.

    On the front page is news of the sale of thousands of Kodak’s digital-imaging patents to a consortium led by Apple, Google, and Microsoft. The price is a fraction of the $2 billion that Kodak executives thought the patents would bring, but it will help buy time as the cash-poor company pursues its reorganization plan.

    Among other things, Kodak CEO Antonio M. Perez is betting his commercial-printing business on high-volume customers who need a lot of ink, like product-packaging manufacturers.

    Kodachrome, was finally discontinued in 2009. For nearly seventy-two years, Kodachrome was the crown jewel of the color-film portfolio. Kodachrome was the crown jewel of the color-film portfolio. Photojournalist Steve McCurry used it to shoot the now-iconic June 1985 National Geographic cover, an image of a wide-eyed Afghan girl. Today, it is just another discontinued film stock.

    Andrews calls himself a victim of “technological substitutions,

    chemical division — divested in 1993 — continues as an R & D and earnings powerhouse today, with $8.6 billion in revenues in 2012.

    Suddenly it was easy for anyone to take lots of pictures, and Eastman’s new business became a juggernaut almost overnight.

    About ninety years later, another tinkerer in Kodak labs would create an integrated circuit that turned light waves into digital images. It too would be labeled a toy by the few people who saw it. It too would eventually launch a huge new business all but overnight. But this time, Kodak wouldn’t be part of it.

    According to his numbers, a roll of film that cost one dollar to produce was marked up 800 percent, which allowed the company to generate its enormous profits. This drove the company’s growth, he argued, but eventually it turned into a trap when managers, addicted to the revenue, ignored clear signs that the market was shifting to digital and the end of the old way was in sight.

    “They were in denial all the way,” he says. “They didn’t want to give up a 90 percent market in film to have a 10 to 20 percent market in consumer electronics.”

    Analysts have pointed to a number of factors in Kodak’s fall, from general mismanagement to poor financial decisions. Its divestiture of Eastman Chemical stripped billions in cash flow that might have propped it up as it struggled to make the transition to digital. Others point to antitrust suits that hampered the company for decades and opened the door to rivals. Some of those, notably Fuji, were able to manage the analog-to-digital conversion successfully.

    As demand for electronic photography slowly grew through the 1980s, the Electronic Photography Division (EPD) became the catchall for a new generation of Kodak engineers trained not in chemicals, but computer science.

    One of the things that always drove me crazy,” Rubin remembers, “was when a proposal was denied because either somebody else was doing it, or nobody else was doing it. There was no wiggle room…[unless] Fuji was doing it too.”

    The subterfuge helped them bring some experimental products to market, but then they encountered a new problem they hadn’t expected: No matter what they came up with, nothing digital would sell. To consumers, everything was too expensive, and to professionals, the quality was not yet good enough. “It was a difficult thing to market,” Sucy admits, “especially for people who didn’t have any kind of experience marketing this kind of product; people who didn’t really know what it did.”

    In the end, being early did not help, because the market simply wasn’t ready.

    As obvious as the endgame was, Kodak’s leaders were faced with an unwinnable predicament: either keep investing in end-of-life products until the profits dried up — and die over the long run; or switch to stillborn product lines that produced mostly red ink in the ledgers — and die immediately.

    the engineers had developed a four-megapixel sensor by the late 1980s. How did Kodak fail to convert such a massive head start into success?

    “Who could afford that?” Anderson fired back, unimpressed. “Macs were really expensive. Computing technology couldn’t have kept up until much later.”

    When Kodak finally entered consumer photography in force, at the end of the 1990s, it did so as a dominant brand in a growing market. They produced cameras that were forerunners technologically and in 2003 were best sellers — but, crushingly, had to sell them to consumers at a loss of up to sixty dollars apiece.

    The company threw its remaining R & D muscle at a dizzying array of digital-imaging technologies and products, notably scanners and printers.

    Instead of finding new opportunities, Kodak faced even more disruption as the consumer camera market moved into phones, and nimble start-ups pounced on social photo-sharing opportunities.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kodak Ends Production of Acetate Base For Photographic Film

    “According to a report by Rochester, NY CBS affiliate WROC Kodak has ended in-house production of the cellulose acetate base that is the primary component of photographic film. Popular Photography magazine adds that, for more than 100 years, Kodak has made the acetate in house in bulk, providing the structural basis for the company’s film.”

