marketing

A Kodak Moment: going bankrupt

And so we see the giants fall. CNN just announced that Eastman Kodak (NYSE:EK) has begun preparations for a possible bankruptcy filing. For people who have been following (or worse: using) the sub-par digital cameras they produced over the past years this may seem logical. The only thing that may still save them is the value of the patents that they hold. But will it be enough? Probably not.

This is a historically significant moment. Kodak was founded in 1880 – it has been around for more than 131 years – from the early days of photography. In 1884, George Eastman developed the technology of film to replace photographic plates, leading to the technology used by film cameras up to this day.

In the 20th century it dominated the photography and imaging industry, using a business model of selling affordable cameras and making most of its money on consumables — film, chemicals and paper. My own first camera was a Kodak Retina II (see picture below). It was exquisitely made, and lit in me the love of cameras and photography.

The iconic Kodak Retina - my first camera.

Then the digital era came. In the 1990s, Kodak had (wisely) planned a decade-long journey to move to digital technology. Fatally, this planning was never fully implemented. Kodak’s core business faced no pressure from competing technologies, and Kodak’s executives failed to foresee a world without traditional film. After 2001 the digital photography revolution gained full momentum, and Kodak was in trouble. It tried to regain lost ground by selling cheap easy-to-use “Easyshare” cameras.

An example of the dime-a-dozen "easyshare" cameras that made Kodak a visionless, generic, unprofitable entity in the camera market

Unfortunately for Kodak, the low-end compact camera market is a crowded one, and competition with Eastern companies undercut profitability. And despite their ease of use their cameras lacked two very important things – image quality and personality. In my opinion, quality and personality is what made Apple such a success, and Kodak a failure.

In recent years Kodak was losing money fast, and needed to find a new core business. Too late, they shifted focus to photo printers and printer ink, but this came too expensive, and too late.

R.I.P Kodak. You made your mark in history, but you will not live to see the future.

The 1 Nikon system came!

The news is out! Nikon indeed came with a big announcement at midnight yesterday, and it is indeed a whole new system.

The 1-Nikon system has been announced and is initially available in two bodies – the cheaper J1 and the premium V1. Highlight features include:

  • 2.7 crop factor called “Nikon CX” (a 10mm lens is equivalent to 27mm in traditional full-frame/film)
  • Very fast shooting rates – up to 60 fps full-resolution photographs
  • Advanced video capability
  • Lots of accessories, already including 4 lenses, speedlight flash, GPS, external microphone and F-mount adapter.

To give you a sense of scale, this is the new V1 in hand:

The new Nikon V1 with (obviously) no lens attached and the sensor visible

 

Nikon is coming…

An ever-so-slightly dubious name-choice for Nikon’s countdown timer:

http://www.iamcomings.com/

Ummm?

But jokes aside, the question is of course WHAT might be coming. In slightly more than 24 hours (at time of writing) we’ll know.

In Nikon’s marketing-speak: “I am curious”!

All rumours seem to point to a new mirrorless system camera, also known as EVIL, MILC, etc. This means that you can exchange lenses like on a DSLR. However it does without a mechanical mirror meaning it will be much smaller, lighter and quieter.

A picture from one of Nikon's "EVIL" patents

This new camera is rumoured to have a sensor that falls between current high-end compacts and the micro 4/3 system. Meaning it won’t be a viable option for pros, but might be very cool for the general enthusiast public.

The new camera is expected to try and fill a new niche in the sensor sizes available on the market

Alternatively the announcement could refer to the successor to the ageing full frame D700, D3s or D3x models, although I’m not expecting it.

Kodak announces Aromatography!

1 April 2010

Throughout the history of photography, the essential experience was limited to capturing light. Kodak, however, is set to change all of that. Today, they announce aromatography, a revolutionary way of capturing both light and aromatic scents from the world around you.

Kodak's aromaphotography combines sight and smell - both in digital photography and print

Imagine seeing an image of a field of wildflowers and the experiencing all the delicate and complex aromas that accompany the visual experience. It’s no longer just a dream, thanks to recent breakthroughs in Neuro-Optic-Nasal-Sense Imaging.

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Samsung’s advance

Samsung has been making cameras for some time now, but (at least I) never really took them seriously. Things might be changing…

Why? Because it looks like they’re doing something similar to Panasonic. But isn’t the obvious deal-breaking difference that Panasonic is Japanese, and Samsung Korean? Please bear with me…
Both Samsung and Panasonic are huge, well-known mega-companies.  Both make lots of different stuff. Panasonic Corporation used to make bicycles, makes every kind of imaginable electronics, and even acts as a mayor sponsor in Formula 1. The Samsung group is even more diverse, making electronics, ships (yes – those big things sailing the world’s oceans) and even being involved in construction as well as soccer and Olympic sponsorship. You could think that this lack of (ahem) “focus” would make them bad at producing cameras, but then you could be wrong.

Why do I put this logo in my "Samsung" article? Read to see why...

Panasonic came to the digital camera party around 2001, which is later than the classical photographic big boys such as Nikon and Canon. Sure, they’re Japanese, and the Japanese have a knack for making good cameras. But they had to be content with a teeny tiny market share compared to the big boys, who were solidly into digital photography by the mid 90’s.

The Lumix FZ3 was the first Panasonic camera to catch my eye. Great lens, and great ergonomics.

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