Friday, December 11, 2009

Ryan Pyle Blog: Kodak Support


I’ve been using Kodak black and white film for my entire career; meaning simply that I’ve been a TriX fan since day one, and I will die a TriX fan. But the film is expensive and it’s been incredibly difficult to find in China in 35mm format. So it was essentially a sign from the heavens above when Kodak contacted me earlier this year and offered me some free TriX; I was glowing for weeks.

My color film choices have been slightly more strained. I’ve been a Fuji man for most of my career, for no other reason that this kind of film is the most readily available in China. My choices of Provia 100 and 400 provided me with a quality film with a vast range; but I never gave it much of a thought really. I never dabbled with competitor films and I never questioned my film choices. I just went with the flow, concerned more about the story and the composition than the actual film being used.

Then earlier this year Kodak sent me that batch of TriX, that I mentioned above, and they included a few rolls of color film as well; a very savvy move on their part. I’ll admit the color stock sat on my desk for several weeks before I got off my butt and put them through a few test runs, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I finally did. I was incredibly pleased with the results, so much so that I asked Kodak for a few more rolls. And to my surprise they said sure. I glowed further.

I’m mainly shooting color side film, or transparency film. I rarely dabble in negative film anymore these days. So I’ve been shooting the new E100VS and EV 200 Kodak color slide film, and I’ve been pleased with the results. The range and the richness of the colors are lovely. The super-fine grain is helpful as well, especially when the film is pushed, as I push the EV200 to ISO 800 for some of my shots where there is less available light.

So now, finally, I am a die-hard Kodak user. And much to my pleasure they have begun supplying me with all of my black and white and color film needs, and I couldn’t be thankful enough. It’s my first sponsorship of sorts, and it’s very humbling to have a company like Kodak supporting my image making.

How has this changed my life? Well, first off it has allowed me to have more control over my work. For example, often clients I work for ask me to now shoot longer projects, that don’t have fast turn around times, in digital. When I ask why they insist on digital they often site cost concerns. My reply now is, “don’t worry. I’ll be shooting film and it won’t cost you a thing”. Kodak have stepped in a filled a financing gap. Where I would have normally shot in digital to keep costs down follow the instructions of the magazine, I can now pursue my artistic belief that film still offers more range and higher quality, it still my preferred medium. And I now have the financial flexibility to continue using film when many clients have turned their backs on analog photography. And you know what the funny thing is? After I turn in the projects clients often write back saying thanks for making the effort to use film, the results are lovely. I love that.

Now, I’m not very good at comparing gear or writing blogs about how one camera, or film, is better than the other and why. I just know what I like and it now makes me very happy to have new opportunities to pursue more film photography. And in this day and age, given the harsh economic conditions, having a choice between film and digital, when it doesn’t cost you extra money, is a pretty special thing.

At this very moment I’ve taken a couple hundred rolls of Kodak color slide film and I’m currently working on a project that will hopefully get some decent responses from my clients. It’s my first, color, all-Kodak large film project and it’ll involve me hunkering down in a remote part of China for about 10-12 days and just shooting. And with the weather being horribly cold, film cameras – my Canon EOS 1V’s - and their fantastic durability are the only choice. And with that, of course, comes an entire bag of my Kodak E100VS and E200.

Lastly, I few months back I wrote a blog about how Kodak Kodachrome was retired and that Kodak and their color film business might be on it’s last legs. But clearly I was wrong. They’ve recently developed the new slide film that I am using today and they’ve introduced a new color negative film as well. So, yes, while Kodachrome was retired it appears that Kodak have improved on a previous model and retired an aging workhorse. Kodak are still in the film game, they are still heavily invested in producing color and black and white film; and they are also investing in people like me, a relative new comer to the game, but a photographer who puts a serious amount of film through his camera and isn’t afraid to talk about it. And I can’t thank Kodak enough for their support. Now if someone from Canon would just call, I’d be walking on air.

Ryan Pyle


  1. Hi Ryan, For the last year I was based out of Hangzhou (Linping actually) and could not find a decent developer. In July, I'll be moving back to Shanghai from Canada and was wondering where you go to get your film developed? I buy all my supplies at the big shop on Lu Ban Lu when I am in Shanghai and develop my own B&W, however I need somewhere to get the color stuff done. Help!


  2. Vance,

    Contact me directly and I can introduce you to a few places.


  3. Hi Ryan,
    I wish I had the energy to stick with film. I agree the images are much nicer-looking than with digital.

    But what about developing and scanning costs? Isn't that a factor in your budget as much as the film costs themselves?

  4. Allen,

    I purchased my own scanner about six years ago and it's still going strong. I have an assistant who helps with scanning put processing costs I end up eating - or partially deferring to clients who are willing and capable partners.

    It's true, it takes a lot of energy to continue working in this way.

    Ryan Pyle.



This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle