When did color film become viable??

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PHOTOTONE

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Many think that the introduction of Kodachrome in circa 1935 ushered in the "viability" of color film for photographers. However, professional photographers were using a number of rather more difficult ways to generate color images for a couple of decades before this. Such as Tri-pak cameras and the Lumiere Autochrome process.
 

mts

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In my estimation Kodachrome held sway until the chromogenic dye processes became more stable, after C-22 was replaced by C-41 and E-6 films improved from the earlier E-3 and E-4 to their current state. That would be sometime in the 80's for most manufacturers. I started with C-22 and E-4 and In my opinion, these processes were really not viable in comparison with today's chemistry. We will get a better and more professional history if PE can contribute some knowledge. Anyway, it is only now when digital is King that color film is truely viable! It was evidently ahead of its time and fortunately color film is still able to hold its own against electronic technology, although it does not compete in the consumer market owing to the convenience issue.
 

railwayman3

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I'd agree with Phototone.

Referring more specifically to the UK, my late Father was a keen amateur photographer all his life, and he started using Kodachrome regularly in the mid- to late-1950's (which, from his old Camera Club programs, would seem to be the time when enthusiastic amateurs turned to colour slides seriously, and the holiday and travel slide shows became popular)

So far as acceptance on the general "non-enthusiast" general-public market is concerned, I would think slightly later, maybe the early 60's, perhaps with the Instamatic 126 size in 1964 giving things a boost.
It was probably also that time when the falling price of colour negative film and prints started to displace B&W in the snap-shot market.
 

Martin Reed

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When did color film become something really usable for photographers?
who were some of the first photographers to use color film?

I presume you're talking about the non-professional market. It was a bit like the introduction of colour television, the early adopters had to have deep pockets to spearhead the introduction which gradually trickled down to create the mass market which came later. My mother and father exposed one roll of colour print film in the entire decade of the 1950's (when they got married), very expensive as it was more or less hand processed & printed on colour FB paper. But the market was really lifting off in the 1960's, and once C41 & RA4 RC paper had arrived in the 70's it became massive.
 

DanielStone

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are you referring to people like Hurrell?

idk if he ever shot color. people like him and Herb Ritts shot b/w for most of their work. Ritts shot color as well


you also have to remember people were shooting b/w films for color separations, so you shot 3 sheets one with a R,G, and B filters to combine in printing to make color prints.

i believe this is carbro printing, please tell me if I'm wrong.

this is what Technicolor was I believe, 3 simultaneous rolls of 35mm film being exposed through a beam splitter into R,G,B color channels, and re-combined when projected/edited.

-Dan
 

nickandre

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Technicolor was a commercialized process using the color separation method for the motion picture industry onto three reels of thin 35mm stock which would then be printed by dye transfer to final positives. It had an effective ASA of 5, requiring the actors of the wizard of oz to consume large volumes of water as the temperatures on set frequently reached over 100 degrees F. This method was used starting in the early 1900s with the advent of emulsion sensitization into the red spectrum for still photography. There was a notable Russian photographer (whose name I will not be able to spell or pronounce correctly whose name started with Sergei) who documented pre-soviet Russia using plates of film with the color separation method.
 

Rick A

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Its hard for me to remember ALL the dates and info, as most of my books are now long gone. Lumiere Brothers produced the first color photos in 1899, motion pictures had versions of color film in 1906, autochrome came out around 1907, Dufay color transparency in 1908. There were several other color process films, technicolor around the 20's. Kodachrome was first produced in 16mm over a year prior to 35mm. After that the processes started multiplying, and refined to what we have now.
 

cowanw

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In 1939, Walter Genewein, an accountant and amateur photographertook a remarkable set of colour photographs on Agfa stock of the Lodz concentration camp, now documented in a documentary " Fotoamator " by Arnold Mostowitz and Dariusz Jablonski. An amazing and revealing story human and photographic story.
 

Photo Engineer

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Stable high quality color transparencies were available nearly 100 years ago via Autochrome, Dufaycolor and Kodacolor. These involved respectively dyed starch grains, dyed color matirices over the film and lenticular systems. Today, Dufay is easily duplicated via use of a digital color printer to make the color matrix.

