1/24/97 -- 5:28 PM


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - Moderately priced Kodak disk cameras went out with the 1980s, plagued by a grainy picture quality, bumped by increasingly popular 35mm cameras and finally sunk by fizzling sales.

Having sold 25 million of them, however, Eastman Kodak Co. kept making the film packs that insert into the cameras on a plastic disk. At the end of 1998, that production line will finally grind to a halt, too.

As the sole manufacturer of Kodak Gold Disk film, Kodak said Friday it will offer incentives to disk camera users to switch to newer photographic systems, notably its latest line of Advanced Photo System cameras and film.

``We would like to help them move on to other Kodak products that will be just as easy to use but will yield even better snapshots,'' said Gregory Walker, worldwide category manager for Kodak's Cartridge Film Products.

Kodak stopped production of the much-ballyhooed Disk Camera in 1988, just six years after it was unveiled. Sales of disk cameras, priced as low as $44, reached their peak at 4.8 million in 1985, then increasingly lost ground to 35mm models.

The disk film comes in 15-exposure packs and two-packs, and Kodak still sells about 10 million packs each year, said analyst B. Alex Henderson of Prudential Securities.

``Getting out (of disk photography) is a good move,'' he said. ``It will save money, lower capital overhead and increase film sales of APS and 35mm, which in turn will give Kodak a nice kick to profitability.

``You shouldn't be selling film at break-even prices when you can sell regular film at reasonable profit margins.''

Typical users of disk cameras are elderly consumers, he said. ``The question is, if they stop using them, do they ever buy another camera?''

Employees on the disk film production line will likely be switched to other film-making jobs, and no layoffs are anticipated, Kodak spokesman Paul Allen said.

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