article ran in the December 30th edition of the Rochester
Democrat and Chronicle.
Link: Kodak to end infrared film production
Kodak to end Infrared Film Production
(December 30, 2007) — The
human eye cannot see infrared radiation, but the camera lens can.
And in infrared photos, grass, clouds and
tree leaves can glow with the intensity of bright sunshine reflecting
off snow, in stark contrast to the darker tree trunks, rocks and
sky around them.
However, the industry-leading film that usually makes those shots
happen, Eastman Kodak's HIE-135, is about to come to an end.
Kodak, citing declining sales of the product, plans to quit manufacturing
and distributing the infrared film after this year.
One North Carolina photographer who uses the film in his fine art
shooting is seeking a reprieve for HIE-135. James C. Williams has
contacted professional photographers worldwide through e-mail and
messages left on electronic bulletin boards, asking them to lobby
Kodak to keep making the infrared film.
"I understand Kodak has its challenges with ... making their
shareholders happy and maintaining a good business profile in a difficult
environment," said Williams, who lives in Winston-Salem. But
the company that popularized photography, he said, also has a responsibility
to the art form it made possible.
"They got us liking this candy and now they want to take it
away," Williams said. "They're responsible for an art form,
and they need to understand they are affecting an artistic outlet."
Kodak declined to make
someone available to respond to the lobbying effort. But in a statement,
the company said: "We very much
appreciate the correspondence we've received from some photographers
who use our infrared film and would like to be able to purchase it
in 2008 and beyond. However, the fact is the decline in use of infrared
film has been so substantial over the years that it is no longer
practical for Kodak to continue to manufacture this product, given
the extremely low demand and volume, the age of the product formulations
and the complexity of the processes involved."
Infrared film is used mainly by the scientific community for capturing
objects using infrared light. A number of fine art photographers
also use it for the striking black-and-white images it creates.
"You never know what you're going to get," said Peter
Laytin, a photography instructor at Massachusetts' Fitchburg State
College who has used infrared film since the 1970s. "You're
recording beyond visible light, therefore there's a whole bunch of
Some other companies also
make infrared film, "but nothing
of the quality the HIE had," Laytin said. "This was the
best. And it will be sorely missed."
Kodak's infrared film usually has to be special-ordered from photography
supply shops, with rolls costing $13 to $15 for 36 exposures. And
it requires special handling because of its sensitivity to infrared
light, with rolls needing to be loaded into and unloaded out of cameras
in pitch darkness.
Williams, 46, said he has heard from at least 100 people who indicated
they contacted Kodak about saving infrared film.
Kodak "seems very resolved in discontinuing the film," he
said. "It's a pity. I'd like to know if they'd consider selling
the formula to another manufacturer."
Link to James
C Williams Photos.