Kodachrome film – 75 years of photos

Kodachrome was once considered the king of all films. It’s high acuity and low grain made it the standard to which all others strive to become. Almost every new film emulsion that came out was pitted against Kodachrome in a side-by-side comparison article in magazines such as Popular Photography and Modern Photography. Many, many words were written about the film and even more photographs were made with using it. If the slides that it produced were stored in a dark storage case they’re purported to last at least 100 years whereas negatives and E6 film would last about 25 years, give or take.

There were drawbacks to the film, such as Kodachrome 64 had a small magenta tint and Kodachrome 25 green. You especially saw the film’s color bias when photographing sand. The biggest drawback and, I’m sure, one of the reasons for its downfall, was that the developing process was so complex, being a black and white film with color dyes, that the temperatures and development times had to be perfect. No home process was ever made available.

When Kodak announced its demise with the last roll being processed in December, 2010 it was a sad day in photography. I remember everyone playing Paul Simon’s song Kodachrome and even today when people make mention of the film they always bring up the song. Slide film usage had gone down tremendously and since there was no way to develop the film at home the attraction for Kodachrome had diminished. E6 processed slide film was much more convenient, especially since it could be developed within a few hours and, at times, at home.

I personally have a few rolls of Kodachrome left. Some were exposed in the 1960s and 1970s. I’m going to try to develop the rolls and we’ll see what I come up with.


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