Advantages of Kodachrome?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Stevopedia, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. Stevopedia

    Stevopedia Member

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    Hello all,

    I understand that Kodachrome is one of the Great Classic Films, and this is rightly so; it produces a beautiful result and has been around for seventy-odd years now. But honestly I think that there are films out there (like Velvia) that make the same image in an easier process.

    My question is this: Aside from nostalgia/historic appreciation and archival value (Kodachrome's longevity is second to no other color film... at least to my knowledge), does Kodachrome hold any real advantages over E-6 films?
     
  2. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    No.
     
  3. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    The short answer is probably no. However, it does have a different look than other films, so maybe that's enough for you.
     
  4. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    Well,

    Firstly, I don't like the way Velvia over saturates colors across the spectrum. It seems to truncate the chromatic distribution of subtle tonality where Kodachrome and other E-6 films like Astia reproduce it more faithfully and gradually, so I strongly disagree that it does the same thing.

    But aside from that, I find that with a top notch lens, Kodachrome's relief image lends to a sharper overall image. When I look at Velvia and Kodachrome 64 side by side, Velvia looks, well, like velvet. It is very smooth and renders fine details with ease, but it lacks that special acuteness that Kodachrome has. Of course, Kodachrome appears more grainy, but they are sharp as heck grains!

    But really it is the look of the film when it all comes together. Sure, other films may match it or come close, but with Kodachrome still around, I don't really want to use other films.

    And of course there is the archival qualities of Kodachrome, well proven. I think at this stage, there are some very archival E-6 films too though, so that is not the main reason I would shoot it.

    I shoot it for the way it looks, the limits it imposes on me, the historical attributes and to be different. I will not be one who regrets not shooting it once it is gone, I will shoot it until the very last drop of chemistry is gone...
     
  5. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Member

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    I despise Kodachrome

    It's impossible to scan, produces a noticable color cast in mixed lighting (whether projected or scanned) and costs a fortune. I've come to the conclusion that it's crap. At least for me.

    In 25 years, if my Astia slides are faded, I'll say "Boy, I sure wish I'd learned how to shoot Kodachrome" but until then, I'll be the minority voice for E-6.

    Astia rules!

     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I have seen superb scans and prints from Kodachrome. So, that is a matter of opinion.

    But, Kodachrome is also reknowned for its sharpness. This is partly due to the relief image formed by its unique process and partly by not having incorporated couplers. The layers are much thinner than E6 films.

    PE
     
  7. alan doyle

    alan doyle Member

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    it is a beautiful unique product.that you should experiment with before it goes.
    the weak link is one lab for the world. that was kodaks killer blow.
    i spent 20 quid on a battered olympus xa late last year,and tested the camera with my ex girlfriend the results were stunning. i realized i liked the film more than the girl..
    velvia,provia and astia are special films but in know way would i say old k64 is a lesser film.
    kodachrome is the only kodak product i still buy.
     
  8. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    :smile:
     
  9. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The best reason to use Kodachrome is for the look, as is the case with any particular emulsion, speed aside. Velvia probably has the least in common as far as its look of any chrome film you could compare to Kodachrome.

    I don't shoot food with Kodachrome (not saying you couldn't, but my peeps expect that Velvia look), and I don't shoot people with Velvia (you could, if you like weird looking people).
     
  10. iamzip

    iamzip Member

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    Its not a question of better or worse, or which has advantages - it is simply a question of preference. One film looks one way, another film looks different. You might shoot Velvia in one situation, Kodachrome in another. Certainly if you want to shoot 120 transparency, you have to use an E6 film.
     
  11. DBP

    DBP Member

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    Sharpness and the look, especially when photographing people. Lately I have been taking lots of baby pictures with it, and the parents love the results.

    And I must say that I made the mistake of shooting people with Velvia once, in full sun. It is not a mistake one repeats.
     
  12. Richard A

    Richard A Member

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    The reason Kodachrome Rocks is as follows.
    I shot in the day 70's until the mid 90's exclusive Kodachrome 25 and 64. Kodachrome is basically a B & W film and the dye is put in during the processing. Similar to dye transfer. I have slides going back 30 plus years in plastic in file cabinets that look just like they did when I opened the yellow box from processing. And the grain well it was the closest film for sharpens as to what we call digital today.
     
  13. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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  15. Richard A

    Richard A Member

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    Kodachrome Rocks

    Back in the day 70s-90s I only shot 25 and 64 Kodachrome. The agencies would make bill boards out of it and my print stuff ran in National Mags and it all looked great.

    Kodachrome is Basically a Black and White film and the dye is put in during the processing. Similar to Dye Transfer. I have transparencies 30 plus years in file cabinets in plastic sheets that look just like they did when they where delivered to the studio in the yellow box.

    For sharpness off films unless you wanted to lug around 8x10 deardorfs Kodachrome was it. E-4 and E-6 for my choice in 35mm format was way to grainy and if I was out of focus it was even worse. It did have some advantages but I could replicate it in the Kodachrome so I just stuck with it. Great on flesh tones and sunset what a film during the magic hour.
     
  16. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    "Nothing worth doing is ever easy."

    End of quote


    Good morning, Wolfeye;

    Does your own signature line provide an answer to your comment?
     
  17. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    It's all I used from the late 70's to the early 90's. I moved on to E6 shortly before I began doing a lot of printing on Ilfochrome in the mid to late 90's. I've printed a bunch of K25 and K64 and Velvia. The accutance of Kodachrome is certainly real, but pre-digital workflow this only was a benefit when looking at it as a first generation product, i.e. projected or through a loupe. Accutance is also another word for localized/edge contrast. If you're printing directly from Kodachrome, this means old-school masking is de rigeur for about 1/3 to 1/2 your body of work -- and masking is damn tough to do nowadays since Pan Masking film hasn't been available in more than a decade now. Too, masks always were something of a compromise even when the material was available as there is a grain bump and there was an undercolor (silver) added to the image.

