Kodak Retires Kodachrome – So What Now?

Kodachrome1935Boxand2009Box
Kodachrome 1935 Box and 2009 Box

We all knew this day would arrive: when the iconic Kodachrome film would be retired. This film that has been with us for 74 years is intertwined with the very fabric of our photographic history, images, and emotions. Last week I was invited to a “secret” meeting at Kodak to hear the news and to discuss the future of film in our industry. There were 3 other industry experts in attendance:

AudioBlog
Kodachrome Interview

After leaving the meeting I do feel convinced as to Kodak’s ongoing support for film photography and the belief that both film and digital should coexist… it’s best for the photographic industry… with a capital letter “P”.

Listen to the audio-blog portion of this post by clicking on the audio logo to hear a 10 minute conversation between Stephen Schaub and Eve Ogden Schaub with further insights on this mission to Kodak and what it all really means.


And what post on Kodachrome would be complete without the required Paul Simon song…

PS- there is even a state park named for Kodachrome:

Kodachrome Basin State Park

Here is a link to the sole processing facility for Kodachrome films… I’m sending some this week!

Dwaynes Photo

Click here for the official Kodachrome retirement press release from Kodak.

Viva la Revolution- Stephen

18 Responses

  1. Richard Doyle

    It’s almost like an old friend has died. This friend has left me with shoe boxes filed with colorful memories. But Kodak is right, I haven’t shot Kodachrome in almost 20 years. I do have two fresh rolls in the fridge that I’ll use to celebrate Kodachrome’s life.
    Gotta go cry now.

  2. cidereye

    It’s a sad day for sure but if it’s just not being used any more like it was then it was always bound to happen.

    For me it’s quite sentimental I guess as Kodachrome 25 was the first ever colour film I ever loaded into my camera as a 13 year old some 32 years ago. I then moved on to Ektachrome 200 as ISO 25/64 was pretty limiting for taking shots of anything that moved and the whether here in England not often conducive for low speed film either. I think I will buy a few rolls of Kodachrome 64 though just for old times sake and to say goodbye properly to an all time classic.

  3. Jaime

    I got back my first Kodachrome two weeks ago. I bought two more rolls and I just put them in an envelope to go to Dwayne’s Photo. I did that and type figitalrevolution.com … I can’t believe the news! Time for me to buy some more and leave my kodachrome print of the world.

  4. I just ordered 5 rolls of Kodachrome 64 for a last hurrah. In fairness I don’t shoot Kodachrome any more – preferring colour negative material for the latitude – but it seemed a good way to say goodbye.

    Mike

  5. Roy

    F–king Pissed off to say the least. K25-64 are the very best films ever made and will always be. These films captured history in our cameras for 74 years and when I look at my files of K64 slides it makes me happy. Sure Digital is faster and doesn’t have any labs to produce a pretty good image but Kodachrome has the colors and saturation that is as real as life itself.
    The one major problem that killed Kodachrome is film scanners are set up to Ektachrome color standards and when you scan a K64 film it comes out different than the slide and it couldn’t be corrected without some time consuming post processing. If you are a Pro Photographer today it’s pretty hard to use films and even harder with K64 ,having only one lab in the world to send it to.
    So,,Kodak killed Kodachrome themselves because they didn’t sell anymore.
    The difference between Ektachrome , Fuji etc.,and Kodachrome is this. When all the other films are developed the chemicals remove the silver halide from the films emulsions as needed to produce the colors and contrast etc.,and with Kodachrome the chemicals actually deposit the colors on the film via a highly guarded secret formula known only to Kodak for most of the companies life. Sort of like chrome plating a cars bumper.
    The process was complicated and only Kodak processed Kodachrome until the last years when Kodak got out of it and gave the recipe to Dwayne’s.
    All I can say is ,,it died a hard death and it will always be better than any Digital Image. I would rather use film than a group of numbers that need a computer to make sense of them all and even the best digital images have mistakes in them,just look a little closer.

  6. Dan

    Very sad, but not unexpected.

    I bought a roll a few months ago just because I hadn’t used it in ages, mostly because of the difficulty in getting it processed.

    I used to use it for an all-around slide film when I was a kid and still have a lot of those slides. I may pick up a few more rolls just as a final tribute – it’s like saying goodbye to an old friend.

  7. James B.

    On the topic of your previous rant on misinformation in the media, the local news in my area did a story on Kodachrome a few minutes ago. They used the retirement of Kodachrome (along with a passing reference to polaroid) as a signal of the death of film photography. They then followed up that story with one on how digital cameras were totally the best thing ever.

