Kodachrome Might Make a Comeback, And You Could Help

Kodachrome Might Make a Comeback, And You Could Help

Even after its death, if was there ever one film stock that was the color film, it would have to be Kodak's Kodachrome The last roll was famously given to Steve McCurry, who essentially built his career with the film. To say that was a sad moment for lovers of film would be a gross misrepresentation. This was something that was lost. It would – could – never come back. Or could it? A recent conversation between The Kodakery and a number of Kodak executives including Kodak CMO Steven Overman lead to a glimmer of hope for the resurrection of everyone's favorite color film.

Overman commented that, after asking what Kodak could bring to market that would help it come back, he was given the advice to identify what only Kodak could bring to the market. Several months later, someone had brought the idea of a Super 8 camera to him. At that moment, it became a natural solution, as Kodak is the only manufacturer still producing Super 8 motion picture film. He described it as an "entry-level format" that we all start shooting on. It's affordable, portable, and easy to work with. And earlier this week at CES, Kodak had its first working prototypes of its Super 8 camera announced earlier last year on display.

On the heels of Kodak's announcement earlier this week that they are bringing back Ektachrome (the last variety of which was phased out by the end of 2013) in 35mm and Super 8 formats, Overman was asked about the likelihood of Kodachrome coming back as well. While he didn't announce Kodak will be reintroducing it, he did say that Kodak is looking into what it would take to bring the iconic film back to market.

We get asked all the time... by filmmakers and photographers alike, ‘are you gonna bring back some of these iconic film stocks like Kodachrome, Ektachrome...' I will say, we are investigating Kodachrome, looking at what it would take to bring that back […] Ektachrome is a lot easier and faster to bring back to market... People love Kodak’s heritage products and I feel, personally, that we have a responsibility to deliver on that love.”

Kodachrome was notoriously difficult and complicated to process – a fact that led to rising prices that ultimately resulted in the film's demise. But the way the film reacted to light was unmatched by any process – film or digital – and remains so to this day. And today, we have hope that this film might come back.

The truth is, you can help bring it back. Just as it helps our politicians to know when we want change, we can tell Kodak just how much we want Kodachrome back in production. Share this article with your friends. Tell them to call and email and write to and about Kodak. Tell them how much we want Kodachrome back, how much it would be in Kodak's best interest, how much we do love it, and the responsibility that they have to deliver on that love. After all, Kodachrome: sounds an awful lot like something only Kodak could bring to the market.

(Small side note that came from the interview shared below: did anyone notice the new Kodak Super 8 camera's octagonal design? Eight-sided...Super 8.)

 

Via [PhotoRumors]

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20 Comments

Dan Howell's picture

"a glimmer of hope for the resurrection of everyone's favorite color film."

Please just stop with these sweeping generalizations. At best it was a limited segment of photographers; favorite film. At any given time that photos were regularly being reproduced in color, E-6 films (Ektachrome, Fujichrome) were significantly more common than Kodachrome, mostly due to the difficulty in processing and reproduction.

Also, I think Steve McCurry would bristle at the statement that he 'built his career on that film' I'm pretty sure he built his career or compelling images, many of which were taken for the National Geographic Society which had incorporated Kodachrome at their primary (but not exclusive) workflow. He has certainly been an advocate of the film, but your statement is a disservice to his vision.

I think film was good for back in the day (and probably today for those who still cherish it). However, I did love using the Kodak Ektar back in the day, but I've moved onto the digital world and not looking back. It's just not cost effective, but hey, to those who love it, more power to ya.

I do like using Kodak Ektar also, but Portra 400 is my general purpose color film.

Simon Patterson's picture

Sorry, can't see how I'll use it with my Sony a6000, but good luck to those who do want it.

Alex Cooke's picture

Fold it a couple of times and shove it in the SD slot.

Jim Bolen's picture

Hipsters will be jumping for joy, until they realize how expensive it is to process.
K64 and K25 were my favorite films by far back in the days of my film shooting, but when I look at the images I can create now compared to then, there is no way in hell I'm going back to shooting film, even if it is for the novelty sake of it.
Same reason why my 4x5 sits in its box and never comes out. I can shoot equal to better images with my D750 and a great lens compared to that beast.

There end product quality, and enjoyment during the photographic process.

Shooting film (IMO) is more about the fun of it than the IQ.

Donna Macauley's picture

I find these dismissive comments about film confusing. You don't tell a painter that their paint is obsolete and that they should be using digital illustration tools, do you? The medium an artist uses is their choice and part of their vision for their creation. There is no one way that is better than another. It's just different.

