R.I.P. Kodachrome – today THE film dies.

Today is a very sad day. December 30th 2010 is the day when color film died. And I mean REAL color film. Not just not-black-and-white-film but the one and only real color film: KODACHROME.

Kodachrome was manufactured by Eastman Kodak from 1935 to 2009. Kodachrome was the first successfully mass-marketed color still film using a subtractive method, in contrast to earlier additive “screenplate” methods such as Autochrome and Dufaycolor, and remained the oldest brand of color film.

Over its 74-year production, Kodachrome was produced in formats to suit various still and motion picture cameras, including 8mm, Super 8, 16mm, and 35mm for movies and 35mm, 120, 110, 126, 828, and large format for still photography. It was for many years used for professional color photography, especially for images intended for publication in print media.

Kodachrome requires complex processing that cannot practically be carried out by amateurs.

 

Kodachrome is appreciated in the archival and professional market because of its color accuracy and dark-storage longevity. Because of these qualities, Kodachrome was used by professional photographers like Steve McCurry and Alex Webb. McCurry used Kodachrome for his well-known 1984 portrait of Sharbat Gula, the “Afghan Girl” for the National Geographic magazine.

As digital photography progressively reduced the demand for film in the first decade of the 21st century, Kodachrome sales steadily declined. On June 22, 2009 Eastman Kodak Co. announced the end of Kodachrome production, citing declining demand. Many Kodak and independent laboratories once processed Kodachrome, but only one Kodak certified facility remained after the announcement: Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, where processing is scheduled to cease in December 2010. The final roll of 36-frame Kodachrome to be manufactured was tracked by National Geographic; it was shot by photographer Steve McCurry and processed by Dwayne’s Photo in July

Kodachrome

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

Paul Simon

I still have two rolls of 16mm Kodachrome in the fridge.  There is no substitute to this wonderful material. No modern film comes even close. The next best digital thing is Sigma`s Foveon X3 sensor, that is at least the Kodachrome of the digital world. I hope they develop it further, so it can be used for video  – that would be something to look forward to.

Frank Glencairn

2 thoughts on “R.I.P. Kodachrome – today THE film dies.

  1. Pingback: The last frame of the last roll of Kodachrome ever developed | Coldstreams Technology, Innovation & Social Media

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