In addition, 3 color cameras were in common use to make Carbro and Bromoil color prints from negatives.

So, there were many products that stretch out over nearly 100 years.

PE
 

Anscojohn

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Technicolor was a commercialized process using the color separation method for the motion picture industry onto three reels of thin 35mm stock which would then be printed by dye transfer to final positives. It had an effective ASA of 5, requiring the actors of the wizard of oz to consume large volumes of water as the temperatures on set frequently reached over 100 degrees F. This method was used starting in the early 1900s with the advent of emulsion sensitization into the red spectrum for still photography. There was a notable Russian photographer (whose name I will not be able to spell or pronounce correctly whose name started with Sergei) who documented pre-soviet Russia using plates of film with the color separation method.
******
His name was Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii.

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/
 

Ray Rogers

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The Power of Propaganda...

I was really thinking about the professional photographers. When did the Hollywood photgraphers start doing their glamore shots in color?

Well, the full length color animated film Fantasia came out in 1940 and I think it was one of the first color movies (?) in Japan.
A very famous Japanese movie critic mentioned how he and a small handfull of other influencials were given a special screening of this film in Japan... they were on a special "censorship" board that decided what to let the Japanese see.

They decided they could not show this movie to their citizens because it would destroy the belief that they might be able to win a war with the country that produced such a beathtaking work of art!

It is still one of my favorites!
They were clearly experimenting with color then. The method of producing colored shadows (used at the start of the film) had been patented some 30 years or so earlier for use in the theater, but it was still fresh then as it would be even today I imagine....

Ray
 

AgX

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The first marketed colour film was

"Deutsche Farbenfilms" (1910) [regular filter screen] by Neue Photographische Gesellschaft, Berlin

The first widely marketed colour films were Filmcolor (1929) and Lumicolor (1932), both by Lumiere, and Agfacolor (1932). All had a irregular grain filter layer.

They were followed by Dufaycolor (1934,1935), which had a regular filter layer.


Stradibarrius,
If your question was aimed at colour photography in general, this field is too wide to handle here in a thread. Read one of the monographs on that theme.
 
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railwayman3

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Stradibarrius,
If your question was aimed at colour photography in general, this field is too wide to handle here in a thread. Read one of the monographs on that theme.

I have "Colour Photography" by Brian Coe, possibly out-of-print now, but very interesting with many illustrations.

I'd guess that there isn't a real answer for colour photography in general, probably the professionals were first, then enthusiastic amateurs with the time, skill and money to master complicated processes, then finally the "snap-shot" general public who needed something easy and cheap enough to work successfully in simple cameras with no technical knowledge.
 

StorminMatt

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Many think that the introduction of Kodachrome in circa 1935 ushered in the "viability" of color film for photographers. However, professional photographers were using a number of rather more difficult ways to generate color images for a couple of decades before this. Such as Tri-pak cameras and the Lumiere Autochrome process.

There were certainly color processes long before Kodachrome. But it is undeniable that Kodachrome is what REALLY brought color photography to the masses. It was the first color film that you could just pop into a typical 35mm camera, shoot as you normally would, send off for processing, and get color slides back. In other words, it could be shot by the average Joe with little more difficulty (besides its slow speed) than black and white film of the time, and be sent off for reliable processing (just like B+W). The same could not be said about earlier color films. So, in this sense, Kodachrome truly WAS the first viable color film.
 

AgX

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We should not forget that the more easy to use films came up in times which were economical difficult for many of the major markets, and that there were import and tax issues, all of which persisted long after the war.
 

Photo Engineer

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I suggest J. S. Friedman's book "History of Color Photography". In it, he describes color screen plates that were available as much as 100 years ago, as well as the use of 3 color cameras. Patents and films from DuHauron were shown before 1870, and photographs on Autochrome film were taken during the first world war.

Those ware photos were referenced here earlier as were those taken with 3 color cameras.

It was not until the 30s that true integral tripacks were made that eased most professional photographers into color.

