For a long time, Kodak was the premier name in photography, at least in the US for the greater part of last century. They arguably brought affordable cameras and printing to the masses and their name was everywhere.
Before officially opening in 1888, founder George Eastman commissioned six prototypes of the company’s first camera, of which only one remains:
Kodak got a stronghold on the US photography market by providing low-cost cameras and making a healthy profit on printing and films, as their saying went:
For a company so dominant at one time to fall to near obscurity reportedly was down to a simple case of failing to anticipate and adapt to change.
Though Kodak produced the first digital camera back in 1975, rather than dive head first into what has become a highly embraced medium, Kodak decided to drop the product, fearing it would damage their film processing revenue.
They were right, except rather than a new Kodak division taking their profits, that money went into the hands of their eager competition.
From then until now, the Kodak brand has been getting further and further out of touch, repeatedly refusing to innovate and try to catch up.
You might have watched the much hyped recent addition to the Star Wars saga, what you may not have realised, however, is that the entire movie was filmed on Kodak film. What’s that? Kodak is trying to become relevant again? It seems to.
At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show which took place last week in Las Vegas, amongst the excitement of several prominent Nikon announcements, Kodak showed strongs signs of making a proper attempt at finding their place in the modern camera market.
We recently shared news of Kodak’s revival of the nostalgia-inducing Super 8 camera, with certain modern touches such as a digital viewfinder and the ability to have your print developed into a digital format.
What’s more, the company showed off their 4K 360-degree action camera which is now available worldwide. The PixPro SP360 is approaching the market at a time when others are also entering the race, but with such a strong name and impressive specs, they’re playing their ‘A’ game.
Inside, the PixPro has a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor and a f/2.8 lens. It films 4K video at 30 fps, if shooting at 720p HD, it can take up to 120 fps, despite it only being possible to play it back at 30fps.
One attachment will allow the PixPro to survive up to 60 metres under water, and Kodak thought about connectivity, including WiFi and easy uploads to YouTube and Facebook. Software is to come to help users stitch together their shots to make 360-degree immersive images and videos.
At last it seems there is some real competition in the action camera market and, just like the proverbial bus, a few have come along at once.
It’s priced at US$499 for the basic package, showing it is prepared to be compared against the GoPro HERO4. Nikon have yet to put a price on their new KeyMission 360 action camera and, depending on how the PixPro performs and sells, will have to price it accordingly.
Kodak is also offering a ‘Premier’ package with two PixPro SP360s, a dual camera mount and a remote to control the devices and up to eight others at the same time.
Kodak is reportedly confident about turning a profit in 2016, but they’re not forgetting where they came from. Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke was spotted at CES 2016 giving out his business cards actually made from a strip of 35mm film negative bearing his details. Nice.
It seems there is life in Kodak yet.