Dan Howell's picture

You do realize that even early film was considered technology, right? The development of image capture technology is constant and on-going? Your analogy is not apt.

Hans Rosemond's picture

I think her analogy is just fine. Yes, film is tech, even if archaic by today's standards. But it's also a tool of an artist. I don't think anyone benefits from animosity based on how an artist chooses to make their art. I shoot both digital and film and it's more about the process than one being "better." Some people prefer old tube amps for their guitars, some prefer electronic synthesis. Who am I to say which is better?

Spy Black's picture

You do realize that brushes, paint, and canvas is technology, right? Your presumption is not apt.

Spy Black's picture

This may be quite a stretch, it would certainly be cool if it happens. Although I used may transparency films, Kodachrome 25 was my go-to stock. Chances are however that if it does come back it will probably only be 64, which would suck as far as I'm concerned. K25 was a very unique film, and I used it even in environments where you'd normally use a higher speed stock (which I also use of course). Below is a shot I took back in 1979 of Fleetwood Mac, right after the release of their TUSK album, at MSG in NYC. K25, Nikon F2SB, 135mm f/2 Ai Nikkor.

Robert Raymer's picture

I would love to see this happen, but honestly I would be surprised. The specialized development process already made it harder and more expensive to process than e6 or c41, and "resurrecting" both the film and the process i fear would make it even harder and more expensive given that only small segment of photographers currently shoot film, and an even smaller subset would choose return to kodachrome. As much as I loved kodachrome, I don't even know if I would go back to using it if it was even more expensive than shooting film already is.

I really don't think the demand will justify rebooting the complicated and massively expensive processing costs of Kodachrome.

To say that I'm a fan of Kodachrome is an understatement. I cut my eye teeth (photographically speaking) on this film as a teenager. For 5 years in the 80s I managed the formulation of Kodachrome films. More recently I created a fan site to celebrate the 75 year legacy of this film (http://www.randrews4.com/kodachrome.html).
I would like to clear up some mis-informaiton. In 2010 I got rolls of Kodachrome processed for $5. The price was not the problem, it was the week's wait to get the film back from Dwayne's Photo in Parsons Kansas. They were the only lab in the world processing Kodachrome at that time. The color reproduction of Kodachrome is indeed unique, but it is not, by today's standards, especially saturated and it is not accurate. I love Paul Simon's song, but this film does not give you the greens of summer. The greens of Kodachrome 64 are woefully desaturated. Oranges are too red. Skies are on the cyan side.
Restarting the manufacture of Kodachrome film would not be a huge job. Finding suppliers to begin synthesizing the couplers again and restarting processing service would be a formidable task.
Is there a market for the film? Kodak stopped selling the film in 2009 because it didn't make a profit. Has the market grown since then? How much is nostalgia worth?
Don't get me wrong. If Kodak re-started production of Kodachrome, I would shoot some. If they called me, I would consider rejoining the company to work on the product. I don't expect this to happen. I do plan to shoot a few rolls of Ektachrome. It is a superior product.

Robert Raymer's picture

Agreed on color representation, but personally that was never the reason I shot it. I can always shoot other stocks, (and obviously digital) if i need perfect color reproduction. I shot it because I loved the look, inaccurate as it was.

Hans Rosemond's picture

What would be really interesting is if they reformulated Kodachrome so that it was able to be processed in standard E6. Of course, it wouldn't be exactly the same, but Portra has had many iterations so why not Kodachrome? If they could get 90% of the way to the same look, but able to be processed by any pro lab they might be on to something.

Good idea, but there are some technical problems. Kodachrome doesn't have any dye forming couplers in the film and has a much thinner structure. (http://www.randrews4.com/k64thickness.html) If you put the couplers in so that it could be processed in E-6, it wouldn't look like Kodachrome. There was an Ektachrome Duplicating film Type K that was made to make duplicates of Kodachrome. The dupes looked kind of like Kodachrome, but it wasn't a perfect match. That was as close as anyone ever got.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Close is better than nothing! Anything to get it started. I think if they have to bring back the process no labs will do it and it will be dead in the water.

Martin Peterdamm's picture

What this also shows is, that a real asset for canon, nikon, sony, ... would be to put more love into special color profiles, or colorrendering besides the natural approach.
Fuji did this already and it is one of the main selling points from them to get colors out of a digital camera, that not look "digital".