It’s a confusing time to be a film photographer. On the one hand, we keep hearing stories about ‘huge growth’ in film photography, yet companies with ‘film’ in their name routinely discontinue popular emulsions.
Take Kodak, for example. The Kodak of the 21st century ain’t your daddy’s or grandpappy’s Big Yellow. After entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2012, the company has split and splintered, with Eastman Kodak still manufacturing and producing motion picture film, while the spun-off Kodak Alaris distributes still photographic film (made in Rochester, NY at the Eastman Kodak factory). Meanwhile, Eastman Kodak continues to own the Kodak brand and license it out to whatever hair-brained firm will give them money (*cough* CRYPTOCURRENCY *cough*).
But sometimes, good products come bearing the famous Kodak brand and the KODAKFilmCase (sic) by RETRO Production is a great one.
All (trade) dressed up with nowhere to go
First off, I’d just like to say that Kodak trade dress yellow just … does … something to me. That glorious trademarked PANTONE 123 bowls me over. When used in conjunction with Kodak trade dress red (Pantone 485), well I’m about rendered incapable of rational thought.
Right, so overview done—it’s a perfect product? Not so fast.
This is a damn nice film case. In fact, it’s the nicest film case I’ve used. I’m not the type that considers a film case to be a necessary part of a camera kit. In fact, accessories such as these often indulge in the worst kind of over-engineered wankery.
Or sometimes they’re just the products of wankers.
Take Japan Camera Hunter’s ‘original’ 35mm and 120 film cases. They’re fine products on their own—I even have one of the 120 cases and it does exactly as it says on the box. Sadly, JCH’s Bellamy Hunt showed his true colours when he bemoaned the many cheap copies of ‘his’ case available on eBay and the like without acknowledging he’d just appropriated a 1980s Fujifilm design for the JCH case.
A case of good design
But I digress, the KODAKFilmCase is neither wankery or—so far as I know—the product of wankers. It comes from Hong Kong-based RETO Production and is a practical and stylish addition to any 35mm photographer’s camera bag.
Visually, it draws from Kodak’s rich product history—specifically their metal film canisters of yore—and is embossed with the same slab-serif logotype Kodak used for over 40 years. The new ‘K’ logo on the other side is not as pleasing but is probably a necessary part of the licence.
The main case and lid are made of steel, with a plastic divider inner capable of holding five rolls of 35mm film (even Fujifilm!). The plastic inner can also be removed, allowing you to hold a selection of paper clips, ballpoint pens, fountain pens, a Micro Machine or a pair of very, very small scissors in there. Of course, you could substitute these items for any other suitable forms of stationery—the options are (almost) unlimited!
I was very pleasantly surprised by the sturdiness of the whole thing. Sure, make something from metal and it automatically feels better than the same thing out of plastic, but this thing just clicks—literally. The lid fits on easily and closes over the case with a pleasing and solid metallic click. It goes on very securely and, unlike some plastic cases, won’t inadvertently fall off.
The colours, children
Let’s face it—it was the colours that made me weak at the knees. As its design draws from Kodak’s history, so too does its colours. The yellow/red variant (my baby) is, of course, a Kodak favourite and the yellow/blue recalls the original Ektachrome canisters. The other historically-inspired colours (silver and silver/yellow) are joined by two contemporary variants, an all-black and an all-white case.
There’s something for everyone!
I rest my case
RETO has done a tremendous job with this product. By any and all rights, this should have been a cheap and nasty product—just look at any other number of ‘Kodak’-branded products if you don’t believe me. But it seems RETO went to great lengths to design a product that was both pleasing to the eye and practical to use.
It leans heavily on the heritage of the Kodak brand while still serving as a practical tool for today’s photographers.
Unlike some other licensees, RETO has made great use of the Eastman Kodak brand and I look forward to seeing more high-quality swag bearing the Kodak name in the future.
I bought mine from Ikigai Camera—you should too.