PE
 

bsdunek

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Its hard for me to remember ALL the dates and info, as most of my books are now long gone. Lumiere Brothers produced the first color photos in 1899, motion pictures had versions of color film in 1906, autochrome came out around 1907, Dufay color transparency in 1908. There were several other color process films, technicolor around the 20's. Kodachrome was first produced in 16mm over a year prior to 35mm. After that the processes started multiplying, and refined to what we have now.

Interesting you bring up Dufay color. My Dad started using that about 1935. I still have his boxes of slides which he processed himself and bound in glass. They have faded a bit. I assume this was a color-coupled film something like current Ektachrome and Fujicrome.
 

AgX

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Bruce,

The first films using colour couplers in a chromgenic development were Kodachrome and the new version of Agfacolor.
Dufaycolor was a film based on the additive technique, using a mixed filter array like Autochrome.
However the array was regular, a crossed-line system.

Thus the film was exposed through the filter layer and reversal processed thus obtaining a b&w positive image combined with a filter grid.

Dufaycolor was the last additive colour film that emerged until in 1982 Polaroid brought out their Polachrome type 135 instant slide film. It combined the technique used in the Dufaycolor with a DTR (diffusion transfer reversal) process. The same film was employed in a cine version in the 1977 Polavision system.
 
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Photo Engineer

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I have seen Dufay color reproduced by making the regular additive screen using a digital printer onto a transparent support. This screen was mounted emulsion to emulsion with a sheet of film and exposed in a camera, then the film was developed to a positive and remounted in register with the screen again. On projection it gave a positive color image.

This is easily done if you wish, by using your own digital printer and a transparent sheet of reciever material for the array of color lines.

PE
 

railwayman3

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I can remember (as an experiment) using and processing some old Dufaycolor film as late as the 1980's with solutions mixed from the raw chemicals and the Dufay official formulae. It was basically a kind of B&W reversal process.
The film must have been 20+ years out-of-date even then, but it gave reasonable colour images. I suppose that, as it was a fairly basic B&W emulsion, its keeping properties were better than a multilayer colour film containing couplers, etc.
 

bsdunek

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Bruce,

The first films using colour couplers in a chromgenic development were Kodachrome and the new version of Agfacolor.
Dufaycolor was a film based on the additive technique, using a mixed filter array like Autochrome.
However the array was regular, a crossed-line system.

Thus the film was exposed through the filter layer and reversal processed thus obtaining a b&w positive image combined with a filter grid.

Dufaycolor was the last additive colour film that emerged until in 1982 Polaroid brought out their Polachrome type 135 instant slide film. It combined the technique used in the Dufaycolor with a DTR (diffusion transfer reversal) process. The same film was employed in a cine version in the 1977 Polavision system.

Thanks, AgX. I never was sure. By the time I came around (1939) Dad was using Kodachrome.
 

Denis K

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At a higher level, I think what really made color photography viable was the Kodak 110 film format. This format came along at exactly the right time when the quality of color film was still being improved. The 110 cameras perfectly matched the quality of the output to the expectation of the user. This provided Kodak and other film manufacturers a growing market to pay for the development of better film stocks and just as importantly, to ramp up the color photo finishing capability throughtout the country. These cunsumer level folks weren't real picky when it came to image quality, yet they basically footed the bill anyway. Then when they got used to having their own pictures in color this pushed all the professional film users to colorize whatever they were producing in monochrome. I'm sure color TV had something to do with this colorization trend as well. Others may say color film was being improved for the movie business and of course it was, but remember that color photography at that time was more about printing than just having color film.

Denis K
 

Heinz_Anderle

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"Viable" - well, Kodachrome (ISO 8/10°, 1936 - 1938) suffered from low speed and a moderate color stability, and Agfacolor Neu (ISO 2,5/5°, 1936 - 1938) was very, very slow. In the same year, Kodachrome's processing was however changed from "controlled diffusion" to "selective re-exposure", and Agfacolor's speed was raised to ISO 16/13° by sensitization with traces of gold salts. Furthermore, its price was government-subsidized with 3,60 German Reichsmarks for a 36-exposure roll.

High-speed films with acceptable grain appeared in the mid-to-late 1970s, with Ektachrome 200 and 400.
 
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