Buying Dead Stuff

Dye transfer has been duplicated by 3 separate groups since it was dropped by Kodak. Three times the technology has been revived, resulting in 3 failed commercial situations. In other words:

what Kodak knew was that there is no need for dye transfer

Their secret was demonstrated by their actions, when they killed the process. They even killed the supplies in stages which mirror the use requirement, the user profile of the materials.

  • they stopped the camera/separation film. It was available elsewhere, in newer emulsion formulations
  • they stopped the lab films. Their utility could be realized with other, newer materials
  • they stopped the nitch Pan Matrix film. It couldn’t be made reliably. Its necessity was waning, and had been since 1980. The color negative/positive process had reached high maturity, as the dye transfer process remained a process from the distant ’50s.
  • they stopped the production of all supplies. There was little requirement that dye transfers be made for its primary users, commercial photographers serving advertising and display clients.

if you used it, they would build it

So, what are you day dreamers and pretenders doing? Not much, it seems, not much. Even when kodak announced they were ceasing production, they didn’t sell all their final supplies. Less than half of any of the other coatings have been sold. And no matter what you may have heard, it doesn’t keep. Meaning, the matrix film doesn’t act the same, respond consistently the older it gets.
Back in the day — 1963 – the lab I worked at had regular shipments, weekly film delivery. It came in on pallets. Yet we still marked them with received date. Anything stored more than 6 months in cold was considered scrap. Stuff to be used for staff experiments; not for client engagement.

Should You Buy Dead Stuff

Well, you will have to if you want to make dyes. What to do?
Buy the oldest sealed kodak dyes. The stuff before “new mixing” directions.
Buy any dye transfer paper, although this is the item that you can replace readily with any photo paper. Heck, I print onto “other” art surfaces.
Matrix film — skip the pan matrix film, or buy it only on the cheap, it deteriorated faster than the ortho (4150) film, so it has lost all its original financial value.
How about those chemicals: developer and such — skip em. Published formulas work well, even, with old mat film, better since your chemistry will be adjusted to correct the old film idiosyncrasy.

Oh yes, those resurected bones: Paterson/DaSilva; Browning/Adams; Egbert/Ow

If you buy, do it knowingly, so you won’t have regret.

So, if you buy it, use it quickly; it isn’t getting better.