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kodak To End Production Of Acetate Film Base

    But even the film expert and long time photographer has turned to a digital.
    “It’s fast and it’s easy. I get instant satisfaction making a print.”
    That’s is a prime reason Eastman Kodak has decided to halt acetate production.
    The demand for camera film has dropped significantly.
    “The day of snapshot in the hands of consumer photographers using film I think has long passed.” – See more at:

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Kodak prepares $406 million offering as it eyes bankruptcy exit

    (Reuters) – Eastman Kodak Co on Tuesday said it will seek court approval for a $406 million rights offering that could give creditors a big equity stake in the company after it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

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  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Filmomat Home Film Processing System

    The death of film has been widely reported, but technologies are only perfected after they’ve been made obsolete. It may not be instant photography, but there is at least one machine that will take 35mm film and 5×7″ prints and develop them automatically. It’s called the Filmomat, and while it won’t end up in the studios of many photographers, it is an incredible example of automation.

    The Filmomat is an incredible confabulation of valves, tubes, and pumps that will automatically process any reasonably sized film, from 35mm to 5×7 color slides. The main body of the machine is an acrylic cube subdivided into different sections containing photo processing chemicals, rinse water, and baths. With a microcontroller, an OLED display, and a rotary encoder, different developing processes can be programmed in, the chemicals heated, developer agitated, and film processed

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    FujiFilm Discontinues Last Film For Millions of Polaroid Cameras

    Polaroid stopped making film for its instant cameras in 2008. Thanks to Polaroid-compatible film from FujiFilm, many fans of instant photography kept on shooting with classic models such as the Big Shot, which Andy Warhol used in the 1970s. But FujiFilm has announced that it’s discontinuing production of peel-apart instant film

    The Last Film For Millions Of Classic Polaroid Cameras Is About To Go Away

    FujiFilm winds down production of the film that extended the useful life of some of history’s most inspired gadgets.

    If you take photos with old Polaroid cameras, as I often do, you get used to answering a question that always gets asked in a tone of marveling disbelief: “You can still get film for that?”

    For a pretty significant percentage of the instant cameras Polaroid ever made, the answer, surprisingly enough, has been “Yes, you can.” In many cases, that’s been because of FujiFilm, which has continued to produce peel-apart film that works just great in a bevy of Polaroid models from the 1960s and 1970s, such as the wacky and wondrous Big Shot, Andy Warhol’s favorite. But when I was skimming my Facebook feed this morning, I saw a horrifying note from Christopher Bonanos, author of the excellent Instant: The Story of Polaroid: FujiFilm is discontinuing production of FP100C, the last film it made for these cameras.

    The company’s site has an announcement—in Japanese—which says that it made the decision because of declining sales and will end shipments this spring

    The news didn’t exactly come as a shocker: When I first got into shooting with Polaroids a half-decade ago, Fuji made black-and-white film in two different speeds as well as color film. Both black-and-white versions had already bitten the dust, leaving only the color film, which will now be going away.

    When Polaroid itself announced that it was ceasing production of instant film back in 2008, it made headlines and it appeared to be the end of an era.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Building The First Digital Camera

    While the official history of the digital camera begins with a Kodak engineer tinkering around with digital electronics in 1975, the first digital camera was actually built a few months prior. At the Vintage Computer Festival East, [William Sudbrink] rebuilt the first digital camera. It’s wasn’t particularly hard, either: it was a project on the cover of Popular Electronics in February, 1975.

    [William]’s exhibit, Cromemco Accessories: Cyclops & Dazzler is a demonstration of the greatest graphics cards you could buy for S-100 systems and a very rare, very weird solid-state TV camera. Introduced in the February, 1975 issue of Popular Electronics, the Cyclops was the first digital camera. This wasn’t a device that used a CCD or a normal image sensor. The image sensor in the Cyclops was a 1 kilobit DRAM from MOS, producing a digital image thirty-two pixels square.

    The full description, schematic, circuit layout, and theory of operation are laid out in the Popular Electronics article; all [William] had to do was etch a PCB and source the components. The key part – a one kilobit MOS DRAM in a metal can package, carefully decapsulated – had a date code of 1976, but that is the newest component in the rebuild of this classic circuit.

    To turn this DRAM into digital camera, the circuit sweeps across the rows and columns of the DRAM array, turning the charge of each cell into an analog output.


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