Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kodachrome, another step toward its extinction?

If you've seen my color photography, you've seen the use of Kodachrome film. Ever since i first got published i have been using this film. Back in the old days it's all anyone with half an once of credibility would use and i was told by Warren Bolster (RIP) the original editor at SkateBoarder magazine that that was the film of choice for the magazine, I have been addicted ever since. Although in the last 10 years or so i have used it less and less since it is less available and more difficult to process. "It is an elaborately crafted photographic film, extolled for its sharpness, vivid colors and archival durability. " Here's a bit from the Wikipedia page for some interesting details:
Kodachrome was the first successfully mass-marketed color still film... and remains the oldest brand of color film currently available.
Since its introduction in 1935 it has been produced in several camera film and movie formats, and was for many years used for professional color photography, especially for images intended for publication in print media.
Kodachrome is appreciated in the archival and professional market because of its color accuracy and dark-storage longevity. Because of these qualities, Kodachrome has been used by professional photographers... Kodachrome was invented in the early 1930s by two professional musicians, Leopold Godowsky, Jr. and Leopold Mannes (hence the humorous saying that Kodachrome was made by God and Man)...

Kodachrome is fundamentally different from E-6 process and C-41 process color films (most commonly used)... its rendering of color and response to light unique. The dye couplers in other color films require thicker emulsion layers that allow light to scatter, whereas thinner layers are generally sharper... Kodachrome's long-term "dark-keeping" stability under ordinary conditions has long been superior to other color film. Kodachrome slides over fifty years old still retain accurate color and grain. It has been calculated that the least stable color, yellow, would suffer a 20% loss of dye in 185 years... The Kodachrome K-14 developing process is very complicated, exacting and requires technicians with extensive chemistry training, as well as large machinery which is extremely difficult to operate, which precludes its use by amateurs or small laboratories, unlike the E-6 process used for developing modern reversal [slide] films... Kodak no longer processes Kodachrome film itself. Dwayne's Photo, an independent facility in Kansas, is the sole Kodachrome processing facility in the world.
So as you may have guessed it, that last line has led me to the title of this post. Although they still do make Kodachrome 64 (my film of choice for all the early skateboarding years), my favorite since then was the Kodachrome 200, which has been out of production for several years now, but i have some on ice i can keep until the lab stops processing it altogether. My current problem is that most recently the place to drop it in New York was a Walgreens pharmacy! If you could imagine, and it was really cheap too, like $6.99 a roll or something, but when i went in yesterday to drop of a roll they told me they no longer will be accepting it. Damn. So now like the rest of the world i will have to send my Kodachrome through the US Mail to Kansas and pay nearly three times what i was per roll to get it processed and delivered back to me in 2 weeks time. Talk about old school.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful i can still use it at all, just hope they are still doing it for a while until i at least finish the dozen or so rolls i have for those special occasions i think it's worth using.

1 comment:

  1. Perfect opportunity to pick up the old equipment at a bargain price?