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Some Wary of Kodak Claims on New Film

Associated Press

Eastman Kodak Co. says the new 35-millimeter color film for consumers introduced Tuesday represents a major improvement in the quality of color photographs, but stock analysts said they want some proof.

Judging the quality of a photograph by looking at it is very subjective and that’s the problem with the new “Ektar” color film, analysts said.

“How much sharper is sharper? Without a technical measure, I can’t tell if it’s 1% better or 10% better,” said Brian Fernandez of Brean Murray, Foster Securities in New York.

The new film was introduced at worldwide news conferences Tuesday.

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Kodak’s chief competitor, Fuji Photo Film Co. of Japan, had little to say about the development.

“It is our policy not to comment on our competition,” said Fuji spokeswoman Carol O’Loughlin in New York.

Ektar is an effort by Kodak to develop a color film that is considered the standard for “serious amateurs,” who take about 20% of the 40 billion pictures made each year worldwide.

“We’re not suggesting that everybody use this film,” said Wilbur Prezzano, group vice president and general manager of photographic products. “We’ve got a terrific film for the mass market,” he said of Kodacolor Gold, which the company introduced two years ago.

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In fact, the Ektar film is not available in the speeds that are most popular in the general market: 100, 200 and 400. Its two speeds are 25, which is unusually slow, and 1000, which is unusually fast.

Other speeds may be added to the line, company spokesman Ronald Roberts said.

And Kodak suggests that only owners of 35-mm. single-lens-reflex cameras use the film. That suggestion is also printed on every box of Ektar film.

But it’s clear that Kodak believes that it has made a significant advance in the field of color photography because the company has broken several longstanding traditions in its effort to sell Ektar film:

- The film comes in a mostly black box instead of the yellow box Kodak has put all of its film in since about 1903.

- The film has a new name. Since 1942, Kodak has retained the Kodacolor name on new and improved film, choosing to highlight advancements by adding a number or letter after the name. Ektar will be sold along with Kodak’s Kodacolor Gold line of films.

- The new film will be 15% to 20% more expensive than Kodacolor, which costs about $3.79 for a roll of 24 exposures.

Ektar film will be available later this month in Europe and Japan, where Kodak says a majority of the serious amateur photographers live, and in the United States early next year.

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