Holy Crap, Kodak!

Somewhere deep in the bowels of my “filing system” is an invoice for ten rolls of 35mm color film and two rolls of Kodak BW400CN. The invoice date was some time in March, 2012, less than two months ago. The price of the BW400CN hovered around $5 per 36-frame roll. At least I remembered it as $5, so it was likely within pennies of that price.

I occasionally use that film when I want to shoot black and white. Except for the image above, the photographs in this post were shot with the BW400CN, then scanned to produce digital images.

Though I know that Ilford also makes a similar film, XP-2 Super, I’ve never tried it. The Kodak was always cheaper and the reviews I’ve turned up indicated that the two films were probably close to equal in quality, but the Ilford XP-2 was $6.09 per 36-frame roll for some time, so I just kept buying the Kodak.

Chromogenic black and white film such as the BW400CN and XP-2 Super is developed using the C-41 color film process, so it is relatively convenient to have it developed by a “one hour” photo lab, once one finds one that can be trusted. That is a lot easier than sending film out to a professional lab, and there is no extra time needed for the postal service to ship it to and from a lab.

I could develop my negatives at home. The cost would be minimal after buying the necessary equipment. Since I typically just scan the negatives to get digital files for the Web and don’t often get prints made, I wouldn’t have to invest in an entire darkroom. But I don’t want to invest the time and I don’t want to worry about how to get rid of the spent chemicals.

I’ve occasionally toyed with the idea of shooting a couple rolls of the Ilford XP-2, but always got “cheap” (I prefer to think of it as “thrifty”) when it came time to order more film.

Earlier today I was looking at film prices on my favored supplier’s Website, and for a half-second I thought that my vision had gone south on me when I happened to look at the price of the BW400CN, which is now $6.95 per 36-frame roll! WTF?

Yes, I know that Kodak has had some problems recently. Well actually, for decades. The bottom line is that all of Kodak’s problems are the result of bad management. Here is yet another example of that continuing bad management. Since the XP-2 and the BW400CN are apparently as close to equal as it gets, my days of buying the Kodak flavor of chromogenic black and white are over. My film-buying decision might have a different outcome if the Kodak was vastly superior, but everything I’ve read indicates that it is not. I will test out the Ilford, and if I’m wrong about this, I will report back on it.

I swiftly checked the price of the color print film I’ve been using lately, the Kodak Gold 100. That price is unchanged. Today, anyway. Maybe I should quickly order a hundred roll box…

Links to the following articles on the Kodak price hikes are provided for your exasperation and amusement. From the British Journal of PhotographyKodak Screws the Film Community.

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