Farewell to film cameras puts consumers in charge

It seems an era has come to an end. According to Reuters, Kodak announced Tuesday they will stop selling traditional film cameras in North America, Canada and Europe. This major decision signals the final death-blow for “traditional” film cameras and focuses on digital photography instead.

Kodak, the first company to introduce a camera aimed at consumers in 1888 with the slogan “you press the button, we do the rest,” seems fully committed to shifting gears. While it will still produce and sell one-time use cameras for now, even those may be a thing of the past in a few years.

If the initial response by the stock market following the announcement is any indication, this is a good move for the company. On Tuesday stocks rose immediately following the announcement. Since then prices have tapered off slightly by one percent again, which mostly had to do with a slight drop of blue chip stocks in the last couple of days. This, however, should show that investors, as well as the manufacturers themselves, think consumers are ready to cross over into the digital domain as far as their photography is concerned.

This development will no doubt also affect other sectors. Customers that buy a digital camera also need a computer or modern TV set to display the photos on and possibly a printer to make paper prints of the images. Companies like Hewlett Packard, Sony and Apple that produce such computers aimed squarely at this market will no doubt enter a prosperous time.

On the other hand, the one-hour photo developing services will definitely lose business because consumers can now print their own photos at home. The main facilities developing such photos are large corporate-owned stores like Walgreen’s, Eckerd and Wal-Mart that do not rely on photo development as main source of income, but other smaller stores will not be as lucky.

The change to digital photography will also have a positive effect because traditional film processing requires a lot of chemicals. Now that digital cameras are taking over, this will become one of the few environmental problems that will solve itself when ignored long enough.

On the whole, it will be interesting to see if film cameras will be as alien to our generation’s children one day, as our parents’ typewriters are to us now. Maybe we should take a few last snapshots with film while we still can, to capture the true “Kodak moment” in history.