Film is far from dead and is making a ?significant? comeback this year, especially among ?young professionals?, according to Kodak?s US HQ headquarters.
After several years of ?double-digit decline?, Kodak tells us that certain black & white films are bucking the downward trend in demand among professional photographers in Western Europe and the US.
Speaking exclusively to Amateur Photographer, Eastman Kodak?s Professional Film marketing manager Scott DiSabato said that film is far from dead and has a ?bright? and ?sustainable? future.
Those using film include ?new? customers as well as those returning to film from digital.
DiSabato cites the success of Kodak?s Professional T-Max 400, which was revamped a year ago, adding that TRI-X maintains its position, as ?king of the hill?.
Though he would not reveal actual sales figures, he said that continued ?reinvestment? in film, such as revamped Portra and recently announced Ektar 100 colour print film, is a sign of Kodak?s confidence in its future. ?If we were truly just trying to watch the sun set and didn?t feel there was a significant future with film it would just be easier not to make those investments.?
He added: ?In general, you could say that all professional films are in various stages of decline, but this appears to be a year where I am seeing a significant relative strength, where sales are very close to where they were in 2007, with black & white film type performing very well among all formats.?
Kodak says sales of sheet film are particularly healthy ? fine art applications being the biggest draw.
Reports from young professional photographers in particular suggest that film is ?in vogue? once again, according to the firm.
The student market has helped buoy sales, which, Kodak asserts, ?may be even a little better? than last year.
?In the US, students I talk to have grown up with digital, but when they get to advanced creative projects they love film and they love what it is capable of,? explained DiSabato.
Kodak refutes suggestions in the press that Ektar 100 was its first brand new emulsion in four years, insisting that recent launches are more than just revamps. ?In the past two years Kodak has introduced at least seven new professional films and that statistic outpaces all of our competition combined,? claimed a spokeswoman.
Among the reported benefits of using film over digital is the delivery of qualities such as ?skin tone reproduction? and the level of grain that photographers are looking for.
Portrait photographers also tell Kodak that they want to spend less time behind a computer and ?more time shooting?. They also find that, using film cameras, their ?connection? with the subject is improved because photographers don?t pull away from them to look at the camera screen.
Another reported downside of digital is ?problems in archiving? digital images.
?Kodak sees a bright enough future that we are defining our commitment through continued investment in film,? added an Eastman Kodak spokeswoman.
?We see a significant resurgence in film usage, especially among younger professional photographers,? she told AP.
Kodak?s confidence is helped by research released earlier this year suggesting than more than half of professionals continue to use film for some of their work.
This article was first published in Amateur Photographer magazine?s issue dated 1 November 2008.
? Total sales at Kodak dropped by 5% in the third quarter of 2008, compared to the same three months last year. Overall sales from film capture and traditional photofinishing fell 18%.