    I chuckled on the inside, then wept a little because I realized that some people will actually take that drek seriously.

      1. cidereye

        I do hope Kodak actually do this Stephen, I mean it’s in their interests as much as anyone’s to promote the quality of Film v digital after all. I hate the “misinformation” being spread on quality that is fooling the majority of people right now.

        I was with a few friends the other day and as usual had a camera on me. When I pulled out my Contax G1 there were gasps as to what a pretty, cool looking camera they were seeing and then one asked after I took a shot where the LCD screen was so that they could see the shot I’d just taken?!? Comments of “Film??? Can you still buy that old stuff?” abounded with several of them thinking I was crazy for still using it. I sure told them the facts straight and proper as you will imagine! :-)

  8. George Stumpf

    Sadly, knowledge and the seeking thereof, among younger journalists is lacking. They don’t experiment and seek out new worlds. I recently earned my B.S. in Communications (I am 50) and had major issues with my fellow students lack of thinking and broadening their horizons, some actually believe that because a Prof. Dr. said something it is gospel. Shades of the 1800’s Academy of Sciences,gasp, the horror., and wouldn’t try new things??
    i now take photographs using paper negatives, (disabled and can’t afford film, especially in LF and ULF) and combine film techniques and digital imaging processes. I’m currently attempting to gather and publish (Web) a guide on which papers do what, but I digress. It is sad Kodachrome is going and we shall have one less tool in our bags to work with, it was a defining constant. Digital is digital and film is film, wether one is better is a mute point as both have and are evolving and both are tools that need to be learned. Most important is that one must learn to see the world around using different formats ( look at the ground glass of a 16x 20 ULF vs the 2.25 in back of a digital,oops lol) Maybe one day we will be able to dial in our favorite film specs to our fancy sensors but until then Cest la’vie, there will be differences. I believe a good photographer knows how to live and work in both worlds , I do.
    george

  9. lxdude

    It’s rough losing an old friend like Kodachrome. I still remember how I felt when I looked at the first slide from the first box of Kodachrome I ever shot. That was in 1974, just after the release of the K-14 process films K25 and K64.
    Roy, there are a couple of inaccuracies in your post.
    The E-6 films use color couplers to form the dyes. The simplest way to think of it is that part of the dye is in the emulsion and the other part is in the developer.
    In the USA, Kodak was forced by the Government in the 1950’s to allow others to offer processing and was no longer allowed to include processing in the price of the film.
    Which I think was a good thing, because later on there were times when Kodak’s processing was pretty damn crappy. I never understood that: A magnificent film of unassailable quality, and indifferent, inconsistent processing.
    Which doubtless hurt sales, especially in other parts of the world where people had to buy it with Kodak processing.

  10. Stephen,

    The audio is interesting, plus it answered the question of why Josh was in Rochester but didn’t bother to look me up. :)

    However, I cannot say I feel as good about the future of film as you state in the audio. You do realize that Hellyar retired effective the very day the Kodachrome “retirement” was announced, don’t you?

    I linked to your entry on my blog … on which I wrote the following:

    “I do not have complete trust in Kodak’s committment to film. This is born of the experience corporate behaviour. A company’s “word” on something seems to be as trustworthy for as long as the ink is drying on a corporate quarterly statement. With a new CEO, you have yet another new “committment to our customers”.

  11. It is a reflection of Kodaks lack of direction (except for it’s share value, which is every down!)

    They have sent the wrong messages to the public – stopping the manufacture of 35mm camera said that film for consumers was dying.. and now Kodachrome says that the film is almost dead for pros and prosumers….

    … by removing the labs that could process the film to one made it hard for non us photographers…

    But what have they lost.

    The most archival storage medium for colour images.

    Some of the CD’s I burnt a few years ago are no longer readable – and as for zip drives and syquests… you cant buy the readers any more.

    In years to come, CD’s and DVD will be obsolite and the data will degrade – so we’ll be left with chromagenic prints or having to restore our data….

    Kodak should of offered a “backup to Kodachrome” – where your images could be put onto Kodachrome for archival storage – which could be printed optically or scanned in 100 years time, knowing that there will be an image there… and with good profiles and pre-processing of the data the images would be as near perfect as it gets….. Major TV companies like the BBC already do this with high end productions.

    So, in 50 years time, or 100, or 200, it will be seen as the big archive solution that should of happened

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