    Back when magazines were insisting on Kodachrome, there were legions of prepress guys who were capable of tweaking color in the shadows with masks used in the 4-color CMYK film separation process. By the 80's most big magazines were digitally scanning pasting up on Scitex workstations, so these film based prepress guys were a dying breed til I was regularly getting published. But I did glean some valuable information from a couple before they passed.

    By comparison I found Fuji 100 simple to print on Ilford CPM1M. And E6 is easy to do in a JOBO, no waiting and worrying whether my film is sitting somewhere out on the tarmac for hours in 110˚F heat during a flight delay in Dallas... and it comes in 120 and 4x5, and on and on. Everything I've shot on E6 from 1990 on still looks as good as the day I got it back from processing. (In fact, E6 holds up much better when projected, or subjected to enlarger bulb light than does Kodachrome).
     
  18. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    My main reasons for shooting Kodachrome were that when I was first in college I acquired a large number of expired, but frozen and therefore perfectly good, rolls of Kodachrome 25 and 40 (type A), along with prepaid processing envelopes. I paid a whole dollar for each roll, with processing, in the early to mid 1990s! When I bought it off the shelf "fresh" I usually got the 64 speed film which was great as well (I used to love it for sunsets). I will have to scan some of that work and post it here, Kodachrome 25 was a beautiful film.

    I think that the advantage was partly the archival quality... I know that my Dad's 40-year-old Kodachromes haven't faded but the E6 slides have. From what I have read in the technical literature, that is less of a problem than it used to be.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2009
  19. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    I find all the posts about Kodachrome recently very interesting. I think as the era of it draws to a close, people are starting to realize just how influential and wide spread it is.

    Heck, my site has shot up to over 200,000 hits a month, not bad for a site with no advertisers and a shoestring budget...

    But honestly, there is no well defined advantage in using Kodachrome other than some 74 years after it was introduced, you still get to use it.

    Think about that for a moment...take all of the pros and cons, why's and where fore's out and just think about how cool that is....next year, Kodachrome turns 75 years old and Kodak, who stock share is now more than $100 lower than it was in the 90's, well they still sell it.

    I think that is incredible.
    I think the era is incredible.

    And for as many photos I have seen in my life, I think the most incredible of all, still to this day, appear on Kodachrome...
     
  20. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Kodachrome employs a chromogenic process where a coupling takes plakes between an oxidation product of a special developer and a coupler resulting in the formation of a dye.

    Dye transfer is an imbibition process involving a dye and a mordant.

    The only similarities between Kodachrome and Dye Transfer is that both employ a diffusion process of a substance related to colour forming.
     
  21. accozzaglia

    accozzaglia Member

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    C'est assez simple: the end difference, emotionally, is entirely aesthetic and subjective.

    Whereas a great shot with E-6 emulsions (of many types or makers) can leave me saying, "Wow," I find with Kodachrome that the same kind of shot leaves me agape, unable to speak, and in some contexts makes me cry. This is especially apparent with shots that look like they were shot about two weeks ago when they were really shot well more than two decades -- or even two family generations -- ago. It has become really easy now to play "spot the Kodachrome" when looking through online photo albums, knowing fully well that no matter how amazing the scan looks, the actual emulsion on a light box is a zillion times more amazing.

    Technology notwithstanding, its loyalty and continuation into an eighth decade derive from this ineffable je ne sais quoi. Accurate or not, perfect or not, it still does something that other films have not: inspire visceral emotions. I feel it is tantamount to looking through an actual glass window which faces directly out into the past in ways that no other colour imaging process I've known can replicate. It's enough to take a hammer to that glass and just walk out through the hole.

    I'm definitely subjective but not maudlin about it. I love other emulsions for their own reasons, and I discover things I love about new-to-me ones every so often. I've also seen the most boring stuff shot with Kodachrome. If you've never tried shooting with it before, then just try it. Do it right now and decide what you think when they come back.
     
  22. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Subscriber

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    No.
    Consider:
    1. Sourcing it. Virtually impossible in many countries. What's the attraction?
    2. Processing it. Wherever you are on the globe, it goes to one place in the USA, and for how long will that be the case?
    3. Turnaround: How long is that? E6 is now 1 hour turn around where I am. What's Kodachrome's? What's your penalty/loss if it is a client job??

    Some posts on this forum about Kodachrome go on and on, tugging at the forelocks of nostalgia, reading in parts like a passage from a Jane Austen novel.

    And E6?
    Velvia/Provia will last a very long time if projected/printed occasionally. RVP trannies I have from 1996 are beautiful, but they're in acid-free mounts in archival boxes (no plastic or glass mounts used). So too, are early Kodachrome trannies (some of which originally featuring orange sunsets are going brown).

    Let bygones be bygones.
     
  23. Alexander Ghaffari

    Alexander Ghaffari Member

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    Let me see if I get this correct...

    Kodachrome 64 is a high contrast but low saturation transparency film.

    There are no other slide films that have as high a contrast with as low a saturation.

    Is this correct?
     
  24. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Member

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    I wish they still made K25. Now THAT was a Kodachrome I admired and used. Funny funny, even back then I hated K64. I'd love to know why our big yellow father dropped K25 and kept K64. Anyone know?
     
  25. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Wolf;

    That has been discussed quite extensively here as far as I am concerned. I am close to giving up the repeat questions and speculations.

    PE
     
  26. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Member

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    No worry


    I'll look up some of the old threads.