Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Week #13 - Kodak Signet and Kodak Colorplus - The Final Kodak Moment

The Final Kodak Moment…

As you all know, I have been shooting Kodak film on Kodak cameras for the month of March.  It has been a bittersweet month, as I got to know each camera I thought to myself.. “What ever happened to Kodak?”  They have these incredible cameras, and they really are!  But today they have become a complete joke.  Gearing their digital cameras as just Point And Shoot jobbies that ended up costing them hundreds of millions. Trying to get into the Inkjet market was also another severe blunder as their printers were mediocre at best, and were against the Printing giants like Canon, and Epson, who have the market cornerstoned for Ink Jet printers.
But enough negativity, as this post is very sad… I decided to visit the old Kodak plant in Toronto on Photography Drive.  Employing over 5000 people at the pinnacle of its business, it collapsed into ruin at the turn of the 21st century.  Laying off thousands in the mid-90s and finally completely closing in 2005.
My wife, who worked there until 2003, was working in the Silver Gelatin B&W photopaper section under a red-light packing the boxes with the coated paper for shipping.
Today, the plant is nothing more than a desolate wasteland, with  mud, dirt, small pond-like puddles, contaminated soil, and tall grass and weeds covering much of the property.
Huge holes in the ground where they had their big chemical storage tanks stationed now dot the landscape, including barrels filled with unknown substances.
SignetColorplusWK13Scan-130406-0007Even the old guard house is just a burned out husk.  Graffiti has coated its walls, and firebugs have lit countless fires to this hut.  The timbers are badly charred, and there is enough twisted blackened metal inside to give its story of its death throes…
Age, time, vandalism and arson has taken its toll on the building, and gives it a atmosphere of complete total desolation, and abandonment.
Not sure who owns this land today, if it’s still Kodak, or some other developer, but after the old chemical processing plants and warehouses came down, it has stood dormant and vacant for nearly 7 years.
From a place of abundance and a population rivaling a small town, it has become a scene from the hit Game Series Fallout.  Almost like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, it stands… barren… desolate… and decaying.
Perhaps it is a post apocalyptic scene…
A sign of what is to come….
To this, fellow readers… I say that my journey with Kodak has come full circle.  The first three cameras I used for this month were all manufactured at this very location.  The Duaflex IV, the Brownie Bulls-Eye, and the Jiffy Six-16 were all made in the Toronto plant for Kodak.  The last camera, the Signet 35, was manufactured in Rochester New York, and has come to document the end of an era…
The last… and final.. Kodak Moment..
Captured, and stored for eternity..
And for this, I say…  Keep those shutters firing!  May Kodak be like the Phoenix, and arise from the ashes.. stronger, smarter, and more vibrant than ever!


  1. #believeinkodak
    I still shoot Kodak exclusively: loads of Tri-X 400 (@400 @800 @1600 @3200) in 120 and 135… and New Kodak Portra 160 (@100) Portra 400 (@200 @400) Portra 800 (@400) and I am immensely satisfied with results. I really hope these films are going to stay…


    1. As do I. I love Kodak films. I shoot a fair bit of Kodak films... I really liked their E6 lineup, before they killed it. The only film I preferred over their Elitechrome E100G was Astia, which Fuji killed..
      But Tri-X I am with you on. Phenomenal film!
      TMAX films I enjoy immensely as well for their incredible tonal range.. I truly miss Plus-X Pan (why they killed it and gave the 125ASA lineup to Ilford solely I have no idea!)

  2. It occurs to me that Kodak desperately wanted to repeat the success of the Instamatic, and didn't realise until too late that the digital equivalent to the Instamatic was a phone.

    Maybe they'd have been better off making higher-end cameras or just not making cameras at all but concentrating on sensors to sell to other companies.

    Or maybe they should make like Ilford and concentrate on what people actually want.

    1. I think they should have stuck to film entirely.
      P&S digital cameras are becoming rarer and rarer to sell.
      If people don't buy a dSLR or a higher end P&S, they just use their Cell Phone... Heck I use my Cellphone for a lot of quick shots when I don't have a camera handy..

      Ilford was (and is) smart... Concentrating on B&W Silver Gelatin paper, Ink Jet printer paper, and film & Chemicals..

      They are a small, but hugely successful company. Harmon did a great job with the merger with them!

  3. I suppose despite its current state I still see Kodak as a success. Not many companies managed to dominate their field for around a hundred years. I think it would have been a miracle if they had somehow found a way to dominate the digital world the way they did the film world. I do hope that somehow they are able to adjust and make a success with film now that it is a niche market.

    One thing I wish they hadn't done is to use their dominance to introduce proprietary films like 620. I would love to be able to use some of their 620 cameras without re-spooling.

  4. I'm with you on that Ted. Absolutely! It is a very big success, and technically speaking, still is. Err, provided you look at their current accomplishment with film. They are the foremost authority with pretty much all film.

    I love their Colour films over Fuji's. And their B&W films aren't bad... except for Tri-X. It's Fantastri-X :D

    Hoping to see it on the other side of Chapter 11 as a much more profitable company, and not a bleeding pig!