Monday, June 22, 2009

No Surprise Here... Kodak Kills Kodachrome

As paraded about online by a variety of news sources and bloggers, and of course, Kodak itself, EKC has announced the discontinuation of Kodachrome. I know there are some angsty, angry people here and there, but anyone that's serious about photography saw this day coming long ago. I'm surprised that it has taken this long. I was more upset about the killing of Panatomic-X and Techpan (I have a big stash) and Verichrome Pan. With Kodachrome, I give a shrug, and will make sure those two undeveloped rolls of KR-64 that I have get sent off to Dwayne's in Kansas real soon. You'd think that being a film lover, I should shed a tear over the demise of Kodachrome. But, I am not. Let's be honest here. In the grand scheme of things, shooting transparency film has been on the decline with today's digital cameras. Kodachrome, being a niche product, has been declining in usage for years, to the point that only one place in the entire civilized world can process it. For those bemoaning the loss of Kodachrome, I have to ask how many rolls a year do they shoot? It's not in 120 size, which is what I am shooting if I am going to be using transparency film. If Dwayne's Photo in Kansas got wiped out by a tornado tomorrow, there would be no processing ever. Finis. Done. Dead. Gone. Sure, I liked the film, I recognize its quality, but I also would rather Kodak keep improving and offering us more films that I use on a weekly basis, and can get developed easily, such as the Ektar 100. I would be horribly upset if Kodak dropped B&W films. Those are something that digital does not replace. Color, however...
1956-3.jpg A found slide from Kentucky, 1956.

Wiscasset, 1976 Wiscasset, Maine, 1976.

In its day, Kodachrome set the bar for color, and millions of weekend photographers documented their vacations. National Geographic showed us the world through Nikons, Leicas, and Kodachrome. Edward Weston made some beautiful 8x10 Kodachromes near his home. Aside from its archival properties, as evidenced by its 74-year run, it's a complex process that is not terribly environmentally friendly. Color-wise, it preserved the post-war America, and for that, I am grateful. It's time to move on and keep buying Kodak's newer films. I'll look back at Kodachrome fondly, but I'm not crying about its loss.
KR64-3.jpg Grayling, MI, 2006.


ipods said...

Nice informative article. thanks.

Spencer said...

Although my father worked for Kodak, i never shot a lot of Kodachrome. Might have something to do with him working in the color *print* division for a while. :-) And then I started shooting Ektachrome because I could develop it myself.

Made me think of Paul Simon of course.