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Disc camera just couldn't make it

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

Simple gray rule

Disc camera just couldn't make it 

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1988, The Syracuse Newspapers

When Kodak introduced its tiny disc cameras in 1982, it hoped the high-quality lenses and precision manufacturing would compensate for their tinier-than-ever image. But consumers never took to the camera the way Kodak had hoped, and last week the company announced that it was pulling the manufacturing plug on the disc camera.

Kodak said all production of the cameras had stopped, and would not be resumed until all the disc cameras now in stock have been sold. And even when current supplies are gone, Kodak is unlikely to start up its assembly lines again without a marked change in buying patterns.

Sales have been declining at the rate of about 33 percent a year lately, with no sign that the cameras will make a comeback. Kodak itself is partly responsible for this, since it has begun making 35mm cameras again—including models in the same price range as its disc cameras.

Given the choice between a 35mm camera and a disc camera, most consumers have been choosing the larger format because the finished pictures are much better. Another drawback of the disc format is the absence of any slide film, a decision Kodak made at least six years ago when its technicians saw how grainy the images were.

When the disc cameras were first shown to the public, Kodak let reporters borrow both a working version and one that was neatly sliced in half to show the inner construction. The camera was clearly a marvel, with exceptional precision in the lens and shutter assembly.

But no one then or now had more than faint praise for the pictures, which could not show the detail that even a cheap Pocket Instamatic could show. for how it stacked up against a 35mm print, there was no comparison.

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